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Praetorius, Michael (15th February? 1571-15th February 1621)

He was a virtuoso organist and organ builder, a High Renaissance/Baroque composer and musicologist born Michael Schultze in Creuzburg, Germany, as the youngest in the family of a Lutheran pastor.  The name Praetorius is the Latin form of the name Schultze, which means “mayor” in German.

He took divinity studied in the cities of Zerbst, Torgau and at the University of Frankfurt an der Oder and while in Frankfurt he was the organist at the Marienkirche.  He moved from there to the court of Duke Heinrich Julius of Braunschweig-Wolfenbuttal around 1595, where his initial position of organist was promoted to Kapellmeister.  When the Duke died he relocated to the court of Elector Johann Georg of Saxony in Dresden, where he developed the chorale concerto after having been exposed to Italian, particularly Venetian, music.

Much influenced by other German composers such as Heinrich Schutz and Samuel Scheidt he became an incredibly prolific composer and he as also known for his arrangements of music such as his harmonisation of the popular hymn “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen” (Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming).  His many compositions include over 1,200 songs and choral arrangements published in his 9-volume Musae Sioniae, numerous works for the Lutheran church and perhaps his best known Terpsichorefrom 1612 which contains of 300 instrumental dances.

As a writer on the subject of music he published Syntagma Musicum in three volumes detailing musical instruments, contemporary practices as well as listing over 40 volumes of printed music.

He died possibly on his 50th birthday and much of his wealth was given to organise a foundation for the poor.

Es ist ein Ros entsprungen/Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming recordings
Leroy Anderson and His Orchestra
Decca B0003552-02 (CD: A Leroy Anderson Christmas)

Cambridge Singers and City of London Sinfonia
(listed as “A Spotless Rose”)
Collegium 106 (CD: Christmas Night. Carols of The Nativity)
Conductor – John Rutter

Chicago Symphony Low Brass Ensemble
VOX 7501 (CD: Christmas with the Symphony Brass of Chicago)
Conductor – Barry Faldner

Robert Shaw Chorale 
RCA 6429 – 2 – RG (CD: A Festival of Carols)
(Arrangers – Robert Shaw/Alice Parker)

Dale Warland Singers + Ensemble
Gothic 49208 (CD: Christmas with the Dale Warland Singers)