Pachelbel: One-Hit Wonder?

Updated February 23, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

The Question:

Did Pachelbel compose anything other than Canon in D Major?

The Answer:

Yes. In fact, for centuries, Johann Pachelbel (1653–1706) was best known for his organ music. He composed dozens of chorale preludes, fugues, and other works for the organ.

He is not believed to have composed much chamber music. The "Canon and Gigue in D" for three violins and basso continuo is one of his only surviving pieces from that genre, and it was generally overlooked for centuries.

In the 1970s, the "Canon in D" rose from obscurity (without its companion "Gigue in D," which is still rarely played) to become one of the best-known and most popular Baroque pieces. It was probably made popular by a 1970 recording by the Jean-François Paillard Chamber Orchestra, which unexpectedly became a radio hit. It has since been used in any number of movie soundtracks, and it is often played at weddings. It has eclipsed all of Pachelbel's other work to the extent that two separate albums containing nothing but interpretations of "Canon in D" have been released with the title Pachelbel's Greatest Hit.

-The Fact Monster

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