organist

Music Monday: Wachet! Betet! Betet! Wachet! 1716

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Johann Sebastian Bach Wikipedia Image
Artist: Elias Gottlob Haussmann 1748
Collection: Bach-Archiv_Leipzig
Source: Dave’s J. S. Bach Page
Photographer: David J. Grossman

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and organist. The most important member of the Bach family, his genius combined outstanding performing musicianship with supreme creative powers in which forceful and original inventiveness, technical mastery and intellectual control, are perfectly balanced. While it was in the former capacity, as a keyboard virtuoso, that in his lifetime he acquired an almost legendary fame, it is the latter virtues and accomplishments, as a composer, that, by the end of the 18th century, earned him a unique historical position. His musical language was distinctive and extraordinarily varied, drawing together and surmounting the techniques, the styles and the general achievements, of his own and earlier generations, and leading on to new perspectives, which later ages have received, and understood, in a great variety of ways.

Bach Cantatas Website

Wachet! Betet! Betet! Wachet! (Watch! Pray! Pray! Watch!) is the title of two church cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed a first version, BWV 70a, in Weimar for the second Sunday in Advent of 1716 and expanded it in 1723 in Leipzig to BWV 70, a cantata in two parts for the 26th Sunday after Trinity.

On [March] 2, 1714, Bach was appointed concertmaster of the Weimar court capelle of the co-reigning dukes Wilhelm Ernst and Ernst August of Saxe-Weimar. As concertmaster, he assumed the principal responsibility for composing new works, specifically cantatas for the Schlosskirche (palace church), on a monthly schedule. Bach originally wrote this cantata in his last year there […].

The instrumentation of the Weimar cantata is lost.

Bach first performed the cantata on [December] 6, 1716.

Wikipedia Summaries

Additional Reading:
Bach Cantata Translations (Emmanuel Music Organization Website)
Chapter 28 BWV 70 (The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach by Julian Mincham)

Bach-Collegium Stuttgart
Gächinger Kantorei Choir
Helmuth Rilling


Dvořák Hall Prague
Monteverdi Choir
John Eliot Gardiner

Tune Tuesday: I Will Always Give Thanks 1665

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John Blow Image One
Artist: Robert White (Engraver)
18th Century
Collection: National Library of France
Source: Gallica Digital Library
Photo Credit: Wikipedia & Wikimedia

Three hundred, fifty-five years ago, John Blow, an English Baroque organist, composed the “club anthemI Will Always Give Thanks, collaborating with Pelham Humfrey and William Turner. There is not a lot written about this song but, there are two suggestions of it either being an honoring of the victory over the Dutch in 1665 or a simple commemoration of the three men working together.

In late 1668, Blow was appointed to Westminster Abbey as its organist and three of his students were William Croft, Jeremiah Clarke and Henry Purcell. In 1685, he became the private musician to King James II. He was the choir-master at St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1687 and became Composer to the Chapel Royal in 1699.

As a side note, 1665 was a bad year. Sounds familiar. ~Vic

Additional Reading & Sources:
Choral Evensong/John Blow Death Anniversary (BBC October 1, 2008)
John Blow Biography (encyclopedia.com)
Tales for Our Time (Mark Steyn Online)
John Blow Anthems (The Gramophone Newsletter Site)
John Blow Commemoration (Westminster Abbey Site)
A Journal of the Plague Year (Wikipedia)
Battle of Lowestoft (Wikipedia)
Great Plague of London (Wikipedia)

Tune Tuesday: Fiori Musicali 1635

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Fiori Musicali Image One
Image Credit: meantone.altervista.org
Wikipedia & Wikimedia

Coming to 1635…

Fiori musicali (Musical Flowers) is a collection of liturgical organ music by Girolamo Frescobaldi, first published in 1635. It contains three organ masses and two secular capriccios. Generally acknowledged as one of Frescobaldi’s best works, Fiori Musicali influenced composers during at least two centuries. Johann Sebastian Bach was among its admirers and parts of it were included in the celebrated Gradus ad Parnassum, a highly influential 1725 treatise by Johann Joseph Fux which was in use even in the 19th century.

Fiori Musicali was first published in Venice in 1635, when Frescobaldi was working as [the] organist of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, under the patronage of Pope Urban VIII and his nephew Cardinal Francesco Barberini. It may have been conceived as music for St. Mark’s Basilica or a similarly important church. The collection was printed by Giacomo Vincenti (a celebrated publisher who had previously published reprints of Frescobaldi’s capriccios) and dedicated to Cardinal Antonio Barberini, Francesco‘s younger brother.

The full title of Frescobaldi’s work is Fiori musicali di diverse compositioni, toccate, kyrie, canzoni, capricci, e recercari, in partitura. Before Fiori musicali, Frescobaldi seldom published liturgical music. The organ mass was still in its infancy and composers seldom published such music. [It] is one of the most influential collections of music in European history. Frescobaldi’s collection was studied by Henry Purcell and Johann Sebastian Bach (the latter copied the entire work for his own use).

Additional Reading:
Fiori-Musicali (Britannica)
Structure (Wikipedia)

Toccata avanti la Messa della Dominica (before the mass)

Kyrie della Domenica

The Full Collection

Music Monday: Now Is The Month of Maying 1595

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Thomas Morley Image One
Image Credit: All Poetry

Stepping backwards a bit, I stumbled across something prior to 1600…

Thomas Morley was an English composer, theorist, singer and organist of the Renaissance. He was one of the foremost members of the English Madrigal School. Living in London at the same time as Shakespeare, Morley was the most famous composer of secular music in Elizabethan England. [He] was active in church music as a singer, composer and organist at St Paul’s Cathedral [and] was involved in music publishing. [He] lived for a time in the same parish as Shakespeare and, a connection between the two has been long speculated but, never proven. In addition to his madrigals, [he] wrote instrumental music, including keyboard music […].

Now Is The Month of Maying is one of the most famous of the English ballets […]. It is based on the canzonet So Ben Mi Chi Ha Bon Tempo used by Orazio Vecchi […]. It was printed in […] Morley’s First Book of Ballets to Five Voyces [in] 1595. The song delights in bawdy double-entendre. It is, apparently, about spring dancing but, this is a metaphor for making love/sex. For example, a barley-break would have suggested outdoor sexual activity (rather like […] a roll in the hay). The use of such imagery and puns increased during the Renaissance.

It was also heard in 1964 on The Andy Griffith Show episode The Song Festers.

Now Is The Month of Maying Image Two
Image Credit: sheetmusicdirect.com & amazon.com

Lyrics:
Now is the month of maying,
When merry lads are playing,
Fa la la la la la la la la,
Fa la la, etc…
Each with his bonny lass
Upon the greeny grass.
Fa la la, etc…

The Spring, clad all in gladness,
Doth laugh at Winter’s sadness,
Fa la la, etc…
And to the bagpipe’s sound
The nymphs tread out their ground.
Fa la la, etc…

Fie then! Why sit we musing,
Youth’s sweet delight refusing?
Fa la la, etc…
Say, dainty nymphs, and speak,
Shall we play barley break?
Fa la la, etc…

Additional Reading & Sources:
Thomas Morley (Britannica)
Thomas Morley (Elizabethan-Era Site)
The Song Festers (IMDB)
Now Is The Month of Maying (Wikipedia)
Thomas Morley (Wikipedia)

Barney’s Voice Lessons