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Johann Kuhnau

Johann Kuhnau

Johann Kuhnau (German: ; 6 April 1660 – 5 June 1722) was a harpsichordist. He was the predecessor of Johann Sebastian Bach as Thomaskantor in Leipzig from 1701 to 1722.


  • Biography 1
  • Work 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Kuhnau was born in Geising, present-day Saxony. He grew up in a religious Lutheran family. At age nine, he auditioned successfully for the Kreuzschule in Dresden. He sang in the Dresdner Kreuzchor and studied with Hering and Bental, later with Vincenzo Albrici.[1]

In 1680 he moved to Zittau, because Dresden was struck with the plague. He taught and worked in churches in Zittau. Kuhnau studied French and Italian, and left translations from Hebrew, Greek, and Latin as well. Kuhnau also studied law, attaining the rank of advocate. In addition to composition, much of his time was spent as a lawyer, a poet, and a non-fiction author. He preceded Johann Sebastian Bach as cantor of the Thomaskirche (St Thomas Church) in Leipzig, directing the Thomanerchor from 1701 to 1722. He was also music director of the Paulinerkirche. In Leipzig, Kuhnau taught Johann David Heinichen and Christoph Graupner. Kuhnau died in Leipzig on 5 June 1722.[1]


Kuhnau wrote sacred music on sonata.[2] Kuhnau's secular vocal music is lost, but many of his sacred works have survived, including cantatas and motets such as Tristis est anima mea for five vocal parts; four sets of keyboard pieces have also survived.

The Christmas cantata Uns ist ein Kind geboren, formerly attributed to Bach as BWV 142, was most likely composed by Kuhnau.[3]


  1. ^ a b Johann Kuhnau (Composer, Thomaskantor)
  2. ^ John South Shedlock (1895). The Pianoforte Sonata. BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2007. p. 40.  
  3. ^ Classical Net Uns ist ein Kind geboren (Unto us a child is born) 1998

External links

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