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Franz Tunder (Composer)

Born: 1614 - Lübeck (or Bannesdorf or Burg on the island Fehmarn), Germany
Died: November 5, 1667 - Lübeck, Germany

Franz Tunder was a North German organist and church composer of the early to middle Baroque era. He was an important link between the early German Baroque style which was based on Venetian models, and the later Baroque style which culminated in the music of J.S. Bach; in addition he was formative in the development of the chorale cantata.


Little is known about Franz Tunder's early life other than that he probably studied first with his father, and his talent was sufficient to allow him to be appointed as court organist to Duke Friedrich III of Holstein-Gottorf in Gottorf at the age of 18. A few years earlier, he had gone to Italy in the company of Johann Heckelauer, and it is likely that he studied with Girolamo Frescobaldi while he was in Florence (Johann Mattheson asserted that he did, but this has been disputed by later scholars).

Between 1632 and 1641 Franz Tunder worked in Gottorf as "Hoforganist". In 1641 he was appointed to the important position od the main organist at Lübeck's main church, the Marienkirche, succeeding Peter Hasse. His abilities found speedy recognition at the hands of his fellow-citizens, who granted him successive increases of salary and other advantages. In 1647 he became administrator and treasurer there as well. He held that post for the rest of his life.

His efforts, too, for the artistic development of church music with the aid of instrumental accompaniment were heartily seconded. Taking advantage of the fact that a violist and lutenist were usually engaged to perform in church, on the occasion of the official attendance of the magistrates, he gradually increased the number of instrumentalists for service on festival occasions, and surrounded himself with a phalanx of efficient violin, viola and trombone players. Out of these small beginnings originated the afterwards famous Abendmusiken of Lübeck, which took place more espeoially in the season of Advent. The earliest of these concerts occurred in 1646. The concerts seem to have originated as organ performances specifically for the businessmen who congregated at the weekly opening of the town's stock exchange. These concerts were to continue through the 17th and 18th centuries; they were distinguished from other concerts by having free admission (for they took place in a church), and by being financed by the business community.

One of his instrumentalists, who is also said to have been his pupil in composition, was Thomas Baltzar, who afterwards acquired celebrity in England as the most astonishing violin-player of his day. Tunder was succeeded on his death by Dietrich Buxtehude, who, it would appear, married the daughter of his predecessor in order to succeed to the position, a condition which was afterwards insisted upon in the case of Buxtehude's own successor.


Along with Johann Heinrich Scheidemann and Matthias Weckmann, Franz Tunder was a most important member of the North German organ school; however only few of his works are preserved. Of his compositions nothing was ever printed during his lifetime, and nothing was known until a happy accident led to the discovery in the Royal Library at Upsala in Sweden of a large number of church compositions by Buxtehude, Tunder, and other North German masters, which a former Swedish Royal Kapellmeister at Stockholm, Gustav Düben by name, had made it his business to collect and copy. 17 of Tunder's church works have thus been rescued from oblivion, and are now accessible in D.D.T. (first series), vol. iii, edited by Seiffert. They include pieces for solo voices with accompaniment for one or more strings and organ, as well as choral works . designed on a larger scale. Some are Choral cantatas with the Choral-melody sometimes as vocal solo with full accompaniment of strings, and also arranged and varied with other combinations of voices and instruments. One expressive little piece, Ach Herr, lass deine lieben Engelein, for soprano solo with accompaniment of strings and organ, has frequently been performed in Germany. It may be observed that the texts are mostly suitable for the season of Advent. Besides these vocal works of Tunder seven Choral-variations for organ by him exist in manuscript in the Library at Lüneburg. Of these, two have been published in modem times, one, Komm Heiliger Geist, is lithographed in Eitner's Monatshefte for 1886; the other, Jesus Christus unser Heiland, has appeared in a collection of ' Choral Vorspiele alterer Meister,' edited by Karl Straube.


Source: Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1952 Edition, by J.R. Milne); Wikipedia Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (January 2006)

Use of Chorale Melodies in his works


Chorale Melody


3 variations on the chorale Auf meinen lieben Gott manualiter

Auf meinen lieben Gott

Christ lag in Todesbanden, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Christ lag in Todesbanden

Herr Gott, dich loben wir, Chorale Fantasia for Organ

Herr Gott, dich loben wir [The German Tedeum]

Links to other Sites

HOASM: Franz Tunder
San Francisco Bach Choir: Franz Tunder

Franz Tunder (Wikipedia)


Georg Karstädt: "Franz Tunder", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie. 20 vol. London, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1980. ISBN 1561591742
Manfred Bukofzer: Music in the Baroque Era. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1947. ISBN 0393097455
Kerala J. Snyder: "Franz Tunder", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy

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Last update: Wednesday, June 14, 2017 15:56