Born: Feb­ru­ary 15, 1571, Creuz­burg an der Wer­ra, Thu­rin­gia.

Died: Feb­ru­ary 15, 1621, Wolf­en­büt­tel, Ger­ma­ny.

Buried: St. Ma­ry’s Church (in a vault be­neath the or­gan), Wol­fen­büt­tel, Ger­ma­ny.



His real name was Mi­chael Schult­heiß (Ger­man for may­or, which in La­tin is Prae­tor­ius).

Beginning in 1585, Prae­tor­ius stu­died theo­lo­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Frank­furt an der Od­er, where he was al­so an or­gan­ist. In 1595 (or ear­li­er—some sourc­es say 1592), he be­came court mu­si­cian to Duke Hein­rich Ju­li­us von Braun­schweig. The Duke’s Res­i­denz (roy­al seat) was not in Braun­schweig, but in a few miles away in Wol­fen­bü­ttel.

At first Prae­tor­ius was the Duke’s or­gan­ist; in 1604, he was ap­point­ed mas­ter of the Duke’s court mu­sic. The in­scrip­tion around the por­trait at the left reads, Mi­chael Prae­tor­ius, of Creutz­burg [sic] in Thür­in­gen, the Duke of Brun­swick Or­gan’s and Choir Mu­sic’s Master, at the age of thir­ty-five, in the year 1606.

From 1613–16, Prae­tor­ius was in Dres­den, at the court of the Kur­fürst von Sach­sen (Elec­tor of Sax­ony). Then he re­turned to Wolf­en­büt­tel, but from that time on, he tra­veled fre­quent­ly in cen­tral Ger­ma­ny, and was ve­ry ac­tive as a mu­sic­al ad­vis­er and Or­gan­i­sa­tor (or­gan­iz­er).


He was not on­ly a com­pos­er, but al­so a mu­sic­ol­o­gist. From 1605–10, he ed­it­ed Mu­sae Si­on­i­ae, a col­lect­ion of 1,244 ar­range­ments of songs and hymns in nine vol­umes. From 1615–19, he ed­it­ed his 3-vol­ume Syn­tag­ma mu­sic­um, about sac­red and pro­fane mu­sic­ol­o­gy.