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Knijff J. Johann Ludwig Krebs, 'Prelude in F Major': A Guide Towards Performance. 2006.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://e-publications.une.edu.au/1959.11/7874
Johann Ludwig Krebs, 'Prelude in F Major': A Guide Towards Performance
Like so many musicians - including organists - old Sebastian Bach liked jokes and puns. And it was, presumably, the Thomas Cantor himself who came up with the famous one-liner stating his student Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713–1780) was "the only crayfish (Krebs) caught in this great brook (Bach)." Strictly speaking, this was actually not true: Johann Ludwig's father, Johann Tobias Krebs, had been a Bach student in Weimar in the 1710s, and, having married into an affluent family in 1723, he was able to send not only Johann Ludwig but also his two other sons to school in Leipzig. One of them, Tobias Jr., had, at age 13, "a good strong voice" according to the Thomas Cantor. The other, Johann Carl, was at St. Thomas in the 1740s and eventually succeeded Tobias Sr. as organist at Buttstädt. Johann Ludwig studied with Bach for no fewer than nine years, from 1726 till 1735. The reference letter that Bach wrote for him in August of that year is very good indeed: We learn that Krebs was not only an able organist and harpsichord player, but also excelled as a violinist, lute player, and composer. Earlier, Krebs had applied (along with his father and C.P.E. Bach) for the position of organist at St. Wenzel's Church in Naumburg. Krebs Sr. withdrew, but neither Jr. nor Carl Philipp got the job. Johann Ludwig stayed in Leipzig for a few more years, completing his education by attending lectures in philosophy and law at Leipzig University until he got his first position as organist in Zwickau in 1737. In 1742, Krebs applied successfully for the position at the Silbermann organ in the Frauenkirche in Dresden, but apparently didn't accept the post, perhaps because the compensation package left something to be desired. Instead, he took a position at the castle in Zeitz in 1744. From there, he twice applied - unsuccessfully - for the Leipzig Thomas cantorate: first after Bach's death in 1750 and again five years later when Bach's successor Harrer had died. Finally, in 1756, Krebs became organist at the Altenburg castle, where he played the fine, large two-manual Trost organ still extant today. Although Krebs had been an avowed admirer of Silbermann organs, he loved the Trost organ very much and looked after it "like a father" (as one organ builder Schramm complained after being denied access to the instrument by the organist). Krebs stayed in Altenburg till his death, though - like his father - he had to pass on his responsibilities to his son Christian Traugott in 1776 due to health trouble.