I choose the composer Johann Sebastian Bach as known as simply “Bach”. Bach was born in Thuringia, Germany on March 31st, 1685 to a family of musicians. By the age of 10 years old Bach was an orphan and was taken in by his older brother, Johann Christoph. Bach grew up in the Lutheran Christian faith which greatly influenced his works. He had a great soprano voice, a voice that got him into St.
Michael’s School in Luneburg, Germany. After his arrival at the school his voice changed forcing him to focus on his instrumental talents. He began playing the violin and harpsichord. After schooling Johann Sebastian got his first job in 1703 at the court of Duke Johann Ernst of Weimar as a musician.
Bach filled in for organist occasionally but mostly was a violinist for the court. He later became the organist and musical instructor of the New Church of Arnstadt due to his exceptional skill in the art. Bach was described by church members as being very independent and arrogant because he too often scolded his students. While in this position he disappeared for a few months in 1705 to hear the famous organist, Dietrich Buxtehude. Bach left his position at Arnstadt for a position at Church of St. Blaise in Mühlhausen. At his newly appointed position he seemed to clash musically with the current pastor of the church. The pastor was trying to have a more simple sound in the church while Bach wanted to create and play more complex arrangements.
One of Bach’s most popular pieces, Actus Tragicus, was written during this time. Only a year of working this position in Mühlhausen he returned to work for the court of Wilhelm Ernst in Weimar. Many of Johann Sebastian Bach’s compositions were written during this period in his life. While at this job Bach was offered a career with Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen in 1717.
But because the Duke of Weimar was so fond of Bach he temporarily imprisoned him so he wouldn’t leave his position. Bach was later released and allowed to accept the position in Cöthen. His faith was such a large part of his music Bach would often sign the initials I.N.J.,meaning In Nomine Jesu, on his music.
When the Prince got married his new wife discouraged his ravishing love of music. Because of this discouragement of music the Prince had depleted his orchestra by 1723. Bach than began looking for new work. After searching for a new job J.
S. Bach found work at St. Thomas Church as a teacher and organist. One of his most famous pieces,”Passion According to St. Matthew”, was written during this time. This composition retells the story told in chapters 26 and 27 in the Gospel of Matthew. In 1749 Bach had surgery on his eyes to try and correct his lost eyesight but the surgery left him completely blind.
In 1750 he suffered a stroke and on July 28th he passed away in Leipzig. The first piece I choose of Johann Sebastian Bach’s is “Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir” (“Lord God we praise you”). I choose this piece because it almost sounds like the singers are telling a story because of the emotion of their voices and the instrumental accompaniment. This is sung as a SATB 4-part chorus.
Very prominent instruments in this composition is the violin, trumpets and oboes; although it does include other instruments such as the timpani, flute, and viola. This piece is very fast paced and has a very upbeat tone which matches the tone of the translated lyrics. Bach wrote this piece to introduce the Feast for Michael and All Angels in 1723. There is a very beautiful version of this piece sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Because Bach is German almost all of his choral pieces are written in German so looking at a translation while listening to the song is helpful. Another piece I choose is a famous piece of Bach’s is “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben” (“Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life”). I choose this composition because it is one of Bach’s more famous works.
The piece has an upbeat but slower tone than the previous song. The song slows down but keeps an upbeat sound throughout the entire composition making this song peaceful and almost positive throughout its entirety. This composition was written for the Feast of Visitation of Mary and features instruments including the violin, bassoon, and trumpet.
Accompanying these instruments is a mixed choir of SATB and was originally sang in German but was later translated into English. The final composition of Bach’s that I choose is “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden” (“O Sacred Head Now Wounded”). I choose this piece because its a change of pace from the other two compositions I choose. This work makes me think of angels but not necessarily something happy, just something angelic. This piece is typically sung in SATB. Some instruments in this piece are the oboe, flute, violin, and the viola.
This composition is very slow but not necessarily sad. J.S.
Bach wrote this to tell the Passion story. Because Bach is German the song lyrics are originally in German but have been translated to English. The music I choose is very calming but also tells a story with it. A lot of J.S. Bach’s compositions sound very similar. This may be due to the fact that this was composed over 250 years ago.
All of the pieces were accompanied by an orchestra and non were acapella. Bach doesn’t have a website he’s dead. Works Cited”Bach Cantata Translations.” Emmanuel Music – Bach Cantata BWV 130 – Translation, www.emmanuelmusic.
org/notes_translations/translations_cantata/t_bwv130.htm.MormonTabChoir. “Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir – Mormon Tabernacle Choir.” YouTube, YouTube, 18 Oct.
2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SM86HS45WY.”Cantata BWV 130 Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir.” Cantata BWV 130 – Details & Discography Part1: Complete Recordings, www.
bach-cantatas.com/BWV130.htm.”Musical Context of Bach Cantatas Motets & Chorales for Feast of St. Michael and All Angels.” Musical Context of Bach Cantatas: Motets & Chorales for Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, www.bach-cantatas.
com/LCY/M-Michael.htm.silvertone953. “Bach Matthew Passion Chorale Settings – O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden.” YouTube, YouTube, 21 Mar. 2011, www.youtube.
com/watch?time_continue=38=MY-aowxVXfI”O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden Text and Translation of Chorale.” Chorale: O Haupt voll Blut ind Wunden – Text & Translation, www.bach-cantatas.
com/Texts/Chorale071-Eng3.htm.Huizenga, Tom. “A Visitor’s Guide To Bach’s ‘St.
Matthew Passion’.” NPR, NPR, 17 Apr. 2014, www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2014/04/17/298773771/a-visitors-guide-to-bachs-st-matthew-passion.
“St Matthew Passion structure.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Oct. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Matthew_Passion_structure#Musical_structure.feneco2. “J.
S. Bach – Choral from Cantata No.147.” YouTube, YouTube, 19 Oct. 2009, www.
youtube.com/watch?v=TNnz9ngsWcE.”Cantata BWV 147 Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben.” Cantata BWV 147 – Details & Discography Part 1: Complete Recordings, www.bach-cantatas.
com/BWV147.htm.”Bach Cantata Translations.” Emmanuel Music – Bach Cantata BWV 147 – Translation, emmanuelmusic.org/notes_translations/translations_cantata/t_bwv147.htm.”Johann Sebastian Bach.” Biography.
com, A Networks Television, 28 Apr. 2017, www.biography.com/people/johann-sebastian-bach-9194289.