Johann Sebastian Bach  
Johann Sebastian Bach

Portrait of Bach, aged 61, by Haussmann, 1748
Johann Sebastian Bach, (born March 21, 1685, Eisenach, Thuringia, Ernestine Saxon Duchies—died July 28, 1750, Leipzig), composer of the Baroque era, the most celebrated member of a large family of northern German musicians. Although he was admired by his contemporaries primarily as an outstanding harpsichordist, organist, and expert on organ building, Bach is now generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time and is celebrated as the creator of the Brandenburg Concertos, The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Mass in B Minor, and numerous other masterpieces of church and instrumental music. Appearing at a propitious moment in the history of music, Bach was able to survey and bring together the principal styles, forms, and national traditions that had developed during preceding generations and, by virtue of his synthesis, enrich them all.

He was a member of a remarkable family of musicians who were proud of their achievements, and about 1735 he drafted a genealogy, Ursprung der musicalisch-Bachischen Familie (“Origin of the Musical Bach Family”), in which he traced his ancestry back to his great-great-grandfather Veit Bach, a Lutheran baker (or miller) who late in the 16th century was driven from Hungary to Wechmar in Thuringia, a historic region of Germany, by religious persecution and died in 1619. There were Bachs in the area before then, and it may be that, when Veit moved to Wechmar, he was returning to his birthplace. He used to take his cittern to the mill and play it while the mill was grinding. Johann Sebastian remarked, “A pretty noise they must have made together! However, he learnt to keep time, and this apparently was the beginning of music in our family.”

Until the birth of Johann Sebastian, his was the least distinguished branch of the family; some of its members, such as Johann Christoph and Johann Ludwig, had been competent practical musicians but not composers. In later days the most important musicians in the family were Johann Sebastian’s sons—Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel, and Johann Christian (the “English Bach”).


Early years

J.S. Bach was the youngest child of Johann Ambrosius Bach and Elisabeth Lämmerhirt. Ambrosius was a string player, employed by the town council and the ducal court of Eisenach. Johann Sebastian started school in 1692 or 1693 and did well in spite of frequent absences. Of his musical education at this time, nothing definite is known; however, he may have picked up the rudiments of string playing from his father, and no doubt he attended the Georgenkirche, where Johann Christoph Bach was organist until 1703.

By 1695 both his parents were dead, and he was looked after by his eldest brother, also named Johann Christoph (1671–1721), organist at Ohrdruf. This Christoph had been a pupil of the influential keyboard composer Johann Pachelbel, and he apparently gave Johann Sebastian his first formal keyboard lessons. The young Bach again did well at school, and in 1700 his voice secured him a place in a select choir of poor boys at the school at Michaelskirche, Lüneburg.
His voice must have broken soon after this, but he remained at Lüneburg for a time, making himself generally useful. No doubt he studied in the school library, which had a large and up-to-date collection of church music; he probably heard Georg Böhm, organist of the Johanniskirche; and he visited Hamburg to hear the renowned organist and composer Johann Adam Reinken at the Katharinenkirche, contriving also to hear the French orchestra maintained by the duke of Celle.

He seems to have returned to Thuringia in the late summer of 1702. By this time he was already a reasonably proficient organist. His experience at Lüneburg, if not at Ohrdruf, had turned him away from the secular string-playing tradition of his immediate ancestors; thenceforth he was chiefly, though not exclusively, a composer and performer of keyboard and sacred music. The next few months are wrapped in mystery, but by March 4, 1703, he was a member of the orchestra employed by Johann Ernst, duke of Weimar (and brother of Wilhelm Ernst, whose service Bach entered in 1708). This post was a mere stopgap; he probably already had his eye on the organ then being built at the Neue Kirche (New Church) in Arnstadt, for, when it was finished, he helped to test it, and in August 1703 he was appointed organist—all this at age 18. Arnstadt documents imply that he had been court organist at Weimar; this is incredible, though it is likely enough that he had occasionally played there.

Portrait of the young Bach


The Arnstadt period

At Arnstadt, on the northern edge of the Thuringian Forest, where he remained until 1707, Bach devoted himself to keyboard music, the organ in particular. While at Lüneburg he had apparently had no opportunity of becoming directly acquainted with the spectacular, flamboyant playing and compositions of Dietrich Buxtehude, the most significant exponent of the north German school of organ music. In October 1705 he repaired this gap in his knowledge by obtaining a month’s leave and walking to Lübeck (more than 200 miles [300 km]). His visit must have been profitable, for he did not return until about the middle of January 1706. In February his employers complained about his absence and about other things as well: he had harmonized the hymn tunes so freely that the congregation could not sing to his accompaniment, and, above all, he had produced no cantatas. Perhaps the real reasons for his neglect were that he was temporarily obsessed with the organ and was on bad terms with the local singers and instrumentalists, who were not under his control and did not come up to his standards. In the summer of 1705 he had made some offensive remark about a bassoon player, which led to an unseemly scuffle in the street. His replies to these complaints were neither satisfactory nor even accommodating; and the fact that he was not dismissed out of hand suggests that his employers were as well aware of his exceptional ability as he was himself and were reluctant to lose him.

During these early years, Bach inherited the musical culture of the Thuringian area, a thorough familiarity with the traditional forms and hymns (chorales) of the orthodox Lutheran service, and, in keyboard music, perhaps (through his brother, Johann Christoph) a bias toward the formalistic styles of the south. But he also learned eagerly from the northern rhapsodists, Buxtehude above all. By 1708 he had probably learned all that his German predecessors could teach him and arrived at a first synthesis of northern and southern German styles. He had also studied, on his own and during his presumed excursions to Celle, some French organ and instrumental music.

Among the few works that can be ascribed to these early years with anything more than a show of plausibility are the Capriccio sopra la lontananza del suo fratello dilettissimo (1704; Capriccio on the Departure of His Most Beloved Brother, BWV 992), the chorale prelude on Wie schön leuchtet (c. 1705; How Brightly Shines, BWV 739), and the fragmentary early version of the organ Prelude and Fugue in G Minor (before 1707, BWV 535a). (The “BWV” numbers provided are the standard catalog numbers of Bach’s works as established in the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis, prepared by the German musicologist Wolfgang Schmieder.)

The Mühlhausen period

In June 1707 Bach obtained a post at the Blasiuskirche in Mühlhausen in Thuringia. He moved there soon after and married his cousin Maria Barbara Bach at Dornheim on October 17. At Mühlhausen things seem, for a time, to have gone more smoothly. He produced several church cantatas at this time; all of these works are cast in a conservative mold, based on biblical and chorale texts and displaying no influence of the “modern” Italian operatic forms that were to appear in Bach’s later cantatas. The famous organ Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (BWV 565), written in the rhapsodic northern style, and the Prelude and Fugue in D Major (BWV 532) may also have been composed during the Mühlhausen period, as well as the organ Passacaglia in C Minor (BWV 582), an early example of Bach’s instinct for large-scale organization. Cantata No. 71, Gott ist mein König (God Is My King), of Feb. 4, 1708, was printed at the expense of the city council and was the first of Bach’s compositions to be published. While at Mühlhausen, Bach copied music to enlarge the choir library, tried to encourage music in the surrounding villages, and was in sufficient favour to be able to interest his employers in a scheme for rebuilding the organ (February 1708). His real reason for resigning on June 25, 1708, is not known. He himself said that his plans for a “well-regulated [concerted] church music” had been hindered by conditions in Mühlhausen and that his salary was inadequate. It is generally supposed that he had become involved in a theological controversy between his own pastor Frohne and Archdeacon Eilmar of the Marienkirche. Certainly, he was friendly with Eilmar, who provided him with librettos and became godfather to Bach’s first child; and it is likely enough that he was not in sympathy with Frohne, who, as a Pietist, would have frowned on elaborate church music. It is just as possible, however, that it was the dismal state of musical life in Mühlhausen that prompted Bach to seek employment elsewhere. At all events, his resignation was accepted, and shortly afterward he moved to Weimar, some miles west of Jena on the Ilm River. He continued nevertheless to be on good terms with Mühlhausen personalities, for he supervised the rebuilding of the organ, is supposed to have inaugurated it on Oct. 31, 1709, and composed a cantata for Feb. 4, 1709, which was printed but has disappeared.

The Weimar period

Bach was, from the outset, court organist at Weimar and a member of the orchestra. Encouraged by Wilhelm Ernst, he concentrated on the organ during the first few years of his tenure. From Weimar, Bach occasionally visited Weissenfels; in February 1713 he took part in a court celebration there that included a performance of his first secular cantata, Was mir behagt, also called the Hunt Cantata (BWV 208).

Late in 1713 Bach had the opportunity of succeeding Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow at the Liebfrauenkirche, Halle; but the duke raised his salary, and he stayed on at Weimar. On March 2, 1714, he became concertmaster, with the duty of composing a cantata every month. He became friendly with a relative, Johann Gottfried Walther, a music lexicographer and composer who was organist of the town church, and, like Walther, Bach took part in the musical activities at the Gelbes Schloss (“Yellow Castle”), then occupied by Duke Wilhelm’s two nephews, Ernst August and Johann Ernst, both of whom he taught. The latter was a talented composer who wrote concerti in the Italian manner, some of which Bach arranged for keyboard instruments; the boy died in 1715, in his 19th year.

Unfortunately, Bach’s development cannot be traced in detail during the vital years 1708–14, when his style underwent a profound change. There are too few datable works. From the series of cantatas written in 1714–16, however, it is obvious that he had been decisively influenced by the new styles and forms of the contemporary Italian opera and by the innovations of such Italian concerto composers as Antonio Vivaldi. The results of this encounter can be seen in such cantatas as No. 182, 199, and 61 in 1714, 31 and 161 in 1715, and 70 and 147 in 1716. His favourite forms appropriated from the Italians were those based on refrain (ritornello) or da capo schemes in which wholesale repetition—literal or with modifications—of entire sections of a piece permitted him to create coherent musical forms with much larger dimensions than had hitherto been possible. These newly acquired techniques henceforth governed a host of Bach’s arias and concerto movements, as well as many of his larger fugues (especially the mature ones for organ), and profoundly affected his treatment of chorales.

Among other works almost certainly composed at Weimar are most of the Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book), all but the last of the so-called 18 “Great” chorale preludes, the earliest organ trios, and most of the organ preludes and fugues. The “Great” Prelude and Fugue in G Major for organ (BWV 541) was finally revised about 1715, and the Toccata and Fugue in F Major (BWV 540) may have been played at Weissenfels.

On Dec. 1, 1716, Johann Samuel Drese, musical director at Weimar, died. He was then succeeded by his son, who was rather a nonentity. Bach presumably resented being thus passed over, and in due course he accepted an appointment as musical director to Prince Leopold of Köthen, which was confirmed in August 1717. Duke Wilhelm, however, refused to accept his resignation—partly, perhaps, because of Bach’s friendship with the duke’s nephews, with whom the duke was on the worst of terms. About September a contest between Bach and the famous French organist Louis Marchand was arranged at Dresden. The exact circumstances are not known, but Marchand avoided the contest by leaving Dresden a few hours before it should have taken place. By implication, Bach won. Perhaps this emboldened him to renew his request for permission to leave Weimar; at all events he did so but in such terms that the duke imprisoned him for a month (November 6–December 2). A few days after his release, Bach moved to Köthen, some 30 miles north of Halle.

The Köthen period

There, as musical director, he was concerned chiefly with chamber and orchestral music. Even though some of the works may have been composed earlier and revised later, it was at Köthen that the sonatas for violin and clavier and for viola da gamba and clavier and the works for unaccompanied violin and cello were put into something like their present form. The Brandenburg Concertos were finished by March 24, 1721; in the sixth concerto—so it has been suggested—Bach bore in mind the technical limitations of the prince, who played the gamba. Bach played the viola by choice; he liked to be “in the middle of the harmony.” He also wrote a few cantatas for the prince’s birthday and other such occasions; most of these seem to have survived only in later versions, adapted to more generally useful words. And he found time to compile pedagogical keyboard works: the Clavierbüchlein for W.F. Bach (begun Jan. 22, 1720), some of the French Suites, the Inventions (1720), and the first book (1722) of Das Wohltemperierte Klavier (The Well-Tempered Clavier, eventually consisting of two books, each of 24 preludes and fugues in all keys and known as “the Forty-Eight”). This remarkable collection systematically explores both the potentials of a newly established tuning procedure—which, for the first time in the history of keyboard music, made all the keys equally usable—and the possibilities for musical organization afforded by the system of “functional tonality,” a kind of musical syntax consolidated in the music of the Italian concerto composers of the preceding generation and a system that was to prevail for the next 200 years. At the same time, The Well-Tempered Clavier is a compendium of the most popular forms and styles of the era: dance types, arias, motets, concerti, etc., presented within the unified aspect of a single compositional technique—the rigorously logical and venerable fugue.

Maria Barbara Bach died unexpectedly and was buried on July 7, 1720. About November, Bach visited Hamburg; his wife’s death may have unsettled him and led him to inquire after a vacant post at the Jacobikirche. Nothing came of this, but he played at the Katharinenkirke in the presence of Reinken. After hearing Bach improvise variations on a chorale tune, the old man said, “I thought this art was dead; but I see it still lives in you.”

On Dec. 3, 1721, Bach married Anna Magdalena Wilcken, daughter of a trumpeter at Weissenfels. Apart from his first wife’s death, these first four years at Köthen were probably the happiest of Bach’s life. He was on the best terms with the prince, who was genuinely musical; and in 1730 Bach said that he had expected to end his days there. But the prince married on Dec. 11, 1721, and conditions deteriorated. The princess—described by Bach as “an amusa” (that is to say, opposed to the muses)—required so much of her husband’s attention that Bach began to feel neglected. He also had to think of the education of his elder sons, born in 1710 and 1714, and he probably began to think of moving to Leipzig as soon as the cantorate fell vacant with the death of Johann Kuhnau on June 5, 1722. Bach applied in December, but the post—already turned down by Bach’s friend, Georg Philipp Telemann—was offered to another prominent composer of the day, Christoph Graupner, the musical director at Darmstadt. As the latter was not sure that he would be able to accept, Bach gave a trial performance (Cantata No. 22, Jesu nahm zu sich die Zwölfe [Jesus Called unto Him the Twelve]) on Feb. 7, 1723; and, when Graupner withdrew (April 9), Bach was so deeply committed to Leipzig that, although the princess had died on April 4, he applied for permission to leave Köthen. This he obtained on April 13, and on May 13 he was sworn in at Leipzig.

He was appointed honorary musical director at Köthen, and both he and Anna were employed there from time to time until the prince died, on Nov. 19, 1728.

Years at Leipzig

As director of church music for the city of Leipzig, Bach had to supply performers for four churches. At the Peterskirche the choir merely led the hymns. At the Neue Kirche, Nikolaikirche, and Thomaskirche, part singing was required; but Bach himself conducted, and his own church music was performed, only at the last two. His first official performance was on May 30, 1723, the first Sunday after Trinity Sunday, with Cantata No. 75, Die Elenden sollen essen. New works produced during this year include many cantatas and the Magnificat in its first version. The first half of 1724 saw the production of the St. John Passion, which was subsequently revised. The total number of cantatas produced during this ecclesiastical year was about 62, of which about 39 were new works.

On June 11, 1724, the first Sunday after Trinity, Bach began a fresh annual cycle of cantatas, and within the year he wrote 52 of the so-called chorale cantatas, formerly supposed to have been composed over the nine-year period 1735–44. The “Sanctus” of the Mass in B Minor was produced at Christmas.

During his first two or three years at Leipzig, Bach produced a large number of new cantatas, sometimes, as research has revealed, at the rate of one a week. This phenomenal pace raises the question of Bach’s approach to composition. Bach and his contemporaries, subject to the hectic pace of production, had to invent or discover their ideas quickly and could not rely on the unpredictable arrival of “inspiration.” Nor did the musical conventions and techniques or the generally rationalistic outlook of the time necessitate this reliance, as long as the composer was willing to accept them. The Baroque composer who submitted to the regimen inevitably had to be a traditionalist who willingly embraced the conventions.

A repertoire of melody types existed, for example, that was generated by an explicit “doctrine of figures” that created musical equivalents for the figures of speech in the art of rhetoric. Closely related to these “figures” are such examples of pictorial symbolism in which the composer writes, say, a rising scale to match words that speak of rising from the dead or a descending chromatic scale (depicting a howl of pain) to sorrowful words. Pictorial symbolism of this kind occurs only in connection with words—in vocal music and in chorale preludes, where the words of the chorale are in the listener’s mind. There is no point in looking for resurrection motifs in The Well-Tempered Clavier. Pictorialism, even when not codified into a doctrine, seems to be a fundamental musical instinct and essentially an expressive device. It can, however, become more abstract, as in the case of number symbolism, a phenomenon observed too often in the works of Bach to be dismissed out of hand.

Number symbolism is sometimes pictorial; in the St. Matthew Passion it is reasonable that the question “Lord, is it I?” should be asked 11 times, once by each of the faithful disciples. But the deliberate search for such symbolism in Bach’s music can be taken too far. Almost any number may be called “symbolic” (3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, and 41 are only a few examples); any multiple of such a number is itself symbolic; and the number of sharps in a key signature, notes in a melody, measures in a piece, and so on may all be considered significant. As a result, it is easy to find symbolic numbers anywhere, but ridiculous to suppose that such discoveries invariably have a meaning.

Besides the melody types, the Baroque composer also had at his disposal similar stereotypes regarding the further elaboration of these themes into complete compositions, so that the arias and choruses of a cantata almost seem to have been spun out “automatically.” One is reminded of Bach’s delightfully innocent remark “I have had to work hard; anyone who works just as hard will get just as far,” with its implication that everything in the “craft” of music is teachable and learnable. The fact that no other composer of the period, with the arguable exception of Handel, even remotely approached Bach’s achievement indicates clearly enough that the application of the “mechanical” procedures was not literally “automatic” but was controlled throughout by something else—artistic discrimination, or taste. One of the most respected attributes in the culture of the 18th century, “taste” is an utterly individual compound of raw talent, imagination, psychological disposition, judgment, skill, and experience. It is unteachable and unlearnable.

As a result of his intense activity in cantata production during his first three years in Leipzig, Bach had created a supply of church music to meet his future needs for the regular Sunday and feast day services. After 1726, therefore, he turned his attention to other projects. He did, however, produce the St. Matthew Passion in 1729, a work that inaugurated a renewed interest in the mid-1730s for vocal works on a larger scale than the cantata: the now-lost St. Mark Passion (1731), the Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248 (1734), and the Ascension Oratorio (Cantata No. 11, Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen; 1735).

In addition to his responsibilities as director of church music, Bach also had various nonmusical duties in his capacity as the cantor of the school at Thomaskirche. Since he resented these latter obligations, Bach frequently absented himself without leave, playing or examining organs, taking his son Friedemann to hear the “pretty tunes,” as he called them, at the Dresden opera, and fulfilling the duties of the honorary court posts that he contrived to hold all his life. To some extent, no doubt, he accepted engagements because he needed money—he complained in 1730 that his income was less than he had been led to expect (he remarked that there were not enough funerals)—but, obviously, his routine work must have suffered. Friction between Bach and his employers thus developed almost at once. On the one hand, Bach’s initial understanding of the fees and prerogatives accruing to his position—particularly regarding his responsibility for musical activities in the University of Leipzig’s Paulinerkirche—differed from that of the town council and the university organist, Johann Gottlieb Görner. On the other hand, Bach remained, in the eyes of his employers, their third (and unenthusiastic) choice for the post, behind Telemann and Graupner. Furthermore, the authorities insisted on admitting unmusical boys to the school, thus making it difficult for Bach to keep his churches supplied with competent singers; they also refused to spend enough money to keep a decent orchestra together.

The resulting ill feeling had become serious by 1730. It was temporarily dispelled by the tact of the new rector, Johann Matthias Gesner, who admired Bach and had known him at Weimar; but Gesner stayed only until 1734 and was succeeded by Johann August Ernesti, a young man with up-to-date ideas on education, one of which was that music was not one of the humanities but a time-wasting sideline. Trouble flared up again in July 1736; it then took the form of a dispute over Bach’s right to appoint prefects and became a public scandal. Fortunately for Bach, he became court composer to the elector of Saxony in November 1736. As such, after some delay, he was able to induce his friends at court to hold an official inquiry, and his dispute with Ernesti was settled in 1738. The exact terms of the settlement are not known, but thereafter Bach did as he liked.


In 1726, after he had completed the bulk of his cantata production, Bach began to publish the clavier Partitas singly, with a collected edition in 1731, perhaps with the intention of attracting recognition beyond Leipzig and thus securing a more amenable appointment elsewhere. The second part of the Clavierübung, containing the Concerto in the Italian Style and the French Overture (Partita) in B Minor, appeared in 1735. The third part, consisting of the Organ Mass with the Prelude and Fugue [“St. Anne”] in E-flat Major (BWV 552), appeared in 1739. From c. 1729 to 1736 Bach was honorary musical director to Weissenfels; and, from 1729 to 1737 and again from 1739 for a year or two, he directed the Leipzig Collegium Musicum. For these concerts, he adapted some of his earlier concerti as harpsichord concerti, thus becoming one of the first composers—if not the very first—of concerti for keyboard instrument and orchestra, just as he was one of the first to use the harpsichordist’s right hand as a true melodic part in chamber music. These are just two of several respects in which the basically conservative and traditional Bach was a significant innovator as well.

About 1733 Bach began to produce cantatas in honour of the elector of Saxony and his family, evidently with a view to the court appointment he secured in 1736; many of these secular movements were adapted to sacred words and reused in the Christmas Oratorio. The “Kyrie” and “Gloria” of the Mass in B Minor, written in 1733, were also dedicated to the elector, but the rest of the Mass was not put together until Bach’s last years. On his visits to Dresden, Bach had won the regard of the Russian envoy, Hermann Karl, Reichsgraf (count) von Keyserlingk, who commissioned the so-called Goldberg Variations; these were published as part four of the Clavierübung about 1742, and Book Two of “the Forty-Eight” seems to have been compiled about the same time. In addition, he wrote a few cantatas, revised some of his Weimar organ works, and published the so-called Schübler Chorale Preludes in or after 1746.

