Recordings/Discussions
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 Adolph Scheibe (Composer, Music Critic, Bach's Pupil)

Born: May 5, 1708 - Leipzig, Saxony, Germany
Died: April 22, 1776 - Copenhagen, Denmark

Johann Adolph [Adolf] Scheibe German composer, organist and significant critic and theorist of music.

Life

Johann Adolph Scheibe was born in Leipzig as the son of Johann Scheibe (c1675-1748), an organ builder; J.S. Bach tested the instrument he made for the Paulinkirche, Leipzig in 1717, the new Scheibe Organ at Johanniskirche, Leipzig in 1743, and the new Scheibe Organ (1746/1870) at Nicolaikirche, Zschortau in 1746 [see: Bach Report). J.A. Sheibe started keyboard lessons at the age of 6. He attended the Nikolaischule in Leipzig from 1719 to 1725. In 1725, he began studying law and philosophy at the University of Leipzig, and in the course of his studies he encountered the professor of rhetoric and poetry Johann Christoph Gottsched, whose aesthetic theories deeply influenced Scheibe. J.C. Gottsched's writings, which were primarily targeted toward the reform of German poetry and drama, greatly informed Scheibe's formulation of his philosophy of music. Due to financial difficulties, Scheibe was unable to finish his university studies, and devoted himself instead to a largely self-taught career in music. In 1729 he applied unsuccessfully for the post of organist at the Thomaskirche (or Nikolaikirche), Leipzig, where J.S. Bach was the Kantor. J.S. Bach’s letter of recommendation Leipzig April 4, 1731 was part of the (unsuccessful) application for organist at the Freiberg Cathedral; main abilities in music: playing instruments and composition. Scheibe was active in the musical scene of Leipzig until 1735.

In 1736, Johann Adolph Scheibe moved to Hamburg where he made influential friends including Johann Mattheson and Georg Philipp Telemann. Encouraged by both, Sheibe published the magazine Der Critische Musikus between 1737 and 1740. The magazine received widespread attention and remains significant today for its discussion of significant contemporary composers.

In 1739, Margrave Friedrich Ernst of Brandenburg-Culmbach named Johann Adolph Scheibe his kapellmeister. The next year, upon the invitation of the Margrave's sister, the Danish queen Sophie Magdalene, he became kapellmeister at the court of King Christian VI of Denmark. Scheibe rapidly became the most significant musical figure in Copenhagen. He led the Royal orchestra, composed vocal and instrumental music, and was a driving force in the foundation of the first musical society, "Det Musikalske Societet", which held public concerts between 1744 and 1749. After the king's death in 1746, his successor Frederick V affected a move away from the pietism of the previous monarchs. Theatre and opera were once again allowed, and the Royal Danish Theatre opened in 1749. Musical taste turned to Italian opera and French comic opera. Scheibe was strongly opposed to this new style, and his employment was terminated in 1747OCC or 1748Wik. His replacement was Paolo Scalabrini.

Johann Adolph Scheibe moved to Sønderborg where he opened a music school for children while continuing to write, compose, and translate Danish texts into German. During this time, he maintained contact with musical life in Copenhagen, often visiting to lead performances of works composed for royal occasions and concerts. The funeral cantatas for King Friedrich V and Queen Luisa are among his finest works. He published a collection of New Freemasons' Songs with Easy Melodies in 1749, having been a member of the Lodge of Zorobabel since 1746.

In 1762, Johann Adolph Scheibe returned to Copenhagen, where he remained until his death 14 years later. Though most of his music is now lost, he composed over 150 church pieces and oratorios, some 200 concertos, two operas, and numerous sinfonias, chamber pieces, and secular cantatas.

Literary Work

Johann Adolph Scheibe translated and wrote a biography of Baron Ludvig Holberg, whose works on natural and common law remained significant for 200 years.

