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Title: Bach
Author: Williams, Charles Francis Abdy
Language: English
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      *      *      *      *      *      *

  The Master Musicians

  [Illustration: Bach]

The Master Musicians

Edited by



  [_Fourth Edition._

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[Illustration: _Published with the permission of the proprietors of the
original engraving Breitkopf and Härtel in Leipsic._

Joh. Seb. Bach.]




M.A. Cantab.; Mus. Bac., Oxon. et Cantab.

With Illustrations and Portraits


London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.
New York: E. P. Dutton & Co.

First Published 1900
Reprinted       1903, 1906, 1921


The position of Johann Sebastian Bach as one of a numerous family
of musicians is unique. Of no other composer can it be said that
his forefathers, contemporary relations, and descendants were all
musicians, and not only musicians, but holders of very important
offices as such. All his biographers have therefore given some account
of his family antecedents before proceeding to the history of his
life; and I have found myself obliged to follow the same course.
In other respects I have adopted the plan made use of by the older
biographers, of keeping the account of his life distinct from that of
his compositions.

Every biography is necessarily based on that written by his two sons,
four years after his death, published by Mizler, and the one published
in 1802 by Forkel, who was intimate with the sons. Hilgenfeldt’s
account follows these, and in later years further information has been
acquired from the searches into archives, and other ancient documents,
by C. H. Bitter and Philipp Spitta. Any details concerning the life
and works of this remarkable man are interesting; and it is probable
that researches will be continued for some time to come. Thus, last
year (1898) a “celebration” took place at Ohrdruf in memory of Bach’s
school career there; and Dr Friedrich Thomas took the opportunity of
publishing some details of the Bach family which had escaped Spitta.

The name of Bach is reverenced by Thuringian organists, and I this
year had interesting conversations with his successors at Arnstadt and
Mühlhausen, Herr Kellermann and Herr Möller. But the chief music-seller
at Arnstadt told me that “Bach’s music is out of date; no one has now
any interest in such old-fashioned compositions.”

The two recent important accounts of Bach’s life are those of C. H.
Bitter, 1865, 2 vols.; second edition 1880, 4 vols.; and Philipp
Spitta, 2 vols, a translation of which by Mrs Clara Bell and Mr
Fuller-Maitland was published by Messrs Novello in 1884. With regard
to the last, I have to thank Messrs Novello for kindly allowing me the
use of the book at a time when it was out of print. I understand that a
second edition has since been published.

References to Spitta apply to the first edition of the translation; all
others to the original German.


  _December 1899_.



 PREFACE                                                                v


 The Bachs of Thuringia--Veit Bach, the ancestor of John Sebastian--His
 sons and descendants--A breach of promise of marriage--J. Christoph
 Bach of Arnstadt--His cantata “Es erhob sich ein Streit”--John
 Michael Bach of Gehren--His character--His compositions--J.
 Christoph Bach of Ohrdruf and his descendants--The sons of John
 Sebastian Bach--The clan feeling--A sixteenth century _quodlibet_      1


 Bach’s attitude towards art--His birth--The death of his father--Moves
 to Ohrdruf--Performances in the Ohrdruf choir--Removal to Lüneburg--His
 industry as a boy--Expeditions to Hamburg and Celle--Joins
 the Court Orchestra at Weimar--Is appointed organist at
 Arnstadt--Troubles with the church authorities--Successfully competes
 for a new post                                                        20


 Bach’s salary--He borrows a cart from the Consistory for his
 furniture--The agreement is made verbally--Bach’s first marriage--His
 duties at St Blasius--The festival compositions--Repairs to the
 organ--Difficulties with the Pietists--He resigns his post--Is appointed
 chamber-musician at Weimar--His duties there--His relations with
 Walther--Studies instrumental music--His journeys--His competition
 with Marchand                                                         34


 Bach becomes capellmeister to the Duke of Cöthen--His Weimar
 pupils--His new duties--Death of his wife--Journey to Hamburg--He
 competes for an organistship there--The post is sold--Disgust of
 Matheson at the transaction--Bach endeavours to meet Handel--His
 second marriage--Is obliged to leave Cöthen                           48


 The position and duties of the Cantor of St Thomas’ School at
 Leipsic--The condition of the school in 1722--Kuhnau’s death--
 Competition and election of two cantors in succession--Bach offers
 himself--Is elected--Difficulties with the authorities--The Council
 make irritating regulations--Bach endeavours to leave Leipsic--Election
 of a new Rector, and temporary disappearance of Bach’s troubles       59


 Home life at Leipsic--Personal details--Music in the family circle--
 Bach’s intolerance of incompetence--He throws his wig at Görner--His
 preference for the clavichord--Bach as an examiner--His sons and
 pupils--His general knowledge of musical matters--Visit from
 Hurlebusch--His able management of money--His books and instruments--
 The Dresden Opera--A new Rector, and further troubles--Bach complains
 to the Council                                                        77


 Bach obtains a title from the Saxon Court--Plays the organ at Dresden--
 Attacked by Scheibe--Mizler founds a musical society--Further
 disputes--Bach’s successor chosen during his lifetime--Visit to
 Frederick the Great--Bach’s sight fails--Final illness and death--
 Notice in the _Leipsic Chronicle_--The Council--Fate of the widow and
 daughter                                                              84


 The Cantatas and the Chorale                                          91


 The Matthew Passion and B Minor Mass                                 114


 The Wohltemperirte Clavier--The Art of Fugue--The Musical Offering--
 Bach as a teacher--Bach’s works in England                           131


 The Christmas Oratorio--The Magnificat--The lost works--Instrumental
 works--Bach’s playing--The Manieren or grace notes                   144


 Innovations in the fingering and use of keyed and stringed
 instruments                                                          152


 The organs in Leipsic churches--Bach’s method of accompanying--The
 pitch of organs                                                      160


 Bach as “Familien-Vater”--As a choirmaster--His eagerness to learn all
 that was new and of value in music--He finds time to conduct public
 concerts--His self-criticism--Bach was never a poor man--His reputation
 was gained by his playing rather than compositions--Portraits--Public
 monuments                                                            170

 CATALOGUE OF VOCAL WORKS                                             177

 CATALOGUE OF INSTRUMENTAL WORKS                                      191

 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                         202

 GLOSSARY                                                             205

List of Illustrations



  BACH WAS BORN                                    _To face_      21

  LYCEUM, NOW THE BURGERSCHULE                         „          22

  NOW IN THE RATHHAUS                                  „          27

  THE THOMASSCHULE AT LEIPSIC                          „          59

  IS ON THE RIGHT                                      „          68

  ST JOHN’S CHURCH, LEIPSIC                            „          89

  FACSIMILE OF MUSIC                                   „         132

  FROM WALTHER’S LEXICON, LEIPSIC, 1732                „         204

Chapter I

    The Bachs of Thuringia--Veit Bach, the ancestor of John
    Sebastian--His sons and descendants--A breach of promise of
    marriage--J. Christoph Bach of Arnstadt--His cantata “Es erhob
    sich ein Streit”--John Michael Bach of Gehren--His character--His
    compositions--Joh. Christoph Bach of Ohrdruf, and his
    descendants--The sons of Joh. Sebastian Bach--The clan feeling--A
    sixteenth century _quodlibet_.

John Sebastian Bach came of a large family of Thuringian musicians,
whose members have been traced back to the first decade of the
sixteenth century. The name frequently occurs in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries among the inhabitants of Arnstadt, Erfurt,
Gräfenrode, Molsdorf, Rockhausen and other villages; and that it has
not yet disappeared is shown by the fact that the Erfurt Directory for
1899 contains the addresses of no less than thirteen Bachs.

[Sidenote: _The Founder of the Family_]

The subject of this biography considered that the founder of his family
was Veit Bach, who had settled at Presburg in Hungary as a baker and
miller. Owing to religious persecution, however, he sold what he could
of his property, returned to Thuringia with the proceeds, and settled
at the village of Wechmar near Gotha. Here he recommenced his trade,
and occupied his leisure with the cithara, or cither, even taking
it to the mill, where he played it to the rhythmical tapping of the
wheels. “He must,” says John Sebastian, “at any rate have learned
time in this way.” The date of his birth is unknown. He died 1619 and
left two sons, Hans and Johannes. All his descendants, to the number
of sixty, were, with only two or three exceptions, musicians. Hans
Bach, the great-grandfather of John Sebastian, was a weaver by trade
as well as a musician. His father, Veit, sent him to Gotha to study
music under a relative, Caspar Bach, the “town piper.” In his capacity
of “Spielmann” or “Player” Hans travelled about to different towns in
Thuringia to take part in the “town music” with his violin, and as he
was also very humorous he became popular, and twice had his portrait
painted. He died of the plague in 1626. He seems to have left several
children, of whom three were musicians--

  JOHANN,      1604-1673.
  CHRISTOPH,   1613-1661.
  HEINRICH,    1615-1692.

The following genealogy will enable the reader to distinguish the
various members of this remarkable family. The names of sons only are
given, as the daughters do not appear to have distinguished themselves.
The list of nearly sixty names is not, however, by any means
exhaustive. Spitta gives many more, and there were of course a great
number whose names are entirely lost, for a peasant and artisan family
is not usually careful to keep its genealogical tables in order.



(From Hilgenfeldt.)

    1. VEIT BACH, 155---161--, the Founder.

    _Sons of_ Veit.

    2. HANS d. 1626. 3. JOHANNES ...

    _Sons of_ Hans.

    4. JOHANN, 1604-1673. 5. CHRISTOPH, 1613-1661. 6. HEINRICH,

    _Sons of_ Johann (No. 4).

    7. JOHANN CHRISTIAN, 1640-1682. 8. JOHANN ÆGIDIUS, 1645-1717. 9.
    JOHANN NICOLAUS, 1653-1682.

    _Sons of_ Christoph (No. 5).

    10. GEORG CHRISTOPH, 1642-1697. 11. JOH. AMBROSIUS, 1645-1695. 12.
    JOH. CHRISTOPH, 1645-1694.

    _Sons of_ Heinrich (No. 6).

    13. JOH. CHRISTOPH, 1643-1703. 14. JOH. MICHAEL ... 15. JOH.
    GÜNTHER ...

    _Sons of_ Joh. Christian (No. 7).

    16. JOH. JACOB, 1668-1692. 17. JOH. CHRISTOPH, 1673-1727.

    _Sons of_ Joh. Ægidius (No. 8).

    18. JOH. BERNHARD, 1676-1749. 19. JOH. CHRISTOPH, 1685-174--.

    _Son of_ Joh. Nicolaus (No. 9).

    20. JOH. NICOLAUS, 1682-174--.

    _Sons of_ Georg Christoph (No. 10).

    21. JOH. VALENTIN, 1669-1720. 22. JOH. CHRISTIAN, 1679-1707.

    23. JOH. GEORG, 16-----17----.

    _Sons of_ Joh. Ambrosius (No. 11).

    24. JOH. CHRISTOPH, 1671-1721. 25. JOH. JACOB, 1682-171--. 26.
    JOHANN SEBASTIAN, 1685-1750.

    _Sons of_ Joh. Christoph (No. 12).

    27. JOH. ERNST, 1683-173--. 28. JOH. CHRISTOPH, 1689-1736.

    _Sons of_ Joh. Christoph (No. 13).

    29. JOH. NICOLAUS, 1669-1740. 30. JOH. CHRISTOPH ... 31. JOH.
    FRIEDRICH ... 32. JOH. MICHAEL ...

    _Children of_ Joh. Michael (No. 14).

    33. JOH. LUDWIG 1677-1730. MARIA BARBARA (first wife of Joh.

    _Sons of_ Joh Christoph (No. 17).

    34. JOH. SAMUEL, 1694 ... 35. JOH. CHRISTIAN, 1696 ...

    36. JOH. GÜNTHER ...

    _Son of_ Joh. Bernhard (No. 18).

    37. JOH. ERNST, 1722-1781.

    _Sons of_ Joh. Christoph (No. 19).

    38. JOH. FRIEDRICH, 1703 ... 39. JOH. AUGUST, 17 ...

    40. WILHELM HIERONYMUS, 17 ...

    _Sons of_ Joh. Valentin (No. 21).

    41. JOH. LORENZ, 1695 ... 42. JOH. ELIAS, 1705-1755. 43. JOH.
    HEINRICH ...

    _Sons of_ Joh. Christoph (No. 24).

    44. JOH. FRIEDRICH, 1695 ... 45. JOH. BERNHARD, 1700-1742(?) 46.
    JOH. CHRISTOPH, 1702-1756. 47. JOH. HEINRICH, 1707 ... 48. JOH.
    ANDREAS, 1713-175--.

    _Sons of_ Joh. Sebastian (No. 26).

    49. WILHELM FRIEDEMANN, 1710-1784. 50. JOH. CHRISTOPH and a twin
    brother, 1713 + same year. 51. CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL, 1714-1788. 52.
    JOH. GOTTFRIED BERNHARD, 1715-1739. 53. LEOPOLD AUGUST, 1718-1719.
    1725-1728. 56. ERNST ANDREAS, 1727 + same year. 57. JOH. CHRISTOPH
    FRIEDRICH, 1732-1795. 58. JOH. AUG. ABRAHAM, 1733-1734. 59. JOH.
    CHRISTIAN, 1735-1782. 60. (8 daughters).

[Sidenote: Music and War]

Johann (No. 4) was born at Wechmar. He was apprenticed to the town
piper of Suhl and became organist at Schweinfurt. In 1635 he married
the daughter of his former master, and became director of the town
musicians at Erfurt. During the time he was there the city was
suffering terribly from the effects of pillage and quartering of
soldiers, poverty and disorder; yet Johann Bach managed to found
a family which multiplied rapidly, and soon filled all the town
musicians’ places, so that for some century and a half, and long after
no more of the family lived in the place, the town musicians were known
as “The Bachs.”

He married twice, his second wife being Hedwig Lämmerhirt.

He was organist of the Prediger Kirche at Erfurt, and was called by
his contemporaries an “illustrious musician,” and he in a kind of way
forestalled John Sebastian in being skilful in both sacred and secular,
vocal and instrumental music.

The three towns of Erfurt, Arnstadt and Eisenach, now became the chief
centres of the Bach family.

Christoph Bach (No. 5), the grandfather of Sebastian, born at Wechmar,
entered the service of the Grand Duke of Weimar as lackey and musician.
In 1642 he was a member of the Guild of Musicians at Erfurt, and in
1654 was Court and Town musician at Arnstadt, where his younger brother
Heinrich was living. He does not seem ever to have been an organist,
but a “Kunstpfeifer.”

[Sidenote: _The Thirty Years’ War_]

During the Thirty Years’ War the town pipers and musicians had sunk
very low in public estimation, and about the middle of the seventeenth
century a strong effort was made by their various guilds to raise
themselves to a more dignified position, in keeping with the worthiness
of their calling. To this end they combined in drawing up a code of
statutes, which was ratified by the Emperor Ferdinand III.;[1] the Bach
family seem, however, to have kept aloof from this combination, and
there is no doubt that they were better educated than the majority of
town musicians.

Heinrich (No. 6) was appointed organist of the Franciscan Church at
Arnstadt in 1641, which office he filled for fifty years. He suffered
severely from the war, which disorganised everything, and his salary,
like that of every one else, got into arrears. Moreover there were war
taxes to be paid, and the soldiery seem to have robbed and plundered
at their will. He petitioned the Count of Schwarzburg for his salary
as he “knew not where to find bread for himself and his young family.”
The Count ordered his salary to be paid, but the keeper of the funds
immediately resigned. It is supposed that Bach managed to eke out
his existence by cultivating a small plot of land which it was usual
to give to organists in Thuringia as part of their salary. He kept
to his pious and simple life all through the horrors of the times,
(which reduced the mass of the people to a state of coarseness and
immorality), and brought up six children, three of whom became famous
musicians in their day. In the funeral sermon preached by Olearius, he
is mentioned as the composer of chorales, motets, concertos, fugues and
preludes, but few of his compositions have been preserved.

Johann Christian Bach (No. 7), a viola player and music director,
belonged to Erfurt, whence he went to Eisenach, being the first of his
family to settle there.

Johann Ægidius Bach (No. 8) became director of the town musicians and
alto-viola player at Erfurt in succession to his brother Joh. Christian
(No. 7) and his cousin Ambrosius (No. 11) when they moved to Eisenach.
Like several others of his clan he married the sister of his elder
brother’s wife, and soon after became organist of St Michael’s Church,
which post he held to an advanced age.

John Nicolaus Bach (No. 9) was a town musician and good performer on
the viola-da-gamba. He died of the plague in 1682.

Georg Christoph Bach (No. 10), born at Erfurt, was an usher in a
school at Heinrichs near Suhl, but became cantor, first at Themar,
near Meiningen, and afterwards at Schweinfurt, where he died. He was a
composer, but his works are all lost.

[Sidenote: J. Ambrosius Bach]

Johann Ambrosius Bach (No. 11), the father of John Sebastian, was
twin brother to Johann Christoph (No. 12). The two brothers had a
most remarkable likeness, not only externally but in character and
temperament. They were both violinists and played in exactly the same
style; they thought and spoke alike, and their appearance was so
similar that it is said their own wives could not distinguish them
apart. They suffered from the same illnesses, and died within a few
months of one another.

Ambrosius first settled at Erfurt as an alto-viola[2] player, and
was elected a member of the Town Council. Here he married Elizabeth
Lämmerhirt, the daughter of a furrier, and a relation of Hedwig the
wife of Johann (No. 4). He now moved to Eisenach, and was succeeded at
Erfurt by his cousin Ægidius (No. 8). He undertook the care of an idiot
sister who died shortly afterwards, and for whom a funeral sermon was
preached, in which the Bach brothers are referred to as being “gifted
with good understanding, with art and skill, which make them respected
and listened to in the churches, schools, and all the township, so that
through them the Master’s work is praised.” Little is known of the
life of Ambrosius beyond the fact that he is mentioned in the church
register at Dornheim as “the celebrated town organist and musician of
Eisenach.” Six children were born, the youngest being Johann Sebastian.

Johann Christoph Bach (No. 12) was Court musician to Count Ludwig
Günther at Arnstadt. The first thing we hear of him relates to a
kind of action for breach of promise of marriage brought before the
Consistory at Arnstadt by Anna Cunigunda Wiener, with whom he had
“kept company” and exchanged rings. The Consistory (a spiritual
court) decided that Bach must marry her, but, with the independence
of character which was peculiar to his family, he refused and defied
them--an unheard-of thing for a musician to do in those days--declaring
that he “hated the Wienerin so that he could not bear the sight of
her.”[3] The case lingered for two and a half years, and ended in
his favour. He remained single for many years afterwards, marrying
eventually a daughter of the churchwarden of Ohrdruf.

Quarrels between Gräser, the town musician, and Johann Christoph Bach
led to the dismissal of all the Court musicians on account of the
disunion which made it impossible for music to prosper. For a time,
therefore, he had to make a meagre living by “piping before the doors,”
but after the death of the Count his successor reappointed Bach “Court
musician and town piper.” At this time Adam Drese was Capellmeister
at Arnstadt, and there exist catalogues of the Court musicians which
are of interest as showing the kind of musical establishment that
prevailed at the petty courts in Germany. One of these catalogues gives
the names of seven singers, four violinists, three viola players, a
contrabassist, and the organist Heinrich Bach (No. 6).

[Sidenote: _The orchestra at Arnstadt_]

There were trumpeters, and extra singers from the school, who could
also play stringed instruments, so that on occasion a very respectable
string orchestra was available, consisting of twelve violins, three
alto violas, three tenor violas, two bass viols, and a contrabasso. The
violoncello does not seem to have been represented. Christoph Bach’s
income in later life was sufficient not only to raise him above want,
but to enable him to leave something to his family, on his death, in
1694, at the age of forty-eight.

[Sidenote: _A Church Cantata_]

[Sidenote: J. Christoph Bach]

Johann Christoph Bach (No. 13) was born at Arnstadt, and studied under
his father Heinrich (No. 6). He was appointed organist at Eisenach
in 1665, which post he held till his death sixty years later. He and
his brother Michael (No. 14) were born during the worst time of the
disturbance produced by the war, yet such was the vigour of their race
that, uninfluenced by the general degeneracy and misery, they both
became celebrated composers, Michael leaning towards instrumental,
and Christoph to vocal music. An important church work, describing
the strife between Michael and the Devil, “Es erhob sich ein Streit,”
is fully described with musical quotations by Spitta (vol. i. p.
45, &c.). For its performance it required two five part choirs, two
violins, four violas, one bassoon, four trumpets, drums, double bass,
and organ. The cantata is preceded by a “sonata” for the instruments,
without trumpets and drums, something in the form of the French
overture. The work itself is modelled on those of Hammerschmidt, who,
with Schütz, created a form which culminated in the Handel oratorio.
Spitta says that it shows “power of invention and genius,” and that
“it was impossible that so important a composition should fail to make
an impression on many sincere artistic natures, in spite of the small
amount of intelligent sympathy which was shown for Johann Christoph
Bach, alike by his contemporaries and by posterity.” Sebastian Bach
thought very highly of his uncle’s work, and performed it at Leipsic.

Johann Christoph composed many chorale-vorspiele for the organ, of
which forty-eight are preserved in a MS. formerly belonging to Spitta.
The themes are worked out on the same lines as those of John Sebastian,
but in a more elementary form. His vocal compositions are, however,
much in advance of his instrumental works, and he seems certainly to
have been the most important member of his family before his great
nephew appeared.

[Sidenote: _An organist’s income_]

Johann Michael Bach (No. 14) was an accomplished organist. His
character may be imagined from the account of his appointment to the
organistship of Gehren near Arnstadt, when we are told that after
his examination, the authorities thanked the Count for having sent
them a peaceable, retiring, and skillful performer. He was also made
parish clerk, and his income from the two posts amounted to 74 gülden,
18 cords of wood, 5 measures of corn, 9 measures of barley, 3-1/2
barrels of beer, some land, and a house free of rent. Besides being
a composer he made clavichords and violins. His youngest daughter
became Sebastian Bach’s first wife. A cantata on “Ach! bleib bei uns,
Herr Jesu Christ” by him is preserved in the Bach archives in the
Royal Library at Berlin, “full of interesting details and ingenious
ideas.”[4] It is scored for four voices, two violins, three violas,
bassoon, and organ, and is preceded by a “sonata.” Twelve of his motets
are preserved, but they are incoherent in structure, being composed in
a time of transition. Some of them are to be accompanied by strings
which double the various voice parts, and ten of them are interwoven
with chorales. In “Das Blut Jesu Christi” for five voices “the deep
feeling of the compositions overcomes us with irresistible power, and
one forgets the imperfection of the body in the beauty of the soul
which shines through.”[5] Four of the motets are for double chorus and
in some one can feel “the romantic spirit of Sebastian Bach.”

[Sidenote: Other Bachs]

Johann Günther Bach (No. 15) was a good organist, and deputised for
his father when absent from Arnstadt. Little is known of his life, but
Hilgenfeldt says he is mentioned as a capable instrument maker as well
as organist.

Johann Jacob Bach (No. 16) did not follow the musical profession.

Johann Christoph Bach (No. 17), also born at Erfurt, was cantor and
organist of Unterzimmern near Erfurt. In 1698 he succeeded Michael Bach
in the Cantorship at Gehren. He was threatened with removal by the
Arnstadt authorities on account of his temper, though the threat was
never carried out. He died in 1727.

Johann Bernhard Bach (No. 18), born at Erfurt, was at first organist
in his native town, then at Magdeburg and afterwards succeeded Johann
Christoph (No. 13) in 1703, as Court and town organist at Eisenach,
and was also made Chamber Musician to the Duke of Sax-Eisenach. Of his
compositions there remain four suites for orchestra, some small pieces
for cembalo and some chorale arrangements. According to Spitta he was
one of the most able composers of his time, following the lines of
Pachelbel. His orchestral works were so esteemed by John Sebastian that
he copied them, and the copies still exist.

Johann Christoph Bach (No. 19) was “Raths-Musikdirector” (Town Council
Musical-director) at Erfurt, in succession to Ægidius.

Johann Nicolaus Bach (No. 20), a surgeon, settled in East Prussia,
where he brought up a numerous family.

Johann Valentin Bach (No. 21) was town musician and head watchman at

Of Johann Christian Bach (No. 22), and Johann Georg (No. 23), nothing
is known.

Johann Christoph Bach (No. 24), the elder brother of Sebastian,
organist and schoolmaster at Ohrdruf, was a pupil of Pachelbel, and
appears to have made some reputation as a musician, since he refused
an invitation to go to Gotha as organist, on account of an increase of
salary being given him at Ohrdruf.[6]

[Sidenote: More of the Family]

Johann Jacob Bach (No. 25) entered the Swedish guard as oboe-player.
He followed Charles II. of Sweden, and took part in the battle of
Pultawa, and, after a stay at Bender in Turkey, retired to Stockholm as
Court musician.

Johann Sebastian Bach (No. 26).

Johann Ernst Bach (No. 27) was organist at Arnstadt, while Johann
Christoph Bach (No. 28) went into the grocery trade.

Johann Nicolaus Bach (No. 29) was University and Town organist at Jena,
and after having travelled to Italy for study, returned to Jena, where
he remained till his death at the age of eighty-four. He was an able
composer, of whose works, however, only a mass remains, which is much
praised by Spitta.

Johann Christoph Bach (No. 30) taught music in Hamburg, Rotterdam, and
finally in England.

Johann Friedrich Bach (No. 31) succeeded J. Sebastian as organist
at Mühlhausen, the only member of his family who is mentioned as
unsatisfactory in character, he being given to drink. Gerber calls him
by mistake Johann Christoph.

Johann Michael Bach (No. 32) was an organ-builder. He went to Sweden,
and all traces of him were lost.

Johann Ludwig Bach (No. 33) held the post of capellmeister to the
Duke of Sax-Meiningen. His compositions were highly valued by Johann
Sebastian, who copied many of them. Hilgenfeldt distinguishes him as a
fine church-composer.

Johann Samuel Bach (No. 34), and Johann Christian Bach (No. 35),
settled at Sondershausen as musicians.

Johann Günther Bach (No. 36) was tenor singer and schoolmaster at

Johann Ernst Bach (No. 37) studied law and became a barrister, but was
also an organist and composer. He died in 1781 as Capellmeister to the
Count of Weimar.

Johann Friedrich Bach (No. 38) became a schoolmaster, as did also
his brother Johann Ægidius (No. 39). Of Wilhelm Hieronymus (No. 40),
nothing is known.

Johann Lorenz Bach (No. 41) was organist at Lahm in Franconia.

Johann Elias Bach (No. 42) studied theology, and became cantor and
school-inspector at Schweinfurt, his native town.

Of Johann Heinrich Bach (No. 43) nothing is known.

Tobias Friedrich Bach (No. 44) was cantor of Udestadt, near Erfurt.

Johann Bernhard Bach (No. 45), according to Adlung, was a capable
composer and organist.

Johann Christoph Bach (No. 46) filled the double _rôle_ of cantor and
schoolmaster at Ohrdruf.

Johann Heinrich Bach (No. 47) was cantor at Oehringen, in Würtemburg,
and musician to Count Höhenlohe; while Johann Andreas Bach (No. 48) was
oboist at Gotha, and afterwards organist at Ohrdruf.

[Sidenote: Sons of J. S. Bach]

We now come to the sons of Johann Sebastian. An account of their
services to art will be found in C. H. Bitter’s “Die Söhne Sebastian
Bachs,” published by Breitkopf and Härtel, 1883. We must be here
content with a bare outline of their biographies.

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (No. 49), born at Weimar, was a pupil of his
father and of Graun, concert-meister of Merseburg. He went to the
University of Leipsic, where he distinguished himself in law and
mathematics. In 1732 he became organist of St Sophia at Dresden, but
giving this up, he accompanied his father on his various journeys. In
1747 he became music-director of a church in Halle, and is sometimes
called the “Halle Bach.” Quitting this post he lived without employment
at various places, and died at Berlin in 1784 in great poverty and
misery, having been given to drink.

[Sidenote: _W. F. Bach as an organist_]

Fétis and Bitter say he was the greatest organist in Germany after
his father, and Forkel states that his “clavier-playing was light,
brilliant, and charming,” and his “organ style was elevated, solemn,
and full of religious feeling.” He extemporised much but composed
little, though some sonatas for clavecin, both solo and with violin,
some polonaises, organ-pieces, concertos, fugues, symphonies and
cantatas have come down to us.

Johann Christoph (No. 50) died in infancy.

[Sidenote: _The Berlin Bach_]

Carl Philipp Emanuel (No. 51) the most celebrated of Sebastian’s sons
is called the “Berlin Bach,” having lived in that city for twenty-nine
years. He studied at St Thomas’ School at Leipsic under his father,
and afterwards joined the University of Leipsic as a student of law,
but completed this course of study at Frankfort on the Oder. In 1738
he entered the service of Frederick the Great at Berlin as cembalist.
In 1767 he went to Hamburg in succession to Telemann as director of
music, after having with great difficulty obtained leave from the Court
at Berlin to depart. Here he remained till his death in 1788. He was
a prolific composer in all styles. A catalogue of his works is given
by Fétis, among the most important of which are those for clavier, and
his “Attempt to explain the true art of Clavier-playing,” the first
treatise on the subject if we except Couperin’s “L’art de toucher le
clavecin.” It describes the method of John Sebastian, from which the
present style of piano-playing is developed, and the rules for the
execution of the “Manieren”; while in the second part, thorough bass
and accompaniment of voices are treated of. He became the greatest
theorist of his time, and in his autobiography he says, “In composition
and clavier-playing I have never had any teacher but my father.”
Hilgenfeldt remarks that he was intended for a learned profession and
only studied music as an amateur; but Bitter shows that he was an
artist, and was brought up as a practical musician, his scientific
studies being secondary to music.

[Sidenote: _Emanuel’s position in musical history_]

Emanuel occupies a very important position in the history of music.
His period was one of transition. Polyphony had reached its highest
point. Oratorio had been developed to its greatest splendour, and
organ and clavier-playing had reached their highest development on
the old lines. His services to art were that he opened new paths in
clavier-music, which made possible the creations of Haydn, Mozart and
Beethoven. Bitter considers him the father of that particular kind of
form which has been found suitable to the modern piano: viz. the sonata
form. His smaller sonata forms were based on those of the preludes in
the _Wohltemperirte Clavier_ which are in two sections, and this form
was developed by Haydn and his successors. The form is found in the six
sonatas of 1742, but it had been used by Krebs in his “Preambles” two
years earlier.

Johann Gottfried Bernhard Bach (No. 52) was given the post of organist
at Mühlhausen in response to an earnest letter from his father to the
authorities. He, however, shortly afterwards went to Jena to study law,
and died there in 1739 of a fever.

Leopold August (No. 53) died young.

Gottfried Heinrich Bach (No. 54) is only known as having lived in
Leipsic in the year 1754.

Christian Gottlieb Bach (No. 55) lived only three years.

Ernst Andreas Bach (No. 56) died the year he was born.

Johann Christoph Friedrich (No. 57), was called the “Bückeburger Bach”
from his holding a post as Chamber musician to Count von Lippe at
Bückeburg. He composed oratorios, Passion music, and many other things.
He was remarkable for a deep insight into the essence of harmony, and
a very good style of clavier-playing, which approached that of his
brother Emanuel. He is also mentioned as a man of amiable and upright

Johann August Abraham Bach (No. 58) died young.

[Sidenote: _The English Bach_]

[Sidenote: J. Christian Bach]

Johann Christian (No. 59), called the “Milanese” and afterwards the
“English” Bach, was born at Leipsic, and at the age of fourteen (on
the death of his father), he went to his brother Emanuel at Berlin.
When his education was completed he went to Milan, where he worked hard
at the composition of songs. His wealth of melody, and the facility
with which he produced it, led him to attach himself to the Neapolitan
school of composition, the result being shown in a number of works
which the greatest singers of his day took as their favourite concert
songs. His clavier works were chiefly written for amateur lady pupils,
and it has been said that the great increase of clavier dilettanti
towards the end of the eighteenth century is to be attributed directly
to the influence of Christian Bach.

He composed concertos, operas, oratorios, besides every kind of
clavier and other instrumental music in the fashion of the day; “but,”
says Schubart, “in the midst of his frivolity the gigantic spirit of
his father always shines.” He was organist of Milan Cathedral, and
from there went to London, where he remained till his death in 1782.
Although he made a large income from his pupils and compositions, he
died deeply in debt, and his widow (an Italian prima donna) received a
pension from the Queen.

The eight daughters of Sebastian showed none of the musical talent of
their brothers, and, with the exception of three, they all died young.
One of them married Bach’s pupil Altnikol, of whom we shall hear later.
The family gradually died out, and after the sons of Sebastian, none
showed exceptional musical ability.

[Sidenote: _Family meetings_]

The clan feeling was very strong. It was a family custom to meet
together at Erfurt, Eisenach or Arnstadt once a year, and to spend a
day in friendly intercourse. The day was begun with the singing of a
chorale, after which jokes and all manner of pleasant pastimes were
indulged in. One of their favourite pursuits on these occasions was the
singing of “quodlibets” consisting of the endeavour to make three or
four popular or well-known songs harmonise together, these extempore
efforts being intended more as a joke than as serious music.

[Sidenote: A Quodlibet]

Hilgenfeldt quotes a quodlibet of the sixteenth century of which we
give a few bars:



  Vater unser im Himmelreich.


  Wir glauben all’ an einen Gott.


  Jesus Christus unser Heiland.


  Christ unser Herr, zum Jordan kam.


  Mensch willt du leben seliglich.]


[1] See Glossary, “College of Instrumental Musicians.”

[2] The violas were divided into alto, tenor and bass, as the trombones
are now. The leading stringed instrument was called discant-viola or

[3] Spitta, vol. i. p. 162.

[4] Spitta, vol. i. p. 52.

[5] Spitta.

[6] During a visit to Ohrdruf in August 1899, Herr
Landrathamts-Secretär Kellner kindly gave me the following information.
The descendants of J. S. Bach’s eldest brother continued to live in
Ohrdruf until 1863, as cantors, clergymen, schoolmasters, lawyers, etc.
There are at present living in direct descent Herr Herrmann Julius
Bach, Merchant, of Budapest, Herr Alfred Wilhelm Bach, Apothecary, of
Witten, and two young sons of the latter.

Chapter II

    Bach’s attitude towards art--His birth--Death of his
    father--Removal to Ohrdruf--Performances in the Ohrdruf
    choir--Removal to Lüneburg--His industry as a boy--Expeditions
    to Hamburg and Celle--Joins the Court Orchestra at Weimar--Is
    appointed organist at Arnstadt--Troubles with the church
    authorities--Successfully competes for a new post.

[Sidenote: _Bach’s attitude towards Art_]

The life and character of John Sebastian Bach have a peculiar interest,
not only for musicians and amateurs of music, but for every one who can
appreciate sterling worth, combined with genius of the highest rank,
and a modesty as great as it is rare. “Anyone,” said Bach, “could do as
much as I have done if he worked as hard.” And this capacity for hard
work is perhaps not the least among the many remarkable characteristics
of the man. We find in him little of that desire for applause, for
recognition, which is usually one of the strongest motives in an
artist. He was content to labour as few men have laboured, in a remote
corner of Germany, simply for art, and art alone. His greatest works
never saw the light of publication during his life-time: he seemed to
compose just because he obeyed the inward spirit of genius which drove
him onward, and though his chamber works became fairly well known,
his larger compositions were rarely performed outside the church or
place for which they were composed. “The sole object of all music,”
said he, “should be the glory of God and pleasant recreation,” and the
“glory of God” was the mainspring of every action of his simple and
pious life.

[Illustration: The House at Eisenach in which J. S. Bach was born]

He was born on or about March 31st, 1685[7] at Eisenach in Thuringia,
under the shadow of the famous Wartburg. A house still standing in the
Frauenplan is pointed out by tradition as his birthplace, and contains
a tablet to that effect. He was the youngest son of John Ambrosius
Bach, at that time Court and Town musician of Eisenach, a place which
had a good reputation for its music.

The lofty artistic and moral standard which permeated the whole of the
numerous members of the Bach family seems to have culminated in the
subject of this sketch. We have seen that for many generations they
had been musicians, and had held the chief posts as organists and town
musicians throughout Thuringia; and John Sebastian naturally had no
other thought than to follow the family profession. Of the first few
years of his life little is known. It is probable that he learned the
violin from his father.

[Sidenote: _Goes to Ohrdruf_]

[Sidenote: Boyhood Promise]

In January 1695, when he was not yet ten years old, his father died,
and his eldest brother Johann Christoph, who was organist of St
Michael’s Church at Ohrdruf and had married, now undertook to provide
for him and educate him. Johann Christoph, who had been a pupil of
Pachelbel for three years, taught his younger brother the harpsichord.
Sebastian soon mastered all the studies and pieces he was given to
learn, and began to aspire to higher things. His brother had made a
MS. collection of compositions by Froberger, Fischer, Kerl, Buxtehude,
Pachelbel, Bruhns, Böhm, and others, and this book was eagerly yearned
for by Sebastian. The MS. was kept in a bookcase, shut in with a wire
lattice-work, and his brother for some unknown reason denied him the
use of it. Such was his zeal, however, that he managed to abstract it
through the lattice-work, night after night, for six months, until he
had copied the whole of it by moonlight! His pleasure in it was of
short duration, for when he began to practise the music his brother
discovered the copy, and was hard-hearted enough to confiscate it.
No reason is assigned for his having done so, and Sebastian did not
recover it until his brother’s death in 1721.

At Ohrdruf he joined the Lyceum,[8] where he laid the foundation of his
general education, in Latin, Greek (from the New Testament), theology,
rhetoric and arithmetic. He also took part in the chorus, whose duties
were to perform in church on Sundays and festivals, as well as to sing
motets at weddings and funerals, and at certain times to sing in the
streets.[9] He became one of the principal singers, and had a fixed

[Sidenote: _Thrown on his own resources_]

[Illustration: St Michael’s Church, Ohrdruf with the Lyceum, now the

When he was fifteen he was obliged to leave his brother’s house, and
he now determined to make his own way independently of assistance from
others. Recommended by Herda, the cantor of the Lyceum, he went to the
school of the convent of St Michael at Lüneburg, accompanied by his
friend Georg Erdmann, about Easter 1700, and both were admitted to
the choir as discantists with a salary. Bach’s voice soon broke, but he
remained three years at Lüneburg as accompanist at rehearsals, besides
playing the violin when required and taking part in the band that
played through the streets at the New Year. His salary was probably
twelve thalers a year, besides free board and lodging, and a share in
the profits of the processional performances in the streets.

Lüneburg, like Eisenach, seems to have cultivated music with
considerable energy. Besides the choir of which Bach became a member,
there was a similar one belonging to the school of St John, and the
rivalry which naturally arose led to collisions, which were put an end
to by certain streets being allotted to each choir for its performances.

[Sidenote: Earnest Student]

Bach, being now above want, devoted the whole of his available time
to self-improvement, in spite of the great demands made on him by his
duties. He found in the library of the convent compositions by all
the best composers up to that period--Hammerschmidt, Scheidt, Ahle,
Briegel, Schütz, Rosenmüller, Michael, Schop, Jeep, Krieger, Selle,
Crüger, and his own relatives Heinrich and John Christoph Bach. To
these compositions we know that he devoted unremitting study, and at
the same time worked with enormous industry day and night to improve
his technique on keyboard instruments.

The organist of St John’s Church was Böhm, a native of Thuringia,
and a man of considerable genius. He had studied in Hamburg, and
his compositions show the influence of Sweelinck and of Reinken the
organist of St Catherine’s Church. The distinguishing characteristics
of his school were “technical neatness, pleasing ingenuity, and a
taste for subtle effects of tone.”[10]

Bach was now learning all he could from Böhm, but in order to further
advance himself he made several expeditions to Hamburg on foot, a
distance of some 25 English miles.

Of one of these expeditions the following story is told. Bach, on
his return journey, sat down outside an inn halfway between the two
cities with not sufficient money in his pocket to avail himself of
the excellent dinner that was being prepared, the odours of which
reached him from the kitchen, when a window was suddenly opened and two
herrings’ heads were thrown out. The herring in those days, as now, was
one of the favourite articles of food in Germany, and the boy at once
picked up the two heads. Inside each he found a Danish ducat. Who his
benefactor was never became known to him; and the money not only paid
for a dinner, but another journey to Hamburg as well.

From Reinken he obtained models for his early compositions of
which Spitta mentions three as showing Reinken’s influence; organ
arrangements of the two chorales “Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit,”[11]
“An Wasserflüssen Babylon”;[12] and a toccata in G.

But Bach was not satisfied to study only the works of his own
countrymen. About forty-five English miles to the south of Lüneburg
is Celle, where the ducal court maintained a band which played French
dance music, and where also French harpsichord music was held in
considerable estimation. He took frequent opportunities of hearing
this band, and so became familiar with the French style of music, which
he admired, and much of which he copied.

Spitta considers that the chorale partitas “Christ, der du bist der
helle Tag,” and “O Gott, du frommer Gott,”[13] were composed at
Lüneburg, since they were certainly early works, and show the influence
of Böhm, in the elaboration of the motives and the use of _basso
ostinato_, &c. It would seem that there was no good organ at Lüneburg,
for his compositions of this period are either for harpsichord or, if
for organ, show that he was not yet experienced in writing for the
latter instrument.

In 1703 Bach was invited by Johann Ernst, younger brother of Duke
Wilhelm Ernst, to join his orchestra at Weimar as a violinist with
the title of “Hof-musikus,” or Court musician. This brought him into
contact with a great deal of instrumental music, especially Italian
works, and among musicians he there met Westhoff, the Duke’s private
secretary, a good violinist, and Johann Effler an organist.

[Sidenote: _First appointment_]

From Weimar he paid a visit to Arnstadt, only a few miles off, the
former meeting-place of his family. Here he had an opportunity of
trying the organ lately erected in the “New Church,” the organist
of which was Börner, a man of no great attainments. The Consistory
heard him, and, at once dismissing Börner, offered Bach the post: a
high-handed proceeding, which they softened by making Börner “organist
at Matins” and deputy to the Franciscan Church, on his full salary.
Bach’s salary was raised by outside contributions, and the youth
of eighteen found himself more highly paid than any of his fellow

On August 14th, 1703, he was solemnly installed, and exhorted to
industry and fidelity in his calling, and to act as an honourable
servant and organist before God, the authorities, and his superiors.
His official duties were to play on Sunday and Thursday mornings, and
at one service on Mondays; so that he had ample leisure for study.

[Illustration: The Keyboards of Bach’s Arnstadt Organ now in the

The organ, which was a very fine one of two manuals, had the following


  1. Principal (open diapason), 8 ft.
  2. Viola da gamba, 8.
  3. Quintatön, 8.
  4. Gedackt, 8.
  5. Quint, 6.
  6. Octava (principal), 4.
  7. Mixture, 4 ranks.
  8. Gemshorn, 8 ft.
  9. Cymbal, 3.
  10. Trumpet, 8.
  11. Tremulant.
  12. Glockenaccord.


  1. Principal (open diapason), 4 ft.[14]
  2. Still gedact, 8.
  3. Spitzflöte, 4.
  4. Quint, 3.
  5. Sesquialtera.
  6. Nacht-horn, 4 ft.
  7. Mixture, 4 ranks.
  8. Octava, 2 ft.
  9. Glockenaccord.


  1. Principal, 8 ft.
  2. Sub-bass, 16.
  3. Posaune, 16.
  4. Violon bass, 16.
  5. Octava, 2.
  Couplers for manuals and pedals.[15]

The keyboards, of which we give a photograph, are preserved in the
Rathhaus. The instrument was built by Wender of Mühlhausen in 1703.

Bach had also the direction of a small school choir, which was
augmented by “adjuvanten” or amateur singers, and he had to accompany
and attend the rehearsals of the church choir, besides which he
probably played the violin in the Count’s band. There was also a
theatre belonging to the Count, in which “Singspielen” or operettas
were occasionally performed.

[Sidenote: _First Cantata_]

The cantata for the first day of Easter, “Denn du wirst meine Seele
nicht in der Hölle lassen,” which was afterwards remodelled for use at
Leipsic, was composed at Arnstadt, probably for Easter 1704.[16] It was
his first cantata, and is in character similar to those in vogue in
Northern Germany.

It consists of a short introductory sonata, for three trumpets, drums,
strings and organ, then a bass solo, “For thou shalt not leave my
soul in hell,” in which are important ritornels. This is followed by
a recitative, a duet for soprano and alto in Italian aria form,[17] a
tenor solo, “Be not dismayed,” after which the cantata closes with a
soprano aria, “Up soul, and be joyful.”

During his stay at Arnstadt he chiefly cultivated instrumental music
and composition, and, according to Mizler, began to show his eminence
in organ-playing.

In 1704, Johann Jacob, Sebastian’s elder brother, who had entered the
Swedish Guard as an oboe-player, came to bid farewell to his family
and friends. For him Bach wrote the early “capriccio on the departure
of his beloved brother.” This was modelled on Johann Kuhnau’s “Bible

A chorale arrangement for two manuals and pedals “Wie schön leuchtet
uns der Morgenstern” of this period exists in MS. in the R. Library at
Berlin, and seventeen variations on “Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr”
were in the possession of the late Dr Rust of Leipsic.

[Sidenote: _Visit to Lübeck_]

Towards the end of 1705 Bach determined to go to Lübeck to hear and
study the style of Buxtehude, one of the greatest organists then
living. He found a deputy, and having obtained one month’s leave of
absence, started on foot, on the journey of over 200 miles, with the
object of arriving in time to hear the “evening performances” at
the Marienkirche, which took place in November and December, which
were peculiar to Lübeck, and which Buxtehude had worked up to a high
pitch of excellence. They consisted of sacred music both vocal and
instrumental, with organ solos.[19]

[Sidenote: Cited to Appear]

Bach outstaid his leave of absence by some three months, and on his
return to Arnstadt in February 1706 received a “citation” to appear
before the Consistory to explain his conduct. The Consistory at the
same time brought a charge against him of neglecting the training of
the choir, and of introducing unseemly variations on the organ during
the singing of the chorale, whereby the congregation were thrown
into confusion; and they complained of the great length and unseemly
figuration of his preludes to the chorales.

