Nicolaus Bruhns

Nicolaus Bruhns (1665–1697) was a German organist, and composer. He was one of the most prominent organists and composers of his generation.
Bruhns was born in Schwabstedt, a small settlement near Husum. He came from a family of musicians and composers. He probably received his first music lessons from his father.
At age sixteen, Bruhns, together with his younger brother Georg (1666-1742), was sent to Lübeck to study the organ and compositions under Dieterich Buxtehude. He was so impressed with Bruhns’ talents and progress that he considered him his best pupil and eventually recommended him for Copenhagen. There Bruhns worked as organist and violinist. In 1689, he competed for the position of organist of the Stadtkirche in Husum and was unanimously accepted. Bruhns remained in Husum until his untimely death in 1697, at the age of 31.
Bruhns’ surviving oeuvre is unfortunately small: only 12 vocal and 5 organ pieces are extant. The vocal works include four sacred concertos that established a new level of virtuosity in the genre, and three sacred madrigal cantatas that represent a direct link with the next century and the work of Johann Sebastian Bach. The organ works comprise four praeludia and a chorale fantasia on the hymn Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland. The most significant of these pieces is the larger of the two E minor praeludia, which is usually cited as one of the greatest works of the North German organ tradition.

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