Johann Nikolaus Forkel - Encyclopedia

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JOHANN NIKOLAUS FORKEL (1749-1818), German musician, was born on the 22nd of February 1749 at Meeder in Coburg. He was the son of a cobbler, and as a practical musician, especially as a pianoforte player, achieved some eminence; but his claims to a more abiding name rest chiefly upon his literary skill and deep research as an historian of musical science and literature. He was an enthusiastic admirer of J. S. Bach, whose music he did much to popularize. His library, which was accumulated with care and discrimination at a time when rare books were cheap, forms a valuable portion of the royal library in Berlin and also of the library of the Koniglicher Institut fiir Kirchenmusik. He was organist to the university church of Gottingen, obtained the degree of doctor of philosophy, and in 1778 became musical director of the university. He died at Gottingen on the 20th of March 1818. The following is a list of his principal works: Ober die Theorie der Musik (Gottingen, 1 777); Musikalisch kritische Bibliothek (Gotha, 1778); Allgemeine Geschichte der Musik (Leipzig, 1788). The last is his most important work. He also wrote a Dictionary of Musical Literature, which is full of valuable material. To his musical compositions, which are numerous, little interest is to-day to be attached. But it is worth noting that he wrote variations on the English national anthem "God save the king" for the clavichord, and that Abt Vogler wrote a sharp criticism on them, which appeared at Frankfort in 1793 together with a set of variations as he conceived they ought to be written.

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