Buxtehude’s Daughter, a Cantata

kogut nilsson prothro malcolm

Buxtehude’s Daughter is a spoof cantata written by Tom Savoy and Byron Nilsson about the true story of Buxtehude, his daughter and Bach.   In October of 1705, Bach, at the age of 20, secured a one month leave to go hear a musician of considerable reputation.  Bach proceeded to walk over 250 miles from Arnstadt to Lubeck to hear the famed Buxtehude perform one of his weekly recitals and, was so impressed that he forgot to go home and he stayed for four more months, greatly offending his superiors at his home church.

The aging Buxtehude was retiring and seeking someone to take over his directing position at the Marienkirche.  The catch was that Buxtehude would only offer the job to the applicant who would marry his daughter.  She was not young (over the hill at 30), not pretty, and perhaps did not posses much of a personality. At any rate, her father was having difficulty marrying her off.  Other famed applicants for the position included Handel and Mattheson but the thought of marrying the daughter was too high a price to pay. Apparently, when sacrificing for your art, there are certain sacrifices that are too costly.  The practice of offering a daughter as part of the “benefits package” was not uncommon in those days as Buxtehude himself married the daughter of Franz Tunder, his predecessor.

When Bach eventually returned to his home church in Arnstadt, fireworks ensued.  The “minutes” of a meeting to which Bach was called to explain himself still exist today.  Bach was accused of “making music” with a “stranger lady” and he was even accused of inviting her up into the choir loft.  This was a time when women weren’t allowed to sing in the choir and it was a serious breech of etiquette to make music with one.  What would the congregation think?  Not that church people are ever prone to gossip.

Buxtehude did eventually find a successor and son in law; Johann Christian Schieferdecker won the position.  He was a little-known composer who was an accompanist and composer at the Hamburg opera.  Schieferdecker also served as Buxtehude’s assistant shortly before the master died.

The Musicians of Ma’alwyck;
Join us for a wonderful afternoon of delightful, funny songs with Byron Nilsson, Amy Prothro and Malcolm Kogut, paired with the spoof cantata Buxtehude’s Daughter and then enjoy a delicious champagne dessert buffet generously prepared and donated by Randy Rosette. Songs of Flanders & Swann, Stephen Sondheim, Noel Coward and others followed by Tom Savoy’s and Nilsson’s hysterical take on the surprise requirement attached to accepting the position as Buxtehude’s successor.  Musicians of Ma’alwyck and Byron Nilsson and friends join together to present Songs to Amuse, Sunday, October 5th at 2pm.  First Unitarian Universalist Society in Albany hosts us in this special fundraiser.  An afternoon not to be missed and a great way to support Musicians of Ma’alwyck. Tickets are $35 per person and available at rwww.musiciansofmaalwyck.org

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