Bitter gives the whole of the report of this “citation,” in which the
several charges are put to Bach and answered by him.

“The organist of the New Church, Bach, is required to say where he has
been for so long of late, and from whom he received leave of absence?”


“He has been to Lübeck in order to learn things connected with his
art, but that he had previously asked permission from the Herr


“He had only asked permission for four weeks, but had remained away
four times as long as that.”


“Hopes that the organ would have been played by him whom he had put in,
in such a manner that no complaint can be made on that point.”


“Charge him with having made extraordinary variations in the chorales,
and with intermixing many strange sounds, so that thereby the
congregation were confounded. He must in the future, when he wishes to
introduce some _tonus peregrinus_, continue in it, and not go off too
quickly to something else, or, as he had hitherto been in the habit
of doing, play a _tonum contrarium_. And then it is very strange that
up to this time he has had no rehearsals, because he will not agree
with the scholars. Therefore he is to declare whether he will play
both figural and choral music with the scholars, since a capellmeister
cannot be kept. If he will not do this, let him say so categorically
of his own accord, that a change may be made, and some one who will
undertake it can be appointed to the post.”


“If an honest Director be appointed, he will play again.”

[Sidenote: Explanations Needed]


“He must explain his conduct within eight days. That scholar Rambach
(the choir prefect) now appear, and be reproved for the disorders which
up to this time have taken place between the scholars and the organist
of the New Church.”


“The organist, Bach, played for too long a time, but after this was
notified to him, by the Herr Superintendent, he at once went quite to
the opposite extreme and has made it too short.”


“Accuse him (Rambach) of having gone to a wine-cellar last Sunday
during the sermon.”


“Was very sorry, and it should never happen again, and the clergy have
already spoken to him very severely about it. The organist need not
complain of him about the conducting, because it was undertaken not by
him, but by the youth Schmidt.”


“He must for the future behave quite differently and better, otherwise
the gift which was intended for him would be withheld. If he has
anything to remember against the organist, he must bring it forward
at the proper place, and not take the law into his own hands, but
behave in such a way as to give satisfaction, as he had promised. The
servant of the Court is now ordered to tell the Rector to have Rambach
imprisoned on four successive days for two hours each day.”

Bach was always irritable and obstinate, and had completely alienated
his choir. He was too much engaged in composition to take any interest
in training it, and it was in any case not good enough for him. The
Consistory allowed that there were faults on both sides, and hoped
that by giving him more time than the eight days he would come to some
agreement with the choir: but in vain. For Bach having come fresh
from the artistic life of Lübeck found the drudgery of training the
rough scholars unbearable. The answer that he was required to give in
eight days completely left his mind, and after more than eight months
the Consistory again “represented to the organist Bach that he should
declare whether, as he has been ordered to do, he will rehearse with
the scholars or not; as, if he feels no shame in remaining in the
Church and receiving the salary, he must also not be ashamed to ‘make
music’ (_i.e._ rehearse) with the scholars: for it is intended that
these should exercise themselves, so that for the future they may have
more skill in music.”


“Will make the declaration on this subject in writing.”


“Furthermore ask him by what power he has latterly allowed the strange
maiden to appear, and to make music in the choir.”


“Has already spoken about it to Master Uthe.”[20]

The “strange maiden” who made music with Bach in private in the church
seems to have been his cousin, Maria Barbara, youngest daughter of
Michael Bach of Gehren,[21] whom he married in the following year. It
is not known how the matter ended, but Bach, from this time, began to
endeavour to find another post.

[Sidenote: _Second appointment_]

An important post at St Blasius, Mühlhausen, some 20 miles north of
Gotha, fell vacant through the death of Johann Georg Ahle on December
2nd, 1706, and there were many candidates. It seems, from Gerber’s
account (vol. ii. p. 764), to have been at first offered to Johann
Gottfried Walther of Erfurt, but to have been declined by him;[22] and
when Bach, whose friction with the Consistory made him anxious to leave
Arnstadt, offered himself as a candidate, the Council, after hearing
him play, were unanimous in his favour.

The church of St Blasius is a fine Gothic building, in strong contrast
to the homely, towerless New Church at Arnstadt; and the office of
organist is proportionately more important. Its present holder is Herr
Musikdirector Möller.


[7] See Spitta, “Life of Bach,” vol. i. p. 181, note.

[8] The Lyceum is now the Burgerschule. It is shown in the photograph
on the left hand side.

[9] The custom of singing in the streets is still kept up. The writer
heard one Sunday morning this year at Ohrdruf, excellent singing by the
choir-boys, in four parts, two treble and two alto.

[10] Spitta, vol. i. p. 195.

[11] In a MS. collection in possession of F. A. Roitzsch of Leipsic.

[12] MS. in Lib. of R. Inst. for church music, Berlin.

[13] Peters, vol. 244.

[14] See Glossary, Positiv.

[15] The above list, which slightly differs from that of Spitta, was
taken from the existing stop handles.

[16] Spitta, vol. i. p. 231.

[17] _i.e._ like many of Handel’s songs, which have a da capo after the
change of key.

[18] For an account of these see J. G. Shedlock, “The Pianoforte
Sonata,” London, 1895.

[19] The organ had fifty-four stops, three manuals, and pedal; and
the post of organist at this church was one of the best in Germany.
It had one drawback, however; on the resignation or death of an
organist, the person appointed to succeed him was obliged to marry his
daughter. Mattheson and Handel in 1704 and Bach in 1706 had thought of
applying for the post, but were all frightened away by this condition.
Buxtehude’s successor was Johann Christian Schieferdecker, who had been
harpsichord player in the opera at Hamburg.

[20] A preacher in the New Church.

[21] No. 14 in the Genealogical Table.

[22] This Walther was the author of the “Musikalisches Lexicon,”
Leipsic, 1732.

Chapter III

    Bach’s salary--He borrows a cart from the Consistory for
    his furniture--The agreement is made verbally--Bach’s
    first marriage--His duties at St Blasius--The festival
    compositions--Repairs to the organ--Difficulties with the
    Pietists--He resigns his post--Is appointed chamber-musician at
    Weimar--His duties there--His relations with Walther--Studies
    instrumental music--His journeys--His competition with Marchand.

The competition took place at Easter 1707, and terms were arranged
a month later. An organist is rarely a highly paid individual: but
modern organists may well be astonished at the meagreness of the
salary for which the greatest of their predecessors was content to
work. The request for the loan of a cart to bring his modest furniture
from Arnstadt brings the matter very plainly before us. One sees in
Thuringia, even at the present day, the clumsy four-wheel carts which
have not varied in shape for centuries, drawn by a cow and a pony,
rarely by two horses; and one can easily imagine such a cart conveying
the household goods of the young musician across the plain from
Arnstadt to Gotha, and from Gotha to Mühlhausen.

The terms were eighty-five gülden (about £8, 10s.); three malter
(twelve bushels) of corn, two cords of wood, six trusses of brushwood;
the last in place of some arable land formerly held by the organist.
The cost of conveyance to his door was to be borne by the Council.
In addition, he was to receive annually three pounds of fish, and he
asked that a cart might be lent him for transporting his furniture from
Arnstadt, to which request the Council agreed.

A fire had, a fortnight before, destroyed a large portion of the parish
of St Blasius, and when the clerk brought the agreement to the Council
to sign, pens and ink were not forthcoming, so that a verbal agreement
was made to all the terms.

The actual appointment took place on June 15th; and a fortnight later
he was again in Arnstadt, where he thanked the Council for past
favours, announced his resignation, and gave up the key of the organ.
A sum of five gülden was due to him as salary, but he requested the
Consistory to pay this to his cousin Ernst,[23] who had formerly
assisted him, but who was now ill and poor.

[Sidenote: _Work at Mühlhausen_]

His duties at St Blasius were to play the organ on Sundays, saints’
days and festivals. He was anxious to raise the whole of the church
music to a higher level, and mentioned this wish to the Council in an
address. His predecessor Ahle had left a number of compositions which
were frequently performed, but Bach, not being satisfied with them,
as quickly as possible made a good collection of music and had it
performed, paying for it out of his own pocket. He also made efforts to
improve the choir and orchestra.

He received considerable assistance in these endeavours from his pupil
Johann Martin Schubart (who afterwards succeeded him in his post at
Weimar), and from his choir leader, Johann Sebastian Koch, afterwards
Capellmeister to Count Reuss, and a Bachelor of Theology at Jena

In October 1707, Bach returned to Arnstadt for his wedding, which
took place on the 17th of that month, and it is evident that he had
parted on good terms with the Consistory, for the prescribed fees were
remitted. In September of the same year Tobias Lämmerhirt, of Erfurt, a
maternal uncle of Sebastian, had died, and left 50 gülden (about £5) to
each of his sister’s children, and this legacy must have been welcome
to Sebastian at the time of his wedding.

Among the duties expected of the organist of St Blasius, was the
composition of a cantata for the yearly change of Town Council
(Rathswahl); and it was customary to have the music printed after the
performance, at Mühlhausen.

The first of the cantatas thus composed by Bach is preserved; it was
for the festival of 1708, and was performed in the Church of the Holy
Virgin on February 4 of that year. The text is taken from the Old
Testament, together with part of a hymn or a chorale, and Bach called
it a motet. It was accompanied by three trumpets, drums, two flutes,
two oboes, a bassoon and strings, the band being divided into four
groups of brass, wood-wind (with cello), reed, and strings. The form is
in imitation of some of Buxtehude’s church cantatas.[24]

[Sidenote: St Blasius Organ]

Bach found the organ of St Blasius in very bad condition. It had not
sufficient bellows, and there was insufficient pressure on the bass
pipes, owing to there being too small a wind passage. There was no 32
feet stop and the trombone was too weak. Moreover the choir-organ had
become useless, as had also several stops in the great.

[Sidenote: _Repairs the organ_]

He drew up a list of deficiencies which he presented to the Council,
and asked for the addition of a “Glockenspiel” or peal of bells, to be
acted on by pedals, an invention of his own. The latter addition was
at once subscribed for by the parishioners. There was a smaller organ
in the church, which he proposed to sell and apply the proceeds to
repairing the principal organ. The Council placed the entire management
of the matter in his hands, and he obtained an estimate from Wender the
organ-builder who agreed to do the work for 230 thalers,[25] and to
allow 40 thalers for the small organ.

The requirements were:--

Three new bellows; stronger wind to the four old ones,[26] a new
32 feet stop with a separate wind chest for it; renewal of the old
bass wind chests; new and larger pipes, with differently arranged
mouthpieces for the bass trombone; the addition of the new glockenspiel
of twenty-four bells; the trumpet on the great to be removed and a 16
feet bassoon to take its place; the gemshorn to be changed for a viol
da gamba of 8 feet; a 3 feet nassat to be put in instead of the quint;
revoicing of all the rest of the pipes; sundry alterations in the
choir-organ; and a coupler to connect it with the third manual; the
tremulant to be put in working order.

Unfortunately, however, difficulties soon began to arise. He was looked
upon as an outsider, for the post had previously always been held by a
native; and obstacles which appeared insurmountable soon began to beset
him. Religious differences arose between the “Pietists” and the “Old
Lutherans,” the former being led by J.A.Frohne, dean of Mühlhausen,
and the latter by G.C. Eilmar, archdeacon of the Church of the Blessed

[Sidenote: _Pietist view of music_]

Bach sided with the orthodox Lutherans, and Eilmar was godfather to
his first child. The Pietists conceived of art as part of “the world,”
and therefore absolutely hostile to a Christian life: it could only be
rightly used in religion, and then only in the narrowest possible of
“spiritual songs” from which all expression must be excluded. Hence
any attempt to introduce higher forms or new ideas must be sinful.
It is easily seen, therefore, that Frohne would naturally place what
obstacles he could in the way of Bach’s endeavours to raise church
music to the highest possible artistic standard. Moreover, the Pietists
were opposed to the doctrine of regeneration by baptism, and to the
whole of the simple but truly religious views which Bach had inherited
from generations of his family, dedicated to the work of the church as
organists and cantors. He was no theologian, and was perfectly content
with the faith of his fathers.

The most beautiful and deeply religious of his church cantatas were
a sinful abomination in the eyes of the Pietists. What wonder then
that he should have found difficulties and obstacles and want of
appreciation in carrying out his aims. Even while he was in the midst
of the interesting work of repairing his organ, the situation began to
become intolerable, and a post at Weimar falling vacant, he took steps
to obtain it.

[Sidenote: _Resigns his post_]

On June 5 he went to Arnstadt for the second wedding of his friend
Pastor Stauber, who had performed the service a year before at Bach’s
own wedding, and on June 25th 1708 he sent in his resignation to the
Council at Mühlhausen, a year after he had received the appointment.
He had always been on the best of terms with them, and it is evident,
from the tone of his letter of resignation, that he was sorry to leave
them. The Council on their side also regretted the step, but granted
his dismissal, only requiring that he should supervise the repairs to
the organ, which were not completed till 1709.

[Sidenote: _Third appointment_]

The post at Weimar, which he now obtained, was that of Court-organist
and chamber-musician to Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar. Forkel says
that he made a journey to Weimar, and so pleased the Duke with his
organ-playing, that the post was at once offered to, and accepted by
him. “Here,” says Hilgenfeldt, “he devoted himself to acquiring that
overwhelming mastery of the organ for which his fame is assured for all
time: and he also laid the foundation for his future greatness as a

His circumstances were now very favourable. His employer was a man
of wide culture and refinement, deeply interested in music and other
branches of art, but more particularly in church music. He was
religious, and took much interest in religious matters; and in all
things he and Bach were in the closest sympathy. Bach’s position at
Weimar was much the same as that of Franz Liszt at the same Court in
the nineteenth century.[27] It is interesting to observe how this small
and poor Court for such a long period was famous for its encouragement
of art and literature. Bach in the first decades of the eighteenth
century, Goethe and Schiller in the last quarter of the eighteenth
and first part of the nineteenth, Liszt and Wagner later on, besides
many lesser men, received help and encouragement at this remarkable
Thuringian “Residenz.”

Bach, as we have seen, was appointed organist and “Kammermusikus”
(chamber-musician)--his salary for the first three years being 156
gülden, 15 groschen (£15, 13s. 3d.), which was always punctually paid,
but in 1711, 1713, and 1714 it was considerably increased.

The organ of the castle was small, but had a good pedal. There were 9
stops on the Great, 8 on the Choir, and 7 on the Pedal. The pitch was a
minor third below the kammerton or ordinary pitch.

As Kammermusikus Bach played the harpsichord and violin, and afterwards
became “Concertmeister” or leader. The number of musicians was about
twenty-two, including singers, but the latter could also play some
instruments, and many members of the band performed on several. The
orchestra would also be occasionally strengthened by the addition of
the town musicians. Johann G. Walther was organist of the town church,
and a great friendship sprang up between the two men. He was connected
with Bach by marriage, his mother being a Lämmerhirt. One of his
chorales has been erroneously ascribed to Bach. It is Peters, vol. 245,
Book vi., No. 24--“Gott der Vater wohn’ uns bei.”

Bach stood godfather to Walther’s eldest son, and a friendly rivalry
in composition arose between them. Later on, however, some unfortunate
disagreement seems to have arisen between the friends, for Walther, in
his Lexicon, omits the mention of events and compositions during the
nine years’ period at Weimar, which must have been well known to him.

[Sidenote: Sight-Reading Poser]

Forkel tells the following anecdote:--Bach, while still at Weimar, had
advanced so far in clavier playing that he said to a friend that he
believed he could play anything at first sight. His friend invited him
to breakfast in a week’s time, and for a joke placed on the harpsichord
a newly composed piece which looked simple enough. While the friend was
preparing breakfast in the next room, Bach instinctively began playing
what he saw on the harpsichord, but was not able to advance very far.
He tried several times, but always with the same result. On joining his
friend, he laughingly acknowledged that no one could play everything at
first sight, it was not possible.

Amongst other things Bach began to study Italian instrumental music at
Weimar, especially with regard to the forms then in use, the concerto,
the suite and the sonata. To this period may therefore perhaps be
assigned some of the concertos for clavecin and other instruments, the
suites for violin, etc., and the sonatas for harpsichord and violin.

The sonata of this date was usually performed by two violins and
a violoncello, with a figured bass part for a harpsichord or organ
(_e.g._ the twelve sonatas of Purcell in Italian style, and the four
sets of twelve sonatas each by Corelli op. 1, 2, 3, 4). These sonatas
had nothing in common with the modern sonata as begun by Emanuel Bach
and perfected by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

Bach has left some examples in the sonatas for two violins and clavier
(Peters, 237); for flute, violin, and clavier (Peters, 237): by clavier
must be understood here a part for figured bass, which would be played
by violincello or double bass and harpsichord. Besides this, he adopted
the form for other combinations, such as violin and figured bass, flute
and figured bass (Peters, 232 to 235) viola da gamba and figured bass,
etc. (Peters, 239).

Bach and Walther had plenty of encouragement in this kind of music,
since the Duke’s nephew Joh. Ernst (who unfortunately died young)
had considerable skill on the violin, and also was a fair composer.
They vied with one another in arranging Italian concertos for the
harpsichord and organ. Sixteen of Vivaldi’s violin concertos were
arranged by Bach for the harpsichord (Peters, 217) and three for the
organ (Peters, 247).[28] Walther arranged thirteen for organ from the
works of Torelli, Taglietti, Albinoni, etc., and they are preserved in
MS. in the Royal Library at Berlin. The arranging of these concertos
led Bach to the use of the new form for clavier compositions, of which
the well-known Italian concerto is an example. Is it possible that the
friendly rivalry was the commencement of the estrangement with Walther?

[Sidenote: _Artistic journeys_]

Bach was in the habit of making expeditions to try different organs, or
for other musical purposes, and his reputation began to spread through
North and Central Germany. He invented a peculiar form of fingering
for keyboard instruments in order to increase his facility, and his
use of the pedal rose to unheard-of heights. He also became an expert
in questions of organ construction, and was often called upon to give
his opinion in this respect. He was very ingenious in his use of the
stops and of artistic combinations, but, unfortunately, with one small
exception, none of his registering has come down to us. He was never
in command of a really fine instrument, and the above exception, which
consists of the chorale “Ein feste Burg,” Peters, vol. vi., No. 22,
seems to have been written for the newly arranged organ at Mühlhausen.
It is for three manuals--the left hand has to play on a “fagott,” and
over the right hand is written “sesquialtera.” These directions are
omitted in Peters’ edition, but are given in Walther’s collection at

[Sidenote: Halle Incident]

In 1713 he went to Halle, where a large organ of sixty-three stops
had recently been placed in the Liebfrauenkirche. Here he won laurels
by his magnificent playing, and, since the post was vacant through
the death of F. W. Zachau, he offered his services to the Council as
organist. He remained long enough to go through the prescribed test of
composing and conducting a cantata, after which he returned to Weimar
in haste to fulfil his engagements. The authorities of the church
wrote to him stating the salary and conditions, but Bach, considering
that the payment was inadequate to the amount of work, returned the
agreement they had sent him to sign. The Halle authorities then said
that Bach had only opened the negotiations in order to obtain an
increase of salary at Weimar. This naturally annoyed him, and drew from
him a firm and dignified answer to the affront.

In 1714 Bach went to Cassel to try an organ, which had been recently
renovated. His extraordinary execution, especially on the pedals, so
astonished the Crown Prince Friedrich (afterwards King of Sweden) that
he drew a valuable ring from his finger and presented it to him.

On the first Sunday in Advent 1714 he paid his first visit to Leipsic,
where he conducted his cantata, “Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland,” and
made the acquaintance of Kuhnau, Cantor of the Thomas Church, whose
works he much admired.

[Sidenote: _Order of church service_]

The autograph score of this cantata is still in existence, and on it
is noted, in Bach’s own hand, the order of the service in just the
same way as any modern organist, who was taking a service in a strange
church, would note it. The order on this occasion was a prelude on the
organ, then a motet, then the kyrie, which was preceded by a prelude on
the organ. Then came the epistle, the litany (which was sung), and the
prelude to the chorale. Then the gospel, and after this the cantata,
which was also preceded by a prelude. To this followed the sermon, then
the Communion, during which he had to extemporise another prelude to a
chorale, and the service concluded with a voluntary on the organ.

The organ solo portions of the service were all called “Preludes”; and
it does not seem that a concluding “voluntary” was usual. The prelude
was played at the beginning of the service, and before the chorales.
With us it is customary to simply play through the tune of a hymn or
chant, in order to let the congregation know what they are to sing,
and to give them time to find their places in the books. In Germany
an artistic and somewhat elaborate prelude, in which the organist is
expected to show his skill, precedes each chorale.

A hymn was sung between the epistle and gospel, in the place of the
“Gradual” of the Roman service, and here the most elaborate prelude was
introduced, based on the melody of the hymn.

Before the “church music,” which takes the place of our anthem, an
extempore prelude was played in order to allow the instruments to be
tuned. This was in the form of a fantasia, in which the performer had
to remain longest in the key which most coincided with the strings to
be tuned. The prelude had to stop on a sign from the conductor that the
instrumentalists were ready. It was supposed to have some connection
with the piece that was to follow, but the unhappy effusions of
incompetent organists led to occasional remonstrance from the Council.

[Sidenote: _Examination of a new organ_]

In 1716 the Council of the Liebfrauenkirche at Halle invited him
to examine their organ, which was now completed. He answered their
invitation very politely, and with Kuhnau of Leipsic and Ch. F. Rolle
of Quedlinburg began the examination in the second week after Easter.
The organ was built by Cuncius of Halberstadt, and the three examiners
reported that he had carried out the work (which had occupied three
years) in the most satisfactory way possible, the only part requiring
alteration being the bellows. After many difficulties, owing to the
smallness of the salary, the authorities eventually found an efficient
organist in G. Kirchoff, a pupil of Zachau and a man of the same age as

About 1716 the friend of Bach’s youth, G. Erdmann, visited him. He had
held a legal post under the Russian government since 1713.

[Sidenote: _Contest with Marchand_]

In the autumn of 1717 Bach made a journey to Dresden to hear the
performances at the theatre, which was supported by Friedrich August
I. There happened to be visiting Dresden a famous French organist and
harpsichord player Jean Louis Marchand, organist at Versailles, and of
several churches at Paris. He enjoyed an immense reputation as player
and composer, though his compositions have not borne the test of time,
and are now entirely forgotten. Vain, arrogant, and conceited, the
spoilt idol of French society, he came to Dresden, where his playing
became much in favour at the Court and he was given two medals. Soon
after Bach’s arrival there arose a discussion among the artists as to
which was the greater performer. The Court musicians took the part of
Marchand, while the members of the orchestra, who were mostly Germans,
preferred Bach. The matter ended in Bach’s being persuaded by his
friends to write to Marchand, offering to go through any musical test
that Marchand might suggest, on condition that he would undergo the
same test.

[Sidenote: A Victory]

The challenge was accepted; a date was fixed for a meeting at the
house of Field Marshal von Flemming,[29] a jury of musicians was
chosen, and a brilliant company assembled. Bach and the jury arrived
punctually, but Marchand did not appear. After a time he was sent for,
when it was found that he had departed by express coach that morning
from Dresden, certain, no doubt, of being defeated. Marchand seems to
have heard Bach privately beforehand; while Bach was already familiar
with Marchand’s works, and admired them much. Spitta[30] considers
that they are not inferior to those of Couperin in variety and grace,
but are rather thin for the more solid German taste. The news of
Bach’s victory soon spread far and wide, and did much to enhance his
already great reputation. He, however, never seems to have obtained any
recognition from the Court at Dresden.


[23] No. 27 in the Genealogical List.

[24] This is, according to the Bachgesellschaft, the only cantata
published in Bach’s life-time. Its title is “Gott ist mein König,” No.
71 of the Bachgesellschaft edition.

[25] The thaler = 3 shillings. Bitter says 200 thalers was offered for
the work and 50 thalers to be allowed for the small organ.

[26] The organ in the Nicolai Church at Leipsic had in 1885 ten
bellows, requiring four men to manipulate them.

[27] This is pointed out by G. H. Lewes in his “Life of Goethe,” vol.
i. p. 314.

[28] Vivaldi takes an important place as one of those who studied
and brought forward form. He wrote concertos for one, two, three and
four solo violins, improved the orchestra, and invented new means of
expression. He died in 1743 at Venice. See Spitta, vol. i. p. 411.

[29] According to Bitter.

[30] Vol. i. p. 585.

Chapter IV

    Bach becomes capellmeister to the Duke of Cöthen--His Weimar
    pupils--His new duties--Death of his wife--Journey to Hamburg--He
    competes for an organistship there--The post is sold--Disgust of
    Mattheson at the transaction--Bach endeavours to meet Handel--His
    second marriage--Is obliged to leave Cöthen.

Bach returned from Dresden to prepare for a jubilee at Weimar, in
commemoration of the two hundredth anniversary of the Reformation. The
festival took place from October 31st to November 2nd, and for it Bach
composed at least one cantata and perhaps two. On this occasion the
Duke established a fund, of which the interest was to be distributed
yearly, the Court organist to receive 3 gülden from it.

[Sidenote: _Fourth appointment_]

The old capellmeister, Samuel Drese, had for twenty years been too
much out of health to fulfil his duties. The duke, however, would not
dismiss him, but gave him a deputy, G. C. Strattner, at a salary of
200 gülden. Drese died on December 1, 1716, and it would seem natural
that Bach should be appointed in his place. For some reason, however,
he was passed over, and Drese’s son (who had succeeded Strattner as
deputy capellmeister) was installed. Bach, therefore, accepted an offer
made by Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen of a capellmeister-ship, and in
November 1717 moved to Cöthen. His post at the Weimar Castle organ was
filled by his pupil Schubart.

Amongst Bach’s duties at Weimar was that of composing and conducting
a certain number of sacred pieces every year, to texts by Franck, the
secretary to the Superior Consistory of the Principality of Weimar,
and librarian to the duke. Franck was a good poet, and had written
excellent masques, besides occasional pieces for weddings, etc.

[Sidenote: _Pupils_]

Bach’s fine playing naturally attracted many pupils. In those days
there were no Conservatoires or Academies of Music; and pupils were
“articled,” as in our own country, to eminent organists, taking much
the same place as apprentices in any trade--in fact, they were called
apprentices. His first pupil, who was also his amanuensis, was J. M.
Schubart; of J. C. Vogler, Gerber says that Bach considered him his
best organ pupil. He became Court organist and burgomaster of Weimar.

Another pupil was Joh. T. Krebs, who, however, did not begin studying
till he was married and had already a post as organist at Buttestädt
near Weimar, whence he used to walk weekly to Weimar, for seven years,
to obtain instruction from Walther, and afterwards from Bach.

Krebs’ son, Joh. Ludwig, became a pupil of Bach at Leipsic at the age
of thirteen, and Bach had a very high opinion of him. He received the
appointment of organist of Buttestädt. According to Gerber, he was
Bach’s pupil and assistant at the harpsichord for nine years, and was
second only to Vogler in eminence.

In repayment for his elder brother’s care at Ohrdruf, Bach took charge
of his nephew Bernhard[31] at Easter, 1715, teaching him the clavier
and composition. Bernhard afterwards was appointed organist of Ohrdruf,
in succession to his father. Some of his compositions still exist in
MS. and show the influence of his uncle.

Bach’s duties at Cöthen did not comprise any organ playing or church
music: in fact, he never held an organistship after he left Weimar. The
organ of the castle was merely a little chamber instrument, with only
thirteen stops, of which ten belonged to the two manuals and three to
the pedals.

The Prince was highly cultivated, with a great taste for music, which
had been developed by travels in Italy. After the custom of German
princes of that time, he became a patron of art, practising it himself.
Spitta (vol. ii. p. 3) infers from an inventory in the ducal archives
at Cöthen, that he played the violin, gamba, and harpsichord.

There is no sign of there having been a trained chorus at Cöthen. One
of the members of the band was Chr. F. Abel, who afterwards became
famous as a viola-da-gambist, while his second son Karl Friedrich was
the well-known virtuoso on this instrument.

J. Schneider became a pupil of Bach’s at this time. He was a violinist
in the band, but afterwards became organist of the Nicolai-church at
Leipsic. Bach’s salary here amounted to 400 thalers (about £60); it
commenced from August 1, though he remained in office at Weimar until

The private performances at the castle were full of zeal for art. The
Prince would not part with Bach, even for a short time, and took him
on his journeys; Bach reciprocated this feeling, and cherished his
memory after his early death. In the Royal Library at Berlin is the
autograph of a serenade written for the Prince’s birthday. It is scored
for soprano and bass solo voices, string band, harpsichord, two flutes
and one bassoon: this being the entire resources available. The words,
which are very meagre, are by an unknown author, probably Bach himself.
The cantata itself is not published, but its music is used with other
words in the Whitsuntide Cantata “Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut.”[32]

In May 1718, and again in 1720, Bach and six members of the orchestra
accompanied the Prince to Carlsbad. In November 1718 the Prince and
his younger brother and sister stood god-parents to Bach’s seventh
child, Leopold August, who died in the following year. The fact of so
many high personages standing sponsor to this child is a proof of the
estimation in which the Prince’s capellmeister was held.

[Sidenote: _Examines a new organ at Leipsic_]

Bach’s artistic journeys were continued from time to time, and on
December 16, 1717, he found himself at Leipsic again, in response to
an invitation to examine a large new organ recently erected in the
University Church of St Paul. The builder was Johann Scheibe, and Bach
declared it to be one of the best organs in Germany.

[Sidenote: _Death of first wife_]

In July 1720, on his return from the second visit with Prince Leopold
to Carlsbad, he was met with the terrible news that his wife had died,
and had been buried on the 7th of that month. She was only thirty-six,
and was in good health when he left her. She had borne him seven
children, had been the best of companions, and was keenly sympathetic
towards her husband’s work.

[Sidenote: _Visit to Hamburg_]

He went to Hamburg to perform a new cantata on the text “He that
exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be
exalted,” in November 1720. He found Reinken still playing the organ
of St Catherine, though now ninety-seven years old. Reinken, though a
very great artist, was vain, and jealous, and it was a question how
he would receive Bach. Mattheson, who did not love him, said that he
was a “constant admirer of the fair sex, and much addicted to the wine
cellar of the Council,” though he admitted that he had no equal on the
organ in his own style. Moreover, he kept his instrument in excellent
tune, and was always talking of it. When Bach came, an appointment was
made, and he played for more than two hours, half an hour of which was
occupied in a masterly improvisation on the chorale “By the waters of
Babylon,” in motet style. After the performance, at which the chief men
of the city were present, Reinken came to him, and saying, “I thought
this art was dead, but I perceive that it still lives in you,” invited
him to visit him, and treated him with every attention. Reinken’s
praise was the more complimentary, because he himself had composed and
published a very successful arrangement of the same chorale.[33]

The organ at St Catherine had four manuals and pedal, with an abundance
of good reeds, of which Bach was fond (a specification is in Niedt,
Mus. Handl. II., p. 176). There was also a posaune, a 32 ft. open
diapason, and a mixture of 10 ranks. It dated from the sixteenth
century, and had been renovated in 1670 by Besser of Brunswick.[34]

A still larger instrument was that of St James’ Church in the same
city, built by Arp Schnitker between 1688 and 1693, containing sixty
stops, four manuals and pedal. The organist of this church, H. Friese,
had recently died, and Bach, being tempted by the organ, and the
prospect of again having an opportunity of composing cantatas, offered
himself for the post.

[Sidenote: _Competes for a post at Hamburg_]

There were seven other candidates, the two most important being a son
of Vincentius Lübeck, and Wiedeburg, capellmeister to the Count of
Gera. An examination was fixed for November 28, the examiners being the
elders of the church, together with Gerstenbüttel the cantor, Reinken,
and two other Hamburg organists, Kniller and Preuss. Wiedeburg, Lübeck
and one other candidate retired. The tests were performances of the two
chorales “O lux beata Trinitas,” and “Helft mir Gott’s Güte preisen,”
and an extemporised fugue on a given theme.

[Sidenote: Deceived]

Bach could not wait for the examination, since his duties at Cöthen
required him to return home. He was, however, excused having to
submit to the test, on account of his great reputation, and arranged
to announce by letter whether he would accept the post. He wrote in
the affirmative, though the contents of his letter are not known. The
committee had his letter publicly read, and then elected an entirely
unknown man, J. Joachim Heitmann, who had done nothing for the art
of music, but who on January 6, 1721, paid to the treasury of the
church four thousand marks, which he had promised in the event of his
being elected. The committee came to the conclusion that “the sale of
a post of organist should not become a custom, since it pertained to
the service of God; but if, after election, a person of his own free
will should show his gratitude by money payment, the church should not
refuse it.”

Neumeister, a famous preacher, who had not been able to prevent this
extraordinary transaction, left the committee in anger. Mattheson
thus describes the state of public opinion when it became known.[35]
“I remember, and no doubt other people still remember likewise, that
some years ago a great musician, who since then has, as he deserves,
obtained an important appointment as cantor, appeared in a certain town
of some size, boldly performed on the largest and finest instruments,
and attracted universal admiration by his skill. At the same time,
among other inferior players, there offered himself the son of a
well-to-do artisan, who could prelude better with thalers than with his
fingers, and the office fell to him, as may easily be guessed, although
almost everyone was angry about it. It was nigh upon Christmas-tide,
and an eloquent preacher, who had not consented to this simony,
expounded very beautifully the Gospel concerning the angelic music at
the birth of Christ, which very naturally gave him the opportunity of
expressing his opinions as to the recent event as regarded the rejected
artist, and of ending his discourse with this noteworthy epiphonema:
‘He believed quite certainly that if one of the angels of Bethlehem
came from heaven, who played divinely, and desired to be organist of St
James’ Church, if he had no money he would have nothing to do but to
fly away again.’”

Bach had no equal in Germany as an organ player--this was soon admitted
on all sides.[36] Handel’s fame had reached Germany from England, both
as a composer and organ player. Comparisons were made between Handel’s
oratorios and Bach’s cantatas and Passion music--the former were widely
known, while the latter were hardly yet appreciated, and were forgotten
after the death of the composer.

We have a contemporary opinion in Mattheson, who had often heard
Handel. “No one,” says he, “can easily surpass Handel in organ playing,
unless it were Bach of Leipsic, for which reason these two are
mentioned first, out of their alphabetical order. I have heard them in
the prime of their powers, and have often competed with the former both
in Hamburg and Lübeck.”[37] Handel, however, did not devote himself
so entirely to the organ and organ compositions as Bach; he left no
unaccompanied solos for that instrument. Moreover, it is doubtful if he
found instruments of respectable size in England.

[Sidenote: _Endeavours to meet Handel_]

Bach and Handel never met, though they were twice very near one
another. Handel came to Halle, his native town, in 1719, while on a
journey as _impresario_ for the opera in London. Bach hearing of it,
made a journey to Halle from Cöthen, but unfortunately arrived there
the very day Handel had left. In 1729, he made another attempt to meet
Handel by sending him a polite invitation, through his son Friedemann,
to come to Leipsic; but Handel refused the invitation. On a third visit
of Handel to Halle, Bach was dead. Bach greatly admired Handel’s music,
and copied some of it for his own use.

[Sidenote: _Bach’s second wife_]

We have seen that Bach’s first wife died in 1720. It was not at all in
accordance with the family traditions to remain widower, and in 1721 he
began to think of re-marrying. He opened negotiations in this year with
Anna Magdalena Wülken, a Court singer at Cöthen, twenty-one years old,
and the youngest daughter of the Court trumpeter, and was married to
her on December 3 in the same year.

Bach’s second wife was a good musician, and had a fine soprano voice,
which she used for the performance of her husband’s works in the
privacy of the home circle. She had lessons from her husband in clavier
and figured bass playing, and also gave him immense help in copying
music; amongst other things, her MS. copy of a great part of Handel’s
_Passion-music_ still exists.

Just before Bach’s second marriage the widow of his uncle Tobias
Lämmerhirt died, leaving him part of her estate. This was the uncle
who died just before Bach’s first marriage, leaving him a legacy. The
second accession of money caused some trouble. The distribution under
the will of the widow was disputed in the names of five relations,
Joh. Christoph Bach of Ohrdruf, Joh. Jacob Bach, Joh. Sebastian Bach,
Maria Wiegand (born Bach), and Anna Zimmermann (born Lämmerhirt).
Unfortunately for the petitioners, they had used the names of the three
Bachs without ever informing them. As a matter of fact, Joh. Christoph
was already dead, and Joh. Jacob was in Sweden; Joh. Sebastian was
most indignant when he heard of it, and wrote to the Council of Erfurt
disclaiming both for himself and his brother all desire to dispute the
will; saying that they were perfectly satisfied with their share, and
that the petition was drawn up without any notice being sent to them.
The proceedings were then dropped at once, and nothing more is heard of

[Sidenote: _Little Clavier Book_]

Immediately after their marriage the Bachs started a MS. music-book
between them, entitled “Clavier Büchlein vor Anna Magdalena Bachin,
Anno 1720,” on the first page of which is written a playful inscription
to the effect that the book was directed against the Calvinism, and its
attendant melancholy and hostility to all art, which was rife at Cöthen
at this period. This book was followed in 1725 by a second and larger
book; both are preserved in the Royal Library at Berlin. The books
contain various clavier compositions by Bach, Böhm, Gerhard and others,
besides sundry hymns and sacred songs, also a song on the reflections
of a smoker; and others evidently addressed to his wife, to whom he was

[Sidenote: A Large Family]

He had thirteen children, six sons and seven daughters, by this wife;
making, together with those by his first wife, nineteen children in all.

Anna Magdalena’s portrait was painted by Cristofori, and came into the
possession of Philip Emanuel, but it has now disappeared.

Most of his chamber music was written at Cöthen, where he remained more
than five years.

His position was so peaceful and pleasant that he proposed to spend the
rest of his life there. His prince was in full sympathy with him, as
we have seen. He had none of the contentions which seem to be almost
inevitable between an organist and his church authorities when the
organist wishes for anything beyond a mere conventional standard of
church music.[38] He had nothing to do with either the composition or
performance of church music; and if he had remained there the world
would have been the poorer by the _Passion-music_ and nearly all the
cantatas. Fortunately for us, however, his circumstances altered. His
prince married a lady who had no sympathy with music or its professors,
and his interest in music began to flag. After five years Bach found
himself again obliged to seek another post: and he found one in which
he remained till his death.


[31] No. 45 in the Genealogy.

[32] Spitta, vol. ii. pp. 6, 7.

[33] Hilgenfeldt, p. 26.

[34] Spitta, vol. ii. p. 18.

[35] In “Der Musicalische Patriot,” 1728, quoted by Spitta, vol. ii. p.

[36] Scheibe Kritikus Musicus, 1745, pp. 839, 875.

[37] Vollk. Capellmeister, 1739, quoted by Spitta, vol. ii. p. 26.

[38] After leaving Cöthen, Bach still held the title of honorary
Capellmeister to the Prince, until the death of the latter in 1728.
Bach composed a “Trauer Musik” for his funeral, which is unfortunately

Chapter V

    The position and duties of the Cantor of St Thomas’ School
    at Leipsic--The condition of the school in 1722--Kuhnau’s
    death--Competition and election of two cantors in succession--Bach
    offers himself--Is elected--Difficulties with the authorities.
    The Council make irritating regulations--Bach endeavours to leave
    Leipsic--Election of a new Rector, and temporary disappearance of
    Bach’s troubles.

[Sidenote: _St Thomas’ School, Leipsic_]

Of the three ancient schools at Leipsic, St Thomas, dating from the
thirteenth century under the Augustines, was the oldest and most
important. It was endowed with no less than fifty-four scholarships
for the encouragement of church music, and its cantor was a person
of considerable importance, who ranked next below the Rector and
Conrector. These three officials, together with the chief Latin master,
were “Superiores,” who kept apart from the “Inferiores” or lower
masters. The cantor’s duty was to teach singing for seven hours a week,
to take the boys to church on Thursdays at 7 o’clock in the morning,
and to give certain Latin lessons. He had also to take his turn with
the other Superiores in inspecting and examining the boys for one week
in four. The boys lived with them, and the regulations of the school
required all to get up at 5 in summer, 6 in winter, to dine at 10, to
have supper at 5, to go to bed at 8.

[Illustration: The Thomasschule at Leipsic]

The boys of the Thomas-school had to supply the music every Sunday in
four churches, St Thomas, St Nicholas, St Peter and St Matthew; but
at St Peter’s only chorales were sung, so that the younger singers
sufficed for this duty.

A motet or cantata was performed every Sunday at the Thomas-Church and
Nicolai-Church alternately: a custom which still continues; the service
is at 9 A.M., and the cantata, which is always accompanied by the town
orchestra with the organ, takes somewhat the place of the anthem in an
English cathedral. The composition to be performed on each Sunday is
now announced in the previous Saturday’s papers.

[Sidenote: Office of Cantor]

On great festivals the music was performed in both churches at once,
and twice a day. The cantor was responsible for the music at one
church, the choir prefect for that at the other.

In order to lighten the work that this must have imposed on the boys,
the choir that sang at St Thomas in the morning would sing the same
music at St Nicholas in the afternoon; and the cantata which was sung
at St Nicholas in the morning would be repeated at St Thomas in the
afternoon. The rehearsals took place on Saturday afternoons from about
2.30 to 4.

Wedding and funeral music had also to be supplied by the cantor.
Moreover he had not only to choose the music for these occasions, and
teach it to the choir, but appear in person to direct it, though he
frequently left the last duty to the prefect.

The choristers had to take part in certain processions at Michaelmas,
New Year, on St Martin’s and St Gregory’s days: and these performances
were conducted by the prefects. For this purpose they were divided into
four choirs, but the four choirs had only two or three voices for each
part. The cantor had to direct the music in the two other churches,
_i.e._ St John and St Paul, to inspect their organs, and to superintend
the town musicians who took part in the church music.

The holidays consisted of one week during each of the fairs,[39]
followed by a week of half-holidays. In the summer four weeks of
half-holidays. Morning lessons were omitted on Saints’ days, funeral
days, and academical speech days. Four whole holidays in the year took
place on the “Name days” of the four principal masters.

In Lent no church music was performed, except on the festival of the
Annunciation; and on the last three Sundays in Advent there was no
church music.

The above list of holidays may seem at first sight ample; but it
had this great drawback: the masters were never free, as in English
schools, to go away for change of scene. The boys appear to have lived
with them throughout the year. It is possible that German boys do not
cause so much anxiety to their masters as English boys, and that work
was not carried on at such high pressure as nowadays; it is quite
certain that no master of an English public school could pursue his
work continuously, year after year, as these old Germans seem to have
done, without breaking down in health.

The cantor was provided with a residence in the school: the salary
was 100 gülden (about £13), but the whole income from various sources
amounted to about 700 thalers (about £100), together with certain
allowances of corn, wine and firewood. A curious custom, though not
an uncommon one in those days, was, that certain scholars twice a
week went round the town to collect donations for the school; and out
of these, 6 pfennige (about three farthings) per week were taken for
each scholar and divided between the four upper masters. The moneys
collected during the processional singing in the streets, and also the
fees paid for funerals and weddings were divided according to certain
fixed rules. Bach mentions to Erdmann that when the air of Leipsic
is good there are few funerals, and therefore the cantor’s income is
smaller. Many efforts were made by the public to evade these taxes, by
holding funerals and weddings without music; and there arose a certain
feeling of indignation that an important school and church official
should partly derive his means of subsistence from money obtained by

Owing to the insufficiency of accommodation the school was a centre of
illness, until the building was enlarged.

The Rector, Ernesti, was very old--he was a learned man, but was not
able to control either masters or boys. The former quarrelled among
themselves, and neglected their duties; the boys were undisciplined,
and the many calls on their time for musical performances made their
education difficult. When Ernesti was appointed there were one hundred
and twenty boys in the lower school; there were now only fifty-three.

The scholarships had plenty of applicants, but the better class of
citizens sent their sons to the other schools. The lowest classes of
the Thomas School consisted of boys of the worst character, who went
about the town barefoot and begging.

[Sidenote: _Kuhnau’s troubles_]

All reform which might result in curtailing his salary was opposed by
Ernesti, and the cantor seconded his opposition. Things therefore grew
worse and worse till his death in 1729. In 1730 the superintendent
reported that the school had run wild, and that there were so few
scholars that it was proposed to close the lower classes altogether. As
to the singing, it must have been very bad. The slow processions in the
worst of weather, the running up long flights of stairs to sing before
the doors of the higher “flats” ruined the voices. Kuhnau complained
in 1717 that the trebles lost their voices before they had learned to
use them. In addition to this, they were undisciplined and often feeble
and miserable from illness, so that they did not offer an attractive
material for the cantor to work upon.

Kuhnau worked his hardest to remedy this state of things, but without
avail. In reply to his very reasonable request that at least two
trebles should be set apart for church music only, and not allowed to
run about the streets and attend funerals for money, the Council took
no further steps than to allow 4 gülden for this purpose, and that two
boys should be released from the winter processions.

When from 1693 to 1729 a house in the Brühl, one of the chief streets
of Leipsic, was used for the performance of operas during the fairs,
much damage was done to the musical tendencies of the inhabitants of
Leipsic. The students of the University, who had formerly taken an
important part in the performance of the church cantatas, now left
Kuhnau (after he had been at the trouble of training them), and joined
the chorus of the opera. The trouble was most acute when Telemann was
organist of the Church of St Matthew. He had been a student in the
University, had composed an opera, and had formed a musical society
amongst the students. Looking upon him as one of themselves, they
entirely left Kuhnau, who had to supply the music for the churches
as best he could. A new and operatic style of music came into vogue
under Telemann at St Matthew’s Church, which became very popular;
and his musical society became the most important in Leipsic. There
were sixty members, who practised twice a week from 8 to 10 in the
evening, and their performances, which took place during fair time,
became important. This “Musical Union” practised in the coffee-houses,
and members of the public were admitted; its meetings had none of the
formality of school practice, but were cheerful and attractive. Some of
its better instrumentalists obtained engagements in good bands, as at
Dresden, Darmstadt, Wolfenbüttel and Hamburg.

Telemann’s post, when he left, was successively occupied by good
musicians, and the union and opera were kept up; the cantor had, in
consequence, a hard time of it. At festivals and fairs, when he was
naturally anxious to do well before the public, he had nothing to rely
on but a few inefficient town musicians and unruly schoolboys.

The organ at the Thomas Church was “belaboured first by one, then by
another pair of unwashed hands,” the director of the music being either
unable to play it, or absent. Kuhnau begged that a regular organist
should be appointed, but he begged in vain. The Council, like everyone
else, were more interested in the attractions of the opera than in the
serious music of the two important churches.

[Sidenote: The Thomas School]

At last even the boys took to the opera. Those who had any voices got
engaged by an _impresario_, ran away from school, and returned only to
appear in the theatre during fair time, thus exciting the admiration
and envy of their former school-fellows. The music at the Thomas School
had reached its lowest ebb at the time of Kuhnau’s death.

[Sidenote: _The Successor to Kuhnau_]

Kuhnau, the cantor of this School of St Thomas at Leipsic, died on June
5, 1722. Six candidates applied for the post--Fasch, a former pupil of
Kuhnau, and now capellmeister to the Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst; Rolle,
musical director at Magdeburg, and formerly organist of Quedlinburg;
Telemann, who had composed cantatas for St Thomas’ Church, and operas
for the Leipsic theatre, cantor at Hamburg; G. F. Kauffmann, a pupil
of Buttstedt, and organist of Merseburg; Graupner, capellmeister of
Darmstadt; and Schott, the organist of St Matthew’s Church at Leipsic.

Telemann was elected, and arrangements were made for his installation,
when he wrote from Hamburg that he would not accept the office. The
Council were therefore, much against their will, obliged to elect
another, and their choice fell on Graupner, who had been nine years a
boy in the Thomas School, and was a pupil of Kuhnau. He was considered
one of the best composers for the harpsichord of the day. He was
backed by strong recommendations and testimonials from Heinichen, the
capellmeister of Dresden, but the Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt refusing
to part with him, he was forced to retire.

[Sidenote: _Bach offers himself_]

At the end of 1722 Bach, after long and anxious deliberation, offered
himself for the appointment.

He did not wish to leave his comfortable post at Cöthen, and moreover
the position of cantor was somewhat less dignified than the office of
capellmeister. On the other hand, the education of his sons could be
better carried out at Leipsic, and the marriage of the Prince had to
some extent put him out of favour. After some three months’ hesitation,
acting on the advice of friends, he went to Leipsic and performed his
test piece, “Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe” (Peters, 1290), on February
7, 1723.

[Sidenote: _The Agreement_]

On the retirement of Graupner Bach was chosen, with the proviso that
if he could not teach all the Latin required, they would pay a deputy
to do it for him. Not wishing to be behind his predecessor Kuhnau,
he undertook all the duties, but soon finding the Latin too much of
a task, he paid his colleague Pezold 50 thalers per annum to relieve
him of this part of his work. He had to sign an agreement to lead
a respectable and sober life; to be faithful and diligent in the
performance of his duties; to have a proper respect for the Council;
not to make the church music too long or too operatic; to instruct
the boys in instrumental as well as vocal music; to treat them with
humanity; not to send incapable singers to the New Church;[40] not to
make any journeys without permission from the Burgomaster; and not to
accept any office in the University without leave from the Council.[41]

After signing this agreement, he had to pass an examination as to his
religious views, and on the 13th of May 1723, he was confirmed in the
appointment: though the installation did not take place till the 31st.

[Illustration: St Thomas’ Church, Leipsic]

Bach’s residence was in the left side of the school buildings: but in
1731 the building was enlarged and he for a year lived in a temporary
residence, for which the Council paid a rent of 60 thalers.

This particular post of cantor was one of the most important in Germany
and had been always held by a distinguished man. The work was not
heavy, though the list of duties seems a long one; and he would have
time for his own engrossing occupation of composing. He still held the
rank of a capellmeister, and in addition to that of Cöthen, he was
given honorary rank as capellmeister of the Court of Weissenfels in the
year he removed to Leipsic.

[Sidenote: _Troubles with the Authorities_]

And with the resumption of church work came difficulties of many kinds.
The authorities never, from first to last, recognised that they had one
of the world’s greatest geniuses to deal with; in fact they did not
require a genius; all they asked was that their cantor should be able
to carry out the church music in a respectable conventional manner.
Bach, with his lofty ideals, was so often at variance with them that
the history of his life at Leipsic seems at first sight to consist of
one long turmoil and trouble.

[Sidenote: Cloud and Sunshine]

Yet there are bright spots in the picture; and nothing was able to
disturb the equanimity with which, in spite of external rubs, he for
twenty-seven years continued to pour forth his marvellous Passion music
and cantatas.

It was very important from Bach’s point of view that he should be in
a position to control and regulate all the church music that was
performed at Leipsic; and for this purpose he was obliged to take
steps to obtain control of the students’ chorus, which now sang in the
University Church. The organist there was Görner, a conceited and not
very competent musician, who had been in the habit of directing the
music after Kuhnau’s death.

Görner persuaded the authorities that the cantor of St Thomas could
not possibly serve St Paul’s[42] as well as St Thomas and St Nicholas;
and he therefore continued in his post as musical director to the

[Sidenote: _An Appeal to the King_]

The music for the University Festivals had, however, been from time
immemorial conducted by the cantor; and Bach seems to have gained his
way in the matter. The cantor had a special payment for these services;
but Görner had appropriated part of it. Bach tolerated this for two
years, and then addressed a letter to the King of Saxony explaining
that he, by right of office, conducted the music, but was only paid
half the official salary. The letter was dated September 14, 1725, and
on the 17th the Ministry of Dresden wrote to the University requiring
them to restore the salary to the petitioner, or to show their reasons
for not doing so.

The University wrote justifying themselves, whereupon Bach, suspecting
that they had not properly stated the case, petitioned the King to
allow him to see a copy of their justification. He wrote a refutation
of this, and the business dragged on till May 23, 1726, when a
document, which seems to have been in Bach’s favour, was presented to
the University, and the matter appears to have ended. He and Görner
were both employed to compose the music for extra festivals, but Bach
the more often.[43]

Though Bach put all his energy into the music at the two chief
churches, he took care not to be merely a cantor. He had formerly
been, and still held honorary rank as capellmeister; and having a
very proper pride in himself and his profession, he now always called
himself Director Musices and Cantor. Considerable importance is
attached in Germany to such titles as Professor, Doctor, Capellmeister,
Musicdirector, etc., which have a recognised order of precedence; and
it is significant of the conditions that prevailed between Bach and his
church authorities that the latter nearly always persisted in giving
him the lower title of cantor.

[Sidenote: ‘Matthew Passion’ Music]

The first performance of the _Matthew Passion_ music took place in
Holy Week of 1729. In his efforts to improve the choir, he had asked
the Council to allow nine of the scholarships to be allotted to boys
with voices: and he hoped that the magnificent Passion music he had
just composed and performed would show them the importance of providing
better material; but all was in vain. They took no notice of his
request, and showed a complete ignorance of the value of their cantor’s

About this time he became conductor of the Musical Union, which had
been founded by Telemann, but even here troubles arose. The Union
was expected to strengthen the choir at St Thomas’ Church. No money,
however, being available to pay the students who took part, they
naturally fell off. Yet when the church music deteriorated the Council
were the first to blame the cantor.

[Sidenote: _Bach is admonished_]

They now began to observe, or imagine they observed, neglect of duty
on his part, and addressed various warnings and admonitions to him.
He became defiant and refused to explain, whereupon they said that
he was incorrigible. The chief trouble arose over the teaching of
Latin. We have already seen that the Council had originally offered
to pay a deputy to do this part of the cantor’s work, but that Bach
had undertaken the whole. Finding it too irksome, however, he had
himself paid Pezold to act as his deputy, but the Council, considering
Pezold incompetent, wished to employ one Krügel. Instead of settling
the matter by insisting on Bach’s doing the work himself, they showed
their petulance by bringing charges against him of not having behaved
with propriety, of sending a member of the choir into the country
without giving notice to the authorities, of going a journey without
permission, of neglecting his singing classes, and, in short, of doing
nothing properly. At first it was proposed to put him down to one of
the lowest classes, next to refuse payment of his salary, and at the
same time to admonish him. His doing “nothing” consisted in composing
and conducting an enormous number of church cantatas, including the
_Matthew Passion_.

But the Council merely required hack work of him, and no doubt as they
paid him to do hack work (which could probably have been equally well
done by an inferior musician) they had a right to demand it.

He had, it is true, given over half the singing practices to the choir
prefect, but this was only in accordance with long established custom,
and no one had previously complained. Moreover the Council themselves
had refused Bach’s request for a more efficient choir, and it was
only natural that he should not take much interest in the drudgery of
teaching an unruly rabble, when he was occupied with work which was to
prove so much more important to the world at large.

[Sidenote: Vestry Squabbles]

In the constant state of conflict between masters, boys, Council and
Consistory, Bach chose to go his own way. With the Rector, Ernesti, who
troubled himself little about the musical arrangements, he had been on
excellent terms.

Several stories are told of the petty tyranny sought to be exercised
over the great man by an ignorant and fussy vestry. Thus, Bach
insisted, for sufficient reasons, on his right of choosing the hymns
and ignoring those selected by Gaudlitz, the subdean of St Nicholas.
Gaudlitz reported him to the Consistory, who sent him a notice that
he must have the hymns sung which were chosen by the preacher. He
therefore appealed to the Council, showing that it had been the custom
for the cantor to select the hymns. This caused a squabble between the
Council and the Consistory, but it is not known how the matter ended.

Another instance occurred over the announcement of the performance of
a _Passion_ music, for which the Council suddenly discovered that
their permission was necessary. The work had been performed several
times previously, and the irritating restriction was entirely uncalled
for. Bach simply reported to the superintendent of the Consistory that
the Council had forbidden the performance; and thus produced another
quarrel between the two bodies which was to his advantage.

[Sidenote: _Inefficiency of Musicians_]

Bach had not only to organise and train his choir, but to teach some
of his pupils to play on instruments, since the town musicians were
only seven in number, four wind and three string players. Money was not
forthcoming to pay professional musicians, though there were plenty in
Leipsic. Bach therefore got hold of the more gifted of his pupils and
taught them instruments, and many of them became accomplished artists.

The regulations ordered that two hours of singing practice should be
held on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 12 to 2; but as this
arrangement interfered with the cantor’s dinner hour, his colleagues
petitioned that it should be changed. The Council refused to alter the
regulation, and in consequence Bach soon began to absent himself.

[Sidenote: _Confiscation of Fees_]

As the Council could not withhold his salary, they not only confiscated
certain fees collected for various outside duties but also contrived
that he should obtain no benefit from a legacy left to be divided among
the teachers and poorer scholars of the School. Bach was silent for
a time, but, when at last forced to speak, he wrote a long letter,
showing how absolutely inadequate were the means placed at his
disposal: incompetent town players, with mere boys to complete the
bands; singers who, not having had time to be trained, were obliged
to be admitted to the vacant places before they had any knowledge of
music; choirs with only two voices to a part, one of whom would often
be, or pretend to be, ill.

Bach’s letter irritated the Council, who, however, let the matter drop
after expressing their opinion on it.

The Council acted according to their lights. Though they would not
give Bach the means he required for carrying out the music properly,
they could understand when an organ required repairing, and voted sums
of money from time to time for this purpose, and for the purchase of
violins, violas, violoncellos for church use; and they allowed Bach
to purchase Bodenschatz’s Florilegium Portense[44] for the use of the
scholars. They did not actively hinder Bach’s development, but they
had no conception of the greatness of the man they had to do with.
They curtailed his income in a moment of anger, but soon afterwards
reinstated it.

[Sidenote: _Bach tries to leave Leipsic_]

Bach became thoroughly hurt, and sought for a means of leaving
Leipsic. The friend of his boyhood, Erdmann, now held a post at
Dantzic, under the Emperor of Russia, and to him Bach applied, in an
interesting letter which is still extant.[45] He describes his wish to
leave Leipsic under four heads: (1) that the post was by no means so
advantageous as he was led to expect; (2) that many of the fees had
been stopped; (3) that the place is very dear to live in; (4) that the
authorities were strange people, with small love of music, who vexed
and persecuted and were jealous of him. Bach asked Erdmann to find him
a post at Dantzic, but nothing came of it, for he remained at Leipsic.
In spite of the high prices of necessities, he saved enough to leave
behind him a well-furnished house, a sum of money and a collection of
instruments and books. Like many other good organists he had his rubs
with an unthinking vestry, but got over them.

The Rector, Ernesti, died in 1729, and in 1730 Bach’s Weimar friend,
Gesner, was appointed: a member of the Council saying that he “hoped
that they would fare better in this appointment than they had done in
that of the cantor.”[46]

The new rector was in most respects the opposite of Ernesti. He was
energetic; had the power of governing, with a special talent for the
management of schoolboys. He was a brilliant scholar, and did much to
revive the study of Greek as part of a mental and moral training rather
than as a mere intellectual gymnastic.

The Council were delighted, and did everything for him. As he was in
delicate health they not only had him carried to and from the school
in a chair, but remitted his duty of inspecting the school once every
three weeks. He smoothed over the disputes among the masters so that
they were no longer at enmity among themselves; won the affection of
his pupils by his new methods of instruction, his interest in their
welfare, and the enforcement of discipline and morality.

The State, he said, had need of every kind of talent: and if he saw
boys working at something useful, which was not actually school work,
he would encourage them. He also revived the Latin prayers morning and
evening, which had been replaced by prayers in the German language.

Between him and Bach there grew up a strong friendship. He helped the
music in every way he could: himself applying to the Council for the
books, etc., required by Bach.

[Sidenote: _Gesner’s Appreciation_]

[Sidenote: A Vast Combination]

Gesner, in his appreciation of Bach, appends a note in his edition of
the Institutiones Oratoriæ of Quintilianus, to the author’s remark on
the capacity of man for doing several things at once, such as playing
the lyre, and at the same time singing and marking time with the foot.
He says, “All this, my dear Fabius, you would consider very trivial
could you but rise from the dead and hear Bach: how he, with both
hands, and using all his fingers, either on a keyboard which seems to
consist of many lyres in one, or on the instrument of instruments, of
which the innumerable pipes are made to sound by means of bellows;
here with his hands, and there with the utmost celerity with his feet,
elicits many of the most various yet harmonious sounds: I say, could
you only see him, how he achieves what a number of your lyre-players
and six hundred flute-players could never achieve, presiding over
thirty or forty performers all at once, recalling this one by a nod,
another by a stamp of the foot, another with a warning finger, keeping
tune and time; and while high notes are given out by some, deep tones
by others, and notes between them by others. Great admirer as I am of
antiquity in other respects, yet I am of the opinion that my one Bach,
and whosoever there may chance to be that resembles him, unites in
himself many Orpheuses, and twenty Arions.”[47]

Gesner did all he could to smooth away Bach’s troubles, and probably
the latter was much happier than under the disorder which prevailed
while J. H. Ernesti was rector. Moreover, after one more dispute,
Bach and the Council at last learned to understand one another, and
quarrelled no more.


[39] The three fairs, called “Messe,” are held at Easter, Michaelmas
and New Year. Leipsic is at these times crowded with merchants from all
parts of the world.

[40] _i.e._ the Church of St Matthew.

[41] Spitta, vol. ii. p. 186.

[42] _i.e._ the University Church. In Bach’s time there were six
churches at Leipsic--St Thomas, St Nicholas (or Nicolai), St Paul (or
University Church), St Matthew (or New Church), St Peter (or Petri),
and St John.

[43] According to Spitta, vol. ii. p. 223. But Görner’s name appears in
the “Chronicle” far more often than that of Bach in connection with the
music for these festivals.

[44] See Glossary.

[45] Spitta quotes it in full, vol. ii. p. 253.

[46] Spitta, vol. ii. p. 242.

[47] Quoted by Bitter, vol. i. p. 303. This appreciation of the skill
required to conduct a musical performance is remarkable as coming
from one who, not being musical, might be expected to think, with the
majority of non-musicians, that the conductor merely has to “beat time.”

Chapter VI

    Home life at Leipsic--Personal details--Music in the family
    circle--Bach’s intolerance of incompetence--He throws his wig at
    Görner--His preference for the clavichord--Bach as an examiner--His
    sons and pupils--His general knowledge of musical matters--Visit
    from Hurlebusch--His able management of money--His books and
    instruments--The Dresden Opera--A new Rector, and further
    troubles--Bach complains to the Council.

[Sidenote: _Home Life_]

Let us now turn for a moment from this account of troubles and see
what the man was like in his own home. We have fairly full accounts
from which to draw a picture. It was related in chapter i. how the
various members of the Bach family clung together, meeting once every
year at various towns. The same traits are found in the household.
The pupils and sons all loved him. His character was amiable in the
extreme, but at the same time such as to command respect from all. Of
his hospitality, especially towards artists, we have special mention;
no musician passed through Leipsic without visiting him. He never
cared either himself to blame, or hear others find fault with, his
fellow-musicians. Of the Marchand incident he would never willingly
speak. He was modest in the extreme, and never seemed to know how much
greater he was than all the musicians he was fond of praising.

In the midst of all his occupations he found time for music in the
family circle, and in later years he used to prefer playing the viola,
as he was then “in the midst of the harmony.” He would occasionally
extemporise a trio or quartet on the harpsichord from a single part of
some other composer’s music: if the composer happened to be present,
however, he would first make sure that no possible injury would be done
to his feelings.

Though kindly and generous in his criticisms of others, he would never
tolerate superficiality and incompetence. He was therefore looked upon
as an excellent examiner when a new organist was to be appointed to a
church. He was quick-tempered, like most musicians in matters of music.
It is related that on one occasion, when the organist of the Thomas
Church, Görner, made a blunder, he pulled the wig off his own head,
threw it at Görner, and, in a voice of thunder, cried: “You ought to be
a shoemaker.”

His favourite instrument was the clavichord, on account of its power
of expression: and he made his pupils chiefly practise on this. He
learned to tune it and the harpsichord so quickly that it never took
him more than a quarter of an hour. “And then,” says Forkel, “all the
twenty-four keys were at his service: he did with them whatever he
wished. He could connect the most distant keys as easily and naturally
together as the nearest related, so that the listener thought he had
only modulated through the next-related keys of a single scale. Of
harshness in modulation he knew nothing: his chromatic changes were as
soft and flowing as when he kept to the diatonic genus.”

Of his conscientiousness in examining organs and organists, Forkel
ironically remarks, it was such that he gained few friends thereby.
But when he found that an organ-builder had really done good work, and
was out of pocket by so doing, he would use his influence to obtain
further payment for the man, and in several cases succeeded.

If he happened to be away from home with his son Friedemann on a
Sunday, he would make a point of attending the church service. He would
criticise the organist; would tell his son what course the fugue ought
to take (after hearing the subject), and would be delighted if the
organist played to his satisfaction.

He did his best for his sons and pupils; in fact he treated the latter
as sons. He sent his two eldest sons to the University of Leipsic, and
used his influence to get appointments for them and their brothers.
On the marriage of his daughter Elizabeth with his pupil Altnikol, he
obtained an organistship for him at Naumburg without informing him

[Sidenote: Of Many Parts]

Though he would have nothing to say to musical mathematics, his
knowledge of everything to do with the art and practice of music was
astounding. He was intimate with every detail of organ construction;
he not only tuned but quilled his own harpsichords, and, as we shall
see later, he invented new instruments. When he was shown the newly
built opera house at Berlin, he observed the construction of the dining
saloon, and said that if a person whispered in a corner, another
person, standing in the corner diagonally opposite would hear every
word, though no one else could do so. Experiment proved this to be a
fact, though neither the architect nor anyone else had discovered it.

An amusing story is told of a visit paid to him at Leipsic by
one Hurlebusch, a superficial and exceedingly conceited organist.
Hurlebusch had the reputation of being angry if his listeners praised
him instead of being so overcome with his playing that they could
say nothing. His visit to Bach was made, not to hear but to be heard
by, and to astonish, the great man. Bach took him to the harpsichord
and listened attentively to a very feeble minuet with variations.
Hurlebusch, taking Bach’s politeness as a recognition of his great
talent, showed his gratitude by presenting Friedemann with a printed
collection of very easy sonatas, recommending him to practise them
diligently. His host, who could hardly repress a smile, thanked him
politely, and took leave of him without in the least betraying his

When we think that the education of his large family, the hospitality
to strangers, the journeys to try organs in various places, were all
accomplished on an income of not much over £100 a year, we must admire
the business-like capacity of the man, even though all due allowance
is made for the difference in the purchasing power of money in those
days.[48] But he managed to collect a by no means contemptible library
of music and theological books; for in his simple piety he took great
interest in religious questions. He also possessed a goodly number of
keyboard instruments, several of which he gave to his sons on their
obtaining appointments. Of stringed instruments he possessed enough for
the performance of concerted music in the home circle. Some few of his
personal belongings are preserved in the De Wit collection at Leipsic,
not twenty yards from his residence. They consist of his clock, a few
pictures and trifles belonging to his study table, and show at once
that they come from a house of refinement and comfort.

[Sidenote: _Preference of a Simple Home Life to Riches_]

In later life he heard and studied with great pleasure the works of
Fux, Handel, Caldara, Keiser, Hasse, the two Grauns, Telemann, Zelenka,
Bendax, and others. He knew most of these personally, and received
Hasse and his wife Faustina as visitors at Leipsic. He often went to
Dresden from Leipsic to hear the opera there, and used to say to his
son “Friedemann, shall we not go and hear the pretty little Dresden
songs again?” He was, says Forkel, far too deeply interested in his art
and his home life to enrich himself by travelling and exhibiting his
powers, though he might, especially at the time in which he lived, have
easily become wealthy by so doing. He preferred the quiet homely life,
and the unbroken work at his art, and was contented with his lot. The
“glory of God,” not fame, was his object. But though his home life and
his work were a source of so much happiness, the external horizon began
to be stormy again.

[Sidenote: More Storm]

Gesner resigned his post in 1734, and was succeeded by the Conrector,
Joh. August Ernesti, a young and learned man, who, however, had no
sympathy with music.[49] He was at first on excellent terms with the
cantor, and was godfather to two of his sons; but, unfortunately, his
want of appreciation of music led, within a short time, to trouble.
Poor Bach seems at Leipsic to have been rarely free from disputes and
worries. It is true he was proud, sensitive, and irritable, where the
dignity of his art or his own personal rights were concerned; but that
the fault was not all on his side is shown by his friendly relations
with the Dukes of Weimar and Cöthen, and with all true artists. His
reputation throughout Germany was by this time enormous; and in Leipsic
itself he was considered by all except the Council and Consistory,
as the “glory of the town.” It is true his compositions were heard
with more respect than appreciation; but his fame as an organist,
harpsichord player, and learned musician was recognised at Leipsic as

[Sidenote: War with Rector]

[Sidenote: _The Appointment of a Choir Prefect_]

The trouble with Ernesti was not of an uncommon nature; where there
is a want of appreciation of music on the part of learned men, there
is very apt to be jealousy of the reputation and influence of its
professors. Disputes arising from this cause seem to have been not
at all rare in Germany at the time. Ernesti hated music, and was
undignified enough to make sarcastic remarks to any boy whom he
happened to see practising an instrument. He endeavoured, being young
and active, to intermeddle in the musical arrangements, with serious
results. There is preserved in the “Acta” of the Town Council, a
“Complaint” by Bach, dated August 12, 1736, to the effect that the
Rector Ernesti had exceeded his powers by promoting the prefect of
the second choir to be prefect of the first. This may appear at first
sight an unimportant matter; but, as Bach points out, the prefect of
the first choir must not only be chosen on account of his voice and
character, but he must also have the ability and knowledge to conduct
the music when the cantor is not able to be present. It stands to
reason, therefore, that the cantor is the only person who can make
the selection. On the following day Bach addressed another letter to
the Council saying that Ernesti had threatened to reduce and flog
any boys who obeyed the cantor’s directions; that he (Bach) had not
allowed the “incompetent Krause” (the prefect chosen by Ernesti) to
conduct the motet at St Nicolai, but had requested a student, Krebs,
to do so; that the boys were afraid to obey Bach in consequence of
the rector’s threats; and that his authority, which was necessary for
the proper performance of the music, would be destroyed if this kind
of thing were allowed to go on. The quarrel continued; Bach wrote two
more letters, and, since the Council would not move, he appealed to the
Court at Dresden. Ernesti also wrote stating his side of the question.
This Krause was a _mauvais sujet_, was deeply in debt, and had a bad
character, and the rector wished to give him a chance of recovering his
character before leaving school. In order to settle the matter, the
Council finally ordained that as it was Krause’s last term he was to
remain prefect to the end of it.

Bitter says that the fault lay as usual on both sides: but with this
we cannot agree. Bach was a man nearly twice as old and experienced as
the rector; and he was undoubtedly within his rights in insisting on
choosing those responsible for carrying out the music. On this occasion
Ernesti said he was “too proud to conduct a simple chorale.”


[48] A rough estimate of this difference may be made thus: The Council
paid 60 thalers = £9 a year for a “dwelling” for Bach during the
alterations to the Thomas School. Such a “dwelling” or “flat” would now
cost about £60 a year. An income of £100 in those days would therefore
represent the purchasing power of about £630 now: not a large sum on
which to give nineteen children a first-class education, and send two
to the university.

[49] For his installation Bach composed a cantata “Thomana sass annoch
betrübt”--“St Thomas School was still in grief.” From the _Leipsic
Chronicle_, 1734, quoted in _Centralblatt_, 1884.

Chapter VII

    Bach obtains a title from the Saxon Court--Plays the organ
    at Dresden--Attacked by Scheibe--Mizler founds a musical
    society--Further disputes--Bach’s successor chosen during his
    life-time--Visit to Frederick the Great--Bach’s sight fails--Final
    illness and death--Notice in the _Leipsic Chronicle_--The
    Council--Fate of the widow and daughter.

At the end of 1736 Bach went to Dresden where he was given the title
of composer to the Saxon Court. He had applied for a title three years
before, in the hope that it would place him in a better position with
regard to the Council and Consistory; but it was in vain that he hoped
for this. Neither his works nor his titles were able to impress them.

[Sidenote: _An Adverse Criticism_]

We learn from a Dresden newspaper of that date that he played from
two to four in the afternoon of December 1st on the new organ in the
church of St Paul, in the presence of the Russian Ambassador, von
Kayserling, and many artists and other persons who heard him with very
great admiration. In the same year, 1736, was published a book of
hymns with their melodies by Schemelli, as a second volume to the book
of Freylingshausen, to which Bach had in his early days contributed
some of the music. On the 14th of May, 1737, there appeared a severe
criticism of the way in which Bach wrote out all his _manieren_ or
grace notes, instead of leaving them for the performer to add at his
discretion. The music thereby loses all its charm of harmony, says the
critic, and the melody becomes incomprehensible. He wonders that a man
should give himself so much trouble to act against reason. The writer
was J. A. Scheibe, a young man who had failed in a competition for an
organistship in which Bach was one of the examiners. The attack was
answered by Birnbaum, a friend of Bach’s, in an interesting critical
analysis of Bach’s works. This was answered by Scheibe, and the dispute
went on for some time, other writers joining in it, until, as Bitter
remarks, “all their powder was exhausted.” Bach, however, worked away
without troubling himself about the matter.

In 1738 Mizler,[50] a pupil of Bach’s, founded a society for raising
the status of music. Though it was successful, the great musician was
not induced to join it until 1747, nine years later, when he handed
into the society a triple canon in six voices on the chorale “Vom
Himmel hoch, da komm’ ich her” as an “exercise.” It is to Mizler’s
society that we owe the preservation of the portrait by Hausmann, now
in the Thomas-schule, which is reproduced in this work: and still
further have we to thank it for the account of his life, on which all
later biographies are based.

[Sidenote: Disputes]

[Sidenote: _A Successor Chosen_]

Spitta gives accounts of further disputes. On one occasion a prefect
having punished some small boys at Bach’s special order, the rector
ordered him to be publicly flogged, whereupon the prefect immediately
left the school rather than suffer such indignity. A boy happening
to pitch a hymn at St Nicholas too low for the congregation to sing,
Bach was summoned before the Council and told to see that it did not
happen again. The rector threatened to confiscate the boys’ money
if they obeyed the cantor and accused Bach of being accessible to
bribery. In the _Leipsic Chronicle_ for 1749 we read that on June 8th
Gottlob Harrer was chosen as the future cantor of St Thomas, “when
Capellmeister and Cantor Herr Sebastian Bach should die.” The text of
the cantata performed before the Council on this occasion was “The rich
man died and was buried.” The Council seemed indeed anxious to get rid
of the great man who had done more than all others to make their city

[Sidenote: _Visit to Frederick the Great_]

[Sidenote: ‘Only One Bach’]

There is little more to relate. Bach from time to time made his
journeys to various towns, and paid visits to Erfurt, where his cousin,
Joh. Christoph, and Adlung were settled. As he advanced in years he
gave up these journeys. The last he made was to the Court of Frederick
the Great at Potsdam in 1747. His son Emanuel had been capellmeister
to Frederick since 1740; and the king had frequently, and always with
more insistence, thrown out hints that he would like to hear the great
artist. Bach being much occupied, and disinclined for travelling, did
not accede to the king’s wishes until they amounted to a positive
command. Then, taking Friedemann with him, he started for Potsdam,
which he reached early in May. The story of the meeting with Frederick
is variously told. We will tell it in Friedemann’s own words: “When
Frederick II. had just prepared his flute, in the presence of the
whole orchestra, for the evening’s concert, the list of strangers
who had arrived was brought him. Holding his flute in his hand he
glanced through the list. Then he turned round with excitement to the
assembled musicians, and, laying down his flute, said, ‘Gentlemen,
old Bach is come.’ Bach, who was at his son’s house, was immediately
invited to the castle. He had not even time allowed him to take off his
travelling clothes and put on his black Court-dress. He appeared, with
many apologies for the state of his dress, before the great prince,
who received him with marked attention, and threw a deprecating look
towards the Court gentlemen, who were laughing at the discomposure
and numerous compliments of the old man. The flute concerto was given
up for this evening; and the king led his famous visitor into all the
rooms of the castle, and begged him to try the Silbermann pianos,
which he (the king) thought very highly of, and of which he possessed
seven.[51] The musicians accompanied the king and Bach from one room
to another; and after the latter had tried all the pianos, he begged
the king to give him a fugue subject, that he could at once extemporise
upon. Frederick thereupon wrote out the subject (afterwards used in
the musical offering), and Bach developed this in the most learned
and interesting manner, to the great astonishment of the king, who,
on his side, asked to hear a fugue in six parts. But, since every
subject is not adapted for so full a working out, Bach chose one for
himself, and astounded those present by his performance. The king, who
was not easily astonished, was completely taken by surprise at the
unapproachable mastery of the old cantor. Several times he cried ‘There
is only one Bach.’ On the following day he played on all the organs
in the churches of Potsdam, and again in the evening on the Silbermann
pianos. From here he paid a visit to Berlin, where he was shown the
opera house.”[52]

A newspaper account of the visit to Frederick varies in several details
from the above; but as the account of the son, who was with Bach, and
perhaps an eye-witness, is the more trustworthy, we have not thought it
necessary to trouble our reader with the second account.[53]

[Sidenote: _Last Illness_]

In the following year the enormous strain he had all his life put upon
himself began to take its effect. Although of unusual strength, the
work had worn out his body. First his eyes, which had been used day
and night from the time he copied his brother’s book by moonlight,
began to give way. The weakness gradually increased, and pains began
to trouble him, yet he could not believe that he was near his end.
Friends persuaded him to undergo an operation at the hands of an
eminent English oculist, who was then in Leipsic. But the result of two
operations was that he lost his sight altogether, and his health was so
broken down by them that he never again left his house, while he was in
constant pain till his death.

[Sidenote: Death]

But he continued to work, even through his hours of greatest suffering.
He set the chorale “When we are in the greatest need” in four parts,
dictating them to Altnikol, his son-in-law. An extraordinary thing
happened ten days before his death; one morning he was able to see well
and to bear daylight; but a few hours after an apoplectic stroke,
followed by a violent fever, completely overcame him. The attentions of
the two best doctors in Leipsic could not avail against the illness,
and at a quarter past eight o’clock in the evening of July 28, 1750, he
breathed his last.

[Illustration: St John’s Church, Leipsic]

He was buried in St John’s churchyard, and, like that of Mozart, his
grave was forgotten and lost. The churchyard was altered early in the
nineteenth century, to allow of a new road being made, and his bones
with those of many others were removed. Some remains lately discovered
on the south side of the church are supposed with good reason to be
those of Bach; but nothing is known for certain.

On his deathbed he had dictated to Altnikol the chorale “Vor deinen
Thron tret ich hiemit.” The _Leipsic Chronicle_ notices his death as
follows: “July 28, at eight in the evening the famous and learned
musician Herr Joh. Sebastian Bach, composer to His Majesty the King of
Poland and Elector of Saxony; Capellmeister to the Courts of Cöthen and
Weissenfels, Director and Cantor of the school of St Thomas, died.”
Here follows a sketch of his life. “The Bach family came from Hungary,
and all, as far as is known, have been musicians, from which perhaps
arises the fact that even the letters b, a, c, h, form a melodic
succession of notes.”[54]

That is all; not one word of regret. Nor do we find that much notice
anywhere was taken of the death of the great man. A meeting of the
Council took place shortly afterwards in which, while no expressions
of sympathy were heard, the remark was made, “Herr Bach was a great
musician no doubt, but we want a schoolmaster, not a capellmeister”;
and they proceeded at once to arrange for the instalment of Harrer.

[Sidenote: _Fate of the Widow and Children_]

The sons of the first marriage took possession of all music that was of
value, and sold the rest of the property. Görner, Bach’s former rival,
undertook the duties of guardian to his younger children, and seems to
have fulfilled the task with propriety and reverence. Bach’s widow was
allowed her husband’s salary for six months, after which, receiving no
help from her stepsons, she supported her younger children as well as
she could, and becoming gradually poorer, died in an almshouse and was
buried in a pauper’s grave. The youngest daughter, Regina, lived till
1809, and was supported by charity in her old age.

The family of Joh. Sebastian Bach gradually died out, and is now
extinct, the last representative, a farmer of Eisenach, having died in

Bach’s music fell more and more into oblivion, and for a time his name
seems to have been forgotten. In 1883 a room in the Thomas-schule was
used as the English Church, and on the first floor a smaller room was
used as the vestry. In the latter was a cupboard in which the communion
plate and surplices were kept. The writer was told that this cupboard
had formerly been full of music MSS., and that during the years of
oblivion, whenever a Thomas-schule boy wanted a piece of paper to wrap
up his “Butterbrod” he was allowed to tear out a sheet of paper from
one of Bach’s manuscripts.[55]

Thus after his death were treated the family and works of the man “to
whom music owes as much as religion does to its founder.”


[50] See Glossary.

[51] These pianos were made in the years 1746-7 after the invention of
Cristofori of Florence, who was the first to use the hammer action.
This action, however, did not suit Bach’s touch, and though he praised
the tone, he does not appear to have become possessed of one. The
writer was shown one of the above-mentioned Silbermann pianos in the
Palace of Sanssouci at Potsdam in 1884.

[52] See page 79.

[53] It can be found in Bitter, vol. ii. p. 317, Spitta, vol. iii. p.
231, and elsewhere.

[54] h being the German term for B♮.

[55] This story may or may not be true--we give it for what it is worth.

Chapter VIII

The Cantatas and the Chorale

[Sidenote: _Characteristics of Bach’s Music_]

The prevailing characteristics in Bach’s compositions are intense
earnestness of purpose, and, in his church music, a deep religious
feeling, too deep for the ordinary everyday person to appreciate; an
absolute absence of anything extraneous, such as concessions to singers
and performers, or to the fashion of the day. When Bach writes florid
or highly ornamental passages, they are not intended merely to exhibit
the skill of the performer--their most important purpose is the exact
expression of the words or emotions in hand. In this he and Beethoven
were at one. Their difficulties of execution arise from the necessities
of artistic expression, and such difficulties will be found in all the
truest and best art, the art that lives beyond the fashion of the hour.

Bach, like Beethoven, suffered from the influx of a superficial kind of
music which so easily captivates an unthinking public.

The proximity of the Dresden Court, with its Italian Opera Company
and the opening of an opera-house in Leipsic itself, had much the
same effect in attracting the Leipsic public away from the solidity
and severity of the cantor (whom, all the same, they never ceased to
respect) as the Rossini fever had in the beginning of the nineteenth
century at Vienna with regard to Beethoven’s music. Bach, however,
was in a worse position than Beethoven, for he lived and worked in a
small circle of German towns, and only in the domain of church music.
Teutonic to the backbone, he expressed his thoughts in his own way
without swerving to the right or left. He never had occasion to try and
please any but a North German public, and he mostly endeavoured only
to please himself, and promote the “glory of God” in his own way, by
adhering strictly to what his genius told him was right; and posterity
has endorsed his views.

Beethoven, on the other hand, lived at a time when communications
between countries were beginning to be more rapid and frequent. The
French Revolution, and the constant wars brought about by the ambition
of Napoleon, though temporarily hostile to the actual practice of art,
had the effect of making whatever art was produced more cosmopolitan,
and therefore more easily appreciated outside the artist’s country.
Thus Beethoven’s music soon became known in England: and at the very
time when the Rossini fever was causing him to be forgotten in Vienna
(the town of his adoption) the English Philharmonic Society was
negotiating with the great composer for the composition of a symphony,
and these negotiations, as is well known, resulted in the production of
the greatest symphony the world has yet seen.

[Sidenote: _Bach and Handel_]

It is customary to compare the two musical giants of the first half
of the eighteenth century, Handel and Bach. Both were born in the
same year, 1685, Handel being the senior by one month only: both were
natives of small German towns, within a few miles of each other. Both
received their earliest musical education in Germany, but with the
difference that Bach, coming of a family of professional musicians,
there was never any thought of bringing him up to any other profession,
while Handel’s father, a surgeon, had all the prejudices of his time
and profession against music, and did his best to stifle his son’s
proclivities, till they became too strong for him to longer withstand.

After early childhood the ways of the composers were widely different.
While Bach was painfully acquiring the technique of his art, by making
long journeys on foot to hear and get instruction from eminent German
organists, by practising assiduously day and night, and by copying all
the best music he could lay hands on, Handel was playing the violin and
harpsichord in the German opera conducted by Keiser at Hamburg.

At the age of twenty-one Handel went to Italy and remained there three
years studying, and successfully composing operas for the Italians, who
called him “Il caro Sassone,”--“the dear Saxon.” At twenty-one Bach
was organist of a small and unimportant German town, still working
hard to improve his technical powers in every direction. Everyone
knows that Handel made his first reputation as a composer of Italian
operas which are completely forgotten, and not till he was fifty-five
years old did he begin that series of oratorios or sacred dramas by
which he is immortalised. Bach, on the other hand, making the organ
and the chorale his starting point, continued all his life to compose
sacred music--“church music” as it was called, and never wrote for the
theatre. Handel, domiciled in England, knew his public and knew them
so well that he wrote works which not only became popular at once, but
have never ceased to be popular. Bach either did not know, or did not
care to please his public, and wrote far above their heads, so that for
a time after his death he was forgotten entirely: only when Mozart,
and afterwards Mendelssohn, became acquainted with the wonders of his
genius did the public, almost against their will, begin to appreciate
what a giant had been on the earth in those days.[56]

[Sidenote: _Ein feste Burg_]

Bach’s place in Lutheran Church history is very important. He is
connected directly with the Reformation through the chorale, which
Luther so much encouraged as a means of spreading the new views of
religion. Bach was a strict Lutheran; and the chorale, or hymn to be
sung by the congregation, was perhaps the most important expression of
Lutheran religious feeling. The words will explain this perhaps better
than anything else, if we take an example at random from the Leipziger
Gesangbuch, in literal prose translation--_e.g._ No. 171: “A strong
castle is our God; a good defence and weapon; he freely helps us in all
trouble that can meet us. The ancient wicked enemy is in earnest; his
cruel armour is great power and much deceit: there is none like him on
the earth.

“We can do nothing of our own power, we are soon lost: but there
fights for us the right man, whom God himself has chosen. Dost thou ask
his name? Jesus Christ is his name, the Lord of Sabaoth. There is no
other God; he is bound to win the day.

“And if the world were full of devils, who would devour us, we need not
fear much, for we shall conquer. The prince of this world, however sour
he may appear, can do nothing against us: a word is able to slay him,”

[Sidenote: A Notable Chorale]

This is one of the chorales assigned to the Festival of the
Reformation, and one can imagine with what force it would appeal
to those disposed towards Luther’s teaching. Its well-known melody
was composed by Luther, and it was used by Bach as the foundation
of a cantata which is considered by Zelter to have been composed in
celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Reformation in 1717, but
the composer re-arranged it in 1730. The orchestra contains three
trumpets, one flute, two oboes, one oboe di caccia, two violins, viola,
violoncello, organ and figured bass.

The first chorus set to the words of the first verse has the following
vigorous opening, the orchestra playing an independent accompaniment.
(For convenience of English readers we quote from Novello’s octavo

[Music: A stronghold sure our God re-]


  A stronghold sure our God remains,
  A shield and hope unfailing

This is worked in bold fugato (both chorus and orchestra taking the
subject or the counter-subject), for thirty-six bars, which are then
repeated, note for note, to the words: “In need His help our freedom
gains, o’er all we fear prevailing.”

A short quotation may serve to give some idea of the fulness of the
writing and the boldness of the counterpoint, of which the effect, when
sung with proper energy, is overwhelming.

[Music: In need his help our freedom gains]

The words “our old malignant foe” follow, with the new fugue subject

[Music: Our old malignant foe]

occupying twenty-four bars.



  Would fain work us woe
  would fain]

&c. treated fugato for twenty bars; and each line is worked in the same

[Sidenote: A Massive Chorus]

The whole chorus is 221 bars in length, and is a masterpiece of massive
choral and orchestral writing, in keeping with the sentiment of the
words. It opens with three trumpets, drums, violoncello, and organ
manual, the pedal being silent for the first twenty-three bars. At
the twenty-fourth bar (the first quoted on page 97) the pedal enters
with the 16 feet Posaune, and makes a bold canon of eight bars, with
the melody played in the highest register of the trumpet. The canon
concludes with a drum passage on the dominant; and fresh canons between
trumpet and pedal occur at bars 49, 88, 122, 147, 178 and 200.

These seven canons are all formed on the musical phrases of the
tune: and one might almost look upon the chorus as a gigantic
“choral-vorspiel” with long vocal and instrumental interludes between
the phrases given out by the trumpets and pedal.

[Sidenote: A Florid Duet]

The second verse is set as a duet for treble and bass, still in the key
of D. After a ritornello, the bass enters with the words “all men born
of God our Father, at the last will Jesus gather,” set to exceedingly
florid passages, above which floats the melody in the treble voice.


  Our utmost might is all in men,
  All men born of God our]

A bass recitative, commenting on the preceding sentiments follows, and
then a treble aria, “Within my heart of hearts, Lord Jesus, make thy
dwelling.” In the fifth number the whole chorus sings the melody in
unison, now changed to 6/8 time, and with a very florid accompaniment.

[Music: If all the world with fiends were filled.]

This is followed by a tenor recitative, “Then close beside Thy
Saviour’s blood-besprinkled banner, my soul remain,” &c., a duet for
alto and tenor, “How blessed then are they, who still on God are
calling;” and the cantata concludes with the chorale simply harmonised
in four parts, “That word shall still in strength abide,” in the form
familiar to English congregations.

[Sidenote: _Fertility of Invention_]

We have given a fairly full description of this fine cantata in order
to show our readers what is meant when it is said that Bach based
his church music essentially on chorale. Most of the cantatas are
constructed in the same kind of way, _i.e._ a chorale is used as the
chief subject. But that Bach did not merely work on a fixed model is
shown by the fact that no two of the one hundred and ninety cantatas
published by the Bachgesellschaft are alike. Nothing astonishes us
more than the enormous fertility of invention shown in these wonderful
works, the variety of detail, and yet the unity of purpose. The one
idea of the composer was the religious effect to be obtained by the
highest efforts of art devoted to the service of God. Except in
Germany, they are rarely heard in their proper place as part of the
church service: but the mere reading through of the scores produces
a most profound effect, and creates a perpetual astonishment in the
reader at the enormous resources of the composer.

Bach is generally considered as the greatest composer for the organ,
but his organ works, wonderful as they are, seem small in comparison
with these marvellous cantatas, all different and yet all connected, as
it were, by an underlying unity of purpose.

[Sidenote: _The Choral-vorspiel_]

Bach took the melody of “Ein feste Burg” for one of his finest
choral-vorspiele (Peters, 245, No. 22). This is a particularly
interesting composition, since it is the only chorale in which we
obtain any clue to Bach’s methods of registering. In Walther’s MS. are
given a few indications “a 3 clav.” for three manuals. The left hand is
to begin with the fagott, sixteen feet, and the right hand on the choir
with the “sesquialtera.” The piece was doubtless intended for the organ
at Mühlhausen which was renovated and enlarged under Bach’s directions,
and which had three manuals, containing on one a sixteen feet “fagott,”
and on another a combination producing a “good sesquialtera tone.” It
is one of the larger choral-vorspiele, containing fifty-eight bars.

It is worth while noticing how Bach, in this, and all other
choral-vorspiele, does not adhere literally to the notes of the melody,
but introduces ornamental passages, or lengthens and shortens notes
to serve his purpose, or introduces the subject in augmentation and
diminution. This was the regular custom amongst German organists. The
choral-vorspiel is, in its simplest form, merely intended to prepare
the congregation for the melody that is to be sung, but instead of a
mere bald playing through of the tune, as is usual in English churches,
the organist was expected to use his art in elaborating it.

[Sidenote: ‘Surprising Variations’]

Bach, in his younger days, was accused of over-elaborating, not only
the vorspiele, but the accompaniment. It was a fault of youth, and
hardly called for the official censure that the Council at Arnstadt
thought fit to administer. He was practically his own teacher. If he
had been under the guidance of an older and more experienced organist,
he would undoubtedly have curbed his zeal for “surprising variations.”

At that time he seems to have lost sight of the fact that he was
expected to accompany the congregation. He forgot all about them,
and gave free rein to his imagination so that the “congregation were
confounded.” And well they might be, by the following example of his


_From the Leipziger Gesangbuch. As sung._

  Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten
  und hoffet auf ihn allezeit.]


_Peters 244, Variante zu No. 52._

  Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten
  und hoffet auf ihn allezeit]

He was in reality not suited to be a mere accompanist--his genius was
too great to be tied down to the formal notes sung by the congregation,
and a far lesser man would have suited this kind of work better. His
choral-vorspiele are masterpieces of organ work; his extemporised or
written accompaniments are artistic, but quite impracticable.

But when he harmonises a chorale in vocal parts for his choir to sing
with the congregation, his genius shines forth in the most exquisite
harmonic combinations possible. Examples abound, and a volume might
be written on this subject alone. We can only indicate here a few
instances of various treatments of the chorale.

Every one knows the opening double chorus in the _Matthew Passion_.
After an instrumental introduction full of dignity and solemnity, built
chiefly on tonic and dominant pedals (E minor), the first chorus sings,
“Come ye daughters, weep with me, behold the Lamb as a bridegroom.”
The second chorus exclaims, “Whom? How?” while the first continues its
course, and a “Soprano ripieno” chorus enters with the chorale--


  O thou begotten son of God.
  Who on the cross wast slain.]

The work is now performed every Good Friday in the Thomas Church at
Leipsic. The organ gallery occupies the whole of the west end of the
nave and two side aisles. On each side are placed the singers, the
soprano and alto parts being sung by women. This chorale is sung by the
boys of the Thomas Schule, some forty in number, and the effect of the
contrast of tone bringing it in is overwhelming. Poor Bach, with his
miserable little rabble of a choir with three voices to a part, can
hardly have realised how his music would sound many years after his
death, when performed by a large body of enthusiastic and intelligent

The next chorale in the work is

[Music: O Holy Jesu how hast thou offended,]

harmonised for four voices, and accompanied by violins, flutes, oboes,
violas and basses, in unison with the respective voices and figured
bass organ part. This accompaniment is used for all the succeeding
chorales, and we may remark that the melody is given to the two flutes
and two oboes as well as the first violins, that it may be made

All the other chorales in this work, six in number, are thus arranged
and accompanied. The well-known Phrygian melody

[Music: Herzlich thut mir verlangen.]

occurs no less than five times, sometimes harmonised in the Ionian,
sometimes in the Phrygian mode, and he has arranged it in the latter
mode as a very beautiful vorspiel for the organ (Peters 244, No. 27).

We may here remark that in playing the organ choral-vorspiele no notice
is to be taken of the _fermata_, which are only used when the melodies
are sung.[58]

[Sidenote: Uses of the Chorale]

Besides the choral-vorspiele, and the introduction of the melody in
conjunction with a chorus, and the harmonisation in four parts, with
orchestra doubling the voice parts, Bach makes many other uses of the
chorale. In the _Christmas Oratorio_, for example, he combines it
with recitative, the melody being freely accompanied by the orchestra,
and interspersed with recitative passages of the nature of interludes
between the lines. Or he harmonises it in four parts, with free
orchestral interludes.

The above quoted melody appears in the _Christmas Oratorio_ with
brilliant orchestral accompaniment and interludes, three trumpets,
drums and two oboes being used besides the strings and organ.

Erk has collected 319 chorales in two volumes (Peters), extracted
from the church cantatas, &c., and has given full particulars of
the sources. Sometimes they are worked up as fugues. Thus, the tune
composed by Kugelmann about 1540, and generally known in England as the
“Old Hundredth,” appears in the cantata “Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu
Ende” in the following form, the voice parts being doubled by strings,
cornet, two oboes, three trombones and organ.

[Music: Nun lob mein Seel.]

The choral-vorspiele published in the Peters’ edition number about
143--besides several sets of partitas or variations on chorales, and
many “Varianten,” or different workings of the same vorspiel.

Although this eminently national German and Lutheran form of religious
art sank deeply into Bach’s soul, and more or less influenced and
coloured all his compositions for the Church, he was accused at Leipsic
of being too proud to demean himself to conducting or accompanying a
mere chorale!

What he did was to allow his genius full play on a form which intensely
interested him, and to exhibit it in new and original aspects.

[Sidenote: _Orchestration_]

The orchestration of the cantatas is of great interest. It is generally
known that Bach did not usually employ the orchestral instruments in
the modern manner, but made each play an independent counterpoint.
Thus there were as many contrapuntal parts as there were voices
and instruments combined; and a cantata was described as being,
for example, “in nine parts, for one oboe, two violins, one viola,
one violoncello, soprano, alto, tenor, and bass voices with organ
continuo,” or as a “concerto for four voices, two oboes, viola and
continuo.” Sometimes, as in “Erforsche mich Gott,” there is a violin
obbligato above the voice parts in the final four-part chorale. In
other cantatas it is noted that the “cantus firmus (the chorale-melody)
is in the soprano,” or other voice. In the opening chorus of “Herr Gott
dich loben wir,” the cantus firmus is in the soprano, the other voices
sing throughout, making the interludes which are usually allotted to
the instruments.

Bach was fond of dividing his violas. Thus, part of “Gleichwie der
Regen und Schnee” is scored for four voices, two flutes, two violins,
_four violas_, fagotto, violoncello and continuo.

Or parts are written for a viola and a taille (the tenor viol). In “O
Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort,” the scoring is for three oboes, two violins,
viola and continuo, with a tromba da tirarsi (slide trumpet) in unison
with the soprano throughout. The cantata “Ich hatte viel Bekümmerniss,”
known in England as “My spirit was in heaviness,” was composed and
performed at Weimar on the third Sunday after Trinity, 1714, on his
being made Concertmeister there. It is labelled “Per ogni tempi,”
“suitable for any season.” It has one oboe and one fagotto, besides the
usual strings.

[Sidenote: A Mannerism]

“Es ist nichts gesundes” is scored for three flutes, cornet, three
trombones, two oboes, the usual strings and four voices. Here the
cantus firmus is given out by the organ in the bass with figures,


and there is no further reference to it until long after the chorus
have entered, and have been singing contrapuntal passages, when,
without any warning as it were, the three flutes, cornet, and three
trombones, which have hitherto been silent, bring in the chorale in
four parts, the voices and strings continuing their contrapuntal
course. The effect is so peculiarly Bach-like that we cannot refrain
from quoting a few bars.


_Bars 14 to 17._

Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem]

[Music: meinem Leibe]

The above quotation is only a specimen of what is found throughout
a long chorus, all the sections of the chorale being introduced in
turn, with a never-ceasing flow of counterpoint in the voice parts,
accompanied in the same way by strings.

If we examine the voice parts we shall find that they practically
amount to a double canon, the tenor imitating the bass, the treble
imitating the alto. But the canon is not carried out with an iron-bound
rule which would crush all beauty out of the music; on the contrary,
the imitations are quite free and unconstrained. Each voice must have
its melody, even if collisions occur now and then, such as between
alto and tenor bar 15, last quaver: alto and bass just previously to
this: the consecutive sevenths in the treble and alto bar 16, third
and fourth quavers, or the entry of the tenor on F♮ bar 17, against
the F♯ in the bass. This rough and healthy vigour is thoroughly
characteristic; the parts must express themselves by their melody; if
they happen occasionally to collide, this is of much less importance
than that their vigorous melody should be sacrificed in order to
sweeten the harmony.

[Sidenote: Technical Skill]

The string accompaniment must also take its part. The instruments
are all treated as individuals, not merely as filling up harmonies.
Therefore they do not reiterate one note in each chord, but move about.
The wind instruments play in four part harmony which is complete in
itself. It might perhaps appear that this is merely a display of
learning and contrapuntal skill, but a close examination of Bach’s
most elaborate works will reveal the fact that the greater the
contrapuntal task he sets himself, the more expressive is the music.
Such choruses exhibit the highest possible technical skill, but all
this is as nothing compared to the wonderfully artistic effect that
the composition as a whole produces.

In some cases Bach writes an organ obbligato part in addition to the
“continuo,” or figured bass. Thus the opening symphony of “Wir danken
dir, Gott, wir danken dir,” composed for the election of the Town
Council at Leipsic in 1737, consists of the “Prelude” of the violin
solo suite No. 6 transposed to D,


on the obbligato organ, with accompaniments for three trumpets, drums,
two oboes, strings and continuo (to be played on another organ[59]).

Bach seems to have tried every kind of experiment with his orchestra.
For instance in “Freue dich erlöste Schaar” an aria is accompanied by
a flute, a muted violin, the rest of the strings pizzicato, and the
organ part to be played staccato. One peculiarity, however, of his
orchestration is that the combination of instruments he chooses for a
particular movement remains the same throughout. Rests occur in the
parts, but there is no variety of treatment within the movement. Thus
in the above-mentioned aria the lower strings having begun pizzicato
play pizzicato throughout, the first violins remain muted throughout,
and the organ plays staccato throughout. Again, in the opening chorus
of “Es ist nichts gesundes,” referred to above, the wind never plays
anything but the chorale in four parts. Of variety there is plenty, but
it is not produced by modern methods.

Bach was just as careful in the choice of instruments for his
particular effects as in the choice of stops in organ playing. Many of
the instruments he used are now obsolete, and their intonation must
have been very faulty. Yet if they had the particular tone colour
he considered fitting he would not hesitate to employ them, to the
exclusion of, or together with, the more manageable instruments such
as the violin, viola, oboe, &c. Amongst the obsolete instruments he
employed to accompany the voices in his cantatas and Passion music
were violoncello piccolo,[60] viola da gamba,[60] taille,[61] viola
d’amore,[60] cornet,[60] oboe d’amore,[62] oboe da caccia,[60]
lituus,[60] violetta,[60] violino piccolo.[60]

[Sidenote: Cantatas]

Some of the cantatas are called solo cantatas; they consist of a series
of movements usually founded on a chorale, for one or more solo voices,
and contain no choruses, though occasionally a chorale is to be sung by
the congregation.

The cantatas are often called by Bach “Concertos.” Thus “Bereitet die
Wege” for fourth Sunday in Advent is entitled “Concerto à 9, 1 oboe, 2
violini, 1 viola, 1 violoncello, soprano, alto, tenor, bass, col basso
per organo di J. S. Bach.”


[56] Burney devotes nearly a whole volume to Handel, and only one
paragraph to Bach.

[57] The original tune would be, with the above words--

[Music: A stronghold sure our God remains]

[58] See Griepenkerl’s Introduction to Peters, vol. 244.

[59] According to Gesner the keyboard of the Rück-positiv (back choir)
of the St Thomas’ organ stood apart from the chief organ, and was used
by Bach to conduct from (see the frontispiece of Walther’s Lexicon,
1732). If there was an organ obbligato part, it would be played on this
manual, while another person played the _continuo_ on the chief organ.

[60] See Glossary.

[61] See p. 108.

[62] A minor third below the oboe, and of more pathetic tone.

Chapter IX

The Matthew Passion and B Minor Mass[63]

[Sidenote: _The Lutheran Services_]

It was Luther’s chief intention to make the congregation take more part
in the service of the Church than they had formerly done. The first
thing therefore was to diminish or abolish the use of Latin; and the
people were made to sing what they could understand and appreciate.

Luther translated a number of excellent old church hymns, and made
new tunes for them, being assisted in this work by friends. The newly
arranged hymns were to take the place of the Graduals, Offertories, &c.

He also translated and reorganised the chief parts of the Mass; thus
the Kyrie became “Gott Vater in Ewigkeit,” the Gloria, “Allein Gott in
der Höh sei Ehr,” the Creed, “Wir glauben all an einen Gott,” and the
Agnus Dei, “Christe du Lamm Gottes.”

The Preface, the Benedictus, and Hosanna were left in Latin.

Besides the chorales, he instituted the motet for the choir, which was
accompanied ordinarily by the organ, but on high festivals by cornets
and trombones. The style of the motets was that of Palestrina and
Orlando Lasso, and the texts were chosen from the Bible, especially the
Psalms. On days of humiliation, a long Litany and several Latin hymns
were sung instead of the Gloria. In Holy Week and on Palm Sunday and
Good Friday, instead of the Epistle, the Story of the Passion was sung
antiphonally from one of the gospels by two priests before the altar.

But several inconveniences gradually arose. In spite of Luther’s urgent
order, “A priest _must_ be able to sing,” there were, in course of
time, only a few who could, and those sang badly--most priests could
not even keep to a single note.

Let us imagine an unbroken monotone or monotonous chant badly intoned,
of the length of perhaps over one hundred verses; and the service,
being lengthened by the addition of hymns, &c., occupied sometimes from
four to five hours, all in one wearisome unison, and entirely deprived
of the variations which gave life to the Catholic service. Moreover if
anyone came late or left early he was severely reprimanded.

[Sidenote: The German Mass]

Luther said, “We arrange the German Mass as well as we can; our
successors will improve it.” But for a hundred years after his death
men held most conscientiously to the letter of his sayings, and when
alterations were made, they were done so sparingly that they were
of little effect. The Latin songs were almost all assigned to other
services, _e.g._ the “Rex Christe” was assigned to the vespers, the
“Crux fidelis” to Thursday in Holy Week, and the singing of the Passion
before the altar was changed to a mere reading from the pulpit.

But when read, only a very small portion of the congregation either
heard or understood it in a large and well-filled church; and soon
there arose disorders, especially when the old Protestant strictness
of discipline began to decline, and the Thirty Years’ War had produced
much roughness in manners. A way out of the difficulty was found,
which must be mentioned, though it only lasted a few years. It was
certainly conceived in accordance with Luther’s principles, but it
was soon found to be entirely impracticable. The congregation were
_themselves_ to sing the Passion story. For this purpose a song was
composed by Paul Stockmann (“Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod”) containing
all the chief points in the story. Not only did the composition prove
entirely unsatisfactory in itself, but can one imagine four and thirty
strophes of eight lines each being sung straight away to one of the
dullest and most monotonous melodies that was ever composed!

During this period, however, Figural music had, outside the Church,
been gradually developing in a freer and more easily appreciated
manner, and was therefore becoming widely cultivated.

[Sidenote: _Introduction of Figural Music_]

It found favour with the people, since there was no law against
its use, so that it began to enter the Church, not in ordinary
services, but on festivals. The result was most favourable. We find
expressly stated the attention and the devout pleasure with which
the congregation listened to the conjunction of song and strings.
Gradually, therefore, this music was received into favour, first on
festivals and afterwards on Sundays in the principal churches, and that
without any special care that the text and expression had any regular
connection with particular parts of the Liturgy, much less with the
special subject of the sermon. The cantor and music director in fact
did not know beforehand what the subject was to be.

Everything else that had been used from former times remained, except
that after Frederick Augustus, Elector of Saxony, entered the Roman
Church in 1697, and organised such splendid services in his Court
church as had never been before heard in North Germany, more freedom
was allowed in the Lutheran churches.

The celebration of the Passion remained as before, and we have only to
add that during the Fast and Advent weeks all instruments, including
the organ, had to be silent, even during the singing of the thirty-four

[Sidenote: _The Origin of Bach’s Passion Music_]

At last there came to the head of spiritual affairs at Leipsic a man
of decided character, highly esteemed as a learned theologian, a very
impressive preacher, and respected for his strictness of teaching
and life, Salomon Deyling, Doctor and Professor of Theology, &c.
(1677-1755). He could no longer endure the state of things in Passion
Week, and, since in 1723 the great and famous Sebastian Bach had
become cantor of the Thomas School and music director of the two chief
churches at Leipsic, he associated himself with him in order to see if
his ideas could be put in practice. The idea which he propounded to
Bach was this: “The early arrangement of the service was the best, but
was only suitable to its own date: we must try and make our arrangement
on the model of the earliest, but in keeping with modern requirements.

“On each Palm Sunday and Good Friday the history of the Passion of
the Lord is made known antiphonally, according to one or other of the
Evangelists, exactly in accordance with the sacred writer’s words!
Who could improve on this? They must be sung, how else are they to be
understood by all? But they must be sung by some one who can sing!
namely by you: and so that everything may sound well and be impressive
they must be musically sung, and accompanied.

“Your best singer, who can pronounce clearly and well, must sing the
words of the Evangelist in recitative, and, in order to produce more
impression and life and variety, the other persons of the story must
be represented by other singers, and the Jewish people by a chorus. At
the chief points in the story there will be pauses, during which, by
means of an aria, the congregation shall lay to heart what they have
heard; and that all of us shall be refreshed from time to time, there
shall be well chosen verses from all the known hymns, in which the
congregation can join. Now, your business is to carry all this out in
a connected and artistic manner.” And thus arose Bach’s Passion music,
which completely fulfilled everything that was expected of it. However
few there were who could understand and honour and enjoy them as art
works, these services, and Bach’s method of treating them, were gladly
received by the congregation, and the performance of such oratorios
became every time a truly edifying and Christian artistic feast.

This account refers of course chiefly to Leipsic. It is supposed that
the decay of the performance of the Passion was due to the pupils and
sons of Bach, who tried to improve on his and Deyling’s arrangement
by the introduction of Italian and lighter methods, which, though
pleasing, were soon found to be unsuitable to the simple words of the
Bible and Hymn-book.

[Sidenote: _Early Passion Services_]

The custom of performing the Passion in an epic and dramatic form
during Holy Week is exceedingly ancient. It exists still in the
Catholic Church in an ancient traditional way, consisting of the
relation of the gospel narrative by one singer, the speeches of Jesus
by another, while a third represents the crowd called _turba_. Music
and the dramatic element are little represented, and the performers
only make use of accent or intonations. In the Reformed Church the
performance of the Passion in German, and in artistic style, did
not take place earlier than the last half of the sixteenth century.
Winterfeld finds the earliest Passion music arranged for chorus after
the Gospel of St Matthew in Keuchenthal’s Gesangbuch, Wittenberg, 1573.
A short instrumental piece precedes it and another closes it, and for
the rest, only the words of the _turba_ are allotted to chorus. A
similar work is the Passion according to St John, which is found in
Selneccer’s Gesangbuch, 1587, but here there are hymns to be sung by
the congregation.

The Passion according to St John, of Bartholomäus Gese, 1588, begins
with a five voice chorus, followed by the gospel narration by a tenor
in Plainsong. The words of Christ are usually sung by four chorus
voices, the words of Peter and Pilate by three voices, those of the
maid and servant of the High Priest by two voices, the _turba_ are in
five voices, and a five voice chorus concludes the work.

Heinrich Schütz, 1585-1672, in whose “Resurrection of the Lord” modern
forms are found, has very sparingly used similar forms in his Passions
according to all four Evangelists, but chiefly in the concluding
choruses. The Passions in Vopelius’ Gesangbuch, 1682, show that the
early forms were still in use at that date.

The Passion of Capellmeister Johann Sebastiani, 1672, at Königsberg,
shows an advance in form here and there; and here also for the first
time do we find the artistic use of hymn tunes, while in Schütz
only the final movements of his Passions have any connection with
the chorale. The biblical narrative is no longer in plainsong, but
recitative, accompanied either by two violins or two violas and
bass, and this is the first example of instrumental accompaniment in
a Passion music. The _turba_ are in four voice chorus, with a fifth
part in high tenor for the Evangelist. Two violins, four violas and
bass always accompany him. The hymns are directed only to have their
melodies sung, the remaining parts being played by the strings.

A remarkable appearance was that of the Passion oratorios at Hamburg,
in which Handel, Keiser and Mattheson introduced the regular song
forms, the recitative, aria, and the duet of the opera, and in such a
method as only could be performed by very highly trained singers. At
first the words of Scripture in their original formed the basis.

In 1704, however, an entirely new departure was made in “The bleeding
and dying Jesus” of Reinhold Keiser, with words by Hunold-Menantes.
Here there was no Evangelist, nor were words of the Scripture
introduced, but three cantatas or soliloquies, similar to dramatic
scenes, took an important place. They were called the “Lamentation of
Mary,” the “Tears of Peter,” and the “Lovesong of the Daughter of Zion.”

The novelty, which excited the fiercest criticism and raised a great
contest, did not take root, although through its means a new way was
opened up. For this attempt led the Hamburg Councillor Brockes to write
a musical poem of a similar kind, in which the evangelist was retained
in order to fill the gaps between the scenes.

This composition, which was greatly admired, was set to music by
Keiser, and afterwards by Handel, Mattheson and Telemann. The first
performance of Keiser’s setting took place in Holy week in 1712, and it
is of special interest, since Bach took some of the words for the arias
in his _St John Passion_.

[Sidenote: Passion Settings]

In the _Matthew Passion_ Bach follows that of Sebastiani with the
addition of new forms derived from the drama, but enriched and ennobled
by the mind of the Master. Scripture words and hymns no longer
satisfied his contemporaries or himself; and as long as the kernel
of the work was scriptural, according to use consecrated by time, no
objection could be made to the introduction of what had already been
accepted in other services in the Church. Only the soliloquies, those
theatrical scenes in which biblical persons appear with words other
than biblical, he would not introduce, for it was too like the stage.
Thus in a form, which though new, was intimately connected with the
old, did the _Passions_ of Bach appear, and the congregation took part
by singing the chorales. It is not known for certain how many Passions
Bach wrote; the number is said to be five.

Regarding the author and composer of the _St Luke’s Passion_ nothing is
known for certain, for Bach gives neither in his copy. The arguments
for its being his work are that it is in his writing, and is possibly
a youthful composition, and that he recopied it in later years so
that it should not be forgotten; while the chief argument against its
genuineness is its insignificance. The Bachgesellschaft publish it with
the above reservation.

It consists mostly of chorales in four parts with short recitatives
between them. There are few arias or choruses, and a sermon is to be
preached in the middle.[64]

[Sidenote: _Matthew Passion_]

The first performance of the _Matthew Passion_ took place on Good
Friday, 1729. The words, where not scriptural, are by Picander. All
the resources of art are employed in this tremendous work. A double
chorus, a ripieno chorus of sopranos, a double orchestra and double
organ part; a part for the Evangelist which calls forth the very
highest powers of the greatest singers; all the instruments known in
Bach’s time are at various points brought into requisition. We have
already alluded (p. 104) to the effect of the opening chorus when
sung in the Thomas Church. The never-ceasing flow of quavers in 12-8
time, the call to the contemplation of the Passion, the questioning
second chorus which finally unites with the first, the solemn and
dignified march of the orchestra, have a devotional expression which
has never been surpassed. Throughout the work the words of the Saviour
are accompanied by strings alone in four parts, with the continuo
(which was never omitted in those days). The chorales, which are of
frequent occurrence, are to be sung in unison by the congregation, and
harmonised by the choir and instruments. The words of the _turba_ or
Jewish people are always allotted to double choruses, which throw the
expressions backwards and forwards at each other in a turbulent manner
(see p. 123).

The disciples are also represented by a double chorus, as are the
Christian congregation; and the music of the various double choruses
is in keeping with sentiments which might be supposed to actuate the
singers. The arias which fill the “pauses” suggested by Deyling are
allotted to an alto, soprano, tenor, or bass, and are accompanied, in
addition to the organ, by two flutes, or two oboi d’amore, or oboi da
caccia, or by a viola da gamba, or by a violin solo with string band.

After Bach’s death this magnificent work was performed at St Thomas
Church till the end of the seventeenth century, when it was laid aside
until revived by Mendelssohn in 1829, just one hundred years after its
first performance.


