The Kennedy Center

Johann Theile


Johann Friedrich Ludwig Thiele was a German composer, teacher and music theorist of the Baroque era.  He is most famous for his sacred opera Adam und Eva, Der erschaffene, gefallene und aufgerichtete Mensch and for his compositional works on church music.  His solid reputation earned him the title the father of contrapuntists. He was the first composer to contribute to the repertory at the Hamburg opera.  Plus he co-founded the Hamburg Gansemarkt Opera with Johann Adam Reinken and Dietrich Buxtehude.
Johann Theile was born on July 29, 1646 in Naumburg.  He received his first musical training from Johann Scheffler, Kantor of Magdeburg.  He became a law student at the University of Leipzig.  During his law studies at the University of Leipzig in 1666 he became a member of the Collegium Musicum, this was the same ensemble that J. S. Bach led.  Membership in this university's collegium musicum gave him invaluable experience and contacts in the music field.  He never completed his legal studies, but as a law student he performed as singer and viola da gamba player.  He traveled to Weissenfels to study composition with famous German composer Heinrich Schütz.  He was believed to have been one of his best students. 
Between 1673-1675, he worked as the Court Kapellmeister for the Duke Christian Albrecht von Schleswig Holstein at Gottorf but fled to Hamburg during the Danish invasion.  He also worked as the Kapellmeister in Wolfenbüttel.  He also took on a musical apprenticeship with Johann Rosenmüller while in Wolfenbüttel.
He also worked in Naumburg, in the position of Kapellmeister and in Berlin where he became a music teacher to the royal courts as well as Lübeck and Stettin.  He was prominent in the development of Northern German culture.  And he taught some of the most famous students like Johann Mattheson and Dietrich Buxtehude.  He also wrote a number of works on music theory, particularly on counterpoint, which is how he earned the title father of contrapuntists. He also had an outstanding career as a musical theorist.  In 1694, he returned to his hometown of Naumburg to work as a musical advisor to the Duke of Zeitz.  His final years were lived in retirement in Naumburg where he died in 1724.
Johann Theile