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Bach Perspectives, Volume 8

Bach Perspectives, Volume 8: J. S. Bach and the Oratorio Tradition

Edited by Daniel R. Melamed
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    Bach Perspectives, Volume 8
    Book Description:

    As the official publication of the American Bach Society, Bach Perspectives has pioneered new areas of research in the life, times, and music of Bach since its first appearance in 1995. Volume 8 of Bach Perspectives emphasizes the place of Bach's oratorios in their repertorial context. _x000B__x000B_These essays consider Bach's oratorios from a variety of perspectives: in relation to models, antecedents, and contemporary trends; from the point of view of musical and textual types; and from analytical vantage points including links with instrumental music and theology._x000B__x000B_Christoph Wolff suggests the possibility that Bach's three festive works for Christmas, Easter, and Ascension Day form a coherent group linked by liturgy, chronology, and genre. Daniel R. Melamed considers the many ways in which Bach's passion music was influenced by the famous poetic passion of Barthold Heinrich Brockes. Markus Rathey examines the construction and role of oratorio movements that combine chorales and poetic texts (chorale tropes). Kerala Snyder shows the connections between Bach's Christmas Oratorio and one of its models, Buxtehude's Abendmusiken spread over many evenings. Laurence Dreyfus argues that Bach thought instrumentally in the composition of his passions at the expense of certain aspects of the text. And Eric Chafe demonstrates the contemporary theological background of Bach's Ascension Oratorio and its musical realization.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09021-9
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Daniel R. Melamed
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Under the Spell of Opera? Bach’s Oratorio Trilogy
    (pp. 1-12)
    Christoph Wolff

    The first summary catalogue of Johann Sebastian Bach’s works from his obituary (1750/54) begins with a listing of the vocal compositions and sorts them into four groups. Whereas the first, third, and fourth consist of clearly defined types of compositions (church cantatas, passions, and motets), the second resembles a catch-all collection that lumps together “many oratorios, Masses, Magnificat, single Sanctus, Dramata, serenades, music for birthdays, name days, and funerals, wedding masses, and also several comic singing pieces.”¹

    This random mixture of genres and works not only intermingles sacred and secular music, but also quantifies the pieces in a most general...

  6. Johann Sebastian Bach and Barthold Heinrich Brockes
    (pp. 13-41)
    Daniel R. Melamed

    Johann Sebastian Bach never joined the likes of Reinhard Keiser, Georg Philipp Telemann, Georg Friedrich Händel, Johann Mattheson, Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, and Johann Friedrich Fasch in setting the most influential passion text of the early eighteenth century, “Der für die Sünden der Welt gemarterte und sterbende Jesus” by Barthold Heinrich Brockes. Nonetheless, Brockes was arguably the most important textual influence on Bach’s composition and performance of passion music. Bach had the opportunity of learning Brockes’s text and several musical settings of it; he used movements drawn from one of those settings in a Leipzig passion performance; hisSt. Matthew Passion...

  7. Drama and Discourse: The Form and Function of Chorale Tropes in Bach’s Oratorios
    (pp. 42-68)
    Markus Rathey

    Classical drama in the Aristotelian tradition demanded unity of time and space. Drama theorists in the eighteenth century emphasized this repeatedly in their treatises. The Leipzig poet Johann Christoph Gottsched (1700–1766) pointed out that tragedy had to avoid leaps in time and that the time in the dramatic narrative and in the action onstage must be congruent:

    Die Einheit der Zeit ist das andere, das der Tragödie unentbehrlich ist. Die Fabel eines Helden-Gedichtes kann viel Monate dauren . . . das macht, sie wird nur gelesen: Aber die Fabel eines Schau-Spieles, die mit lebendigen Personen in etlichen Stunden lebendig...

  8. Oratorio on Five Afternoons: From the Lübeck Abendmusiken to Bach’s Christmas Oratorio
    (pp. 69-95)
    Kerala J. Snyder

    Most oratorios, like most operas, are performed within a single day as measured by real time in the theater, church, or oratory, regardless of the dramatic time that might be portrayed in their librettos. The Lübeck Abendmusiken and Bach’sChristmas Oratoriobwv 248 form notable—although by no means unique—exceptions to this principle.¹ As is well known, theChristmas Oratorioconsists of six parts, each similar to a cantata and first performed on the first, second, and third Christmas days of 1734 and on New Year’s Day, the Sunday after New Year, and Epiphany of 1735. The Lübeck Abendmusiken,...

  9. The Triumph of “Instrumental Melody”: Aspects of Musical Poetics in Bach’s St. John Passion
    (pp. 96-121)
    Laurence Dreyfus

    How does J. S. Bach set poetry to music? It is not a question one asks very often. Yet if we want to understand Bach’s aims in his vocal music, we need to pay attention to his attitudes toward poetic verse, querying the compositional actions he takes with respect to it. It is fair to say—despite the proliferating interpretations treating Bach’s passions and cantatas—that this methodological concern has been given relatively short shrift in the literature. It is often tacitly assumed, for example, that one can ignore the specific poetic articulation of madrigalian verse, yet at the same...

  10. Bach’s Ascension Oratorio: God’s Kingdoms and Their Representation
    (pp. 122-146)
    Eric Chafe

    As is well known, Bach’sAscension Oratorio, “Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen” bwv 11, composed in all probability in 1735, follows a pattern that is very close to that of its much more extended sister work, theChristmas Oratorio, composed a few months earlier for the 1734–35 Christmas season. In part it is parodied from earlier secular cantatas, and its movement layout resembles that of theChristmas Oratorioclosely in its sequences of biblical recitatives for voice(s) and basso continuo only, nonbiblical accompanied recitatives, arias, and chorales (see Table 1).

    Although theAscension Oratoriohas been studied from both...

    (pp. 147-148)
    (pp. 149-150)
    (pp. 151-152)
    (pp. 153-153)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 154-158)