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Friday Night Organ: Praetorius and Weckmann
I know sounds like the name of a fly-by-night law firm but it isn't. Jacob Praetorius (1586--1651) was a German Baroque composer and organist, and the son of Hieronymus Praetorius. His grandfather, the father of Hieronymus, Jacob Praetorius the Elder (died 1586) was also a composer. As a student of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, he was one of the most important organists and most respected pedagogues of the north German tradition before Johann Sebastian Bach. From 1603 on he was organist at the Petrikirche in Hamburg. His most important pupil, Matthias Weckmann, studied with him from 1633 to 1636 and later joined him in Hamburg as organist at the Jakobikirche. His compositional style includes both traditional and progressive elements. His three surviving preludes show the kind of sectionalism and diversity of styles that would become one of the defining characteristics of the genre. That is to say, they contain a free, rhapsodic (though restrained) opening section that foreshadows the stylus phantasticus style of German composers later in the century (notably Dieterich Buxtehude), followed by an imitative, fugal section that strictly adheres to traditional contrapuntal rules.
Von allen Menschen abgewandt II & III played upon The Organ of the Stadtkirche St. Marien, Celle.
Matthias Weckmann (1616--1674) was a German musician and composer of the Baroque period. He was born in Niederdorla (Thuringia) and died in Hamburg. His musical training took place in Dresden (as a chorister at the Saxon Court, under the direction of Heinrich Schütz), then in Hamburg where he worked with the famous organist Jacob Praetorius at the Saint Peter's church (Petrikirche). He was introduced to the Italian concertato, polychoral and monodic styles — because Schütz had journeyed in Italy when a young man and he had met Giovanni Gabrieli and Monteverdi — as well as the style of Sweelinck's pupils, some of whom had settled in Hamburg. Weckmann travelled to Denmark in 1637 with Schütz, became organist in Dresden at the Electoral Court of Saxony from 1638 to 1642, and returned to Denmark until 1647 (during the Thirty Years' War).
During his last stay in Dresden from 1649 to 1655, he met Johann Jakob Froberger during a musical competition which had been organized by the Elector. They remained friends and in correspondence with each other. In 1655, after a competition, he was named titular organist at Saint James church (Jakobkirche) in Hamburg, and spent his remaining life there. He founded a renowned orchestral ensemble, the so-called Collegium Musicum in Hamburg. This was the most productive period of his life: his compositions of this time include a collection of 1663, which set sacred texts mentioning the terrible plague which killed his first wife and many of his colleagues in Hamburg that year, including Heinrich Scheidemann. He died in Hamburg and was buried in a family grave in St. James's Church beneath the organ. What a WAY to go!
Fantasie in d Minor
Chorale: “Es Ist Das Heil"
Chorale “Komm Heiliger Geist”
Preatorius, Weckmann, and Froberger I think I saw their names on the "FAST CASH FOR YOUR HOUSE!!!" signs that have been proliferating in the suburbs here.
Weckmann's pieces show flashes of brilliance, but they don't seem to come together for me. Preatorius, on the other hand feels coherent, but never quite gets there. It's like waiting for sunrise and leaving before the first brass and gold colors appear on the clouds. I know it's easy for me to be critical, but that's my take on it. As always, thanks for posting these pieces and the commentary. It's really amazing how sophisticated the organ music was considering that this was at the time of the 30 years war and the Holy Roman Empire was still extant, at least to some degree.