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About Bach

About Bach

Gregory G. Butler
George B. Stauffer
Mary Dalton Greer
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    About Bach
    Book Description:

    That Johann Sebastian Bach is a pivotal figure in the history of Western music is hardly news, and the magnitude of his achievement is so immense that it can be difficult to grasp. In About Bach, fifteen scholars show that Bach's importance extends from choral to orchestral music, from sacred music to musical parodies, and also to his scribes and students, his predecessors and successors. Further, the contributors demonstrate a diversity of musicological approaches, ranging from close studies of Bach's choices of musical form and libretto to wider analyses of the historical and cultural backgrounds that impinged upon his creations and their lasting influence. This volume makes significant contributions to Bach biography, interpretation, pedagogy, and performance._x000B__x000B_Contributors are Gregory G. Butler, Jen-Yen Chen, Alexander J. Fisher, Mary Dalton Greer, Robert Hill, Ton Koopman, Daniel R. Melamed, Michael Ochs, Mark Risinger, William H. Scheide, Hans-Joachim Schulze, Douglass Seaton, George B. Stauffer, Andrew Talle, and Kathryn Welter._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09069-1
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    Gregory G. Butler, George B. Stauffer and Mary Dalton Greer
    (pp. xi-xii)

    • A Master Teacher Revealed: Johann Pachelbel’s Deutliche Anweisung
      (pp. 3-14)
      Kathryn Welter

      For musicians of the Baroque Era, the ability to teach and attract students was essential to establishing their reputations, supplementing their incomes, and helping them to fulfill their myriad duties in church, city, or court positions. In Germany, the teaching tradition is well illustrated by Johann Pachelbel, whose treatise Deutliche Anweisung verifies his position in the long line of Lehrmeister, or master teachers, that began in the seventeenth century with Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and continued with Pachelbel’s colleagues Dieterich Buxtehude and Johann Adam Reinken and successors Johann Heinrich Buttstett, Johann Christoph Bach, and Georg Böhm. This impressive chain of pedagogues...

    • From the House of Aaron to the House of Johann Sebastian: Old Testament Roots for the Bach Family Tree
      (pp. 15-32)
      Mary Dalton Greer

      In 1735 Johann Sebastian Bach turned fifty. During the course of that year he drew up a family tree delineating six generations of male members of the Bach family and prepared an annotated family genealogy to accompany the family tree.² In addition, at around the same time he began to assemble the musical compositions of his most gifted forebears into a collection: the so-called Old Bach Archive. All three endeavors attest to his deep connection to the Bach clan, nearly all of whom were musicians, and his commitment to preserving their musical legacy.

      The reason for Bach’s systematic documentation of...


    • Combinatorial Modeling in the Chorus Movement of Cantata 24, Ein ungefärbt Gemüte
      (pp. 35-52)
      Alexander J. Fisher

      In his volume Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician, Christoph Wolff admirably summarizes Bach’s principal goals as he embarked on the regular composition of cantatas shortly after his arrival in Leipzig on May 22, 1723:

      What clearly emerges . . . are two aims: first, to provide himself with a working repertoire of substantial size that he would be able to draw on later; to set certain goals for the individual cycles that would enable him to explore the flexible cantata typology as widely as possible, to leave his own distinct mark, and—as in other areas of compositional activity...

    • Choral Unison in J.S. Bach’s Vocal Music
      (pp. 53-60)
      Daniel R. Melamed

      One of the most striking textures in J.S. Bach’s ensemble vocal music is unison choral writing, in which four (or more) parts join in singing the same melodic line.¹ Passages scored this way (Table 1) stand out from their musical surroundings, and we might well ask why Bach turned to this device when he did. There is no single answer, but we can identify several motivations for his use of this distinctly un-polyphonic kind of writing, including signification of quotation, reference to the sound of instruments or voices, and allusion to liturgical music. Some instances are connected with instrumental material...

    • You Say Sabachthani and I Say Asabthani: A St. Matthew Passion Puzzle
      (pp. 61-68)
      Michael Ochs

      In Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, the final words uttered by Jesus read, in published librettos and scores:¹

      Jesus: “Eli, Eli, lama asabthani?”

      Evangelist: Das ist: “Mein Gott, mein Gott, warum hast du mich verlassen?”

      However, nearly all of the myriad translations of this passage into English read:

      Jesus: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” [emphasis added]

      Evangelist: That is, “My God, my God, Why hast Thou forsaken me?”²

      This conflict raises numerous questions, among them: Did Bach write asabthani or sabachthani? What textual source did he use? Why do English versions of the Passion text read differently from Bach’s? How...

    • Sein Segen fliesst daher wie ein Strom, BWV Anh. I 14: A Source for Parodied Arias in the B-Minor Mass?
      (pp. 69-78)
      William H. Scheide

      Based on the latest diplomatic source studies, all but perhaps two of the twenty-seven movements in Bach’s B-Minor Mass can now be considered to be parodies,¹ and virtually all of the nine arias fall into this category. So far, however, a concrete model has been pinpointed for only one of the arias: the “Agnus Dei,” an aria for alto, violins, and continuo that shares its music with the aria “Ach, bleibe doch, mein liebstes Leben” from the Ascension Oratorio, BWV II. Both appear to be derived from the aria “Entfernet euch, ihr kalten Herzen” from the lost wedding cantata Auf!...


    • Johann Friedrich Schweinitz, “A Disciple of the Famous Herr Bach in Leipzig”
      (pp. 81-88)
      Hans-Joachim Schulze

      Absent from Hans Löffler’s groundbreaking compilation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s students¹ is the name of the Göttingen organist, university music director, and city cantor Johann Friedrich Schweinitz (1708–1780). Apparently Löffler had not encountered Georg Linnemann’s earlier research on the music history of the city of Celle, in which Schweinitz is referred to in a testimonial by the Göttingen University professor and former rector of the Leipzig St. Thomas School Johann Matthias Gesner as “a disciple of the famous Herr Bach in Leipzig.”² Gesner’s letter of recommendation for Schweinitz came at a moment when two important musical posts in Celle...

