| A very important and prestigious time
| Bach and his impact on the World of Music| Music| | 19/11/2010 | Table of Contents Introduction3 Bach’s achievements in music3 Music of Johann Sebastian Bach4 Conclusion6 References6 Introduction There are music schools, conservatories, and private teachers, all over the World to educate children and adults with music, either through an instrument or through theory or even history of music. There is a certain amount of technical exercises, pieces for musicians, or history facts for musical historians to learn to gain an acceptable level of knowledge.There is one common point within these three categories of studies: Johann Sebastian Bach. J-S Bach was a composer of the «Baroque» era (1600-1750).
The end of the era was defined by the death of Bach in 1750. Now, one can talk about evolution of music throughout the centuries up to today, but there is in reality no real evolution, simply a change in the way of expression. As for Bach, he was for his time the perfect example of Baroque way of writing, like Handel. He also has a touch of modernity in his music.His music has gone through all the centuries to be still played and studied today, in music schools, in conservatories, through private teachers all over the World. His works like the suites, fugues or chorales and Church Cantatas as of his richness of polyphonic texture and rich harmonies are still studied and admired by the greatest artists.
We will try to develop and analyze his period and the works he created as well as their impact on the future line of musicians and composers. Bach’s achievements in music There were two main figures of the «Baroque» Period, George Frideric Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach.We can also name Claudio Monteverdi (creator of the «Opera»), Henry Purcell or Antonio Vivaldi. We are, for this project, mostly interested in the German organist, harpsichordist, composer, J.
S. Bach who comes from a long line of musicians. He started his musical career in churches as an organist, then later in a court and finally as concertmaster of the court orchestra in Weimar. A very important and prestigious time for him was being the court conductor for the Prince of Cothen. For the last twenty-seven years of his life he had the position of the cantor (director of music) of the St.Thomas Church in Leipzig. Most of us know the great master of music through his compositions, but during his life he was «recognized as the most eminent organist, harpsichordist, improviser, and master of the fugue, Bach was by no means considered the greatest composer of his day».
So he was not only a composer but a man who conducted, played, improvised, taught and of course composed; he composed for example at the time of his post as Director of music at St. Thomas Church, works for chorus, soloists and orchestra for the Sundays and the church holiday.One important fact about Bach, because it had a major influence on his music, is underlining the fact that he was deeply religious, a Lutheran. All his sacred works were mark by firm religious phrases or abbreviations, dedicating his music to God. Music of Johann Sebastian Bach Having described Bach’s achievements in music now we can continue by discussing about his music. One main creation of the Baroque Era was the Suite. Bach has of course written many.
The suites were generally composed this way: you had five or six movements and some were adopted from different countries of Europe.There is the allemand (from Germany), usually followed by a courante and a gavotte (from France), then a slower movement sarabande (from Spain), and finally a fast gigue (from England or Ireland). The First two were the Ouverture and Air. The others were actually dances.
The Suites are our first example to show that at the time they were the most important instrumental composition and that they are today still studied. Bach composed for instance his famous six suites for solo Cello (also used in the repertoire of the violin and Viola) and he also wrote four suites for orchestra.His Partita’s for piano are based on the structure of suites, and you also find elements in his sonatas and partitas for violin. These are essential works to study to achieve a high level for musicians.
Now we come to a major music technique that Bach has mastered better than anyone else, the fugue. The principal of a fugue is to have one main theme, called the subject, played over and over again at different moments and by different voices (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass). They also imitate the melody by inversing it or by lengthening or shortening the time values of the melody.There can be up to five voices having each a melody added to the original. The rhythm or the key of the subject can be changed all the time. Overall, we can summarize a fugue by being a complex and very rich music piece.
The fugues were composed either for one instrument, at the time it was for organ or harpsichord; they can also be attributed to a group of instruments or voices. We will explore late Bach’s Chorales where a multitude of fugues can be found. Bach, as his Handel, composed hundreds of fugues.A friend of Bach said, «Skill in fugue was so indispensable in a composer that no one could have attained a musical post who had not worked out a given subject in all kinds of counterpoint and in a regular fugue. » Throughout the twentieth century and especially today the fugue is not commonly used by composers but it is nevertheless taught. Musicians learn how to write fugues by studying mostly those of Bach. Musicians who play an instrument like the piano involve this style in their repertoire, such as Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, a collection of forty-eight preludes and fugues.
