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Bach & Other Composers

Bach & Other Composers
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

NY Times: Ten Top Composers

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 18, 2011):
The NY Times is running a rather lame contest for the Top Ten Composers.
Here's the video chat about Bach. It's remarkable how the old Romantic approach to Bach still persists even among critics who should know better: Top 10 Composers: J.S. Bach (NY Times)

I'm annoyed that there is not a single composer before Bach!

Grrrrrrr...

Katherine Ware wrote (January 18, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] Anthony Tommasini has narrowed the field so that no one before Bach could be considered. A highly personal contest. I am reminded of Dave Barry's Bad Song Survey where he said the only songs included were popular ones he grew up listening to. Here are Tommasini's rules:

"But first I have to narrow the scope, so here are the ground rules:

I am focusing on Western classical music. There are compelling arguments against honoring this classification. Still, giants like George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Stephen Sondheim are outside my purview here. And on the assumption that we are too close to living composers to assess their place and their impact, I am eliminating them from consideration.

Finally, I am focusing on the eras since the late Baroque. You could make a good case for Josquin or Monteverdi, but I won't. The traditions and styles were so different back then as to have been almost another art form. I'm looking roughly at the era an undergraduate survey of Western civilization might define as modern history."

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 18, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
<> < I'm annoyed that there is not a single composer before Bach! >
Really, that's so annoying. I hope you left some feedback on the website.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 18, 2011):
Katherine Ware wrote:
< Finally, I am focusing on the eras since the late Baroque. You could make a good case for Josquin or Monteverdi, but I won't. The traditions and styles were so different back then as to have been almost another art form. I'm looking roughly at the era an undergraduate survey of Western civilization might define as modern history." >
rolls eyes at the music snob slash critic.

Yeah, I'm leaving feed-back.

Elizabeth Schwimmer wrote (January 18, 2011):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] For some strange reason, I cannot get this link.
Is it correct?
Thanks,

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 18, 2011):
[To Elizabeth Schwimmer] Yahoo mail truncates the URL.

I've created a tiny url for you: http://tiny.cc/7xxjn

That should take you to the NY Times article Doug posted.

Katherine Ware wrote (January 18, 2011):
Try this link to the beginning of the contest - the links to the cideos are on that page: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/arts/music/09composers.html?_r=1

Elizabeth Schwimmer wrote (January 18, 2011):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Thanks Kim, got it now!

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 18, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] How to save a newspaper? Initiate top-ten competitions! My list of folks who are ineligible for the NY Times list because they are still alive (OK, a few recently deceased). Rather like fast-track Sainthood?

(1) Elliot Carter, producing much of his best work after age 90, and still at it.

(2) Olivier Messiaen, the ultimate Christian?

(3) Witold Lutoslawski, the ultimate Polish dude?

(4) Yehudi Wyner, because he is always happy to sign my programs, and hit on my spouse.

(5) Andrew Imbrie, just becasue.

(6) John Harbison, founder of Bostons Cantata Singers, dedicated to performance of Bach cantatas, and saving this post from going OT.

(7) Ellen Taffe Zwillich, holding forth for the ladies.

I am writing off the top of my head, so reserving a few spots. One thing these folks all have in common: you could meet them on a Boston street corner or concert lobby, by being in the right place at the right time. Quite a few Pulitzer Prizes sprinkled around, as well, including ETZ.

Stephen Benson wrote (January 19, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Quite a few Pulitzer Prizes sprinkled around, as well, including ETZ. >
The first woman composer to be awarded the prize. And don't you just love her take on the 18th century in her Concerto Grosso 1985, written in honor of Handel's 300th B-day?

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 19, 2011):
[To Stephen Benson] Nice to hear from old friends. Thanks for pointing out that her Pulitzer was a first for the ladies. Not to drift away from Bach, but are there any others?

NY Times Top Ten Contest: Bach is #1

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 23, 2011):
I don't know why I read these things: they just get my blood-pressure up.
You'd never know that there has been 50 years of scholarship -- nothing has touched the Romantic attitudes of critics: NY Times Article

And don't get me started on the absence of all pre-Bach composers!

