The turn of the 17th century was a time of upheaval which affected both science and the arts as well the political, social and economic spheres. It was during this period, around 1600, when the aesthetics and practice of music were both undergoing radical change, that Michael Praetorius became chapel master at the Wolfenbüttel court, not only helping to usher in a new musical age but also acting as one of its key protagonists.

The new exhibition devoted to the life and work of Michael Praetorius is occasioned by the 400th anniversary of the composer’s death, which Wolfenbüttel marked in 2021. It will be shown at the same place in the north-eastern gallery of Wolfenbüttel’s Hauptkirche Beatae Mariae Virginis (Main Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary) where the exhibition of the Michael Praetorius Collegium created by Winfried Elsner A Paragon and Pillar of Church Music: Michael Praetorius (1571/72–1621) was on display from 2008 to 2023.

The exhibition Michael Praetorius: A Musician in a Time of Change brings a fundamentally new concept and design to this memorial site for Michael Praetorius. The colourful exhibition architecture is both a continuation of the church’s interior and a stand-alone in the sense that it creates a space within a space. The cube can be entered from all four sides, and the texts and images displayed on its outside and inside walls are thematically organised. While the outside walls present Praetorius’s life, environment, historical context and legacy, the inside walls are devoted to the different phases and aspects of his music and its significance in musical history.

The exhibition is curated by Sven Limbeck and Winfried Elsner and was developed in cooperation with the Protestant Church St. Marien and St. Trinitatis Wolfenbüttel, the Michael Praetorius Collegium e. V. Wolfenbüttel and Kulturstadt e. V. Wolfenbüttel. It is funded by Stiftung Zukunftsfonds Asse, the Michael Praetorius Collegium e. V. Wolfenbüttel and the Braunschweigische Stiftung.

Opening hours

Tue–Sat, 10 am – 12 pm and 2–4 pm; Sun, 2–4 pm

Admission: free

Online exhibition: Music of Transitions: Spaces and Voices of Michael Praetorius

The exhibition, which was shown in the Lessinghaus in 2021, can be viewed online at Google Arts & Culture.

Illustration: The portrait that Michael Praetorius used as the frontispiece for all the volumes of his Musae Sioniae (Regensburg, 1605; HAB, shelf mark: 2.5.5 Musica (1))