Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck was born at Deventer in 1562 and died at Amsterdam on October 16, 1621.
He was a famous organist and the son of an organist, to whose post, at the Old Church of Amster-dam, he succeeded, occupying it until his death and crowding the church with a delighted auditory. Through his pupils, who came to him from Germany, Sweden, and elsewhere, the tradition of his playing was handed down, influencing the whole organ-playing art of northern Europe, including that of the great Bach himself. When Sweelinck died his son was appointed in his stead, and so for three gene¬rations, and probably for over a century, the Sweelinck family made music in the same building.
His compositions are mostly for church use - organ and choral works. The organ works show almost the earliest examples of independent pedal playing, and include the first completely worked-out fugues for organ, the elements of the form and style of which he took from the ricercari and fantasias of his day. Here, again, he prepared the way for Bach - who was to be born sixty-four years after he died. His work shows the influences of his personal friends, the English organists, John Bull and Peter Philips, respectively of Antwerp and Brussels. He left a treatise on composition, in which, as one exam¬ple, he included a canon by Bull - who wrote a fantasia based on a work of his.