Johann Philipp Kirnberger (1721 – 1783) was a musician, composer and music theorist. Possibly, though not verified, he was a pupil of Johann Sebastian Bach, visiting Leipzig in 1741. From 1741 to 1751, Johann Philipp Kirnberger lived in Poland and worked for various noblemen of that country. He returned to Germany, was engaged by the Prussian royal chapel, voluntarily took a higher position in a lower establishment (that of Prince Heinrich of Prussia), and in 1758 obtained the major position of his life, music director for Princess Anna Amalia of Prussia. He kept this job for life.
Johann Philipp Kirnberger regarded J.S. Bach as the greatest of all composers, a common view today but not then when the Leipzig master, if he was remembered at all, was regarded as an old-fashioned composer. Kirnberger is known today primarily for his theoretical work “Die Kunst des reinen Satzes in der Musik” (The Art of Strict Composition in Music, 1774, 1779). The well-tempered tuning systems known as “Kirnberger II” and “Kirnberger III” are associated with his name.
In his music theoretical writing Kirnbergher considered bicinia the most difficult task for a composer. It therefore interesting to get to know bicinium by Kirnberger. And in line with my previous publications this bicinium has the choral melody “Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich herr”.
Kirnberger, Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her