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Rudolf Straube (Composer, Bach's Pupil)

Born: December 5, 1717 - Trebnitz, Saxony-AnhaltGrove or Elstertrebnitz, near Leipzig, SaxonyOCC, Germany
Died: 1785 (or 1782 or c1780) - London, England

Rudolf [Rudolph] Straube was a German lutenist, harpsichordist and composer. He was the son of a church warden, and in January 1733 enrolled at the Thomasschule in Leipzig, studied there untl 1740, sang in the choir under J.S. Bach and also took private instruction from J.S. Bach. Like others , among J.S. Bach's better pupils, he was entrusted with music-copying, and his hand has been identified in the performance parts over the following three years (1734-1735) for several cantatas, including sections in Weihnachts-Oratorium (BWV 248). He entered the University at Leipzig on February 27, 1740, and soon afterwards may have worked for Carl Heinrich von Dieskau, J.S. Bach's patron for the Peasant Cantata (BWV 212), to whom Straube dedicated his Due sonate in 1746. In the following year he was engaged as Cammer-musicus at the Köthen court.

Early in 1754 Rudolf Straube visited Erfurt and presented various compositions to Jakob Adlung, who described him as a good lutenist, a well-trained keyboard student of J.S. Bach, and one who at that time was interested only in travel. In the 1750's (c1759), Straube, like many other German musicians, moved to London. He struggled at first in his new country, but soon led an increasigly precarious existence as harpsichordist and lutenist. According to Coggin he also became known as a player and teacher of the fashionable "English" (actually German) guitar, for which he published some music in his adopted city. He was one of the eminent musicians whom the artist Thomas Gainsborough persuaded to give him lessons; William Jackson of Exeter tells an amusing anecdote about their encounter. He was later on appointed as the music master for Queen Charlotte of England, whom he dedicated his work Gavotte. C.F. Pohl included Straube among a list of musicians active there in 1759.

Rudolf Straube’s works reflect most of the prevailing elements of the Baroque style: binary design, a fairly consistent and conservative extension of opening figuration, all usually enhanced by a pronounced rhythmic vitality. His compositions for lute and guitar are thoroughly idiomatic, often accompanied by a violin or keyboard instrument. A dialogue between Straube and Thomas Gainsborough on the latter’s manner of purchasing a lute and lute music, and a diagram of a fingerboard and tuning system by Straube, are in the British Library (Add.31698).


2 lute sonatas Leipzig, 1746/R)
Lessons, 2 English guitars bc (London, c1765)
5 sonatas, English guitar, 3 with keyboard, violoncello, 2 with violin (London, 1768)
The Mecklenburg Gavotte with variations, harpsichord/pianoforte (London, 1768)
2 keyboard sonatas, D-Mbs; 3 pieces, theorbo lute, GB-Lbl, attrib. Straube


Source: Grove Music Online (Author: Douglas A. Lee; Accessed: June 18, 2014) Copyright © Oxford University Press 2007-2014; Oxford Composer Companions J.S. Bach (Tim Crawford; Author: Editor: Malcolm Boyd; OUP, 1999); fine-print footnotes in the Bach-Dokumente; EBSCO Host Connection Website
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

Copyist of J.S. Bach's Works

BWV 82: 1st violin part
BWV 248: several sections

Links to other Sites

Rudolf Straube (EBSCO Host Connection)



DBok, ii, 372-373, 408; iii, 123, 479, 721
Tim Crawford: Introduction to Rudolf Straube due sonate a liuto solo (
Leipzig, 1746), facsimile (Monaco, 1981)
Jakob Adlung: Anleitung zu der musikalischen Gelahrtheit (
Erfurt, 1758/R, 2/1783)
William Jackson: The Four Ages of Man, together with Essays on Various Subjects (London, 1798), 151-152
Philipp Spitta: Johann Sebastian Bach (Leipzig, 1873-1880, 5/1962; Eng. trans., 1884, 2/1899/R)
A. Schering: J.S. Bach und das Musikleben in Leipzig im 18. Jahrhundert (
Leipzig, 1941)
Hans-Joachim Schulze: Studien zur Bach-Überlieferung im 18 Jaahrhundert (Leipzig, 1984), 120, 212-213
P. Coggin: ‘“This easy and agreable Instrument”: a History of the English Guittar’, EMc, xv (1987), 204-218

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