German composer. The son of a pastor who had been a pupil of Luther, he became organist at the Marienkirche, Frankfurt an der Oder, in 1585. From 1595 he served the Bishop of Halberstadt as organist, demonstrating a new instrument there to many famous organists the following year. When his patron became Duke of Braunschweig-Lüneburg, he went with him to Wolfenbüttel and became his Kapellmeister in 1603. This post necessitated much travelling in Germany, which enabled him to earn widespread renown as a conductor of musical performances, an organ consultant, and a knowledgeable expert on practical music and on musical instruments.
Praetorius was a Lutheran church composer of amazing industry. Dominating his output is the 9-volume Musae Sioniae containing 1,244 chorale settings, but he published many others too, altogether including pieces on every conceivable scale from little bicima to massive Polychoral variations with instrumental support. He also wrote much other liturgical music and a set of 312 dances (Terpsichore). His 3-volume treatise Syntagma Musicum (1619) is an invaluable compendium of information on German music, musical instruments and performance, based on what he heard and saw in his travels.