    • Johann Christian Bach and the Church Symphony
      (pp. 89-108)
      Jen-yen Chen

      Among the members of the Bach family, Johann Christian (1735–1782) enjoyed the widest renown during the eighteenth century. Far more traveled than his father and brothers, he became the principal figure of a “Bach tradition” outside of Germany before the nineteenth century. This can be credited to his associations with important musical centers such as Milan, Naples, London, Mannheim, and Paris, and the broad dissemination of his music through prints and manuscripts. This chapter examines a single aspect of this tradition as an illustrative example of the diverse nature of Christian’s sphere of influence: It investigates a group of...


    • Scribes, Engravers, and Notational Styles: The Final Disposition of Bach’s Art of Fugue
      (pp. 111-124)
      Gregory G. Butler

      To my knowledge, the first detailed examination of the engraving in the original edition of J.S. Bach’s Art of Fugue was carried out by a graduate seminar conducted by Christoph Wolff at Columbia University in 1971.¹ On the basis of a detailed analysis of the engraving, a student in that seminar, Richard Koprowski, differentiated between five main notational styles, which he lettered A through F.² His determination of these styles was based on the notation of symbols such as half-note stems, whole rests, clefs, and common time/alla breve time signatures. It is clear that for Koprowski, these notational styles reflected...

    • Notes on J.S. Bach and Basso Continuo Realization
      (pp. 125-134)
      Ton Koopman

      The only extant references, either directly or indirectly, to basso continuo or basso continuo performance in surviving Bach documents from the composer’s lifetime are the following:

      1. Christoph Ernst Sicul, reporting in an entry of October 17, 1727, in his Leipzig Chronicle, that Cantata 198, Laß dich Fürstin, laß dich einen Strahl (“Trauerode”), was accompanied “with Clave di cembalo [harpsichord], which Mr. Bach himself played.”¹

      2. Georg Heinrich Ludwig Schwanenberger, after hearing Bach play the organ, remarking in a letter to Johann Daniel Bähre in Braunschweig dated November 12, 1727: “I must completely change my whole style of playing ....

    • Music for “Cavaliers et Dames”: Bach and the Repertoire of His Collegium Musicum
      (pp. 135-156)
      George B. Stauffer

      As it is well known, Bach led the University Collegium Musicum ensemble in Leipzig from 1729 to 1737, and then once again from 1739 to at least 1741. During his tenure, the group performed once per week for two hours throughout the year: in summer on Wednesdays, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., in Gottfried Zimmermann’s Coffee Garden in the Grimmischer Steinweg outside the east gate of the city; and in winter on Fridays, from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., in Zimmermann’s Coffee House in the Catharinenstrasse in the center of town. During the three annual trade fairs—New Year’s,...

    • A Print of Clavierübung I from J.S. Bach’s Personal Library
      (pp. 157-168)
      Andrew Talle

      Over the course of his long career in Leipzig, Johann Sebastian Bach saw seven editions of his works into print (Table 1). Each of these publications generated several hundred exemplars,¹ most of which were sold to colleagues, friends, students, and the general public (often at the three annual Leipzig trade fairs) or given away as special gifts. Each time Bach issued a publication, however, he seems to have kept a certain number of prints for himself, at least one of which served as his personal copy, or Handexemplar, of the work. Into these prints he often entered, by hand, corrections...


    • Carl Reinecke’s Performance of Mozart’s Larghetto and the Nineteenth-Century Practice of Quantitative Accentuation
      (pp. 171-180)
      Robert Hill

      A performance-practice convention among classically trained musicians holds that metric accentuation in tonal and post-tonal Western music is qualitative rather than quantitative in nature. Accentuation of strong beats is clarified primarily by stress accents—dynamic inflection and articulation—although where applicable it can be aided by additional expressive devices such as arpeggiation or ornamentation. Stylistic exceptions to this principle that take the form of lengthening accented beats, such as French Baroque inégalité or the “shuffle” inequality of jazz performance, are deemed to apply foremost to rapid or flowing note values at the bottom of the metric hierarchy.¹ Metrical units occurring...

    • “Grand Miscellaneous Acts”: Observations on Oratorio Performance in London after Haydn
      (pp. 181-190)
      Mark Risinger

      In the early weeks of Lent, 1814, the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden, London, presented a concert featuring Part I of The Creation, “composed by Dr. Haydn.”¹ It was followed by “Two Grand Miscellaneous Acts” consisting of arias and choruses by various composers. Although the choice of the word “Acts” for Parts II and III of the program on the title page of the libretto suggests a dramatic performance, nothing about the sequence of numbers constitutes a thematically consistent—much less dramatically unified—musical experience. A number of the selections in Parts II and III of the program were drawn...

    • Back from B-A-C-H: Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 in C Major
      (pp. 191-206)
      Douglass Seaton

      For much of the year 1845, Robert Schumann was occupied with the composition of his Six Fugues on the Name B-A-C-H, op. 60. For some critics, this retrospective shift to a rigorous genre from the early eighteenth century seems symptomatic of a new pursuit of classicist control, one that marks the climactic point in Schumann’s journey from the fantasy of the piano miniature and the poetic Lied to the mastery of larger, more self-contained works. Others interpret the B-A-C-H fugues as manifestations of a particular subtype of the character piece, for Schumann had regarded the fugues of the Well-Tempered Clavier...

    (pp. 207-210)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 211-217)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 218-220)