Johann Sebastian Bach


Last years

In May 1747 he visited his son Emanuel at Potsdam and played before Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia; in July his improvisations, on a theme proposed by the king, took shape as The Musical Offering. In June 1747 he joined a Society of the Musical Sciences that had been founded by his former pupil Lorenz Christoph Mizler; he presented the canonic variations on the chorale Vom Himmel hoch da komm’ ich her (From Heaven Above to Earth I Come) to the society, in manuscript, and afterward published them.

Of Bach’s last illness little is known except that it lasted several months and prevented him from finishing The Art of the Fugue. His constitution was undermined by two unsuccessful eye operations performed by John Taylor, the itinerant English quack who numbered Handel among his other failures; and Bach died on July 28, 1750, at Leipzig. His employers proceeded with relief to appoint a successor; Burgomaster Stieglitz remarked, “The school needs a cantor, not a musical director—though certainly he ought to understand music.” Anna Magdalena was left badly off. For some reason, her stepsons did nothing to help her, and her own sons were too young to do so. She died on Feb. 27, 1760, and was given a pauper’s funeral.

Unfinished as it was, The Art of the Fugue was published in 1751. It attracted little attention and was reissued in 1752 with a laudatory preface by Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg, a well-known Berlin musician who later became director of the royal lottery. In spite of Marpurg and of some appreciative remarks by Johann Mattheson, the influential Hamburg critic and composer, only about 30 copies had been sold by 1756, when Emanuel Bach offered the plates for sale. As far as is known, they were sold for scrap.

Emanuel Bach and the organist-composer Johann Friedrich Agricola (a pupil of Sebastian’s) wrote an obituary; Mizler added a few closing words and published the result in the journal of his society (1754). There is an English translation of it in The Bach Reader. Though incomplete and inaccurate, the obituary is of very great importance as a firsthand source of information.

Bach appears to have been a good husband and father. Indeed, he was the father of 20 children, only 10 of whom survived to maturity. There is amusing evidence of a certain thriftiness—a necessary virtue, for he was never more than moderately well off and he delighted in hospitality. Living as he did at a time when music was beginning to be regarded as no occupation for a gentleman, he occasionally had to stand up for his rights both as a man and as a musician; he was then obstinate in the extreme. But no sympathetic employer had any trouble with Bach, and with his professional brethren he was modest and friendly. He was also a good teacher and from his Mühlhausen days onward was never without pupils.

Reputation and influence

For about 50 years after Bach’s death, his music was neglected. This was only natural; in the days of Haydn and Mozart, no one could be expected to take much interest in a composer who had been considered old-fashioned even in his lifetime—especially since his music was not readily available, and half of it (the church cantatas) was fast becoming useless as a result of changes in religious thought.

At the same time, musicians of the late 18th century were neither so ignorant of Bach’s music nor so insensitive to its influence as some modern authors have suggested. Emanuel Bach’s debt to his father was considerable, and Bach exercised a profound and acknowledged influence directly on Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

Revival of music

After 1800 the revival of Bach’s music gained momentum. The German writer Johann Nikolaus Forkel published a study of Bach’s life and art in 1802 and acted as adviser to the publishers Hoffmeister and Kühnel, whose collected edition, begun in 1801, was cut short by the activities of Napoleon. By 1829 a representative selection of keyboard music was nonetheless available, although very few of the vocal works were published. But in that year the German musician Eduard Devrient and the German composer Felix Mendelssohn took the next step with the centenary performance of the St. Matthew Passion. It and the St. John Passion were both published in 1830; the Mass in B Minor followed (1832–45). The Leipzig publisher Peters began a collected edition of “piano” and instrumental works in 1837; the organ works followed in 1844–52.

Encouraged by Robert Schumann, the Bach-Gesellschaft (BG) was founded in the centenary year 1850, with the purpose of publishing the complete works. By 1900 all the known works had been printed, and the BG was succeeded by the Neue Bach-Gesellschaft (NBG), which exists still, organizing festivals and publishing popular editions. Its chief publication is its research journal, the Bach-Jahrbuch (from 1904). By 1950 the deficiencies of the BG edition had become painfully obvious, and the Bach-Institut was founded, with headquarters at Göttingen and Leipzig, to produce a new standard edition (the Neue Bach-Ausgabe, or NBA), a publication that eventually exceeded 100 volumes.

In retrospect, the Bach revival, reaching back to 1800, can be recognized as the first conspicuous example of the deliberate exhumation of old music, accompanied by biographical and critical studies. The revival also served as an inspiration and a model for subsequent work of a similar kind.

Among the biographical and critical works on Bach, the most important was the monumental study Johann Sebastian Bach, 2 vol. (1873–80), by the German musicologist Philipp Spitta, covering not only Bach’s life and works but also a good deal of the historical background. Although wrong in many details, the book is still indispensable to the Bach student.


Editions of Bach’s works

The word Urtext (“original text”) may lead the uninitiated to suppose that they are being offered an exact reproduction of what Bach wrote. It must be understood that the autographs of many important works no longer exist. Therefore, Bach’s intentions often have to be pieced together from anything up to 20 sources, all different. Even first editions and facsimiles of autograph manuscripts are not infallible guides to Bach’s intentions. In fact, they are often dangerously misleading, and practical musicians should take expert advice before consulting them. Editions published between 1752 and about 1840 are little more than curiosities, chiefly interesting for the light they throw on the progress of the revival.

No comprehensive edition is trustworthy throughout: neither Peters nor the BG nor even the NBA. Nevertheless, it is advisable to begin by finding out whether the music desired has been published in the NBA.

Walter Emery
Robert L. Marshall

The autograph of Bach's Violin Sonata No. 1 in G minor (BWV 1001)




Mass in B Minor, BWV 232 (1724–46); 4 Lutheran masses (i.e., containing only settings of the “Kyrie” and the “Gloria”).


Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248 (1734); Easter Oratorio (Kommt, eilet und laufet, BWV 249; 1725); Ascension Oratorio (1735).


Passion According to St. John, BWV 245 (1724); Passion According to St. Matthew, BWV 244 (1729).


About 200 cantatas for different Sundays in the church year (1707 to after 1735; mainly 1714–16, 1723–27), mostly for soloist(s), chorus, and orchestra.

Other Works

Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243; 7 motets; 2 “Sanctus” settings (3 others based on works by other composers); 186 independent chorale harmonizations.

Vocal Music (Secular)


There are 24, mostly for soloists, chorus, and orchestra—all on German texts, except 2 Italian; they include the Coffee Cantata (Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht, BWV 211; c. 1732) and the Peasant Cantata (Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet, BWV 212; 1742).

Other Works

Five songs for voice and continuo and one quodlibet for four voices and continuo.

Orchestral Music


Six Brandenburg Concertos (pre-1721); 2 concerti for violin and orchestra and 1 for 2 violins (1717–23); 7 for 1 harpsichord, 3 for 2 harpsichords, 2 for 3, and 1 for 4 harpsichords; 1 concerto for harpsichord, flute, and violin.

Other Orchestral Works

Four overtures (suites); Sinfonia in D Major (incomplete).

Chamber Music


2 for violin and continuo; 2 for flute and continuo; 1 for 2 flutes and harpsichord; 2 for flute, violin, and continuo; 3 for harpsichord and flute; 3 for harpsichord and viola da gamba; 6 for harpsichord and violin.

Other Chamber Music

Das musikalisches Opfer (1747) for strings, flute, and continuo; 6 unaccompanied sonatas (partitas) for violin (c. 1720); 6 unaccompanied suites (sonatas) for cello (c. 1720).

Organ Music

Chorale Preludes

There are 140 chorale preludes including the Orgelbüchlein (mainly 1714–16); Clavierübung, vol. 3 (1739), and Schübler Chorale Preludes (1746 or later).


Eighteen preludes and fugues (1708–17, 1729–39), including the “St. Anne” in E-flat major and the “Wedge” in E minor; 5 toccatas and fugues (1700–17), including the “Dorian” in D minor; 3 fantasies and fugues; 4 other fugues.

Other Organ Compositions

Variations on the chorale Vom Himmel hoch (1747); Passacaglia in C Minor, BWV 582 (1708–17); 4 concerti; 7 fantasies; 4 preludes; 6 sonatas (trios); 3 trios.

Harpsichord Music


Clavierübung, vol. 1 (1726–31), 6 partitas; vol. 2 (1735), French Overture in B Minor and Concerto in the Italian Style; vol. 3 (1739), organ music with 4 “duets” for harpsichord; and vol. 4 (1742), Goldberg Variations. The Well-Tempered Clavier, 2 vol. (1722 and 1742), containing 48 preludes and fugues, 1 in each key in each book; Clavierbüchlein (1720), for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, containing 15 2-part and 15 3-part inventions, 20 preludes, 2 chorale preludes, 2 allemandes, 4 minuets, a fugue, and an “applicatio”; Clavierbüchlein (1722) and Notenbuch (1725), both for Anna Magdalena Bach, containing marches, minuets, a musette, polonaises, etc.; 6 French Suites and 6 English Suites.

Other Harpsichord Works

Aria variata in A minor; 2 capriccios; Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue; 5 fantasies, 2 with fugues; 12 Little Preludes; 4 preludes and 6 for beginners; 4 preludes and fughettas, 3 preludes and fugues; 2 sonatas; 4 miscellaneous suites; 7 toccatas and arrangements.

For Unspecified Instrument(S)

Die Kunst der Fuge (1749); 16 fugues and 4 canons.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Johann Sebastian Bach monument in Eisenach, Ger.


Born in Eisenach in eastern Germany, Johann Sebastian Bach was the most significant member of a vast musical family. Both his parents died by the time he was ten, whereupon he moved into his elder brother's Ohrdruf home and spent the next five years attending the Lyceum. His brother, Johann Christoph, was an organist and taught Bach both to play and to build the instrument. At age 15 he was sent to the Michaelisschule at Luneburg, where he sang m the choir until his voice broke. At 17 lie applied for and received the post of organist in Sangerhausen; but the Duke of Wcisscnfels overruled the decision in favour of an older organist.

Instead, Bach spent a few months as a court musician at Weimar before visiting Arnstadt in 1703 to see the new organ at the Neuekirche. He so impressed the authorities that he was offered the job of organist, already promised to Andreas Bonier. His playing was clearly astonishing but he was too young to be an effective teacher; conflicts arose between Bach and the authorities over the teaching of choristers. Matters deteriorated further in 1705 when Bach took extended leave of absence to walk to Lubeck to hear the composer Buxtehude play the organ.

Two years after this episode Bach resigned and took another post in Muhlhausen. That same year he married and was settling into his post when in 1 708 he was required to play before the Duke of Weimar, who promptly offered him better employment as organist and chamber musician and later as Konzertmeister.

At Weimar Bach developed his composing. He studied and made arrangements for organ or harpsichord of a number of Vivaldi's concertos, experience which was later to influence his own two Violin concertos in E and A minor and the Double violin concerto in D minor.

During 1716 Bach heard rumours that the Duke of Weimar intended to hire Telemann as his Kapellmeister, a position he had expected himself. Bach responded by finding a rival Kapellmeister's position in the court at Cothen. In order to prevent him taking up the post, the Duke had Bach arrested and imprisoned in November 1717. A month later he was discharged and he and his family left the court in disgrace.

Prince Leopold at Cothen was a far more congenial patron; it was under his patronage that Bach composed the six Brandenburg concertos, named after their dedication to Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg, in 1721. The pieces were described as "concertos for several instruments" and feature a group of soloists contrasted against the bulk of the orchestra. Unlike the Concerti grossi of Corelli, the Brandenburg concertos call for unusual combinations of instruments: the fifth concerto, for example, has a solo group consisting of flute, violin, and harpsichord; the second combines trumpet, flute, violin, and oboe. While at Cothen Bach also wrote prolifically for the keyboard, including his Italian Concerto and Book 1 of The well-tempered clavier, consisting of preludes and fugues in every key.

Bach's wife died in 1720, and the next year he married Anna Magdalena Wilcke. His position at Cothen soured late in 1721 when Prince Leopold himself married. The prince's wife did not enjoy music and disliked Bach's involvement at court. Fortunately in 1722 the post of Kantor at the Thomasschule in Leipzig became vacant. It was initially offered to Telemann, and then to Johann Graupner, but neither was released by his current employer. Bach was eventually invited to accept the position and in 1723 moved to Leipzig, where he-was to remain the rest of his life.

Bach approached the new task with enthusiasm. His duties at the school included teaching music and other subjects to the 50 or 60 pupils, and writing a cantata for Sunday services and church feasts. The wealth of singers and instrumentalists at the school allowed Bach to compose works on a grand scale: one such piece was the St Matthew Passion. This huge work is a setting of the Gospel text for soloists, a double choir, and 40 players and was first performed in the Thomaskirche in Leipzig on Good Friday 1727 or 1729. It combines chorales (hymn settings) with choruses and arias, all woven together by a narrator, the Evangelist, who sings the Gospel text to a simple organ accompaniment. Together with the St John Passion, first heard in 1724, the work represents the pinnacle of devotional music up to that time.

In a letter to the diplomat Georg Erdmann in 1730, however, Bach voiced his great dissatisfaction with the remuneration and irksome duties of his employment and expressed the desire for another opportunity elsewhere. He tried for a post at Dresden, submitting the Gloria and Kyrie from his then unfinished Mass in В minor, but was not successful. His teaching workload grew enormously and council records register his frequent absence from some duties - presumably because he was teaching or composing at home.

Bach entered on a new phase of composition with the Goldberg variations, published in 1741, which was commissioned by the insomniac Count Heyserling for his harpsichordist, Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, to play to him during his sleepless nights. Bach followed this with two works that reflected his increasing preoccupation with the fugue — the Musical offering, and the Art of fugue, which remained unfinished at his death.

Towards the end of his life Bach was troubled with cataracts, which made work increasingly difficult. Two operations failed to cure the problem, and in the last few months of his life Bach was practically blind. In the summer of 1750, weakened by the operations, he died of a stroke, leaving his fellow musicians to mourn one of the greatest composers of the time.

Brandenburg concerto 1 in F major BWV 1046
(Philharmonia Slavonica, conducted by Rudolf Pribil) - complete

  Brandenburg concerto 2  in F major BWV 1047
(Philharmonia Slavonica, conducted by Rudolf Pribil) - complete

Allegro assai
  Brandenburg concerto 3  in G major BWV 1048
(Philharmonia Slavonica, conducted by Rudolf Pribil) - complete

  Brandenburg concerto 4  in G major BWV 1049
(Philharmonia Slavonica, conducted by Rudolf Pribil) - complete

  Brandenburg concerto 5  in D major BWV 1050
(Philharmonia Slavonica, conducted by Rudolf Pribil) - complete

  Brandenburg concerto 6  in B flat major BWV 1051
(Philharmonia Slavonica, conducted by Rudolf Pribil) - complete

  Violin concerto 1  in A minor BWV 1041
(Camerata Labacencis, conducted by Eugen Duvier) - complete

Allegro assai
  Violin concerto 2  in E major BWV 1042
(Camerata Labacencis, conducted by Eugen Duvier) - complete

Allegro assai

  Violin concerto 3  in D minor for 2 violins BWV 1043
(Camerata Labacencis, conducted by Eugen Duvier) - complete

Largo, ma non tanto

  Concerto for 3 Cembalos and String Orchestra in D minor BWV 1063
(Collegium Pro Arte, Cembalo - E. Kraus, Conductor - Kurt Redel) - complete

Alla siciliana
  Concerto for 3 Cembalos and String Orchestra in D minor BWV 1064
(Collegium Pro Arte, Cembalo - E. Kraus, Conductor - Kurt Redel) - complete

  Orchestral Suite 2  in B minor  BWV 1067
(Philharmonia Slavonicas, conducted by H. Adolph) - complete

Bourree Iand II
  Orchestral Suite 3  in D major BWV 1068
(Camerata Romana, conducted by Eugen Duvier) - complete

Gavotte 1 and 2
  Sinfonia 6/1 in G major
(Nurnberg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Peter Gmur) - complete

  Sinfonia Op. 9/1  in B flat major
(Nurnberg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Peter Gmur) - complete

Allegro molto
The Well-Tempered Clavier (Das Wohltemperierte Klavier) - 1722
The Well-Tempered Clavier (German: Das Wohltemperierte Klavier), BWV 846–893, is a collection of solo keyboard music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. He gave the title to a book of preludes and fugues in all 24 major and minor keys, dated 1722, composed "for the profit and use of musical youth desirous of learning, and especially for the pastime of those already skilled in this study." Bach later compiled a second book of the same kind, dated 1742, with the title "Twenty-four Preludes and Fugues." The two works are now considered to make up a single work, The Well-Tempered Clavier, or "the 48," and are referred to as The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I and The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II respectively. The Well-Tempered Clavier and Twenty-four Preludes and Fugues are generally regarded as being among the most influential works in the history of Western classical music.

Title page of Das Wohltemperierte Clavier

Composition history
The first set was compiled in 1722 during Bach's appointment in Köthen; the second followed 20 years later in 1742 while he was in Leipzig. Both were widely circulated in manuscript, but printed copies were not made until 1801, by three publishers almost simultaneously in Bonn, Leipzig and Zurich. Bach's style went out of favour in the time around his death, and most music in the early Classical period had neither contrapuntal complexity nor a great variety of keys. But, with the maturing of the Classical style in the 1770s, the Well-Tempered Clavier began to influence the course of musical history, with Haydn and Mozart studying the work closely.
Each set contains twenty-four pairs of preludes and fugues. The first pair is in C major, the second in C minor, the third in C-sharp major, the fourth in C-sharp minor, and so on. The rising chromatic pattern continues until every key has been represented, finishing with a B-minor fugue.
Bach recycled some of the preludes and fugues from earlier sources: the 1720 Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, for instance, contains versions of eleven of the preludes. The C-sharp major prelude and fugue in book one was originally in C major - Bach added a key signature of seven sharps and adjusted some accidentals to convert it to the required key. The far-reaching influence of Bach's music is evident in that the fugue subject in Mozart's Prelude and Fugue in C major, K. 394, is similar in structure to that of the A-flat major Fugue in Book II of the Well-Tempered Clavier. This pattern is found also in the C major fugue subject of Book II. Another similar theme is the third movement fugue subject in the Concerto for Two Harpsichords, BWV 1061.
Bach's title suggests that he had written for a (12-note) well-tempered tuning system in which all keys sounded in tune (also known as "circular temperament"). The opposing system in Bach's day was meantone temperament in which keys with many accidentals sound out of tune. It is sometimes assumed that Bach intended equal temperament, the standard modern keyboard tuning which became popular after Bach's death, but modern scholars suggest instead a form of well temperament. There is debate whether Bach meant a range of similar temperaments, perhaps even altered slightly in practice from piece to piece, or a single specific "well-tempered" solution for all purposes.


Although the Well-Tempered Clavier was the first collection of fully worked keyboard pieces in all 24 keys, similar ideas had occurred earlier. Before the advent of modern tonality in the late 17th century, numerous composers produced collections of pieces in all seven modes: Johann Pachelbel's magnificat fugues (composed 1695–1706), Georg Muffat's Apparatus Musico-organisticus of 1690 and Johann Speth's Ars magna of 1693 for example. Furthermore, some two hundred years before Bach's time, equal temperament was realized on plucked string instruments, such as the lute and the theorbo, resulting in several collections of pieces in all keys (although the music was not yet tonal in the modern sense of the word):

-a cycle of 24 passamezzo–saltarello pairs (1567) by Giacomo Gorzanis (c.1520–c.1577)
-24 groups of dances, "clearly related to 12 major and 12 minor keys" (1584) by Vincenzo Galilei (c.1528–1591)
-30 preludes for 12-course lute or theorbo by John Wilson (1595–1674)

One of the earliest keyboard composers to realize a collection of organ pieces in successive keys was Daniel Croner (1656–1740), who compiled one such cycle of preludes in 1682. His contemporary Johann Heinrich Kittel (1652–1682) also composed a cycle of 12 organ preludes in successive keys.

Ariadne musica neo-organoedum, by J.C.F. Fischer (1656–1746) was published in 1702 and reissued 1715. It is a set of 20 prelude-fugue pairs in ten major and nine minor keys and the Phrygian mode, plus five chorale-based ricercars. Bach knew the collection and borrowed some of the themes from Fischer for Well-Tempered Clavier. Other contemporary works include the treatise Exemplarische Organisten-Probe (1719) by Johann Mattheson (1681–1764), which included 48 figured bass exercises in all keys, Partien auf das Clavier (1718) by Christoph Graupner (1683–1760) with eight suites in successive keys, and Friedrich Suppig's Fantasia from Labyrinthus Musicus (1722), a long and formulaic sectional composition ranging through all 24 keys which was intended for an enharmonic keyboard with 31 notes per octave and pure major thirds. Finally, a lost collection by Johann Pachelbel (1653–1706), Fugen und Praeambuln über die gewöhnlichsten Tonos figuratos (announced 1704), may have included prelude-fugue pairs in all keys or modes.
It was long believed that Bach had taken the title The Well-Tempered Clavier from a similarly-named set of 24 Preludes and Fugues in all the keys, for which a manuscript dated 1689 was found in the library of the Brussels Conservatoire. It was later shown that this was the work of a composer who was not even born in 1689: Bernhard Christian Weber (1 December 1712 – 5 February 1758). It was in fact written in 1745–50, and in imitation of Bach's example.
Bach's example inspired numerous composers of the 19th century, however, in his own time no similar collections were published, except one by Johann Christian Schickhardt (1681–1762), whose Op. 30 L'alphabet de la musique, contained 24 sonatas for recorder/flute/violin, in all keys.

