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Christian Petzold: German Composer from The Baroque Era

Christian Petzold: Overview

  • Born: 1677 - Konigstein, Germany
  • Died: 1733 - Dresden, Germany
  • Historical Period: Baroque 
  • Musical Media: chamber music, keyboard, choral.  

Christian Petzold: The Aficionado of Baroque Music

Christian Petzold is considered to be one of the most influential gems of the Baroque era in the field of music. As a composer, he beautifully mastered the creative process of musical interpretations in a very short course of time. Born in Königstein, Germany in 1677, he nurtured his musical skills at St. Sophia in Dresden in the early days of his musical career. Eventually, he became an organist and court chamber composer in 1709.

He made concert tours to Paris in 1714, which was followed by another one in Venice in 1716. By writing a musical piece in 1720, Petzold contributed to the Silbermann organ at the church of St. Sophia. Later on, he exhibited his musical creativity for another Silbermann organ which was built at Rötha, in Leipzig.

He is best remembered for a couple of minuets found in the 1725 Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach. Minuet in G major, BWV Anh. 114, and Minuet in G minor, BWV  Anh. 115 achieved remarkable appreciation all over the world. However, they were accredited to Johann Sebastian Bach for decades, until Petzold's authorship was acknowledged by scholars in the 1970s.

In 1965, the lively melody of Minuet in G Major appeared in "A Lover's Concerto", – a pop music hit by The Toys. Besides that, it has been often used to provide ideas on the use of rhythm and timing. It served as an inspiring composition which provided significant aid to music students. And when it came to the domain of Hollywood, Mr. Holland’s Opus heightened its essence to another degree. Such a composition was used to show how the rock and roll lovers can relate their interests to the charms of classical music.

Among his significant contributions to the world of music, the following works seek ample attention:

  • Solo instrumental
    • Orgeltabulatur (chorale settings for organ)
    • 25 harpsichord pieces (Recueil de 25 concerts pour le clavecin)
    • Single piece and 1 suite for harpsichord
    • 11 fugues for organ or harpsichord
    • 2 partitas for viola
  • Ensemble
    • 3 trio sonatas
  • Vocal
    • Cantata Meine Seufzer, meine Klagen

Petzold also made efforts to pass the musical knowledge to his students. Among his disciples, Carl Heinrich Graun earned a substantial reputation. During the 18th century, Graun became the most formidable German composer of Italian opera.

During the last days of his life, this musical maestro left the court sometime in the 1st half of 1733. As per the available evidence, Petzold breathed his last on 2nd July in the same year. Contemporaries of Petzold like Ernst Ludwig Gerber and Johann Mattheson have always shown respect for Petzold. According to them, Petzold was an eminently skilled organist who fostered the appeal of church compositions at their best.


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