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Bach and Resurrection
- Course Dates: Wed 14 June, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
While it is understandable that J. S. Bach’s two great Passion settings, the St John Passion (1724) and St Matthew Passion (1727) feature prominently in Holy Week, it is a pity that we rarely go on to focus on Bach’s music for what came next – Easter.
Though, in Lutheran Leipzig, Easter Sunday was overshadowed liturgically by Good Friday, nevertheless Bach provided music of profound quality and insight for not only for Easter Sunday itself, but also for the two days that followed, which were part of the festival.
In this study day we shall explore some of Bach’s music which addresses directly themes of Easter and Resurrection: the cantatas Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV4, and Die Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubiliert, BWV31; and the Easter Oratorio, BWV 249, whose opening movement, Kommt eilet und laufet, has a similar dance-like quality to the Et resurrexit from the Mass in B minor; as well as some of Bach’s Easter organ music.
We shall also consider music in which Bach approaches Resurrection somewhat tangentially, in works written for funerals or memorial occasions, such as the great Motets and Cantata 106 (Actus Tragicus). For Bach, whose experience of bereavement began with the death of both his parents when he was only nine, ‘Death is … the gate through which one must go in order to move from this sad world to a joyful one beyond’ (Richard Plantinga).