Gottfried Kirchhoff

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gottfried Kirchhoff (born September 15, 1685 in Mühlbeck ; † January 21, 1746 in Halle ) was a German organist and composer of the Baroque era.


He was a son of the farmer Martin Kirchhoff. With the support of the local priest, Kirchhoff was able to complete the grammar school in Halle (Saale) after attending the village school . There he received music lessons from music director Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow together with GF Handel ; that probably continued until 1709. As a result, Kirchhoff became Kapellmeister at the court of Duke Philipp Ernst of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg . After two years he was appointed organist at the St. Benedikt Church in Quedlinburg .

In 1711 Kirchhoff married Anna Bretnitz; few of their children survived. One of them was Gustav Friedrich Kirchhoff († 1799) who, after studying medicine, became a harp virtuoso and composer of harp music who was well-known throughout Europe .

After the death of FW Zachow in 1712, Kirchhoff applied, just like Johann Sebastian Bach , for his position as music director and organist of the Marktkirche in Halle (Saale). After the performance of a rehearsal cantata towards the end of 1713, Bach was elected organist by the church council. Although he received his appointment on December 14, 1713, hesitated to sign the contract and only sent a final rejection on March 19, 1714 on the grounds that the salary did not meet his expectations. In 1714 Kirchhoff succeeded his teacher Zachow as organist and director of Music in the third ballot . His duties included playing the organ, repairing it, teaching students and leading the town choir.

During Kirchhoff's tenure in 1716 , the new organ of the Marienkirche, built by Christoph Cuntzius , was inaugurated. In addition to Bach, Johann Kuhnau from Leipzig and Christian Friedrich Rolle from Quedlinburg were also organ inspectors . For the inauguration celebrations Kirchhoff composed two solo cantatas , which, however, have only survived in text form. On the occasion of the death of King Frederick William I . he took over the "composition and performance of mourning music". During his time in Halle, however, Kirchhoff also composed a far larger number of cantatas. The catalog of the musical estate published in 1746 by his son-in-law, cantor JG Mittag, should not contain all of these works, however. However, the existing organ chorals and instrumental pieces have been reprinted and edited.

In his works, the chorale arrangement for the organ shows an unusual skill and so much taste and spirit that Kirchhoff must be counted among the most important organ composers from the first half of the 18th century.

Works (selection)

  • Op. 1: L'ABC Musical: Contenant des Preludes et des Fugues de tous les Tons pour l'Orgue, ou le Clavecin, fort utile aux disciples pour aprendre à accompagner de la Basse continue et à faire des Preludes et des Fugues. ( Amsterdam , ca.1734).
  • God goes up to heaven. Cantata for the Ascension Day for soprano, bass and instruments.
  • How short is our time. New Year's Day cantata for soprano, alto, bass, 2 violins and continuo .
  • 12 sonatas for violin and basso continuo , all 5-movement sonata da camera .
  • Organ works:
    • Ciaconna sopra: Oh Lord me poor sinner
    • Be very happy, oh my soul
    • Ciaconna sopra: I love you dearly, Lord
    • I will not leave my Jesus
    • Whatever God wants, it always happens
    • Who only lets God rule
    • We all believe in one God
    • 2 arrangements: Our Father in the Kingdom of Heaven


  • Prelude and fugue for organ from the manuscript Mus. ms. 11605: first edition. Edited and with a preface and commentaries by Maxim Serebrennikov, St Petersburg, Polytechnical University Publishing House (2009). 16 p.
  • Prelude and fugue for organ from the Mylau manuscript (MS H 3a). Edited and with a preface and commentaries by Maxim Serebrennikov, St Petersburg, EARLYMUSIC Publishing House (2010). 20 p.
  • Complete works for piano. First edition. Edited by Maxim Serebrennikov, Beeskow, ortus musikverlag, 2010. XIV; 38 pp.
  • Kirchhoff, 12 sonatas for violin and basso continuo. Edited by Walter Serauky: Schott, first print 1960


  • Philipp SpittaKirchhoff, Gottfried . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 16, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1882, p. 11 f.
  • Walter Serauky: Music history of the city of Halle. Halle / Saale; Berlin (1939). Pp. 470-514.
  • Gernot Maria Grohs; Klaus Kreth: Gottfried Kirchhoff (1685-1746): composer and organist. A Mühlbeck man crosses the paths of Georg Friedrich Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach. Dessau: Manuela Kinzel Verlag (2004). 58 pp.
  • Maxim Serebrennikov: "L'ABC Musical" by Gottfried Kirchhoff: a work thought to be lost , in: The Organ 350 (2009), pp. 21-27.
  • Maxim Serebrennikov: Een orgelwerk van Kirchhoff ontdekt (Gottfried Kirchhoff was born 325 years ago) , in: Het Orgel . 106 (2010), no. 6, pp. 4-11.
  • Максим Серебренников. О клавирном наследии Готфрида Кирхгофа (к 325-летию со дня рождения композитора) // Старинная музыка. 2010 № 4 (50). С. 27-30; 33-40.
  • Hans-Joachim Böttcher : "Kirchhoff, Gottfried", in: Important historical personalities of the Düben Heath, AMF - No. 237, 2012, p. 51.

Web links