Site ©1996 Timothy A. Smith

Johann Kuhnau 1660-1722


In 1684, the year before Bach was born, Kuhnau became organist at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. Upon the death of Johann Schelle (1701) Kuhnau became music director of the Nikolaikirche, the university, and cantor at the Thomasschule as well (in which capacity he taught both Graupner and Heinichen). Bach, who succeeded Kuhnau in all of these positions except the university, knew Kuhnau at least since 1716 when together they had proved the new organ at the Liebfrauenkirche in Halle. Kuhnau's keyboard works exerted a tremendous influence upon keyboard style of the period and his Neue Clavierübung was the precedent for Bach's own four volumes, the last of which contained the Goldberg Variations. Kuhnau composed church cantatas, suites, and descriptive sonatas for harpsichord.

Bach's World Contemporaries Chronology