Chamber music constitutes a minor part of the surviving output, although the only chamber works Buxtehude published during his lifetime were fourteen chamber sonatas. The former includes several autographs, both in German organ tablature and in score. Although Buxtehude himself most probably wrote in organ tablature, the majority of the copies are in standard staff notation. They are sectional compositions that alternate between free improvisation and strict counterpoint.
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Chamber music constitutes a minor part of the surviving output, although the only chamber works Buxtehude published during his lifetime were fourteen chamber sonatas. The former includes several autographs, both in German organ tablature and in score. Although Buxtehude himself most probably wrote in organ tablature, the majority of the copies are in standard staff notation. They are sectional compositions that alternate between free improvisation and strict counterpoint. They are usually either fugues or pieces written in fugal manner; all make heavy use of pedal and are idiomatic to the organ.
These preludes, together with pieces by Nicolaus Bruhns , represent the highest point in the evolution of the north German organ prelude , and the so-called stylus phantasticus. They were undoubtedly among the influences of J. Bach, whose organ preludes, toccatas and fugues frequently employ similar techniques.
A fugal theme, when it recurs, does so in a new, changed way. The sections may be explicitly separated in the score or flow one into another, with one ending and the other beginning in the same bar. The texture is almost always at least three-voice, with many instances of four-voice polyphony and occasional sections in five voices BuxWV being one of the notable examples, with five-voice structure in which two of the voices are taken by the pedal.
The introductory sections are always improvisatory. The preludes begin almost invariably with a single motif in one of the voices which is then treated imitatively for a bar or two. After this the introduction will most commonly elaborate on this motif or a part of it, or on a short melodic germ which is passed from voice to voice in three- or four-voice polyphonic writing, as seen in Example 1: Example 1: This is the introduction from Prelude in F major, BuxWV The motivic interaction seen here, in which a short motif is passing from one voice to another, sometimes sounding in two voices simultaneously, was frequently employed by Buxtehude in his preludes, frequently expanded to four voices with heavy use of pedal.
Occasionally the introduction will engage in parallel 3rds, 6ths, etc. For example, BuxWV begins with a single voice, proceeds to parallel counterpoint for nine bars and then segues into the kind of texture described above.
The improvisatory interludes, free sections and postludes may all employ a vast array of techniques, from miscellaneous kinds of imitative writing the technique discussed above, or "fugues" that dissolve into homophonic writing, etc. Tempo marks are frequently present: Adagio sections written out in chords of whole- and half-notes, Vivace and Allegro imitative sections, and others.
The fugues normally employ four voices with extensive use of pedal. Most subjects are of medium length see Example 2 , frequently with some degree of repercussion note repeating, particularly in BuxWV and BuxWV , wide leaps or simplistic runs of 16th notes. One of the notable exceptions is a fugue in BuxWV , which features a six-bar subject. The answers are usually tonal, on scale degrees 1 and 5, and there is little real modulation.
Stretto and parallel entries may be employed, with particular emphasis on the latter. Short and simple countersubjects appear, and may change their form slightly during the course of the fugue.
There is some variation, however, in the way they are constructed: in the first and last fugues of BuxWV the second voice does not state the subject as it enters during the initial exposition; in BuxWV the second exposition uses the subject in its inverted form, etc. The final entry of the subject in the pedal is joined by the highest voice engaging in a scale run. A well-known piece is BuxWV , in the rare key of F-sharp minor; it is believed that this prelude was written by Buxtehude especially for himself and his organ, and that he had his own way of tuning the instrument to allow for the tonality rarely used because of meantone temperament.
Chorale settings[ edit ] There are over 40 surviving chorale settings by Buxtehude, and they constitute the most important contributions to the genre in the 17th century. The chorale preludes are usually four-part cantus firmus settings of one stanza of the chorale; the melody is presented in an elaborately ornamented version in the upper voice, the three lower parts engage in some form of counterpoint not necessarily imitative.
The ornamented chorale in the upper voice is highlighted, original melody for the two lines present here is shown on separate staves. Note the basic imitative lines in bars 6—8 and 13— The ornamented cantus firmus in these pieces represents a significant difference between the north German and the south German schools ; Johann Pachelbel and his pupils would almost always leave the chorale melody unornamented.
The chorale fantasias a modern term are large-scale virtuosic sectional compositions that cover a whole strophe of the text and are somewhat similar to chorale concertos in their treatment of the text: each verse is developed separately, allowing for technically and emotionally contrasting sections within one composition.
Buxtehude was careful with correct word setting, paying particular attention to emphasis and interpretation. They consist of around 3—4 variations of which only one may use the pedal.
There are only a few chorale variations, and there are no distinctive qualities that characterize them. The pieces feature numerous connected sections, with many suspensions, changing meters, and even real modulation in which the ostinato pattern is transposed into another key. Some of the praeludia also make use of ostinato models. The praeludium in C major, BuxWV , begins with a lengthy pedal solo and concludes not with a postlude of arpeggios and scale runs, but with a comparatively short chaconne built over a three-bar ostinato pattern in the pedal: The praeludium in G minor, BuxWV , in which the ostinato pattern is derived from the subject of one of the fugal sections, also ends in a chaconne.
In addition, another praeludium in G minor, BuxWV , employs a repeating bass pattern in the beginning. BuxWV is more of a canzona two sections, both fugal and on the same subject , while BuxWV is more like a typical Buxtehude prelude, only beginning with a fugue rather than an improvisatory section, and for manuals only.
There are also 19 harpsichord suites and several variation sets. The suites follow the standard model Allemande — Sarabande — Courante — Gigue , sometimes excluding a movement and sometimes adding a second sarabande or a couple of doubles.
The gigues employ basic imitative counterpoint but never go as far as the gigue fugues in the chorale fantasias or the fugal writing seen in organ preludes.
It may be that the more developed harpsichord writing by Buxtehude simply did not survive: in his writings, Johann Mattheson mentioned a cycle of seven suites by Buxtehude, depicting the nature of planets, but these pieces are lost.
The several sets of arias with variations are, surprisingly, much more developed than the organ chorale variations.
Toccata F-dur (BuxWV 157)
BUXWV 157 PDF
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