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By Eric Chafe

Bach's cantatas are one of the maximum achievements of Western musical artwork, but reviews of the person cantatas which are either illuminating and specific are few. during this ebook, famous Bach specialist Eric Chafe combines theological, historic, analytical, and interpretive methods to the cantatas to provide readers and listeners alike the richest attainable event of those works. A revered theorist of seventeenth-century track, Chafe is delicate to the composer's intentions and to the iconic and common traits of the track itself.

Concentrating on a small variety of consultant cantatas, typically from the Leipzig cycles of 1723-24 and 1724-25, and particularly on Cantata seventy seven, Chafe exhibits how Bach strove to reflect either the dogma and the secret of spiritual event in musical allegory. studying Bach Cantatas bargains precious info at the theological relevance of the constitution of the liturgical 12 months for the layout and content material of those works, in addition to a survey of the theories of modality that tell Bach's compositional variety. Chafe demonstrates that, whereas Bach definitely hired "pictorialism" and word-painting in his compositions, his approach to writing tune was once a extra advanced amalgam of theological ideas and track conception. in regards to the cantatas as musical allegories that replicate the elemental tenets of Lutheran theology as tested in the course of Bach's lifetime, Chafe synthesizes a few key musical and theological principles to light up the basic personality of those nice works.

This precise and insightful ebook deals a vital method for figuring out one of many imperative our bodies of labor within the Western musical canon. it is going to turn out critical for all scholars and students of Bach's paintings, musicology, and theological stories.

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Example text

For Werckmeister and most of his generation the means by which the musical consonances were verified was number, or ratio, not the ear, or sensus, while for the next generation, that of Mattheson and Heinichen, the reverse was true, an expression of the eventual victory of the empiricist enterprise of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This difference in outlook, however, is less important than the existence of the debate itself, which is symptomatic of a vast array of questions that attest to the emergence of the new rationalism after around 1600.

This is especially apparent in the last three Trinity cantatas, in which various forms of Anfang/Ende (beginning/ending) symbolism figure prominently. That symbolism links the turning of the liturgical year to the distant past (usually represented by an Old Testament viewpoint) and the future as embodied in the believer's fear of judgment and hopes for eternal life. Thus, "O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort" (O Eternity, thou word of thunder, BWV 60), for the twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity, is a dialogue between "Fear" and "Hope," in which Hope finally overcomes Fear.

The Orgelbuchlein is a compendium, so to speak, of well-known chorales for virtually every feast day, beginning with Advent and progressing through to the end of the Trinity season, with the usual selection of miscellaneous chorales at the end. 22 The close relationship of this succession to the six catechism chorales of Clavierubung, Part 3, is unmistakable ("Dies sind die heil'gen zehn Gebot," "Wir glauben all' an einen Gott," "Vater unser im Himmelreich," "Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam," "Aus tiefer Not," and "Jesus Christus, unser Heiland").

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