Music historian and bibliographer, He held choral positions in Lüneburg (1766) and in Schwerin (1767) before a patron enabled him to study law at the University of Göttingen (1769). There he was university chapel organist, taught music theory, and eventually (ca. 1779) became director of concerts; in 1787 the university elevated him to professorial status. He is recognized as one of the founders of musicology. Of chief value are his bibliographies Musikalisch-kritische Bibliothek (Gotha, 1778-79) and Allgemeine Litteratur der Musik (Leipzig, 1792), and his Allgemeine Geschichte der Musik (Leipzig, 1789-1801). He also published, in 1802, the first biography of J. S. Bach.