Composer, Organist, Music Theorist. Born Michael Schultze in Creuzberg, Germany, he studied music and theology at the University of Frankfurt. For most of his life he was based at the Wolfenbuttel court of the Duke of Brunswick, as organist (from 1595) and then Kapellmeister (1604 to 1620), while also lending his services to other nobles families. Along the way he acquired an extensive knowledge of Italian music, which influenced his own compositions. He died on his 50th birthday, leaving his considerable fortune to charity. Praetorius was the most versatile and prolific German musician of his time. His best known work, "Terpsichore" (1612), a collection of 300 dances, comprises the largest surviving body of chamber music by a single composer up to that time, and he published over 1000 Protestant hymn-based vocal pieces in 21 books. These include "Musae sioniae" (9 volumes, 1605 to 1611), "Polyhymnia exercitatrix" (1620), and "Puericinium" (1621). Praetorius was also an important pioneer in the field of musicology. Much of our knowledge of 16th Century musical practice derives from his encyclopedic text "Syntagma musicum" (3 volumes, 1614 to 1620), featuring illustrations of contemporary instruments. As both composer and writer he planned a comprehensive survey of European music but died before this ambitious project could be completed.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards