playlist | from the Schneeberger Orgel- und Clavierbuch

Anonymous (c.1700) ” Ciaccona in Em ‘Schneeberger Clavierbuch’ (D-LEm : Becker II. 6. 22.)

The collection of manuscript music that is known today either as the ‘Schneeberger Clavierbuch’ or as the ‘Schneeberger Orgel- und Clavierbuch’ is a large three-part volume of keyboard works. It is housed in the Leipzig Municipal Library (D-LEm) at shelfmark Becker II. 6. 22. The manuscript’s last private owner was the Leipzig musician Carl Ferdinand Becker (1804–77) who gave the manuscript to the library in 1851. Quite how the manuscript came to be owned by Becker is not known.

St Wolfgang Schneeberg, DE.

It is the first section of this manuscript (43 pages) that is discussed here and for clarity I refer to it as Schneeberger: part 1. It is the work of Christian Umblaufft (1673–1757) the cantor of St Wolfgang’s church in Schneeberg (Saxony). It comprises 27 pieces of music by various central-German musicians working mainly in an area south of Leipzig during the late 17th century and the early 18th century. They are David Heinrich Garthoff (?–1741), Gottfried Ernst Pestel (1659?–1732), Christian Pezold [Petzold] (1677–1733), Christian Umblaufft, Nicolaus Vetter (1666–1734), Andreas Werckmeister (1645–1706) and Christian Friedrich Witt (c.1660–1717).

Saxon (DE)

Schneeberger: part 1 is one of only a handful of this period’s surviving  non-chorale-based German organ-music collections to originate outside the circle of J. S. Bach.  Also – and thus far – Schneeberg: part 1 contains Christian Umblaufft’s only surviving keyboard works.

Schneeberg (DE)

Christian Umblaufft was born in Bischofswerda (Saxony) the child of Christoph Umblaufft (n.d;  mother not identified) a cloth maker and town councillor. Christian’s first teacher was Bischoffswerda’s cantor Adolph Caschauer (fl. 1674–90). In 1684 Umblaufft took up a place at the St Thomas school in Leipzig under the tutelage of the cantor, Johann Schelle (1648–1701). From 1694 Umblaufft was enrolled at the local university and in 1696 was appointed to the post of cantor at St Wofgang Schneeberg where he remained for the rest of his life.

At some point Umblaufft passed Schneeberger: part 1 to Gottfried Linke (c.1695–1760) the Schneeberg church’s organist (1717-1760), possibly around 1719 after a disastrous fire in the town had destroyed all of Linke’s music. NB The second and third sections of D-LEm: Becker II. 6. 22. are the later work of Linke.

  • Playlist : more tracks coming soon

Manuscript Index
1. Christian Umblaufft (1673–1757) : Praeludium ex C
2. Christian Umblaufft : Praeludium ex c
3. Christian Umblaufft : Praeludium ex e
4. Christian Umblaufft : Praeludium ex g
5. Christian Umblaufft : Praeludium ex f
6. Christian Umblaufft : Praeludium ex D
7. Andreas Werckmeister (1645–1706) : Canzon ex g
8. David Heinrich Garthoff (d. 1741) : Praeludium ex C
9. David Heinrich Garthoff : Praeludium ex c
10. David Heinrich Garthoff : Praeludium ex D
11. David Heinrich Garthoff : Praeludium ex d
12. David Heinrich Garthoff : Praeludium ex E
13. David Heinrich Garthoff : Praeludium ex F
14. Anonymus : Air (con Variatione) ex c
15. Christian Pezold [Petzolt] (1677–1733) : Fuga ex d
16. Anonymus : Praeludium ex d
17. Nicolaus Vetter (1666–1734) : Fuga ex G
18. Gottfried Ernst Pestel (1654–1732) : Ciaccona ex C
19. Anonymus : Alia Ciaccona ex e
20. Anonymus : Ciaccona ex d
21. Gottfried Ernst Pestel : Gigue Suite ex g
22. Christian Friedrich Witt (c.1660–1717) : Canzon ex B
23. Christian Friedrich Witt : Ciaccona ex B

References and further reading
Jam van Blezen ‘Het tempo van de Franse barokdansen’ [The tempo of French Baroque dances] in Tempo in de achttiende eeuw, red. K. Vellekoop, Utrecht 1984 (Stimu), 7-25, 37-59. [Abstract in English: web] | [Full version in Durch: PDF]
D-LEm Becker II.6.22. Sachsen digital. Online resource, accessed 5 August 2023.
– Wolfgang Eckhardt. ‘Mitteldeutsche Tastenmusik um 1700: Zu Geschichte und Repertoire der Sammelhandschrift II.6.22 der Leipziger Städtischen Bibliotheken-Musikbibliothek‘. Ständige Konferenz Mitteldeutsche Barockmusik in Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt und Thüringen: Jahrbuch, 2002 (2004), 290-304. Online resource, accessed 5 August 2023.
– ‘David Heinrich Garthoff‘ [in German]. Wikipedia. Online resource, accessed 17 September 2023.
– Enrico Lange ‘Vorwort’. Das Schneeberger Orgel– und Clavierbuch um 1705. (Altenberg: Hans Jürgen Kamprad, 2020)
– Michael Maul ‘The Schneeberger Clavierbuch: history and repertoire’. Sleeve-notes in the CD Das Schneeberger Orgel- und Clavierbuch um 1705. Enrico Langer, organist. (Kassel: Querstand, 2018. ASIN: B07Q5CPRZV)
– Karl Wilhelm Mittag. Chronik der königlich sächsischen Stadt Bischofswerda (1861). Online resource, accessed 5 July 2023.
– ‘Chrsitain Pezold[Petzold]‘. Wikipedia. Online resource, accessed 10 August 2023.
– ‘Nicolaus Vetter‘. Wikipedia. Online resource, accessed 10 August 2023.
– ‘Andreas Werckmeister‘. Wikipedia. Online resource, accessed 10 August 2023.

Techincal Notes
– Edition. Das Schneeberger Orgel– und Clavierbuch um 1705. (Altenberg: Hans Jürgen Kamprad, 2020), edited by Enrico Langer.
Temperament: Kirnberger II; pitch A=440
Organ: Viscount Sonus 60
Microphone: Zoom Q2N-4K
– Recordings: ©Andrew Pink (2023). All rights reserved. Creative Commons licence: [Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International]
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playlist | Johann Christoph Bach: 44 Chorale Preludes

Portrait of a musician [Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703)]. Anonymous, circa 1700. [Source: Berlin, ‘Archiv für Kunst und Geschichte’ (Prussian State Library)]
Johann Christoph Bach (1642–1703) – an older relative of the great Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) – was employed as the organist of the municipal church of St George at Eisenach in the Thuringia region of Germany. The town was then the capital of the Dukes of  Saxe-Eisenach and Johann Christoph was separately employed as a harpsichordist at the ducal court.  NB He is not to be confused with:
– Johann Christoph Bach (1645–93) active in Arnstadt
– Johann Christoph Bach (1671–1721) active in Ohrdruf
– Johann Christoph Bach (1673–1727) active in Gehren
– Johann Christoph Bach (1676–1738) a son of our Johann Christoph Bach

The source of Johann Christoph Bach’s Choräle is a manuscript that is widely referred to as ‘Spitta MS.1491’, the scribe unknown. It comprises seventeenth-/eighteenth-century German keyboard works. The manuscript’s last private owner was the Bach scholar Phillip Spitta (1841–94). It is now in the library of the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK); shelf-mark RH 0093. The title-page of the Choräle translates as: Chorales / Which may be used as preludes during services / Composed & distributed by Johann Christoph Bach / Corporation of Eisenach. These pieces first appeared in print in 1929 as “44 Choräle zum Präambulieren” edited by Martin Fischer for  Bärenreiter (Kassel) and that edition, still in print, remains the only published source.

These chorale preludes are akin to written-down improvisations, using simple contrapuntal forms and close major-minor shifts. They are not arranged in any particular order. Each broadly has the same musical structure in which the first line of the hymn is played as a solo that is then given a straightforward imitative treatment, often in just three voices, interspersed with short melodic sequences, ending with a coda over a sustained pedal note.

Although not concert-programme material these charming, straight-forward little pieces are adaptable to a wide range of registrations and they can make a most respectable contribution to the work of the liturgical organist.

Playlist: click on any title to start the playlist

References and further reading
‘A Bach Manuscript Recovered: Berlin, Bibliothek der Hochshule der Kunste, Spitta Ms. 1491’ by David Schulenberg. Bach Notes: the newsletter of the American Bach Society. Fall 1998.
– ‘Constructing Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703)’ by Daniel R. Melamed. Music & Letters, Vol. 80, No. 3 (Aug., 1999), pp. 345-65. 
Johann Christoph Bach. Wikipedia. Accessed 6 April 2023. 

-‘Johann Christoph Bach’s New Organ for Eisenach’s Georgenkirche’ by Lynn Edwards Butler. Bach, Vol. 35, No. 1 (2004), pp. 42-60.
– Portrait of Johann Christoph Bach. Anonymous c.1700. Archiv für Kunst und Geschichte, Berlin. Online resource accessed 6 April 2023.
– Spitta MS 1491. Universität der Künste Berlin: shelfmark RH 0093.

Technical notes.
– Edition: Johann Christoph Bach (ed. Martin Fischer) 44 Choräle zum Präambulieren. Catalog BA00285. (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1929; repr. 2019)
Temperament: Werckmeister III; pitch A=440 
Organ: Viscount Sonus 60 
Microphone: Zoom Q2N-4K 

– Recordings: ©Andrew Pink (2023). All rights reserved. Creative Commons licence: [Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International]

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playlist | Eight short preludes & fugues attributed to J. S. Bach (BWV 553–560)

The set of ‘eight short preludes and fugues’ discussed here date to the period 1730–50 (Williams) but for stylistic reasons are no longer judged to be the work of J.S. Bach himself (Durr, Lohmann, William). However, they still retain their place in the Bach Werke Verzeichnis (BWV), the official J.S. Bach catalogue, as numbers 553–560.

The first page of BWV 553. [Source: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin ‘D-B Bach P 281’]

The earliest surviving source of ‘the eight’ is in one of five separately copied manuscripts that have been bound together into a single volume containing 12 keyboard works: ‘the eight’ plus copies of BWV 913.2; 718; 916; 735.1.
It has been suggested that the scribe of ‘the eight’ was Bach’s great-nephew J.C.G. Bach (1747–1814) and that subsequently the whole volume was in the possession of J.S. Bach’s last pupil J.C. Kittel (1732–1809) (Lohmann, Williams). The manuscript volume was latterly owned by Georg Poelchau (1773–1836) who was an avid collector of Bach materials. Since 1841 the manuscript has been in the collection of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin as ‘D-B Bach P 281’.

The same paper used for ‘the eight’ is also found in three sections of another Bach manuscript, ‘D-B Bach P 803’, one of whose scribes has been identified as J.L. Krebs (1713–80) (Williams), a pupil of Bach.
A now-lost manuscript of ‘the eight’ – scribe unknown – was once owned by Bach biographer J.N. Forkel (1749–1818) and then by a promoter of Bach’s work F.C. Griepenkerl (1782–1849). It was used to produce the 1852 C.F. Peters (of Leipzig) edition of ‘the eight’ and is likely to have been a copy of Poelchau’s manuscript. (Durr)

Given that nowadays ‘the eight’ is merely “attributed” to Bach commentators have tried to identify alternative composers but with no clear consensus emerging beyond stylistic traits, e.g. Italian concerto (no.1); durezze (no.3); neo-galant (no. 4); toccata (no.5); southern fugal styles (nos. 1, 4, & 5). (Durr, Lohmann, Williams).

My own hypothesis (2022) is that ‘the eight’ is likely to be by a student of Bach, born out of the partimento method of teaching composition at the keyboard, a teaching method used by Bach. Broadly speaking, this method employs an independent given bass line containing sufficient elements for the student to create a complete composition. (Milka). In ‘the eight’ can be found some (not all) motifs that are strongly familiar with some of those in the c.1734 partimento-collection “L’A.B.C. Musical” by Gottfried Kirchhoff (1685–1746), a composer-organist known personally to Bach (Milka); see two examples below. My hypothesis implies that there will be other (as-yet unidentified) generative sources for ‘the eight’.

In addition it is worth noting that there is evidence of a clear intention behind the organisation of ‘the eight’, i.e. that it is not an ‘ad hoc’ assembly. This is because the sequence of pieces in ‘the eight’ is in keeping with other early eighteenth-century keyboard collections with content ordered by ascending key progression and the pairing of major and minors keys, although in ‘the eight’ only one key is paired. Perhaps ‘the eight’ is an incomplete Bach-student project planned to be a larger collection?

NB The sequence of each piece’s tonic note forms the Mixolydian mode.


The attraction of this collection for me is not only that individual movements are useful in liturgical settings but also that the set, when played complete, makes a pleasing and varied baroque-period concert item.

In preparing these recordings of ‘the eight’ I have taken account of Baroque-period theory concerning the emotional character (affekt) of different musical keys, here pursuing a 1713 affekt-theory of the Hamburg composer and influential theorist Johann Mattheson (1681–1764). The instrument I am using is tuned according to the Baroque Werckmeister III system.

      1. C- major: … it has a rather hearty and confident character suited to the expression of joy.
      2. D-minor: … somewhat devout and calm, at the same time affecting, agreeable, and expressive of contentment … for the furthering of devotion in the church … ‘skipping’ music must not be written in it, whereas flowing music will be very successful.
      3. E-minor: … whatever one may do with it, it will remain pensive, profound, sad, and expressive of grief in such a way that some chance of consolation remains.
      4. F-major: … capable of expressing the most beautiful sentiments … generosity, steadfastness, love, or whatever else may be high on the list of virtues. It is natural and unforced when used to express such affects. It compares to a handsome person who looks good whatever he may do and who has, as the French say, ‘bonne grace’.
      5. G-major: … insinuating and persuasive … somewhat brilliant and suited to the expression of serious as well as joyful affects.
      6. G-minor: … almost the most beautiful key … rather serious combined with spirited loveliness, uncommon grace and affability … it lends itself well and flexibly both to moderate plaintiveness and tempered joy.
      7. A-minor: … somewhat plaintive, modest and relaxed … relaxing but not disagreeably so, These are qualities not immediately apparent in the free Stylus phantasticus manner of the prelude nor in the confident duple pulse of the fugue. While this music is neither ‘relaxed’ nor particularly ‘relaxing’ it has a plaintive quality, heightened by the sharp intonation of A minor in the baroque Werckmeister III temperament (tuning) of the instrument used here.
      8. Bb-major: … very diverting and showy … it can pass as both magnificent and graceful … it elevates the soul to greater things.

Playlist: click on any title to start the playlist.


  • Technical notes.
    – Edition: Johann Sebastian Bach Acht kleine Präludien und Fugen. Series: Barenreitr Urtext. (Kassel ; London : Bärenreiter 1990)
    Temperament: Werckmeister III; pitch A=440

    Organ: Viscount Sonus 60
    Microphone: Zoom Q2N-4K
    – Recordings: ©Andrew Pink (2022–23). All rights reserved.

    Creative Commons licence: [Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International]

#TheOrganShow #InternationalOrganDay #bach #Bach330 #internationalorganday @InternationalOrganDay @internationalorganday @Bach330 @Bach