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Dieterich Buxtehude

Master of Lbeck
May 19, 2:30 PM
Multnomah Central Library Collins Gallery


Michael Wilhite, Director & viola da gamba Leslie Hirsch, baroque violin
Everett Redburn, archlute & theorbo Hannah Brewer, harpsichord
joined by Melanie Downie Robinson, soprano


Sonata in G, Op.1 no.2 (BuxWV 253)

Lento Vivace
Adagio Allegro
Largo Arioso

Gen Himmel zu dem Vater mein (BuxWV 32)

Suite in e (BuxWV 235)

Allemande Courante

Sonata in a (BuxWV 272)

4/4 Allegro
3/2 Allegro

Singet dem Herrn (BuxWV 98)

Suite in e (BuxWV 235)

Sarabande Gigue

Klag-lied (BuxWV 76-2)

Sonata in D, Op.2 no.2 (BuxWV 260)

Adagio Allegro
Largo Ariette, Parte I-X
Largo Vivace

Herr, wenn ich nur dich hab (BuxWV 38)

Dieterich Buxtehude: Master of Lbeck
Program Notes

Dieterich Buxtehude, born in Denmark circa 1637, served as organist at the Marienkirche in Lbeck
from 1668 to his death in 1707. Many of his keyboard works have remained in circulation through the
centuries, and Buxtehude has long been recognized as one of the most important composers for the
organ prior to J.S. Bach. This might easily have remained the extent of Buxtehude's reputation, but
fortunately the music connoisseur and patron Gustaf Dben collected 99 of the composer's vocal
manuscripts, which were donated in 1732 to Uppsala University Library. Rediscovered in 1889, these
works became the basis of a 20th century revival which reached a peak in 2007, the 300th anniversary
of the composer's death. Dieterich Buxtehude is now recognized for his outstanding contributions in
not one but three genres: keyboard, vocal and chamber ensemble.

It may be asked how Buxtehude, who never held a position that required him to compose anything
other than organ music, came to write so much vocal and chamber ensemble music. As organist at
the Marienkirche, he held one of the most important musical posts in North Germany, and as such he
was the leading musical citizen of Lbeck. Though past its former Hanseatic League glory, 17 th century
Lbeck remained a center of great commercial activity and wealth, and thus offered many
opportunities for Buxtehude to compose music for weddings, funerals and other private and civic
events. Buxtehude also directed the Abendmusiken, a public concert series similar to today's music
festivals. Under his leadership the Abendmusiken grew to regional fame; extra balconies were
constructed in the Marienkirche to accommodate a large orchestra and chorus. At his disposal for
such events were elite musicians on the Lbeck municipal payroll, who no doubt inspired some of
Buxtehude's virtuosic writing.

Scholar Kerala J. Snyder has suggested that the diverse circumstances under which Buxtehude
composed his vocal music for assorted private commissions, for the Abendmusiken, or as
communion and vesper music in church services help to explain its great variety. Today's concert
offers a sampling of Buxtehude's works for solo voice and small instrumental ensemble. We present
two vocal concertos, one based upon a Lutheran chorale and the other freely composed upon a
Psalm; then a strophic aria, and conclude with a vocal ciaccona.

Buxtehude's sonatas for chamber ensemble stand nearly alone in the history of chamber music.
Rather than two violins plus continuo as the Italians favored, Buxtehude wrote most of his sonatas for
the combination of violin, viola da gamba and cembalo (harpsichord). Other North German
composers used this same scoring, however Buxtehude's sonatas are quite unlike the suites of
Erlebach and Becker who composed dance suites according to a set formula. Buxtehude's sonatas are
anything but predictable, varying in length from 3 to 14 contrasting sections and featuring a
compendium of musical styles and techniques. Buxtehude, himself a viola da gamba player, exploits
the entire 3 octave range of the instrument, pairing it alternately with the violin in high range or with
the cembalo in basso range, often from one to the other in the same passages.

Sonata in G, Op.1 no.2 consists of three fast movements separated by Buxtehude's characteristic
short expressive slow passages. The Vivace is a pithy mini-concerto in double counterpoint with four
sets of canonic entries and episodes. The center movement is a driving Allegro in 6/8 meter, and the
final movement a set of variations on a pleasing Arioso theme.
Gen Himmel zu dem Vater mein is Buxtehude's setting of two verses the chorale Nun freut euch (Dear
Christians rejoice) by Martin Luther. Beginning with an instrumental sonata, it is written in triple
concerto style, the soprano singing the chorale melody with strings engaging in extensive concertato
interchange. The text is divided into short phrases, creating sections that contrast yet remain bound
together by the chorale. Gen Himmel concludes with a brisk alleluia in triple counterpoint.

Suite in e is one of Buxtehude's 19 extant keyboard suites. Unlike his variation sets for harpsichord,
some of which reach great length, the suites are brief and straightforward, possibly intended for
domestic use rather than concert performance. They are composed in the style bris or broken style
first practiced by French lutenists.

Sonata in a is one of Buxtehude's eight unpublished sonatas. Structurally it is the simplest of all the
sonatas, consisting of two ciaccona movements separated by a 10-measure Adagio. The sonata is
unified by two ground bass patterns, a 4-measure pattern repeated 26 times in the opening
movement, then another in triple meter repeated 14 times in the final movement. Above this basso
ostinato the strings trade riffs that have a modern, almost improvised quality.

Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied is also a concerto, this time a duet with soprano and violin as equal
partners, to the text of Psalm 98 with music freely composed by Buxtehude. Unlike Gen Himmel, the
soprano is not restricted to a chorale melody, but here joins in a succession of florid and lyrical
exchanges with the violin.

