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Johann Georg Pisendel (Composer)

Born: December 26, 1687 - Cadolzburg, near Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany
Died: November 25, 1755 - Dresden, Saxony, Germany

Johann Georg Pisendel was a German Baroque musician, violinist and composer who for many years led the Court Orchestra in Dresden, then the finest instrumental ensemble in Europe. J.G. Pisendel was born in Cadolzburg, a small town near Nuremberg, where his father Simon Pisendel was the cantor and organist of the Lutheran Church, although the family originated in Markneukirchen. At the age of nine (or 11 - AMG), Johann Georg became a choirboy at the court chapel of Ansbach. Such positions usually involved further musical training. The Music Director there was the virtuoso singer Francesco Antonio Pistocchi (with whom he studied singing) and the Concert Master was the celebrated violinist and composer Giuseppe Torelli. It is thought that J.G. Pisendel studied the violin with G. Torelli. After his voice broke, J.G. Pisendel went on to play the violin in the Court Orchestra (c1703-1709), but in 1709 he left Dresden for Leipzig to study law and to further his musical studies.

On the way to Leipzig, Johann Georg Pisendel met J.S. Bach at Weimar and, once in Leipzig, was introduced to Georg Philipp Telemann. J.G. Pisendel was an enthusiastic member of the student Collegium musicum founded by G.P. Telemann and they became close friends. J.G. Pisendel performed a Tomaso Albinoni violin concerto at the Collegium musicum and soon became a familiar part of Leipzig's musical life. In 1710, when Collegium musicum director Georg Melchior Hoffmann went on a concert tour, he appointed J.G. Pisendel to substitute for him. In 1711, after a performance at Darmstadt, he was offered a place in the court orchestra there, but declined.

In 1712, J.G. Pisendel accepted a place in the Dresden Court Orchestra. He remained with the Dresden orchestra for the rest of his life, though he accompanied his new master, the Crown Prince, on a tour of Europe. Between 1714 and 1717, he visited France, Berlin, and Italy. He was given leave to remain in Italy for nine months, during which time he studied in Venice with Antonio Vivaldi, some of whose solo violin works he had already performed. He also had studies in Rome with Francesco Montanari (d 1730). In about 1718, J.G. Pisendel began studying composition under Johann David Heinichen.

J.G. Pisendel did not do as much touring thereafter. In 1728, when the position became vacant, he was appointed Konzertmeister (Concert Master) of the Dresden Court Orchestra, succeeding J.B. Volumier, and serving in this post until his death in 1755. He was an admired orchestra director, improving further the standards of orchestral playing (especially in collaboration with J.A. Hasse), and introducing not only the instrumental works of Italian composers such as A. Vivaldi and Tatrtini but also those of central and north German musicians as G.P. Telemann, Johann Joachim Quantz, and the Bendas and Grauns, many of whom he had known and taught in Leipzig. J.G. Pisendel's pupils included Franz Benda and Johann Gottlieb Graun, and he was also a close friend of Jan Dismas Zelenka, some of whose works he helped publish posthumously.

Johann Georg Pisendel's compositions are few in number but high in quality and are mostly in an Italian style influenced by A. Vivaldi. All of his surviving works are instrumental. They include 10 violin concertos, 4 concertos for orchestra, 2 sonatas for violin, a Sinfonia and Trio. However slight the number of his own compositions, the influence of J.G. Pisendel on music was great. The likes of Tomaso Albinoni, Antonio Vivaldi and Georg Philipp Telemann all dedicated violin concertos to him. J.G. Pisendel was the foremost German violinist of his day and he was directly or indirectly responsible for the creation of much memorable music. His sonata for unaccompanied violin possibly provided the inspiration for J.S. Bach's solo violin works.

J.S. Bach Connection

Additional evidence of Bach's involvement in instrumental chamber music may be found in the performing parts for the Concerto in G major for 2 violins and orchestra by Georg Philipp Telemann, jointly copied by Bach and the violinist Johann Georg Pisendel, a student of Vivaldi's and later concertmaster at the Dresden court. Pisendel traveled through Weimar in 1709, when from all appearances he and Bach performed this concerto with the court capelle. Telemann, then capellmeister at the neighboring court of Saxe-Eisenach, may well have participated in such a performance, or Bach and Pisendel could have played the work with the Eisenach capelle as well.
Christoph Wolff: Johann Sebastian Bach The Learned Musician (W.W. Norton & Company, 2000), p. 134

Source: Wikipedia Website; All Music Guide Website (Author: Joseph Stevenson); Malcom Boyd, editor: Oxford Composer Companion J.S. Bach (Oxford University Press, 1999, Article author: Robin Stowell); Christoph Wolff: Johann Sebastian Bach The Learned Musician (W.W. Norton & Company, 2000)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (November 2008)

Works previously attributed to J.S. Bach

Sonata for violin & continuo in C minor, BWV 1024 (?)

Links to other Sites

Johann Georg Pisendel (Wikipedia)
Johann Georg Pisendel Biography (Sojurn)
Classical Net - Composers: Pisendel

Johann Georg Pisendel (
Johann Georg Pisendel (Spiritus Temporis)
NationMaster - Encyclopedia: Johann Georg Pisendel


H.R. Jung: Johann Georg Pisendel (1687-1755): Leben und Werk (Dissertation, University of Jena, 1956)

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Last update: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 23:23