Andreas Werckmeister

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Andreas Werckmeister (November 30, 1645 – October 26, 1706) was a German organist, music theorist, and composer of the Baroque era.


Born in Benneckenstein, Werckmeister attended schools in Nordhausen and Quedlinburg. He received his musical training from his uncles Heinrich Christian Werckmeister and Heinrich Victor Werckmeister. In 1664 he became an organist in Hasselfelde; ten years later in Elbingerode; and in 1696 of the Martinskirche in Halberstadt.

Musical compositions[edit]

Of his compositions only a booklet remains: pieces for violin with basso continuo, with the title Musikalische Privatlust (1689).

Theoretical works[edit]

Werckmeister is best known today as a theorist, in particular through his writings Musicae mathematicae hodegus curiosus... (1687) and Musikalische Temperatur (1691), in which he described a system of what we would now refer to as well temperament (named after Bach's opus, "The Well-Tempered Clavier") now known as Werckmeister temperament.

Title page of Andreas Werckmeister, Orgelprobe (1698).

Werckmeister's writings were well known to Johann Sebastian Bach, in particular his writings on counterpoint. Werckmeister believed that well-crafted counterpoint, in particular invertible counterpoint [1], was tied to the orderly movements of the planets, reminiscent of Kepler's view in Harmonice Mundi. According to George Buelow, "No other writer of the period regarded music so unequivocally as the end result of God’s work," [2] a view harmonious with that of Bach. Yet in spite of his focus on counterpoint, Werckmeister's work emphasized underlying harmonic principles.

List of works[edit]

  • Musicae mathematicae hodegus curiosus... (1687)
  • Musikalische Temperatur, oder... (1691)
  • Der Edlen Music-Kunst... (1691)
  • Hypomnemata musica (1697)
  • Erweierte und verbesserte Orgel-Probe (1698)
  • Die nothwendigsten Anmerckungen und Reglen, wie der Bassus continuus... (1698)
  • Cribrum musicum (1700)
  • Harmonologia musica (1702)
  • Musikalische Paradoxal-Discourse (1707)


  1. ^ George B. Stauffer, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Fall 2005, p. 711.
  2. ^ George J. Buelow, "Andreas Werckmeister," Grove Music Online

See also[edit]


  • David Yearsley, Bach and the Meanings of Counterpoint. New Perspectives in Music History and Criticism. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • George J. Buelow: "Andreas Werckmeister", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (Accessed May 7, 2006), (subscription access)

External links[edit]