Klag-lied was composed by Buxtehude for the funeral of his father Johannes, also a church organist as
seen in the text which is attributed to Buxtehude himself. Klag-lied is an aria in pure strophic form for
soprano with two string instruments in contrapuntal texture, and basso continuo.

Sonata in D, Op.2 no.2 Following the opening Adagio is a fugue in lilting triple meter which comes to
a sudden unexpected halt. A short Largo modulates to the relative minor key for the sonata's
centerpiece, an Arietta with nine variations. Following a chorale-like Largo, the piece closes on a
driving Vivace with walking bass line.

Herr, wenn ich nur dich hab is a vocal ciaccona with text from Psalm 73. Its four measure basso
ostinato, a simple descending tetrachord, provides a steady backdrop for the effusion of melodic
interplay between voice and strings. For this performance, viola da gamba is substituted for the
original 2nd violin part.

Kerala J. Snyder, Dieterich Buxtehude: Organist in Lbeck Schirmer Books, 1987
Edition Gntersberg, Heidelberg: series of Buxtehude performance editions

Wildwood Consort, founded in 2008, is a chamber ensemble specializing in music of the renaissance
and baroque for mixed instruments and voices. We create programs depicting vital cultural and
historical themes, each illustrated by a selection of rarely performed musical works. We invite you to
join our mail list at for announcements of upcoming concerts.
Gen Himmel zu dem Vater mein (Martin Luther) To heaven, to my Father
Gen Himmel zu dem Vater mein To heaven, to my Father
fahr ich aus diesem Leben, I depart from this life.
Da will ich sein der Meister dein, There I shall be your master,
den Geist will ich dir geben, and give you the spirit
der dich in Trbsal trsten soll, that shall console you in distress,
und lehren mich erkennen wohl, and teach you to recognize me
und in der Wahrheit leiten. and lead you to truth.

Was ich gethan hab und gelehrt, What I have done and taught,
das sollst du thun und lehren; you shall also do and teach;
damit das Reich Gotts wird gemehrt so that Gods kingdom will grow
zu Lob und seinen Ehren; to his praise and glory;
Und ht dich vor der Menschen Gesatz, And beware of the law of man,
davon verdirbt der edle Schatz. for the precious treasure is corrupted by it.
Das lass ich dir zur Letze. Alleluja. This I leave you as a token of farewell. Alleluia.

Singet dem Herrn (Psalm 96:1-4) Sing to the Lord

Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied; Sing unto the Lord a new song,
denn er macht Wunder. for He hath done marvelous things!
Er sieget mit seiner Rechten His right hand and His holy arm
und mit seinem heiligen Arm. hath gotten Him the victory.
Der Herr lt sein Heil verkndigen, The Lord hath made known His salvation;
vor den Vlkern His righteousness hath He openly shown
lt er seine Gerechtigkeit offenbaren. in the sight of the heathen.
Er gedenket an seine Gnade He hath remembered His mercy and His truth
und Wahrheit dem Hause Israel. toward the house of Israel;
Aller Welt Ende sehen das Heil unsers Gottes. all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Jauchzet dem Herrn, alle Welt; Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth!
singet, rhmet und lobet! Make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise!

Klaglied (Dieterich Buxtehude) Lament

Mu der Tod denn auch entbinden, Must death then also break those chains
was kein Fall entbinden kann? No earthly circumstance can unfetter?
Mu sich der mir auch entwinden, Must it also wrest from me
der mir klebt dem Herzen an? The one who cleaves unto my heart?
Ach! der Vater trbes Scheiden Alas! a fathers mournful passing
machet gar zu herbes Leiden, Brings too bitter sorrow with it,
wenn man unsre Brust entherzt, When from the breast the heart is torn
solches mehr als tdlich schmerzt. The pain exceeds the throes of death.

Er spielt nun die Freuden-Lieder Now he plays his songs of joy

auf des Himmels-Lust-Clavier, Upon celestial instruments,
da die Engel hin und wieder While angels now and then chime in
singen ein mit ser Zier. And sweetly grace the chorus.
Hier ist unser Leid-Gesnge Here below in our songs of sorrow
schwarze Noten Traur-Gemenge Dark and mournful notes abound,
mit viel Kreuzen durchgemischt With many crosses interwoven.
dort ist alles mit Lust erfrischt. There, all is restored with joyfulness.

Schlafe wohl, du Hochgeliebter, Sleep in peace, beloved one,

lebe wohl, du seelge Seel; Live in peace, O blessed soul;
ich, dein Sohn, nun Hochbetrbter, I, your son, now deep in grief,
schreib auf deines Grabes Hhl: Inscribe upon your hollow grave:
Allhie liegt, des Spielens Gaben Here lies one whose gifts of music
selbsten Gott erfreuet haben: Once gave joy to God Himself;
danumb ist sein Geist beglckt Now his spirit, full of gladness
zu des Himmels-Chor gerckt. Has joined the heavenly choir above.

Herr, wenn ich nur dich hab (Psalm 73:25-6) Lord, if I have only you
Herr, wenn ich nur dich hab, Lord, if I have only you,
so frag ich nichts nach Himmel und Erden, I ask nothing from heaven and earth
wenn mir gleich Leib und Seele verschmacht. If my body and soul are dying,
So bist du doch Gott allezeit You, God, are always
meines Herzens Trost und mein Heil. Alleluja. my heart and salvation. Alleluia.