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.
This prelude sets the principal Lutheran chorale of the
Advent season. The basis of the text and music is the
Gregorian Hymnus, "Veni Redemptor Genitum," and was
translated into German by Martin Luther in 1524. The
first verse of the chorale reads: "Now comes the savior
of the heathen known as a child of a virgin, that is
why all the world wonders, why God chose such a birth
Buxtehude's setting of the chorale is somewhat brief at
only 21 measures, but the ornamentation of the chorale
melody in the soprano range is very warm and beautiful,
so that this tiny prelude is one of Buxtehude's most
played chorale preludes.
Although originally created for Organ, I created this
Interpretation of the Chorale prelude: "Nun komm der
Heiden Heiland" (BuxWV 211) for Flute & Piano.