Nicolaus Bruhns

Nicolaus Bruhns (Nikolaus, Nicholas) (1665 - March 29, 1697) was one of the greatest organists and composers of his time. He studied with Dieterich Buxtehude, who regarded him as among the very best of his students.


He initially learned music from his father Paul Bruhns (1640-1689?), the organist at Schwabstedt in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. He later studied composition and organ with Dieterich Buxtehude.

With Buxtehude's help, he received a post as violinist and composer at the court in Copenhagen, and in 1689 became the town organist in Husum, Germany, his last post before his tragic early death (sources disagree on whether he was 31 or 32 at the time).

Although primarily an organist, he had many musical talents; he was known for playing improvisations on the violin over a bass line played on the pedal board of the organ, and was one of the best composers of sacred cantatas of his era. He also composed chamber music, which is now unfortunately lost.

Johann Sebastian Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach later wrote to his father's biographer Johann Nikolaus Forkel that his father had greatly admired Bruhns' work. J.S. Bach's obituary stated that he studied and followed Bruhns' compositions.



  • Muss nicht der Mensch auf dieser Erden in stetem Streite sein
  • Ich habe Lust abzuscheiden
  • O werter heil'ger Geist
  • Hemmt eure Traenenflut
  • Ich liege und schlafe
  • Jauchzet dem Herren alle Welt
  • Wohl dem, der den Herren fürchtet
  • De profundis
  • Paratum cor meum
  • Die Zeit meines Abschieds ist vorhanden
  • Erstanden ist der heilige Christ
  • Der Herr hat seinen Stuhl im Himmel bereitet
  • Mein Herz ist bereit


Organ Works

  • Praeludium in e-Moll
  • Praeludium in e-Moll
  • Choralphantasie: Nun Komm Der Heiden Heiland
  • Praeludium in G-Dur
  • Fragment eines Praeludiums D-Dur
  • Praeludium in g-Moll


Further reading

The most recent and concise summary of Bruhns' life and works available in English.

  • Webber, Geoffrey. North German church music in the age of Buxtehude. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. ISBN 0-19-816212-X.

Covers a wide variety of topics related to church music, with considerable space given to Bruhns.

  • Snyder, Kerala J. Dieterich Buxtehude: Organist in Lübeck. New York: Schirmer Books, 1987. ISBN 0-02-873080-1.

This definitive biography of Buxtehude includes significant discussion of Bruhns' early life and context.

  • Fosse, R.C. "Nicolaus Bruhns", pp. 92-107 in The Musical Heritage of the Lutheran Church, ed. T. Hoelty-Nickel. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959.

The first substantial consideration of Bruhns in English.

  • Geck, Martin. Nicolaus Bruhns: Leben und Werk. Köln: Musikverlag H. Gerig, 1968.

Somewhat dated, this remains the central study of Bruhns to date.

  • Kölsch, Heinz. Nicolaus Bruhns. Kassel: Bärenreiter-Verlag, 1958. Issued in 1938 as thesis, Kiel.

The first landmark study of Bruhns' life and works.

External links

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