Musical style and content

Musically, the structural regularities of the Well-Tempered Clavier encompass an extraordinarily wide range of styles, more so than most pieces in the literature.[citation needed] The Preludes are formally free, although many individual numbers exhibit typical Baroque melodic forms, often coupled to an extended free coda (e.g. Book I preludes in C minor, D major, and B-flat major).
The Preludes are notable also for their odd or irregular numbers of measures, both as to phrases and as to the entire length of a given Prelude.
Each fugue is marked with the number of voices, from two to five. Most are three- and four-voiced fugues, and there are only two five-voiced (BWV 849 and 867) and one two-voiced (BWV 855) fugues. The fugues employ a full range of contrapuntal devices (fugal exposition, thematic inversion, stretto, etc.), but are generally more compact than Bach's fugues for organ.
The best-known piece from either book is the first prelude of Book I, a simple progression of arpeggiated chords. The technical simplicity of this C Major prelude has made it one of the most commonly studied piano pieces for students completing their introductory training. This prelude also served as the basis for the Ave Maria of Charles Gounod.

The first complete recording of the Well-Tempered Clavier was made on the piano by Edwin Fischer for EMI between 1933 and 1936. The second was made by Wanda Landowska on harpsichord for RCA Victor in 1949 (Book 1) and 1952 (Book 2). The first complete recording of the work on a clavichord was made by Ralph Kirkpatrick in 1959 (Book 1) and 1967 (Book 2) for Deutsche Grammophon. Daniel Chorzempa made the first recording using multiple instruments (harpsichord, clavichord, organ, and fortepiano) for Philips in 1982. Artists to have recorded the collection twice include Ralph Kirkpatrick (once on clavichord and once on harpsichord) and Angela Hewitt, João Carlos Martins, András Schiff, Rosalyn Tureck, and Tatiana Nikolayeva (all on piano). Anthony Newman (musician) has recorded it three times - twice on harpsichord and once on piano. As of 2013, over 150 recordings have been documented, including the above keyboard instruments as well as transcriptions for ensembles and also synthesizers.

Intended tuning
During much of the 20th century it was assumed that Bach wanted equal temperament, which had been described by theorists and musicians for at least a century before Bach's birth. Internal evidence for this may be seen in the fact that in Book 1 Bach paired the E-flat minor prelude (6 flats) with its enharmonic key of D-sharp minor (6 sharps) for the fugue. This represents an equation of the most tonally remote enharmonic keys where the flat and sharp arms of the circle of fifths cross each other opposite to C major. Any performance of this pair would have required both of these enharmonic keys to sound identically tuned, thus implying equal temperament in the one pair, as the entire work implies as a whole. However, research has continued into various unequal systems contemporary with Bach's career. Accounts of Bach's own tuning practice are few and inexact. The three most cited sources are Forkel, Bach's first biographer, Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg, who received information from Bach's sons and pupils, and Johann Kirnberger, one of those pupils.
Forkel reports that Bach tuned his own harpsichords and clavichords and found other people's tunings unsatisfactory; his own allowed him to play in all keys and to modulate into distant keys almost without the listeners noticing it. Marpurg and Kirnberger, in the course of a heated debate, appear to agree that Bach required all the major thirds to be sharper than pure—which is in any case virtually a prerequisite for any temperament to be good in all keys.
Johann Georg Neidhardt, writing in 1724 and 1732, described a range of unequal and near-equal temperaments (as well as equal temperament itself), which can be successfully used to perform some of Bach's music, and were later praised by some of Bach's pupils and associates. J.S. Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach himself published a rather vague tuning method which was close to but still not equal temperament: having only "most of" the fifths tempered, without saying which ones or by how much.
Since 1950 there have been many other proposals and many performances of the work in different and unequal tunings, some derived from historical sources, some by modern authors. Whatever their provenances, these schemes all promote the existence of subtly different musical characters in different keys, due to the sizes of their intervals. However, they disagree as to which key receives which character:

-Herbert Anton Kellner argued from the mid-1970s until his death that esoteric considerations such as the pattern of Bach's signet ring, numerology, and more could be used to determine the correct temperament. His result is somewhat similar to Werckmeister's most familiar "correct" temperament. Kellner's temperament, with seven pure fifths and five 1/5 comma fifths, has been widely adopted worldwide for the tuning of organs. It is especially effective as a moderate solution to play 17th century music, shying away from tonalities that have more than two flats.

-John Barnes analyzed the Well-Tempered Clavier's major-key preludes statistically, observing that some major thirds are used more often than others. His results were broadly in agreement with Kellner's and Werckmeister's patterns. His own proposed temperament from that study is a 1/6 comma variant of both Kellner (1/5) and Werckmeister (1/4), with the same general pattern tempering the naturals, and concluding with a tempered fifth B–F♯.

-Mark Lindley, a researcher of historical temperaments, has written several surveys of temperament styles in the German Baroque tradition. In his publications he has recommended and devised many patterns close to those of Neidhardt, with subtler gradations of interval size. Since a 1985 article where he addressed some issues in the Well-Tempered Clavier, Lindley's theories have focused more on Bach's organ music than the harpsichord or clavichord works.

Title page tuning interpretations

More recently there has been a series of proposals of temperaments derived from the handwritten pattern of loops on Bach's 1722 title page. These loops (though truncated by a later clipping of the page) can be seen at the top of the title page image at the beginning of the article.

Andreas Sparschuh, in the course of studying German Baroque organ tunings, assigned mathematical and acoustic meaning to the loops. Each loop, he argued, represents a fifth in the sequence for tuning the keyboard, starting from A. From this Sparschuh devised a recursive tuning algorithm resembling the Collatz Conjecture in mathematics, subtracting one beat per second each time Bach's diagram has a non-empty loop. In 2006 he retracted his 1998 proposal based on A=420 Hz, and replaced it with another at A=410 Hz.

Michael Zapf in 2001 reinterpreted the loops as indicating the rate of beating of different fifths in a given range of the keyboard in terms of seconds-per-beat, with the tuning now starting on C.

John Charles Francis in 2004 performed a mathematical analysis of the loops using Mathematica under the assumption of beats per second. In 2004, he also distributed several temperaments derived from BWV 924.

Bradley Lehman in 2004 proposed a 1/6 and 1/12 comma layout derived from Bach's loops, which he published in 2005 in articles of three music journals. Reaction to this work has been both vigorous and mixed, with other writers producing further speculative schemes or variants.

Daniel Jencka in 2005 proposed a variation of Lehman's layout where one of the 1/6th commas is spread over three 5ths (G♯–D♯–A♯/B♭), resulting in a 1/18th comma division. Motivations for Jencka's approach involve an analysis of the possible logic behind the figures themselves and his belief that a wide 5th (B♭–F) found in Lehman's interpretation is unlikely in a well-temperament from the time.

Graziano Interbartolo and others in 2006 proposed a tuning system deduced from the WTK title page. Their work was also published in a book: Bach 1722 – Il temperamento di Dio – Le scoperte e i significati del 'Wohltemperirte Clavier', p. 136 – Edizioni Bolla, Finale Ligure

Nevertheless some musicologists say it is insufficiently proven that Bach's looped drawing signifies anything reliable about a tuning method. Bach may have tuned differently per occasion, or per composition, throughout his career.

David Schulenberg, in his book The Keyboard Music of J. S. Bach, allows that Lehman's argument is "ingenious" but counters that it "lacks documentary support (if the swirls were so important, why did Bach's students not copy them accurately, if at all?" and concludes that the swirls cannot "be unambiguously interpreted as a code for a particular temperament"

Luigi Swich, in his article "Further thoughts on Bach's 1722 temperament", more recently presents an alternative reading from that of Bradley Lehman and others of Johann Sebastian Bach's tuning method as derived from the title-page calligraphic drawing. It differs in significant details, resulting in a circulating but unequal temperament using 1/5 Pythagorean-comma 5ths that is effective through all 24 keys and, most important, tunable by ear without an electronic tuning device. It is based on the synchronicity between the 5th F–C and the 3rd F–A (c. 3 beats per second) and between the 5th C–G and the 3rd C–E (c. 2 beats per second). Such a system is reminiscent of Herbert Anton Kellner's 1977 temperament and even more, among the others, the temperament of the 1688 Arp Schnitger organ in Norden, St Ludgeri and the temperament later described by Carlo Gervasoni in his La scuola della musica (Piacenza, 1800). Such a system with all its major 3rds more or less sharp is confirmed by Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg's report about the way a famous Bach's student, Johann Philipp Kirnberger, was taught to tune in his lessons with Bach. It allows to play through all 24 keys without changing tuning nor unpleasant intervals, but with varying degrees of difference-the temperament being unequal, and the keys not all sounding the same. Compared to Werckmeister III, the other 24 keys-circulating temperament, Bach's tuning is much more differentiated with its 8 (instead of Werckmeister's 4) different kinds of major thirds. The manuscript Bach P415 in Berlin Staatsbibliothek is the only known copy of the WTC to show this drawing which represents, a bit cryptically in Bach's spirit, the purpose for which the masterpiece was written and its solution at the same time. Not surprisingly, since this is most probably the working copy that Johann Sebastian Bach used in his classes.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Richter - Bach - The Well-Tempered Clavier Book BWV 846 - 893.wmv & Fantasie and Fugue BWV 944
Bach - The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I (Evgeni Koroliov)
Published on May 30, 2013
0:00:00 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 1 in C major, BWV 846
0:04:31 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 2 in C minor, BWV 847
0:07:54 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 3 in C-sharp major, BWV 848
0:11:17 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 4 in C-sharp minor, BWV 849
0:21:55 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 5 in D major, BWV 850
0:25:23 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 6 in D minor, BWV 851
0:30:04 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 7 in E-flat major, BWV 852
0:35:51 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 8 in E-flat minor, BWV 853
0:46:13 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 9 in E major, BWV 854
0:48:51 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 10 in E minor, BWV 855
0:53:03 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 11 in F major, BWV 856
0:55:23 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 12 in F minor, BWV 857
1:02:52 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 13 in F-sharp major, BWV 858
1:06:27 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 14 in F-sharp minor, BWV 859
1:12:20 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 15 in G major, BWV 860
1:15:41 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 16 in G minor, BWV 861
1:21:43 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 17 in A-flat major, BWV 862
1:26:33 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 18 in G-sharp minor, BWV 863
1:32:18 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 19 in A major, BWV 864
1:35:57 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 20 in A minor, BWV 865
1:41:06 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 21 in B-flat major, BWV 866
1:44:07 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 22 in B-flat minor, BWV 867
1:51:23 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 23 in B major, BWV 868
1:54:35 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 24 in B minor, BWV 869
Bach - The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II (Evgeni Koroliov)
Published on May 30, 2013
0:00:00 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 1 in C major, BWV 870
0:04:21 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 2 in C minor, BWV 871
0:10:22 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 3 in C-sharp major, BWV 872
0:14:19 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 4 in C-sharp minor, BWV 873
0:20:48 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 5 in D major, BWV 874
0:25:53 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 6 in D minor, BWV 875
0:30:04 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 7 in E-flat major, BWV 876
0:36:28 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 8 in D-sharp minor, BWV 877
0:45:48 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 9 in E major, BWV 878
0:55:25 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 10 in E minor, BWV 879
1:00:41 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 11 in F major, BWV 880
1:06:02 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 12 in F minor, BWV 881
1:12:22 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 13 in F-sharp major, BWV 882
1:17:31 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 14 in F-sharp minor, BWV 883
1:25:05 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 15 in G major, BWV 884
1:28:37 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 16 in G minor, BWV 885
1:34:45 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 17 in A-flat major, BWV 886
1:40:48 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 18 in G-sharp minor, BWV 887
1:49:41 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 19 in A major, BWV 888
1:53:01 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 20 in A minor, BWV 889
2:01:14 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 21 in B-flat major, BWV 890
2:07:35 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 22 in B-flat minor, BWV 891
2:14:09 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 23 in B major, BWV 892
2:19:04 ➢ Prelude & Fugue No. 24 in B minor, BWV 893
St John Passion - 1724
The St John Passion (in German: Johannes-Passion), BWV 245, is a sacred oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach. The original Latin title Passio secundum Johannem translates to "The Suffering According to John". During the first winter that Bach was responsible for church music at the St. Thomas Church and the St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, he composed the St John Passion for the Good Friday Vespers service of 1724.
The St John Passion is a dramatic representation of the Passion as told in the Gospel of John, constructed of dramatically presented recitatives and choruses, with commentary in reflective chorales, ariosos, and arias, framed by opening and final choruses, leading to a final chorale. Compared with the St Matthew Passion, the St John Passion has been described as more extravagant, with an expressive immediacy, at times more unbridled and less "finished."
The work is the oldest extant Passion by Bach, followed by the St Matthew Passion. A St Mark Passion was reconstructed, and older Passions may have been lost.
Architecture and sources

Bach followed chapters 18 and 19 of the Gospel of John in the Luther Bible, and the tenor Evangelist follows exactly the words of that bible. The compiler of the additional poetry is unknown. Models are the Brockes Passion and a Johannes-Passion by Christian Heinrich Postel. The first scene is in the Kidron Valley, and the second in the palace of the high priest Kaiphas. Part Two shows three scenes, one with Pontius Pilate, one at Golgatha, and the third finally at the burial site. The dramatic argument between Pilate, Jesus, and the crowd is not interrupted by reflective elements but a single central chorale (#22).

Part One
1. Coro: Herr, unser Herrscher, dessen Ruhm in allen Landen herrlich ist!
2a. Evangelist, Jesus: Jesus ging mit seinen Jüngern über den Bach Kidron
2b. Coro: Jesum von Nazareth
2c. Evangelist, Jesus: Jesus spricht zu ihnen
2d. Coro: Jesum von Nazareth
2e. Evangelist, Jesus: Jesus antwortete: Ich hab's euch gesagt, daß ich's sei
3. Chorale: O große Lieb, o Lieb ohn alle Maße
4a. Evangelist, Jesus: Auf daß das Wort erfüllet würde
5. Chorale: Dein Will gescheh, Herr Gott, zugleich
6. Evangelist: Die Schar aber und der Oberhauptmann
7. Aria (alto, oboes): Von den Stricken meiner Sünden
8. Evangelist: Simon Petrus aber folgete Jesu nach
9. Aria (soprano, flutes): Ich folge dir gleichfalls mit freudigen Schritten
10. Evangelist, Maid, Peter, Jesus, Servant: Derselbige Jünger war dem Hohenpriester bekannt
11. Chorale: Wer hat dich so geschlagen
12a. Evangelist: Und Hannas sandte ihn gebunden zu dem Hohenpriester Kaiphas
12b. Coro: Bist du nicht seiner Jünger einer?
12c. Evangelist, Peter, Servant: Er leugnete aber
13. Aria (tenor): Ach, mein Sinn
14. Chorale: Petrus, der nicht denkt zurück

Part Two
15. Chorale: Christus, der uns selig macht
16a. Evangelist, Pilate: Da führeten sie Jesum von Kaiphas vor das Richthaus
16b. Coro: Wäre dieser nicht ein Übeltäter, wir hätten dir ihn nicht überantwortet.
16c. Evangelist, Pilate: Da sprach Pilatus zu ihnen
16d. Coro: Wir dürfen niemand töten.
16e. Evangelist, Pilate, Jesus: Auf daß erfüllet würde das Wort Jesu
17. Chorale: Ach großer König, groß zu allen Zeiten
18a. Evangelist, Pilate, Jesus: Da sprach Pilatus zu ihm
18b. Coro: Nicht diesen, sondern Barrabam!
18c. Evangelist, Pilate, Jesus: Barrabas aber war ein Mörder.
19. Arioso (bass, viole d'amore, lute): Betrachte, meine Seel, mit ängstlichem Vergnügen
20. Aria (tenor, viole d'amore): Erwäge, wie sein blutgefärbter Rücken
21a. Evangelist: Und die Kriegsknechte flochten eine Krone von Dornen
21b. Coro: Sei gegrüßet, lieber Jüdenkönig!
21c. Evangelist, Pilate: Und gaben ihm Backenstreiche.
21d. Coro: Kreuzige, kreuzige!
21e. Evangelist, Pilate: Pilatus sprach zu ihnen
21f. Coro: Wir haben ein Gesetz, und nach dem Gesetz soll er sterben
21g. Evangelist, Pilate, Jesus: Da Pilatus das Wort hörete, fürchtet' er sich noch mehr
22. Chorale: Durch dein Gefängnis, Gottes Sohn muß uns die Freiheit kommen
23a. Evangelist: Die Jüden aber schrieen
23b. Coro: Lässest du diesen los, so bist du des Kaisers Freund nicht
23c. Evangelist, Pilate: Da Pilatus da Wort hörete, führete er Jesum heraus
23d. Coro: Weg, weg mit dem, kreuzige ihn!
23e. Evangelist, Pilate: Spricht Pilatus zu ihnen
23f. Coro: Wir haben keinen König denn den Kaiser.
23g. Evangelist: Da überantwortete er ihn daß er gekreuziget würde.
24. Aria (bass) e coro: Eilt, ihr angefochtnen Seelen
25a. Evangelist: Allda kreuzigten sie ihn
25b. Coro: Schreibe nicht: der Jüden König
25c. Evangelist, Pilate: Pilatus antwortet
26. Chorale: In meines Herzens Grunde
27a. Evangelist: Die Kriegsknechte aber, da sie Jesum gekreuziget hatten, nahmen seine Kleider
27b. Coro: Lasset uns den nicht zerteilen, sondern darum losen, wes er sein soll.
27c. Evangelist, Jesus: Auf daß erfüllet würde die Schrift
28. Chorale: Er nahm alles wohl in acht
29. Evangelist, Jesus: Und von Stund an nahm sie der Jünger zu sich.
30. Aria (alto, viola da gamba): Es ist vollbracht!
31. Evangelist: Und neiget das Haupt und verschied.
32. Aria (bass) e coro: Mein teurer Heiland, laß dich fragen
33. Evangelist: Und siehe da, der Vorhang im Tempel zeriß in zwei Stück
34. Arioso (tenor, flutes, oboes): Mein Herz, in dem die ganze Welt bei Jesu Leiden gleichfalls leidet
35. Aria (soprano, flute, oboe da caccia): Zerfließe, mein Herze, in Fluten der Zähren
36. Evangelist: Die Jüden aber, dieweil es der Rüsttag war
37. Chorale: O hilf, Christe, Gottes Sohn
38. Evangelist: Darnach bat Pilatum Joseph von Arimathia
39. Coro: Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine
40. Chorale: Ach Herr, lass dein lieb Engelein
Bach followed the Gospel of John but added two lines from the Gospel of Matthew, the crying of Peter and the tearing of the curtain in the temple.
He chose the chorales "Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen" of Johann Heermann (1630), verse 6 for movement 3, verses 7 & 8 for 17, "Vater unser im Himmelreich" of Martin Luther (1539), verse 4 for movement 5, "O Welt, sieh hier dein Leben" of Paul Gerhardt (1647), verses 3 & 4 for movement 11, "Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod" of Paul Stockmann (1633), verse 10 for movement 14, verse 20 for 28, the last verse for 32, "Christus, der uns selig macht" of Michael Weiße (1531), verse 1 for movement 15, verse 8 for 37, "Valet will ich dir geben" of Valerius Herberger (1613), verse 3 for movement 26, "Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr" of Martin Schalling (1571), verse 3 for movement 40.
For the words of the aria "Ach, mein Sinn" (#13), Bach used an adaptation of a 1675 poem by Christian Weise, "Der weinende Petrus".
For the central chorale (#22) "Durch dein Gefängnis, Gottes Sohn muß uns die Freiheit kommen" ("Through Your prison, Son of God, must freedom come to us) Bach adapted the words of an Aria from the Johannes-Passion of Christian Heinrich Postel (1700) and used the melody of "Mach's mit mir, Gott, nach deiner Güt" of Johann Hermann Schein. The architecture of Part Two shows symmetry around this movement, the music of the preceding chorus #21f "Wir haben ein Gesetz" corresponds to #23b "Lässest du diesen los", the demand #21d "Kreuzige ihn!" is repeated in an intensified way in #23d "Weg, weg mit dem, kreuzige ihn!", #21b "Sei gegrüßet, lieber Jüdenkönig" reappears as #25b "Schreibe nicht: der Jüden König".


The St John Passion is written for an intimate ensemble of soloists, four-part choir, strings and basso continuo and pairs of flauti traversi and oboes, the latter both doubling on oboe da caccia. For special colours Bach also used lute, viola d'amore and viola da gamba, instruments that were already old-fashioned at the time. In present day performances the part of Jesus is given to one bass soloist, Pilate and the bass arias to another. Some tenors sing the Evangelist – a very demanding part – and the arias. The smaller parts (Peter, Maid, Servant) are sometimes performed by choir members.


Researchers have discovered that Bach revised his St John Passion several times before producing a final version in the 1740s. Alternate numbers that Bach introduced in 1725 but later removed can be found in the appendix to scores of the work, such as that of the Neue Bach-Ausgabe (and heard in the recording by Emmanuel Music directed by Craig Smith, cited below).
The St John Passion was not Bach's first passion. While he was working as organist in 1708 and Konzertmeister in 1714 in Weimar, Bach possibly wrote a Passion, but it is now lost. Sometimes while listening to the St John Passion today one can sense an older feel to some of the music, and some scholars believe that those portions are the surviving parts of the Weimar Passion. Unlike the St Matthew Passion, to which Bach made very few and insignificant changes, the St John Passion was subject to several major revisions. The original version from 1724 is the one most familiar to us today.
In 1725, Bach replaced the opening and closing choruses and added three arias (BWV 245a-c) while cutting one (Ach, mein Sinn) from the original version. The opening chorus was replaced by O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß, which was later transposed and reused at the end of part one of the St Matthew Passion. The closing chorale was replaced by a setting of Christe, Du Lamm Gottes, taken from the cantata Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn, BWV 23. The three new arias are not known to have been reused.
In the 1730s, Bach revised the St John Passion again, restoring the original opening chorus and final chorale, and removing the three new arias. He also excised the two interpolations from the Gospel of Matthew that appeared in the work, probably due to objections by the ecclesiastical authorities. The first of these he simply removed; he composed a new instrumental sinfonia in lieu of the second. He also inserted an aria to replace the still-missing Ach, mein Sinn. Neither the aria nor the sinfonia has been preserved. Overall, Bach chose to keep the biblical text, and inserted Lutheran hymn verses so that he could return the work to its liturgical substance.

