Christe, du Lamm Gottes (Chorale)

Bach probably composed the cantata DU WAHRER GOTT UND DAVIDS SOHN (BWV 23) in Köthen between 1717 and 1723, but it was revised to be included as Bach’s second test piece (with “Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe”, BWV 22) for the position of Thomaskantor in Leipzig. The work was performed there on 7 February 1723 (after the sermon), and performed again on 20 February 1724.

The chorale was probably not part of the Köthen cantata, but is a surviving part of an otherwise lost passion written by Bach in Weimar. One can understand why Bach wanted to perform this impressive piece during his audition !

The chorale also concluded his 1725 revision of the St. John Passion.

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Your favourite Scarlatti sonata

If you like Bach (which I assume since you are here 😊), you may like Scarlatti as well? Both were born in the same miraculous year of 1685, which also saw the birth of George Frideric Handel.

Domenico Scarlatti was born in Italy but spent the bulk of his career in Portugal and Spain. Today he is mostly know from his more than 500 short keyboard pieces named sonatas. Most are single movements, normally in two sections. Scarlatti triumphed over the heavy Baroque style with his characterful themes, natural cantabile melodies, and dance-like movements. He is certainly one of music history’s great keyboard composers, and an early keyboard virtuoso as well.

I have made a number of videos combining the recording of a sonata with the score. Click here for the full playlist.

You may have a personal favourite among the sonatas which I haven’t done yet? I can do that – check out this page!

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6 January 1724

Bach’s cantata “Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen” (They will all come forth out of Sheba) written for Epiphany 1724 (6 January) contains one of his most fabulous introductory choruses. The horns call all the people together to praise the newborn, not just the 3 kings. The piece has an oriental spicy sound that smells of cardamom, nutmeg and candles !

The cantata concluded his first Christmas season as Thomaskantor in Leipzig which had been celebrated with five cantatas, four of them new compositions, the Magnificat and a new Sanctus (ref. my previous post).

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Christmas day, 297 years ago !

This brilliant choral piece by Bach, a “Sanctus” not well-known, had it’s first performance on Christmas Day in 1723, which was Bach’s first year as St. Thomas cantor and musical director in Leipzig. During the same service, the congregation could hear Bach’s original Christmas version of his Magnificat, as well as his cantata ‘Christen, ätzet diesen Tag’. Wish I was there…

A very merry and healthy Christmas and a happy new year
I wish to all visitors of this site !

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Happy New Year !

Well, in the context of the church year, as today is the First Sunday of Advent !

2 December 1714 saw the performance in Weimar of Bach’s cantata “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” (BWV 61), a master work of his youth. The chorale was the most important hymn for Advent through centuries, the text being paraphrased by Martin Luther from Latin – Bach used it on several occasions.

BWV 61 opens with a splendid chorale fantasy in the style of a French overture, a musical form pioneered by Jean-Baptiste Lully at the French court. It is famous for it’s slow introduction with dotted rhythm, followed by a lively movement in fugato style.

Bach here greets a different King !

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Michael Maul on Bach in Potsdam

As a follow up on the theme of Bach and Frederick the Great, I have just uploaded this documentary with English (and German) subtitles.

Michael Maul, German musicologist and artistic director of the Bach Festival in Leipzig, grabs his violin and visits Sanssouci Castle in Potsdam, elaborating on the visit of the two.

Link to the Bach Festival in Leipzig. The next festival is scheduled for June next year, hopefully this will turn into reality, time will tell…

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Bach in movies and tv series

The great interest in Bach’s music and life has of course resulted in the production of several movies and tv series exploring those items.

As an example, this is a clip from the 2003 movie named “Mein Name ist Bach” (My Name is Bach) which was a French/German/Swiss collaboration. The scene describes the meeting between Bach and the Prussian King Frederick the Great in May 1747:

This video is a 2004 tv production named “Der liebe Gott der Musik” (The Beloved God of Music) which was produced by Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (Central German Broadcasting, MDR):

These and other movies and excerpts from movies or tv series you will find in this playlist.

See a presentation of a Bach autograph score preserved in Copenhagen !

Gabriel Hollander’s Tea Time trilogy

Gabriel Hollander has completed his series of 3 videos, dealing with Bach’s motet Der Gerechte kommt um. He describes in an engaging and humorous way the huge impact this motet has made on him, and he is exploring why. I can really recommend that you check out the series, which you can find here.

The motet is an arrangement (most probably by Bach) of an older a cappella motet Tristis est anima mea, attributed to Johann Kuhnau, the predecessor of Bach as Cantor at St. Thomas in Leipzig. It is also very dear to me, and some years ago I uploaded 2 videos with it. The one with Monteverdi Choir is here and the one with Coro & Consort Costanzo Porta here. In both videos you can follow the score as the music unfolds.

More about my YouTube channel here.

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Bach Marathon in Leipzig

The annually Bach Festival in Leipzig, due to have started yesterday, was unfortunately cancelled due to Covid-19 – I had actually planned to go there…

Instead, a Bach Marathon will be streamed on YouTube and Facebook the next 2 weekends! The opening concert is Saturday 13 June at 2.30 pm, featuring the Thomanerchor and Thomaskantor Gotthold Schwarz.

The Bach Marathon website is here. Bach beats corona! 😊

Rick Beato discusses here what makes Bach so great !

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