Grrrrrr ....

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 23, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] Thanks for providing the link, which works fine for me (not always the case with NYTimes).

I am surprised that Bartok outranks Handel and Haydn these days, in a popular vote. Difficult to attribute that to the Romantic attitudes of critics?

Claudio Di Veroli wrote (January 23, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] Let's see the positive side: at least they put Bach there ... they could have selected Bono.

Claudio Di Veroli wrote (January 23, 2011):
I apologise to everybody, should have read it in its entirety. Found incredible things. I certainly love the music of Chopin, to whom decades ago I devoted nine years of practice on the piano. Yet I cannot see on which
grounds one could possibly assert that

"Chopin, the most original genius of the 19th century,...".

The whole thing is just not worth reading.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 24, 2011):
Claudio Di Veroli wrote:
<I apologise to everybody, should have read it in its entirety. >
Likewise. I did not see the text, and I assumed that the top ten list at the head of the page was the result of reader poll, not the critics opinion.

< The whole thing is just not worth reading. >
Likewise. It seems especially rude to invite reader input, and then insult a vote for Albinoni. I enjoyed this correction, though!

<A picture caption on Page 19 this weekend with the continuation of a cover article about the 10 greatest classical composers misspells the given name of Verdi. He was Giuseppe Verdi, not Guiseppe.> (end quote)

My father always loved to point out that he was simply Joe Green to his friends.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 24, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< A picture caption on Page 19 this weekend with the continuation of a cover article about the 10 greatest classical composers misspells the given name of Verdi. He was Giuseppe Verdi, not Guiseppe. (end quote)
My father always loved to point out that he was simply Joe Green to his friends. >
And John S. Brook down at the pub.

Handel lived on Brook Street in London.

Mike Mannix wrote (February 8, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I don't know why I read these things: they just get my blood-pressure up.
You'd never know that there has been years of scholarship -- nothing has touched the Romantic attitudes of critics:
NY Times Article
And don't get me started on the absence of all pre-Bach composers!
Grrrrrr .... >
Someone should organise a 'greatest composer' contest in which the entries are exclusively drawn fro members of the Bach family. J.S. would be exempt, but Telemann's entry would be valid on account of his godfathership of C. Ph. E.

Polychoral Perversity

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 15, 2011):
Take a listen to this site which has one voice mutli-tracking all the voices of elaborate polyphonic motets. Scroll down to to the Lotti 8-voice "Crucifixus" which Bach's choir sang.
http://choraltracks.com/

Top 10 Composers in The New York Times

Ewlizabeth Schwimmer wrote (February 19, 2011):
Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Eul6aRdDK4

Bach & the Neapolitan Oratorio?

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 26, 2011):
While searching the library shelf for a 16th century Spanish composer, I ran across a very interesting score of a 17th century Neapolitan Passion oratorio.

Francesco Provenzale:
"Dialogo a 5 voci con violini per la Passione" (1686)

1. Aria: "Genuflessa al duro legno" - St. John (Soprano)
2. Aria: "Mio diletto, mio fattore" - Virgin Mary (Soprano)
3. Duet: "Angioleti di la su" - Other Disciples (?) (Alto & Tenor)
4. Duet: "Che strano oggetto e questo" - Angels 1&2 (Sopranos 1&2)
5. Aria (Duet): "Vilpeso Amore ignoto" - Angels 1&2 (Sopranos 1&2)
6. Duet: "Grand'amore, Gran pieta" - Angels 1&2 (Sopranos 1&2)
7. Ritornello
8. Aria: "Oh perfido core" - Other Disciple ?(Alto)
9. Aria: "Ferito mio Bene" - Virgin Mary (Soprano)
10. "Deh consolati" - St. John (Soprano)
11. Recitative & Aria: "Tutte e ver" - Virgin Mary (Soprano)
12. Aria: "Che dolore, che tormento" - A Disciple (Soprano)
13. Aria: "Deh, tornatemi" - Virgin Mary (Soprano)
14. Chorus: "Deh pingi, oh peccatore"

The literary genre reminded me of two later works: Handel's "La Resurresione" and Bach's Easter Oratorio. All of them present a scene with biblical characters which is not recorded in the scriptural narratives, but is rather an "off-stage" conversation which avoids the biblical texts and gives the characters poetic lyrics of a moralising type. The figure of Christ never appears.

