Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow

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Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow


• 1663 1712


Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow found importance in his day as a composer of keyboard music and church cantatas, but today his name arises almost exclusively as a teacher of Handel. He himself had gone to school in Leipzig, perhaps at the school for children of poor families, and he got a good training in organ. When Zachow reached his teens, his family moved to Eilenburg, where he continued his education.

Just before his twenty-first birthday, Zachow settled for the rest of his life in Halle, where he was named organist at the Marienkirche. He also directed instrumentalists and the town choir in performances there every third Sunday, and took on a number of young students, including Handel.

Although a substantial portion of Zachow's catalog has been lost and the remaining works are not always easy to date, one could almost use his compositions to trace the development of German church cantatas from Heinrich Schutz to J.S. Bach. There are examples of the old "sacred concerto," the more madrigal-like cantata form favored during Bach's time, and various elements that fall between those two quite different styles. Unlike Bach, Zachow had little use for simple chorales in the cantatas; his choral writing was in four or more rich parts and includes some sort of accompaniment. In contrast, chorales form the basis of most of Zachow's organ music, including chorale fugues that likely influenced the young Bach.