August 1653 - March 1706 (age 52)

Johann Pachelbel, German composer, teacher and organist of the Baroque period. Unfairly labelled a 'one hit wonder' he is nevertheless best known for his Canon in D.


The Bach connection


The Canon in D page


portrait of Pachelbel


Born: Nuremburg, S.Germany, 1653 baptised 1 Sept so presumably born in August. 
Father: Johann, a wine dealer
Mother: Anna Maria Mair (his father's second wife)
Religion: Lutheran 
Siblings: ? If anyone knows, please let me know.
1st marriage: 1681 to Barbara Gabler who died in the plague two years later.
2nd marriage: 1684 to Judith Drommer.
Children: A son by Barbara who died in the plague with his mother in his infancy.
5 sons and two daughters by Judith including: 
Theodore, organist - emigrated to America 
Wilhelm Hieronymus, organist.
Johann Michael, instrument maker 
Amalia - an artist / engraver. 
Death: March 1706 (exact date not known but buried on 9 March).
Cause of death: unspecified in the records. 
Grave: Saint Rochas Cemetery, Nuremberg. See findagrave.com

The Bach connection
-When he was 24 he moved to Eisenach and was employed as a court organist. There he became friendly with JS Bach's father and tutored some of his children.

- The following year he moved to Erfurt, where the Bachs were also well known. He lived in a house belonging to Johann Christoff Bach and eventually bought it.
- He taught Johann Christian Bach (JS Bach's elder brother who in turn taught JSB). 
- He was the godfather of one of JS Bach's sisters - Johanna Juditha.
- It is thought that he met JS Bach once, at the wedding of Johann Christoff Bach for which he had written some music.


Style/period: Middle German Baroque
- Organ music
 - well over 200 compositions 
Other keyboard (eg harpsichord) - various, including Hexachordum Apollinis
Sacred Music - 2 masses, 13 magnificat fugues, motets, vespers etc.
Chamber Music - various, including the popular Canon in D

He is unfairly labelled as a 'one hit wonder'. He was one of the most important composers of the mid-Baroque period and was an indirect influence on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and the development of the fugue. 
- He was a talented organist and harpsichordist 
- Besides composing he also performed and taught.

Pachelbel in Art
Art, portraits, caricatures, cartoons, album art.

Pachelbel's Canon

or to give it the full title -"Canon and Gigue in D major for three Violins and Basso Continuo" is the piece he is best known for. The video below plays according to the original composition on original instruments.

It has however undergone many interpretations and is a fascinating story. It has been adapted and used countless times in popular culture.

- Go to the the Canon in D page for all about it and interesting examples including 'Canon Rock'.

More about the Canon on the Pachelbel's Canon page

Saraband in F# minor

Fugue in C major

Chaconne in F minor for harpsichord

Magnificat anima mea

Links, sources and where to go for more information:

  • Answers.com aggregate of various reference sites including Wikipedia
  • Pachelbel.us includes some PDF scores
  • Pachelbelcanon.com All about the Canon in D. More than you could imagine!
  • HOASM informative biographical article
  • Allmusic.com biography
  • Canon in D our own Canon page

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