Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer
• c.1656 — 1746
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Johann Caspar Fischer was an important Baroque composer in the generation before J.S. Bach. Fischer was fairly versatile, producing organ, keyboard, and orchestral works, as well as many vocal compositions, including eight masses. Though the influence of Lully has been noted in his music, Fischer forged quite an individual style that left its mark in the works of many of his contemporaries.
Details about Fischer's childhood and early years are sketchy. Some even set the date of his birth to around 1670, making him far less long-lived than is generally believed. Young Johann appears to have been educated at a local school run by the Piarists, a Catholic order devoted to teaching children. There musical instruction was emphasized, and it is likely Fischer thrived in the environment. Regarding his further music studies, it is believed he received training from Johann Hönel and Augustin Pfleger, who served in the Court of Duke Julius Franz of Saxe-Lauenberg, in Schlackenwerth.
The late 1680s was the time Fischer's life emerged a bit more clearly. He succeeded Pfleger as Kapellmeister at Schlackenwerth in 1689, or perhaps a year earlier. In 1691 he married the daughter of the mayor of Joachimsthal, Maria Franziska Macasin, who would die only seven years later. By 1695 Fischer was Hofkapellmeister under the Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm of Baden, though he may well have been appointed to the post as early as 1690.
Fischer's earliest surviving works appear to date to the apparently busy period of the early- and mid-1690s. His Op. 1 eight suites, Le journal du printems, was performed in 1694 in Augsburg, and the Op. 2 set of eight keyboard suites, Les pièces de clavessin, was published in Schlackenwerth in 1696. Fischer remarried around 1700. The Margrave relocated his Court to Rastatt in 1705; however, Fischer was left behind because of unfavorable economic conditions.
In 1715 Fischer accepted a musical post in Rastatt by the Piarists and thereafter had contacts with the Court there. He remained active in composition for the last three decades of his life, but unfortunately the operas, sacred music, and occasional works for Court, written in Rastatt, have not survived. Fischer's second wife died in 1732, but the composer produced two of his most important efforts in the mid-1730s, the Preludia and Fugae for organ, and the nine suites for keyboard, Musikalischer Parnassus. Fischer died in 1746.