Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Keller, Gottfried

KELLER, GOTTFRIED or GODFREY (d. 1704), musical theorist and harpsichord player, was born in Germany, but settled in London towards the end of the seventeenth century as professor and composer. He died in November 1704, leaving a widow and two sons. To the elder, Godfrey, he bequeathed his ‘best fiddle’ and spinet.

Keller's best-known work is ‘A Compleat Method for attaining to Play a Thorough Bass upon either Organ, Harpsichord, or Theorbo-lute, by the late famous Mr. Godfrey Keller. With a variety of proper Lessons and Fugues … and a Scale for Tuning the Harpsichord or Spinnet, all taken from his own copies which he did design to print …,’ John Cullen, 1707. The publisher's preface describes Keller as having been very much employed in teaching persons to play a thorough-bass, and in this work Keller had been ‘generously resolved to make easie’ the rules of composition. It was the second work printed in England on musical theory, the first being Locke's. Fétis mentions another edition, entitled merely ‘Rules or a Compleat Method for attaining to Play a Thorough Bass,’ London, no date. The ‘Method’ was afterwards revised and corrected by Dr. Holder, and published as an appendix to his own ‘Treatise on Harmony,’ London, 1731.

Keller's published music includes: 1. ‘6 Sonate a cinque, cioè 3 a 2 Violini, Tromba o Oboe, Viola, e Basso continuo; e 3 a 2 Flauti, 2 Oboi o Violini, e Basso continuo,’ Amsterdam, 1710, probably reprinted from a London edition. They are said by Gerber to be dedicated to Queen Anne, and must therefore be the pieces in which Godfrey Finger [q. v.] co-operated. 2. ‘6 Sonate, a 2 Flauti e Basso,’ also published, after Keller's death, at Amsterdam. The manuscript parts for second flute are in the British Museum (Harl. MS. 4899), together with the second-flute parts of two sonatas for three flutes.

[Gerber's Tonkünstler-Lexikon, pt. iii. col. 33; Fétis's Biographie, v. 7; Hawkins's History, iii. 822; Dict. of Musicians, 1827, ii. 6; Grove's Dict. i. 524; Reg. of Wills, P. C. C., Book Ash, f. 235.]

L. M. M.