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Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow (Composer)

Born: November 19 (or 13), 1663 ((baptized: November 14, 1663) - Leipzig, Germany
Died: August 14 (or 7), 1712 - Halle an der Saale, Germany

The German Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow [Zachau], is renowned as Georg Frideric Handel's master. His father was Stadtmuaikus in Leipzig. Under his direction Zachow learned to play on all the instruments then in general use, including violin, hautboy, harpsichord and organ, devoting his chief attention to the last two, on which he attained great proficiency. When about 10 years old the family removed to Eilenburg, between Halle and Leipzig, where he continued his studies.

In 1684 Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow was elected organist of Liebfrauenkirche in Halle. Here it was, if Mainwaring's account is to be trusted, that G.F. Handel was first taken to Zachow for instruction in music 'while he was yet under 7 years of age'; that is to say, some time before the end of 1692 (Chrysander places the event a little later). The circumstances which led to G.F. Handel's being placed under Zachow have already been narrated in detail and are too well known to need repetition. There can be no doubt that Zachow took great interest in his pupil, who, Mainwaring tells us, 'pleased him so much that he never thought he could do enough for him.' That the child was placed under an excellent and thoroughly conscientious teacher is indeed conclusively proved, both by Mainwaring and Coxe. The former says:

'Zachow had a large collection of Italian as well as German music. He showed his pupil the different styles of different nations; the excellences and defects of each particular author; and, that he might equally advance In the practical part he frequently gave him subjects to work, and made him copy, and play, and compose In his stead. And Zachow was glad of an assistant who, by his uncommon talents, was capable of supplying his place whenever he was Inclined to be absent. It may seem strange to talk of an assistant at seven years of age. But It will appear much stranger that by the time he was nine he began to compose the Church Service for voices and instruments, and from that time actually did compose a service every week for three years successively.'

And in confirmation of this account, Coxe describes a volume, formerly in the possession of Lady Rivers, dated 1698, signed G.F.H., and filled with transcripts, in G.F. Handel's handwriting, of airs, fugues, choruses and other works, by Zachow, Frohberger, Krieger, Kerl, Heinrich Alben, Ebnor, Nicolaus Adam Strungk and other composers of the 17th century. G.F. Handel always spoke of his old master with the deepest respect; visited him at Halle for the last time in 1710; and after his death sent . frequent remittances' to his widow. These tokens of esteem did not, however, preserve the memory of Zachow from a cruel aspersion, which originated in this wise. A certain Johann Christoph Leporin, organist of the Domkirche zur Moritzburg at Halle, was dismissed from his office in 1702 on account of his dissolute life and neglect of duty. G.F. Handel, then 17 years of age, was chosen to supply his place. After G.F. Handel's death his biographers attributed Leporin's misdeeds to Zachow, accusing him of irregularities of which he was wholly innocent. Chrysander traces the libel to its source and proves it to be unfounded.

The Berlin Library possesses a large collection of Zachow's compositions, consisting principally of manuscripts. church cantatas and pieces for the organ. Some fragments were printed by Chrysander and v. Winterfeld. They are not works of genius, but their style is thoroughly musician-like, and is marked both by good taste and earnestness of purpose. A complete edition of the works of Zachow was brought out in vols. xxi. and xxii. of the D.D.T., edited by Max Seiffert. An interesting Mass, on the theme Christ lag in Todesbanden, is assigned to 'Nikolaus Zachau' in the copy in the Berlin Library. It is accepted as F. W. Zachow's by Seiffert, but its authorship is doubted in Q.-L.


Source: Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1952 Edition, by W.S. Rockstro, revised by Scott Goddard)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (December 2005)

Use of Chorale Melodies in his works


Chorale Melody


Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein

Allein Gott in der Höh sei Her, for choir

Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr

Allein Gott in der Höh sei Her, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr

Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, 2 Chorale Preludes for Organ

Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ

Auf meinen lieben Gott, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Auf meinen lieben Gott

Aus tiefer Not laßt uns zu Gott, Chorale Prelude [The text is different and the melody may be as well]

Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir

Missa super chorale Christ lag in Todesbanden for SATB and bc

Christ lag in Todesbanden

1701 at the latest

Christ lag in Todesbanden, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Christ lag in Todesbanden

Christ unser Herr zum Jodan kam, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam

Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt

Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar, Cantata for S, A., T., B., 4 voices. in ripieno, 4 Clarini, Tamburi, 2 Violini, 3 Violette, Bassoon, bc

Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem (Puer natus in Bethlehem)

at the latest by 1697

Es ist das Heil uns kommen her, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Es ist das Heil uns kommen her

Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ

Helft mir Gottes Güte preisen, 4vv, chorus 4vv, tpt, cornettino, 3 trbn, 2 vn, 2 va, bc

Helft mir Gotts Güte preisen

2 Keyboard Variations on the Chorales Jesu, meine Freude and Nun komm der Heiden Heiland

Jesu, meine Freude

Cantata: Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn [no further information on this reference]

Meine Seele erhebet den Herren [The German Magnificat]

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, A set of keyboard variations

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, 3 Chorale Preludes for Organ

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland

Nun laßt uns Gott dem Herren, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Nun laßt uns Gott dem Herren

Vater unser im Himmelreich, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Vater unser im Himmelreich

Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz Chorale Prelude for Organ

Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz

Was mein Gott will, das gscheh allzeit, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh allzeit

Wir Christenleut hajetzund Freud, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Wir Christenleut habn jetzund Freud

Links to other Sites

Zachau, Friedrich Wilhelm: Biography (Sojurn)

Zachau, Friedrich Wilhelm (1663 - 1712) (Kardar)



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