Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Biographies of Poets & Composers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Bach & Other Composers

Johann Christoph Ritter (Composer, Bach's Pupil)

Born: 1715 - Gerrmany
Died: January 25, 1767 - Clausthal, Lower Saxony, Germany

Johann Christoph Ritter was a German organist and composer. He studied privately with J.S. Bach in Leipzig around 1740, at which time he made copies of Clavier-übung, I-II. In 1744 he was appointed organist of the Marktkirche in Clausthal, where he remained until the rest of his life. Clausthal is an important mining centre in the Harz mountains with a lively and independent cultural life.

Barthold Fritz, the Brunswick builder of keyboard instruments, frequently mentioned Johann Christoph Ritter in his treatise on keyboard tuning as the consignee of clavichords ‘for commission’, and Ritter’s numerous petitions to the Clausthal council regarding the disrepair of the organ show a comprehensive knowledge of and great experience in organ building. His only extant compositions are a set of 3 keyboard sonatas Drey Sonaten, denen Liebhabern des Claviers verfertigeterster Theil (1751), dedicated to the superintendent of mines, G.P. von Bülow, and published by Haffner of Nuremberg. These works, always interesting and full of good ideas, represent a historically important stage in the development of the early pre-Classical keyboard sonata.

A complete copy of J.S. Bach’s Clavier-übung, I-II (BWV 825-830, BWV 971, BWV 831), which he prepared around 1740, was long thought to be the only extant copy of these works dating from before J.S. Bach’s death; however, it seems to depend on the printed version of 1731 and obviously contains some writing errors (see Jones). Another copy of the same works, known in J.S. Bach scholarship as p215, is also in Ritter’s hand, but it was not written until after 1755.


Source: Grove Music Online (Authors: Erwin R. Jacobi/Dorothea Schröder, Accessed: June 18, 2014) Copyright © Oxford University Press 2007-2014; Oxford Composer Companions J.S. Bach (Editor: Malcolm Boyd, OUP, 1999); fine-print footnotes in the Bach-Dokumente
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2014); Thomas Braatz (January 2011, June 2014)

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

Links to other Sites



B. Fritz: Anweisung, wie man Claviere, Clavecins und Orgeln … gleich rein stimmen könne (Leipzig, 2/1757)
E.R. Jacobi: ‘Johann Christoph Ritter (1715-1767), ein unbekannter Schüler J.S. Bachs, und seine Abschrift (etwa 1740) der “Clavier-Übung” I/II’, BJb 1965, 43–62
E.R. Jacobi: Foreword to J.C. Ritter: Drei Sonaten für Cembalo (
Leipzig, 1968)
R.D. Jones: Introduction to Johann Sebastian Bach, 1. Teil der Klavierübung, Neue Bach-Ausgabe, V/i (
Kassel, 1978)

Biographies of Poets & Composers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Bach & Other Composers


Back to the Top

Last update: Wednesday, June 14, 2017 16:18