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Johann Friedrich Meister (Composer)

Born: 1638 - Peine, near Hannover, Germany (or baptised: February 12, 1655 - ?Ebstorf, near Uelzen)
Died: October 28, 1697 - Flensburg, Germany

The German composer, Johann Friedrich Meister [Maistre,],

Johann Friedrich Meister [Maistre, Maestro, Mêter u.ä.], was a German composer and organist, the son of a school-teacher. The date ‘before 1638’, usually given as his birth date, was first proposed by Schilling from information in Zimmermann (1904), but cannot be verified in any source. According to Moller he came from the area around Hannover. The only baptismal register from the area, at Ebstorf, records the baptism of one Johann Meister, son of the superintendent Adrianus Meister, on February 12, 1655, but we cannot be certain that this refers to Johann Friedrich.

The first definite information we have is that Johann Friedrich Meister was recruited by the Hanoverian Kapellmeister N.A Strungk on January 20, 1677 as music director of the court Kapelle of Duke Ferdinand Albrecht I of Brunswick-Lüneburg at Schloss Bevern. Prolonged arguments between the duke and his musicians, mainly about pay, culminated in Meister’ s imprisonment at the beginning of October 1678. With the help of friends, he succeeded in escaping and, despite being pursued, he secured another post in the service of Bishop August Friedrich of Lübeck at Eutin. On April 18, 1683 he succeeded Caspar Ferkelrath as organist of the Marienkirche, Flensburg, where his duties included the composition of sacred vocal music, as well as playing the organ. He was on friendly terms with the ducal family at nearby Schloss Glücksburg, and his instrumental music may have been composed for performance there. Members of the ducal family were godparents to two of his children.

Many of Johann Friedrich Meister’s church cantatas are in verse form, even when they use biblical prose texts. The individual verses follow various structural models, often strung together in a regular sequence of concerto, aria and chorale. Ritornello form is also much in evidence. The solo cantata Ach, Herr, straf mich nicht is notable for the expressive use of musical figures to underline the meaning of the text, but such word-painting is only sparingly employed in the other cantatas. Il giardino del piacere consists of 12 suites, each with between three and seven movements, scored for a trio sonata combination.

Works (selection)

Fürstliche Holstein-Glücksburgische musicalische Gemüths-Belustigungen (Hamburg, 1693), 12 ptbks; lost, cited in Moller
Il giardino del piacere, overo Raccolta de diversi fiori musicali, come sonate, fughe, imitationi, ciaccone, passagaglie, allemande, correnti &c. (
Hamburg, 1695), 4 ptbks
Sähnliches Todes-Verlangen … Martin Jessen in musicalischer Trauer-Harmonie componirt (Schleswig, 1697) [including sinfonia from cant. Zum Frieden und zur Ruh]
14 cantatas, D-Bsb: Ach, dass die Hülfe, 2 T, 2 vn/ob, bn, bc; Ach, es ist ein elend jämmerlich Ding, SSTTB, 4 va, bc; Ach, Herr, straf mich nicht, S, bc; Confitebor tibi Domine, B, 3 vn, bn, bc; Es ist ein k
ِstlich Ding, 2 T, 4 insts, bc; Habe deine Lust an dem Herrn, TTB, 3 insts, bc; Ich bin das Brot des Lebens, ATB, 2 insts, bc; Mein Seelenbräutigam, 2 S, 3 insts, bc; Unser Wandel ist im Himmel, SSB, 2 va, bn, bc; Was mein Gott will, das muss geschehen, SATB, 3 insts, bc; Welt ist Welt, drum mein Gemüt, SATB, 6 insts, bc; Wie schِn leuchtet der Morgenstern, T, B, chorus, 2 insts, bc; Wo soll ich fliehen hin, SSB, 3 insts, bc; Zum Frieden und zur Ruh, SATB, vn, 2 va, bn, bc

Il giardino piacere: La Musica seconda, d-moll
Il giardino piacere: La Musica quarta, e-moll
Il giardino piacere: La Musica quinta, C-dur
Il giardino piacere: La Musica sesta, a-moll
Il giardino piacere: La Musica decima, c-moll
Il giardino piacere: La Musica undecima, D-dur


Source: NRK Website; Grove Music Online, © Oxford University Press 2006, acc. 5/24/06 (Author: Andreas Waczkat)
Contributed by
Thomas Braatz (January 2006, May 2006); Teddy Kaufman (May 2006)

Use of Chorale Melodies in his works


Chorale Melody


Cantata Was mein Gott will, das muß geschehen [This is probably not the same chorale, but a different one - with a different melody?]

Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh allzeit

Cantata Wo soll ich fliehen hin SSB, 3 instruments, bc

Wo soll ich fliehen hin

Links to other Sites



J. Moller: Cimbria literata (Copenhagen, 1744), ii, 550
P. Zimmermann : ‘Herzog Ferdinand Albrechts I. zu Braunschweig und
Lüneburg theatralische Aufführungen im Schlosse zu Bevern’, Jb des Geschichtsvereins für das Herzogtum Braunschweig, iii (1904), 119-28
E. Praetorius: ‘ Mitteilungen aus norddeutschen Archiven Über Kantoren, Organisten, Orgelbauer und Stadtmusiker
نlterer Zeit bis ungefähr 1800’, SIMG, vii (1905-6), 204-52
H. Schilling : Tobias Eniccelius, Friedrich Meister, Nikolaus Hanff: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der evangelischen Frühkantate in Schleswig-Holstein (diss., U. of Kiel, 1934)
H.P. Detlefsen : Musikgeschichte der Stadt Flensburg bis zum Jahre 1850 (
Kassel, 1961)
A. Edler : Der nordelbische Organist: Studien zu Sozialstatus, Funktion und kompositorischer Produktion eines Musikerberufes von der Reformation bis zum 20. Jahrhundert (
Kassel, 1982)
F. Krummacher : Die Choralbearbeitung in der protestantischen Figuralmusik zwischen Praetorius und Bach (
Kassel, 1982)

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