One of Bach's last students (after 1748), Kittel eked out a living as organist and private music teacher at Langensalze and Erfurt. Known in his own day as a virtuoso organist, his compositions are clearly not equal to his playing. The story survives from Fétis, who studied with Kittel's student, Rinck, that Kittel owned an authentic portrait of Bach which he displayed behind a curtain. When a student would play well, Kittel would draw back the curtain giving them a glimpse of the great master. Like Kirnberger, Kittel became an important guardian of Bach's works after the composer's death.