Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706), one of the major keyboard composers of the late seventeenth century and a link between the southern and central German schools, having studied in Vienna and finally settled in his native Nuremberg, composed these Magnificat fugues while organist of St. Sebald, Nuremberg's wealthiest church, where he was employed from 1695 on. Unlike many other organ settings of the Magnificat (Canticle of the Virgin) that treated alternate verses of the chant, in the tradition of Renaissance vocal settings, Pachelbel's Magnificat fugues are preludial in nature, like his fugues based on chorales; they are brief intonations to establish the pitch for the singers, and thus occur in the contemporary equivalent of the eight different "tones" or modes of plainchant. Only a minority of them, however, use the chant formula, the majority being based on freely invented themes.