The most famous organist you've never heard of is probably Dieterich Buxtehude. He was the organist of the Marienkirche in Lübeck.
You've never heard of him because his career was eclipsed by his more famous student, Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach once traveled 200 miles by foot to hear Buxtehude play. Later, he studied with him from 1705-1706. Bach wanted to succeed Buxtehude as church organist in Lübeck but didn't want to marry his daughter, which was a condition for the position!
This morning, while lifting, I listened to this YT of some of Buxtehude's more well-known works.
The titles include (in English translation):
- O, My God and My Lord!
- Christ, our Lord, to the Jordan Came.
- Preserve us, Lord, through Your Word.
- Jesus Christ, Our Savior.
- Come to Me, Says God's Son.
- O Man, Do You Want to Live a Blessed Life?
- Now Come, O Savior of the Nations!
- Praise the Lord, O My Soul!
- We Praise You, O God!
- Was Not God with Us This Time?
- We Thank You, Lord Jesus Christ.
What an influence Buxtehude had on his pupil, whose compositions are no less Christ-centered. When I played the trumpet on the Eurocorps brass octet in 1978, we traveled throughout Germany playing evangelistic concerts. Here's how we would introduce a piece composed by J. S. Bach: "Er was nicht nur ein grosser Komponist, sondern auch ein überzeugter Christ" ("He wasn't only a great composer, but also a Christian by conviction").
Friends, it's the honest truth when I say that every book I've written, every sermon I've preached, every class I've taught, anything in my life that is worthy of emulation have all been a direct result of people who poured themselves into my life, just as Dieterich Buxtehude poured himself into the life of Bach. Make no mistake, we all need people like that in our lives. We all need another's encouragement, prodding, wisdom, example, insistence on excellence, and accountability -- someone who loves us enough to point out our blind spots. Maybe I've been that kind of a person in your life. I hope so. Nothing would please me more than to see my students far outshine any of my accomplishments.
We all have hard work ahead of us in the body of Christ. And that includes mentoring -- being mentored, and mentoring others.