Johann Adolph Scheibe (1708 – 1776) was a German-Danish composer and critic and theorist of music. He was born in Leipzig as the son of Johann Scheibe, an organ builder. At 11 he entered the school at the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig. In 1725 he entered Leipzig University to continue study in jurisprudence. However, his university education was abandoned when a family financial crisis forced him to remain at home. Although he later wrote that he had begun to study keyboard at the age of six, it was only at this time that he gave serious thought to music as a career. He read everything he could find about music, and began to practise the organ. Scheibe was therefore largely self-taught as a musician.
In 1729 Scheibe applied for the organ position at the Nicolaikirche, where J.S. Bach was one of the examiniers, but Johann Schneider got the post. In 1736, he moved to Hamburg where he made influential friends including Johann Mattheson and Georg Philipp Telemann. Encouraged by both, Scheibe published the magazine “Der Critische Musikus” between 1737 and 1740. The magazine received widespread attention and remains significant today for its discussion of significant contemporary composers.
In 1740 Scheibe became kapellmeister at the court of King Christian VI of Denmark. After the king’s death in 1746, his successor Frederick V affected a move away from the pietism of the previous monarchs. Theatre and opera were once again allowed, and the Royal Danish Theatre opened in 1749. Musical taste turned to Italian opera and French comic opera. Scheibe was strongly opposed to this new style, and his employment was terminated in 1748.
Scheibe moved to Sønderborg where he opened a music school for children while continuing to write, compose, and translate Danish texts into German.In 1762, Scheibe returned to Copenhagen, where he remained until his death 14 years later.
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