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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)

General Back

J S Bach, known to most as the greatest composer in Western Civilization, was a German Baroque composer and performer on the violin and organ. In his own time, he was primarily known as an organ virtuoso. Today, he is well known primarily for his great organ works and church music.


Arioso, from BWV 156 Back

His well-known "Arioso" with its florid melody has been arranged for many instruments. Bach himself used it twice: as the opening movement for a cantata (no.156) and the middle movement of his F minor harpsichord concerto. This arrangement is by Gerard Alphenaar.


Fantasie in C, BWV 570 Back

His earlier, less complex pieces are neglected and not often heard. The fantasy (a free-form piece) begins with a short rising theme in repetition on the flute stops.


Fugue in D, BWV 580 Back

This miscellaneous fugue contains a theme that could have been created a century earlier in a ricecar and displays the contrasting sounds from three manual divisions of the organ.


Prelude & Fugue in Bb, BWV 560 Back

This prelude and fugue, one from one of his "Little Eight," begins with a manual flourish that is imitated in the pedals. The fugue (a piece based on a theme) is rhythmic with wide leaps.


Prelude & Fugue in C Minor, BWV 549 Back

In this early work from about 1703, the toccata-like prelude begins with a pedal solo whose theme is then developed on the manuals. The fugue theme, related to the prelude theme, is presented five times before it enters in the pedals. It concludes with a return to the virtuoso writing of the prelude.


Prelude & Fugue in G Minor, BWV 557 Back

This Prelude and Fugue in G Minor is one of the Eight Little Preludes and Fugues. Some musicologists say that Krebs wrote these while others suggest that one of Bach's sons wrote them. Current thinking among musicologists and performers is that J S Bach did indeed write them, but they were intended to be played on the Pedal Clavichord, a quiet instrument for the home and that possibly Bach wrote them to teach his children to play.


Sheep May Safely Graze, BWV 208 Back

In addition to his 199 surviving sacred cantatas, Bach composed several secular cantatas for various occasions. Cantata 208, the "Hunting Cantata," was written in 1716 for the birthday of Duke Christian of Saxe-Weissenfels and was performed as banquet music in his hunting lodge after a hunt. This well-known soprano aria is preceded by a recitative whose text is as follows: "Shall Pales be the last thus her respects to pay? No! I would raise my voice in song, so as the woods and land with vivats ring, here in this lovely field in honor of our Prince I sing a joyous song of praise!" The aria text is: "Flocks and herds may safely pasture when their shepherd guards them well. They whose monarch loves them truly knows their needs and fills them duly, will in peace and concord dwell." This organ arrangement is by ____.