The Kennedy Center

Johann Ludwig Krebs


The most prominent member of a family of musicians that included his father and his three surviving sons, Johann Ludwig Krebs was born in Buttelstadt, Germany on October 12, 1713.  He began his musical instruction on the organ when he was 11 years old. He entered the Thomasschule in Leipzig, Austria, a few years later, taking up the lute and violin in addition to the keyboard. There he met J.S. Bach, who became teacher, mentor, and friend to Krebs.
After leaving the Thomasschule, Krebs became the organist at St. Marien, Zwickau from 1737-1743. Unhappy with the pay and the musical quality of the organ he played, Krebs moved in 1744 to become the organist at the castle in Zeitz. After Bach's death in 1750, he applied for his teacher's position but did not receive the appointment. In 1755 Krebs moved to Altenberg to become organist in the court of Prince Friedrich of Gothe-Altenburg.
During his long professional career, Krebs composed for organ, clavier, and harpsichord. Of his organ music, Fanstasia in F minor was his most expressive piece.
On the clavier he is best remembered for his Concerto in A minor. Some examples of Krebs harpsichord writing--including the Double Concerto in B minor and Gott fähret auf--were considered "brilliant;" others seemed overall to miss their mark.
Musical scholars have on occasion had a hard time differentiating between the works of teacher and pupil: Krebs worked as a copyist for Bach and because some of Krebs music strongly reflected Bach's style and there are works copied in both hands, some pieces are difficult to ascribe.
Krebs died in Altenburg on January 1, 1780.
Johann Krebs