Monday, March 10, 2014

Bach Held Prisoner?

Last week we talked about the fugue and several examples found in Bach’s keyboard works. Before moving on to talk about his orchestral music, let’s take a step back and look at how Bach’s employment played a role in his compositions.

Between 1717 and 1723, Bach worked as a court musician in Cöthen. His primary output while in this position was music for soloists or ensembles that would perform in the court. Before arriving at this post, however, the composer was held as a prisoner at his former position in Weimer. When he originally signed on to work in Weimer, Bach had agreed to remain there unless granted permission from the mayor to depart. When word got out that Bach intended to leave, they quickly restrained him for a month before he could move on to his new post.

Can you believe these conditions? Do you think musicians are suppressed in their own way today? If so, how?

Later on in the 1730s, Bach worked in Leipzig. One of his multiple posts involved directing the collegium musicum, a group of mostly university students who would often give public concerts. This post also encouraged the composer to expand his orchestral repertoire.

Coming up on Wednesday we’ll explore one of Bach’s famous orchestral compositions, the Brandenburg Concertos.