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Christian Michael Wolff (Composer)

Born: 1707 - Stettin [now Szczecin in Poland]
Died: January 3, 1789 - Stettin

Christian Michael Wolff was a German organist and composer. Both his grandfather Friedrich and his father Christian Friedrich (d October 1721) occupied important musical posts at the church of St Mary’s in Stettin, where he himself was organist for almost 60 years. He spent three years in Berlin (1729-1732), and on his return succeeded his former composition teacher, Michael Rohde, as organist of St Mary’s. In 1745 he applied for the additional position of castle organist: ‘An organist cannot live on 100 gulden without additional work. In any event the Kantor and Musicus instrumentalis [of St Mary’s] also go up to the castle since its church service falls within an hour of their own’. Wolff took part in the dedication of two new organs, at the castle in 1751 and at St Mary’s in 1776. For the latter he composed a cantata, possibly one of many that have not survived.

Scarcely six months after the composer’s death St Mary’s caught fire during a violent thunderstorm and was destroyed. Christian Michael Wolff’s reputation was almost as transient, though he was held in high esteem in Stettin. The publication of his music as far afield as Berlin and Leipzig also indicates a certain renown. His attractive collection of six sonatas might well revive his name today. Except for the fourth sonata, which can be played by harp and violetta or viola da gamba, Wolff’s choice of instruments (harpsichord and violin or flute) is conventional, but his keyboard writing is not. The highly decorated style is sometimes almost brilliant, and the melodic instrument does not merely duplicate the keyboard part; the contrapuntal art of the organist is never far absent. His collection of organ preludes for church use, on the other hand, are rarely more than perfunctory examples of their kind with chromatic tendencies. His surviving vocal music includes an unpretentious collection of little songs, the extended motet Unendlicher Gott and a cantata in the Italian style, Gott, ich bin in dir erfreut.

Works

Andantino and chorale, Freu dich sehr, in Sammlung kleiner Clavier- und Singstücke (Leipzig, 1774)
Motet, Unendlicher Gott, in Vierstimmige Motetten und Arien, ed. J.A. Hiller (
Leipzig, 1776)
Sei sonate, harpsichord, violin/flute/violetta (Stettin, 1776)
Sammlung von Oden und Liedern (Stettin, 1777)
Six duettes, 2 fl, op.1 (
Berlin, c1778)
Orgelübung-Vorspiele vor funfzig Melodien bekannter Kirchen-Gesänge (
Leipzig, 1782)
Cantata, Gott, ich bin in dir erfreut, B, hn, 2 vn, bc, D-Bsb

 

Source: Grove Music Online, © Oxford University Press 2006, acc. 5/23/06 (Author: Hugh J. Mclean); MGG1 (Bärenreiter, 1986; Author: Albert Vander Linden w/ Dorothea Schmidt-Preuß)
Contributed by
Thomas Braatz (May 2006)

Use of Chorale Melodies in his works

Title

Chorale Melody

Year

Andantino and chorale, Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele in Sammlung kleiner Clavier- und Singstücke

Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele

1774

Straf mich nicht in deinem Zorn, Choral for Organ

Straf mich nicht in deinem Zorn

Links to other Sites

   

Bibliography

GerberNTL | EitnerQ  | FétisB
C. Fredrich: Die ehemalige Marienkirche zu Stettin und ihr Besitz, Baltische Studien, new ser., xxi (1918), 143-246
W. Freytag: Musikgeschichte der Stadt Stettin im 18. Jahrhundert (Greifswald, 1936)

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Last update: ýMay 24, 2006 ý01:04:26