I originally intended to post this cantata for Christmas Day, but, alas, my scheduling skills aren’t the ones I can be proud of. You would think there’s no way to confuse 25 with 26, but you’re wrong. I’m really talented if it comes to creating chaos. Anyway. This is one of my favourite Christmas music ever (let’s forget the fact that this piece was written for New Year’s Eve, shall we?) and I am not willing to leave it out of this series just because I still can’t do proper maths after going to school for 25 years. Ha, ha.
Dietrich (orig. Diderik Hansen) Buxtehude, although of Danish origin, is one of the greatest names in the history of the Early(ish) German Baroque music. During his lifetime he was well acknowledged and of a considerable reputation, and served as a role model for many younger composers like Händel, Mattheson and even Johann Sebastian Bach who, at the age of twenty, walked more than 300 kms from Arnstadt to Lübeck to study with him. He (Bach) rejected Buxtehude’s offer to marry his oldest daughter, Anna Margareta, though. He wasn’t entirely opposed to the idea of marrying into the Buxtehude family, but his choice of wife would have been Dorothea Catrin, the youngest of Buxtehude’s six daughters. Unfortunately, Buxtehude was a man who liked
things organised neatly everything to go the way of proper 17th century social customs, like successors marry the daughters of their predecessors and oldest daughters marry first. Poor Anna Margareta who, being somewhat over-proportioned and, at thirty, well over the desirable age, has a few years earlier already been rejected by both Johann Matheson and Georg Friedrich Händel. She obviously wasn’t that sweet little thing twenty-year-old composers dream of when applying for new jobs that come with a wife. Don’t worry, she did not end up as a spinster though: in 1707, at the age of 38, she wedded Johann Christian Schieferdecker, a composer of no real importance but a man of enough courage to take the risk of marrying a woman wanted by nobody. Brave guy.
And now let’s hope this post will go up on the 2. Day of Christmas instead of on Good Friday 2015.