Theil, Johann, distinguished German composer, teacher, and music theorist; b. Naumburg, July 29, 1646; d. there (buried), June 24, 1724. He began his musical training with Johann Scheffler, Kantor in Magdeburg, then pursued the study of law at the Univ. of Leipzig; also received musical instruction from Schütz. In 1673 he was appointed Kapellmeister to Duke Christian Albrecht in Gottorf; after the Duke lost his position in 1675, Theile followed him to Hamburg, where he was chosen to compose the inaugural opera for the new opera house in the Gänsemarkt in 1678. He was Kapellmeister in Wölfenbuttel (1685-91), where he also acquired a fine reputation as a teacher; then held that position at the court of Duke Christian I in Merseburg (1691-94), where he continued to be active as a teacher. About 1718 he settled with his son in Naumburg. Theil was a notable composer of sacred music, known by his contemporaries as “the father of contrapuntists” His theoretical works are also of value.
dramatic: Adam und Eva, oder Der erschaffene, gefallene und aufgerichtete Mensch (Jan. 2, 1678); Orontes (1678); Die Geburth Christi (1681). VOCAL: Sacred: Pars prima missarum for 4 Voices and Basso Continuo (Wismar, 1673); Passio nach dem Heiligen Evangelisten Matthäo for 4 Voices, 4 Viols, and Basso Continuo (Lübeck, 1673; ed. in Denkmäler Deutscher Tonkunst, XVII, 1904); other masses; 7 Psalms; various motets. Secular: Weltlicher Arien und Canzonetten erstes, anderes und drittes Zehen for 1, 2, and 4 Voices, 4 Viols, and Basso Continuo (Leipzig, 1667); Sonata for 2 Violins, Trombone, Bassoon, and Basso Continuo; Sonata for Violin, 2 Viols, Violone, and Basso Continuo.
Musikalisches Kunst-Buch; Curieuser Unterricht von den gedoppelten Contrapuncten; Contrapuncta prae-cepta; Von den dreifachten Contrapuncten; Gründlicher Unterricht von den gedoppelten Contrapuncten; Von dem vierfachen Contra-punct alia octava.
F. Zelle, J. T und N.A. Trungk (Berlin, 1891); W. Maxton, /. T.(diss., Univ. of Tübingen, 1926); J. Mackey, The Sacred Music of]. T.(diss., Univ. of Mich., 1968).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire