The Kennedy Center

Johann Philipp Krieger



Biography

Johann Philipp Krieger was one of the most outstanding German Baroque composer and organist of his time.  He was the elder brother of Johann Krieger also a fine composer in his own right.  He was a prolific composer and his works include a quantity of sacred cantatas, 2,000 of them listed in his own catalogue.
 
He was a child prodigy who received his first musical training from Johann Dreschel at the age of eight and was taught other instruments by Gabriel Schutz.  He was a gifted student that by the age of nine, he was astonishing audiences with his musical ability playing the keyboard, writing compositions and also his amazing gift to sing or play in any melody.  By his mid-teens he had traveled to Copenhagen to become the pupil of Johannes Schroder a royal Danish court organist and to study composition with Kaspar Forster.   
 
He was employed in Bayreuth as a court organist in 1673 when the Franco-Dutch War broke out also called the Dutch War.  He was granted permission to travel to Italy without a loss in pay to study.  While in Venice he studied, composition with teacher Johann Rosenmuller and clavier keyboard with Giovanni Battista Volpe.  In Rome, he studied composition with teachers Antonio Maria Abbatini and Bernardo Pasquini taught him both keyboard and composition. 
 
Vienna in 1675 was one of the most important musical capitals of Europe, he had the honor to play for Emperor Leopold I.  The Emperor was a well-known patron of the arts and also a composer after hearing his performance was so wowed by his playing that he bestowed nobility to the entire Krieger family.
 
In 1677 he accepted a position with the Grand Ducal court in Halle as a chamber musician and organist.  When the Grand Duke August died and was succeeded by his brother, Johann Adolf I, who moved the court to Weissenfels.  Johann Philipp Krieger went with him as Kapellmeister and he held this position for 45 years until his death.  Under his guidance this court musical program became one of Germany’s greatest.
 
He made a great contribution to the history of the German church cantata by adopting madrigal verse for his texts. This religious purpose of these cantatas was to comment on the days scripture lesson however older cantatas were written on texts from the Bible.  This format became known as the ‘new German cantata’ and he was given the title of father of the new cantata.  Johann Krieger died in 1725 he was 74 years old when he died.
Johann Krieger