MUSIC OF THE BAROQUE (1600-1750) “The figured bass is the most perfect foundation of music” Joanne Sebastian Bach The Music of Bach and Handel
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)Born in Eisenach, Germany (also the home ofJohann Pachelbel) whose father was the directorof the town band, J. S. Bach became proficient onthe violin and harpsichord at an early age. He wasa Lutheran choir boy and during his lifetime wasknown more as a great organist than a composer.However due to the revival of his music andperformances in the early 19th century, Bach isnow considered one of the main composers of theBaroque era and one of the greatest composers ofall Western European music.He composed hundreds of church cantatas andorgan chorale preludes (based upon church hymntunes) for St. Thomas Church inLeipzig, Germany, where he served as musicdirector for more than 27 years.
Johann Sebastian Bach: The Art of the FugueOne of Bach’s greatest achievements is his mastery of the fugue – a polyphoniccomposition based upon one melodic theme called a subject. In a fugue differentvoices (usually 3-5) whether sung or played imitate this melodic line. Althoughusually constant throughout, the imitation by the other voices can adopt differentmelodic and rhythmic ideas.A fugue always begins with a solo voice stating the subject. Once the subject isimitated by another voice (usually a fifth higher in pitch), the original voicecontinues with different melodic ideas.Often times there will be a second or counter subject that is also imitated by theother voices. Stretto is a term describing when a subject is imitated before thesubject is completed and the subjects overlap.The fugue subject can also be statedupside down (inversion); playedbackwards (retrograde); played withlonger note values (augmentation); orwith shorter note values (diminution).Fugues can be independent pieces orembedded in longer compositions. Bachwrote many fugues that are preceded bya free form prelude or toccata.
Johann Sebastian Bach:Fugue in G minor, BWV 578 Kamien Analysis
Johann Sebastian Bach:Fugue in G minor, BWV 578 Kamien Analysis (con’t)
Johann Sebastian Bach: The Six Brandenburg ConcertosSome of Bach’s most performed and recognizable compositions are the sixconcertos (actually concerto grossi) composed for the Prince Leopold of Cöthenaround 1719. These are known as the Brandenburg Concertos since theirdedication was to Christian Ludwig, margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt.The fifth of these, BWV 1050, is in D major and includes in the concertino, aflute, violin, and harpsichord. The ripieno includes violin, viola, cello, andcontinuo.It is interested to note that in this concerto, theharpsichord performs a dual role: that of obbligatosoloist (that is the notes to be played are written inthe part) and that of continuo realizing the figuredbass.There is evidence that Bach included theharpsichord as part of the concertino in order to“show off” the purchase of a new instrument thathe purchased in Berlin. Bach played the harpsichordat the premiere and no doubt proved his reputationas a virtuoso keyboardist.There are three movements: Allegro; Affettuoso;Allegro.
Johann Sebastian Bach:Brandenburg Concerto #5 I. Allegro Kamien Analysis
The dance suite as established by late Renaissance composers such as MichaelPraetorius became the main instrumental format for the Baroque. The suite thatsometimes began with a Prelude or Overture included a variety of commondance movements: • Allemande (a solemn stately dance in duple time) • Courante (a lively dance in triple time) • Sarabande (a slow syncopated rhythm in triple time) • Minuet* (a French stylized dance is moderate triple time) • Gavotte* (a stately dance in 4/4 time often with an upbeat) • Bourée* (a quick dance in duple featuring an upbeat) • Gigue (a lively “jig” in triple- compound rhythm often with contrapuntal textures.) * The dances inserted between the Sarabande and the Gigue are optional.