He published a collected edition of the Critische Musikus in 1745. His other large works are the Treatise on the Age and Origin of Music (1754) and On Musical Composition (1773).

Commentary on his Contemporaries

Johann Adolph Scheibe held J.S. Bach and George Frideric Handel as the finest composers of keyboard music, citing structure and ornamentation as of primary importance. He considered J.S. Bach to be the finest contemporary player of the organ, harpsichord and clavichord, incomparable to all except G.F. Handel. J.S. Bach's Italian Concerto (BWV 971), published in 1735, was for Scheibe a perfect example of a well-constructed concerto.

Scheibe's often-quoted objections to the music of J.S. Bach derive from an anonymous letter from 1737 in the Critischer Musikus. Scheibe blamed J.S. Bach's music for being «bombastic». Johann Abraham Birnbaum (1702-1748), an admirer of J.S. Bach and Professor in rhetoric at Leipzig, defended J.S. Bach on that occasion. The quarrel between Scheibe and Birnbaum was a very long and significant one. According to Scheibe J.S. Bach's music was artificial and confusing in style, and the notation of such elaborate ornaments (rather than leaving ornamentation to the performer, as was customary) obscured the melody and harmony. Rather than a clear division between melody and accompaniment, J.S. Bach made all voices equal in his brand of polyphony, which Scheibe felt made the music overloaded, unnatural and oppressed. The exchange between Scheibe and Birnbaum did J.S. Bach's reputation some good, because Scheibe's prickly tone "everywhere stimulated sympathy for Bach." J.S. Bach himself did not respond in print, but others, including Lorenz Christoph Mizleri and C.G. Schröter, joined Birnbaum in the defence.

In Albert Schweitzer's famous book on Bach, Schweitzer describeScheibe as the literary champion of a distinctively German style of music, one that would break away from the Italian models. The Italian influence was toward artifice and complexity. The German impulse was toward naturalness and simplicity, to Scheibe's way of thinking. This theory made it "impossible for him to do justice to Bach," Schweitzer wrote. Bach was much too complicated, and thus too Italian, for his taste. Although of course acknowledging Bach's talents, he did conclude that Bach, tragically, had fallen "from the natural to the artificial, and from the lofty to the obscure ... one wonders at the painful labor of it all, that nevertheless comes to nothing, since it is at variance with reason."

Scheibe believed that musical talent was inborn, and that the musician could express emotions only by subjecting himself to their influence by the force of his imagination. In numerous published treatises and essays, Scheibe explored the nature of taste, melody, expression, and musical invention, and defended a nationalist conception of musical style. His theories, which were advanced for his time, were based on rational principles, purity of expression, the imitation of nature, and the application of the rhetorical arts to the processes of musical creation.

List of Musical Works

Instrumental Musik:
Concertos:
Concerto a flauto traverso in A (1), for flauto traverso, violin I-II, viola, violoncello
Concerto a flauto traverso in A (2), for flauto traverso, violin I-II, viola, basso
Concerto a flauto dolce in B, for flauto dolce, violin I-II, viola, basso
Concerto a flauto traverso in D (1), for flauto traverso, violin I-II, viola, basso
Concerto a flauto traverso in D (2), for flauto traverso, violin I-II, viola, basso
Concerto a flauto traverso in G, for flauto traverso, violin I-II, viola, basso
Concerto a hautbois d'amour in G, for hautbois d'amour, violin I-II, basso (violoncello, harpsichord)
Concerto a hautbois d'amour in h, for hautbois d'amour, violin I-II, basso (violoncello, continuo)
Concerto a violin in h, missing
Concerto a harpsichord in a, for harpsichord obligato, violin I-II, viola, basso, missing
Concerto a harpsichord in F, for harpsichord obligato, violin I-II, viola, basso, missing
Concerto a harpsichord in G, for harpsichord obligato, flauto I-II, basso, missing
Concerto a harpsichord in h, for harpsichord obligato, flauto I-II, viola, basso, missing