We can infer that Bach had in mind an orchestra composed of no more than 15 to 17 musicians. In 1749, he reverted more or less to the original of 1724, making only slight changes to the orchestration, most notably replacing the by-then almost obsolete viola d'amore with muted violins. Also, Bach's orchestra for this piece would have been very delicate in nature because he called for many gamba strings.
In the summer of 1815, Bach's Passions began to be studied once again. Parts of the St John Passion were being rehearsed and the St Matthew Passion was soon to follow. Fred Wolle, with his Choral Union of 1888 at the Moravian town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was the first to perform the St John Passion in the Americas. This spurred a revival of Bach's choral music in the New World.

Congregational use

While writing the St John Passion, Bach intended to retain the congregational spirit of the worship service. The text for the body of the work is taken from the Gospel of John chapters 18 and 19. To augment these chapters, which he summarized in the music, Bach used an elaborate body of commentary consisting of hymns, which were often called chorales, and arias. He used Martin Luther's translation of the Bible with only slight modifications.
Bach proved that the sacred opera as a musical genre did not have to become shallow in liturgical use by remaining loyal to the cantus firmus and the scriptural word. He did not want the Passion taken as a lesser sacred concert. The text for the opening prayer, "Herr, unser Herrscher, dessen Ruhm", as well as the arias, chorales and the penultimate chorus "Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine", come from various other sources. The first part of the score, which makes up about one-third of the entire piece, dramatically takes us through Peter's walk and his betrayal of Jesus. It is interesting to note also that the two recitative passages, dealing with Peter's crying after his betrayal and the temple veil's ripping during the crucifixion, do not appear in the Gospel of John, but the Gospel of Matthew. In the Passion, one hears Peter deny Jesus three times, and at the third time, John tells us that the cock crew immediately.
There is a recent historical example for the congregational character of St John Passion. In the early 1950s in Hungary (then under Communist rule), congregational musicians were allowed to play church music only in the frame of liturgy. However, the St John Passion is an almost complete liturgy from the Lutheran point of view, since the focus is exactly on the evangelium (Bach was a devout Lutheran). Hence, the solution was to insert the four missing features of a Lutheran liturgy. Congregational musicians could then perform the whole Passion, as if it were part of the liturgy.

(1) Each year the concert begins with "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.", announced by the priest; this is the start of a Lutheran liturgy.
(2) Between the first and second part of the Passion, the priest gives a very short sermon, intended to be understood even by non-believers.
(3) The congregation prays the Pater noster together, a chief prayer of Christianity, between the "Es ist vollbracht!" aria with the short "Und neiget das Haupt und verschied." recitative, and the "Mein teurer Heiland, lass dich fragen" chorale.
(4) At the end, the Aaron blessing is given by the priest: "The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace." (Numbers 6:24–26).
There is no applause, either at the beginning or at the end. The Passion contains quite a few choruses that are in regular use in worship. The congregation and the audience are to remain silent, as no one is supposed to sing along with the professionals.

Popular sections

opening chorus: "Herr, unser Herrscher ..." ("Lord, our master, whose glory fills the whole earth, show us by your Passion that you, the true eternal Son of God, triumph even in the deepest humiliation." Herr, unser Herrscher on YouTube). There is an orchestral intonation of 36 bars before the explosive entrance of the chorus. Each of these bars is a single stress of lower tones, weakening till the end of the bar. These bass beats are accompanied by the remaining instruments of higher tunes, by legato singing the prospective theme. The last six bars of the orchestral intro produce a robust crescendo, arriving to shouting forte initial three bars of the chorus, where the chorus joins to the long sequence of deep stresses by Herr, Herr, Herr. Soon, after the first portion of the theme, comes the triple Herr, Herr, Herr again, but this time, at the end of the bars, as a contra answer for the corresponding orchestral deep stresses at the beginning of the bars. Just before the composer's ideas could dry out, the full beginning is repeated. But this time our illusion is, as if we heard 36 Herrs.
"Herr, unser Herrscher" and "O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß" are very different in character. The latter is full of torment in its text, but a serenely majestic piece of music. "Herr, unser Herrscher" sounds as if it has chains of dissonance between the two oboes and the turmoil of the roiling sixteenth notes in the strings. Especially when they invade the bass it is full of anguish and therefore it characterizes the St John Passion more so.

commenting arias: The first part of the St John Passion includes three commenting arias. There is an alto aria called "Von den Stricken meiner Sünden" (From the tangle of my transgressions). This includes an intertwined oboe line that brings back many characteristics of the opening chorus. Another aria is an enchanting flute and soprano duet, "Ich folge dir gleichfalls". In this piece the verbs "ziehen" (to pull) and "schieben" (to push) stimulate Bach's delight in musical illustration. The third aria is a passionate tenor solo that is accompanied by all the instruments. This piece is called "Ach, mein Sinn" (O my soul)

the death of Jesus: "Es ist vollbracht! ..." ("It is accomplished; what comfort for suffering human souls! I can see the end of the night of sorrow. The hero from Judah ends his victorious fight. It is accomplished!" Es ist vollbracht! on YouTube). The central part is essentially a viola da gamba solo and an alto aria. The theme is introduced by a single viola da gamba gently accompanied in a usual basso continuo setting. Then comes the solo vocal interpretation. There is a habit — at least in Hungary —, that if the performance is in a church with living congregational live, then the performance is suspended just after this section, in order to pray the Pater Noster together.

closing chorale: Ach Herr, lass dein lieb Engelein ... (O Lord, send your cherub in my last hour to bear my soul away to Abraham's bosom; ... Listen:). This chorale — with alternative lyrics — is still in regular use in the congregations. The beginning of the theme is a descending sequence, but in overall the theme is full of emotion as well. Singing this chorale standalone does not sound a closing chorale, except if it is sung at the end of a real ceremony.


The text Bach set to music has been criticized as anti-Semitic. This accusation is closely connected to a wider controversy regarding the tone of the New Testament's Gospel of John with regards to Judaism.
Having come to the United States in 1937 as a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, Lukas Foss changed the text from "Juden" to "Leute" (people) when he directed performances of the work. This has been the trend of numerous mainline Christian denominations since the late 20th century as well, for instance, the Episcopal Church, when they read the gospel during Lenten Good Friday services. Michael Marissen's Lutheranism, Anti-Judaism, and Bach's 'St John's Passion' examines the controversy in detail. He concludes that Bach's St John Passion and St Matthew Passion contain fewer statements derogatory toward Jews than many other contemporary musical settings of the Passion. He also noted that Bach used words for the commenting arias and hymns that tended to shift the blame for the death of Jesus from "the Jews" to the congregation of Christians.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

J.S. Bach - St. John Passion BWV 245
Masaaki Suzuki conducts the Bach Collegium Japan in a performance of Bach's St. John Passion BWV 245 at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo on July 28, 2000.

Midori Suzuki, soprano; Robin Blaze, countertenor; Gerd Türk, tenor; Chiyuki Urano, bass baritone, Stephan MacLeod, bass; Bach Collegium Japan; Masaaki Suzuki, conductor; Shokichi Amano, director; Akira Sugiura, producer for NHK; Paul Smaczny, producer for EuroArts Music International

Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach - 1725

Anna Magdalena Bach (née Wilcke or Wilcken) (22 September 1701 – 22 February 1760) was an accomplished singer and the second wife of Johann Sebastian Bach.

The title Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach refers to either of two manuscript notebooks that the German Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach presented to his second wife, Anna Magdalena. Keyboard music (minuets, rondeaux, polonaises, chorales, sonatas, preludes, musettes, marches, gavottes) makes up most of both notebooks, and a few pieces for voice (songs, and arias) are included.
The two notebooks are known by their title page dates of 1722 and 1725. The title "Anna Magdalena notebook" is commonly used to refer to the latter. The primary difference between the two collections is that the 1722 notebook contains works only by Johann Sebastian Bach (including most of the French Suites), while the 1725 notebook is a compilation of music by both Bach and other composers of the era. It provides a nearly unparalleled glimpse into the domestic music of the 18th century and the musical tastes of the Bach family.

Title page of the first (1722) Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach. Note the titles of the three Pfeiffer books written by Bach in the lower right corner.
The 1722 notebook: French Suites and miscellany

This notebook contains 25 unbound sheets (including two blank pages), which is estimated to be approximately a third of the original size. It is not known what happened to the other pages. The back and the corners are decorated with brown leather; greenish paper is used for the cover. The title page is inscribed Clavier-Büchlein vor Anna Magdalena Bachin ANNO 1722 in Anna Magdalena's hand. For a reason so far unknown to researchers, Johann Sebastian wrote the titles of three books by theologian August Pfeiffer (died 1698) in the lower right corner of the title page:

Ante Calvinismus is a shortened and misspelled title of Anti-Calvinismus, oder Unterredungen von der Reformierten Religion (Anti-Calvinism, or Conversations about the reformed religion).

"Christen Schule item" refers to Pfeiffer's Evangelische Christen Schule ("Evangelical Christian School").

AntiMelancholicus refers to Anti-melancholicus, oder Melancholey-Vertreiber (Anti-melancholy, or [something or someone] to drive out the melancholy]).

The notebook contains the following works, most in Johann Sebastian's hand:

Five keyboard suites. The first three are fragments of the pieces that are now known as the first three French Suites, BWV 812–814. The next two are complete suites, French Suites Nos. 4 and 5, BWV 815–816. The minuets of suites 2 and 3 are separated from the rest of their respective suites and were most probably added at a later date by Anna Magdalena Bach (they are almost certainly in her hand), some time before 1725.

Fantasia pro organo, unfinished, BWV 573. A short organ piece, 12 complete bars and the beginning notes of the 13th bar.
Air with variations in C minor, unfinished, BWV 991. The first 10 bars feature coherent two-part writing, but the remaining 35 bars only have one voice written out.

"Jesus, meine Zuversicht", chorale prelude, BWV 728. A brief (9 bars) piece in three voices, features two sections with repeats for each.

Minuet in G major, BWV 841 (not to be confused with Petzold's Minuet in G Major in the 1725 notebook). A short dance with simplistic two-part writing and two sections with repeats for each.

Cover of the second (1725) Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach
The 1725 notebook
The 1725 notebook is bigger than the 1722 one, and more richly decorated. Light green paper is used for the front cover, Anna Magdalena's initials and the year number "1725" are printed in gold. All pages feature gilt edging. Most of the entries in the 1725 notebook were made by Anna Magdalena herself, with others written in the hand of Johann Sebastian, some by sons Johann Christian and Carl Philipp Emanuel, and a few by family friends such as Johann Gottfried Bernhard and Johann Gottfried Heinrich. Although the 1725 notebook does contain work composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, it also includes works by many other composers. The authorship of several pieces is identified in the notebook itself, while that of others was established by researchers. The composers of still others, including several popular songs of the time, remain unknown. Here is a complete list of the pieces included, in order of appearance in the notebook:

Keyboard partita in A minor, BWV 827. This is the third partita from Bach's set of Partitas for keyboard BWV 825–830, which was published in 1731 as the first volume of Clavier-Übung.
Keyboard partita in E minor, BWV 830. This is the sixth partita from Bach's set of Partitas for keyboard BWV 825–830.
Minuet in F major, BWV Anh. 113.
Minuet in G major, BWV Anh. 114. Usually attributed to Christian Petzold.
Minuet in G minor, BWV Anh. 115. Usually attributed to Christian Petzold.
Rondeau in B-flat major, BWV Anh. 183. This piece is by François Couperin and is best known under the original title: Les Bergeries (6e Ordre).
Minuet in G major, BWV Anh. 116
Polonaise in F major, BWV Anh. 117a
Polonaise in F major, BWV Anh. 117b
Minuet in B-flat major, BWV Anh. 118
Polonaise in G minor, BWV Anh. 119
Chorale prelude "Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten", BWV 691
Chorale setting "Gib dich zufrieden und sei stille" in F major, BWV 510
Chorale setting "Gib dich zufrieden und sei stille" in G minor, BWV 511
Chorale setting "Gib dich zufrieden und sei stille" in E minor, BWV 512
Minuet in A minor, BWV Anh. 120
Minuet in C minor, BWV Anh. 121
March in D major, BWV Anh. 122. Usually attributed to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
Polonaise in G minor, BWV Anh. 123. Usually attributed to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
March in G major, BWV Anh. 124. Usually attributed to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
Polonaise in G minor, BWV Anh. 125. Usually attributed to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
Aria "So oft ich meine Tobackspfeife" in D minor, BWV 515
Aria "So oft ich meine Tobackspfeife" in G minor, BWV 515a
Menuet fait par Mons. Böhm, by Georg Böhm. Not included in the BWV catalogue.
Musette in D major, BWV Anh. 126
March in E-flat major, BWV Anh. 127
(Polonaise) in D minor, BWV Anh. 128
Aria "Bist du bei mir", BWV 508. This composition is probably the most well-known of the arias of the 1725 notebook. Its melody is by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel.
Keyboard aria in G major, BWV 988/1. Another well-known piece, this is the aria of the Goldberg Variations, BWV 988. Christoph Wolff has suggested that this Aria was entered into the two blank pages of this book by Anna Magdalena later, in 1740.
Solo per il cembalo in E-flat major, BWV Anh. 129. A harpsichord piece by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
Polonaise in G major, BWV Anh. 130. Possibly composed by Johann Adolph Hasse.
Prelude in C major, BWV 846/1. This is the first prelude from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, with bars 16–20 omitted, most likely in order to make the piece fit in two pages.
Keyboard suite in D minor, BWV 812. This is the first French Suite.
Keyboard suite in C minor, BWV 813. This is an incomplete version of the second French Suite.
Movement in F major, BWV Anh. 131. The handwriting looks like that of a child, and apparently the piece is an attempt to create a bass line for a given melody.
Aria "Warum betrübst du dich", BWV 516
Recitative "Ich habe genug" and aria "Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen" (solo), BWV 82/2,3
Chorale setting "Schaff's mit mir, Gott", BWV 514
Minuet in D minor, BWV Anh. 132
Aria "Wilst du dein Herz mir schenken" (subtitled "Aria di Giovannini"), BWV 518
Aria "Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen", unfinished, BWV 82/3
Chorale setting "Dir, dir Jehova, will ich singen" (version for choir), BWV 299
Chorale setting "Dir, dir Jehova, will ich singen" (solo), BWV 299
Song "Wie wohl ist mir, o Freund der Seelen", BWV 517
Aria "Gedenke doch, mein Geist, zurücke", BWV 509
Chorale "O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort", BWV 513

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook (complete) P. Barton, FEURICH harmonic pedal piano
Bach - Notebook for Anna Magdalena Concerto die liebe Minuet in G major, BWV114
St. Matthew Passion - 1729
The St Matthew Passion (also frequently St Matthew's Passion; German: Matthäus-Passion) BWV 244 is a sacred oratorio from the Passions written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1727 for solo voices, double choir and double orchestra, with libretto by Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici). It sets chapters 26 and 27 of the Gospel of Matthew (in the German translation of Martin Luther) to music, with interspersed chorales and arias. It is widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of classical sacred music. The original Latin title Passio Domini Nostri J.C. Secundum Evangelistam Matthaeum translates to "The Passion of our Lord J[esus] C[hrist] according to the Evangelist Matthew."
Although Bach wrote four (or five) settings of the Passions only two have survived; the other is the St John Passion. The St Matthew Passion was probably first performed on Good Friday (11 April) 1727 in the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, where Bach was the Kantor of the School and Directoris Chori musici of Leipzig. He revised it by 1736, performing it again on 30 March 1736, this time including two organs in the instrumentation. He further revised and performed it again on 24 March 1742. Possibly due to the second organ being under repair, he switched the continuo instrument to harpsichord in Chorus II, reinforced the continuo group in Chorus II with a viola da gamba, and inserted a ripieno soprano in both movements 1 and 29. There is evidence of a further revision in 1743–1746, when the score as it is known originated, but no performance.

Many composers wrote musical settings of the Passion in the late 17th century. Like other Baroque oratorio passions, Bach's setting presents the Biblical text of Matthew 26–27 in a relatively simple way, primarily using recitative, while aria and arioso movements set newly written poetic texts which comment on the various events in the Biblical narrative and present the characters' states of mind in a lyrical, monologue-like manner.
Two distinctive aspects of Bach's setting spring from his other church endeavors. One is the double-choir format, which stems from his own double-choir motets and those of many other composers with which he routinely started Sunday services. The other is the extensive use of chorales, which appear in standard four-part settings, as interpolations in arias, and as a cantus firmus in large polyphonic movements. This is notable in "O Mensch, bewein dein' Sünde groß", the conclusion of the first half – a movement which Bach also used as an opening chorus for the second version (1725) of his St John Passion (later – ca. 1730 – he reverted to the originally composed "Herr, unser Herrscher" there).[2] The opening chorus, "Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen" is also notable for the use of chorale cantus firmus, in which the soprano in ripieno crowns a colossal buildup of polyphonic and harmonic tension, singing a verse of "O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig". This was sung in only in 1742 and 1743–1746 and had been played on the organ before.
The surviving manuscripts consist of twelve concertato scores, used for eight soloists who also served in the two choirs, additional parts for one soprano and two basses who perform "bit parts" such as the Wife of Pilate, Peter, Judas, High Priests, etc., and a part for the soprano in ripieno (stemming from 1742 and 1743–1746). It is believed that Bach wrote and performed the St Matthew Passion using one voice per part, rather than the two conventional choirs (plus ripienists and soloists) which is common for performances and recordings today. This concept is still being hotly debated. In 1730 (in response to his perceived harassment by the officials and out of concern for the deteriorating condition in religious music), Bach wrote a treatise he entitled "Kurtzer, iedoch höchstnöthiger Entwurff einer wohlbestallten Kirchen Music; nebst einigem unvorgreiflichen Bedenkken von dem Verfall derselben." ("Short, but most Necessary Draft on a well-regulated Church Music, with some modest Thoughts on the Decline of the same"). In it, he outlines both what he thinks would be a well-regulated Church music and also the current circumstances he faced in Leipzig. For the vocal ensembles he states that in the main churches (Hauptkirchen) of St. Thomas, St. Nicholas, and the New Church (Neukirche), each would use three voices per part, meaning three sopranos, three altos, three tenors, and three basses, with the residual (2 per part) for the Petruskirche (University Church). This residual would also act as the concertists (soloists) in the cantatas and other vocal works.[4][clarification needed What residual? What's with the Petruskirche?] So in this work, therefore, it would require two 12- to 16-voice choirs with a 3-voice ripieno soprano choir (for movements 1 and 29 in versions 1742 and 1743–1746).
The narration of the Gospel texts are sung by the tenor Evangelist in secco recitative accompanied only by continuo. Soloists sing the words of various characters, also in recitative; in addition to Jesus, there are named parts for Judas, Peter, two high priests, Pontius Pilate, Pilate's wife, two witnesses and two ancillae (maids). These are not always sung by all different soloists. The "character" soloists are also often assigned arias and sing with the choirs, a practice not always followed by modern performances. Two duets are sung by a pair of soloists' representing two simultaneous speakers. A number of passages for several speakers, called turba (crowd) parts, are sung by one of the two choirs or both.
The words of Jesus, also termed Vox Christi (voice of Christ), usually receive special treatment. Bach created particularly distinctive accompagnato recitatives in this work: they are accompanied not only by continuo but by the entire string section of the first orchestra using long, sustained notes and "highlighting" certain words, thus creating an effect often referred to as Jesus's "halo". Only his final words, written in Aramaic, Eli, eli, lama sabachthani (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?), are sung without this "halo". In the revision of 1743–1746, it is also these words (the Vox Christi) that receive a sustained continuo part. In all prior versions (1727/1729, 1736, and 1742), the continuo part was sustained in all recitatives.
Some arias and choruses of the St Matthew Passion have a parody connection to the lost funeral cantata Klagt, Kinder, klagt es aller Welt, BWV 244a, composed for the memorial service for Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen (1729).


The St Matthew Passion is set for two choirs and two orchestras. Both include two recorders, two transverse flutes, two oboes, in certain movements instead oboe d'amore or oboe da caccia, two violins, viola, viola da gamba, and basso continuo. For practical reasons the continuo organ is often shared and played with both orchestras. In many arias a solo instrument or more create a specific mood, such as the central soprano aria No. 49, "Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben", where the absence of strings and basso continuo mark a desperate loss of security.

Compositional style

Bach's recitatives often set the mood for the particular passages by highlighting emotionally charged words such as "crucify", "kill", or "mourn" with chromatic melodies. Diminished seventh chords and sudden modulations accompany Jesus's apocalyptic prophecies.
In the turba parts, the two choruses sometimes alternate in cori spezzati style (e.g. "Weissage uns, Christe") and sometimes sing together ("Herr, wir haben gedacht"). Other times only one chorus sings (chorus I always takes the parts of the disciples) or they alternate, for example when "some bystanders" say "He's calling for Elijah", and "others" say "Wait to see if Elijah comes to help him."
In the arias, obbligato instruments are equal partners with the voices, as was customary in late Baroque arias. Bach often uses madrigalisms, as in "Buß und Reu", where the flutes start playing a raindrop-like staccato as the alto sings of drops of his tears falling. In "Blute nur", the line about the serpent is set with a twisting melody.