The rather brief scholarly introduction places this early work in a genre of Neapolitan "dialogues" and "oratorios" of which one of the earliest examples is Luigi Rossi's "Oratorio per la Settimana Santa". The works were sung not in churches but in colleges, religious houses, and noble palaces. Handel's oratorio was commissioned for the latter.

Although this chamber-scale music is very different from Bach's (the five singers rotate through the roles), the similarity of the libretto to the Easter Oratorio is quite striking. In the dialogues with the Virgin Mary, I was even reminded of "Nun ist mein Jesus" in the Matthew Passion (BWV 244) where the soloists comment on the arrest of Christ from a rhetorical and dramatic distance.

Is Bach an inheritor of this kind of Neapolitan tradition? Where were the influences on the libretto of the Easter Oratorio?

William Hoffman wrote (May 26, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] Antonio Caldara (Magnificat influenced Bach):
La Passione di Gesu Cristo (Libretto Metastasio) c.1717
Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo (c.1700)

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 26, 2011):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Antonio Caldara (Magnificat influenced Bach):
La Passione di Gesu Cristo (Libretto Metastasio) c.1717
Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo (c.1700) >
Do we know if these Italian works were performed in Dresden?

William Hoffman wrote (May 26, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] In all likelihood. Bach's Caldara Magificat source probably was the Dresden Library altho Augustus II and III favored opera, to the frustration of Bach's great friend Zelenka. That library also held the Schütz and Peranda Passion cycle.

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 26, 2011):
[To William Hoffman] The Italian Catholic oratorios were notable as they gave the biblical characters vernacular speeches, but not scriptural quotations -- that was probably deemed too Protestant. Are there any examples in Dresden of these Italianate oratorios in German? If so, the link to the Easter Oratorio
would be very strong.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 26, 2011):
William Hoffman wrote:
< In all likelihood. Bach's Caldara Magificat source probably was the Dresden Library >
I have become accustomed to more accurate attributions of sources from Will. Am I missing something here?

< Bach's great friend Zelenka. >
Same comment, more or less. Can we substantiate that friendship? If so, are there specific musical comparisons?

Evan Cortens wrote (May 26, 2011):
[To Ed Myskowski] I don't have a page number handy, but I know that Robert Marshall, in "Bach the Progressive", has written about the Bach/Zelenka connection.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 26, 2011):
[To Evan Cortens] Yep, three Zelenka Mass settings were in C.P.E. Bach's library (they no doubt originated from J.S.), there was an "Amen" chorus from one of Zelenka's Magnificat, ZWV 108, in W.F.'s hand (on Leipzig paper I think).

Dresden's music library has a lot of digital reproductions of music and there are databases online: http://digital.slub-dresden.de/en/sammlungen/

William Hoffman wrote (May 26, 2011):
[To Ed Myskowski] Source: Robin A. Leaver, program notes, "101st Bethlehem Bach Festival, 2008," in conjunction with American Bach Society Biennial Meeting, "Bach and the Oratorio Tradition."
Settiing of "Misereri," Ps. 51/50, ZWV 57, "by Bach's Dresden colleague, Jan Dismas Zelenka," "Zelenka was a church music composer to the Dresden Court who seems to have encouraged Bach to apply for a court title in 1733." "After 1736, when Bach was appointed honorary Dresden Court Composer, Zelenka and Bach were named together as church music composers in Dresden." "Both composers, Zelenka and Bach, thought highly of Frescobaldi's work," <Fiori Musicale>.

Also, George B. Stauffer, May 9 dinner address on Zelenka's "Misereri," on use of "stile misto" (mixed stile, Renaissance motet and Neopolitan opera aria, soprano "Gloria Patri" ) and contrafaction, also found in Bach's <Mass in B Minor (BWV 232)> (my notes).

