27th March 1702
19th June 1762
Jettingen bei Burgau, Germany
Johann Ernst Eberlin was a German composer and organist whose works bridge the baroque and classical eras. He was a prolific composer, chiefly of church organ and choral music. Marpurg claims he wrote as much and as rapidly as Alessandro Scarlatti and Georg Philipp Telemann, a claim also repeated by Leopold Mozart - though ultimately Eberlin did not live to the great age of those two composers.
His first breakthrough was in 1727 when he became the organist for Count Leopold von Firmian (then Archbishop of Salzburg). He reached the peak of his career when he was the organist for ArchbishopAndreas Jakob von Dietrichstein. By 1749 he held the posts of Hof- und Domkapellmeister (Court and Cathedral chapel master) simultaneously, an achievement which his successors Michael Haydn,Leopold Mozart, and Mozart himself were not to match. Despite Mozart's father Leopold's great opinion of Eberlin, and having sent the young Mozart some of Eberlin's best known works, his keyboard pieces, the young Mozart later tired of them, writing in a letter of April 20, 1782 that Eberlin's works were "far too trivial to deserve a place beside Handel and Bach."
Eberlin was greatly respected while he lived, composing industriously and playing at church concerts. After his death however his strict choral pieces in the stile antico faded from popularity and only his keyboard works were remembered.