Born: March 25, 1688 - Leubnitz, near Dresden, Saxony, Germany
Died: September 15, 1747 - Halle (Saale), Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Johann Gotthilf Ziegler was a German organist and composer. A member of a large Saxon family of musicians, he had his first instruction from his father Daniel Ziegler, a schoolmaster and organist in Pulsnitz. He then studied under Pezold, organist of the Sophienkirche in Dresden, where he attracted attention as a child prodigy at the court of August II. Later he travelled around Germany, working with various orchestras including the collegium musicum in Halle; it was directed by the well-known pedagogue A.H. Francke, whose pupil he was for nearly three years. In 1710 he studied for six months with Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow; he then read law and theology at Halle University for three years (1712-1715), and in 1715 studied with J.S. Bach in Weimar. According to Johann Gottfried Walther he was also a pupil of Johann Theile of Naumburg.
In 1716 Gottfried Kirchhoff, organist at the Liebfrauenkirche in Halle, certified Johann Gotthilf Ziegler's musical proficiency and he became assistant organist at the Ulrichskirche there, succeeding Meissner in 1718 as director musices and organist, a post he held until his death. He was much in demand as a teacher. Between 1716 and 1726 he received three invitations to a post in Reval, which he used to negotiate better conditions at Halle. In 1746 he applied to succeed G. Kirchhoff, but Wilhelm Friedemann Bach was appointed.
Johann Gotthilf Ziegler was the most notable member of his family and, with F.W. Zachow and Kirchhoff, was a leading figure among late Baroque composers in Halle. His fame as a composer and as an organist and teacher spread well beyond the city. Apparently none of his compositions survive; they included four cycles of church cantatas and two each of gospels and epistles, to texts by Christian Friedrich Hunold (Menantes), J.J. Rambach and Ziegler himself. The foreword to Rambach's Geistliche Poesien und Cantaten (Halle, 1720) states that the work owed its existence to Ziegler's initiative; presumably Ziegler commissioned (and repeatedly set) these texts, which are among the best church cantata poetry of the period. All the music has disappeared, but texts of some of Ziegler's works have survived, among them the solo cantatas Christi Glieder, Christi Brüder of 1716 (text no.13 in Johann Michael Heineccius: Hundertjähriges Denckmahl der Reformation, Halle, 1718) and Da hörst du, Mensch of the same date (in J.G. Ziegler: Texte zur Music, welche in der St. Ulrichskirche allhier am 18. Sonntag nach Trinitatis gehalten worden, Halle, 1716). In both works, da capo arias and recitatives alternate with chorales for the congregation. In 1721 Ziegler wrote in a letter that he had composed and performed ‘for three whole years a new church piece for every season’. In 1740 he wrote the Trauer-Music for the funeral of Friedrich Wilhelm I. He composed for other cities besides Halle, including a Leichen-Music (1736) for a funeral in the noble family of Zerbst, and other music for weddings and funerals. The 24 Polonoises pour le clavecin (1764) attributed by Eitner to Ziegler were in fact written by a Johann Gottfried Ziegler, possibly a relative.
Johann Gotthilf Ziegler wrote three treatises which remained unpublished: Neuerfundener Unterricht vom Generalbass, 1718 (lost), Neuerfundene musicalische Anfangsgründe, die sogenannten Galanterien betreffende (lost) and Unterricht von der Composition (in D-Bsb).
ADB (R. Eitner) | EitnerQ | GerberL | GerberNL | SchillingE | WaltherMIHalle and Berlin, 1939–42/R)
S. Kümmerle: Encyklopädie der evangelischen Kirchenmusik, iv (Gütersloh, 1895/R)
W. Serauky: Musikgeschichte der Stadt Halle, ii (
D.-R. Moser: Musikgeschichte der Stadt Quedlinburg (diss., U. of Göttingen, 1967)
G. Stauffer: ‘Christian Gottlieb Zieglers “Anleitung zur musikalischen Composition”: ein Bach-Dokument aus der New York Public Library’, BJb, lxxiv (1988), 185–9