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jackaubrey

The Organist's Daughter

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There was a pleasant drama by Stephen Wyatt on Radio 4 yesterday, and it's available on the BBC Iplayer.

 

Buxtehude wishes to retire, but tradition dictates his successor must marry his eldest daughter.......enter Handel and Bach...

 

John

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Didn't I read somewhere that Buxtehude had problems marrying off his daughter because, shall we say, she wasn't the most attractive one going? Or am I confusing him with someone else?

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It is known that one of the conditions for taking Buxtehude's place was that the successful candidate should marry his daughter.

We know that she was still unmarried at the late age of 30.

We know that Mattheson and Handel who considered the job visited Lubeck and left again very quickly.

 

That the marriage condition is what drove them away is only speculation, as is the guess that she was unattractive.

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It was always a post examination question (now and again) to give to boys at school - "What would have happened to European music had Buxtehude's daughter been born beautiful?"

 

Having been in Marienkirche the orther day I ask the present incumbant if the tradition still persists. No! It died out as part of the job specification in the ealry 19th century he told me.

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It is known that one of the conditions for taking Buxtehude's place was that the successful candidate should marry his daughter.

We know that she was still unmarried at the late age of 30.

We know that Mattheson and Handel who considered the job visited Lubeck and left again very quickly.

 

That the marriage condition is what drove them away is only speculation, as is the guess that she was unattractive.

 

Well indeed, but what exactly was behind this requirement, by no means unique to Lübeck, to marry the current post-holder's daughter? Surely Fräulein Buxtehude wasn't metaphorically manacled to her father's retirement - was she? I can only think that fathers (not just organists IIRC) did this in order to ensure that their daughters were properly provided for, in which case one has to suppose a previous lack of suitable suitors. Or was there more to it than that? To understand the motives must require a good knowledge of contemporary German social history and demographics, which is quite beyond me - but maybe someone else knows?

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Suddenly I'm wondering if German organists were members of a guild, as I'm led to believe trumpeters of the period were.

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Pen-and-ink drawing by Martin Cottam (as seen in 'Organists' Review'). Quite brilliant, I think, as are his other works.

 

http://www.martincottam.co.uk/viewgallery.php?gallery=pen_and_ink&start=2

Yes, I think I see the dilemma. Still, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so they say.

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If I might be allowed to jump a century or so,I am wondering whether it is possible to access volumes of Musical Opinion from 19th&20th centuries? It would seem that there were very lively discussions carried out via the correspondence columns and interesting contributions from organists and organ builders.

I have seen bound volumes of 19th century Musical Times and Musical Standard in bookshops but have never come across Musical Opinion in that format.

 

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“She was only the Organist’s Daughter,
But our Dietrich couldn’t do as he oughta
And wed her to Handel,
Preventing a scandal:
He’d not go, like a lamb to the slaughter.”

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“She was only the Organist’s Daughter,

But our Dietrich couldn’t do as he oughta

And wed her to Handel,

Preventing a scandal:

He’d not go, like a lamb to the slaughter.”

Excellent! :lol:

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How about:

 

A very plain maid once was tied

To her father's post, as the bride

Of him who'd succeed

The old chap -- oh, indeed

It explains why he never retired!

 

Rgds (skulking away with tail between legs),

MJF

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It is known that one of the conditions for taking Buxtehude's place was that the successful candidate should marry his daughter.

We know that she was still unmarried at the late age of 30.

We know that Mattheson and Handel who considered the job visited Lubeck and left again very quickly.

 

That the marriage condition is what drove them away is only speculation, as is the guess that she was unattractive.

 

It is only speculation, as you say. I feel moved to defend this unfortunate woman's reputation. (I didn't hear the play - perhaps it was sympathetic?)

 

She was single at the age of 30? I haven't heard that Handel ever married either. I don't recall anyone ever suggesting that it was because he was ugly. (We know Bach married- more than once- and he may already have had some lady in mind at the time.)

I'm afraid I know nothing of Mattheson's preferences; perhaps it would have been like offering - ahem - a hamburger to a vegetarian in the two cases mentioned?

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My limited intellect has encountered difficulty in trying to understand why Denis O'Connor's enquiry about getting hold of 19th century copies of Musical Opinion is mixed up with the attractions of Buxtehude's daughter. However it might be of interest that the Westminster Music Library near Victoria Coach Station had them some years back. I agree with him that the correspondence columns were very lively then on subjects including Hope-Jones which was the subject I was researching at the time.

 

Maybe try this link:

 

http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/libraries/special/music/

 

Careful though - the paper from 1895 or so was yellowed and extremely fragile and I had to own up to having torn some pages slightly as I was turning them. The staff were very kind though and let me out without a fine.

 

CEP

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We know nothing of Handel's "diet", as he jealously guarded his privacy. Hamburgers, vegetables, or perhaps nothing at all. There has been a lot of speculation, and attempts to find clues about his sexuality from analyses of his work. They probably tell us more about the analysts than about Handel.

 

Men have different preferences for women - some men prefer blondes - and the fact that one man finds a particular woman unattractive is no guarantee that another man might not find her very attractive.

 

Buxtehude died on 9th May 1707. Johann Christian Schieferdecker was appointed on 23rd June to replace him, and so when he married Anna Margreta Buxtehude on 5th September he already had the job, and Buxtehude pére was not present to enforce any marriage condition. Perhaps JCS liked the look of her!

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Oh dear, no more disparagement of the organist's daughter... and no more limericks after this one. (I can't help myself, really...)

 

It seems I've been terribly rude

To the daughter of old Buxtehude.

My apology's given.

May I come come back if'n

I show a more kind attitude?

 

Rgds

MJF

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Oh dear, indeed, MJF !

 

I hope that was a statement of intention, rather than an instruction; as I have felt moved by the recent poetical atmosphere to pen another deeply-felt, sensitive ode:

 

“The daughter of Herr Buxtehude

Was no looker- and quite a bit cruder

Than La Gioconda:

You’d not want to gander

At her for too long in the nude-uh.”

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It is known that one of the conditions for taking Buxtehude's place was that the successful candidate should marry his daughter.

We know that she was still unmarried at the late age of 30.

We know that Mattheson and Handel who considered the job visited Lubeck and left again very quickly.

 

That the marriage condition is what drove them away is only speculation, as is the guess that she was unattractive.

I must retract the statement that the marriage condition drove them away. Mattheson wrote that "We [him and Handel] travelled together ... We listened to that esteemed artist in his St Mary's church with dignified attention. However, since he had proposed a marriage condition in the matter, for which neither of us expressed the slightest inclination, we took our leave ..."

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