Interpolated texts

The arias, set to texts by Picander, are interspersed between sections of the Gospel text. They are sung by soloists with a variety of instrumental accompaniments, typical of the oratorio style. The interpolated texts theologically and personally interpret the Gospel texts. Many of them include the listener into the action, such as the chorale No. 10, "Ich bin's, ich sollte büßen" ("It is I who should suffer"), after eleven disciples asked "Herr, bin ich's?" (Lord, is it I?) – meaning: Am I the one going to betray? The alto aria No. 6, "Buß und Reu", portrays a desire to anoint Jesus with her tears out of remorse. The bass aria No. 65, "Mache dich, mein Herze, rein", offers to bury Jesus himself. Jesus is often referred to as "my Jesus". The chorus alternates between participating in the narrative and commenting on it.
As is typical of settings of the Passion (and originating in its liturgical use on Palm Sunday), there is no mention of the Resurrection in any of these texts. Following the concept of Anselm of Canterbury, the crucifixion is the endpoint and the source of redemption; the emphasis is on the suffering of Jesus. The chorus sings, in the final chorale No. 62, "tear me from my fears / through your own fear and pain." The bass, referring to the "sweet cross" expresses in No. 56, "Yes, of course this flesh and blood in us / want to be forced to the cross; / the better it is for our soul, / the more bitter it feels."
The first "O Lamm Gottes" chorale compares Jesus' crucifixion to the ritual sacrifice of an Old Testament lamb, as an offering for sin. This theme is reinforced by the concluding chorale of the first part, O Mensch, bewein dein' Sünde groß (O man, bewail your great sin).


The work is divided in two parts to be performed before and after the sermon of the Good Friday service.
Part One is opened by the chorus Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen. Choir I and II act separately, at times in question and answer, choir I Seht ihn ("Behold Him"), choir II interrupting Wie? ("How?"), choir I als wie ein Lamm ("as a Lamb"). The image of the lamb slaughtered on the cross is prominent also in the cantus firmus of the third choir, like a heading of the whole work.
The first scenes are in Jerusalem: Jesus announces his death (No. 2), on the other hand the intention to get rid of him is expressed (No. 4). A scene in Bethany (No. 4c) shows a woman anointing his head with valuable oils. The next scene (No. 7) has Judas Iscariot negotiating the price for handing Jesus over. In a great contrast of mood the preparation for the "Easter meal" (Osterlamm) is described (No. 9) and the Passover meal itself, the Last Supper, foreshadowed by the announcement of betrayal. After the meal they go together to the Mount of Olives (No. 14) where Jesus predicts that Peter will deny him three times before the cock crows. At the garden of Gethsemane (No. 18) Jesus asks his followers several times to support him but they fall asleep while he is praying in agony. It is there (No. 26) that he is betrayed by Judas' kiss and arrested. While soprano and alto mourn (in duet, No. 27a) Jesus's arrest, the chorus make angry interjections (Laßt ihn, haltet, bindet nicht!). In a dramatic highpoint of the Passion,[5][6] the chorus (No. 27b) furiously demands against the Jews who arrested Jesus "Zertrümmre, verderbe, verschlinge, zerschelle/ Mit plötzlicher Wut/Den falschen Verräter, das mördrische Blut!" (Wreck, ruin, engulf, shatter with sudden force the false betrayer, the murderous blood!).
Part I is closed by a four-part Chorale Fantasia (both choirs) on the chorale O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß (O mankind, mourn your great sins), recapitulating that Jesus was born of the Virgin to "become the intercessor". The sopranos sing the cantus firmus, the other voices interpret aspects of the narration. In the 1727/1729 version, this part is concluded by a four-part setting of verse 6 of the Chorale "Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht (Jesum laß ich nicht von mir)".
Part Two is opened by a dialog between the alto soloist deploring her lost Jesus and choir II offering help in searching for him, quoting Song of Songs 6:1. In the 1727/1729 version, the soloist is a bass.
The first scene of Part Two is an interrogation at the High Priest Caiaphas (No. 37) where two witnesses report Jesus having spoken about destroying the Temple and building it again in three days. Jesus is silent to this, but his answer to the question if he is the Son of God is considered a sacrilege calling for his death. Outside in the courtyard (No. 38) Peter is told three times that he belongs to Jesus and denies it three times – then the cock crows. In the morning (No. 41) Jesus is sent to Pontius Pilate while Judas is overcome by remorse and kills himself. Pilate interrogates Jesus (No. 43), is impressed and is inclined to release him, as it was customary to release one prisoner for the holiday, supported in this by his wife. But the crowd, given the choice to have Jesus released or Barabbas, a thief, insurrectionist and murderer, asks with one voice "Barrabam!". They vote to crucify Jesus, Pilate gives in, washing his hands claiming his innocence, and delivers Jesus to torture and crucifixion. On the way to the crucifixion site (No. 55) Simon of Cyrene is forced to carry the cross. At Golgatha (No. 58) Jesus and two others are crucified and mocked by the crowd. Even his last words are misunderstood. Where he cites Psalm 22, "Eli, Eli" (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?), he is supposed to have called Elijah. He dies. St. Matthew describes the tearing of the Temple curtain and an earthquake – set to music by Bach. In the evening (No. 63c) Joseph of Arimathea asks Pilate for the corpse for burial. The following day (No. 66) officials remind Pilate of the talk of resurrection and ask for guards and a seal for the grave to prevent fraud.
The work is closed by a grand scale chorus in da capo form, choir I and II mostly in unison for the first part Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder (We sit down in tears), but in dialog in the middle section, choir II repeating "Ruhe sanfte, sanfte ruh!" ("Rest gently, gently rest!"), choir I reflecting: "Your grave and headstone shall, for the anxious conscience, be a comfortable pillow and the resting place for the soul. Highly contented, there the eyes fall asleep." These are the last words (before the recapitulation), marked by Bach himself: p pp ppp (soft, very soft, extremely soft).


Part One

1. Chorus I & II & Chorale: Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen – O Lamm Gottes unschuldig (Chorale sung only in 1742 and 1743–1746 versions)
2. Evangelist, Jesus: Da Jesus diese Rede vollendet hatte
3. Chorale: Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen
4a. Evangelist: Da versammleten sich die Hohenpriester und Schriftgelehrten
4b. Chorus I & II: Ja nicht auf das Fest
4c. Evangelist: Da nun Jesus war zu Bethanien
4d. Chorus I: Wozu dienet dieser Unrat?
4e. Evangelist, Jesus: Da das Jesus merkete, sprach er zu ihnen
5. Recitative (alto): Du lieber Heiland du
6. Aria (alto): Buß und Reu
7. Evangelist, Judas: Da ging hin der Zwölfen einer mit Namen Judas Ischarioth
8. Aria (soprano): Blute nur, du liebes Herz!
9a. Evangelist: Aber am ersten Tage der süßen Brot
9b. Chorus I: Wo willst du, daß wir dir bereiten das Osterlamm zu essen?
9c. Evangelist, Jesus: Er sprach: Gehet hin in die Stadt
9d. Evangelist: Und sie wurden sehr betrübt
9e. Chorus I: Herr, bin ich's?
10. Chorale: Ich bin's, ich sollte büßen
11. Evangelist, Jesus, Judas: Er antwortete und sprach
12. Recitative (soprano): Wiewohl mein Herz in Tränen schwimmt
13. Aria (soprano): Ich will dir mein Herze schenken
14. Evangelist, Jesus: Und da sie den Lobgesang gesprochen hatten
15. Chorale: Erkenne mich, mein Hüter
16. Evangelist, Peter, Jesus: Petrus aber antwortete und sprach zu ihm
17. Chorale: Ich will hier bei dir stehen (1727/1729 version without music and text "Es dient zu meinem Freude")
18. Evangelist, Jesus: Da kam Jesus mit ihnen zu einem Hofe, der hieß Gethsemane
19. Recitative (tenor) and Chorus II: O Schmerz! Hier zittert das gequälte Herz – Was ist die Ursach aller solcher Plagen?
20. Aria (tenor) and Chorus II: Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachen – So schlafen unsre Sünden ein
21. Evangelist: Und ging hin ein wenig, fiel nieder auf sein Angesicht und betete
22. Recitative (bass): Der Heiland fällt vor seinem Vater nieder
23. Aria (bass): Gerne will ich mich bequemen, Kreuz und Becher anzunehmen
24. Evangelist, Jesus: Und er kam zu seinen Jüngern und fand sie schlafend
25. Chorale: Was mein Gott will, das gscheh allzeit
26. Evangelist, Jesus, Judas: Und er kam und fand sie aber schlafend
27a. Aria (soprano, alto) and Chorus II: So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen – Laßt ihn, haltet, bindet nicht!
27b. Chorus I & II: Sind Blitze, sind Donner in Wolken verschwunden?
28. Evangelist, Jesus: Und siehe, einer aus denen, die mit Jesu waren, reckete die Hand aus
29. Chorale: O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß (1727/1729 version: "Jesum lass ich nicht von mir"; 1742 and 1743–1746 versions: ripieno soprano choir added to soprano line)

Part Two

30. Aria (alto (1727/1729: bass)) and Chorus II: Ach, nun ist mein Jesus hin! – Wo ist denn dein Freund hingegangen
31. Evangelist: Die aber Jesum gegriffen hatten, führeten ihn zu dem Hohenpriester Kaiphas
32. Chorale: Mir hat die Welt trüglich gericht't
33. Evangelist, Witnesses, High Priest: Und wiewohl viel falsche Zeugen herzutraten, funden sie doch keins.
34. Recitative (tenor): Mein Jesus schweigt zu falschen Lügen stille
35. Aria (tenor): Geduld, Geduld! Wenn mich falsche Zungen stechen (see No. 34)
36a. Evangelist, High Priest, Jesus: Und der Hohenpriester antwortete
36b. Chorus I & II: Er ist des Todes schuldig!
36c. Evangelist: Da speieten sie in sein Angesicht und schlugen ihn mit Fäusten
36d. Chorus I & II: Weissage uns, Christe, wer ists, der dich schlug?
37. Chorale: Wer hat dich so geschlagen
38a. Evangelist, Maid, Peter, Maid II: Petrus aber saß draußen im Palast; und es trat zu ihm eine Magd
38b. Chorus II: Wahrlich, du bist auch einer von denen; denn deine Sprache verrät dich.
38c. Evangelist, Peter: Da hub er an sich zu verfluchen und zu schwören
39. Aria (alto): Erbarme dich, mein Gott, um meiner Zähren Willen!
40. Chorale: Bin ich gleich von dir gewichen
41a. Evangelist, Judas: Des Morgens aber hielten alle Hohepriester und die Ältesten des Volks einen Rat
41b. Chorus I & II: Was gehet uns das an? Da siehe du zu!
41c. Evangelist, High Priests: Und er warf die Silberlinge in den Tempel
42. Aria (bass): Gebt mir meinen Jesum wieder!
43. Evangelist, Pilate, Jesus: Sie hielten aber einen Rat und kauften einen Töpfersacker
44. Chorale: Befiehl du deine Wege
45a. Evangelist, Pilate, Pilate's wife: Auf das Fest aber hatte der Landpfleger Gewohnheit, dem Volk einen Gefangenen loszugeben
Chorus I & II: Barrabam!
45b. Chorus I & II: Laß ihn kreuzigen!
46. Chorale: Wie wunderbarlich ist doch diese Strafe!
47. Evangelist, Pilate: Der Landpfleger sagte
48. Recitative (soprano): Er hat uns allen wohlgetan
49. Aria (soprano): Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben
50a. Evangelist: Sie schrieen aber noch mehr und sprachen
50b. Chorus I & II: Laß ihn kreuzigen!
50c. Evangelist, Pilate: Da aber Pilatus sahe, daß er nichts schaffete
50d. Chorus I & II: Sein Blut komme über uns und unsre Kinder.
50e. Evangelist: Da gab er ihnen Barrabam los
51. Recitative (alto): Erbarm es, Gott! Hier steht der Heiland angebunden.
52. Aria (alto): Können Tränen meiner Wangen
53a. Evangelist: Da nahmen die Kriegsknechte des Landpflegers Jesum zu sich
53b. Chorus I & II: Gegrüßet seist du, Jüdenkönig!
53c. Evangelist: Und speieten ihn an und nahmen das Rohr und schlugen damit sein Haupt.
54. Chorale: O Haupt, voll Blut und Wunden
55. Evangelist: Und da sie ihn verspottet hatten, zogen sie ihm den Mantel aus
56. Recitative (bass): Ja, freilich will in uns das Fleisch und Blut zum Kreuz gezwungen sein
57. Aria (bass): Komm, süßes Kreuz, so will ich sagen (see No. 56)
58a. Evangelist: Und da sie an die Stätte kamen mit Namen Golgatha
58b. Chorus I & II: Der du den Tempel Gottes zerbrichst
58c. Evangelist: Desgleichen auch die Hohenpriester spotteten sein
58d. Chorus I & II: Andern hat er geholfen und kann ihm selber nicht helfen.
58e. Evangelist: Desgleichen schmäheten ihn auch die Mörder, die mit ihm gekreuziget waren
59. Recitative (alto): Ach Golgatha, unselges Golgatha!
60. Aria (alto) and Chorus II: Sehet, Jesus hat die Hand uns zu fassen ausgespannt, kommt! – Wohin?
61a. Evangelist, Jesus: Und von der sechsten Stunde an war eine Finsternis über das ganze Land
61b. Chorus I: Der rufet dem Elias!
61c. Evangelist: Und bald lief einer unter ihnen, nahm einen Schwamm
61d. Chorus II: Halt! Laß sehen, ob Elias komme und ihm helfe.
61e. Evangelist: Aber Jesus schriee abermal laut und verschied.
62. Chorale: Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden
63a. Evangelist: Und siehe da, der Vorhang im Tempel zerriß in zwei Stück
63b. Chorus I & II: Wahrlich, dieser ist Gottes Sohn gewesen.
63c. Evangelist: Und es waren viel Weiber da, die von ferne zusahen
No. 65: "Mache dich, mein Herze, rein"
64. Recitative (bass): Am Abend, da es kühle war
65. Aria (bass): Mache dich, mein Herze, rein
66a. Evangelist: Und Joseph nahm den Leib und wickelte ihn in ein rein Leinwand
66b. Chorus I & II: Herr, wir haben gedacht, daß dieser Verführer sprach
66c. Evangelist, Pilate: Pilatus sprach zu ihnen
67. Recitative (bass, tenor, alto, soprano) and Chorus II: Nun ist der Herr zur Ruh gebracht. – Mein Jesu, gute Nacht!
68. Chorus I & II: Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

St. Matthew Passion
The Lutheran oratorio passion, a sacred drama popular in Germany, already existed in the 17th century as a mixture of Lutheran chorales, strophic arias, and choruses. By the next century, composers including Bach) had added the flare of operatic recitative and aria to the genre. Bach wrote three Passions during his career: the St Matthew, the St John and the St Mark, though of these the latter has largely been lost. The first two. however, remain favourites of the choral repertoire and are frequently performed in concert during the Easter season. The Si Matthew Passion, for double chorus, double orchestra, twо organs and soloists, is a grand work first performed on Good Friday 1727. The text is taken from the Gospel According to Matthew, chapters 26 and 27, with added recitative and aria texts by local poet Christian Friedrich Henrici. The narrative structure is thus: the Evangelist narrates the unfolding events as they occur in recitatives, with occasional lines of dialogue sung by soloists. Solos are also used for prayers and commentary on the story, as in the alto solo "Buss und Reu" ("Grief and Sin"). The chorus sometimes take a direct participatory role, presenting dialogue by the crowds in the drama for example, and sometimes offer detached commentary or prayer, including the interjected chorales. While Bach never wrote an opera, the Passions are very much in the same theatrical vein.
The work opens with a prologue in which the chorus lament the events to come. The narrative proper begins in Bethany with Christ prophesying his own imminent crucifixion. The story then follows the Biblical story of Judas's collusion with the Pharisees, Jesus's appeals to God. and finally the betrayal and arrest. After each section of narrative a commentary is inserted in the form of a recitative and aria or a chorale. 
After another Prologue, which bemoans the arrest of Jesus, the second part begins with the interrogation before Caiaphas, Peter's denial, and the judgment by Pilate. Bach concludes the work with Jesus's crucifixion, death and entombment, and a final choral lament.

St. Matthew Passion - complete
  Arias and Choruses

The Monteverdi Choir The London Oratory Junior Choir


Part One

1 Chorale
2 Chorale
3 Aria (Alto)
4 Aria (Soprano)
5 Chorale
6 Aria (Tenore)
7 Recitative (Basso)
8 Aria (Basso)
9 Chorale

Part Two

10 Aria (Alto)
11 Aria (Basso)
12 Cliorale
13 Aria (Alto)
14 Aria (Basso)
15 Recitativo
16 Chorus


St Matthew Passion - Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | (Complete) (Full Concert) (J. S. Bach)
St Matthew Passion - Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | (Complete) (Full Concert) (J. S. Bach)
The St Matthew Passion, (also frequently St Matthew's Passion) BWV 244, (German: Matthäus-Passion), is a sacred oratorio from the Passions written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1727 for solo voices, double choir and double orchestra, with libretto by Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici). It sets chapters 26 and 27 of the Gospel of Matthew (in the German translation of Martin Luther) to music, with interspersed chorales and arias. It is widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of classical sacred music. The original Latin title Passio Domini Nostri J.C. Secundum Evangelistam Matthaeum translates to "The Passion of our Lord J[esus] C[hrist] according to the Evangelist Matthew."
Although Bach wrote four (or five) settings of the Passions only two have survived; the other is the St John Passion. The St Matthew Passion was probably first performed on Good Friday (11 April) 1727[1] in the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, where Bach was the Kantor of the School and Directoris Chori musici of Leipzig. He revised it by 1736, performing it again on 30 March 1736, this time including two organs in the instrumentation. He further revised and performed it again on 24 March 1742. Possibly due to the second organ being under repair, he switched the continuo instrument to harpsichord in Coro II, reinforced the continuo group in Coro II with a viola da gamba, and inserted a ripieno soprano in both movements 1 and 29. There is evidence of a further revision in 1743--1746, when the score as we know it originated, but no performance.
Bach: Matthäus-Passion, sacred oratorio, BWV 244 | Peter Dijkstra
Bach: Matthäus-Passion, sacred oratorio, BWV 244

Julian Prégardien: tenor
Maximilian Schmitt: tenor

Karina Gauvin, soprano
Gerhild Romberger, mezzosoprano
Michael Nagy, tenor
Karl-Magnus Fredriksson, baritone

Concerto Köln
Conducted by Peter Dijkstra

The Best of Bach
Published on Oct 16, 2012
Johann Sebastian Bach - The Best of Bach
KPM Chamber Orchestra


1. Brandenburg Concerto No 1 - Allegro
2. Brandenburg Concerto No 1 - Adagio ( 4:43 )
3. Brandenburg Concerto No 1 - Allegro ( 9:10 )
4. Brandenburg Concerto No 3 - Allegro ( 13:40 )
5. Brandenburg Concerto No 3 - Allegro ( 19:11 )
6. Brandenburg Concerto No 4 - Allegro ( 24:05 )
7. Brandenburg Concerto No 4 - Presto ( 31:42 )
8. Brandenburg Concerto No 4 - Andante ( 36:37 )
9. Brandenburg Concerto No 5 - Allegro ( 39:32 )
10. Brandenburg Concerto No 6 - Allegro ( 45:02 )

11. Concerto for Violin and Oboe BWV 1060 - Allegro ( 50:38 )
12. Concerto for Violin and Oboe BWV 1060 - Largo ( 54:59 )
13. Concerto for Violin and Oboe BWV 1060 - Allegro ( 59:32 )

14. Suite for Orchestra No 2 B Minor - Minuet ( 1:02:35 )
15. Suite for Orchestra No 3 D Major - Air on the G String ( 1:05:35 )

16. Cantata BWV 147 "Jesu Joy of Mans Desiring" ( 1:10:07 )

17. Toccata in D Minor ( 1:13:32 )

18. Harpsichord Invention No 1 ( 1:22:23 )
19. Harpsichord Invention No 8 ( 1:23:43 )

20. Badinerie in B minor ( 1:24:42 )

21. Minuet in G major ( 1:27:24 )
22. Musette in D major ( 1:28:59 )

23. Partita For Solo Violin No 3 E Major BWV 1006 - Bourée ( 1:30:06 )

24. Sonata for Gamba & Harpsichord BWV 1028 ( 1:31:48 )

25. Concerto D minor BWV 1059 - Movt 2 ( 1:35:44 )

26. Solo Cello Suite No 4 E flat Major BWV 1010 - Courante ( 1:38:54 )
27. Solo Cello Suite No 6 D Major BWV 1012 - Gavotte ( 1:42:32 )
28. Solo Cello Suite No 6 D Major BWV 1012 - Prelude ( 1:46:42 )
Johann Sebastian Bach - Toccata & Fugue in d minor
Kurt Ison, Sydney Town Hall.
Edited and produced by Christopher Hayles, 2002.
Johann Sebastian Bach - Air
Das "Air" von Johann Sebastian Bach aus der 3. Suite für Orchester (D-Dur; BWV 1068), 2. Satz. Einfach zurücklehnen, ins Grüne schauen und genießen.

The "Air" by Johann Sebastian Bach from the 3rd orchestral suite (D minor; BWV 1068), 2nd movement. Just lean back, look into the green and enjoy.

Photo 2005 by Nebelwarner: Forest at the "Venner Moor" near the city of Senden (German state North Rhine-Westphalia).

"The Brandenburg Concertos" - 1721
The Brandenburg concerti by Johann Sebastian Bach (BWV 1046–1051, original title: Six Concerts à plusieurs instruments) are a collection of six instrumental works presented by Bach to Christian Ludwig, margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt, in 1721 (though probably composed earlier). They are widely regarded as some of the best orchestral compositions of the Baroque era.

