Michael Praetorius (probably February 15, 1571 – February 15, 1621) was a German composer, organist, and writer about music. He was one of the most versatile composers of his age, being particularly significant in the development of musical forms based on Protestant hymns.
He was born Michael Schultze, the youngest son of a Lutheran pastor, in Creuzburg, Germany. After attending school in Torgau and Zerbst, he studied divinity at the University of Frankfurt (Oder). He served as organist at the Marienkirche in Frankfurt before working at the court in Wolfenbüttel as organist and (from 1604) as Kapellmeister. From 1613 to 1616 he worked at the Saxon court at Dresden, where he was exposed to the latest Italian music, including the polychoral works of the Venetian School. His subsequent development of the form of the chorale concerto, particularly the polychoral variety, resulted directly from his familiarity with the music of such Venetians as Giovanni Gabrieli. Michael Praetorius is entombed in a vault beneath the organ of St. Mary's Church in Wolfenbüttel, Germany.
His family name in German appears in various forms including Schultze, Schulte, Schultheiss, Schulz and Schulteis. Praetorius is the Latinized form of the family name.