Dr Paul Jessen on

Jacob Adlung (1699 - 1762)Anleitung Title Page - Jacob Adlung

Jakob Adlung was born in Bindersleben near Erfurt, Germany on the 14th of January 1699, to a musical family: his father, David, was a teacher and organist who gave him his first musical training. During his Gymnasium years (after 1713) he lived and studied in Erfurt with the organist Christian Reichardt. His studies at Jena University (1723-1726) included philosophy, philology, and theology, whilst taking organ lessons with Johann Nikolaus Bach (1669-1753). Adlung's friendship with J.G. Walther (1684-1748) from this time, gave him access to many theoretical works in his library.


In 1727 Adlung became organist in the Predigerkirche, Erfurt, where he remained for the rest of his life. He taught languages at the Erfurt Gymnasium and taught numerous organ students (between 1728 and 1762 he had 218 keyboard and 284 language students). He also built 16 keyboard instruments during his lifetime.


Jakob Adlung authored several books: Anleitung zu der musikalischen Gelahrtheit (Guide to Musical Expertise) (Erfurt: 1758), which formed the basis of my thesis, and Musica mechanica organoedi (about organ building), and Musikalisches Siebengestirn. Das ist: Sieben zu der edlen Tonkunst gehörige Fragen. The following, written between 1723 and 1727, were all lost in a fire in his home in 1736: Vollständige Anweisung zum Generalbasse; Anweisung zur italienischen Tabulatur; Anweisung zur Fantasie und zu den Fugen. These, however, make up three of the chapters in the Anleitung, so I presume that the work was not entirely lost.


From this well-formed background it is easy to see that his erudition is prodigious. It is small wonder that his Anleitung or Guide to Musical Expertise is a thorough list of all matters necessary to the formation of a musician. He included much information that others took for granted, which for us, at this remove from the times, is of the greatest importance for understanding that evanescent subject: performance practice.

From my research on Jacob Adlung, lecture Subjects Offered:

  1. Early Fingering

  2. The Development of "Modern" Keyboard Technique by J.S.Bach

  3. Eighteenth Century Organ Building

  4. Jacob Adlung's Anleitung zu der musikalischen Gelahrtheit (Erfurt: 1758)

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Last updated September 21, 2006