Canon and Gigue : Work information

Johann Pachelbel ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Iona Brown (Conductor)

This work

Work name
Canon and Gigue
Work number
1690-01-01 02:01:00

This recording

Andrew Keener
John Timperley
Recording date
1996-07-01 01:00:00

Track listing

  • Canon 4:44 min


Pachelbel is chiefly known for his influence on J S Bach, his organ works and this popular piece for strings. He was also a fine composer of church vocal music and can be considered one of the greatest composers of his time.

The first part of the Canon and Gigue is based on a repeating bass-line over which the three violins weave a set of canonic variations. The following Gigue is a lively dance in triple time.  Pachelbel's mastery of contrapuntal techniques is nowhere more clearly demonstrated than in this short work.

The Composers

Johann Pachelbel

Johann Pachelbel was born in Nuremberg, Germany in August 1653 and baptised on the 1st of September. He was taught by two local musicians, Heinrich Schwemmer and G. C. Wecker, and in 1669 entered the University of Altdorf. He was organist of the Lorenzkirche in Altdorf, but after less than a year he ran out of money and left the town. In 1670, he enrolled in the Gymnasium Poeticum at Regensburg, where he continued his musical studies with Kaspar Prentz. 

After leaving Regensburg, Pachelbel spent about five years as the deputy organist at St Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, between 1673 and 1677. He then spent a year as court organist at Eisenach. In 1678 he was appointed organist of the Predigerkirche in Erfurt, and remained there for 12 years. He was very successful as an organist, composer and teacher. His pupils included J. S. Bach’s elder brother, Johann Christoph who was also a composer. He married twice and left Erfurt in 1690 returning to Nuremberg after short periods working as an organist in Stuttgart and Gotha. Here he got a job as organist at the Church of St. Sebald, which he retained until his death.

Pachelbel was a prolific composer, mostly of church music. His organ music includes about 70 chorales, which were mostly written at Erfurt, and about 95 Magnificat fugues written for Vespers at St. Sebald. He also wrote non-liturgical works for organ such as toccatas, preludes, fugues and fantasias. His vocal music includes two Masses and some Vespers music as well as arias and sacred concertos. Perhaps his best works are his chorale variations and chorale preludes. His modest contributions to chamber music include the canon that has become his best-known work. His son Carl Theodorus Pachelbel (24th November 1690 - 14th September 1750) emigrated to the American colonies in about 1730 and became a prominent musician in Newport, New York, and Charleston.

Related Composers: Johann Sebastian Bach

- MIDI FILE - Canon in D (05'53'')

- MIDI FILE - Praeludium for organ (4’16’’)