Silvius Leopold Weiss [Beginners Bach]

Jack Botelho wrote (November 23, 2011):
An almost exact contemporary of J.S. Bach, SL Weiss worked much of his life in Dresden and had at least one meeting with Bach. Weiss was a prolific composer but only for the lute, which by the baroque period had acquired a deeper bass than what it had in the sixteenth century. A genius musician and composer, his work spans the most mainstream of classical music and his best compositions push aside all those of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven into the 'rococco'.

Sting & Bach

Aryeh Orowrote (November 23, 2011):
Thomas Braatz wrote to me:
Perhaps you have already seen this or others have called your attention to this:
Time Magazine, vol. 178, no. 20 | 2011 (November 21, 2011) p. 64
Singer, activist and former Police man Sting is 60.
"Sting plays a little Bach on his guitar every day: 'He is the great teacher,' says the singer."

Clark Long wrote (November 23, 2011):
[To Aryeh Oron] I'm sorry to say this, but I always dislike when people say of Bach - "He is a great teacher" (or in this case, "THE great teacher"). It's as if his music only exists to instruct. It seems that many "popular" musicians (and classical, also) treat Bach's music as a tool; not to be heard or played as an artistic expression as much as an instructional piece. I find this to be a misrepresentation of his works!

It's very popular these days to, 'play a little Bach everyday'. However, I'm really curious to know the musicians out there like to, 'listen to Bach everyday'. Although I agree with sting that Bach's music is the best teaching tool available; I'd like to hear Sting say, "I play a little Bach on my guitar everyday... because it's incredible and I love it!"

Uri Golomb wrote (November 23, 2011):
[To Clark Long] I understand the sentiment. However, I do recall hearing Sting speak of Bach in terms of pleasure and enjoyment, not just instruction. What did bother me at the time is that he spoke primarily about the architecture of Bach's music – about its complex structures and its many layers. This is indeed an important facet of Bach's music, but I have a problem with this image of "Bach the Mathematician": it reveals a lot about Bach, but also obscures a lot. Bach is, often, powerfully expressive – and complexity and emotional intensity often go together in his music. He's not expressive despite his complexity; rather, he uses harmonic and polyphonic complexity to create a sense of inner dialogue and tension, which makes his music all the more intense.

Now bear in mind that I don't have Sting's text in front of me; I might be distorting his view of Bach. But image I mention here, which ignores or downplays Bach's expression of human emotions, is all too prevalent – regardless of whether Sting, specifically, adheres to it.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (November 23, 2011):
[To Uri Golomb] Geez:

Lighten up people. He made a simple statement during an interview. He wasn't writing a dissertation. No wonder people say people that love classical music come across as pedantic snobs. When you read these sort of comments, you have to agree completely.

Adam wrote (November 23, 2011):
For me - a great admirer of Sting's artistic creative output - this is just one more (but a really strong one) confirmation of the thesis that truly great artists (not only musicians of course) turn for their inspiration to ABSOLUTE masters of the art - and such is J. S. Bach in this case...

Perhaps it is worth recalling the trip of Mozart to Germany in 1790 (so not very long before his final departing from this world) - if I remember correctly - and to Leipzig in particular; and his immediate and spontaneous reaction after listening to "Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied" (BWV 225) under direction of Johann Friedrich Doles, the then Thomaskantor: he asked for the motet's score and remarked: "How interesting it is that one can always learn something new and valuable". One genius praising another - absolutely not for the sake of praise itself but with a deep appreciation of the very quality of the musical matter that was left for the coming generations...

In an interview made some year ago for a Polish musical magazine (devoted rather to non-classical genres), Sting's great friend and - at least during some time of his career - leading guitarist, Dominic Miller said that his most direct and important inspiration for composing (or inventing - for those who do not grant right to non-classical artists to use the former term) the core guitar riff (line, pattern) in "Shape of My Heart" - one of Sting's "fame-building" songs (and for me, personally, also one of his best achievements) - came from intensive listening to the works of ... - yes, Frederic Chopin :-) And specifically, not from one particular opus, say Nocturne in C minor, op.48/1 (personally, my favourite), but rather from the entire complexity of Chopinian melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, sonoric etc. patterns. For me, as a Pole and a lover of Chopin's oeuvre (he's just next to Bach in my musical pantheon; N.B. I would very much welcome exploring the topic of Bach-on-Chopin influence on this forum some time in the future :-)) there could hardly be any more spirit-rising confession from a world-top guitar player... :-)

