99. Johann Kaspar Kerll [365 Composers for 2013]


9th April – Johann Kerll

Johann Kerll Kerll (April 9th 1627 – February 13th 1693) is our composer for 9th April, to mark the day of his birth.
Nationality: German
Lifespan: 65 years
Genre: Baroque
Education: at Court with Giovanni Valentini
Fame Ranking: 5

German Baroque composer and organist Johann Kerll was a leading musician in his day. He was highly regarded as both a composer and a teacher (although none of his pupils went on to become wildly successful), and he was employed in high-ranking positions for most of his life. Kerll’s father had also been an organist, and it is likely that he gave the boy his first music lessons, but as as young man he then received instruction in Vienna from the virtuoso keyboard player Giovanni Valentini, a contemporary of Monteverdi.

Kerll’s first paid employment was, like his father’s, as an organist. Before long he was working in the same capacity for Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria at his palace in Brussels, and was quickly promoted through the ranks until he became Kapellmeister (musical director) of the Munich Court in 1656. In this position, it is certain that Kerll must have written a great deal of music, and in fact an inventory of his compositions still exists (which is actually the oldest known catalogue of works made by a composer). However, the whereabouts of only a few of his compositions is known today, with all 10 (or possibly 11) of his operas lost, along with  24 offertoires and several other pieces. The opening of the Munich Opera House in 1657 was inaugarated with his opera “Oronte”, for example, but the music is unknown.

Kerll’s technique was passed down not only to his direct students, but he also greatly influenced upcoming composers such as JS Bach, Pachelbel and Handel, all of whom borrowed or arranged his themes or used elements of his style. Kerll died in Munich, not long after he resigned from his final post in Vienna.

Here is Kerll’s “Toccata in A Minor”:


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