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Happy 300th Birthday, Mr Crayfish!


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It completely passed me by that last week marked the Tercentenary of Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780) - well actually probably it would have been the week before, as we know he was baptized on 12 October but I don't think anyone knows the precise date of birth. His name in German means "crayfish", just as Bach means "brook", and as JSB's favourite pupil he earned the great Master's compliment that "he is the only crayfish in my brook". As well as being responsible for maintaining many of Bach's precious scores, Krebs was by all accounts a brilliant organist in his own right and as a composer he developed Bach's rococo style to extreme lengths (sometimes literally - a weakness of some of his preludes and fugures is that they don't seem to know when to stop!) Impoverished in his lifetime and neglected for many years afterwards as harking back to the old-fashioned musical style of Bach rather than embrassing the emergenging classical style, his music is perhaps a bit more widely recognised now and there are a couple of cycles of his complete organ works. I play four of the "big" preludes and fugues and they are amongst my favourite pieces of the entire organ repertoire.


I have struggled to find much on the internet to celebrate his tercentary (at a recital I gave yesterday I included his monumental Prelude and Fugue in F minor that is styled after the Bach B minor and lasts around a quarter of an hour). Last week's Pipedreams has a two hour tribute to Krebs at




then there is a selection of organ and chamber music at




and an interview with Rebecca Pechefsky who recorded his harpsichord works for the tercentary at




It sounds like there might have been a big birthday party at Altenburg Castle where the lucky Krebs was organist on the famous Trost. Has anyone come across any other tributes to Krebs, and is anyone planning anything further to mark this tercentary month and year?



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Guest Geoff McMahon

Without wanting to appear pedantic, Krebs translates as cancer (both in the illness and the sign of the zodiac) and crab. Crayfish is Flußkrebs (also written Flusskrebs) in German.


That aside, I think Kreb's importance is underestimated. I have a wonderful recording of some of his works on the Freiberg organ which I treasure, and get annoyed when people denigrate him and his contribution to organ music.



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