Posted by Mindy

What music do you remember from your early growing up years?  Did you have an older brother or sister and you listened to their music?  Can you name their songs, sing the lyrics, and remember when you heard them?  Young Johann Sebastian Bach was no different from you, as he listened to his older brother Christoph’s music.  Huh?  You ask.  What music did people in the 1660’s and 1670’s listen to?  Hard to imagine the folks of that day having their own set of “greatest hits.”
Let me introduce you one popular composer who Christoph Bach listened to.  I bet that you’ll even recognize the piece used here as an example!

Have you ever heard of this composer who is known only by his last name?


Johann Pachelbel


How to say the name:

‘Pachelbel’ is said like Pack-el-bell. ‘Johann’ is said like ‘Yo-han’.

Born:  In Nuremberg, Germany,  probably sometime in August 1653 (he was baptised on the 1st September).




Died:  In Nuremberg, probably in eary March 1706 (he was buried on the 9th March).
Type of Music:

Classical music from the baroque period.

A famous piece:
The sort of music he wrote:
  • Keyboard music (especially organ). (See below for a video example.)
  • Choral (sung) music for the church.
  • Chamber music (music for a small number of instruments).
Some interesting facts:
  • He was very popular when he was alive.
  • He is only really known for one piece of music today—the Canon in D. However this piece is very popular. Even people who don’t know much classical music will often know this piece.
  • Most of his music was written for the church.
  • A lot of his music has been lost.

Here is a video of Pachelbel’s Canon in D. See if you can hear the same eight low notes played over and over again.


Pachebel’s Canon in D

And here is a video of an organ piece by Pachelbel. You will probably think of this sort of music as ‘church music’. And you would be right! It was indeed written to be played in church.

A fugue in D major by Pachelbel

Choose another composer of classical music.
Picture credits:
  1. Johann Pachelbel. This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.
  2. Pachelbel’s grave in Nuremberg. This image may be used freely. Click here for the source of this image, along with the relevant copyright information.
Video credits:
  1. Pachelbel Canon in D: High Definition Video (HD). Performed on original instruments by Voices of Music. Featuring Katherine Kyme, Carla Moore & Cynthia Freivogel, baroque violin; Tanya Tomkins, baroque cello, Hanneke van Proosdij, baroque organ; David Tayler, theorbo. There is more information about this one on the video’s YouTube page.
  2. J. Pachelbel: Fugue in D major. Played on Johannus organ. From “20 Fugues” album.


If you would like to visit the original Pachelbel page, click here.