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Johann Christoph Altnikol (Composer, Bach’s Pupil)

Born: baptised January 1, 1720 - Berna, near Seidenberg, Silesia. Germany ((now Zawidów, Poland)
Died: July 25, 1759 - Naumburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Johann Christoph Altnikol [Altnickol] was a German organist and composer, and played also violin and cello. He matriculated at the University of Leipzig on March 19, 1744, studying theology, and became a private pupil of J.S. Bach in composition and keyboard instruments during the same year. He was also J.S. Bach’s copyist in the years 1744-1747. He is known mostly because of his marriage to Elisabeth Bach, J.S. Bach's daughter.

On January 18, 1748 J.C. Altnikol was appointed organist in Niederwiesa in Silesia. He often relied on his connection with the Bach family to obtain appointments. On July 24, 1748 J.S. Bach wrote a letter to the City Council, and on July 31, 1748 to the Burgomaster of Naumburg requesting the appointment of his son-in-law Johann Christoph Altnikol to the position of organist at Wenzelskirche (Saint Wenzel's Church), which had become vacant. In September of that year J.C. Altnikol received the appointment, and retained the post until his death. On January 20, 1749 J.C. Altnikol married Elizabeth Juliane Friedericia Bach (1726-1781), the daughter of his teacher, J.S. Bach.

Not many of J.C. Alnikol's works survive; in general, his compositions have not attracted much attention. J.S. Bach praised his music, but the great composer may have not been objective in his assessment of J.C. Altnikol.

J.S. Bach Connection - More

During his period in Leipzig (1744-1748) J.C. Altnikol assisted J.S. Bach as bass singer, string player, and copyist. He collaborated with the composer in the compilation of the 'Eighteen' Chorales (BWV 651-668), and in 1744 produced a fair copy of the newly completed and revised Well-tempered Clavier Part 2 (BWV 870-893). Other important J.S. Bach copies of J.C. Altnikol's include the Violin Sonatas BWV 1014-1019, the French Suites (BWV 812-817), and the St Matthew Passion (BWV 244).


Source: All Music Guide Website (by Keith Johnson), HOASM Website; Malcom Boyd, editor: Oxford Composer Companion J.S. Bach (Oxford University Press, 1999, Article author: Richard D.P. Jones)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (December 2005, November 2008); Thomas Braatz (January 2011)

Johann Christoph Altnikol: Short Biography | Passions-Pasticcio, BWV 1088 | Motet Nun danket alle Gott, BWV Anh 164

Bach's Pupils: List of Bach's Pupils | Actual and Potential Non-Thomaner Singers and Players who participated in Bach’s Figural Music in Leipzig | Bach’s Pupils - Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2

Works previously attributed to J.S. Bach

Some movements of Passions-Pasticcio, BWV 1088
Motet Nun danket alle Gott, BWV Anh 164

Works performed by J.S. Bach

Motet Nun danket alle Gott, BWV Anh 164 (Text: Bible, Martin Rinckart) - performed by J.S. Bach in Leipzig c1748 ?

Use of Chorale Melodies in his works


Chorale Melody


Befiehl du deine Wege, motet for SATB chorus

Befiehl du deine Wege

Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ, for organ

Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ

Links to other Sites

Johann Christoph Altnickol (AMG)
HOASM: Johann Christoph Altnikol

ALTNIKOL, Johann Christoph (BBKL) [German]


A. Dürr, 'Zur Chronologie der Handschrift Johann Christoph Altnickols und Johann Friedrich Agricolas', BJb 56 (1970), pp. 44-65.

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Last update: Wednesday, June 14, 2017 08:28