Johann Gottfried Walther

German musician and composer

Johann Gottfried Walther (18 September 1684 – 23 March 1748) was a German music theorist, organist, composer, and lexicographer. He was a cousin of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Walther was born in Erfurt. His mother was a relative of the Bach family. He started receiving private lessons when he was four years old. In 1691, he went to school in Erfurt. He started learning to play the organ with Johann Bernhard Bach and Johann Andreas Kretschmar. He was taught singing by Jakob Adlung. In 1697, he went to study at the Rathsgymnasium. In 1702, he became the organist at the Thomaskirche in Erfurt.[1]

He studied music theory and composition by reading books and sheet music. He travelled to Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Halberstadt, and Magdeburg to study with famous musicians at the time. In 1706, he went to Nuremberg to study with Wilhelm Hieronymus Pachelbel, Johann Pachelbel's son.[2]

In 1707, he became the organist at the church of St. Peter and Paul, Weimar. He taught music to Prince Johann Ernst and his sister Johanna Charlotte.[3][2] He wrote a textbook about music composition for the prince.[3] Johann Sebastian Bach, his cousin, became the court organist of Weimar in 1708. Walther and Bach became good friends.[1]

He became a court musician in 1721. He started writing a dictionary of music and musicians in 1728. In 1732, it was published as Musicalisches Lexicon oder Musicalische Bibliothec ("Musical Lexicon or Musical Library") by Wolfgang Deer in Leipzig. It is the first musical dictionary in German.[2]

He died on March 23, 1748.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Buelow, George J. (2001). "Walther, Johann Gottfried". Grove Music Online (8th ed.). Oxford University Press.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Seiffert, Max. "Walther, Johann Gottfried - Deutsche Biographie". (in German). Deutsche Biographie.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Wolff, Christoph. Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician. New York: W.W. Norton. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-393-04825-4.

Other websites