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Buxtehude is claimed by three countries: Sweden, Denmark, and Germany. Each has a legitimate claim to him. He was born in Hälsingborg, which is now part of Sweden, but at the time was under the Danish crown. He was born of German parents who may have come from the town of Buxtehude in North Germany. Suffice it to say that his greatest contributions came from his tenure at the Marienkirche in Lübeck, despite having held two important church positions before going to Lübeck in 1667. It was to hear this master that Bach as a youth walked from Arnstadt to Lübeck, some 200 miles, and it is as impossible to describe the diversity of Buxtehude as it is with Bach. Buxtehude’s Scandinavian roots are no doubt the basis of his granitic architectural sense and simplicity, but he combines these with flamboyance and passion, like the Gothic cathedrals of which his music may be considered the musical counterpart. In him merged the two schools of composition which stemmed on the one hand from Sweelinck in Amsterdam and on the other from Italy’s Frescobaldi, who greatly influenced the development of German music through his disciples from South Germany. This exquisite chaconne reminds one of an Italian canzona.
Program notes © 2009, Dame Gillian Weir