Bach's dedication to the Margrave was dated 24 March 1721. Most likely, Bach composed the concertos over several years while Kapellmeister at Köthen, and possibly extending back to his employment at Weimar (1708–17). The first sentence of Bach's dedication reads:

As I had the good fortune a few years ago to be heard by Your Royal Highness, at Your Highness's commands, and as I noticed then that Your Highness took some pleasure in the little talents which Heaven has given me for Music, and as in taking Leave of Your Royal Highness, Your Highness deigned to honour me with the command to send Your Highness some pieces of my Composition: I have in accordance with Your Highness's most gracious orders taken the liberty of rendering my most humble duty to Your Royal Highness with the present Concertos, which I have adapted to several instruments; begging Your Highness most humbly not to judge their imperfection with the rigor of that discriminating and sensitive taste, which everyone knows Him to have for musical works, but rather to take into benign Consideration the profound respect and the most humble obedience which I thus attempt to show Him.

The dedication page Bach wrote for the collection indicates they are Concerts avec plusieurs instruments (Concertos with several instruments). Bach used the "widest spectrum of orchestral instruments ... in daring combinations," as Christoph Wolff has commented. "Every one of the six concertos set a precedent in scoring, and every one was to remain without parallel." Heinrich Besseler has noted that the overall forces required (leaving aside the first concerto, which was rewritten for a special occasion) tallies exactly with the 17 players Bach had at his disposal in Köthen.
Because King Frederick William I of Prussia was not a significant patron of the arts, Christian Ludwig seems to have lacked the musicians in his Berlin ensemble to perform the concertos. The full score was left unused in the Margrave's library until his death in 1734, when it was sold for 24 groschen (as of 2008, about US$22.00) of silver. The autograph manuscript of the concertos was only rediscovered in the archives of Brandenburg by Siegfried Wilhelm Dehn in 1849; the concertos were first published in the following year.
In the modern era these works have been performed by orchestras with the string parts each played by a number of players, under the batons of, for example, Karl Richter and Herbert von Karajan. They have also been performed as chamber music, with one instrument per part, especially by (but not limited to) groups using baroque instruments and (sometimes more, sometimes less) historically informed techniques and practice. There is also an arrangement for four-hand piano duet by composer Max Reger.

The individual concerti

Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F major, BWV 1046

Title on autograph score: Concerto 1mo à 2 Corni di Caccia, 3 Hautb: è Bassono, Violino Piccolo concertato, 2 Violini, una Viola col Basso Continuo.
1. [no tempo indication] (usually performed at Allegro or Allegro moderato)
2. Adagio
3. Allegro
4. Menuet – Trio I – Menuet da capo – Polacca – Menuet da capo – Trio II – Menuet da capo

Instrumentation: two corni da caccia, three oboes, bassoon, violino piccolo, two violins, viola, cello, basso continuo Duration : About 22 minutes
This concerto is the only one in the collection with four movements. An earlier version (Sinfonia, BWV 1046a), which does not use the violino piccolo, was used for the opening of the cantata Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd, BWV 208. This version lacks the third movement entirely, and the Polacca from the final movement, leaving Menuet – Trio I – Menuet – Trio II – Menuet. The first movement can also be found as the sinfonia of the cantata Falsche Welt, dir trau ich nicht, BWV 52. The third movement was used as the opening chorus of the cantata Vereinigte Zwietracht der wechselnden Saiten, BWV 207.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major, BWV 1047

Title on autograph score: Concerto 2do à 1 Tromba, 1 Flauto, 1 Hautbois, 1 Violino, concertati, è 2 Violini, 1 Viola è Violone in Ripieno col Violoncello è Basso per il Cembalo.
1. [no tempo indication] (usually performed at Allegro or Allegro moderato)
2. Andante
3. Allegro assai
Concertino: natural trumpet in F, recorder, oboe, violin
Ripieno: two violins, viola, violone, and basso continuo (including harpsichord) Duration: About 13 minutes
The trumpet part is still considered one of the most difficult in the entire repertoire, and was originally written for a clarino specialist, almost certainly the court trumpeter in Köthen, Johann Ludwig Schreiber.[8] After clarino skills were lost in the eighteenth century and before the rise of the historically informed performance movement of the late twentieth century, the part was usually played on the valved trumpet.
The trumpet does not play in the second movement, as is common practice in baroque era concerti due to the construction of the natural trumpet, which allows it to play only in one key. Because concerti often move to a different key in the second movement, concerti that include a trumpet in their first movement and are from the period before the valved trumpet was commonly used, exclude the trumpet from the second movement.
This piece served as the theme song for William F. Buckley, Jr.'s Firing Line. It was also chosen as the first to be played on the "golden record", a phonograph record containing a broad sample of Earth's common sounds, languages, and music sent into outer space with the two Voyager probes.
It is also used by The Teaching Company at the start of each individual lecture for The Great Courses series. Also, in its course "The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works" the piece is studied by Professor Robert Greenberg.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048

Title on autograph score: Concerto 3zo a tre Violini, tre Viole, è tre Violoncelli col Basso per il Cembalo.[1]
1. [no tempo indication] (usually performed at Allegro or Allegro moderato)
2. Adagio
3. Allegro
Instrumentation: three violins, three violas, three cellos, and basso continuo (including harpsichord) Duration: About 10 minutes
The second movement consists of a single measure with the two chords that make up a 'Phrygian half cadence'[9] and—although there is no direct evidence to support it—it was likely that these chords are meant to surround or follow a cadenza improvised by a harpsichord or violin player. Modern performance approaches range from simply playing the cadence with minimal ornamentation (treating it as a sort of "musical semicolon"), to inserting movements from other works, to cadenzas varying in length from under a minute to over two minutes. Wendy Carlos's three electronic performances (from Switched-On Bach, Switched-On Brandenburgs, and Switched-On Bach 2000) have second movements that are completely different from each other.
Occasionally, the third movement from Bach's "Sonata for Violin and Continuo in G , BWV. 1021" (marked Largo) is substituted for the second movement as it contains an identical 'Phrygian cadence' as the closing chords. The Largo from the Violin Sonata in G, BWV 1019, has also been used. It has a flourish of different notes.[citation needed]
The outer movements use the ritornello form found in many instrumental and vocal works of the time. The first movement can also be found in reworked form as the sinfonia of the cantata Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte, BWV 174, with the addition of three oboes and two horns.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049

Title on autograph score: Concerto 4ta à Violino Principale, due Fiauti d'Echo, due Violini, una Viola è Violone in Ripieno, Violoncello è Continuo.
1. Allegro
2. Andante
3. Presto
Concertino: violin and two recorders
Ripieno: two violins, viola, cello, violone and basso continuo Duration: About 16 minutes
The violin part in this concerto is extremely virtuosic in the first and third movements. In the second movement, the violin provides a bass when the concertino group plays unaccompanied.
Bach adapted the 4th Brandenburg concerto as the last of his set of 6 harpsichord concertos, the concerto for harpsichord, two recorders and strings in F major, BWV 1057. As well as taking on most of the solo violin's role, the harpsichord also takes over some of the recorders' parts in the andante, plays a basso continuo role at times and occasionally adds a fourth contrapuntal part to an originally three-part texture (something which Bach occasionally did while improvising). The harpsichord concerto is thus more than a mere transcription.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050

Title on autograph score: Concerto 5to à une Traversiere, une Violino principale, une Violino è una Viola in ripieno, Violoncello, Violone è Cembalo concertato.
1. Allegro
2. Affettuoso
3. Allegro
Concertino: harpsichord, violin, flute
Ripieno: violin, viola, cello, violone, (harpsichord) Duration: About 23 minutes
The harpsichord is both a concertino and a ripieno instrument: in the concertino passages the part is obbligato; in the ripieno passages it has a figured bass part and plays continuo.
This concerto makes use of a popular chamber music ensemble of the time (flute, violin, and harpsichord), which Bach used on its own for the middle movement. It is believed that it was written in 1719, to show off a new harpsichord by Michael Mietke which Bach had brought back from Berlin for the Köthen court. It is also thought that Bach wrote it for a competition at Dresden with the French composer and organist Louis Marchand; in the central movement, Bach uses one of Marchand's themes. Marchand fled before the competition could take place, apparently scared off in the face of Bach's great reputation for virtuosity and improvisation.
The concerto is well suited throughout to showing off the qualities of a fine harpsichord and the virtuosity of its player, but especially in the lengthy solo 'cadenza' to the first movement. It seems almost certain that Bach, considered a great organ and harpsichord virtuoso, was the harpsichord soloist at the premiere. Scholars have seen in this work the origins of the solo keyboard concerto as it is the first example of a concerto with a solo keyboard part.
An earlier version, BWV 1050a, exists, and has many small differences from its later cousin, but no major difference in structure or instrumentation. It is dated ca. 1720/1721.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B flat major, BWV 1051

Title on autograph score: Concerto 6to à due Viole da Braccio, due Viole da Gamba, Violoncello, Violone e Cembalo.[1]
1. [no tempo indication] (usually performed at Allegro or Allegro moderato)
2. Adagio ma non-tanto
3. Allegro
Instrumentation: two viola da braccio, two viole da gamba, cello, violone, and harpsichord Duration: About 16 minutes
The absence of violins is unusual. Viola da braccio means the normal viola, and is used here to distinguish it from the "viola da gamba". When the work was written in 1721, the viola da gamba was already an old-fashioned instrument: the strong supposition that one viola da gamba part was taken by his employer, Prince Leopold, also points to a likely reason for the concerto's composition—Leopold wished to join his Kapellmeister playing music. Other theories speculate that, since the viola da braccio was typically played by a lower socioeconomic class (e.g., servants), the work sought to upend the musical status quo by giving an important role to a "lesser" instrument. This is supported by knowledge that Bach wished to end his tenure under Prince Leopold. By upsetting the balance of the musical roles, he would be released from his servitude as Kapellmeister and allowed to seek employ elsewhere.
The two violas start the first movement with a vigorous subject in close canon, and as the movement progresses, the other instruments are gradually drawn into the seemingly uninterrupted steady flow of melodic invention which shows the composer's mastery of polyphony. The two violas da gamba are silent in the second movement, leaving the texture of a trio sonata for two violas and continuo, although the cello has a decorated version of the continuo bass line. In the last movement, the spirit of the gigue underlies everything, as it did in the finale of the fifth concerto.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

J.S. Bach Brandenburg Concertos, Complete, Ton Koopman
J.S. Bach Brandenburg Concertos Complete Ton Koopman

No.1 BWV 1046 0:00
No.2 BWV 1047 20:19
No.3 BWV 1048 32:30
No.4 BWV 1049 46:10
No.5 BWV 1050 1:01:38
No.6 BWV 1051 1:22:57

Johann Sebastian Bach Orchestral Suites BWV 1066-1069, Jordi Savall
Bach - Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (for string ensemble)
Johann Sebastian Bach: Concertos For Oboe & Oboe D'Amore
BWV 1055, 1056, 1059R, 1053R, 1060.

Christian Hommel; Helmut Muller-Brühl: Cologne Chamber Orchestra

Through the video you can see Marriage a la Mode and a Rakes Progress by William Hogart.

J.S. Bach Flute Sonatas
Published on Sep 27, 2012

1. BWV 1030 In B Minor For Flute And Harps: Andante 0:00-16:58
2. Largo e dolce
3. Presto

4. BWV 1031 In E Flat Major for Flute And Harps Allegro moderato 16:58-26:49
5. Sicilienne
6. Allegro

7. BWV 1033 In C Major For Flute And B.C.: Andante 26:49-34:52
8. Allegro
9. Adagio
10. Menuet

11. BWV 1034 In E Minor For Fl. And B.C. Adagio ma non tanto 34:52-48:39
12. Allegro
13. Andante
14. Allegro

15. BWV 1039 In G Major For 2 Fl. And B.C.: Adagio 48:39
16. Allegro ma non presto
17. Adagio e piano
18. Allegro

JS Bach Complete Lute Works, Konrad Junghanel
J.-S. Bach - Complete sonatas for violon & obbligato harpsichord Rachel Podger Trevor Pinnock
Complete sonatas for violon & obbligato harpsichord - Sonates pour violon & clavecin, Sonates pour violon et basse continue, Rachel Podger, violon, Trevor Pinnock, clavecin, avec la complicité de Jonathan Manson à la viole de gambe pour les deux Sonatae en continuo et la version avec viole de gambe de la sonate n°6 en sol majeur.

Sonates n°6, n°1, n°2, n,°3, Continuo sonate en mi mineur, Continuo sonate en sol majeur, Sonates n° 4, n°5, n°6 avec viole de gambe.

Une excellente version de ces sonates, de nombreuses fois enregistrées, par de célèbres musiciens : Kuijken/Leonhardt, Valetti/Frisch, Carmignola/Marcon, Rousset/Montanari, Mullova-Dantone, Alessandrini-Biondi, pour n'en citer que quelques unes.

J. S. Bach: "Denn Du wirst meine Seele"
Denn du wirst meine Seele nicht in der Hölle lassen (For you shall not leave my soul in hell), BWV 15, is a church cantata spuriously attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach but most likely composed by Bach Johann Sebastian.
History and text
The piece was initially thought to be an early work of Johann Sebastian Bach. However, Bach scholars reattributed the piece to his cousin, Johann Ludwig Bach. The piece was likely composed in Meiningen in 1704 for the first day of Eastertide, known as Easter Sunday. There is some evidence that it may have been performed again under the aegis of Johann Sebastian Bach on 21 April 1726 in Leipzig. The prescribed readings for the day are 1 Corinthians 5: 6-8 and Mark 16: 1-8.
It has been proposed that the text may have been authored by Christoph Helm (as suggested by W. Blankenburg) or by Herzog Ernst Ludwig von Sachsen-Meinigen (as suggested by K. Kuester).

Scoring and structure
The piece is scored for two corni da caccia, two oboes, timpani, one oboe da caccia, violins, violas and viola da gamba, and basso continuo, four vocal soloists (soprano, altus, tenor, and bassus) and four-part choir.
It is in two parts, totalling ten movements:

Part one
1. Arioso: "Denn du wirst meine Seele nicht in der Hölle lassen" for bass.
2. Recitative: "Mein Jesus ware tot" for soprano.
3. Aria (Duetto): "Weichet, weichet, Furcht und Schrecken" for soprano & altus.
4. Aria: "Entsetzet euch nicht" for tenor.
5. Aria: "Auf, freue dich, Seele, du bist nun getröst'" for soprano.

Part two
1. Terzetto: "Wo bleibet dein Rasen du höllischer Hund" for soprano, tenor & bass.
2. Aria (Duet): "Ihr klaget mit Seufzen, ich jauchze mit Schall" for soprano & altus.
3. Sonata for instrumental tutti.
4. Recitative for tenor & bass – Quartet: "Drum danket dem Höchsten, dem Störer des Krieges".
5. Chorale: "Weil du vom Tod erstanden bist" for choral and instrumental tutti.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bach - Denn du wirst meine Seele nicht in der Hölle lassen
0:00 Sonata
0:30 Denn du wirst meine Seele nicht in der Hölle lassen
1:29 Mein Jesus ware tot
4:19 Weichet, weichet, Furcht und Schrecken
7:05 Entsetzet euch nicht
9:06 Auf, freue dich, Seele, du bist nun getröst

10:20 Wo bleibet dein Rasen du höllischer Hund
11:22 Hier steht der Besieger bei Lorbeer und Fahn'
12:10 Eilt, eilet, verrennet dem Rückgang die Bahn
13:04 Der Löwe von Juda tritt prächtig hervor

14:25 Ihr klaget mit Seufzen, ich jauchze mit Schall
16:34 Sonata
17:20 Drum danket dem Höchsten, dem Störer des Krieges
19:28 Weil du vom Tod erstanden bist

I Febiarmonici
Jochen Grüner
Alsfelder Vokalensemble
Wolfgang Helbich

The Orgelbüchlein ("Little Organ Book") BWV 599−644 is a collection of 46 chorale preludes for organ written by Johann Sebastian Bach. All but three of them were composed during the period 1708–1717, while Bach was court organist at the ducal court in Weimar. The remaining three, along with a short two-bar fragment, were added in 1726 or later, after Bach's appointment as cantor at the Thomasschule in Leipzig.
The collection was originally planned as a set of 164 chorale preludes spanning the whole liturgical year. The chorale preludes form the first of Bach's masterpieces for organ with a mature compositional style in marked contrast to his previous compositions for the instrument. Although each of them takes a known Lutheran chorale and adds a motivic accompaniment, Bach explored a wide diversity of forms in the Orgelbüchlein. Many of the chorale preludes are short and in four parts, requiring only a single keyboard and pedal, with an unadorned cantus firmus. Others involve two keyboards and pedal: these include several canons, four ornamental four-part preludes, with elaborately decorated chorale lines, and a single chorale prelude in trio sonata form. The Orgelbüchlein is at the same time a collection of organ music for church services, a treatise on composition, a religious statement and a pedagogical manual.

“ A further step towards perfecting this form was taken by Bach when he made the contrapuntal elements in his music a means of reflecting certain emotional aspects of the words. Pachelbel had not attempted this; he lacked the fervid feeling which would have enabled him thus to enter into his subject. And it is entering into it, and not a mere depicting of it. For, once more be it said, in every vital movement of the world external to us we behold the image of a movement within us; and every such image must react upon us to produce the corresponding emotion in that inner world of feeling. ”
—Philipp Spitta, 1873, writing about the Orgelbüchlein in Volume I of his biography of Bach

“ Here Bach has realised the ideal of the chorale prelude. The method is the most simple imaginable and at the same time the most perfect. Nowhere is the Dürer-like character of his musical style so evident as in these small chorale preludes. Simply by the precision and the characteristic quality of each line of the contrapuntal motive he expresses all that has to be said, and so makes clear the relation of the music to the text whose title it bears. ”
—Albert Schweitzer, Jean-Sebastien Bach, le musicien-poête, 1905
History and purpose
Bach's formal training as a musician started when he was enrolled as a chorister at the Michaelskirche in Lüneburg in 1700–1702. Manuscripts in Bach's hand recently discovered in Weimar by the Bach scholars Peter Wollny and Michael Maul show that while in Lüneburg he studied the organ with Georg Böhm, composer and organist at the Johanniskirche. The documents are hand copies made in Böhm's home in tablature format of organ compositions by Reincken, Buxtehude and others. They indicate that already at the age of 15 Bach was an accomplished organist, playing some of the most demanding repertoire of the period. After a brief spell in Weimar as court musician in the chapel of Johann Ernst, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Bach was appointed as organist at St. Boniface's Church (now called the Bachkirche) in Arnstadt in the summer of 1703, having inspected and reported on the organ there earlier in the year. In 1705–1706 he was granted leave from Arnstadt to study with the organist and composer Dieterich Buxtehude in Lübeck, a pilgrimage he famously made on foot. In 1707 Bach became organist at St. Blasius' Church in Mühlhausen, before his second appointment at the court in Weimar in 1708 as concertmaster and organist, where he remained until 1717.
During the period before his return to Weimar, Bach had composed a set of 31 chorale preludes: these were discovered independently by Christoph Wolff and Wilhelm Krunbach in the library of Yale University in the mid-1980s and first published as Das Arnstadter Orgelbuch. They form part of a larger collection of organ music compiled in the 1790s by the organist Johann Gottfried Neumeister (1756–1840) and are now referred to as the Neumeister Chorales BWV 1090–1120. These chorale preludes are all short, either in variation form or fughettas. Only a few other organ works based on chorales can be dated with any certainty to this period. These include the chorale partitas BWV 766-768 and 770, all sets of variations on a given chorale.
During his time as organist at Arnstadt, Bach was upbraided in 1706 by the Arnstadt Consistory "for having hitherto introduced sundry curious embellishments in the chorales and mingled many strange notes in them, with the result that the congregation has been confused." The type of chorale prelude to which this refers, often called the "Arnstadt type", were used to accompany the congregation with modulating improvisatory sections between the verses: examples that are presumed to be of this form include BWV 715, 722, 729, 732 and 738. The earliest surviving autograph manuscript of a chorale prelude is BWV 739, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, based on an Advent hymn. It dates from 1705 and possibly was prepared for Bach's visit to Lübeck.

Compositional style
The chorale preludes of the Orgelbüchlein share several common stylistic features,[8] which are the distinguishing traits of what may be called the "Orgelbüchlein-style chorale:"
The chorale melody, embellished to varying degrees or unembellished altogether, is in one voice (excepting BWV 615, In dir ist Freude, in which the melody is broken up into motives and bounces between several voices).
The melody is in the soprano voice (except for BWV 611, Christum, wir sollen loben schon, in which it is in the alto voice, and the canonical preludes BWV 600, 608, 618, 619, 620, 624, 629 and 633/634).
The pieces are written in four-voice counterpoint, except for BWV 599, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, and BWV 619, Christe du Lamm Gottes, which are written in five voices; and BWV 639, Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, which is written in three.
The pieces span exactly the length of the chorale melody; there are no introductions or codas.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bach : Orgelbüchlein (with sung chorales), BWV 599-BWV 621 (Part 1 of 2)
J.S. Bach Chorale Preludes I. Orgelbuchlein (Little Organ Book) BWV 599-644, Peter Hurford
Peter Hurford Organ
Organ: The Organ in the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows in Toronto
Mass in B minor - 1738
The Mass in B minor (BWV 232) by Johann Sebastian Bach is a musical setting of the complete Latin Mass. The work was one of Bach's last compositions, not completed until 1749, the year before his death. Much of the Mass gave new form to vocal music that Bach had composed throughout his career, dating back (in the case of the "Crucifixus") to 1714, but extensively revised. To complete the work, in the late 1740s Bach composed new sections of the Credo such as "Et incarnatus est".
It was unusual for composers working in the Lutheran tradition to compose a Missa tota and Bach's motivations remain a matter of scholarly debate. The Mass was never performed in totality during Bach's lifetime; the first documented complete performance took place in 1859. Since the nineteenth century it has been widely hailed as one of the greatest compositions in history, and today it is frequently performed and recorded. C.P.E. Bach had archived this work as the Great Catholic Mass.

