Showing posts with label Bach. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bach. Show all posts

Monday, July 17, 2017

The BACH Music Family - How Long Did They Remain Significant?

Sara Levy, student of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Friend of the Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach family, collector of Bachiana and great-aunt of Felix Mendelssohn relates how the Bach sons kept the Bach name alive in the world of music after their father's death.

I have known the Bach family for years and years. I studied harpsichord with Johann Sebastian Bach's eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann. In fact, Wilhelm often told me I was his favorite pupil. Wilhelm Friedemann was a brilliant organist and improviser, but he never lived a happy life and unfortunately died in poverty in Berlin years ago.

Vater Johann Sebastian Bach und seine Söhne Ph...
Vater Johann Sebastian Bach und seine Söhne Philipp Emanuel, Johann Christian, Friedemann, Johann Christoph d.J.
(Photo credit: 

Johann Sebastian Bach's second son, Carl Phillip Emanual, on the other hand, was hugely successful, both in Berlin and later in Hamburg where he had a post very similar to his father's St. Thomas position. Carl Phillip's family and I have been wonderful friends for years and years. CPE is best known for his Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments. The treatise is now used by every important teacher in the land, including Beethoven's.

The younger Bach boys were also quite the musicians. Johann Christoph Friedrich ended up in Buckeburg, Germany as a court musician and there he happily stayed all his life. In fact, people call him now the Buckeburg Bach.

Johann Sebastian's youngest son, Johann Christian, who was only 15 when his father died, lived for a time with his brother, Carl Phillip in Berlin, but soon left Germany. Johann Christian was the first Bach to do such a thing! He studied and worked for a time in Italy and learned to compose in a totally different style than any of the other Bachs. In fact, he composed mostly opera in the Italian style. Eventually he ended up in London where he was a court composer for the Queen.

Here is a little story to show you how different he was from his father and brothers. As the story goes, the Queen commanded Johann Christian to play a concerto on the organ between the acts of his new oratorio. She wanted Johann Christian to emulate the great Handel's style. As the story goes, the young Bach's playing was so awful that the audience hissed and the boys in the chorus laughed. As you can imagine, Johann Christian was mortified, but he simply was not an improviser or a composer of organ music.

With the death of Johann Sebastian Bach's grandson, Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst Bach, in Berlin on December 25, 1845, the last musically significant descendant of Johann Sebastian Bach was gone. The long line of musical Bachs was extinguished.

The music of the Bach family music might have gone unnoticed for centuries if it had not been for our family. I knew the music of the Bach family was great music! I knew this great music had to be preserved so I collected as much of it as possible for my library making sure this great music was not lost. As a patron of the arts, I wanted to make sure that the great music of the past was not allowed to die!

I am sure you have heard of my great-nephew Felix Mendelssohn. On Christmas Day of 1825, he was given the manuscript the great St. Matthew Passion, one of Johann Sebastian Bach's greatest oratorios. In 1829, my great-nephew led the modern premiere (the first performance since the death of Bach) of this great work that led to the 19th-Century "Bach Revival." I do hope the music of this great master, Johann Sebastian Bach and the music of his sons will live on in concerts and churches for centuries to come.

(This vignette is one of a dozen anecdotes included in the organ and media event, Bach and Sons, performed by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist.)

    By Dr. Jeannine Jordan

    Dr. Jeannine Jordan has a doctorate degree in organ performance with an emphasis in Baroque repertoire. She studied with renown Swiss organist, Guy Bovet, has performed throughout the world, and presents the organ music of Bach in a creative program, "Bach and Sons," utilizing visual media and narration. She has also recorded organ music of Johann Sebastian Bach and his sons on historic 17th and 18th century organs in the Bach region of Saxony, Germany.
    Article Source: EzineArticles

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Delights of BAROQUE MUSIC

Baroque music is instantly recognisable. It is the beautiful expressive music that accompanies many historic films. The uplifting instrumental music that is often used in advertising, and in public campaigns. Why is it so often used? Because it has an unique ability to lift the human spirit, and to set a mood of sublime enjoyment.

Baroque is the style of classical music composed between approximately 1600 - 1750. It is often divided into the Early Baroque, which lasted until the mid 17th century, and saw the initial development of the style. The Middle Baroque, until the late 17th century, and finally the Late Baroque, which ends with the deaths of both J.S.Bach and G.F. Handel in 1759.

