Johann Caspar Kerll (1627 – 1693) was a German baroque
composer and organist. He is also known as Kerl, Gherl,
Giovanni Gasparo Cherll and Gaspard Kerle. Born in
Adorf in the Electorate of Saxony as the son of an
organist, Kerll showed outstanding musical abilities at
an early age, and was taught by Giovanni Valentini,
court Kapellmeister at Vienna. Kerll became one of the
most acclaimed composers of his time, known both as a
gifted composer and an outstanding teacher. He worked
at Vienna, Munich and Brussels, and also travelled
widely. His pupils included Agostino Steffani, Franz
Xaver Murschhauser, and possibly Johann Pachelbel, and
his influence is seen in works by Handel and Johann
Sebastian Bach: Handel frequently borrowed themes and
fragments of music from Kerll's works, and Bach
arranged the Sanctus movement from Kerll's Missa
superba as BWV 241, Sanctus in D major.
Although Kerll was a well-known and influential
composer, many of his works are currently lost. The
losses are particularly striking in vocal music, with
all 11 known operas and 24 offertories missing. The
surviving oeuvre shows Kerll's mastery of the Italian
concerted style, employed in almost all of his masses,
and his highly developed contrapuntal technique. He was
influenced by Heinrich Schütz in his sacred vocal
music, and by Girolamo Frescobaldi in keyboard works.
Although Kerll was a renowned teacher during his
lifetime, his pupils did not, in all probability,
include any considerably important composers, although
Johann Joseph Fux possibly studied with him for a time.
Agostino Steffani is perhaps his best-known pupil.
Kerll's influence on later composers, however, is
undeniable. Johann Pachelbel studied Kerll's style,
which is particularly obvious from his organ chaconnes,
which are reminiscent of Kerll's ostinato works; he may
have also studied with Kerll, although there is no
proof. The two most important German composers of the
late Baroque era, Johann Sebastian Bach and George
Frideric Handel, both studied Kerll's work: Bach
arranged the Sanctus part of Kerll's Missa superba in
his Sanctus in D major (BWV 241), and Handel frequently
borrowed themes, and sometimes whole pieces, from
Kerll's canzonas (the theme from Canzona No. 6 is taken
for Let all the Angels of God from Messiah, Egypt was
Glad from Israel in Egypt is practically similar to
Canzona No. 4, etc.).
Kerll was highly regarded by his contemporaries: many
of his works were published during his lifetime.
Particularly important are the many printed concerted
masses, a collection of motets and sacred concertos
entitled Delectus sacrarum cantionum (Munich, 1669) and
Modulatio organica super Magnificat octo ecclesiasticis
tonis respondens (Munich, 1686), which contains
liturgical organ music. Kerll was not an especially
prolific composer, so the surviving works are
relatively few. Much of his music was lost, including
11 operas (which he was most famous for during his
lifetime), 25 offertories, four masses, litanies,
chamber sonatas and miscellaneous keyboard works.
Although originally written for Piano, I created this
Interpretation of "Capricio Cucu" for Viola Quartet.