Background and context

On February 1, 1733 Augustus II, Elector of Saxony, died. Five months of mourning followed, during which all public music-making was suspended. Bach used the opportunity to work on the composition of a Missa, a portion of the liturgy sung in Latin and common to both the Lutheran and Roman Catholic rites. His aim was to dedicate the work to the new sovereign Augustus III, a Catholic, with the hope of obtaining the title "Electoral Saxon Court Composer". Upon its completion, Bach visited Augustus III and presented him with a copy of the Missa, together with a petition to be given a court title, dated July 27, 1733; in the accompanying inscription on the wrapper of the mass he complains that he had "innocently suffered one injury or another" in Leipzig. The petition did not meet with immediate success, but Bach eventually got his title; he was made court composer to Augustus III in 1736.
In the last years of his life, Bach expanded the Missa into a complete setting of the Latin Ordinary. It is not known what prompted this creative effort. Wolfgang Osthoff and other scholars have suggested that Bach intended the completed Mass in B minor for performance at the dedication of the new Hofkirche in Dresden, which was begun in 1738 and was nearing completion by the late 1740s. However, the building was not completed until 1751, and Bach's death in July, 1750 prevented his Mass from being submitted for use at the dedication. Instead, Johann Adolph Hasse's Mass in D minor was performed, a work with many similarities to Bach's Mass (the Credo movements in both works feature chant over a walking bass line, for example). Other explanations are less event-specific, involving Bach's interest in "encyclopedic" projects (like the Art of Fugue) that display a wide range of styles, and Bach's desire to preserve some of his best vocal music in a format with wider potential future use than the church cantatas they originated in.


The chronology of the Mass in B minor has attracted extensive scholarly attention. Recent literature suggests:
In 1724, Bach composed the Sanctus for use in the Christmas service. Bach revised it when he reused it in the Mass, changing its initial meter from ₵ to C, and its vocal scoring from SSSATB to SSAATB.
As noted above, in 1733 Bach composed the Missa (Kyrie and Gloria) during the five-month period of mourning following the February 1st death of Elector Augustus II and before July 27, when Bach presented the successor, Augustus III of Poland, with the Missa as a set of instrumental and vocal parts. It is possible that the Kyrie was meant as mourning music for Augustus II, and the Gloria as celebratory of the accession of Augustus III.
In the mid-1740s (c. 1743–46).[8] Bach re-used two movements from the Gloria in a cantata for Christmas Day (Gloria in excelsis Deo, BWV 191). Gregory Butler argues that at the same service (which he dates to Christmas 1745, to celebrate the Peace of Dresden), Bach also used the 1724 Sanctus, and that this revisiting of the 1733 Missa suggested further development to the composer.

Autograph of the first page of Symbolum Nicenum, beginning with the Gregorian chant Credo in the tenor

In the "last three years or so" of his life, Bach wrote/assembled the Symbolum Nicenum and the remainder of the work; many scholars, including Christoph Wolff, believe he did so in 1748–49. This dating in part reflects the scholarship of Yoshitake Kobayashi, who dates the Symbolum Nicenum section to August –October 1748 based on Bach's increasingly stiff and labored handwriting. Wolff among others argues that the "Et incarnatus est" movement was Bach's last significant composition. The words had been included in the preceding duet, but then Bach decided to treat them as a separate movement for the choir, giving the words extra weight and improving the symmetry of the Credo. John Butt argues that a definite final date of August 25, 1749 can be given, in that on this date C.P.E. Bach completed a setting of the Magnificat with an "Amen" chorus that "shows distinct similarities" to the 'Gratias' from the Missa and the 'Ex expecto' from the Symbolum Nicenum." C.P.E. Bach later reported that he performed this Magnificat (Wq 215) in 1749 in Leipzig "at a Marian festival ... during the lifetime of his now-deceased father".


Bach did not give the B minor Mass a title. Instead, he organized the 1748–49 manuscript into four folders, each with a different title. That containing the Kyrie and Gloria he called "1. Missa"; that containing the Credo he titled "2. Symbolum Nicenum"; the third folder, containing the Sanctus, he called "3. Sanctus"; and the remainder, in a fourth folder he titled "4. Osanna | Benedictus | Agnus Dei et | Dona nobis pacem". John Butt writes, "The format seems purposely designed so that each of the four sections could be used separately." On the other hand, the parts in the manuscript are numbered from 1 to 4, and Bach's usual closing formula (S.D.G = Soli Deo Gloria) is only found at the end of the Dona Nobis Pacem. Further, Butt writes, "What is most remarkable about the overall shape of the Mass in B Minor is that Bach managed to shape a coherent sequence of movements from diverse material." Butt and George Stauffer detail the ways in which Bach gave overall musical unity to the work.
The first overall title given to the work was in the 1790 estate of the recently deceased C.P.E. Bach, who inherited the score. There, it is called "Die grosse catholische Messe" (the "Great Catholic Mass"). It is called that as well in the estate of his last heir in 1805, suggesting to Stauffer that "the epithet reflects an oral tradition within the Bach family". The first publication of the Kyrie and Gloria, in 1833 by the Swiss collector Hans Georg Nägeli with Simrock, refers to it as "Messe" Finally, Nageli and Simrock produced the first publication in 1845, calling it the "High Mass in B Minor" (Hohe Messe in h-moll). The adjective "high", Butt argues, was "strongly influenced by the monumental impact of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis." It soon fell from common usage, but the prepositional phrase "in B Minor" survives, even though it is in some ways misleading: only five of the work's 27 movements are in B minor, while twelve, including the final ones of each of the four major sections, are in D major (the relative major of B minor). The opening Kyrie, however, is in B minor, with the Christe Eleison in D major, and the second Kyrie in F-sharp minor; as Butt points out, these tonalities outline a B minor chord.

Performance history

In Bach's lifetime

Bach conducted the Sanctus, in its first version, at the 1724 Christmas service in Leipzig, and re-used it in Christmas services in the mid-1740s. Scholars differ on whether he ever performed the 1733 Missa. Arnold Schering (in 1936) asserted that it was performed in Leipzig on April 26, 1733, when Augustus III of Poland visited the town, but modern scholars reject his argument for several reasons: 1) the proposed date fell during an official period of mourning "when concerted music was forbidden in Saxon churches"; 2) the extant parts (on which Schering based his hypothesis) are written on a paper found only in documents in Dresden, so were probably copied in Dresden when Bach went there in July; and 3) the copyists were not Bach's usual ones, but Bach and immediate family members (who traveled with him to Dresden)—his wife Anna Magdalena, sons Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel—and a Dresden copyist.

Scholars differ, however, on whether the Missa was performed in July in Dresden. Christoph Wolff argues that on July 26, 1733 at the Sophienkirche in Dresden, where Wilhelm Friedemann Bach had been organist since June, it "was definitely performed ... as evidenced by the extant Dresden performing parts and by the inscription on the title wrapper" given to the king the next day. Hans-Joachim Schulze made this case by pointing to the use of the past tense in the wrapper's inscription: "To his royal majesty was shown with the enclosed Missa...the humble devotion of the author J. S. Bach." However, Joshua Rikfin rejects the argument, pointing out that the past-tense wording was typical of formal address often not related to performance. Also skeptical is Peter Williams, who notes that "there is no record of performers being assembled for such an event, and in August 1731 Friedemann reported that the Sophienkirche organ was badly out of tune." However, there is evidence of an organ recital by Bach at the Sophienkirche on 14 September 1731, and Friedemann Bach was only chosen as Organist for the institution on 23 June 1733. He would again perform a 2-hour Organ recital on 1 December 1736 at the Frauenkirche Dresden to inaugurate the new Gottfried Silbermann organ.
Scholars agree that no other public performances took place in Bach's lifetime, although Butt raises the possibility that there may have been a private performance or read-through of the Symbolum Nicenum late in Bach's life.

Later 18th century

The first public performance of the Symbolum Nicenum section (under the title "Credo or Nicene Creed") took place 36 years after Bach's death, in Spring of 1786, led by his son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach at a benefit concert for the Medical Institute for the Poor in Hamburg.

19th century

As recounted by George Stauffer, the next documented performance (not public) in the nineteenth century was when Carl Friedrich Zelter—a key figure in the 19th-century Bach revival—led the Berlin Singakademie in read-throughs of the "Great Mass" in 1811, covering the Kyrie; in 1813 he led read-throughs of the entire work. The first public performance in the century—of just the Credo section—took place in Frankfurt in March, 1828, with over 200 performers and many instrumental additions. In the same year in Berlin, Gaspare Spontini led the Credo section, adding 15 new choral parts and numerous instruments. A number of performances of sections of the Mass took place in the following decades in Europe, but the first attested public performance of the Mass in its entirety took place in 1859 in Leipzig, with Karl Riedel and the Riedel-Verein.

20th century

The Bach Choir of Bethlehem performed the American premiere of the complete Mass on March 27, 1900, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, though there is evidence that parts of the Mass had been performed in the USA as early as 1870.
From early in the century, authors such as Albert Schweitzer, Arnold Schering, and Frederick Smend called for smaller performance forces, and experiments with (relatively) smaller groups began in the late 1920s.
The first complete recording of the work was made in 1929, with a large choir and the London Symphony Orchestra led by Albert Coates. As of 2013, a database lists over 200 recordings with many different types of forces and performance styles. The work has played a central role in the historical performance movement: Nikolaus Harnoncourt made the first recording with period instruments in 1968 (his second Bach choral recording), and won High Fidelity's best record of the year award; Joshua Rifkin's first recording using the one-voice-per-part vocal scoring he proposes was made in 1982, and won a 1983 Gramophone Award.


The Mass in B minor is widely regarded as one of the supreme achievements of classical music. Alberto Basso summarizes the work as follows:
The Mass in B minor is the consecration of a whole life: started in 1733 for "diplomatic" reasons, it was finished in the very last years of Bach's life, when he had already gone blind. This monumental work is a synthesis of every stylistic and technical contribution the Cantor of Leipzig made to music. But it is also the most astounding spiritual encounter between the worlds of Catholic glorification and the Lutheran cult of the cross.
Scholars have suggested that the Mass in B minor belongs in the same category as the Art of Fugue, as a summation of Bach's deep lifelong involvement with musical tradition—in this case, with choral settings and theology. Bach scholar Christoph Wolff describes the work as representing "a summary of his writing for voice, not only in its variety of styles, compositional devices, and range of sonorities, but also in its high level of technical polish ... Bach's mighty setting preserved the musical and artistic creed of its creator for posterity."
The Mass was described in the 19th century by the editor Hans Georg Nägeli as "The Announcement of the Greatest Musical Work of All Times and All People" ("Ankündigung des größten musikalischen Kunstwerkes aller Zeiten und Völker"). Even though it had never been performed, its importance was appreciated by some of Bach's greatest successors—by the beginning of the 19th century Forkel and Haydn possessed copies, and Beethoven made two attempts to acquire a score.

Sources and editions

Two autograph sources exist: the parts for the Kyrie and Gloria sections that Bach deposited in Dresden in 1733, and the score of the complete work that Bach compiled in 1748–50, which was inherited by C. P. E. Bach (the autograph has been published in facsimile from the source in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. However, for his 1786 public performance of the Symbolum Nicenum, C. P. E. Bach, as was typical practice in the era, made additions to the autograph score for performance—adding a 28-bar introduction, replacing the now-obsolete oboe d'amore with newer instruments (clarinets, oboes, or violins) and making other changes in instrumentation for his own aesthetic reasons—and also wrote in his own solutions to reading some passages made nearly illegible by Bach's late-life handwriting problems. For this and other reasons, the Mass in B minor poses a considerable challenge to prospective editors, and substantial variations can be noted in different editions, even critical urtext editions. When the Bach Gesellschaft edition was published in 1856, problems were so evident that the society published a revised edition the next year—which was, however, eventually recognized to be even less accurate. Similarly, the 1954 edition by the Neue Bach-Ausgabe was shown to be severely faulty within five years.

Recent decades have seen the publication of two new scholarly editions: those of Christoph Wolff, published by Peters in 1997, and Joshua Rifkin, published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 2006. Wolff uses two copies of the 1748–50 manuscript made before C.P.E. Bach's adulterations to try to reconstruct Bach's original readings, and seeks to recover performance details by using all available sources including movements that Bach reworked in the B minor Mass. Rifkin, too, seeks to remove the C.P.E. Bach emendations, but differs from Wolff in arguing that the 1748–50 work is, to quote John Butt, "essentially a different entity from the 1733 Missa, and that a combination of the 'best' readings from both does not really correspond to Bach's final (and virtually completed) conception of the work"; Rifkin's version seeks to adhere to this final version.

Movements and their sources

The work consists of 27 sections. Tempo and metrical information and parodied sources come from Christoph Wolff's 1997 critical urtext edition, and from George Stauffer's Bach: The Mass in B Minor. except where noted. Regarding sources, Stauffer, summarizing current research as of 1997, states that "Specific models or fragments can be pinpointed for eleven of the work's twenty-seven movements" and that "two other movements [the "Domine Deus" and "Et resurrexit"] are most probably derived from specific, now lost sources." But Stauffer adds "there is undoubtedly much more borrowing than this." Exceptions are the opening four bars of the first Kyrie, the Et incarnatus est and Confiteor.
Butt points out that "only with a musical aesthetic later than Bach's does the concept of parody (adapting existing vocal music to a new text) appear in an unfavourable light" while it was "almost unavoidable" in Bach's day; he further notes that "by abstracting movements from what he evidently considered some of his finest vocal works, originally performed for specific occasions and Sundays within the Church's year, he was doubtless attempting to preserve the pieces within the more durable context of the Latin Ordinary." Details of the parodied movements and their sources are given below.

I. Kyrie and Gloria ("Missa")

Kyrie eleison (1st). Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in B minor, marked Adagio (in the four-bar choral introduction), then Largo in the main section, autograph time signature of common time or common time. Joshua Rifkin argues that, except for the opening four bars, the movement is based on a previous version in C minor, since examination of autograph sources reveals "a number of apparent transposition errors". John Butt concurs: "Certainly, much of the movement—like many others with no known models—seems to have been copied from an earlier version."
Christe eleison. Duet (soprano I, II) in D major with obbligato violins, no autograph tempo marking, time signature of common time.
Kyrie eleison (2nd). Four-part chorus (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in F-sharp minor, marked "alla breve", and (in the 1748–50 score)"stromenti in unisono". Autograph time signature is ₵. Stauffer points out (p. 49)that "the four-part vocal writing... points to a model conceived outside the context of a five-voice Mass."
Note the 9 (trinitarian, 3 x 3) movements with the largely symmetrical structure, and Domine Deus in the centre.
Gloria in excelsis. Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in D major, marked Vivace in the 1733 first violin and cello parts, 3/8 time signature. In the mid-1740s, Bach reused this as the opening chorus of his cantata Gloria in excelsis Deo, BWV 191.
Et in terra pax. Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in D major, no autograph tempo marking, time signature of common time; in the autographs no double bar separates it from the preceding Gloria section. Again, Bach reused the music in the opening chorus of BWV 191.
Laudamus te. Aria (soprano II) in A major with violin obbligato, no autograph tempo marking, time signature of common time.
Gratias agimus tibi. 4-part chorus (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in D major, marked alla breve, time signature of ₵. The music is a reworking of the second movement of Bach's 1731 Ratswechsel (Town Council Inauguration) cantata Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir, BWV 29, in which the time signature is the number 2 with a slash through it. (Stauffer adds that both may have an earlier common source.)
Domine Deus. Duet (soprano I, tenor) in G major with flute obbligato and muted strings, no autograph tempo marking, time signature of common time. The music appears as a duet in BWV 191. In the 1733 parts, Bach indicates a "Lombard rhythm" in the slurred two-note figures in the flute part; he does not indicate it in the final score or in BWV 191. Stauffer points out (p. 246) that this rhythm was popular in Dresden in 1733; it is possible that Bach added in the 1733 parts to appeal to tastes at the Dresden court and that he no longer wanted it used in the 1740s, or that he still preferred it but no longer notated it.
Qui tollis peccata mundi. 4-part chorus (Soprano II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in B minor, marked adagio in the two violin 1 parts from 1733 and lente in the cello, continuo, and alto parts from 1733; 3/4 time signature. No double bar separates it from the preceding movement in the autograph. The chorus is a reworking of the first half of the opening movement of the 1723 cantata Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei, BWV 46. In the autograph sources no double bar separates it from the previous movement.
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris. Aria (alto) in B minor with oboe d'amore obbligato, no autograph tempo marking, 6/8 time signature.
Quoniam tu solus sanctus. Aria (bass) in D major with obbligato parts for solo corno da caccia (hunting horn or Waldhorn) and two bassoons, no autograph tempo marking, 3/4 time signature. Stauffer notes that the unusual scoring shows Bach writing specifically for the strengths of the orchestra in Dresden: while Bach wrote no music for two obbligato bassoons in his Leipzig cantatas, such scoring was common for works others composed in Dresden, "which boasted as many as five bassoonists", and that Dresden was a noted center for horn playing. Peter Damm has argued that Bach designed the horn solo specifically for the Dresden horn soloist Johann Adam Schindler, whom Bach had almost certainly heard in Dresden in 1731. Regarding lost original sources, Stauffer says, "A number of writers have viewed the clean appearance of the "Quoniam" and the finely detailed performance instructions in the autograph score as signs that this movement is also a parody." Klaus Hafner argues that the bassoon lines were, in the original, written for oboe, and that in this original a trumpet, not the horn, was the solo instrument. John Butt agrees, adding as evidence that Bach originally notated both bassoon parts with the wrong clefs, both indicating a range an octave higher than the final version, and then corrected the error, and adding that "oboe parts would almost certainly have been scored with trumpet rather than horn." Stauffer, however, entertains the possibility that it may be new music.
Cum Sancto Spiritu. Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in D major, marked Vivace, 3/4 time signature. Bach reused the music in modified form as the closing chorus of BWV 191. As to origins, Donald Francis Tovey argued that it is based on a lost choral movement from which Bach removed the opening instrumental ritornello, saying "I am as sure as I can be of anything". Hafner agrees, and like Tovey, has offered a reconstruction of the lost ritornello;[66] he also points to notational errors (again involving clefs) suggesting that the lost original was in four parts, and that Bach added the Soprano 2 line when converting the original into the Cum Santo Spiritu chorus. Rifkin argues from the neat handwriting in the instrumental parts of the final score that the movement is based on a lost original, and he argues from the musical structure, which involves two fugues, that the original was probably a lost cantatas from the middle or late 1720s, when Bach was especially interested in such structures. Stauffer is agnostic on the question.

II. Credo ("Symbolum Nicenum")

Note the 9 movements with the symmetrical structure, and the crucifixion at the centre.
Credo in unum Deum. Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in A mixolydian, no autograph tempo marking, ₵. Stauffer identifies an earlier Credo in unum Deum chorus in G major, probably from 1748–49.
Patrem omnipotentem. Four-part chorus (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in D major, no autograph tempo marking, time signature of 2 with a slash through it in the autograph manuscript. The music is a reworking of the opening chorus of Gott, wie dein Name, so ist auch dein Ruhm, BWV 171.
Et in unum Dominum. Duet (soprano I, alto) in G major, marked Andante, common time. Stauffer derives it from a "lost duet, considered for "Ich bin deine", BWV 213/11 (1733)
Et incarnatus est. Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in B minor, no autograph tempo marking, 3/4 time signature.
Crucifixus. Four-part chorus (Soprano II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in E minor, no autograph tempo marking, 3/2 time signature. The music is a reworking of the first section of the first chorus of the 1714 cantata Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, BWV 12.
Et resurrexit. Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in D major, no autograph tempo marking, 3/4 time signature.
Et in Spiritum Sanctum. Aria (Bass) in A major with oboi d'amore obbligati, no autograph tempo marking, 6/8 time signature.
Confiteor. Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in F-sharp minor, no autograph tempo marking (until the transitional music in bar 121, which is marked "adagio"), ₵ time signature. John Butt notes that "the only positive evidence of Bach actually composing afresh within the entire score of the mass is in the 'Confiteor' section", by which he means, "composing the music directly into the autograph. Even the most unpracticed eye can see the difference between this and surrounding movements"; one part of the final transitional music is "still illegible...and necessitates the conjectures of a judicious editor."
Et expecto. Five-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto, Tenor, Bass) in D major, marked Vivace ed allegro, implicitly in ₵ (as it is not set off with a double bar in the autograph from the Confiteor). The music is a reworking of the second movement of Bach's 1728 Ratswechsel (Town Council Inauguration) cantata Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille, BWV 120 on the words Jauchzet, ihr erfreute Stimmen.

III. Sanctus

Sanctus. Six-part chorus (Soprano I, II, Alto I, II, Tenor, Bass) in D major, no autograph tempo marking, common time time signature; leading immediately—without double bar in the sources—into the Pleni sunt coeli , marked Vivace, 3/8 time signature. Derived from an earlier 3 soprano, 1 alto work written in 1724; in that 1724 Sanctus the first section was marked in ₵, perhaps suggesting a tempo faster than what Bach conceived of when he finally re-used it in the Mass.

