Site ©1996 Timothy A. Smith

Louis Marchand 1669-1732


Parisian church organist from 1689 and to the royal chapel from 1706, were he not the main character of a humorous footnote in the life of Johann Sebastian Bach, Louis Marchand would probably not be remembered today. In the autumn of 1717, while visiting the court of the Elector of Saxony, Marchand agreed to participate in a contest of improvisation with Bach. The story, as told in the "Obituary" of 1754, indicates that after hearing Bach practice on the evening before the scheduled event, Marchand excused himself and returned to Paris. It was during this visit that Bach renewed his acquaintance with Johann Pisendel. Marchand wrote one opera, one cantata, French and Italian airs, three sacred works to texts by Racine, and compositions for organ and harpsichord.

Bach's World Contemporaries Chronology