Johann Jakob Löwe

Johann Jakob Löwe von Eisenach (1629 – 1703) was born in Vienna, where his father, a diplomat, represented Electoral Saxony and other countries. It appears that Löwe obtained his musical education in the environments of the Viennese court, which employed several eminent Italian musicians. In any case, Löwe moved to the court in Dresden in 1652 to join Heinrich Schütz who endeavoured to promote him and recommended him to the Duke of Wolfenbüttel as Kapellmeister of the court orchestra, a position that Löwe held from 1655 to 1666. This decade is the period in which he composed most of his printed and passed-down works. It was followed by a short engagement at the court orchestra in Zeitz, after which Löwe appears to have been without a fixed position for several years. In 1682, he was appointed organist in Lüneburg where he worked until his death without leaving us any detailed knowledge about his work or compositions there.

As a composer, Löwe focussed on free instrumental forms in the Italian style, like the sonata, the canzone or the capriccio, and on dances for varied orchestrations; there is only little vocal music. Among his contemporaries, he was known as the “famous musician in the Stylo Canonico” for his canon compositions. There is no evidence that Löwe met Johann Sebastian Bach during the latter’s stay in Lüneburg (1700 – 1702), but it does not seem improbable since both families originated in Eisenach and Löwe had collected a valuable collection of 17th century compositions which would surely have been interesting to Bach.

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