Greetings from Chojnów (Lower Silesia region), Poland

Julian Mincham wrote (November 23, 2011):
Adam wrote:
< - leading guitarist, Dominic Miller said that his most direct and important inspiration for composing (or inventing - for those who do not grant right to non-classical artists to use the former term) the core guitar riff (line, pattern) in "Shape of My Heart" - one of Sting's "fame-building" songs (and for me, personally, also one of his best achievements) - came from intensive listening to the works of ... - yes, Frederic Chopin :-) And specifically, not from one particular opus, say Nocturne in C minor, op.48/1 (personally, my favourite), but rather from the entire complexity of Chopinian melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, sonoric etc. patterns. For me, as a Pole and a lover of Chopin's oeuvre (he's just next to Bach in my musical pantheon; N.B. I would very much welcome exploring the topic of Bach-on-Chopin influence on this forum some time in the future :-)) there could hardly be any more spirit-rising confession from a world-top guitar player... :-)
Greetings from Chojnów (Lower Silesia region), Poland >
That is very timely.Recent research in Eastern Europe has turned up a copy of the 48 preludes and fugues which Chopin owned and annotated for his students---also letters which give clear evidence of his interest in and use of Bach's music.A paper written by the Polish academic Szymon Paczkowski (I hope I got that right) was recently delivered on this subject at the Bach Network UK conference in Edinburgh, Scotland earlier this year.This article will soon be published in the BNUK peer reviewed journal (google BNUK to keep in touch.) It is fascinating because for years the general belief was that Mendelssohn was the main one of the early Romantic composers with a love and knowledge of Bach's music. it seems that this was not the case.

Incidentally, another reason for keeping in touch with the BNUK website is that in 2013 it is likely that its annual conference will be held in Warsaw. I hope to be in attendance.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 23, 2011):
Sting & Bach [and Chopin]

Adam wrote:
< N.B. I would very much welcome exploring the topic of Bach-on-Chopin influence on this forum >some time in the future :-) >
This is very much on topic, there is a section of the BCW archives devoted to Bach in relation to other composers.

Marc-André Hamelin played the Chopin Preludes, Op. 28, in my neighborhood this past summer, and in an associated radio interview, noted the structural relationship (and difference) compared to Bachs WTC. The Chopin Preludes include all 24 major and minor keys, but Chopin chose to arrange them according to the circle of fifths.

Adam wrote (November 26, 2011):
[To Julian Mincham] There's a story - very often quoted in most Chopin's biographies - that his favourite way of "warming up" (I'm using the double quoutes here deliberately: it was rather a sort of "seeking inspiration" than a purely technical warm up - since he hardly needed the latter :-)) before a performance for larger audiences (as in the Salle Pleyel for instance; and it is also quite well known that he generally disliked large-scale events and if nonetheless he was forced to give such a recital - e.g. on purely material grounds he became more nervous and stage-frighted than usually, so he needed that kind of spiritual calming down pretty much) - was playing one of Bach's '48' (WTC) - instead of, say, his own or one of his so famous contemporaries' works.

One of Chopin's students once asked him (during a piano lesson) how it was possible for him to play all Bach's preludes and fugues just from memory (by heart :-)). He smiled and answered that "one can never forget SUCH music". I think that quoting this is by far the simplest way of illustrating the greatest Polish composer's attitude towards the music of the Thomaskantor.

Greetings from Poland,

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 26, 2011):
The Polish Bach

Adam wrote:
< I think that quoting this is by far the simplest way of illustrating the greatest Polish composer's attitude towards the music of the Thomaskantor. >
Augustus of Saxony was also King of Poland. Does that make Bach an Honorary Pole?

