Johann Peter Kellner

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Johann Peter Kellner (variants: Keller, Kelner) (28 September 1705 – 19 April 1772) was a German organist and composer. He was the father of Johann Christoph Kellner.


He was born in Gräfenroda, Thuringia, and was intended by his parents to follow his father into a career as a lamp-black merchant. He was devoted to music from childhood, and first learnt singing from the cantor Johann Peter Nagel and keyboard from Johann Heinrich Nagel, the son of the former. He studied for a year from 1720 with organist Johann Schmidt in Zella, followed by a year with organist Hieronymus Florentius Quehl (or Kehl) in Suhl, during which he also studied composition. He knew Johann Sebastian Bach, though it is not known whether he was taught by him, and also knew George Frideric Handel. In 1722, he returned to tutor at Gräfenroda for three years. He was appointed cantor of Frankenhain in October 1725, returning to Gräfenroda in December 1727 as assistant cantor. He became cantor after Nagel's death in 1732, and remained in the post for the rest of his life; his pupils included Johann Philipp Kirnberger, Johannes Ringk, and J.E. Rembt. Kellner was admired as an organist, and performed for the Dukes of Coburg and Weimar and the Prince of Sondershausen.

He played an important role in the dissemination of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, through the many manuscript copies made by him and his circle, particularly of keyboard and organ works. These are the earliest or only source of many works, and provide information on their chronology, compositional history, and authenticity. There is evidence that he transcribed Bach's trio sonata BWV 1027/BWV 1039 for organ (it was originally for viola da gamba and harpsichord or two flutes and continuo), though only the first movement survives in his hand; movement four (BWV 1027a) survives in a copy made by his student Johann Nicolaus Mempel and movement two in another hand.


His keyboard music is in typical galant style, though also shows influences of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier.

Published in Arnstadt.


  • Fugue in D minor, BWV Anh. 180
  • Prelude and Fugue in D minor
  • 2 trios, D major, G major, in Die Orgel II/7 (Lippstadt, 1958)
  • Prelude in C major, in Orgelmusik um Johann Sebastian Bach (Wiesbaden, 1985)
  • 2 fugues in C minor and D major
  • 3 preludes in C major, C major, and G minor
  • 2 preludes and fugues in G major
  • It has been suggested that Kellner composed Toccata and Fugue in D minor

Chorale settings

  • Herzlich tut mich verlangen, BWV Anh. 47 (Leipzig, 1907)
  • Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan (Leipzig, 1907)
  • Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten (Wiesbaden, 1985)
  • Lobt Gott, ihr Christen, allzugleich; Nun danket alle Gott
  • Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr


  • Certamen musicum, bestehend aus Präludien, Fugen, Allemanden, Couranten, Sarabanden, Giguen, wie *auch Menuetten, 6 suites (1739–1749)
  • 3 Sonates (1752)
  • Manipulus musices, oder Eine Hand voll kurzweiliger Zeitvertreib, 4 suites (1752–1756)
  • Concerto in F major (Leipzig, 1956)
  • 2 fugues in A minor and C major
  • Menuet in A minor
  • 3 preludes and fugues in A minor, C major, and G major
  • 2 sonatas
  • 12 Variationes


  • 36 church cantatas, in Stadt- und Universitätsbibliothek, Frankfurt
  • Annual cycle of church cantatas with organ, 1753 (lost)


Only a few works by Kellner have been recorded so far and are quite difficult to find. Usually they appear inside of organ work collections including different composers, which makes them even harder to find. Here is a list of websites with information about records or cds with music by Johann Peter Kellner:


  • Russell Stinson: 'Kellner [Keller, Kelner], Johann Peter', Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 2007-06-13),

Further reading

  • His autobiography is in F.W. Marpurg: Historische-kritische Beyträge zur Aufnahme der Musik (Berlin, 1754–1778)
  • Gedenkschrift anlässlich der Johann-Peter-Kellner-Festwoche in Gräfenroda (Gräfenroda, 1955)
  • M. Fechner: Die Klavier- und Orgelwerke Johann Peter Kellners (Diplomarbeit, University of Leipzig, 1965)
  • H.J. Schulze: Bach-Dokumente III (Kassel and Leipzig, 1972)
  • Russell Stinson: The Bach Manuscripts of Johann Peter Kellner and his Circle: a Case Study in Reception History (Durham, North Carolina, 1989)
  • Russell Stinson: Keyboard Transcriptions from the Bach Circle, (Madison, Wisconsin, 1992)

External links