J.S. Bach
The name 'baroque', comes from the Portuguese word 'barocco', meaning a strangely shaped pearl. It was a considerable departure from the established music of the time, and must have seemed quite unusual to a contemporary audience.From the outset it was music of the spirit, and of the emotions. Intended to express some of the most profound states of human experience.

Baroque music has a number of particular characteristics which underpin its performance. A strong projection of emotion, and a sense of underlying spirituality. It is a style which makes deliberate use of strong contrast to heighten dramatic effect, for example contrasting different sections of a piece against each other. With slow and fast sections, perhaps.a simple theme set against a complex elaboration and development. All to achieve the maximum dramatic effect. Indeed the whole idea of linking melody and bass dates from this period, with a strong bass part providing a solid foundation and structure on which to build and elaborate the different themes and contrasting elements.

G. F. Handel
For the novice to classical music, there are many notable composers of the Baroque period that are well worth taking the time to listen to. One of the joys of this music lies in personally discovering the many treasures to be experienced, as you explore this music of four hundred years ago.Yet which is still so accessible to us today.

It is generally accepted however, that three composers in particular symbolise the main achievements of the baroque. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), George Frideric Handel (1685- 1759) and Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741). While many others such as Corelli, Purcell and Scarlatti were also important in the development of this new music.

With such a treasure trove of baroque pieces to choose from, it is difficult to know where to begin. But the enthusiastic listener wishing to gain a greater understanding of the style could well consider the following pieces in their initial exploration. From the works of J.S. Bach, a good choice would be the famous Brandenburg Concertos. Bach wrote this set of six concertos in 1721, and dedicated them to Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg. They form perhaps the first musical jobapplication,as Bach was hoping for employment with the Margrave. Sadly for Bach, the job offer never materialised, but the Brandenburg Concertos remain an acknowleged masterpiece of the baroque.

A. Vivaldi
A perennial favourite for lovers of this genre, has always been G.F.Handel's Water Music Suite. Composed in 1717 for an elaborate river party on the Thames, attended by King George 1. Some fifty musicians were on board the concert barge, which followed the King's own barge in stately progress down the river.The powerful and beautiful music was so popular with his majesty, that he is said to have requested the musicians to perform it for two further encores. While Handel's oratorio The Messiah, composed in 1741, is perhaps one of the most famous choral pieces of all time.

The Italian influence was strong throughout the baroque period, and in the works of Antonio Vivaldi we have one of its finest exponents. Vivaldi is famous for the sheer number of pieces he produced in his lifetime. Yet an enduring favourite, and one which can be recommended to anyone new to baroque music, is the set of four violin concertos called The Four Seasons. This remarkable piece composed in 1723, is an evocative musical picture of each of the seasons of the year, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.Each section attempts to show the character of the particular season, from the energy of spring, through the mellowness of autumn, to the icy sharpness of winter.

Baroque music was the music of the Enlightenment,of new developments in science, philosophy and literature. Of hope and optimism, a belief in humanity and its great potential for progress. A celebration of profound feeling and inspired vision that still has the power to entrance us in its magic today.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring - BACH's Most Loved Work

Even non-musicians around the world are undoubtedly familiar with one of Johann Sebastian Bach's more famous compositions, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. Usually, this song is played in a slow, almost reverent style during weddings or in religious and liturgical services. However, many music lovers aren't aware that this recognizable tune was actually intended to be played in a much more upbeat manner.

The song was originally composed for accompaniment of voices, as well as traditional orchestral instruments, particularly woodwinds, strings, and brass. Today though, it is more often performed on piano and organ. It's difficult to say whether or not Bach might be rolling over in his grave every time the slower version of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring graces someone's nuptial ceremony. Nevertheless this piece has won the affections of both aficionados and non-musicians alike. In fact, of all of Bach's compositions, this one is his most recognized.

The German-born composer originally wrote his composition in the early 1700's. It was performed publically for the first time on July2, 1723 as part of Bach's cantata: "Herz und Mund Tat und Leben" ("Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life"). What is perhaps less known about this fondly-loved composition is that the underlying choral melody was actually composed by violinist Johan Schop.

Schop was something of a pioneer in the music world during the early 1700's. Considered to be a virtuoso, his technical ability was largely unsurpassed by his contemporaries, and certainly unequalled by his predecessors. Despite his immense talent, Schop has since faded into the background. Today, Bach himself is attributed most of the credit for Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.

The piano arrangement of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring that is most familiar to listeners in the 21st century was actually transcribed by British pianist Myra Hess, well over 100 years after its composition. It is this adaptation that has stood the test of time as far as popular recognition goes, and is how the song is most often publicly performed today. When it does happen to be accompanied by English-speaking voices, it is sung to the words that were translated from the original German to English by the prominent 18th century English poet Robert Bridges. The English version, though, diverts somewhat from the original German. Bridges obviously did what poets do best, creating a poem that still echoes the sentiments of the original work, but contains flowing rhyme which is easy to sing in its translated English.

Since its first public performance nearly three centuries ago, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring has been adapted and performed by hundreds of other musicians and artists. Even modern artists, such as Josh Groban, continue to make this song one of classical music's most renowned and adored tunes.

Even though Bach did not consider this piece his favorite or best work, it is probably the most widely recognized of all of his compositions. Because of its mainstream popularity, this song will undoubtedly continue to surface at weddings and other public performances for hundreds more years.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

6 Steps in Arranging Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by Bach for the ORGAN in 4 Parts

Have you tried to make an organ arrangement of a popular aria or a choral work? If not, it is worth giving it a try because not only you will have a lot of fun in the process, will be able to create a new organ piece that you will love to play but also you will learn a lot about the composition itself. In this article, I will describe how to make a 4 part arrangement of the famous Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by Bach for the organ in 6 easy steps.

1. Take a music staff paper and write the treble clef for the right hand, the bass clef for the left hand, and the bass clef for the pedals. Connect the 3 staves into a system.

2. Add a key signature (F sharp) and a meter signature (3/4).

3. Write the Violin I part in the right hand with the stems up in triplets.

4. Write the Violin II part in the right hand with the stems down. Be aware, that according to the usual practice in Bach's time, in the original score this part is notated using dotted eight notes and sixteenths which should be played together with the last note of each group of three notes in the top voice. When you transcribe it in the right hand part, you can use groups of quarter and eighth notes in triplets.

5. Write the Soprano part in the left hand one octave lower. This way the chorale tune will sound in a tenor range. The chorale tune will sound well on a solo registration, such as a soft reed.

6. Write the Cello part in the pedals which will be played using soft 16' and 8' stops.

The Violin II part will fit nicely to the right hand part. Although there are some voice crossings between the two violins, in general, the right hand can play these two voices very easily. You can play this part using flutes 8' and 4'.

Because in this arrangement you have to play 2 voices in the right hand, for some people who have little proper organ training experience it might not be as easy as it may seem. If you are at the beginning stages of organ playing, I recommend the 3 part version which will also sound very well. Just omit the step 4.

After the process of arranging this fantastic piece for the organ you will know how the piece is put together on a much deeper level than before which will also help you to advance in the field of music theory.

You can play your arrangement from the written down version on paper or you can use your favorite music notation software to transcribe it. Choose whatever is more comfortable for you but do not forget to treat your arrangement as a genuine organ composition while you play and practice it.

    By the way, do you want to learn to play the King of Instruments - the pipe organ? If so, download my FREE video guide "How to Master Any Organ Composition" in which I will show you my EXACT steps, techniques, and methods that I use to practice, learn and master any piece of organ music.

    Article Source: EzineArticles

Saturday, April 8, 2017

How to Make a 3 Part ORGAN Arrangement of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by BACH?

Johann Sebastian Bach (aged 61) in a portrait ...
Johann Sebastian Bach (aged 61)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most popular movements from the cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach is the famous "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring". This work was originally composed as a choral part from the Cantata No. 147 sung at the end of parts I and II of this cantata. Many organists love to play this work for weddings and other joyful occasions. Because of the popularity of this work, there are so many organ versions available which are not necessarily perfect for you. In this article, I will show you how to make an organ arrangement of this composition for organ in 3 voices which will sound very well and will be comfortable to play.

Before we can make an organ arrangement, we have to become familiar with the orchestral instrumentation. If we take a look at the original scoring, we will discover that this work is notated in 9 staves. The harmonized chorale tune is performed by the 4 part SATB choir which in Bach's time might have been sung by the 4 soloists, too. The top soprano voice is also reinforced by the Trumpet in C.

The bass line is performed by at least 5 people: vocal bass, cellist, harpsichordist (or organist), the double bass, and perhaps the bassoonist as well. The vocal bass joins in choral phrases. We can imagine Bach himself playing the harpsichord or the organ and conducting at the same time. He would have been playing the bass line in the left hand and adding chords or another fully worked out solo voice from the basso continuo notation with the right hand. The double bass player would be playing the cello part one octave lower (at 16' pitch level).

The 3 instrumental parts are meant for two violins, viola, and also 2 oboes doubling the violin I part. The viola player would have to play from the alto clef. Note that the meter of the violin I part is 9/8 while other voices are notated in 3/4 meter. This is probably done to avoid triplets in the violin I part.
As you can see, it must have been quite an ensemble of at least 14 people. In order to make an organ version of this piece, we have to decide which parts are most important because naturally we can't play every part on the organ at the same time. Obviously, there are 3 most important lines in this composition - the chorale tune, the violin I part playing orchestral ritornellos, and the cello part giving the harmonic foundation.

By playing these parts on three separate divisions, we could make a very nice and satisfactory organ version in a trio texture. The violin I part could be played using 8' and 4' flute combinations in the right hand. The chorale tune would sound best, if played in the tenor range (one octave lower) in the left hand on the solo registration, perhaps using a soft reed stop, such as an oboe. We can take the cello line in the pedals using 16' and 8' soft stops.

The 3 part version of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring will sound very well on the organ and it will not be too difficult to learn. Just make sure you treat this arrangement like a real organ composition, and practice slowly with correct fingering, pedaling, articulation, and phrasing. It is best to practice repeatedly one small fragment at a time.

    By Vidas Pinkevicius
    By the way, do you want to learn to play the King of Instruments - the pipe organ? If so, download my FREE video guide "How to Master Any Organ Composition" in which I will show you my EXACT steps, techniques, and methods that I use to practice, learn and master any piece of organ music.
    Article Source: EzineArticles

Friday, March 17, 2017

Who Were Katharina And Maria Barbara In The Life Of JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH?

Barbara Katharina Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach's second cousin and elder sister of Maria Barbara Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach's future wife

Maria Barbara, did you hear who is coming to town? It is Johann Sebastian, our dear cousin Ambrosius' son. He has been away from Eisenach so long I am not sure I would recognize him. When his parents died he was sent to live with his brother Christoph in Ohrdruf for a few years, then I believe he was sent all the way to Luneburg for school. Lately, though I heard that Johann Sebastian had been playing the violin for the Duke's court in Weimar.

Now, Johann Sebastian has just been appointed the organist at the Neukirche right here in Arnstadt where that incredible new organ was just built! I was told that the concert Johann Sebastian gave when he came to try out the new organ was simply astounding and the committee just had to appoint him organist! I think I also heard, though, that he has to conduct the boy choir at the Neukirche. I wonder if he knows about that? I really do hope Johan Sebastian is up to the task of working with those ornery boys at the school. They sing so badly and can just be so awful!

However, the best news of all is that Sebastian is coming to visit his relatives next week when he gets to Arnstadt. That means us! We will be seeing our dear cousin Johann Sebastian very soon. You know he will be living at the Mayor's house, don't you? I can hardly wait to see him again!

Maria Barbara, have you heard? Johann Sebastian was just in a fight. I happened to be walking down the street near the Neukirche when this brawl erupted and that awful bassoonist Gegenbach and our dear JS had come to blows. I think our cousin Johann got the best of that little bassoon player, though, as Johann drew his sword and just cut to tatters Gegenbach's clothing! I was there! I saw it! And more than that, I am going to testify to the city authorities that the fight was not Johann Sebastian's fault! Poor Johann Sebastian is just so bothered by those awful no-count untalented boys at that school. It is too bad he can't just compose his beautiful organ music and be left alone.

The organ music dear Johann is composing now is so interesting. He tells me a wonderful composer named Georg Bohm that he met while he lived in Luneburg influenced him greatly. He just loves to compose variations on our wonderful hymns. Why sometimes just to be different, he puts the melody in the pedal in many of the pieces he is composing right now. He really is a genius that cousin of mine.

This story is one of a dozen vignettes from the organ and media event, "Bach and Sons" performed by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist.