Julian Mincham wrote (November 26, 2011):
Adam wrote:
<< I think that quoting this is by far the simplest way of illustrating the greatest Polish composer's attitude towards the music of the Thomaskantor. >>
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Augustus of Saxony was also King of Poland. Does that make Bach an Honorary Pole? >
Do you mean Augustus the Strong (who was supposed to have fathered over 300 children) or his son, nicknamed Augustus the Fat?

There are connections with Bach, particularly through BWV 215.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 26, 2011):
Bach appears to have had particular esteem for his hard-won honor: <Polish royal and Saxon electoral court composer>, which appears on the title page page of published works, including the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988).

Julian Mincham wrote (November 26, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Bach appears to have had particular esteem for his hard-won honor: <Polish royal and Saxon electoral court composer>, which appears on the title page page of published works, including the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988). >

He didn't seem to suck up to a lot of people--but i guess with Kings, dukes and princes you had to make some effort in those days!

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 26, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< He didn't seem to suck up to a lot of people--but i guess with Kings, dukes and princes you had to make some effort in those days! >
The Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) was intended for the Catholic Chapel Royal in Dresden; perhaps it should be called "The Polish Mass.". The present title is an invention of the 19th century.'

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (November 26, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) was intended for the Catholic Chapel Royal in Dresden; perhaps it should be called "The Polish Mass.". The present title is an invention of the 19th century.' >
Augustus III cared little for Poland, rarely visited it, and was only made King by the intervention of Russian troops. Augustus was also the king of Ruthenia (i.e. Galicia), Prussia, Masovia, Samogitia, Kiev, Volhynia, Podolia, Podlaskie, Livonia, Smolensk, Severia, Chernihiv. So why not the Galician Mass? Or better yet, Masovian Mass? The onomatopoeia would be great for radio broadcast announcers ;)

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 26, 2011):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Augustus III cared little for Poland, rarely visited it, and was only made King by the intervention of Russian troops. Augustus was also the king of Ruthenia (i.e. Galicia), So why not the Galician Mass? >
Box office clerk:

"I'm sorry, madam, you've bought tickets to the Galician Mass not Glagolitic Mass."

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 27, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Marc-André Hamelin played the Chopin Preludes, Op. 28, in my neighborhood this past summer, and in an associated radio interview, noted the structural relationship (and difference) compared to Bachs WTC. The Chopin Preludes include all 24 major and minor keys, but Chopin chose to arrange them according to the circle of fifths. >
Marc-André Hamelin did play at Rockport in 2011, but he did not play the Chopin Preludes, that was Garrick Ohlsson the previous year. Mr. Hamelin did discuss on radio the relation among Bach, Chopin, and his own composition, Etudes in 12 minor keys. Sorry for confusing these events in my prior post.

Mike Bourn wrote (December 2, 2011):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Lighten up people. He made a simple statement during an interview. He wasn't writing a dissertation. No wonder people say people that love classical music come across as pedantic snobs. When you read these sort of comments, you have to agree completely.>
Outstanding point and well stated, Kim! On the other hand, if it wasn't for pedantic snobbery we would have much to talk about in this forum... haha... everybody knows that the real point of discussion Bach is to engage in turgid discussions on tempo! Does anyone have data on Sting's tempo preferences?!?!

Just kidding around. I don't post here often, but enjoy following the discussion and knowing that so many others share the same passion. From the youtube links, we know that some of you cats can really play too!

G0-to Composers

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 29, 2013):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Apparently Fasch was the court's "go-to" composer in the 1740s and 1750s. Unfortunately, none of the music or the cantata text books survive. >
I've always been intrigued by the chain of command in a commission for a princely or ecclesiastical court. I doubt that the cute little scene between Mozart, the Emperor and his court officials in "Amadeus" is very realistic. Is there any documentation of how Fasch and Bach were contacted and by whom?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 29, 2013):
[To Douglas Cowling] Between 1740 and 1754, Köthen commissioned 25 serenatas from J.F. Fasch (for whatever reason, Fasch sent one or two to Darmstadt, where the possibility of performance was zero). I don't know the specifics the mechanics of how these commissions were worked out, but usually a court secretary would handle the physical letter writing I suppose, at the ruler's request. Köthen was only 30 minutes away; and the two ruling families were well acquainted. The musicians *singers and vocalists( at the two courts would swap out gigs for extra money as more musicians were needed. The rulers would take a serious involvement in the management of the day-to-day affairs of their orchestras: the Duke in Gotha personally auditioned an instrumentalist candidate with G.H. Stölzel in attendance. Stölzel wrote also wrote a lot of serenatas for royal / noble families in Saxony too. With large noble families, lots of birthdays, weddings, there was a nearly endless demand for music and texts. And for composers with large families and never ending bills (e.g. Fasch), they relished these commissions.

