Harmonia Early Music

Buxtehude and the Suitors

On Harmonia this week we’ll look at the men who applied to succeed Buxtehude at the Marienkirche in Lübeck. Plus, a new release by the ensemble Gothic Voices.

Play Episode (Real Audio)
painting of man staring at woman

Photo: Anonymous

A supposed image of Dieterich Buxtehude by Johannes Voorhout (Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte).

As was a custom in his day, Dieterich Buxtehude’s job came with benefits. No, not with medical and dental plans but with a wife. As part of the deal to take on his new job, Buxtehude married the daughter of Franz Tunder, his predecessor. When it came time to retire, he not only looked for a worthy successor but someone to take the complete package.

In August of 1703, Johann Mathesson came from Hamburg to interview. He was ideal to say the least and wanted the job until he got a look at Buxtehude’s daughter Anna Margreta. Unfortunately, he lost interest because she turned out to be too old. Ten years his senior, in fact—apparently thirty was over the hill.

Mattheson was not alone on the audition trip he took to Lübeck. A colleague of his from the Hamburg opera came along in the carriage. His friend, a then little-known George Frideric Handel, may have also had his sights set on the organ position. Yet, his reaction was the same as Mattheson’s—no thanks. They both gave poor Anna Margreta little chance because they were back on the carriage the next day.

Among the many men who came knocking on the aging composer’s door was Johann Sebastian Bach. Scholars tell us that he was there for lessons but he may have also been looking for a job. He stayed spent about three months learning and absorbing many things from Buxtehude.  Bach’s own post at Arnstadt was quite provincial and his long stay may have been as a result of a reluctance to return. Nevertheless, he did not succeed Buxtehude.

Buxtehude did eventually get his successor, but the aging organist passed away before he saw his daughter’s wedding. In the months following his death, the candidate was both officially installed as organist and married. Who is the lucky guy you might ask? Johann Christian Schieferdecker, a little-known composer who was an accompanist and composer at the Hamburg opera. He was probably a colleague of both Handel and Mattheson’s.  Schieferdecker was also Buxtehude’s assistant shortly before he died.

In the end, Buxtehude succeeded in finding an son-in-law and replacement for his own job.

Our new release this week features the ensemble Gothic Voices. The music of Machaut is performed alongside that of his immediate successor, Solage.

The music heard on this episode was performed by Ensemble Baroque de Limoges, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, The Parley of Instruments, Pavlo Beznosiuk, Bach Collegium Japan, and the Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin.

Music Heard On This Episode

Dietrich Buxtehude: Jubilate Domino
Ensemble Baroque de Limoges — Buxtehude: Cantatas and Sonatas with the Viol (Astrée Naïve, 2002)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Dietrich Buxtehude: Jubilate Domino
Ensemble Baroque de Limoges — Buxtehude: Cantatas and Sonatas with the Viol (Astrée Naïve, 2002)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Johann Mattheson: Mein Leben ist hin
Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra — Cleopatra (Cbc, 2004)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Johann Mathesson: Nun ist es Zeit
Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra — Cleopatra (Cbc, 2004)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Johann Mathesson: Wer in seinem Busen nährt basilisk
Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra — Cleopatra (Cbc, 2004)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Johann Mathesson: Darum komm, komm, giftiges Geschmeiß
Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra — Cleopatra (Cbc, 2004)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
George Frideric Handel: Ouverture
The Parley of Instruments — Handel in Hamburg (Hyperion UK, 1998)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
George Frideric Handel: Matelot
The Parley of Instruments — Handel in Hamburg (Hyperion UK, 1998)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
George Frideric Handel: Menuet
The Parley of Instruments — Handel in Hamburg (Hyperion UK, 1998)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
George Frideric Handel: Bouree
The Parley of Instruments — Handel in Hamburg (Hyperion UK, 1998)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
George Frideric Handel: Passacaille
The Parley of Instruments — Handel in Hamburg (Hyperion UK, 1998)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
J.S. Bach: Gott ist mein König: Arioso
Bach Collegium Japan — Cantatas 2 (Bis, 1996)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
J.S. Bach: Gott ist mein König: Aria
Bach Collegium Japan — Cantatas 2 (Bis, 1996)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
J.S. Bach: Gott ist mein König: Coro
Bach Collegium Japan — Cantatas 2 (Bis, 1996)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
J.S. Bach: Gott ist mein König: Coro
Bach Collegium Japan — Cantatas 2 (Bis, 1996)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Guillaume de Machaut: Dame, se vous m'estes lonteinne
Gothic Voices — The Unknown Lover (Avie, 2006)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

View all posts by this author »

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Harmonia Early Music:

More Subscription Options

Follow Us

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Harmonia Early Music

About The Hosts

Search Harmonia Early Music

where to hear harmonia