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Elias Nikolaus Ammerbach

1530 - January 29, 1597
born in Naumburg, Germany, composed during the Renaissance period
Many musical reference books describe Ammerbach as an arranger rather than a composer of music. That is a fair assessment of his work, since much of his writing was purely transcriptive and none of it was entirely original. Among his most important contributions was his introduction of a new tablature for organ music, which when published in 1571 represented the first organ or other keyboard music printed in Germany.

Ammerbach was born sometime around 1530 in Naumburg, Germany. Like so many Renaissance-era figures, he led a life that was only sparsely documented, leaving many biographical voids. Yet from surviving accounts, it's known that he was a modest man of easygoing temperament, apparently unconcerned with ambition. He himself revealed that he had a love of music from his earliest childhood days. It is likely his first serious exposure to music came a boy chorister in a church choir, though he may also have taken lessons from a local organist, since he seems to have developed strong keyboard skills at least by his mid-teens. He enrolled at the University of Leipzig in 1548, but remained there for only half a year. From 1549 until 1561, he probably served as an organist in Naumburg or Leipzig and may also have privately continued studies. There is also some likelihood that he traveled abroad during this span.

In 1561 he was appointed organist at the Thomas Kirche in Leipzig, a post he held for the unusually long period of 34 years. It was during this lengthy tenure that Ammerbach created the two large collections of keyboard arrangements for which he is primarily known, the 1571 Orgel oder Instrument Tabulatur and the 1575 Ein new Tabulaturbuch. His expansion and revision of the first publication in 1583 is so significant as to almost represent a third complete set of arrangements. Since the 1571 version contained works by a number and variety of then-prominent composers, he may well have traveled to Italy, France, the Netherlands, or elsewhere in Europe during the 1560s. If he did, such action might help account for his financial problems which, according to local records in Leipzig, plagued him throughout much of his life. Ammerbach seemed to have been a somewhat luckless fellow, but he endured his hardships and tragedies with an almost unflappable manner. His first two wives died, though his third outlived him, as did five of his children. Ammerbach died during the last week of January 1597, his burial taking place on the 29th of that month. ~ Robert Cummings, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Harpsichord Works from the Tab

Title: Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571)

1. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Praeambulum Primi Thoni (Ammerbach)

2. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Ach Gott,was Soll Ich Singen (Ivo De Vento)

3. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Saltarella (Ammerbach)

4. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Gros Lieb Hat Mich Umbfangen (Anonymous)

5. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Ein Henlein Weis Mit Grossem Fleis (Tiberio Fabrianese)

6. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Fantasia On Lassus' Susasanna Se Videns (Ammerbach)

7. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Wenn Ich Des Morgens Fruh Auff Steh (Senfl)

8. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Galliard La Royne D'escosse (Anonymous)

9. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Ein Megdlein Sprach Mir Freundlich Zu (Machinger)

10. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Proficiat Ir Lieben Herren (Anonymous)

11. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Schones Lieb Was Hab Ich Dir (Anonymous)

12. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Ich Weis Mir Ein Festes Gebauwtes Hauss (Antonio Scandello)

13. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Saltarella (Anonymous)

14. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Anchor Che Col Partire (Cipriano De Rore)

15. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Dantz Megdelein Dantz (Anonymous)

16. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Die Schone Sommerzeit (Jacob Meiland)

17. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Alix Avit Aux Dents (Thomas Crecquillon)

18. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Ich Armes Meglein Klag' Mich Sehr (Ludwig Senfl)

19. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Dentzlein (Anonymous)

20. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Susanna Un Un Jour (Orlande De Lassus)

21. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Gut Gsell Du Must Wandern (Anonymous)

22. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Salve Puella, Gott Grus (Anonymous)

23. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): So Wundsche Ich Ir Ein Gute Nacht (Thomas Stoltzer)

24. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Gott Ist Mein Liecht Und Mein Seligkeit (Jacobus Clemens Non Papa)

25. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Galliard Si Pour T'aimer (Anonymous)

26. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Vor Zeiten Was Ich Lieb Unnd Werth (Kaspar Othmayr)

27. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Ach Du Edler Rebensafft (Anonymous)

28. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): A Demi Mort (Jacobus Clemens Non Papa)

29. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Herr Gott Nu Sey Gepreiset (Matthaeus Le Maistre)

30. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Im Meyen Hort Man Die Hanen Kroen (Orlande De Lassus)

31. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Zart Freundlichs Megdlein (Anonymous)

32. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Galliard Puisque Vivre En Servitude (Anonymous)

33. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Isspruck Ich Muss Dich Lassen (Heinrich Isaac)

34. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Peterken Sprack Tho Peterken (Anonymous)

35. Harpsichord Works From The Tabulaturbuch (1571): Ich Sag Ade (Anonymous)

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