Ideas in abundance
Johann Ludwig Krebs on Priory -
'... a performance at once robust and sensitive.'
The father of Johann Ludwig Krebs was himself a musician and had twice-weekly
lessons with Bach at Weimar. He was so impressed with his instruction that
he sent all three of his sons to be with Bach in Leipzig. The eldest, subject
of this admirable Priory venture, was the most gifted. At the age of twenty
one he was given a testimonial by Bach : 'I am convinced of having trained
in him a man of such parts, and one who has so distinguished himself in
respect to the clavier, the violin, and the lute, as well as composition,
that he need have no hesitation in letting himself be heard'. In August
1736 Krebs was able to help Bach at the height of his row with the school
rector, Johann Ernesti. The rector had appointed, despite Bach's protest
at the usurping of his function, an unsuitable boy to be choir prefect.
He now threatened with expulsion and a whipping any boy taking the place
of his appointee. Bach complained to the Town Council that to his 'great
shame and public humiliation, there was not a single pupil, for fear of
the threatened penalty, willing to take over the chanting, much less the
direction of the motet'. It was then that Krebs came to his rescue. Some
say that Bach himself was author of the affectionate pun : 'There had been
caught only one crab (Krebs) in the stream (Bach)'.
Copyright © 5 February 2003
Robert Anderson, London, UK