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Georg Böhm (Composer)

Born: September 2, 1661 - Ohrdruf, Thuringia, Germany
Died: May 18, 1733 - Lüneburg, Germany

Georg Böhm was one of the leading organists and organ composers in his part of Germany in the years around 1700, and may have been an important influence on J.S. Bach.

Georg Böhm's father was a schoolmaster and organist who gave Georg his early lessons. It is also possible that the boy was taught by Johann Heinrich Hildebrand, the Kantor in Ohrdruf. His father died in 1675. After that Böhm attended Latin School in Goldbach and then Gymnasium in Gotha, graduating in 1684. In both towns the local Kantors were students of members of the Bach family, and gave Böhm continued lessons. In August 1684 he entered the University of Jena.

Georg Böhm's historical trail disappears until he is known to have been in Hamburg in 1693. Even so, it is not known what he was doing there. It is even possible that whatever main employment he had there was not musical; he was a well-educated man in general and could have pursued a "day job" while continuing to improve his musical skills. If so, Hamburg was a good place to do so, for it had a lively and varied musical life ranging from the presence of fine organists and a major opera house specializing in French and Italian works, and in nearby towns were located the great organists Lübeck and Dietrich Buxtehude. He may also have studied with Johann Adam Reincken. In 1686 Christian Flor, organist of the Johanniskirche of Lüneburg died. Böhm auditioned for the job and was chosen unanimously. He held the post until his death.

Since Böhm was from and worked in the region known as Thuringia, home of the Bach families, and since J.S. Bach trained in part at the St. Michael School in Lüneburg, there have been efforts to discover if Böhm had any part in training the future great master. So far, there had been no firm evidence found for or against. However, it is more than just likely that Böhm exerted some interest, for J.S. Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach wrote that his father "loved and studied the works of the Lüneburg organist Georg Böhm."

The influence is most notable in J.S. Bach's choral-based works. G. Böhm was part of a trend of the late part of the 17th century in which the church's organ chorale was developed into new forms. One of the primary ones is the "chorale partita." Here the Italian partita, a variation form using a dance song as its basis, is fused with the Lutheran church chorale, where a chorale melody became the basis of a set of variations, creating the form called "chorale partite." Böhm was fond of the new form, and created several of them, most likely intended for home use on pedal clavier. He methods of deriving new melodic forms from the original chorale, and his way of unifying the larger chorale pieces were take up by J.S. Bach. In other forms of keyboard music Böhm also introduced significant innovations. However, his vocal music shows less inventiveness.


Source: All Music Guide Website (Author: Joseph Stevenson)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (December 2005)

Works previously attributed to J.S. Bach

Chorale Partita for organ Vater Unser Im Himmelreich (VI), BWV 760
Chorale Partita for organ Vater Unser Im Himmelreich (VII), BWV 761

Use of Chorale Melodies in his works


Chorale Melody


Chorale Partite and variations on Ach wie nichtig, ach wie flüchtig, clavier

Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig

Allein Gott in der Höh Sei Ehr, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr

Auf meinen lieben Gott, Chorale Partite for Organ

Auf meinen lieben Gott

Chorale Partita with Variations on Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir

Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir

Christ lag in Todesbanden, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Christ lag in Todesbanden

Christum wir sollen loben schon, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Christum wir sollen loben schon

Chorale Prelude for organ Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort

Erhalt uns, Herr bei deinem Wort

Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele, for pedal clavier (?) Chorale Partita

Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele

Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ for clavier(?) a Chorale Partita

Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ

Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ

Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, Cantata for 5 voices, 3 trombones, 2 violins, bassoon, bc

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland

Vater unser im Himmelreich, chorale prelude for organ, BWV 760
Vater unser im Himmelreich, chorale prelude for organ, BWV 761
[These two chorale preludes were earlier thought to have been by J.S. Bach where they were incorrectly listed as BWV 760 and BWV 761]

Vater unser im Himmelreich

Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten, Chorale Prelude for Keyboard

Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten

Links to other Sites

Georg Böhm - Biography (AMG)
Böhm, Georg: Biography
Georg Böhm (Naxos)

The Georg Bohm Mp3 Page on Classic Cat
Georg Böhm (Wikipedia)
Georg Bohm (Encyclopædia Britannica)



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