Feast of Johann Pachelbel (March 9)   3 comments

Above:  Signature of Johann Pachelbel

Image in the Public Domain



German Lutheran Organist and Composer

Johann Pachelbel, a devout Lutheran and a friend of the Bach family, was one of the greatest organists and composers of his time.  Our saint, born in Nuremberg in late August 1653, was a son of Johann Pachelbel (the elder, a wine merchant) and Anna Maria Mair.  Young Johann’s musical training included a stint at St. Sebaldus Church , Nuremberg.  He, as a youth, studied Italian music and developed an interest in Roman Catholic liturgical music.

Pachelbel’s musical career lasted from the early 1670s to 1706.  He spent five years as the assistant organist at St. Stephen Cathedral, Vienna, Austria.  Then, in 1677 and 1678, Pachelbel worked as the court organist for Johann Georg I, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach, in Eisenach.  Then our saint moved to Erfurt, where he remained until 1690.  He knew Johann Ambrosius Bach, patriarch of the Bach family, and, until 1682, had Johann Christian Bach (d. 1682) for a landlord.  Pachelbel lived and worked in Stuttgart (1690-1692), Gotha (1692-1695), and Nuremberg (1695-1706).  In Nuremberg (1695-1706) Pachelbel was the organist at St. Sebaldus Church.  He did in Nuremberg on March 6 or 7, 1706.

Pachelbel met the nine-year-old Johann Sebastian Bach at a Bach family wedding in Ohrdruf in 1694.

Pachelbel married twice.  His first wife was Barbara Gabler, whom he wed on October 25, 1681.  She and their young son died during a plague in October 1683.  Our saint married Judith Drommer on August 24, 1684.  The couple had five sons and two daughters.  Two sons–Wilhelm Hieronymus (1686-1764) and Charles Theodore (1690-1750)–became organists and composers.  Charles Theodore moved to British North America in the early 1730s.  After brief stints in Boston, Massachusetts Bay, then in Newport, Rhode Island, he settled down in Charleston, South Carolina.  There he became the organist at St. Philip’s Church.  One of Johann’s daughters, Amalia (1688-1723), remained in Nuremberg and became a noteworthy mathematician, painter, and engraver.

Pachelbel’s most famous composition was the Canon in D, but he wrote much more music than that.  Our saint composed both sacred and secular music, although the line separating them did not exist in his mind.  Other famous compositions included the Chaconne in F Minor, the Toccata in E Minor, and Hexachordum Apollinis.  His chorale-preludes influenced Lutheran chorales in northern Germany.

Pachelbel’s legacy continues to enrich the lives of many people, fortunately.





Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servant Johann Pachelbel.

Teach us to drive from the world the ugliness of chaos and disorder,

that our eyes may not be blind to your glory,

and that at length everyone may know the inexhaustible richness

of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Psalm 96

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 5:18b-20

Matthew 13:44-52

–Adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 38


3 responses to “Feast of Johann Pachelbel (March 9)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Johann Christian Bach (March 21) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

  2. Very interesting biography! Thank you!

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