Scheibe, Johann Adolf
Scheibe, Johann Adolf
Scheibe, Johann Adolf, German music theorist and composer; b. Leipzig, May 3, 1708; d. Copenhagen, April 22, 1776. He was the son of the organ builder Johann Scheibe (b. Saxony, e. 1680; d. Leipzig, Sept. 3, 1748), in whose workshop he lost his right eye when he was 8. He commenced the study of keyboard instruments at age 6; after attending the school of the Nico-laikirche, he entered the Univ. of Leipzig as a law student in 1725, but was compelled to give up his studies when the family’s financial condition changed for the worse. He subsequently devoted himself to music, being mainly autodidact; failing to obtain organ posts at the Nicolaikirche in Leipzig (1729; Bach was one of the adjudicators), in Prague and Gotha (1735), and in Sondershausen and Wolfenbüttel (1736), he went to Hamburg as a music critic and composer (1736); brought out his Der critische Musikus, which includes his famous attack on Bach (No. 6, 1737). After serving as Kapellmeister to Margrave Friedrich Ernst of Branden-burg-Culmbach, the governor of Holstein (1739–40), he was made Kapellmeister at the court of King Christian VI in Copenhagen in 1740; with the accession of King Frederik V in 1747, Scheibe was pensioned and settled in Senderborg, where he devoted himself to running a music school for children. In 1766 he once again resumed a relationship with the Danish court, serving as a composer for it until his death. The major portion of his compositional output, which includes the Singspiel Thusnelde (libretto publ, in Leipzig and Copenhagen, 1749), 150 flute concertos, and some 30 violin concertos, is not extant. He is therefore primarily known as an important music theorist of his era.
Compendium musices theoretico-practicum, das ist Kurzer Begriff derer nötigsten Contpositions-Regeln (c. 1730; publ, by P. Benary in Die deutsche Kompositionslehre des 18. Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, 1961); Der critische Musikus (vol. I, Hamburg, 1738; vol. II, Hamburg, 1740; complete ed., Leipzig, 1745); Beantwortung der unparteiischen Anmerkungen über eine bedenkliche Stelle in dem sechsten Stücke des critischen Musicus (Hamburg, 1738; reprint in Der critische Musikus, Leipzig, 1745); Eine Abhandlung von den musicalischen Intervallen und Geschlechtern (Hamburg, 1739); Thusnelde, ein Singspiel in vier Aufzügen, mit einem Vorbericht von der Möglichkeit und Beschaffenheit guter Singspiele begleitet (Leipzig and Copenhagen, 1749); Abhandlung vom Ursprünge und Alter der Musik, insonderheit der Vokalmusik (Aitona and Flensburg, 1754); Über die musikalische Composition, erster Theil: Die Theorie der Melodie und Harmonie (Leipzig, 1773).
K. Storch, S.s Anschauungen von der musikalische Historie, Wissenschaft und Kunst (diss., Univ. of Leipzig, 1923); E. Rosenkaimer, J.A. S. als Verfasser des Critischen Musikus (Bonn, 1929); I. Willheim, J.A. S.: German Musical Thought in Transition (diss., Univ. of III., 1963); G. Skapski, The Recitative in J.A. S.’s Literary and Musical Work (diss., Univ. of Tex., 19 63).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire