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Prelude, Fugue & Allegro in Eb Major (BWV 998) for Organ

1 part12 pages10:06a year ago242 views
Johann Sebastian Bach was better known as a virtuoso organist than as a composer in his day. His sacred music, organ and choral works, and other instrumental music had an enthusiasm and seeming freedom that concealed immense rigor. Bach's use of counterpoint was brilliant and innovative, and the immense complexities of his compositional style -- which often included religious and numerological symbols that seem to fit perfectly together in a profound puzzle of special codes -- still amaze musicians today. Many consider him the greatest composer of all time.

The final entry in a catalog of lute pieces that spanned 35 years (perhaps longer), the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E flat, BWV 998 of J.S. Bach makes plain how unimportant the modern debate over the instrumentation of these works (were they composed for lute, or Lautenwerk, a lute-like keyboard apparatus, or even just ordinary harpsichord?) would have been to the composer himself. "For lute or keyboard" is the very clear indication on the autograph score. The Prelude, Fugue and Allegro was written sometime during the first half of the 1740s; it is an imposing and virtuosic work, the myriad difficulties of which are made none the easier by its transcription for guitar -- standard these days save for the precious few Baroque lutenists who grace modern concert halls and record shelves. The technical complexities offer a bounty of rich counterpoint for those who can scale their peaks.

The Prelude is of the same constantly-arpeggiated kind that we find in the Well-Tempered Clavier (the second book of which dates from around the same time as this work). There is just a single pause in the motion: just before the coda, Bach throws a fermata over a third-inversion seventh chord, complete with a rich suspension, that is so enrapturing that only a flurry of 16th notes can propel the motion forward again.

The Fugue is on a subject in all quarter notes; the 16th-note-oriented episodes have as much of the Baroque concerto about them as they do fugue. The Allegro is an uptempo binary-form dance in joyous, vigorous running 16ths.

Source: AllMusic (

Although originally written for Lute. I created this Arrangement of the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in Eb Major (BWV 998) for Organ (2 Manuals w/o Pedals).
Aria: "Stürze zu Boden, schwülstige Stolze!" (BWV 126 No 4) for Organ
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Aria: "Stürze zu Boden, schwülstige Stolze!" (BWV 126 No 4) for Organ

1 part4 pages06:17a year ago112 views
Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort (Uphold us, Lord, within thy word), BWV 126, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He wrote the chorale cantata in 1725 in Leipzig for the Sunday Sexagesimae, the second Sunday before Lent, and first performed it on 4 February 1725. It is based on the hymn by Martin Luther.

Bach wrote the chorale cantata in his second year in Leipzig for Sexagesimae and first performed it on 4 February 1725. This means that it was performed only two days after the cantata Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin, BWV 125, for the Purification of Mary on 2 February. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were taken from the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, "God's power is mighty in the week" (2 Corinthians 11:19–12:9), and from the Gospel of Luke, the parable of the Sower (Luke 8:4–15). The cantata is mainly based on the hymn "Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort" by Martin Luther, but also on other hymn stanzas, which frequently appeared together in hymnals of Bach's time; three stanzas of Luther's chorale, are followed by two stanzas of Justus Jonas, Luther's German version of Da pacem Domine (Give peace, Lord, 1531), and a stanza of Johann Walter paraphrasing 1 Tim 2:2 (1566).

A characteristic feature of the opening chorus is a four-note trumpet signal, which is derived from the beginning of the chorale melody, as if to repeat the words "Erhalt uns, Herr" (Uphold us, Lord) again and again. The motif consists of the three notes of the A minor chord in the sequence A C A E, with the higher notes on the stressed syllables, the highest one on "Herr". The cantus firmus of the chorale is sung by the soprano, the other voices sing in imitation, embedded in an independent concerto of the orchestra.

The first aria is a prayer, intensified by two oboes. In the middle section the words "erfreuen" (delight) and "zerstreuen" (scatter) are illustrated by fast runs in the tenor. The second aria, movement 4, is dramatic, especially in the restless continuo. John Eliot Gardiner quotes W. G. Whittaker: Bach’s "righteous indignation at the enemies of his faith was never expressed more fiercely than in this aria". Movement 3 presents the recitative in the alternating voices alto and tenor, but the ornamented chorale as a duet. The chorale melody switches also, given to the voice which enters, whereas the other one continues its recitative by accompanying material. Movement 6 combines the two stanzas from different chorales in a four-part setting.

Although originally scored for alto, tenor, and bass soloists, a four-part choir, trumpet, two oboes, two violins, viola and basso continuo, I created this arrangement for Organ (2 Manuals w/o Pedals).