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Johann Gottfried Müthel

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Johann Gottfried Müthel (January 17, 1728 – July 14, 1788) was a German composer and noted keyboard virtuoso. Along with C.P.E. Bach, he represented the Sturm und Drang style of composition.

As far as is known, he was the first to use the term fortepiano in a published work, in the title of his Duetto für 2 Clavier, 2 Flügel, oder 2 Fortepiano (1771), which reflects the rising popularity of the fortepiano at that time.

He was born in Mölln in the Duchy of Lauenburg, the fifth of nine children. His father was Christian Caspar, an organist and friend of Georg Philipp Telemann. He studied music with his father, and later Johann Paul Kunzen in Lübeck. In 1747, at age 19, he became a court organist and cembalist for Duke Christian Ludwig II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, in Schwerin.

In 1750 he was given leave to study with Johann Sebastian Bach in Leipzig. He became Bach’s last pupil, beginning study only three months before the master’s death. In that time, he notated a number of the blind composer’s final works, including the Chromatic Fantasia and parts of the Orgelbüchlein. According to Bach’s biographer Philipp Spitta, he was present at Bach’s deathbed, and took over his duties for nine weeks. Afterwards, he continued study with Johann Christoph Altnickol, who had also been living and studying with Bach.

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