Monday, March 17, 2014

58 Cantatas Each Year?

We have spent the month thus far focusing on Bach’s instrumental repertoire. This week, let’s turn to some of his works that incorporate vocals.

While working at his church post in Leipzig, Bach wrote many cantatas. Wondering what defines a cantata? This type of musical work is a piece written for voice (soloists and/or choir) and an accompanying ensemble. The work set sacred texts associated with the day’s Gospel reading and used arias (expressive solo sections), recitatives (style of singing that resembles speech), duets, and choruses throughout.

The Lutheran church typically used cantatas in their church services. Therefore, Bach found himself composing quite a few while serving as the music director for four churches in Leipzig. Theses churches required fifty-eight cantatas per year so Bach certainly kept busy!

 Still not sure about what exactly constitutes a cantata? Listen here to Bach’s famous Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 62. Bach wrote this cantata for the first Sunday in Advent in 1724.

What do you think? Does this move you more or less than Bach’s instrumental music?

 

 

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