Sinfonias:
Sinfonia a 16 in D, for clarino concertato, clarino II, principale, tympani, horn I-II, flauto traversiere obligato, flauto traversiere I-II, oboe I-II, violin I-II, viola, bassono & fondamento (harpsichord)
Sinfonia a 6 in A, for flauto traverso I-II, violin I-II, viola, basso (violoncello & harpsichord)
Sinfonia a 6 in C, for flauto traverso I-II, violin I-II, viola, basso (violoncello & harpsichord)
Sinfonia a 6 in D, for flauto traverso I-II, violin I-II, viola, basso, missing
Sinfonia a 5 in D, for flauto traverso, violin I-III, basso (continuo con becif.)
Sinfonia a 4 in A, for violin I-II, viola, basso
Sinfonia a 4 in a, missing
Sinfonia a 4 in B (1), for violin I-II, alto viola, basso
Sinfonia a 4 in B (2), for violin I-II, viola, basso
Sinfonia a 4 in B (3), missing
Sinfonia a 4 in c, missing
Sinfonia a 4 in e, missing
Sinfonia a 4 in G, missing
Sinfonia a 4 in g, missing
Sinfonia a 3 in F, for violin I-II, basso (continuo), missing

Sonata & Partita:
Quartets:
Quadro in D (1), for oboe, violin I-II, basso, missing
Quadro in D (2), for flauto, violin I-II, basso, missing
Partita in D, for flauto obligato, violin I-II, basso, missing

Trios & Duos:
Sonata in A (1), for harpsichord obligato, flauto traverso/violin concertato
Sonata in A (2), for harpsichord obligato con violin, missing
Sonata in b, for violin solo con basso, missing
Sonata in c, for violin solo con basso, missing
Sonata in D, for harpsichord obligato con flauto traverso/violin concertato
Sonata in d, for violin I-II, basso, missing
Sonata in d, for violin solo con basso, missing
Sonata in e, for harpsichord obligato con violin, missing
Sonata in G (1), for harpsichord obligato con violin, missing
Sonata in G (2), for harpsichord obligato con violin, missing
Sonata in G (3), for harpsichord obligato con violin, missing
Sonata in G (4), for harpsichord obligato con violin, missing
Sonata in g, for harpsichord obligato con violin, missing
Sonata in h, for harpsichord obligato con flauto traverso/violin concertato

Harpsichord solo:
7 sonate (A, B, C, E, F, G, g), for harpsichord solo
7 parties (A, B, D, d, Es, G(1), G(2)), for harpsichord solo
Pieces de Conversation, for harpsichord solo

Organ solo:
3 sonate (B, D, F) for 2 manualer og pedal

Vocal Music:
Latin Church Music:
Magnificat in D, for trumpet I-II, principale, timpani, oboe I-II, violin I-II, viola, SATB, basso, organ (Becif.)
Magnificat in G, for oboe I-II, violin I-II, viola, SATB, basso, organ (Becif.)
Sanctus in F, for corno di caccia I-II, violin I-II, viola, SATB, continuo, organ
Sanctus in G, for Oboe I-II, violin I-II, viola, SATB, continuo (Becif.)

Church Cantatas:
Der Engel des Herrn lagerte sich, for trumpet I-II, principale, tympani, flauto traverso I-II, oboe I-II, violin I-II, viola, SATB, continuo (Becif.)
Der Tod ist verschlungen in, for clarino I-II, tympano, violin I-II, viola, SATB, continuo (Becif.)
Die Liebe Gottes ist ausgegossen, for clarino, oboe, violin I-II, viola, SATB, continuo (Becif.)
Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden, for horn I-II, oboe I-II, violin I-II, viola, SATB, continuo (Becif.)
So ofte Jesus grosser Nahme, for oboe, calcedone, violin I-II, viola, SATB, organ (Becif.)
Wer sich rühmen will, for trombe I-III, tympani, flauto traverso I-II, oboe I-II, violin I-II, viola, SATB, basso

