As the latter was not sure that he would be able to accept, Bach gave a trial performance Cantata No. This he obtained on April 13, and on May 13 he was sworn in at Leipzig. As director of church music for the city of Leipzig, Bach had to supply performers for four churches. At the Peterskirche the choir merely led the hymns. At the Neue Kirche, Nikolaikirche, and Thomaskirche, part singing was required; but Bach himself conducted, and his own church music was performed, only at the last two.
New works produced during this year include many cantatas and the Magnificat in its first version. The first half of saw the production of the St. John Passion , which was subsequently revised. The total number of cantatas produced during this ecclesiastical year was about 62, of which about 39 were new works. On June 11, , the first Sunday after Trinity, Bach began a fresh annual cycle of cantatas, and within the year he wrote 52 of the so-called chorale cantatas, formerly supposed to have been composed over the nine-year period — During his first two or three years at Leipzig, Bach produced a large number of new cantatas, sometimes, as research has revealed, at the rate of one a week.
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The Baroque composer who submitted to the regimen inevitably had to be a traditionalist who willingly embraced the conventions. There is no point in looking for resurrection motifs in The Well-Tempered Clavier. Pictorialism, even when not codified into a doctrine, seems to be a fundamental musical instinct and essentially an expressive device.
It can, however, become more abstract, as in the case of number symbolism, a phenomenon observed too often in the works of Bach to be dismissed out of hand. Number symbolism is sometimes pictorial; in the St. As a result, it is easy to find symbolic numbers anywhere, but ridiculous to suppose that such discoveries invariably have a meaning.
It is unteachable and unlearnable. As a result of his intense activity in cantata production during his first three years in Leipzig, Bach had created a supply of church music to meet his future needs for the regular Sunday and feast day services. After , therefore, he turned his attention to other projects. He did, however, produce the St. Matthew Passion in , a work that inaugurated a renewed interest in the mids for vocal works on a larger scale than the cantata: the now-lost St. In addition to his responsibilities as director of church music, Bach also had various nonmusical duties in his capacity as the cantor of the school at Thomaskirche.
To some extent, no doubt, he accepted engagements because he needed money—he complained in that his income was less than he had been led to expect he remarked that there were not enough funerals —but, obviously, his routine work must have suffered. Friction between Bach and his employers thus developed almost at once. On the other hand, Bach remained, in the eyes of his employers, their third and unenthusiastic choice for the post, behind Telemann and Graupner.
Furthermore, the authorities insisted on admitting unmusical boys to the school, thus making it difficult for Bach to keep his churches supplied with competent singers; they also refused to spend enough money to keep a decent orchestra together. The resulting ill feeling had become serious by It was temporarily dispelled by the tact of the new rector, Johann Matthias Gesner , who admired Bach and had known him at Weimar; but Gesner stayed only until and was succeeded by Johann August Ernesti, a young man with up-to-date ideas on education , one of which was that music was not one of the humanities but a time-wasting sideline.
Fortunately for Bach, he became court composer to the elector of Saxony in November As such, after some delay, he was able to induce his friends at court to hold an official inquiry, and his dispute with Ernesti was settled in The exact terms of the settlement are not known, but thereafter Bach did as he liked.
In , after he had completed the bulk of his cantata production, Bach began to publish the clavier Partitas singly, with a collected edition in , perhaps with the intention of attracting recognition beyond Leipzig and thus securing a more amenable appointment elsewhere.
From c. These are just two of several respects in which the basically conservative and traditional Bach was a significant innovator as well. About Bach began to produce cantatas in honour of the elector of Saxony and his family, evidently with a view to the court appointment he secured in ; many of these secular movements were adapted to sacred words and reused in the Christmas Oratorio.
His constitution was undermined by two unsuccessful eye operations performed by John Taylor, the itinerant English quack who numbered Handel among his other failures; and Bach died on July 28, , at Leipzig. For some reason, her stepsons did nothing to help her, and her own sons were too young to do so.
Unfinished as it was, The Art of the Fugue was published in It attracted little attention and was reissued in with a laudatory preface by Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg , a well-known Berlin musician who later became director of the royal lottery. In spite of Marpurg and of some appreciative remarks by Johann Mattheson , the influential Hamburg critic and composer, only about 30 copies had been sold by , when Emanuel Bach offered the plates for sale.
As far as is known, they were sold for scrap. There is an English translation of it in The Bach Reader.
Though incomplete and inaccurate, the obituary is of very great importance as a firsthand source of information. Bach appears to have been a good husband and father. Indeed, he was the father of 20 children, only 10 of whom survived to maturity. There is amusing evidence of a certain thriftiness—a necessary virtue, for he was never more than moderately well off and he delighted in hospitality. Living as he did at a time when music was beginning to be regarded as no occupation for a gentleman, he occasionally had to stand up for his rights both as a man and as a musician; he was then obstinate in the extreme.
But no sympathetic employer had any trouble with Bach, and with his professional brethren he was modest and friendly. Johann Sebastian Bach. Article Media.
past – Matthea de Muynck
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Bach's St. Matthew Passion performances in the Netherlands
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Load Next Page. There is considerable acting, both vocally and physically, by soloists and chorus, the latter acting both as commentators on the action as well as active participants, sometimes as angry mob, or as witness to the brutality inflicted upon Jesus. At the end of the performance, there is no relief but quiet resignation. The last few pieces of music are performed with the entire hall in almost total darkness with only the stage lit up. The audience was respectful of the long silence after the music ceased; only when Rattle lowered his raised arms did the applause begin.
The musical performance was of high quality, reflecting the fact that the musicians, soloists and the chorus, with the exception of the Boys Choir, have collaborated on this project in Berlin in it was also performed in Salzburg and Berlin in with a different bass.
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The exquisite chorus framed the performance with many familiar melodies, sung entirely from memory. Solo playing of winds with the soprano, of strings with the mezzo, and also with the bass, all had a flavor of true intertwining of the instruments and the human voice, with the voice acting as another instrument. At times solo instruments and human voices carried on extended conversation.
Musical transitions, with silence, were often dramatic and gripping as the mood and tension of the previous piece hang in the air. He was on stage during the entire performance, and acted the part of Jesus when he was not singing. His facial expression and body language showed heartbreaking suffering and grief, and he colored his voice to reflect the emotion at hand.
Eric Owens' two arias were counterpoint to the otherwise largely bright and clear timbre of other soloists. This performance even made the boundary between the performers and audience obscure as the audience was given a gift not only of a superb musical performance but of an opportunity to contemplate on life and death.
THE GOSPEL OF ST. MATTHEW
Video Video home Live streams On demand Concerts home. Events Reviews Articles. How to add your events to Bachtrack. By Ako Imamura , 08 October See full listing. Berliner Philharmoniker. Sir Simon Rattle , Conductor. Mark Padmore , Tenor.
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Christian Gerhaher , Baritone. Camilla Tilling , Soprano.