Kerll (also Kerl, Kherl, Cherl, Gherl, etc.), Johann Kaspar

views updated

Kerll (also Kerl, Kherl, Cherl, Gherl, etc.), Johann Kaspar

Kerll (also Kerl, Kherl, Cherl, Gherl, etc.), Johann Kaspar, renowned German organist and composer; b. Adorf, Saxony, April 9, 1627; d. Munich, Feb. 13, 1693. He most likely began his musical studies with his father, Kaspar Kerll, an organist, before being called to Vienna by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm to serve as a youthful court organist; he concurrently studied with the imperial court Kapellmeister, Giovanni Valen-tini. The archduke then sent him to Rome to complete his studies with Carissimi; he may have also studied with Frescobaldi. By 1650 he was in Brussels, where he was court organist to Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, who was serving as viceroy of the Spanish Netherlands. The Bavarian Elector Ferdinand Maria made him Vice-Kapellmeister of the Munich court on Feb. 27, 1656; he was promoted to Kapellmeister on Sept. 22, 1656. He wrote his first opera, L’Oronte, for the inauguration of Munich’s opera house (Jan. 1657). For the coronation of Emperor Leopold I in Frankfurt am Main (July 22, 1658), he wrote a Mass and improvised on the organ with great success. He was ennobled in 1664. Although he was held in the highest regard at court, he found the Italian domination of the musical establishment not to his liking. He resigned his position in 1673 and went to Vienna, where he served as organist of St. Stephen’s Cathedral (1674–77); he then (March 16, 1677) was appointed imperial court organist, a position he held until his death. He particularly distinguished himself as a composer of sacred music, and also wrote some fine keyboard pieces. For a selected edition of his works, see A. Sandberger, ed., Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Bayern, III, Jg. II/2 (1901).


18 extant masses, several of which were publ. in Missae sex, cum instrumentis concertantibus, e vocibus in ripieno, adjuncta una pro defunctis cum seq. Dies irae for 4 to 6 Voices, Strings, Bassoon, and Basso Continuo (Munich, 1689); Delectus[26] sacrarum cantionum for 2 to 5 Voices, 2 Violins, and Basso Continuo, op.l (Munich, 1669); 16 Latin sacred works for 1, 3 to 6, 8, and 9 Voices, 3 Trombones, Strings, and Basso Continuo; 3 German sacred works for Voice, 2 Violins, and Basso Continuo; etc. His instrumental works include Modulatio organica super Magnificat octo ecclesiasticis tonis respondens for Keyboard (Munich, 1686; ed. by R. Walter, Altotting, 1956); 8 toccatas; 6 canzonas; many other keyboard pieces in MS; also a ricercata a 4 in A. Kircher, Musurgia universalis (Rome, 1650). Many other works are lost, including 11 operas.


A. Giebler, The Masses ofJ.C. K. (diss., Univ. of Mich., 1956); R. Schall, Quellen zu J.K. K. (Vienna, 1962).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire