Pop quiz: who is Christian Petzold?

Here’s a hint:

Minuet in G

Still don’t know? Here’s another hint.

Did you know? I didn’t, but apparently researchers have known since 1970 that Christian Petzold (1677-1733), not Bach, was the composer of this gem.  Why then, in as late as the ©2007 edition of the Suzuki volumes, is this piece still attributed to JS Bach?

And why are the minuets called “Minuet 1”, “Minuet 2”, “Minuet 3”? Because that’s how they first appeared in the violin version of the books? But the cello books don’t use that order, and the numbers for the cello publication then become meaningless. AND why is the Cello book 1 piece called “Minuet in C” when it is a transposition of well-known piece usually found in the key of G?  This is all very confusing. At least there is any easy solution for naming the piece illustrated above: “Petzold Minuet”.

Doesn’t anyone else feel bad for poor old Christian Petzold? The most famous piece he ever wrote, and for hundreds of years no one knew it.  Please, can we give the guy some credit?!


I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently, not just about poor old Christian Petzold, but also about poor old J.S. Bach.  This Minuet has at times been virtually synonymous with Bach.  Take for example a children’s film called Mr Bach Comes to Call in which Bach appears to children who are practicing the Minuet and shares with them his life story.  If this music had the power to raise the dead, it would be the ghost of Petzold past that came to haunt.  Bach wrote so much beautiful music. If we have to reduce him to just one piece, let us at least use a piece he wrote himself.

In honor of Petzold and of Bach, please correct this unfortunate case of mistaken identity when it arises.  When someone incorrectly attributes the piece to Bach, look confused and say “Oh, you must be talking about the Petzold Minuet!”