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Michael Praetorius (1571–1621) achieved distinction as a practicing musician: as organist and Kapellmeister at Wolfenbüttel, Dresden and Magdeburg, and (in his later years) by incessant travel to fulfill commissions at various central German courts. Amid his travels Praetorius found time to publish an impressive series of collections of musical compositions, in all more than a thousand works. Praetorius’s three-volume Syntagma musicum (Musical Encyclopedia) belongs to the last years of his life. Volume I, Musicae artis analecta (1614/15, in Latin), treats principles and practices of religious music, from a decidedly Lutheran perspective. Volume II, De organographia (1619, in German) deals with musical instruments, in particular with the organ. Volume III, Termini musici (1619, in German) explores the practice of music, both improvisation and composition. The Syntagma musicum is the first comprehensive treatment of music in the German language.

The publication before you is the first English translation of Volume II, Parts III–V, specifically on the organ. Its belated appearance would have puzzled Praetorius, who declares the organ to be “a perfect (indeed one might also say ‘most perfect’) musical instrument … which … takes pride of place above all other musical instruments, most of which can be incorporated into this single instrument.” This work includes: A precise description of ancient and modern organs, their manual and pedal keyboards, bellows, stoplists, and various kinds of stops, as well as how to tune regals and harpsichords easily and precisely; and what to consider when accepting a [newly‑built] organ, together with an appended detailed table …

This edition shows the German original on the left and the English translation on the facing right-hand pages. Translator Dr. Quentin Faulkner is Larson Professor of Organ and Music Theory/History (emeritus) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Dr Faulkner holds the degrees B.Mus. cum laude from Westminster Choir College, M.S.M. and M.Th. from Southern Methodist University, and S.M.D. from Union Theological Seminary. He is the author of J. S. Bach’s Keyboard Technique: A Historical Introduction (1984) and Wiser Than Despair: The Evolution of Ideas in the Relationship of Music and the Christian Church (1996), and the translator of Jacob Adlung’s Musica mechanica organoedi • Musical mechanics for the organist (2011). He was formerly an organist at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City.



Publication Date



Zea Books


Lincoln, NE


Music, Organs, Notation, Germany


Composition | Ethnomusicology | Music | Musicology | Music Practice | Music Theory | Other German Language and Literature | Other Music


English translation, notes, etc., copyright © 2014, Quentin Faulkner.

Syntagma Musicum II: De Organographia, Parts III – V with Index