Johann Sebastian Bach: The Four Orchestra SuitesBach composed the four orchestra suites during his service to Prince Leopold ofCöthen (1719-1723). The suites, sometimes referred as Ouverture-Suites becausethe first movement is a French-style baroque overture*, are made up of thetraditional dance suite movements in addition to specialty dances such as theGavotte, Forlana, Minuet, Bourée, Passepied, Rondeau, Badinerie, andRéjouissance. Each of the four suites have different instrumental combinationsand keys. *The French Ouverture was characterized by a slow introduction withdotted rhythms followed by a faster polyphonic section and a return to the slowintroduction.In Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068, one of themost performed of all the suites include includethree trumpets, timpani, two oboes, 2 violins, violaand basso continuo.The second movement “Air” is one of the mostrecognized of all Bach’s compositions and is oftenheard in films*, TV ads, and performed as a solopiece for violin. It is the basis of the 1970 ProcolHarem hit song “Whiter Shade of Pale.”Following the Ouverture and Air, there are twoGavottes, a Bourée, and a closing Gigue.*”The Spy Who Loved Me”
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) Handel was born in Halle, Germany (now a part of Saxony in the former East Germany) in the same year of J. S. Bach. His father was 63 when he was born who had little interest in music and who forbade the young Handel from meddling in music. Handel would sneak out of the house to learn to play the harpsichord and became a very skilled player. However when Handel turned 17, he followed his father’s wishes and entered law school. After one year, Handel left school and took a position as a violinist and continuo harpsichordist in the orchestra of the Hamburg Opera. This inspired him to start composing opera and in 1706 due to the success of several of them he was invited to visit Florence at the invitation of Gastone de’ Medici.While in Florence, Handel composed several operas in Italian and becameacquainted with many patrons and soon moved to Rome. There he composedseveral cantatas and oratorios for various patrons including cardinal PietroOttoboni (also a patron of composer Antonio Corelli).
George Frideric Handel in England (1712-1759)In 1710 Handel’s reputation as a composer was sufficient enough to land him theposition of Kapellmeister (music director) in the court of the German prince Georg, theElector of Hanover.But within two years, Handel would leave Hanoverand move permanently to London accepting aposition in the court of Queen Anne. By chance, in1714, Elector Georg would become King George I ofGreat Britain and Ireland. Handel made up to thenow King of England and would stay in England forwhat would become an extended stay of 47 years.Handel would continue to receive handsomecommissions from King George and as well as manyEarls, Dukes and Lords in the King’s Court.One of Handel’s most beloved works Water Musicwas composed in 1717 at the request of the King toprovide music for a trip on the Thames River. Thepiece is divided into three suites that include aFrench ouverture, minuets, Bourées and hornpipes.Playing on barges, the orchestra of more than fiftymusicians consisted of trumpets, t horns, aflute, oboes, a bassoon, strings, and continuo. Of Handel and King George I on a Thamesthese the hornpipes and Air are among the most River barge enjoying Handel’s Water Music.popular. Painting by Edouard Jean Hamman.
MUSI1201 Carl DaehlerBAROQUE CHORAL AND SACRED FORMSVocal music was prevalent in the Baroque opera that remained a dominantvocal style throughout the Baroque especially operas by Handel. Also a largenumber of sacred works written for the Lutheran church as well as for thepublic stage reintroduced the polyphonic style reminiscent of the Renaissance.
The Church CantataSince the days of Martin Luther, music was always an important part of theLutheran service. Johann Sebastian Bach was a member of a Lutheran boy’s choirfrom an early age and always remained faithful to the church. He served asCantor of the St. Thomas School and music director of the principal churches inLeipzig from 1723 to his death in 1750.At the school Bach provided all of the musical instruction for his students, manyof whom would sing in his church choirs.Bach also was the town music director and assumed the directorship of thefamous Collegium Musicum founded by Georg Philipp Telemann that providedmusic for a variety of civic functions. Bach composed many of his secular piecesfor this ensemble comprised of students and local professional musicians.As part of his church duties he had to provide a cantata for each Sunday serviceand for all church holidays during the liturgical year. He arranged his cantatas incycles based upon the Gospel readings for each Sunday and feast days in theLutheran calendar.Bach used as a musical basis for most of his cantatas, a church chorale or hymntune that would be sung in German by the choir and congregation. The Cantataconsisted of multiple movements including choruses, arias, duets, and four-partchorales for which the congregation would join in. In all Bach composed morethan 300 sacred cantatas.
“Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme” BWV 140The text of the cantata “Wachet auf” is from the First Epistle to the Thessalonians “beprepared for the day of Lord” and from the Gospel of Matthew, the parable of the TenVirgins (Matthew 25:1-13). The chorale hymn tune is based upon “Wachet auf” byPhilipp Nicholai. The cantata was performed on the 27th Sunday after Trinity and wasfirst performed in Leipzig on the 25th of November, 1731.The cantata is scored for three soloists: soprano, tenor, and bass. There is a four-partchoir, horn, 2 oboes, a taille (alto oboe), violino piccolo, two violins, viola, and continuo.The cantata opens with a chorus (“Wake up, the voice calls to us”) based on the first verseof the chorale. The tune itself is sung in long tones against shorter, dotted rhythms. Thisis followed by a recitative sung by the tenor (“He comes”). A duet (“When will youcome, my salvation”) follows for soprano (representing the “soul”) and the bass(representing the voice of Jesus) with an obbligato solo violin and continuoaccompaniment.The fourth movement is based upon the second verse of the chorale (“Zion hears the watchmen singing”) sung by the tenors accompanied by a well-known obbligato me lody. The fifth movement is a bass recitative (“So come in with me”) followed by a duet (“My friend is mine!”) sung by the soprano and bass accompanied by the oboe. The final movement is a four-part setting of the final verse of the chorale (“May Gloria be sung to you.”)
Georg Frideric Handel - Oratorio “Messiah”The oratorio is a large musical composition including an orchestra, choir, and soloists.Although similar in musical form to an opera, the oratorio is not a staged work, butrather a concert piece with little interaction between characters and no props or specialcostumes. The text of the oratorio is sacred and was often performed in churches on holydays when operas were not staged.Handel’s “Messiah” is his most famous and most often performed of all the baroqueoratorios. It is a crowning musical achievement of the Baroque era. It is based uponscriptural text from the King James Bible and is in three parts: Part I begins withprophesies by Isaiah and the annunciation to the shepherds; Part II is Christ’s Passionand ends with the Hallelujah Chorus; Part III covers the Resurrection of the dead andChrist’s glorification in heaven.It was first performed in Dublin in 1742.There are more than 50 instrumental and vocal piecesin the oratorio including choruses, recitatives whichoften state the biblical text followed by arias and duetsthat express an emotional sentiment. Handel makesuse of the Renaissance technique of “word painting” aswell as many examples of multi-part polyphony.The work was immensely popular in Handel’s day andwas a favorite of King Georg II. In fact it is a traditionthat when the Hallelujah Chorus is sung, the audienceis asked to stand. Autograph score of final bars of Hallelujah Chorus
Georg Frideric Handel - Oratorio “Messiah” (con’t)The entire performance of Messiah is more than two hours. However there are somerepresentative pieces that show Handel’s mastery of theatrical technique and musicgenius.The work opens with traditional French overture (an opening slow dotted rhythmicsection followed by a faster fugal section). The third piece is the tenor aria “Ev’ry ValleyShall Be Exalted” sung by the tenor. Notice the many examples of word painting.“For unto Us a Child is Born” is a chorus. The joyful music celebrates the birth of a royalchild whose names predict salvation. There are two contrasting melodic ideas presentedin a transparent polyphonic texture. Notice the extended melismas on the single syllable“born.”The most recognizable piece in “Messiah” is the last pieceof Part II the “Hallelujah Chorus.” It is perhaps theworld’s most famous chorus piece. It is sung by smallgroups and very large choruses and full symphonyorchestra.It is a joyous combination of homophony and polyphonywith a lot of imitation between the voices as well asrepetition of rhythmic figures. It is full of majesticproclamation especially with the addition of the trumpets.The text is taken from Revelations which celebrates God asthe almighty and everlasting ruler.Performances of “Messiah” are often done during the Autograph score of final bars ofChristmas season, but are also during the Easter and Hallelujah ChorusLenten season.