Saturday, October 18, 2008

The "Little Buxtehude"

Last evening I helped a friend prepare a recording, and in the course of our time together, we had occasion to examine the music of Nicolaus Bruhns, a student of Buxtehude who did more than his fair share in continuing the excellent tradition of the stylus fantasticus. This style was of northern German provenance and therefore was employed in the liturgies of the Evangelische Kirchen.

Nevertheless, these works of art are more than appropriate for use at Catholic Masses. "What's he doing playing Buxtehude at Mass?" I once heard someone indignantly ask. "Bringing beauty to the liturgy," would have been my response. It is sheer provincialism that would keep us from employing this fantastic (!) repertoire. It is one thing to be ignorant, to fail to appreciate something, but when our ignorance turns into a wish that those things which we don't understand would go away, then we have descended into barbarism.

Anyway, enough of that rant. Here's a Bruhns prelude in e minor for your edification:

It is interesting to me that, as different as music from different regions can be, there are yet fascinating similarities to be found amongst the likes of Buxtehude, Bruhns, Frescobaldi, and Monteverdi.

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