Autograph score of the Benedictus, aria for tenor and obligato flute

IV. Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei and Dona Nobis Pacem
Osanna. Double chorus (both four parts) in D major, no autograph tempo marking, 3/8 time signature. A reworking of the A section of the chorus "Es lebe der König" (BWV Anh. 11/1 from 1732) or of "Preise dein Glücke" (BWV 215) from 1734.
Benedictus. Aria for tenor with obbligato instrument in B minor, no autograph tempo marking, 3/4 time signature. Butt writes that Bach "forgot to specify the instrument" for the obbligato; Stauffer adds the possibilities that Bach had not decided which instrument to use or that he was "indifferent" and left the choice open. The Bach-Ausgabe edition assigned it to the violin, and Stauffer suggests this choice may have been influenced by Beethoven's use of the violin in the Benedictus of his Missa solemnis. Modern editors and performers have preferred the flute; as Butt notes, the part never uses the G-string of the violin, and modern commentators "consider the range and style to be more suitable for the transverse flute."
Osanna (da capo). As above.
Agnus Dei. Aria for alto in G minor with violin obbligato, no autograph tempo marking, common time time signature. Parody of an aria, "Enfernet euch, ihr kalten Herzen" ("Withdraw, you cold heart"), from a lost wedding serenade (1725). Bach also re-used the wedding aria for the alto aria, "Ach, bleibe doch", of his 1735 Ascension Oratorio Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen, BWV 11; Alfred Dürr has demonstrated that Bach adapted both "Ach, bleibe doch" and the Agnus dei directly from the lost serenade's aria, rather than from one to the next.
Dona nobis pacem. 4-part chorus in D major, no autograph tempo marking, ₵ time signature. The music is almost identical to "Gratias agimus tibi" from the Gloria.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

J.S. Bach - Mass in B minor, BWV 232 - Eugen Jochum - 1980
Johann Sebastian Bach
H-moll Messe, BWV 232
Mass in B minor, BWV 232

Helen Donath ................... soprano
Brigitte Fassbaender ........ contralto
Claes H.Ahnsjo ..................... tenor
Roland Hermann ............... baritone
Robert Holl ............................ bass

Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Eugen Jochum

Recorded 03.-04. 1980, Herkulessaal, Munich

Bach - Mass in B minor (Proms 2012)
Published on Aug 21, 2012
Prom 26: Bach -- Mass in B minor
Johann Sebastian Bach - Mass in B minor

Joélle Harvey soprano
Carolyn Sampson soprano
Iestyn Davies counter-tenor
Ed Lyon tenor
Matthew Rose bass

Choir of the English Concert
The English Concert
Harry Bicket conductor

Royal Albert Hall
2 August 2012

0:00:07 - Kyrie eleison
0:10:33 - Christe eleison
0:15:20 - Kyrie eleison
0:19:06 - Gloria in excelsis Deo
0:25:35 - Laudamus te
0:29:40 - Gratias agimus tibi

"Das musikalische Opfer" - 1747
The Musical Offering (German title Musikalisches Opfer or Das Musikalische Opfer), BWV 1079, is a collection of canons and fugues and other pieces of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, all based on a single musical theme given to him by Frederick the Great (Frederick II of Prussia), to whom they are dedicated. The Ricercar a 6, a six-voice fugue which is the highpoint of the entire work, was put forward by the musicologist Charles Rosen as the most significant piano composition in history (partly because it is one of the first). This ricercar is also occasionally called the Prussian Fugue, a name used by Bach himself.
The collection has its roots in a meeting between Bach and Frederick II on May 7, 1747. The meeting, taking place at the King's residence in Potsdam, came about because Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel was employed there as court musician. Frederick wanted to show the elder Bach a novelty, the fortepiano, which had been invented some years earlier. The King owned several of the experimental instruments being developed by Gottfried Silbermann. During his anticipated visit to Frederick's palace in Potsdam, Bach, who was well known for his skill at improvising, received from Frederick a long and complex musical theme on which to improvise a three-voice fugue. He did so, but Frederick then challenged him to improvise a six-voice fugue on the same theme. The public present thought that just a malicious caprice by the King, intent upon humiliating philosophers and artists. Bach answered that he would need to work the score and send it to the King afterwards. He then returned to Leipzig to write out the Thema Regium ("theme of the king"):

Two months after the meeting, Bach published a set of pieces based on this theme which we now know as The Musical Offering. Bach inscribed the piece "Regis Iussu Cantio Et Reliqua Canonica Arte Resoluta" (the theme given by the king, with additions, resolved in the canonic style), the first letters of which spell out the word ricercar, a well-known genre of the time.
The "thema regium" appears as the theme for the first and last movements of the 7th Sonata in D minor by Friedrich Wilhelm Rust, written in about 1788, and also as the theme for elaborate variations by Giovanni Paisiello in his "Les Adieux de la Grande Duchesse ds Russies," written in about 1784, upon his departure from the court of Catherine the Great.

Possible origin of the King's Theme

Humphrey F. Sassoon has compared the theme issued by Frederick II to the theme of an A minor fugue (HWV 609) by George Frideric Handel, published in Six fugues or voluntarys for organ or harpsichord. Sassoon notes that "Handel's theme is much shorter than the King's, but its musical 'architecture' is uncannily similar: jumps followed by a descending chromatic scale." He also elaborates on their additional similarities, which led Sassoon to suggest that Bach used Handel's A minor fugue as a structural model or guide for the Musical Offering's Ricercar a 6, and that its musical concepts may also have influenced Bach's development of the Ricercar a 3. Nevertheless, the Ricercar a 6 is longer and incomparably more complex than Handel's fugue.
Structure and instrumentation

In its finished form, The Musical Offering comprises:
Two Ricercars, written down on as many staves as there are voices:
a Ricercar a 6 (a six-voice fugue)
a Ricercar a 3 (a three-voice fugue)

Ten Canons:
Canones diversi super Thema Regium:
2 Canons a 2 (the first representing a notable example of a crab canon)
Canon a 2, per motum contrarium
Canon a 2, per augmentationem, contrario motu
Canon a 2, per tonos

Canon perpetuus
Fuga canonica
Canon a 2 "Quaerendo invenietis"
Canon a 4
Canon perpetuus, contrario motu

A Sonata sopr'il Soggetto Reale – a trio sonata featuring the flute, an instrument which Frederick played, consisting of four movements:

Apart from the trio sonata, which is written for flute, violin and basso continuo, the pieces have few indications of which instruments are meant to play them, although there is now significant support for the idea that they are for solo keyboard, like most of Bach's other published works.
The ricercars and canons have been realised in various ways. The ricercars are more frequently performed on keyboard than the canons, which are often played by an ensemble of chamber musicians, with instrumentation comparable to that of the trio sonata.
As the printed version gives the impression to be organised for (reduction of) page turning when sight-playing the score, the order of the pieces intended by Bach (if there was an intended order) remains uncertain, although it is customary to open the collection with the Ricercar a 3, and play the trio sonata toward the end. The Canones super Thema Regium are also usually played together.

Musical riddles

Some of the canons of The Musical Offering are represented in the original score by no more than a short monodic melody of a few measures, with a more or less enigmatic inscription in Latin above the melody. These compositions are called the riddle fugues (or sometimes, more appropriately, the riddle canons). The performer(s) is/are supposed to interpret the music as a multi-part piece (a piece with several intertwining melodies), while solving the "riddle". Some of these riddles have been explained to have more than one possible "solution", although nowadays most printed editions of the score give a single, more or less "standard" solution of the riddle, so that interpreters can just play, without having to worry about the Latin, or the riddle.
One of these riddle canons, "in augmentationem" (i.e. augmentation, the length of the notes gets longer), is inscribed "Notulis crescentibus crescat Fortuna Regis" (may the fortunes of the king increase like the length of the notes), while a modulating canon which ends a tone higher than it starts is inscribed "Ascendenteque Modulatione ascendat Gloria Regis" (as the modulation rises, so may the King's glory).

Canon per tonos (endlessly rising canon)

The canon per tonos (endlessly rising canon) pits a variant of the king’s theme against a two-voice canon at the fifth. However, it modulates and finishes one whole tone higher than it started out at. It thus has no final cadence.

Theological character
Among the theories about external sources of influence, Michael Marissen’s is the best-founded and the most plausible, drawing attention to the possibility of theological connotations. Marissen sees an incongruity between the official dedication to Frederick the Great and the effect of the music, which is often melancholy, even mournful. The trio sonata is a contrapuntal sonata da chiesa, whose style was at odds with Frederick’s secular tastes. The inscription Quaerendo invenietis, found over Canon No. 9, alludes to the Sermon on the Mount (“Seek and ye shall find”, Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9). The main title, Opfer (“offering”), makes it possible for the cycle to be viewed as an Offertory in the religious sense of the word.
In a recent study[6] Zoltán Göncz has pointed out, the authorial injunction to seek (Quaerendo invenietis) does not only relate to the riddle canons but to the six-part ricercar as well, whose archaic title also means to seek. There are several Biblical citations hidden in this movement, and their discovery is made especially difficult by various compositional maneuvers. The unique formal structure of the fugue provides a clue: certain anomalies and apparent inconsistencies point to external, nonmusical influences.
Among Bach's duties during his tenure at Leipzig (1723–50), was teaching Latin. Ursula Kirkendale argued for a close connection with the twelve-volume rhetorical manual Institutio Oratoria of the Roman orator Quintilian, whom Frederick the Great admired. Philologist and Rector of the Leipzig Thomasschule, Johann Matthias Gesner, for whom Bach composed a cantata in 1729, published a substantial Quintilian edition with a long footnote in Bach's honor.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BACH MUSIKALISCHES OPFER BWV1079(Complete)Gustav Leonhardt
Gustav Leonhardt(Cembalo solo und Leitung) Barthold Kuijken(Traversflöte) Sigiswald Kuijken(Barokvioline) Marie Leonhardt(Barokvioline) Wieland Kuijken(Viola da gamba) Robert Kohnen(Cembalo)
Bach: The musical offering, BWV 1079 | Jordi Savall
Johann Sebastian Bach: Musikalisches Opfer, BWV 1079

00:00:53 • Ricercar a 3

00:07:28 • Thematis regii elaborationes canonicae

• Canon perpetuus super thema regium
• Canon 2 a 2 violini in unisono
• Canon 1 a 2 cancrizans
• Canon 3 a 2 per motum contrarium
• Ricercar a 6
• Canon a 4 per aumentationem, contrario motu (a)

00:25:18 • Sonata sopr'il soggetto reale a traversa

• Largo
• Allegro
• Andante
• Allegro

00:42:59 • Thematis regii elaborationes canonicae

• Canon a 2 quaerondo invenietis (a)
• Canon 5 a 2 per tonos
• Canon a 2 quaerondo invenietis (b)
• Fuga canonica in epidiapente
• Canon a 2 per aumentationem, contrario motu (b)
• Canon perpetuus per giusti intervalli
• Canon a 4
• Ricercar a 6


01:07:24 • Orchestral suite no. 2 in B minor: Badinerie

• Pierre Hantai: harpsichord
• Marc Hantai: transverse flute
• Manfredo Kraemer: violin
• Riccardo Minasi: violin
• Bálazs Máté: cello
• Xavier Puertas: violone

Le Concert des Nations
Conducted by Jordi Savall

The Art of Fugue - 1748
The Art of Fugue (or The Art of the Fugue, original German: Die Kunst der Fuge), BWV 1080, is an incomplete work of unspecified instrumentation by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). Written in the last decade of his life, The Art of Fugue is the culmination of Bach's experimentation with monothematic instrumental works. It consists of 14 fugues and 4 canons, each using some variation of a single principal subject, and generally ordered by increasing complexity.
"The governing idea of the work", as Bach specialist Christoph Wolff put it, is "an exploration in depth of the contrapuntal possibilities inherent in a single musical subject."

The earliest extant source for the work is an autograph manuscript of the early 1740s, containing 12 fugues and 2 canons. The revised version was published in 1751, containing 14 fugues and 4 canons.
The order of the work's component pieces has been debated, especially as there are differences between the manuscript and the printed editions appearing immediately after Bach's death. Also musical reasons have been invoked to propose different orders for later publications and/or the execution of the work, e.g. by Wolfgang Graeser in 1927, who also published his own "completion" of the final Contrapunctus XIV.
The 1751 printed edition contained—apart from a high number of errors and other flaws—a four-part version of Contrapunctus XIII, arranged to be played on two keyboards (rectus BWV 1080/18,1 and inversus BWV 1080/18,2). It is however doubtful whether the printed indication "a 2 Clav.", and the fourth added voice, that is not mirrored according to Bach's usual practice, derive from him, or from his son(s) that supervised this first edition.
The engraving of the copper plates for the printed edition would however have started shortly before the composer's death, according to contemporary sources, but it is unlikely that Bach had any real supervision in that preparation of the printed edition, due to his illness at the time.
The first printed edition also includes an unrelated work as a kind of "encore", the chorale prelude Vor deinen Thron tret Ich hiermit (Herewith I come before Thy Throne), BWV 668a, which Bach is said to have dictated on his deathbed.
A 1742 fair copy manuscript contains Contrapuncti I–III, V–IX, and XI–XIII, plus the octave and augmented canons and an earlier version of Contrapunctus X.


Each of the canons and fugues use some variation of the principal subject in D minor:
In the 1751 printed edition, the various movements are roughly arranged by increasing order of sophistication of the contrapuntal devices used. The Arabic number in the title indicates the number of voices in the fugue, with the exception of the last one, where a 3 Soggetti means "with 3 subjects":
Simple fugues:
1. Contrapunctus I, and
2. Contrapunctus II: Simple monothematic 4-voice fugues on main theme, accompanied by a 'French' style dotted rhythm motif.
3. Contrapunctus III, and
4. Contrapunctus IV: Simple monothematic 4-voice fugues on inversion of main theme, i.e. the theme is "turned upside down":
Counter-fugues, in which a variation of the main subject is used in both regular and inverted form:
5. Contrapunctus V: Has many stretto entries, as do Contrapuncti VI and VII.
6. Contrapunctus VI, a 4 in Stylo Francese: This adds both forms of the theme in diminution (halving note lengths), with little rising and descending clusters of semiquavers in one voice answered or punctuated by similar groups in demisemiquavers in another, against sustained notes in the accompanying voices. The dotted rhythm, enhanced by these little rising and descending groups, suggests what is called "French style" in Bach's day, hence the name Stylo Francese.
7. Contrapunctus VII, a 4 per Augmentationem et Diminutionem: Uses augmented (doubling all note lengths) and diminished versions of the main subject and its inversion.

The two subjects of Contrapunctus IX. Excepting the first four entries of the eighth note subject the two always enter together, sometimes an octave apart as shown here, sometimes a twelfth (an octave plus a fifth) apart.
Double and triple fugues, with two and three subjects respectively:
8. Contrapunctus VIII, a 3: Triple fugue.
9. Contrapunctus IX, a 4 alla Duodecima: Double fugue
10. Contrapunctus X, a 4 alla Decima: Double fugue.
11. Contrapunctus XI, a 4: Triple fugue.
Mirror fugues, in which the complete score can be inverted without loss of musicality:
12. Contrapunctus XII, a 4: The rectus (normal) and inversus (upside-down) versions are generally played back to back.
13. Contrapunctus XIII, a 3: The second mirror fugue in 3 voices, also a counter-fugue.
Canons, labeled by interval and technique:
14. Canon per Augmentationem in Contrario Motu: Augmented canon in inverted motion.
15. Canon alla Ottava: Canon at the Octave. The two imitating voices are separated by an octave.
16. Canon alla Decima in Contrapunto alla Terza: Canon at the tenth, counterpoint at the third.
17. Canon alla Duodecima in Contrapunto alla Quinta: Canon at the twelfth, counterpoint at the fifth.
18. Fuga a 2 (rectus), and Alio modo Fuga a 2 (inversus)
19. Fuga a 4 Soggetti (Contrapunctus XIV): 4-voice triple, possibly quadruple, fugue, the third subject of which is based on the BACH motif, B♭ – A – C – B♮ ('H' in German letter notation).


Manuscript copies of the Art of Fugue, as well as the first printed edition, use open scoring, where each voice is written on its own staff. This has led to the assumption that the Art of Fugue was an intellectual exercise, meant to be studied and not heard. Some musicologists today, such as Gustav Leonhardt,[7] argue that the Art of Fugue was probably intended to be played on a keyboard instrument (and specifically the harpsichord).[8] Leonhardt's arguments included the following:
It was common practice in the 17th and early 18th centuries to publish keyboard pieces in open score, especially those that are contrapuntally complex. Examples include Frescobaldi's Fiori musicali (1635), Samuel Scheidt's Tabulatura Nova (1624), works by Johann Jakob Froberger (1616–1667), Franz Anton Maichelbeck (1702–1750), and others.
The range of none of the ensemble or orchestral instruments of the period corresponds to any of the ranges of the voices in The Art of Fugue. Furthermore, none of the melodic shapes that characterize Bach's ensemble writing are found in the work, and there is no basso continuo.
The fugue types used are reminiscent of the types in The Well-Tempered Clavier, rather than Bach's ensemble fugues; Leonhardt also shows an "optical" resemblance between the fugues of the two collections, and points out other stylistic similarities between them.
Finally, since the bass voice in The Art of Fugue occasionally rises above the tenor, and the tenor becomes the "real" bass, Leonhardt deduces that the bass part was not meant to be doubled at 16-foot pitch, thus eliminating the pipe organ as the intended instrument, leaving the harpsichord as the most logical choice.
However, opponents of Leonhardt's theory such as Reinhard Goebel argue that:
The Art of Fugue is not completely playable on a keyboard. Contrapunctus XII and XIII, for instance, cannot be played on a single keyboard without making awkward jumps or neglecting the main theme, especially on the keyboard instruments of Bach's day, such as the harpsichord or the early pianoforte, both of which lacked a sustain pedal. This is something Bach would never have allowed to happen.
The absence of the basso continuo is only logical since a fugue for string quartet wouldn't have one by default.
This leaves only two options, being either two keyboard instruments or a classical string quartet. Fact is that a lot of the Baroque chamber music was not intended for one single (type of) instrument and the performance depended on which instruments were ready at hand. The open score probably means that Bach didn't suggest any preference and that therefore the Art of Fugue can be performed by various ensembles, to personal taste.

The unfinished fugue

Contrapunctus XIV breaks off abruptly in the middle of the third section at bar 239. The autograph carries a note in the handwriting of Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach saying "Über dieser Fuge, wo der Name B A C H im Contrasubject angebracht worden, ist der Verfasser gestorben." ("At the point where the composer introduces the name BACH [for which the English notation would be B♭-A-C-B♮] in the countersubject to this fugue, the composer died.") However, modern scholarship disputes this version, in particular because the musical notes are indisputably in Bach's own hand, written in a time before his deteriorating vision led to erratic handwriting, probably 1748–1749.
Many scholars, including Gustav Nottebohm (1881), Wolff and Davitt Moroney, have argued that the piece was intended to be a quadruple fugue, with the opening theme of Contrapunctus I to be introduced as the fourth subject. The title Fuga a 3 soggetti, in Italian rather than Latin, was not given by the composer but by CPE Bach, and Bach's Obituary actually makes mention of "a draft for a fugue that was to contain four themes in four voices". The combination of all four themes would bring the entire work to a fitting climax. Wolff also suspected that Bach might have finished the fugue on a lost page, called "fragment X" by him, on which the composer attempted to work out the counterpoint between the four subjects.
A number of musicians and musicologists have conjectured completions of Contrapunctus XIV, notably music theoretician Hugo Riemann, musicologists Donald Tovey and Zoltán Göncz, organists Helmut Walcha, David Goode and Lionel Rogg, and Davitt Moroney. Ferruccio Busoni's Fantasia Contrappuntistica is based on Contrapunctus XIV, but is more a work by Busoni than by Bach.
In 2007, New Zealand organist and conductor Indra Hughes completed a doctoral thesis about the unfinished ending of Contrapunctus XIV, proposing that the work was left unfinished not because Bach died, but as a deliberate choice by Bach to encourage independent efforts at a completion.
Douglas Hofstadter's book Gödel, Escher, Bach discusses the unfinished fugue and Bach's supposed death during composition as a tongue-in-cheek illustration of Austrian logician Kurt Gödel's first incompleteness theorem. To be more specific, the idea in that theorem is that the very power of a "sufficiently powerful" formal mathematical system can be exploited to "undermine" the system, by leading to statements that assert such things as "I cannot be proven in this system". Because of this twisty kind of self-reference, such assertions are true but unprovable. In Hofstadter's discussion, Bach's great compositional talent is used as a metaphor for a "sufficiently powerful" formal system; however, Bach's insertion of his own name "in code" into the fugue is not, even metaphorically, a case of Gödelian self-reference; and Bach's failure to finish his self-referential fugue serves as a metaphor for the unprovability of the Gödelian assertion, and thus for the incompleteness of the formal system.
A book entitled "Bach: Essays on His Life and Music" includes an article about the unfinished fugue, stating that Bach never intended to write the rest of the fugue on the last sheet of music paper used for the fugue because of the unalignment of the bottom staves. It also says that because of the above-mentioned reason, Bach wrote the rest of the fugue on another sheet of music paper, called "fragment x" that would have completed, or almost completed, the fugue. However, even if there is a fragment x, it has been lost.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bach - The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 [complete on Organ]

0:00 - Contrapunctus I
3:12 - Contrapunctus II
6:24 - Contrapunctus III
9:20 - Contrapunctus IV
14:38 - Contrapunctus V
17:55 - Contrapunctus VI in Stylo Francese
22:04 - Contrapunctus VII per Augmentationem et Diminutionem
26:04 - Contrapunctus VIII
32:06 - Contrapunctus IX alla Duodecima
35:06 - Contrapunctus X alla Decima
39:30 - Contrapunctus XI Triple fugue
46:41 - Canone all'Ottava
49:35 - Canone alla Duodecima in Contrapunto alla Quinta
51:52 - Canone alla Decima in Contrapunto alla Terza
56:36 - Canone per Augmentationem in Contrario Motu
1:01:27 - Contrapunctus XIII rectus
1:03:59 - Contrapunctus XIII inversus
1:06:57 - Contrapunctus XII rectus
1:09:50 - Contrapunctus XII inversus

Herbert Tachezi, organ

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