    Dr. Jeannine Jordan has a doctorate degree in organ performance with an emphasis in Baroque repertoire. She studied with renown Swiss organist, Guy Bovet, has performed throughout the world, and presents the organ music of Bach in a creative program, "Bach and Sons," utilizing visual media and narration.
    She has also recorded organ music of Johann Sebastian Bach and his sons on historic 17th and 18th century organs in the Bach region of Saxony, Germany. Visit Bach and Sons to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Jordan to discover how you can bring Bach to your community.
    Article Source: EzineArticles

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Saliency of JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH's Music of the BAROQUE Era

Johann Sebastian Bach's contributions to the music of the Baroque era are undoubtedly among the most important in history. His unparalleled ability to combine eclectic techniques, styles, and traditions are perhaps the most important aspect of his compositional virtuosity. Having composed music of sacred and secular purposes, as well as within the many genres of Baroque music (opera excluded), J.S. Bach's role as a composer can ironically be described as that of a "Renaissance man." 

A portrait which may show Bach in 1750
A portrait which may show Bach in 1750 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
While his innovativeness did not extend very far from the techniques and styles of his predecessors and contemporaries (it was his mastery of these styles that exposed his true innovative effect on music), his ability to express himself emotively without attaching the music to his own biographical perspective, his outstanding skill in terms of applying compositional techniques, and his affinity for the infusion and juxtaposition of seemingly disparate musical characteristics were the most salient markers of his place as arguably the greatest composer of the Baroque era.

A study of Bach's influence on this historically profound era in musical composition and expression may appropriately begin at the analysis of his music for keyboard instruments (e.g. organ, harpsichord). Influenced by the monumental, highly ornamented style of Dieterich Buxtehude, Bach's music for the keyboard is exemplified by his Preludes and Fugues. In his toccata-style compositions, Bach explored the juxtaposition of highly-contrasting sections to the point that these sections became distinct movements within a piece. The quasi-improvisatory nature of the prelude drew on the compositions of preceding composers of the French Clavecin School - namely Louis Couperin's 'prelude non mesure' - in its adoption of a non-imitative style. However, this style was improved upon by keeping the music within a structured metric scheme.

By doing so, Bach ensured that his preludes were less esoteric than his contemporaries' in terms of performance and emotional expression; anyone could play and interpret his works, for their meaning and expression was not specific to the composer. The metric structure of these movements also meant that they could be easily reproduced through print. As an example, the first movement of "Prelude and Fugue in C Minor," titled "Das Wohltempiert Klavier" (English: "Well-Tempered Keyboard"), portrays the repetition of a single melodic figure (in the form of an arpeggio) applied to a repeated rhythm. This technique is known as 'motoric rhythm,' and functions as a textural contrast in which tempi were also varied.

Aside from many of his dance suites, Bach usually composed his preludes as a non-imitative introduction to a Fugue. These imitative expressions of subject-and-exposition often contrasted, in unsurprising monumental fashion, the nature of preceding preludes, and in more than one case expanded on the imitative structure of canon. An example of this expansion is seen in his organ piece, "'Little Fugue' in G Minor." In this piece, the concept of canon-style expositional imitation is altered so that subjects and expositions take on new meanings as musical context is retrospectively apparent.

As if this extremely advanced application of compositional technique was not enough to reflect J.S. Bach's virtuosity, his "Art of Fugue" (German: "Die Kunst der Fuge") actively archived all possible imitative techniques of fugue-style music. Upon establishing a remarkably simple introductory subject melody, he subsequently applied a variety of imitative devices, such as inversion, retrograde, retrograde-inversion, and even much more specific techniques such as 'stretto.' While shortly after his death (he did not complete this volume) Bach's "Art of Fugue" was considered obsolete in the presence of the 'stile galant,' this collection of fugue pieces is regarded today as the greatest compositional work of imitative techniques, and serves as a testament to J.S. Bach's importance in Western musical history.

The French Clavecin School, including influential composers such as Chambonnieres, Couperin, Lully, and D'Anglebert, was responsible for the standardization of the Dance Suite during the Baroque era. Bach composed both solo instrumental and orchestral works based on these standardizations. However, his talent for perfecting and infusing compositional techniques from many sources and styles is once again apparent in these works. For solo instrumental dance suites - which Bach prepared for a variety of instruments ranging from the harpsichord to the transverse flute - both French and Italian techniques were adopted. While Bach made an effort to remain within the constructs of the French Clavecin School in these instrumental pieces, he often abstracted this model. For one, his preludes were not strictly 'non mesure,' but reflected a quasi-improvisatory nature and occasionally resembled 'recitativo' expression.