Claudio Di Veroli wrote (January 29, 2013):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] I have played continuo in some works by Fasch for small ensemble: only a reduced output by him has survived, but he was IMHO among the very best composers of its time, second only to the great JSBach.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 29, 2013):
[To Claudio Di Veroli] Yes, out of about 1200 c, only 100 survive. And unfortunately the musical archives at Zerbst vanished. There's some hope that portions of it will be discovered; but a friend who is a Fasch specialist believes Fasch's son was responsible for destroying most of his father's music.

New Bach manuscript discovery announced

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (June 13, 2013):
http://www.bachlive.co.uk/archives/2013/06/06/new-bach-manuscript-found/

Bach-Archiv researcher Dr. Peter Wollny has discovered a previously unknown manuscript of Johann Sebastian Bach in the Schütz House at Weissenfels. It is a copy of a Mass by the Italian composer Francesco Gasparini (1661-1727). This discovery offers significant insight into Bach's involvement with older styles and helps us to understand the stylistic shift in his work during the last decade of his life, created around 1740.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 13, 2013):
The Bach Masses of the 1740's

[To Kim Patrick Clow] Gasparini seems to have had a lingering reputation. His 'Adoramus Te' was
formerly attributed to Mozart (K.327): http://imslp.org/wiki/Adoramus_te_%28Gasparini,_Francesco%29

The discovery of this work is interesting because it is another example of Bach's growing interest in the Italian mass in the last decade of his life. He performed the Kyrie and Gloria as a Lutheran "Missa" in Leipzig. Was this another Dresden connection? Another mass that he would know when he moved to be Kapellmeister of the Catholic Chapel Royal in Dresden?

OT: Connections: Sebastian, Emmanuel Bach & Homilius

William Hoffman wrote (February 6, 2013):
This year marks the tri-centennial of the births of two talented pre-classical composers who learned and practiced their art with Sebastian Bach in the first half of the 1730s in Leipzig: son Emmanuel (d.1788) and organ and composition student Gottfried August Homilius (d.1785; BCW Short Biography, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Homilius-Gottfried-August.htm). Emmanuel bears a much stronger connection, serving as a copyist and arranging works with his father that show shared progressive styles and interests, particularly the solo cantatas and other cantatas that are based on the published Picander annual church cantata cycle that Sebastian used to teach composition.

The most striking, authentic and extant work of Emmanuel Bach with Sebastian connections is his Leipzig Septuagesima cantata, “Ich bin vergnugt mit meinem Stande” (I am content in my place, c.1733). The information is found in the “Introduction - CPE Bach: The Complete Works,” Paul Corneilson Peter Wollny http://www.cpebach.org/pdfs/introductions/v-5-2-intro.pdf]. Young Emmanuel’s work uses the original Picander text (c.1733) that was changed in his father’s soprano solo Septuagesima Cantata 84. Especially notable is Emmanuel’s three-movement shortened form of aria-recitative-aria, also found in Sebastian's early Weimar alto solo Cantata 54 (BCML Discussion Week of February 9). The popularity of the three-movement form, influenced by the earlier Italian secular cantata, began with Georg Philipp Telemann’s Harmonischer Gottes-Dienst (Hamburg, 1725–26) [Page xii].

