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Johann Caspar Vogler (Composer, Bach's Pupil)

Born: May 23, 1696 - Hausen, near Arnstadt, Thuringia, Germany
Died: 1763 (buried: June 3, 1763) - Weimar, Thuringia, Germany

Johann Caspar Vogler was a German organist and composer. At the age of ten he studied with J.S. Bach in Arnstadt, and later with P.H. Erlebach and Nicolaus Vetter in Rudolstadt. From about 1710 to 1715 he studied again with J.S. Bach, this time in Weimar; it was presumably during these years that J.S. Bach required him to copy by hand the two livres d'orgue of Jacques Boyvin. From 1715 to 1721 he was organist in Stadtilm and from May 19, 1721 until his death organist of the Weimar court (a post which J.S. Bach had held from 1708 to 1717). In late 1729 Vogler applied unsuccessfully for two organ posts in Saxony, at the Nikolaikirche, Leipzig, and Sts Peter und Paul, Görlitz; they were filled by other J.S. Bach pupils, Johann Schneider and David Nicolai respectively. Vogler failed his trial in Leipzig because he ‘played too fast and confused the congregation’. It is therefore ironic that in his application to Görlitz he boasted of his ‘swiftness of hand and feet’. In 1735 he was chosen as organist at the Marktkirche in Hannover, but Duke Ernst August refused to let him leave Weimar (just as Duke Wilhelm Ernst had refused to let J.S. Bach leave). In consolation the duke appointed Vogler deputy mayor of Weimar; two years later he became mayor.

Johann Caspar Vogler is known to have composed a St Mark Passion, but only three works by him have survived. These are all organ chorales, noteworthy for their elaborate style. The setting of Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod (BWV Anh.57) represents perhaps the most extreme example in the entire organ repertory of an ornamental chorale, attested by the many hemidemisemiquavers and even shorter notes used to embellish the chorale tune. As numerous similarities demonstrate, this work is modelled on J.S. Bach's Orgelbüchlein setting of O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde gross BWV 622. The two chorales that Vogler published as his Vermischte musikalische Choral-Gedanken (Weimar, 1737; ed. in Incognita organo, xxxvi (Hilversum, 1988)) also betray his teacher's influence. The first, Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele, begins ordinarily enough as a bicinium but concludes with a four-part harmonization whose phrases are separated by toccata-like figuration in demisemiquavers. Vogler's model here was surely J.S. Bach's ‘Arnstadt’ chorales BWV 715, BWV 722, BWV 726, BWV 729, BWV 732 and BWV 738 - virtually the only other Baroque organ chorales that feature such interludes. The second setting (a partita on Machs mit mir Gott nach deiner Güt) opens with another harmonization of this type and continues with an ornamental movement resembling some of J.S. Bach's ‘18’, BWV 651-668.

Formerly known in the J.S. Bach literature as the scribe Anonymous 18, Johann Caspar Vogler also prepared several copies of his teacher's compositions. His copy of the Prelude and Fughetta in C major BWV 870a is especially important in regard to performing practice, since it contains a full set of fingerings.


Source: Grove Music Online, © Oxford University Press 2006, acc. 5/22/06 (Author: Russell Stinson)
Contributed by
Thomas Braatz (May 2006)

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

Chorale Prelude for organ Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod, BWV Anh 57 (Anh III 172, Emans 115)

Use of Chorale Melodies in his works


Chorale Melody


Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele

Links to other Sites



FrotscherG | MGG1 (W. Lidke)
H. Löffler: ‘Die Schüler Joh. Seb. Bachs’, BJb 1953, 5–28
Q. Faulkner: J.S. Bach's Keyboard Technique: a Historical Introduction (St Louis, 1984)
H.-J. Schulze: Studien zur Bach-Überlieferung im 18. Jahrhundert (
Leipzig, 1984)
V. Horn: ‘French Influence in Bach's Organ Works’, J.S. Bach as Organist: his Instruments, Music, and Performance Practices, ed. G. Stauffer and E. May (Bloomington, IN, 1986), 256-73
P. le Huray: Authenticity in Performance: Eighteenth-Century Case Studies (Cambridge, 1990), 9–12, 18

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