The Life of Johann Sebastian Bach

Pages: 19 (6390 words) Published: January 31, 2011
Cantata BWV 1 “Wie Schön Leuchtet der Morgenstern”
Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach held various musical positions all over what is now Germany. From the year 1723 until his death in 1750 he served as cantor and director of music in Liepzig. His job here was very structured and kept him busy; being the head of music at four churches , he had to compose a cantata for every Sunday and adhere to the ways of the church. It was here, and under these circumstances that Cantata BWV 1, “Wie Schön leuchtet der Morgenstern”, which translates to “how beauteous beams the morning star”, was composed in 1725. The piece was written for the annunciation of the Virgin Mary, where Mary is visited by the archangel Gabriel and informed of her task to bear and raise the son of God. The work is for soprano, tenor and bass soloists, four part chorus, orchestra and basso continuo. This piece is a prime example of Bach’s vocal compositional style and the type of work Bach was commissioned to write as director of music in Liepzig. Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 21, 1685, in Eisenach to Johann Ambrosius Bach and Maria Elisabeth Lämmerhirt. At the age of nine (1694) Bach lost his mother shortly followed by his father the year after. Now orphaned, he and his brother were taken in by his much elder brother Johann Christoph Bach who was the organist at Ohrdruf. It was here in Ohrdruf that Bach supposedly received his first organ lessons from his older brother and it is possible and theorized that during the five years spent here Bach taught himself how to compose and may have turned out a few compositions before moving to Lüneberg in 1700. Johann Christoph Bach already had two children and another on the way; his small Ohrdruf Cottage could no longer house Johann Sebastian. So, in 1700, he was sent to Lüneberg to sing in the choir and be housed there. Though Bach now aged fifteen loses his fine boy-soprano voice shortly after arriving he continued to put his musical talents to use by accompanying and playing the violin. Also while in Lüneberg, Bach studied Lutheranism, geography, arithmetic and German poetry as well as other subjects. Bach remained here for three years before moving on to bigger things in Arnstadt.

In summer, 1703, Bach was invited to be the organist of the newly refurbished church if Arnstadt. His responsibilities here, however, were not great or time consuming which gave him time for composing and for fine-tuning his organ playing. While working this post, Bach asked for a four week leave and made a trek, supposedly on foot, to hear the famous organist Dietrich Buxtehude play in Lübeck. Though Bach had only requested a four week leave he remained in Lübeck for nearly three months. Upon his return to Arnstadt, when questioned about his long absence, he responded futilely. He was disappointed with the lack of a musical director at Arnstadt and the lack of musical complexity. Members of the church of Arnstadt complained that Bach’s chorale accompaniments were much too elaborate and made singing in the congregation difficult. Bach felt choked and limited and his stay in Arnstadt would not last much longer after his return, also a new job opportunity would arise.

The organist at Mühlhausen died in 1706, leaving the position open. Bach, having heard of Mühlhausen’s musical tradition, auditioned for the position and was accepted with open arms. He moved to Mühlhausen in 1707, and brought his cousin Maria Barbara with the intention of marrying her. The two were wed in Dornheim near Arnstadt on October 17, 1707. In Febuary 1708, there was a change of council at Mülhausen and Bach requested to a have the organ fixed and updated at this time, they accepted his request as his previous musical contributions, compositions and organ playing, had been greatly appreciated. Around this time, the Duke of Weimar, Wilhelm Ernst, attended a performance of Bach’s music and was greatly impressed. He proceeded to offer...

Bibliography: Arnold, Denis. Bach. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1984.
Bach, Johann Sebastian. Seven great sacred cantatas: in full score : from the Bach-Gesellschaft edition. New York: Dover, 1985.
Bach, Johann Sebastian, and Melvin P. Unger. Handbook to Bach 's Sacred Cantata Texts: An Interlinear Translation with Reference Guide to Biblical Quotations and Allusions. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. 1996.
Bach, Johann Sebastian, Reinhold Kubik, Paul Horn, and Jean Lunn. Wie Schön Leuchtet Der Morgenstern: BWV 1 : Kantate Zum Fest Mariae Verkündigung. Neuhausen-Stuttgart: Hänssler-Verlag, 1981.
Bettmann, Otto. Johann Sebastian Bach as His World Knew Him. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, 1995.
Boyd, Malcolm. 2000. Bach. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Butt, John edited by Malcolm Boyd. J.S. Bach. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1999.
Daw, Stephen. The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach, the Choral Works. Rutherford, New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. 1981.
Dreyfus, Laurence. Bach 's Continuo Group: Players and Practices in His Vocal Works. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. 1987.
Dreyfus, Laurence. Bach and the Patterns of Invention. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. 1996.
Marshall, Robert Lewis. The Compositional Process of J.S. Bach: A Study of the Autograph Scores of the Vocal Works. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. 1972.
Mendel, Arthur and Christoph Wolff edited by David Hans. The New Bach Reader: A Life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents. New York: W.W. Norton. 1998.
Stapert, Calvin. My Only Comfort: Death, Deliverance, and Discipleship in the Music of Bach. Grand Rapids, Michigan: W.B. Eerdmans. 2000.
Westrup, Jack. Bach Cantatas. London: British Broadcasting Corporation. 1966.
Whittaker, William. The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: Sacred and Secular. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1959.
Williams, Peter. The Life of Bach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2004.
Wolff, Christoph, ed. The World of the Bach Cantatas. New York: Norton. 1997.
Young, W. Murray. The Cantatas of J.S. Bach: An Analytical Guide. Jefferson, North Carolina: MacFarland. 1989.
[ 20 ]. Alison Dobson-Ottmes. Cantatas BWV 1-3.Hanser-Verlang. Helmuth Rilling. 1998. 6
[ 21 ]
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Johann Sebastian Bach Essay
  • The Biograhphy of Johann Sebastian Bach Essay
  • Johann Sebastian Bach Essay
  • Johann Sebastian Bach Essay
  • sebastian bach Essay
  • Music Appreciation: Johann Sebastian Bach Essay
  • Johann Sebastian Bach Essay
  • Bach Ciaconna: a Life of Its Own Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free