Western Music: Johann Sebastian Bach

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Often identified as the summarizer of the Baroque-era, Johann Sebastian Bach contributed significantly to the practice and theoretical development of Western music. Having composed copious amounts of music, Bach’s output of vocal compositions exceeds 500 works that includes: sacred and secular cantatas, motets, masses, and passions. Among Bach’s substantial collection of cantatas, the majority date back to his post in Leipzig. Although Bach is considered to have written five cantata cycles, only the first three are virtually complete; the remaining two are either lost or unable of being attributed to Bach. The musical output of Bach’s second year in Leipzig is considered his most prolific. On the 14th Sunday after Trinity during 1724, Bach premiered Bwv. 78, Jesu, der du meine Seele. Utilizing the chorale melody and hymn text written by Johann Rist in 1641, Bach incorporated the entirety of the first and twelfth stanza within the cantata’s first and seventh movements. Additionally, Bach paraphrased portions of Rist’s poetry in movements three and five; the author of the remaining text remains unknown. Liturgical readings for this particular Sunday included the parable of Jesus and the cleansing of the lepers; this…show more content…
Maintaining g-minor, the overall affekt of the chorale can be perceived as unconfident and/or unsure, which also is supported by the text, Herr, ich glaube, hilf mir Schwachen [Lord, I believe, help me in my weakness]. As demonstrated in the previous movement, one can battle for the conviction of Christ, however without his love, we are destined to wander this world aimlessly; this is the referred to weakness. However, as the chorale marches towards the final two cadential points in m. 14-16, the cantata concludes in the parallel key of G major; the usage of the Picardy third provides light on the final text, in der süssen Ewigkeit [in sweet

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