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Cornelius Heinrich Dretzel (Composer, Bach’s Pupil)

Born: September 1697 ((baptised: September 18, 1697) - Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany
Died: May 7, 1755 - Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany

The German composer, organist and musicographer, Cornelius Heinrich Dretzel, was a grandson of Georg Dretzel (c1610-after 1676; organist of St Michael, Schwäbisch Hall) and nephew of Valentin, the most important member of the family. A possible student of Johann Pachelbel's eldest son, C.H. Dretzel also studied with J.S. Bach in Weimar in 1716-1717. He appears to have spent his whole life in Nuremberg, his hometown, in various organists' posts: Frauenkirche, St Lorenz (from 1743) and St Sebald.

Cornelius Heinrich Dretzel's keyboard counterpoints and fugues were his forte having thoroughly emersed himself in the works of J.S. Bach. His reputation as a virtuoso player and contrapuntist is supported by his solo harpsichord concerto, Harmonische Ergötzung, influenced by J.S. Bach's Italian Concerto (BWV 971). Indeed Harmonische Ergötzung was long thought to be composed by J.S. Bach. An early version of the slow movement was entered into Schmeider as BWV 897:1. C.H. Dretzel's own "divertimenti" were thought to be lost until they were found in a collection that had belonged to Haydn. Of hymnological importance is his collection and commentary Des evangelishen Zions musicalische Harmonie (1731), which contains over 900 melodies, suspended over a continuous bass, most appealing in print for the first time in their local versions; the preface discusses the origin and development of the chorale.


Source: Website (from Music Encyclopedia); Barnes & Noble Website (Author: Keith Johnson); Malcom Boyd, editor: Oxford Composer Companion J.S. Bach (Oxford University Press, 1999)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (November 2008)

Bach's Pupils: List of Bach's Pupils | Actual and Potential Non-Thomaner Singers and Players who participated in Bach’s Figural Music in Leipzig | Bach’s Pupils - Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2

Works previously attributed to J.S. Bach

Prelude & Fugue for keyboard in A minor, BWV 897: Prelude

Links to other Sites

Cornelius Heinrich Dretzel (

Cornelius Heinrich Dretzel Biography (Barnes & Noble)



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