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Johann Gottlob Töpfer (Composer, Arranger)

Born: December 4, 1791 - Niederroßla, Thuringia, Germany
Died: June 8, 1870 - Weimar, Thuringia, Germany

Johann Gottlob Töpfer was a German organist, a composer and an important theoretician of the building of organs. He was at first taught by the cantor of Niederroßla, and afterwards sent to Weimar to study under Destouches, Riemann and A.E. Müller.

In 1830 Johann Gottlob Töpfer was appointed as the organist of the Stadtkirche St. Peter und Paul (today also: Herderkirche) in Weimar. He held this post until his death, even when in 1844 he asked for dismissal from his work because of unreasonable conditions; however, he withdrew the request later.

Johann Gottlob Töpfer was highly estimated by his contemporaries as virtuoso and organ expert. He had relationships of mutual respect with Franz Liszt, among others. As a composer he wrote more than 400 works, most of which are chorale preludes for organ. Among his other works: cantata, Die Orgelweihe, a sonata for flute and piano, a trio for piano and strings, etc. However, his historical importance comes from his publications on organ building. He wrote many works on the organ: Die Orgelbaukunst (1833); Die Scheiblersche Stimmmethode (1842); Die Orgel, Zweck und Beschaffenheit ihrer Teile (1843); Organistensshule (1845); Lehrbuch der Orgelbaukunst (1856), with two appendices by Max Allihn (1888). He also edited an Allgemeines Choralbuch. His formulas for the tuning of organ pipes are still being used today for basic organ designing.


Source: German Wikipdia Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (May 2006) ; Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1952 Edition; Author: J.A. Fuller Maitland)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2006, July 2007)

Johann Gottlob Töpfer: Short Biography | Piano Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Use of Chorale Melodies in his works


Chorale Melody


Jesu meine Freude, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Jesu, meine Freude

Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan

Mache dich, mein Geist, bereit, Chorale Fantasia for Organ

Straf mich nicht in deinem Zorn

Grand Concert-fantasie for organ on Was mein Gott will, das g'escheh' allzeit

Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh allzeit

Links to other Sites

Johann Gottlob Töpfer (Wikipedia) [German]



Hans-Christian Tacke: Johann Gottlob Töpfer, Leben - Werk - Wirksamkeit (Kassel, 2002)

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Last update: Wednesday, June 14, 2017 15:55