Music, School of


Date of this Version

March 1998


Published in The American Organist, 3 installments: March, May, and June 1998 (Volume 32). Copyright © American Guild of Organists 1998. Used by permission.


Candlelight reflecting off the clutter of wall plaques and massive Baroque monuments makes a feeble attempt to dispel the gloom of a late evening in December 1705. The light, radiating from the multiple galleries surrounding the great organ, reveals a large crowd, elegantly dressed, filling the vast nave and spilling over into the side aisles of St. Mary's Church in Lubeck, Germany. Most of these people have already endured the winter chill during three long hours of worship, but they are now eagerly anticipating the musical feast that will occupy the coming hour. Some 40 musicians, both singers and instrumentalists, have taken their places in the galleries and have tuned their instruments (among them is the 20-year old Johann Sebastian Bach, who has traveled 200 miles to experience the splendor of this night). Their eyes are trained on Dieterich Buxtehude, the famed organist of the church, who will soon give the downbeat to begin the religious musical drama. He has written the music especially for this occasion, on poetry specially composed by one of the town clergy. This evening will witness the first concert in the 37th Abendmusiken, the series of sacred concerts whose renown has spread all over central Europe....1

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