Praetorius: Christmas Music

Praetorius: Christmas Music

Westminster Cathedral Choir, The Parley of Instruments, David Hill (conductor)


Michael Schultheiss, alias Praetorius, was born in Creuzburg (a small town to the north of Eisenach) in February 1571, the son of a pastor who had been a pupil of Martin Luther. Although Praetorius spent most of his hectic life roaming the courts of Germany performing, teaching and advising on such matters as organ construction, he never lost sight of his origins. He always signed himself ‘M.P.C.’ (Michael Praetorius of Creuzburg), and he devoted most of his life to furthering the cause of Lutheran church music. His vast output of printed music (apparently only a fraction of what he planned) provided his contemporaries with every type of liturgical music, from two-part bicinia to large-scale polychoral concerti for voices and instruments in the new Baroque style, while his three-volume treatise Syntagma Musicum (Wolfenbüttel, 1619) was designed to equip them with every piece of information—historical, theoretical and practical—that they might need as musicians. He died, perhaps worn out by his exertions, at Wolfenbüttel in 1621 while only in his fiftieth year. He had been, at least nominally, Kapellmeister of the Braunschweig-Lüneburg court there since 1603.

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