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Michael Praetorius.

Michael Praetorius (probably February 15, 1571 ‚Äď February 15, 1621) was a German composer, organist, and writer about music. He was one of the most versatile composers of his age, being particularly significant in the development of musical forms based on Protestant hymns.


He was born Michael Schultze, the youngest son of a Lutheran pastor, in Creuzburgmarker, Thuringiamarker. After attending school in Torgaumarker and Zerbstmarker, he studied divinity at the University of Frankfurt . He served as organist at the Marienkirche in Frankfurt before working at the court in Wolfenb√ľttelmarker as organist and (from 1604) as Kapellmeister. From 1613 to 1616 he worked at the Saxonmarker court at Dresdenmarker, where he was exposed to the latest Italian music, including the polychoral works of the Venetian School. His subsequent development of the form of the chorale concerto, particularly the polychoral variety, resulted directly from his familiarity with the music of such Venetiansmarker as Giovanni Gabrieli. Michael Praetorius is entombed in a vault beneath the organ of St Mary's Church in Wolfenb√ľttel, Germany.


His family name in German appears in various forms including Schultze, Schulte, Schultheiss, Schulz and Schulteis. Praetorius is the Latinized form of the family name.


Illustration from Syntagma Musicum
Praetorius was a tremendously prolific composer, with his music showing the influence of Italian composers as well as his younger contemporary Heinrich Sch√ľtz. His works include the nine volume Musae sioniae (1605‚Äď10), a collection of over a thousand chorale and song arrangements; many other works for the Lutheran church; and Terpsichore (1612), a compendium of over 300 instrumental dances, which is both his most widely-known work, as well as his sole surviving secular work. His three volume treatise Syntagma Musicum, published between 1614‚Äď20 (including de Organographia at the end of volume II), are detailed texts on contemporary musical practices and musical instruments, and are important documents in musicology, organology and the field of authentic performance.

See also


  • Denis Arnold (editor), (1983), New Oxford Companion to Music, Oxford University Press. (Article by editor.)
  • Jeffery T. Kite-Powell (translator and editor), (2004) Syntagma Musicum III: Termini musici (Wolfenb√ľttel, 1619) Oxford University Press.
  • Stephan Perreau (1996). Liner notes to Praetorius: Dances from Terpsichore. Naxos 8.553865.

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