H. Scheidemann Praeambulum in d (WV 31)

Please note: does not play music until :19.

IMSLP14168-Scheidemann d moll no3

Praeambulum no. 3 in d, WV31


Heinrich Scheidemann (ca 1595-1663) founded the north German organ school. He studied with Jan Pieterszeelinck in Amsterdam from 1611-1614. Around 1625, he became organist at St. Kathrinen (Lutheran) Church in Hamburg, Germany, remaining there his entire life. Writing almost exclusively for the organ, he had enormous influence on both Buxtehude and J. S. Bach. The praeambulum developed from the short introit form. Scheidemann was known for his excellent preludes and especially for settings of chorale tunes which were a mixture of figural variations and imitative fantasias.


The prelude developed from a manner of liturgical improvisation. It contained strong modal tendencies and a functionally limited length. The function of the prelude was to get the attention of the listener and set the mode or pitch for the following movement, whether Mass, motet, hymn, etc. Scheidemann’s fifteen organ preludes are the largest number of his works that are not tied to the cantus firmus. Praeambulum no.3 in D, WV 31 was the first of his known prelude compositions. A short written-down improvisation, this prelude length as played on the example is :49. It was interesting to note that in measures 5 and 6 there seemed to be two sustained 4-3 chords accenting the half cadence of Dminor to A major. It was also a much easier piece to analyze in the way we are accustomed then previous eras have been. This clearly demonstrates the progression into tonality as we enter the Baroque period.


Looking at Praeambulum no.13 in G, WV 73, the progression of his prelude’s growth is obvious. Praeambulum no.3 in D, WV 31 is one page long, while No. 13 (WV 73) is six pages long. This growth is attributed to the extended fugal like middle sections that Scheidemann became known for. By measure 21 of the Praeambulum no.13 in G, WV 73¸ the piece becomes quite virtuosic and doesn’t return to the opening style until measure 129 (to the end at measure 141).

Link to No. 13 (WV 73):


Organ preludes have always appealed to me. Even as a teenager, I was fascinated by the sound and enjoyed the addition of a prelude to one of my favorite rock band’s album, Styx II. The power of the organ, with the breadth of sound that emanates from the pipes into everything around it, simply awes me. The research for the earliest of these organ composers also interested me, partly because I am a Lutheran.

Works CitedEdit

Breig, Werner and Pieter Dirksen. "Scheidemann, Heinrich." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed February 22, 2014,

Crocker, Richard. A History of Musical Style, 183-219. New York: Dover Publications, 1986.

Dirksen, Pieter. Heinrich Scheidemann’s Keyboard Music: Transmission, Style and Chronology. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2007

IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library. Praeambulum no.3 in D, WV 31.,_Heinrich%29.

IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library. Praeambulum no.13 in G, WV 73.,_Heinrich%29.

Randal, Don Michael, ed. “Prelude.” The Harvard Dictionary of Music, 4th ed. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2003.