Passion Music:
Den døende Jesus, Passionssang by M. Hammer
Der wundervolle Tod des Welterlösers, Oratorio by J. A. Scheibe
Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu, Cantata by K. W. Ramler
Passions-Cantata (Vor Harpe er bleven til Sorrig), Poesien by Johannes Ewald
Sørge-Cantata ved Christi Grav (Herrens Salvede, som var vor Næses Aand), Poesien by Johannes Ewald

Opportunity Cantatas:
Der Tempel des Ruhmes, Ein Singgedicht am Tage als I. K. M. Juliana Maria und S. K. M. König Friederich V zu Dänemark dero prächtigen Einzug in Kopenhagen hielten, 11. Oktober 1752, Die Poesie by J. A. Scheibe
Die Patrioten. Ein Singgedicht auf den Geburtstag des Kronprinzen von Dänemark (Christian VII), 1760, Die Poesie von Cramer
I Jesu Navn skal al vor Gerning ske, Copulationsmusik
Sørge- og Klage-Sange over Dronning Lovise (Rinder I Taarer fra bundløse Floder), 1752, Ved G. Schaft
Sørge-Sange over Kong Frederik V (O Skræk! hvad seer jeg her?), Christiansborg Slotskirke 18. März 1766, Poesien by Johannes Ewald

Chamber Cantatas:
Cephalus (Seyd munter, ihr Jäger!), Kantate by Johann Elias Schlegel, for Tenor solo & cor I-II, violin I-II, viola, basso
Tragische Kantaten for eine oder zwo Singestimmen und das Clavier, Nämlich: des Herrn von Gerstenberg's Ariadne auf Naxos, and Johann Elias Schlegel's Prokris und Cephalus

Writings:
Compendium musices theoretico-practicum, das ist Kurzer Begriff derer nöthigsten Compositions-Regeln, MS, D LEm, ca. 1730
Der critische Musikus, I,
Hamburg 1738, II, Hamburg 1740, I und II (Leipzig 1745)
Abhandlung vom Ursprunge und Alter der Musik, insonderheit der Vokalmusik (Altona und Flensburg 1754)
Abhandlung über das Rezitativ, in: Bibliothek der schönen Wissenschaften und freien Künste XI–XII, 1764–1765
Über die musikalische Composition
Erster Theil: Die Theorie der Melodie und Harmonie
(
Leipzig 1773)
Zweyter Theil: Die Harmonie, oder Die Zusammensetzung der Töne an und for sich selbst, MS, DK Kk

Expenditure:
Johann Adolph Scheibe, Ueber die Musikalische Composition, Erster Theil, Die Theorie der Melodie und Harmonie (= Dokumenta Musikcologica 42), Faks.-Nachdr. der Ausg. (Leipzig 1773, Kassel, 2006)
Musiktheoretische Quellen 1750-1800. Gedruckte Schriften von J. Riepel, H. Chr. Koch, J. F. Daube und J. A. Scheibe (enthält Scheibes Über die musikalische Composition mit digitaler Recherchemöglichkeit sowie Faksimiles), hrsg. von Ulrich Kaiser, mit einem Vorwort und einer Bibliographie von Stefan Eckert und Ulrich Kaiser (Berlin, 2007)

Source: Wikipedia Website (June 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)

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

Johann Adolf Scheibe (Wikipedia) [English]
Johann Adolf Scheibe (Wikipedia) [German]

Johann Adolph Scheibe - Biography (AMG)

Bibliography

Agathe Sueur: Le Frein et l'Aiguillon. Eloquence musicale et nombre oratoire (XVIe-XVIIIe siècle) (Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2014)
Heinrich Welti: Scheibe, Johann Adolf. In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Band 30 (Duncker & Humblot,
Leipzig 1890), S. 690–692

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

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ýJune 25, 2014 ý00:45:42