Press Release

Harvard to Commemorate Composer Dieterich Buxtehude with Series of Organ Recitals throughout Academic Year

Internationally acclaimed organist James David Christie to perform eight concerts at Harvard's Adolphus Busch Hall
Wed, 09/13/2006 - 18:16 -- wds
Cambridge, MA
September 13, 2006

In recognition of the 300th anniversary of the death of composer Dieterich Buxtehude (1637–1707), Harvard University presents The Buxtehude Tercentenary at Harvard, a series of organ recitals in historic Adolphus Busch Hall, beginning on Monday, September 25, 2006. Buxtehude is regarded as the most important composer of organ music before J. S. Bach and one of the most influential musicians of the 17th century in Northern Europe. Throughout the 2006–07 academic year, the complete organ works of Buxtehude will be presented in the series of eight concerts. Performed on the legendary D. A. Flentrop organ, all programs will be played by internationally acclaimed organist James David Christie, organist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, professor of music at Oberlin College, and artist-in-residence at The College of the Holy Cross.

Buxtehude belongs to the generation of organists before Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach and other composers, including Handel, traveled to hear Buxtehude perform at the historic St. Mary’s church in Lübeck, Germany, where he served as organist for forty years from 1667 until his death in 1707. “For many, Buxtehude exemplified the ideal universal musician, and his influence spread over Scandinavia, England, and Germany,” said Christoph Wolff, Adams University Professor at Harvard, Curator of the Isham Memorial Library, and Faculty Advisor to the Harvard-Radcliffe Organ Society. “In particular, Handel’s and Bach’s formative years were largely shaped by Buxtehude’s musical authority and by his achievements as a composer.” Professor Wolff is also the general editor of the forthcoming release of Buxtehude’s Collected Works, the last volume of organ works which will be published in conjunction with the concert series.

James David Christie is a renowned expert in the performance of baroque music and of Buxtehude in particular. Dr. Christie has been internationally acclaimed as one of the finest organists of his generation. He has performed concerts and given master classes throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Iceland and has performed and recorded with major symphony orchestras in Vienna, London, Stuttgart, Koblentz, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Baltimore, New York, and Boston. He was the 1979 First Prize winner of the prestigious Bruges (Belgium) International Organ Competition, the first American ever to win that prize and the first person in the competition’s eighteen year history to win both the First Prize and the Prize of the Audience.

The concert series will open on Monday, September 25, 2006 at 8:00 p.m. in Adolphus Busch Hall at 29 Kirkland Street on the campus of Harvard University, followed by performances on October 16, November 13, December 11, 2006 and February 12, March 19, April 2, and April 23, 2007. The series is sponsored by the Harvard University Art Museums, The Memorial Church, the Harvard Organ Society, and the Harvard University Department of Music, with Professor Christoph Wolff as series advisor, and is funded in part by the President and Provost’s Fund for Inter-Faculty Initiatives. Tickets are $175 for the series ($60 for Harvard students) or $25 for individual performances ($10 for Harvard students), and seating is very limited. For ticket information, please call Visitor Services at the Harvard University Art Museums at 617-496-2672.