Music History Monday: Conrad Paumann
Play • 17 min

We mark the death on January 24, 1473 – 549 years ago today – of the German organist, lutenist, and composer Conrad Paumann, in Munich at the age of 63. Lest I be accused of dredging up an utterly unknown musician in order to come up with a topic on an otherwise topic-shy day, let us establish the following. Born circa 1410, by the year 1447, when the 37-year-old Paumann was appointed the official organist for the city of Nuremburg, he was considered the greatest organist in all of the German speaking lands, a position Johann Sebastian Bach would occupy some 275 years later. In that year of 1447, the poet Hans Rosenplüt (1400-1460) praised Paumann as being “master of all masters” as both an instrumentalist and as a composer. According to the unimpeachable musicologist and Bach scholar Christoff Wolff: “Despite his very limited surviving output, Paumann must be considered the leading figure in 15th-century German instrumental music, known internationally not only as a virtuoso but also as a composer.” Even in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries – hundreds of years after his death – Paumann was still remembered as the greatest organist of his time.  Writing in his Lectiones antiquae, published between 1601 and […]

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