Johann Pachelbel: 1653-1706
"A perfect and rare virtuoso" - Daniel Eberlin

Johann Pachelbel was born in Nuremberg, Germany in 1653, and is an important predecessor of J. S. Bach. He is chiefly known for "Pachelbel's Canon" (which I swear every person will recognise), but in his day was admired for his contribution to organ music for the German Protestant church. Pachelbel began his organ career in Vienna at St Stephen's Cathedral. In Eisenach (which would become Bach's birthplace), in 1677, Pachelbel became an organist, but a year later, he moved to Erfurt, where for the next 12 years served the Predigerkirche as an organist.

In fact, the Bach/Pachelbel coincidences keep occuring. In Erfurt, Pachelbel met the Bach family, became a godfather to one of Bach's sisters, taught Johann Christoph Bach (who in turn taught Johann Sebastian). Pachelbel, during this period of his life, married, but lost both his wife and baby son two years later in a plague epidemic. However, in 1684, Pachelbel remarried and managed to have and support seven children. He spent two years in Stuttgart as a court organist, three years in Gotha as town organist and then returned to Nuremberg to be organist at St Sebald's Church.

Pachelbel wrote complex organ chorales based on hymns, and these enormously influenced the organ chorales that Bach was to produce. Pachelbel was also a master of toccatas, ricercari, fantasias, chaconnes and variations. One famous set of variations by Pachelbel is his Hexachordum Apollinis (1699, six arias for organ or harpsichord). Apart from this, and his repetitive Canon (Canon and Gigue in D Major), Pachelbel wrote six double-violin/keyboard suites, motets, sacred concertos, and eleven settings of the Magnificat for chorus (these were intended for Vesper services in Nuremberg).

Source: 'The Great Composers' (Wendy Thompson)

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