Progressive and influential style elements are found in Emmanuel’s early cantata. The opening aria’s 2/4 time signature is set in the fashionable empfinsamkeit (sentimentality) style. “ J. S. Bach first used the 2/4 time signature in the final movement of soprano-bass dialogue cantata with opening sinfonia, Ich geh und suche mit Verlangen, BWV 49 (1726), as well in the final movement of the soprano solo cantata Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, BWV 51 (c. 1730) — in both cases without syncopation” [Page XIV]. The second aria of Emmanuel’s cantata in “galant, minuet-like style, is also connected to models from the church cantatas of J. S. Bach” (Ibid.) Also in the pages on “Additional Leipzig Cantatas by C. P. E. Bach?” there are other connections to his father’s cantatas. About 1729, also in the Picander cycle is the text of a Pentecost fragment, Cantata BWV Anh 190, “Ich bin ein Pilgrim auf der Welt” as well as the hybrid cantata, “Ich lebe, mein Herze, zu deinem Ergötzen, “BWV 145, Easter Tuesday. Soprano aria fragment “Reißt euch los, bekränkte Sinnen,” BWV 224/Anh. I 19, possibly for Jubilate (Easter +3) c. 1733, set to an unknown poet, has a close resemblance to the form found in the opening of Emmanuel’s cantata, “Ich bin vergnugt mit meinem Stande.” A catalogue of Emmanuel’s work in publication is found at Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: the complete works. - Free Online Library
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Carl+Philipp+Emanuel+Bach%3A+the+complete+works.-a0266563834.

Much later, both Emmanuel Bach and fellow Sebastian Bach student Homilius composed works in the progressive pre-classical galant style that show strong influences from the elder Bach during their formative years in the first half of the 1730s. Most notable is Emmanuel’s Hamburg St. Matthew Passion of 1769, recently rediscovered and recorded, that uses turbae choruses from Dad’s St. Matthew Passion (1729/36). Also showing strong influence is Homilius’ St. Mark Passion” composed about the same time as Emmanuel’s Passion. A three-movement recorded YouTube sequence (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-KABj0wc-M) has a chorale and recitative in Sebastian’s style (St. Mark Passion, 1731), followed by a progressive aria. Both the Emmanuel and Homilius Passions are found at at “Carus-Verlag - C.P.E. Bach and G. A. Homilius,”
http://www.carus-verlag.com/index.php3?BLink=bach-homilius&selSprache=1

Gallus Christmas Motet

Luke Dahn wrote (December 24, 2015):
This is not necessarily Bach related, but I can't help sharing. (It is music related and Christmas related, however.) Below is an amazing Christmas motet by Jacobus Gallus (1550-1591). The chromaticism here makes Gesualdo seem relatively tame, and Gallus predates the more famous madrigalist by 16 years.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXMXbKgn6nQ
Score: http://www2.cpdl.org/wiki/images/sheet/handl/gall-mi2.pdf

Listen to the ascending chromaticism, the half-step root movement of major triads, the many cross-relations, melodic augmented 2nds, ...and measure 22 is just wild! (augmented 2nd in first tenor, and beat 4 has D#/E/Bb harmonically!) This music certainly captures the "innovatur naturae" part of the text.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 24, 2015):
[To Luke Dahn] Luke Certainly looks interesting---thanks for posting. New to me so i will run the score off and play through it. But the video comes up as 'not available'. Has it been taken down?

Luke Dahn wrote (December 24, 2015):
[To Julian Mincham] Does this link work? http://youtu.be/LXMXbKgn6nQ
If not, there are many recordings available on YouTube when searching Gallus Mirabile Mysterium.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 24, 2015):
[To Luke Dahn] No that one doesn't either I will have a hunt round

Bryan Kirkpatrick wrote (December 24, 2015):
[To Julian Mincham & Luke Dahn] I had no trouble with the original link, and it certainly is an interesting (and unusual). Thanks, Luke.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 24, 2015):
[To Luke Dahn] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXZFKFw59oQ

I found it on google and it works for me with the above link

Eric Basta wrote (December 24, 2015):
[To Luke Dahn] Luke, thank yfor the post!

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 25, 2015):
[To Luke Dahn] Jacob Handl was one of the most-frequently performed composers by Bach. "Ecce Quomodo" was sung after every Passion on Good Friday. Bach's motet collection, the "Florilegium" had no less than 16 motets that his choir probably sang. Handl retained his popularity right through to the present day.

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Last update: ýDecember 28, 2015 ý13:12:25