Dietrich Buxtehude is probably most familiar to modern
classical music audiences as the man who inspired the
young Johann Sebastian Bach to make a lengthy
pilgrimage to Lubeck, Buxtehude's place of employment
and residence for most of his life, just to hear
Buxtehude play the organ. But Buxtehude was a major
figure among German Baroque composers in his own right.
Though we do not have copies of much of the work that
most impressed his contemporaries, Buxtehude
nonetheless left behind a body of vocal and
instrumental music which is distinguished by its
contrapuntal skill, devotional atmosphere, and raw
intensity. He helped develop the form of the church
cantata, later perfected by Bach, and he was just as
famous a virtuoso on the organ.
Like the toccata BuxWV 155, this toccata in F major,
works much like a praeludium in that it consists of an
alternation of sections of free passage work and
sections of imitative polyphony. Also even more than in
BuxWV 155, the sections of free passagework appear to
outweigh the sections of imitative polyphony in this
piece. There are three fugal sections in the work, two
lasting 12 measures each, the other lasting around 25
measures. The other 91 measures of the work are all
segments of free unrestrained rhapsodic passagework.
Altogether there is twice as much free material as
there is imitative polyphony. The preponderance of free
chaotic material in this toccata makes it a prime
example of Buxtehude's work in the stylus phantasticus,
as style noted for its wild improvisatory chaos.
I created this Interpretation of the Toccata in F Major
(BuxWV 155) for Bb Clarinet & Strings (Violin, Viola &