Sheet music

Musical contribution - February 2014

Fantasia sopra “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele” (Ludwig Krebs, 1713-1780) - This month we’ll be putting the spotlight on one of Bach’s most talented students. Oddly enough, the music by this – Buttelstedt born – musician remained undervalued. Relatively little attention has been devoted to him, despite the fact it was the 300th anniversary of his birth last year.

Who was he? I read somewhere that he was born between 10th and 12 October (so I am assuming the 11th) 1713 near Weimar. His father was a cantor-organist and the young Ludwig probably received his first lessons from him. He became a student at the Thomasschule in Leipzig at the age of 13, which is where he became acquainted with J.S. Bach. They were friends for nine years, during which time Bach taught Krebs and Krebs copied Bach’s music. Krebs was appointed as the cathedral organist at the Marien Kirche in Zwickau in 1739.

Following in his teacher’s footsteps, Ludwig wrote a large number of Choralvorspiele. A number of these were incorrectly attributed to Bach and rediscovered in the 20th century. We know the melody of the “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele” chorale as the melody of psalm 42. Krebs worked on this chorale line by line. Beautifully altered, yet still clearly recognisable. The accompaniment clearly responded to the text’s call to rejoice.

I have opted for the flutes 8’ and 4’ in the accompaniment and a sesquialtera as a solo voice for the registration. This is due to the internal balance and the clarity of the cantus firmus. It goes without saying that other options are possible too. For example, an accompaniment with the flutes 8’, 4’, 2’. But then it would be advisable to go for a different solo stop, as the clarity of a flute 2’ could take a great deal away from the sesquialtera.

I will try to find out whether there are any other students of Bach with such beautiful Choralvorspiele. We will keep you informed.

With Kind Regards,

André