Gottfried Kirchhoff (1685–1746) belongs to those numerous masters of baroque music, whose names have for various reasons got lost on pages of musical history annals. Meanwhile his contemporaries highly valued his output and enthusiastically praised his skill on the clavier and organ. [...] Kirchhoff dedicated his entire life to music: from 1693 to 1709, he studied organ and composition in Halle under Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow (1663–1712); from 1709 to 1711, he was kappellmeister at the court of Philipp Ernst Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (1673–1729); from 1711 to 1714, he served as organist at the church St Benedict at the market in Quedlinburg; and, from 1714 to his death, Kirchhoff held the position of Director Musices and organist at the Our Lady’s church at the market in Halle. Even if Kirchhoff was not notable for a high prolificacy (such as, for example, Georg Philipp Telemann), his long period of professional activity must have produced an imposing quantity of works. [...]
Taking into account the dates of the copies themselves, likewise the milestones in Kirchhoff’s musical career, it may be suggested that his extant keyboard works were composed during his tutelage under Zuchow and service to the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, i. e. the early period of his output. It is interesting to note, that all Kirchhoff’s keyboard works, included in the present edition, were found in the so-called “house sheet-music albums” — the most popular attribute of music making in the home in the 18th century. [...]
Even from cursory acquaintance with these compositions it is difficult to overlook how Kirchhoff’s treatment of the sonata and suite cycles differs from the usual models of the day. For him, a suite is formed of two parts that relate one to the other according to the principle of “strict” versus “free”. The “strict” part consists of the everpresent dance-pair “Allemande–Courante;” the “free” section is formed of various galanterie pieces, the amount and order of which are not regulated. The sonata, in contrast, does not follow any certain pattern. The genres of the pieces, their number and freedom of alternation place Kirchhoff’s sonata in close quarters with his suite.