Johann Friedrich Agricola

Johann Friedrich Agricola was born Jan 4, 1720 at Dobitz, near Altenburg, Saxony.

His father was a judge, and his mother, Maria Magdalen Manke, a friend of Handel.

He began to learn music in his fifth year under a certain Martini. In 1738 he entered the University of Leipsiz when Gottsched was Professor of Rhetoric. But though he went through the regular course of ‘humanities’ he also studied music under Sebastian Bach, with whom he worked hard for three years.

After this he resided at Dresden and Berlin, at the latter from 1741 onwards, and studied the dramatic style under Graun and Hasse.

In 1749 he published two pamphlets on French and Italian tase in music under the pseudonym of Flavio Anicio Olibrio. In the following year a cantata of his, ‘Il Filosofo convinto in amore,’ was performed before Frederick the Great, and made such an impression on the king as to induce him to confer on Agricola th epost of Hof-componist (1751). He had an equal success with a second catnata, ‘La Ricamatrice.’

Agricola then married Signora Molteni, prima donna of the Berlin opera, and composed various operas for Dresden and Berlin, as well as much music for the Church and many arrangements of the king’s melodies. After the death of Graun (August 8, 1759) he was made director of the royal chapel; but without the title of ‘capell meister.’ There he remained till his death Dec 1, 1774.

Agricola’s compositions had no permanent success, nor were any printed excepting two psalms and some chorales. He had the reputation of being the best organ player in Berlin, and a good teacher of singing. He translated with much skill Tosi’s opinioni de’ Cantori, and made some additions of value to Adlung’s Musica mechanica organoedi.