Johann Philipp Kirnberger [also Kernberg] (1721 – 1783)
was a German musician, composer (primarily of fugues),
and music theorist. He was a student of Johann
Sebastian Bach. According to Ingeborg Allihn,
Kirnberger played a significant role in the
intellectual and cultural exchange between Germany and
Poland in the mid-18th century (Allihn 1995, 209).
Between 1741 and 1751 Kirnberger lived and worked in
Poland for powerful magnates including Lubomirski,
Poninski, and Rzewuski before ending up at the
Benedictine Cloister in Lviv (then part of Poland). He
spent much time collecting Polish national dances and
compiled them in his treatise Die Charaktere der Taenze
(Allihn 1995, 211).
Kirnberger became a violinist at the court of Frederick
II of Prussia in 1751. He was the music director to the
Prussian Princess Anna Amalia from 1758 until his
Kirnberger greatly admired Johann Sebastian Bach,
deeming him "the greatest of all composers." Kirnberger
published Bach's Clavierübungen mit der bachischen
Applicatur in the 1760s, and seeking to secure the
publication of all of Bach's chorale settings, which
finally appeared after Kirnberger's death; see
Kirnberger chorale preludes (BWV 690–713). Many of
Bach's manuscripts have been preserved in Kirnberger's
library (the "Kirnberger collection").
Kirnberger is known today primarily for his theoretical
work Die Kunst des reinen Satzes in der Musik (The Art
of Strict Composition in Music, 1774, 1779). The
well-tempered tuning systems known as "Kirnberger II"
and "Kirnberger III" are associated with his name (see
Kirnberger temperament), as is a rational version of
equal temperament (see schisma). One of his most
familiar compositions is Fuga in C-dur für Orgel
("Fanfare" Fugue), which was formerly attributed to
Johann Sebastian Bach and then to his son Carl Philipp
Although originally written for Chorus (SATB), I
created this Interpretation of "Komm, Gott Schöpfer,
Heiliger Geist" (Come, O Creator Spirit Blest) from
Chorale Preludes of C.P.E.Bach Arranged for Double-Reed
Quartet (2 Oboes & 2 Bassoons).