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Buxtehude at Lynchburg

Free Compositions and Chorale Preludes of Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707)


Format: Audio CD
Played on: Taylor & Boody Organ, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Lynchburg, Virginia
Produced by: Pro Organo

From the Sleeve Notes:

Just as Johann Sebastian Bach's works are far beyond those of his contemporaries, so Buxtehude's exploitation of the capabilities of the North German baroque organ were beyond that which we have seen in his peers. Buxtehude also left as a testament of his music a body of scores greater than any other musician of his era. In these scores, we can see the various methods and devices by which Buxtehude exploited the attributes and capabilities of the North German organ, with its superior pedal division, containing 32-foot range stops, and its vast range of other tonal resources not available on any other musical instrument of the time. With Buxtehude's scores as evidence of his style, one can imagine what it would have been like to hear the spontaneous musical creations of the master in Lüneburg.

Notes on the Music:

Buxtehude's settings of German chorale melodies are miniature gems intended to introduce the chorale prior to congregational singing. The chorale melody is most often found at the top of the texture and is usually ornamented to a greater or lesser degree; the setting of Ein feste Burg is so heavily ornamented in the Italian coloratura manner that the tune is virtually unrecognizable.

The partita on Auf meinen lieben Gott is a set of variations in which the tune is treated as a French dance suite: (Allemande) – Double (la Allemande) – Sarabande – Courante – Gigue. The courante, however, is in the less common, but more straight-forward, Italian corrente style, in place of the more usual and rhythmically ambiguous French courante. It is very likely that this partita is a "house piece" intended to be played on a harpsichord or chamber organ in an intimate setting. Buxtehude and his contemporaries would never have played such a frivolous piece in a service of worship! It is interesting to note that Buxtehude seems to have assumed the use of both Italian and French ornamentation in this suite!

Buxtehude's canzonas, like the single example by his father-in-law and predecessor at the Marienkirche in Lübeck, Franz Tunder, are delightful, lighthearted examples of counterpoint. They are constructed in two or three fugal sections in which each theme is derived from the same material through tonal or rhythmic alteration. The jaunty Fugue in C Major has aptly been nicknamed the "Jig" Fugue.

As interesting as all these works are, however, Buxtehude's toccatas and præludia are at the center of his artistic expression as a musician. It is on these pieces that his enduring reputation rests, both as a composer and an organist. Buxtehude's use of the terms toccata and præludium often seem quite indiscriminate. Both terms denote pieces that combine sections in free, improvisatory style with carefully worked out sections in strict contrapuntal style, i.e., fugues. The free sections (often called præludia, even though the term was also used for the whole musical construct) combine fantasia elements, such as flashing scales, colorful chords, unexpected leaps, and dramatic silences in a sort of "free-hand" balance with the more scholarly fugues, creating an "essay" in sound. The examples heard on this CD run the gamut of emotions, from the light and jaunty F Major toccata, to the dramatic C Major præludium (BuxWV 137), with its striding pedal solo at the beginning, to the profound g minor, traditionally nicknamed "the Great," closing with the less familiar C Major (BuxWV 136), with its opening præludium demonstrating Buxtehude's stylistic debt to both Froberger and Frescobaldi.

Buxtehude was almost alone in his generation in his use of ostinato techniques, chaconne and passacaglia, in his organ works. The d minor passacaglia (referred as a chaconne in some editions — Buxtehude himself was inconsistent in his use of these two terms) is a marvelous example that modulates from d minor to F Major and to a minor before returning to d minor for its dramatic conclusion. Buxtehude was, however, truly alone in using ostinato techniques to create whole sections in his mighty præludia, as heard at the beginning of the g minor and in the conclusion of the C Major (137).

The Church:

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church is an ELCA member congregation with over 1000 members located in Lynchburgh, Virginia. The church was founded in 1904 and now occupies its third building, a Gothic structure seating about 400 that was built in 1953. In preparation for the installation of the Taylor & Boody organ in 1990, a rear gallery was built and a slate floor installed. The church maintains an active music program and recital series.

The Organ:


  • Quintadena 16'
  • Principal 8'
  • Rohrflöte 8'
  • Baarpijp 8'
  • Octave 4' (half-draw to Pedal)
  • Nasat 2-2/3'
  • Octave 2'
  • Tierce 1-3/5'
  • Mixture IV
  • Trumpet 8'


  • Gedeckt 8'
  • Flute 4'
  • Principal 2'
  • Flute 2'
  • Larigot 1-1/3'
  • Krumphorn 8'


  • Subbass 16'
  • Octave 8'
  • Trumpet 8' (Hw)


  • Tremulant
  • Hw/P
  • B/P
  • B/Hw (shove)
  • Zimbelstern 

  • Kellner / Bach Temperament
  • A=440

The Organist:

J. William Green, organist-choirmaster at Holy Trinity Luther Church, Lynchburg, Virginia, holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree and Performers Certificate from the Eastman School of Music. An organ student of Russell Saunders, Wolfgang Rübsam, and H. Max Smith, he also studied harpsichord with Gustav Leonhardt at the Sweelinck Conservatorium Amsterdam under an ITT International Fellowship. He is also an active composer with more than 100 choral and organ compositions appearing in the catalogs of CanticaNOVA Publications, GIA, Paraclete Press, Saint James Music Press, National Music Publishers, Concordia Publishing House, and Barton Rhodes / Yelton Rhodes Publishing.


Free Compositions

  1. Toccata in F Major [BuxWV 157]
  2. Partita on Auf meinem lieben Gott [BuxWV 179]
  3. Præludium in C Major [BuxWV 137]

Chorale Preludes

  1. Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ [BuxWV 224]
  2. Vater unser im Himmelreich [BuxWV 219]
  3. Lobt Gott, ihr Christen allzugleich [BuxWV 202]

Free Compositions

  1. Passacaglia in d minor [BuxWV 161]
  2. Fugue in C Major [BuxWV 174]
  3. Præludium in g minor [BuxWV 149]

Chorale Preludes

  1. Jesus Christus, unser Heiland [BuxWV 198]
  2. Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott [BuxWV 184]
  3. Von Gott will ich nicht lassen [BuxWV 220]
  4. Von Gott will ich nicht lassen [BuxWV 221]

Free Compositions

  1. Canzona in G Major [BuxWV 175]
  2. Canzona in G Major [BuxWV 171]
  3. Præludum in C Major [BuxWV 136]

The total playing time is 55 minutes 05 seconds.


Order #: 9018
Price: $15.95


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