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Publication Date



UM campus only

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)


Musicology (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Frank Cooper

Second Committee Member

Paul Wilson

Third Committee Member

Nancy Zavac


Johann Sebastian Bach is considered the foremost organist and composer of organ music of his time. His vast knowledge of the instrument and his ability to reveal the organ?s brilliance were unparalleled, taking the organ to its peak in the Baroque era. Bach perfected many musical styles and forms of the day, and also became well-known for his improvisational skills. However, by the end of Bach?s life, the styles and forms began to change. The forms Bach knew so well slowly gave way to new ideas, signaling the beginning of what music historians label the ?Classical? period. It was during this time that the popularity of the organ began to decline. Bach?s children left behind their father?s musical styles to try new, emerging styles. Although several did continue to compose for the organ, they composed mainly for other keyboard instruments or orchestras. In the middle of the eighteenth century, the Enlightenment changed not only the role of the church, but also people?s view of the church as well. Liturgical changes were made and the organ was viewed as part of the old style. Orchestras replaced the organ and, for the most part, organists either improvised or took a step back from their duties. However, the decline of organ music in the classical period did not equate to its complete disappearance. Bach?s compositions lost favor with the general public after his death, and his successors were left to carry on his legacy and the art of the organ. While Bach?s contributions to the organ world are vast and well-documented, the works of his successors are less familiar. This thesis will focus primarily on the organ repertoire of Bach?s successors during the period of change, the Pre-Classical period. The contributions of Bach?s best-known pupil, Johann Krebs, have been well documented, and research on Krebs is the starting point for this thesis. Research on Bach?s children and his other pupils is available, but one would be hard-pressed to find more than one or two articles of any length on their individual contributions. This thesis will attempt to combine the research on Bach?s sons and students, and reveal their contributions to organ literature as a bridge between Baroque and Classical periods. The first chapter will discuss Bach?s keyboard contributions, as well as styles prevalent in the Pre-Classical period. The second through fourth chapters will discuss Bach?s sons ? Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel, and Johann Christian, respectively. The fifth and sixth chapters will include Johann Ludwig Krebs and Bach?s last two pupils. Research for this thesis primarily relies on books and scholarly articles about the Bach family and organ literature of the time period. Databases such as JStor, WorldCat, and the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians have been used to locate articles and recent findings. Research on this particular subject is not adequately covered in English. Most are written in Bach?s native language, German, with very few translated into the English language. This thesis covers both German and English articles, books, and journals on the topic.


Pre-Classical; Johann Sebastian Bach