Finally we will take a look at Bach’s Chorales and Church Cantatas. We cannot continue without explaining that at that time in Leipzig, the Lutheran church Sunday’s service was that main event of the week and music had an important place during these services. Nowadays, we would only have a vocal song with the organ playing. Back at that time, Bach’s church would have a small orchestra, not more than twenty-one musicians accompanying the choir. It is important to say that Chorales or Cantatas were closely combined with religion because, as we mentioned above, Bach was deeply religious.A numerous amount of historians and musicians conclude that this fact was one main reason for his works to be so perfect and still creating today questioning on Bach’s richness.
Chorales were easy to remember and to sing. They were tunes composed a century before or came from folk songs and Catholic hymns. The principal use of a cantata was to express, through music, the Lutheran services; you would find chorales in the cantatas. The text was in German and Bach’s cantata would usually last 25 minutes with, like the suites, different composing it: choruses, recitatives, arias and duets.As we know religion at the time was very common and had a much higher importance in the society than today.
Most of music works were composed either for the church or had religious meanings. «Bach differs from his contemporaries by the variety of forms, especially with the happiness with which he finds the musical equivalence corresponding exactly to the text. » By this we see the importance of Bach’s involvement in these writings; he has written over 295 cantatas and only around 195 are still available today.
These works had their impact on other later composers, such as Mozart with his messes.But we cannot separate chorales and cantatas from religion. One famous cantata from Bach is his No. 140: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Awake, a Voice Is Calling Us) written in 1731. The chorale tune of the cantata was at the time 130 years old. All that Bach has done is create a cantata out of this well known chorale. Bach’s chorales and cantata are one of the most important and valuable writing studied in music conservatories around the world.
Many composers, since the death of Bach, like Chopin for instance, which had an enormemous admiration for Bach works, used his writings as examples for theirs.Conclusion At the time, until the beginning of the twentieth century there was only one music, with different periods, therefore different ways of expressions. We have come to a point where there are all kinds of music, from classical instrumental music to electronic music, like minimalist, or hard rock, or disco as well as house, ska, dubstep, techno, etc. Even with this diversity of genres Bach’s music, because we have chosen to discuss about him but it also applies to most of the composers since the sixteenth century, still does exist.
The same music is being studied since centuries by millions of people, played by millions. It has been discussed and expressed by many like they felt it to be expressed. Since three centuries, his master pieces were looked at, studied, played, discussed all over the world, to form and train future composers or musicians. There is so much that us, non musicians ignore of that part of history that still exists today, and on the other hand we have musicians who use theses works and this three hundred years old knowledge to evolve and become mature and professional musicians.So we may conclude by saying that this Human Being, Johann Sebastian Bach, with what he has brought his following generations of music lovers, had a major impact and that he was, is and will be crucial to the development of music.
References Arnold, D. (1988). Dictionnaire Encyclopedique de la Musique. Paris: Edition Robert Laffont SA. Burkholder, J. P.
, Grout, D. J. , & Palisca, C. V.
(2010). A History of Western Music. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. CANTATE BWV 140 “Le veilleur” de J-S Bach.
(n. d. ).Retrieved November 16, 2010, from http://divertimento. w.
free. fr/album/oeuvres/cant140. html Johann Sebastian Bach Biography. (1996). Retrieved November 15, 2010, from Bio. True Story : http://www. biography.
com/articles/Johann-Sebastian-Bach-9194289 Kamien, R. (2006). Music An Appreciation. New York: McGraw-Hill International Edition.
——————————————– 1 . Roger Kamien, Music and Appreciation,2006. 2 . Roger Kamien, Music An Appreciation, 2006 3 .
Denis Arnorld, Dictionnaire Encyclopedique de la Musique, 1988