Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg

Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg (* November 21, 1718 at Lake- in Wendemark ( Altmark), † May 22, 1795 in Berlin) was a German music theorist, critic and historian of the Enlightenment.


Marpurg life data are only transmitted incomplete. What is certain is that in his youth he enjoyed a good education and was a friend of Johann Joachim Winckelmann and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. He studied from 1738 law at Jena, 1739 in Halle ( Saale). As a student he wrote a lampoon against an old master in Jena and had then first to Holland, then flee to Argentan / Orne in France to escape imprisonment adopted by the Prussian King in Spandau. From 1748 Marpurg studied at the University of Frankfurt / Oder. He took over in the spring of 1749 as the successor of Christian Gottfried Krause ( 1719-1770 ) the post of Secretary of the General Friedrich Rudolf Graf Rothenburg ( 1710-1751 ), by which he probably made ​​the acquaintance of Voltaire, d' Alembert and Rameau.

Marpurg offer, exclusive to write for Breitkopf, hit the music publishing 1757. In 1760 he took a position at the royal lottery; In 1763 he was appointed its director and received the title of a Prussian War Council. 1766 came his son Johann Friedrich to the world, which made later as Geiger career in Hamburg.

Marpurg belligerence and his desire for public polemics brought him many enemies. But contemporaries describe his exuberant affability and courtesy; both traits, gallant tone and sharp-tongued polemic, have his imprint of the French Enlightenment. Johann Philipp KirnBerger other hand, who was known as a morose and unsociable and the writing life was hard, summed up the endless teasing in the critical letters on as a personal insult.


The largest part of Marpurg musical publications falls within the years 1750-1763. As director of the lottery, he distinguished himself with two fonts for lottery theory, but also continued to publish contributions to music in larger intervals. One of the first ( and most influential ) work Marpurg was his joints treatise: The treatise of the fugue contains, among other examples from Bach's Art of Fugue, and is now considered the oldest source for the performance practice of this work (1753 ). The manual bey the thorough-bass and composition as well as the translation of d' Alembert's Elemens de musique founded the Rameaurezeption in German harmony. Other books deal with questions of performance practice, vocal music, music history, music theory and more mathematical Particularly noteworthy are the magazine projects that Marpurg the German music critics further established and an enlightening note enriched in the wake of Mattheson and disc. In his critical letters about the art of music, there are significant contributions to the theory of the clock, to Odenästhetik and many other topics. The results of his experiments with the ancient water organ are preserved in manuscript. Marpurg was through his numerous writings, one of the leading German theorists of the late 18th century and is adjacent KirnBerger, Schulz and Agricola one of the representatives of a ( fractious in itself ) "Berlin School " of music criticism and theory. CFD Schubart called him "one of the greatest mus theorists throughout Europe ."


  • The critische Musicus an der Spree, 1750
  • The Art of Playing Keyboard, 1750, exp. Ed 1762nd
  • Historical- critical contributions in writing to the recording of the music, 1756-1778
  • Instructions for Clavierspielen, 1755
  • Rudiments of music theory, 1757/60
  • Manual bey the thorough-bass and Composition, 1757-1762
  • Instructions for Singcomposition, 1758/59
  • Critical introduction to the history and tenets of old and new music, 1759.
  • Critical letters about the art of music, 1759-1763
  • Instructions for music in general, and particularly vocal art, 1763rd
  • The art of making his fortune playing. Or detailed message from the Italian, and the type thereof to Berlin, Paris and Brussels etc. erected lottery numbers between 1 and 90: with beygefügten planning, money bey Selbiger to apply with advantage, 1765th
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg rudiments of Progressionalcalculs at all, and the figurative and combi -natorial particularly, as well as the logarithmic, trigonometric and Decimalcalculs, together with the doctrine of Ausziehung the roots and the Construction of eckigten geometrical body, 1774th
  • Essay on the musical temperature, 1776.
  • Legend of some saint Music, 1786.
  • New method all sorts of kinds of temperatures on convenient notify the Claviere, 1790.