Furthermore, Bach followed the (accidental) ordering of a suite's movements as established by Froeberger's publisher by ending each suite with a 'gigue' movement. Otherwise, the style of the suites were relatively conservative in that they followed the structure of late French composers and focused on the nuclear movements of a dance suite, rather than reflecting later trends such as the dissolution of movements as typified by Couperin's ('le grand') 'ordres.' Further evidence of his adherence to the French style is seen in his omission of the fast-tempo 'sarabande' in favor of the 'sarabande grave.' These suites were not solely reflective of French influences, however. The inclusion of 'doubles' - repeated movements with the addition of even-note 'passaggi' - was purposefully designed to mimic the compositional techniques of Italian composers. Cumulatively, Bach's solo instrumental suites represent dance music's transition from purely entertainment-focused to the realm of serious listening and interpretation; even the most simple styles and techniques of the French School dances were elaborated into intellectual challenges for the listener.

J.S. Bach did compose dance music that starkly contrasted the conservative nature of the French model in his orchestral suites. While he only composed four of these pieces, all of them begin with 'ouvertures' (a testament to the influence Lully in contrast to the style of toccata-based preludes). Also, unlike his adherence to the traditional French model as seen in the solo instrumental suites, the orchestral suites often omitted, renamed, or rearranged many of the 'nuclear' movements (exemplified by the fact that these pieces never included an 'allemande' as their second movement); this decision shows how Bach was in fact influenced by Couperin's ('le grand') 'ordres.' By contrasting the styles and titles of their movements, this discrepancy can be shown through his work for solo instrument, "Lute Suite No. 1 in E Minor," and the orchestral work, "Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major."

Ritornello concerti were also works that Bach adopted, mastered, and altered by combining many techniques and styles. In these pieces, Bach only loosely followed general models of concerto composition: many of his concerti fit with the three movement model of the ritornello, while others only apply the tempi of ritornello to the first movement of the piece, and some movements were even composed in the style of dance music. As an example of this, let us consider the first three movements of the piece, "Brandenburg Concerto No. 2." The first movement reflects the style of an Italian ritornello concerto, but it varies in that it is not imitative. Instead, the melody is fragmented and scattered in a way so that the piece does not play for too long without referencing the thematic element. The following movements vary greatly from the Italian model: the second movement is through-composed, and mimics the slow tempo and triple meter effect of a 'sarabande grave.'

This movement's texture includes entrances of short melodic themes in many instrumental timbres, and even juxtaposes these themes with counter-melodies. The third movement is reminiscent of a 'gigue,' which is cheerful-sounding and imitative, but the comparison ends there due to its use of double-meter and its likeness to the subject-exposition structure of a fugue. However, it is not strictly a fugue, either, due to the fact that at one point the subject stands alone and is countered by another polyphonic melody. This piece once again showcases Bach's tendency to borrow compositional techniques from contrasting sources; Bach's mastery of these techniques resulted in truly innovative treatment of traditional styles, despite the fact that no novel material was introduced.

Finally, Bach's treatment of cantata music shows further evidence of his influence on music of the Baroque. While they were usually based on the melody of a Lutheran chorale, Bach often incorporated characteristics of a 'chorale prelude' in his treatment of the chorale melody. Bach would use the melody in the style of cantus firmus; its first appearance was remarkably simple (to aid in teaching anyone who was not familiar), while subsequent presentations kept the melody in the foreground through textural context (in the form of organ stops). Furthermore, the polyphonic texture built around the chorale melody was highly complex and artistically expressive (e.g. fourth movement of the cantata, "Sleepers Awake Calls the Voice"). Regarding the text of the chorale, Bach would use 'madrigalism' as a way to enhance the expression of the sacred libretto, even if no text was sung at that moment in the piece. This is apparent in his chorale prelude, "We Should Now Praise Christ." For the vocal accompaniment of these pieces, Bach still relied on instrumental composition techniques, such as 'sequence' and 'passaggi.'

he collective works of Johann Sebastian Bach are extraordinary in their mastery of past techniques and styles combined with Bach's ability to impersonally attribute innovative combinations of these techniques across otherwise disparate musical genres. His recognition as the greatest composer of this era is well-earned and clearly evidenced, as is his influence on later composers and novel compositional styles.

    By Brian J Sullivan
    Brian Sullivan received a bachelor's degree from Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey, in the field of communication, with a special interest in mass communication and media studies. As part of this program, Brian also studied musical theory, history, performance, and the impact of music on contemporary popular culture.
    Source: EzineArticles