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Bach Perspectives, Volume 10Bach and the Organ$
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Matthew Dirst

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040191

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040191.001.0001

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Bach’s Report on Johann Scheibe’s Organ for St. Paul’s Church, Leipzig

Bach’s Report on Johann Scheibe’s Organ for St. Paul’s Church, Leipzig

A Reassessment

(p.1) Bach’s Report on Johann Scheibe’s Organ for St. Paul’s Church, Leipzig
Bach Perspectives, Volume 10

Lynn Edwards Butler

University of Illinois Press

This chapter revisits Johann Sebastian Bach’s 1717 report on Johann Scheibe’s organ for St. Paul’s Church at the University of Leipzig. On December 16, 1717, Bach examined the organ “partly newly built and partly renovated” by Scheibe for St. Paul’s Church. Bach’s report, written the following day, is deemed successful by contemporary sources. Scheibe himself said the organ was “found [to be] free of even the smallest major defect,” to which the University agreed. However, Gottfried Silbermann’s early twentieth-century biographer Ernst Flade claimed that Scheibe’s organ was a mediocre instrument and suggested that Silbermann would have built a “masterpiece.” Subsequent writers emphasized what Flade labeled “Bach’s serious concerns” about Scheibe’s organ. Drawing on documents from the Leipzig University Archives, many of them written by Scheibe, this chapter shows that Bach enumerated in his report the organ’s problems that can be immediately fixed, problems about which nothing could be done, and problems likely to be encountered in the future; Bach also offered a vigorous defense of Scheibe.

Keywords:   organ report, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Scheibe, St. Paul’s Church, University of Leipzig, Gottfried Silbermann, Ernst Flade

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