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Johann Nicolaus Bach [27] (Composer)

Born: October 10, 1669 - Eisenach, Thuringia, Germany
Died: November 4, 1753 - Jena, Thuringia, Germany

The German composer, Johann Nicolaus Bach [27], was the eldest son of Johann Christoph Bach [13], and the most noteworthy musician of that line. He was also the uncle of Maria Barbara Bach (J.S. Bach's first wife). He received his early musical training at home and in 1690 he entered the University of Jena, pursuing his musical studies with J.N. Knüpfer (son of Sebastian Knüpfer, Kantor of the Leipzig Thomaskirche). After a journey to Italy, the purpose and duration of which is not known, he succeeded Knüpfer in 1694 as organist of the town church at Jena. The university authorities were however reluctant to allow him to act in addition as organist at the Kollegienkirche, as Knüpfer had done, and it was not until 1719 that he finally took on the double post of town and university organist. In 1703 he had refused an appointment in Eisenach as successor to his father, primarily, no doubt, because of the better salary in Jena, where he lived in modest prosperity. Possibly he was in contact with his relative Johann Gottfried Bernhard Bach [47] during the latter's spell in Jena, 1738-1739. From 1745, in consideration of his age, he was provided with an assistant. In the Ursprung J.S. Bach called him 'present senior of all the Bachs still living'. Also according to J.S. Bach, correcting a reference in Johann Gottfried Walther's Musicalisches Lexicon (1732), it was Johann Nicolaus who discovered that 'the letters BACH are melodic in their arrangement' (see Bach-Dokumente, ii, no.323).

Johann Nicolaus Bach was a skilful composer; but the small number of his extant works hardly permits a characterization of his style. There are, however, no noticeable Italianate aspects such as might have resulted from his stay in Italy. Apart from being an organist, the leader of the university's collegium musicum and a composer, he was also an instrument maker, particularly of harpsichords. Adlung called him the inventor of the Lautenklavier. As an expert on organs he supervised the reconstruction of an instrument with three manuals and 44 stops in the Kollegienkirche, 1704-1706. Among his pupils was F.E. Niedt, writer of the well-known thorough bass method.


Mass, sopra cantilena Allein Gott in der Höhe, e, 1716 [Ky-Gl], cd. V. Junk (Leipzig, 1920). ed in SBA [beginning of Gloria by J. S. Bach]
Der Jenaische Wein- und Bierrufer (student music), ed. F. Stein (
Leipzig, 1921)
Konzert, Herr, wie sind deine Werke, D-B, also attrib. (3)
Johann Michael Bach
Organ chorale, Nun freut euch liehen Christen gmein, Bds
Keyboard suites, cited in J. Adlung, Anleitung zu der musikalischen Gelahrtheit (
Erfurt, 1758/R1953, 2/1783)


Source: The New Grove Bach Family (by Christoph Wolff, MacMillan London, 1983)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2006)

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Works performed by J.S. Bach

Mass in E minor, BWV Anh 166 (by J.N. Bach or Johann Ludwig Bach) - performed by J.S. Bach in Leipzig 1729

Use of Chorale Melodies in his works


Chorale Melody


Short Mass in E minor (edited by A. Fareanu 1920 and published by B & H ) has the chorale Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr“ embedded in the Gloria section

Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr

Links to other Sites

Johann Nicolaus Bach (Wikipedia)

Bach, Johann Nicolaus: Biography (Sojurn)


H. Koch: Johann Nicolaus, der "Jenaer" Bach, Ml, xxi (1968), 290

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