  Ja nicht auf das Fest auf dass nicht ein Aufruhr werde

[Sidenote: _B Minor Mass_]

The gigantic B Minor Mass was gradually composed. At first it
was to have been a “missa brevis,” but the rest was added later.
Hilgenfeldt[65] makes the following remarks on it:--“This Mass is
one of the noblest works of Art, full of inventive genius, depth of
feeling, and astonishing artistic power: there is no other of the
same calibre which can be compared to it. It was originally written
for the Saxon Court, and was first performed at Dresden. On his other
compositions of the same kind Bach has expended far less energy. It is
possible that a Protestant artist such as he was could not entirely
enter into the religious point of view which he was obliged to take in
composing for the Catholic Church, and several of his other masses are
merely collected from portions of his cantatas.”

This is, however, also the case with the B minor Mass: thus the
Crucifixus occurs in the cantata “Weinen Klagen,” the Hosanna in
“Preise dein Glücke,” the Agnus in “Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen.”

The Mass is dedicated to Frederick Augustus in the following words:--

in deepest devotion this small fruit of the knowledge to which I have
attained in music, with the most humble prayer that you will look upon
it, not according to the poor composition, but with your world-renowned
clemency, and therefore will take me under your powerful protection.

“I have for some years had the direction of the music in the two chief
churches at Leipsic, but have suffered several disagreeable things, and
my income has been reduced though I am myself blameless; but these
troubles would be easily overcome if your Highness would grant me the
favour of a decree, after conference with your Court orchestra.

“The gracious granting of my humble prayer would bind me to
everlastingly honour you, and I offer myself to do anything with
obedience that Your Royal Highness may require of me in the way
of composing church or orchestral music, and to give unwearied
industry, and to dedicate my whole strength to your service.--With
ever-increasing faithfulness, I remain, Your Royal Highness’ most
obedient Servant,--JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH.”

This letter was handed in to the Court at Dresden when Bach was there
on a visit, July 27th, 1733. The reader will remember that he was at
this time in conflict with Ernesti, and the Council;--the title of
“Hof compositeur,” Court composer, was not however given him until
1736. Though Hilgenfeldt says the B minor Mass was first performed at
Dresden, it is doubtful whether it was ever performed outside the two
chief churches at Leipsic, and even there it was only done in parts.
On a score of the “Gloria” made in 1740 the note occurs “on the feast
of the Nativity.” The “Sanctus” also was originally intended as a
Christmas piece. The “Kyrie” is of great length; its score occupies
forty-six pages in the Bach Gesellschaft edition. Like the rest of
the choral portions, it has five voices, two sopranos, alto, tenor
and bass. The orchestra consists of two flutes, two oboi d’amore, two
bassoons, strings and continuo.

The Gloria is scored for three trumpets, drums, two flutes, two oboes,
two bassoons, strings and continuo. It will be observed that for the
joyful music of the Gloria the tone of the oboe proper was considered
more suitable than the perhaps more plaintive tone of the oboe
d’amore, which is used in the Kyrie.

At the very outset the hearers are made aware that a work of unusual
proportions is commencing. The words _Kyrie eleison_ are sung in a
massive five part adagio with independent orchestral parts, coming to
a full close at the end of the fourth bar. Here an instrumental “largo
ed un poco piano” commences and continues for twenty-five bars; it
foreshadows the vocal fugue, of which the following is the impressive

[Music: Kyrie eleison]

After this fugue has been worked at considerable length there is an
instrumental interlude, and it recommences, the bass leading off with
the subject in the tonic. The Christe eleison is set as a duet for
two sopranos in D major, and the second kyrie as a fugue, alla breve,
in four parts, in which the instruments double the voices. It has the
following stirring subject:

[Music: Kyrie eleison]

The “Gloria” begins in D major, and consists of eleven movements,
opening with a vigorous five part chorus vivace.


“Quoniam tu solus Sanctus” is a bass aria accompanied by Corno di
caccia, two fagotti and continuo. There are no other instruments.

The Creed contains seven movements. The words “Credo in unum deum”
are a fugue on the ancient Plainsong, which is in semibreves, with a
perpetually moving bass on the organ in crotchets. The only orchestral
instruments are two violins, which play independent parts.

[Sidenote: “Et incarnatus est”]

“Et incarnatus est” for five voices is based on an arpeggio figure
imitated in all the parts:

[Music: Et incarnatus est]

The “Crucifixus,” one of the most impressive movements, is founded on
a chromatic ground bass, which recurs thirteen times, the four part
chorus singing various harmonies above it. This is the form of the
Passacaglia, and the same bass was used by Bach in the opening chorus
of the cantata, “Jesu, der du meine Seele,” though in a very different
manner. “Et resurrexit” is another movement conceived in Bach’s
happiest mood. It is in D major, like the Gloria, and has, if possible,
even more energy and swing. This is the vigorous opening phrase:

[Music: Et resurrexit.]

and it is repeated for the words “Cujus regni non erit finis.”

“Et in Spiritum sanctum” forms a bass solo accompanied by two oboi

“Confiteor unum baptisma,” a closely knit fugue on two subjects, is
in five parts with an independent organ bass. After a time the tempo
becomes adagio, and one of the most overpowering effects in the whole
of music introduces the words “et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum”;
as it were the whole of creation is called to witness the supreme
miracle of the resurrection of the dead.

[Sidenote: The Sanctus]

The Sanctus is a six part chorus; the voices move for the most part in
flowing triplets, the bass generally in an octave figure. After a time
the triplets give way to the following powerful passage:

[Music: Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth.]

after a few bars of which the triplets are resumed.

“Pleni sunt cœli et terra gloria ejus,” is a six part fugue, and
“osanna” is a double chorus. The “Dona nobis pacem” has the same
opening passage as the Rathswahl cantata. The work from beginning
to end is on a gigantic scale, in which each separate movement is a
masterpiece from every point of view.


[63] A considerable portion of this chapter is from an article by A. F.
Rochlitz in the _Allg. Musik Zeitung_, 1831.

[64] See Conrad E. F. “Echt oder unecht? Zur Lucas Passion.”

[65] P. 115.

Chapter X

    The _Wohltemperirte Clavier_--“The Art of Fugue”--“Musical
    Offering”--Bach as a Teacher--Bach’s Works in England.

The _Wohltemperirte Clavier_ was gradually compiled and formed into
a complete work in two parts. The first part was completed at Cöthen
in 1722, and entitled “The well tempered clavier, or preludes and
fugues through all tones and semitones, both with major and minor
thirds. For the edification and use of young musicians who are eager to
learn, and for the recreation of those who are already facile in this
study. Collected and prepared by Johann Sebastian Bach, Grand-ducal
Capellmeister and Director of Chamber music to the Court of Cöthen,
Anno 1722.”

[Sidenote: _The Wohlt. Clavier intended for Clavichord_]

The expression “well-tempered” refers to the equal temperament, of
which Bach was so strong an advocate, and many of the pieces would
be impossible with any other system of tuning. There is sufficient
internal evidence to show that these delicate and beautiful compositions
were primarily intended for the clavichord, as this instrument
had a power of expression which was denied to all the other keyed
instruments of that period. It is a mistake therefore to play them
on the harpsichord, and Spitta is right in his assertion that they
require for their adequate performance the very best pianoforte that
the skill of modern makers can produce. The larger number of the
pieces in the first collection were written at Cöthen, and probably
quickly after one another. According to a tradition they were written
on one of his journeys, when he had not access to an instrument.
Schumann considered that many of the preludes were not originally
connected with the fugues. Bach made three copies which still exist.
He never had any intention of publishing a work which would scarcely
meet with success among the general public from its difficulty. The
second part was completed in 1740 or 1744. The only autograph is in
the British Museum, add. MS. 35,021, of a page of which we give a
photograph. It is written on large paper, fourteen staves to a page.

Gerber says that Bach valued the work highly for its educational value,
and played it through no less than three times to him.

It was first printed by A. F. C. Kollmanns in London in 1799, but this
impression was never published. The three first editions were those of
Hoffmeister and Kühnel,[66] Simrock in Berlin, and Nägeli in Zurich,
all in 1801. The first English edition was that of Wesley and Horn,

[Music: Preludium]

[Sidenote: _Various readings_]

That by Hoffmeister and Kühnel was edited by Forkel, who, selecting
from a great number of copies, published many of the fugues in a
shortened form, believing that these were Bach’s last arrangements of
them. It is well known that Bach constantly polished and improved his
works; and the number of different readings of the _Wohltemperirte
Clavier_ would fill a large volume. Amongst the more noticeable
varieties of reading is that of the E minor prelude in Part I. In
Litolff’s edition (Köhler) and Novello’s (Best) there is a florid
melody in the right hand, above the chords, which accompany the moving
bass. In Chrysander’s edition it is explained that Bach’s more mature
taste led him to discard the florid passages, and it is accordingly
published from a later MS. with only the chords on the first and third
beats of the bar, the melody being entirely omitted.[67]

The “Art of Fugue” is a series of workings of a single subject in many
different ways. Like the _Wohltemperirte Clavier_ it was primarily
intended for educational purposes. Forkel gives the following account
of it:

[Sidenote: _Art of Fugue_]

“This excellent and unique work was not published till 1752, after
the composer’s death, but was for the most part engraved during his
life by one of his sons. Marpurg, at that time at the helm of musical
literature in Germany, wrote a preface to the edition, in which much
that is good and true is said concerning the work.

“But this ‘Art of Fugue’ was too lofty for the great world; it became
only known in the very small world of _connoisseurs_. This small world
was soon provided with copies; the plates were useless, and were
finally sold by Bach’s heirs as old copper.”...

“The last fugue but one has three subjects, the third being the notes
b, a, c, h. This fugue was however interrupted by the blindness of the
author, and could not be finished.

“To make up for the unfinished fugue, the editors added at the end
the four voice chorale ‘Wenn wir in höchsten Nöthen sein,’ which he
dictated to his son-in-law Altnikol on his death-bed.”

The work was brought out at the Leipsic Fair of Easter 1752. Mattheson
was loud in his praise saying it would astonish all French and Italian
fugue-makers. But the work was in reality finished. The MS. was
complete, and the engraving was being done under the author’s direction
when he died in 1750. No one could fulfil his intentions, and the
engravers simply went on engraving everything that came to hand, both
sketches and completed movements, and it was full of printer’s errors.
Hauptmann clearly shows that the last (unfinished) fugue is certainly
Bach’s own work, but that it has no connection with the “Art of Fugue,”
which closes in reality with the fugue for two claviers. The series of
fugues are all on one subject; the unfinished work leaves the subject,
and has nothing to do with the other fugues. We have therefore Bach’s
last work complete, and the incomplete portion is due to a mistake of
the first publishers.

[Sidenote: _Musical Offering_]

“The Musical Offering” is a series of fugues and canons on a subject
given to Bach at Potsdam by Frederick the Great. The work consists of--

  1. Fuga (ricercata) for three voices.
  2. Fuga (ricercata) for six voices.
  3. VIII. Canons.
  4. Fuga canonica in epidiapente.
  5. Sonata (Trio) for flute, violin, and bass.
  6. Canon perpetuus for flute, violin, and bass.

It is headed:

“Regis Iussu Cantio, Et Reliqua Canonica Arte Resoluta.”

The dedicatory letter will explain its purpose:

“MOST GRACIOUS KING,--To Your Majesty is proffered herewith in humblest
obedience a musical offering, whose most excellent portion originates
from your noble hand. I recall with respectful pleasure the peculiarly
royal favour with which during my visit to Potsdam your Majesty was
pleased to play to me a fugue theme, and to require me immediately to
work it out in your presence. Obedience to your Majesty’s command was
my duty. I however soon remarked, that for want of proper preparation
the working out was not as good as so excellent a theme required. I
therefore resolved to work out this most royal theme properly and to
make it known to the world. This project is now fulfilled to the best
of my ability, and it has no other object than in some small way to do
honour to the fame of a monarch, whose greatness and power both in the
arts of peace and war, and especially in that of music are acknowledged
and admired by all. I make bold to add this humble request: that your
Majesty will accord a gracious reception to this small work, and by so
doing still further extend your royal condescension.--Your Majesty’s
most humble and obedient servant,


  “LEIPSIC, _July 7, 1747_.”

This dedication however only referred to a portion of the work, which
was gradually completed and engraved later. The epithet _ricercata_
perhaps refers to the mechanical difficulty of the pieces.

The six Great or English Suites are so called according to Forkel[68]
because they were written for some Englishman of rank. The same
authority says that the six little French suites received their name
because they are in French taste. It does not appear that the composer
gave either of these names. Both sets seem to have been written at

[Sidenote: _Bach as a teacher_]

All accounts agree as to Bach’s wonderful capacity for teaching, and
we have a description of his methods from one of his pupils, H. N.
Gerber,[69] which we make no apology for quoting in full:

“He went to Leipsic to study partly law and partly music under the
great Joh. Seb. Bach.... In the first six months he heard much
excellent church music and many concerts under Bach’s direction, but
no opportunity arose which gave him courage to approach the great
man, until at last he mentioned his wish to one of his friends called
Wilde (afterwards organist at St Petersburg) who introduced him to
Bach. Bach received him in the most friendly manner and at once called
him ‘Fellow-countryman.’[70] He promised to give him instruction, and
asked whether he had practised fugues diligently. At the first lesson
he placed the ‘Inventions’ before him. When Gerber had studied these
to Bach’s satisfaction, he was given a number of suites, and then the
_Wohltemperirte Clavier_. This work Bach played through three times
to him with unapproachable art; and my father counted those amongst
his most enjoyable lessons when Bach, under the excuse that he felt
indisposed to teach, would seat himself at one of his excellent
instruments, and the hours passed like minutes. The end of a lesson
was taken up with figured bass-playing, for which Bach would choose
the violin solos of Albinoni; and I must confess that the skill with
which my father performed these basses in Bach’s manner, and especially
in the flow of the parts amongst each other was unsurpassable. This
accompaniment was so beautiful in itself that no solo part that I have
heard could give me so much pleasure.” Gerber was for two years under

Forkel[71] tells us that the first thing he taught was his own peculiar
touch, and for this purpose the pupil was kept for several months at
finger exercises, in fact they sometimes lasted from six to twelve
months; but when the pupil’s patience began to flag he was given little
pieces which Bach composed specially for him, such as the six little
preludes for beginners, and the two-part inventions. He wrote these
during the lesson, and was thus able to make them suit the particular
requirements of the pupil. Together with the finger exercises the pupil
had to practise all manner of ornaments, and Bach demanded the severest
possible application from all his pupils.

As soon as possible he was made to learn whichever of Bach’s greater
works suited him. In order to lighten the difficulties, Bach played the
piece through to the pupil, and said, “that is how it must sound.”

One can, says Forkel, scarcely enumerate the many advantages of such
a method. Even if it were only that the pupil is roused to emulation
through the pleasure of hearing such a performance, the advantage would
be very great. But in addition to this he obtains at once a grip of the
piece in its complete form, instead of having to work it out bit by
bit as he gradually overcomes the mechanical difficulties.

The instrument on which Bach taught was the clavichord, on account
of its expressive quality which trained the ear to fine shades of
tone; he would have nothing to say to mere finger training apart from
understanding the music, and insisted on the cultivation of both art
and technique together.

[Sidenote: _Method of teaching Composition_]

In teaching composition Bach did not begin with dry counterpoints
leading to nothing, as in his time was done by all other teachers;
still less did he trouble his pupils about tone-relationships, which in
his opinion concerned only theorists and instrument makers. He started
at once with pure four part figured bass, and insisted on the proper
leading of the parts, because this would give the clearest insight into
the harmonic progressions. He then went on to the chorale, to which
he at first set the basses and made the pupil only write the tenor
and alto, afterwards gradually making him write the bass. He insisted
at all times not only on the greatest possible purity in the harmony,
but on the natural and flowing connection of all the single voices.
The models he himself has left are known to every connoisseur, and his
inner voices are often so singable that they might serve for the upper
part. This style had to be striven for by the pupil, and until he had
reached a high degree of proficiency Bach did not consider it wise to
allow him to try inventing on his own account. He took for granted that
all his composition pupils had the faculty of thinking in music. If any
had not this faculty he was advised not to attempt composition.

As soon as the above-mentioned preparations in harmony were finished,
he began with two voice fugue, and in this, and all composition
practice, the pupil was strictly forbidden to use the clavier. Those
who were obliged to do so he called “Knights of the keyboard.”

In fugue he was especially careful about the part writing--no voice
must merely fill in the harmony, or break off before it had finished
what it had to say. He looked upon his voices as persons, who conversed
together as in private society, in which it would be unseemly for
anyone to disturb the conversation either by uninteresting remarks,
or by not finishing his sentences. On the other hand, he allowed his
pupils as much freedom as possible with regard to intervals. They might
try any experiments they liked as long as no damage was done to the
purity of the harmony, or the inward meaning of the movement. He tried
all possible experiments himself, and was glad to see his pupils do
so. The whole of his system is to be found in Kirnberger’s “Kunst des
reinen Satzes” (Art of pure writing).[72]

[Sidenote: _Pupils_]

Among his pupils were his sons, of whom an account has already been
given. The others were the following:--Johann Caspar Vogler, who began
studying under him at Arnstadt and Weimar, and, according to Bach’s own
showing, was a very fine organist. He became organist and Burgomaster
at Weimar.

Gottfried August Homilius, subsequently music director of the three
chief churches at Dresden, and cantor of the Kreuzschule. He was also
of considerable reputation as an organist and church composer. Died

Christoph Transchel, who died in 1800 at Dresden, was an esteemed
teacher and clavier player. He was the owner of a considerable musical

Johann Ludwig Krebs eventually became Court organist and music director
at Altenburg, where he died in 1803. He was a very good organist
and composer. Bach’s pun, “Ich habe in meinem Bache nur einen Krebs
gefangen,” “I have only caught one Crab in my stream,” was intended to
show the esteem in which he held him.[73]

J. G. Goldberg of Königsberg was declared by Bach to be one of his best
pupils on the clavier and organ.

Altnikol, his son-in-law, a fine organ player, and organist at
Naumburg. He helped his father-in-law considerably during his blindness.

John Philipp Kirnberger, born 1721, died at Berlin in 1783, was Court
musician to Princess Amelia of Prussia, and celebrated as a theorist
and composer.

Johann Friedrich Agricola (1720-1774) became composer to the Prussian
Court. He was more known by his theoretical works than his compositions.

Johann Christian Kittel, who was organist at Erfurt and died in 1809,
was a thorough harmonist, a clever and learned organist, an able
composer, and a good teacher.

Johann Schneider, Court organist and first violinist at Saalfeld, and
afterwards organist of the Nicolai Church at Leipsic. He was also a
pupil of Graun.

Johann Martin Schubart (1690-1721) was Bach’s first pupil; he became
organist at Weimar, but died early.

A pupil named Voigt is mentioned by Emmanuel Bach as having come to his
father after he (Emmanuel) had left the house. Perhaps he is the author
of a “Conversation between an organist and his deputy about music,”
mentioned by Walther.

Gotthilf Ziegler, organist and music director at St Ulrich, Halle, was
a renowned teacher, composer and writer.

Ernst Bach, his cousin, was Capellmeister at Eisenach, having first
studied law, and become a barrister. He was also a composer and

J. H. Müthel, organist in Riga, a good performer and composer. Gerber
gives a long account of him, and Burney praises his playing and

[Sidenote: _Bach’s music in England_]

We have seen that the first attempt to publish the _Wohltemperirte
Clavier_ was made in London. England was early in its recognition of
the composer, chiefly through the efforts of Samuel Wesley (1766-1837)
who, becoming acquainted with his works, eagerly propagated a knowledge
of them. Wesley’s edition of the _Wohltemperirte Clavier_ was published
in conjunction with C. F. Horn in 1810; and through his influence,
Forkel’s “Life” of Bach was translated and published in 1820. He became
famous for his performances of Bach’s organ fugues, or as they were
called in those days “pedal fugues,” and perhaps the name of his third
son, Samuel Sebastian, may have some connection with his admiration for
Sebastian Bach.

In 1849 the English Bach Society was founded, having as its objects
the collection of the compositions and the performance of the works of
J. S. Bach. It gave the first performance of the “Matthew Passion” in
England at Hanover Square Rooms in 1854 under Sterndale Bennett. After
a few more performances the society was dissolved in 1870, and its
library given to the Royal Academy of Music.

In 1875 the “Bach Choir” was formed under the conductorship of Mr
Otto Goldschmidt, for the performance of the B minor Mass, which was
effected in 1876 at St James’s Hall, and the society was then placed
on a permanent footing for the purpose of performing works of Bach and
other composers. In 1885 Mr Otto Goldschmidt was succeeded by Professor
Villiers Stanford, under whose _bâton_ many of Bach’s important works
have been performed.

Bach is perhaps best known in England at present by his organ works,
which are familiar to all competent organists, and his violin solos,
which Herr Joachim has done so much to propagate. The _Wohltemperirte
Clavier_ is a household word to every earnest musician, and his
_Passions_ of _St Matthew_ and _St John_, besides the _Christmas
Oratorio_ and a few cantatas, are frequently performed in London

Selections from the organ works have been published in England from
time to time: by S. Wesley, by Coventry and Hollier (with the pedal
part arranged by Dragonetti for double bass), by Best and by Novello
with Best as editor. A complete edition is being brought out by Sir F.
Bridge and Mr J. Higgs.


[66] Afterwards the firm of C. F. Peters, Leipsic.

[67] See Forkel, p. 64.

[68] P. 56.

[69] Father of the author of Gerber’s Lexicon.

[70] Gerber was a Thuringian.

[71] P. 38.

[72] Forkel, pp. 40, 41.

[73] See page 49.

[74] In addition to the above-mentioned professional pupils, all
amateurs living near obtained at least a few lessons from “so great and
celebrated a man.”--Forkel, p. 42.

Chapter XI

    The Christmas Oratorio--The Magnificat--The Lost
    Works--Instrumental Works--Bach’s Playing--The Manieren, or Grace

Bach never wrote an oratorio in the sense of a sacred dramatic work
to be performed on a stage without action. We have shown that the
Passion settings are a portion of the Lutheran Lenten services; and the
church cantatas take much the same place as the anthem in the English
Cathedral service, with the difference of greater length, orchestral
accompaniment, and an opportunity for the congregation to take part in
the final chorale.

[Sidenote: _Christmas Oratorio_]

The so-called _Christmas Oratorio_, dated 1734, is nothing more than a
series of six cantatas, to be sung during the service on six successive
days at Christmas time. Each begins with a chorus which is followed by
several arias and recitatives, and each ends with a chorale, besides
which, chorales are also interspersed in the body of the work. The
second cantata opens with a most exquisite symphony, of a pastoral
nature something akin to the pastoral symphony in the “Messiah,” but
longer, and with the most subtle orchestral effects; especially are the
passages for two oboes interchanging with the strings most beautiful;
and the chief “motive” of the symphony recurs in the accompaniment of
the closing chorale. The character of the choruses is for the most part
one of triumphant joyfulness, and the arias have all the tender effects
which Bach so well knew how to produce.

[Sidenote: _Easter Oratorio_]

The _Easter Oratorio_ is a short cantata without a chorale.

The motets are compositions in several movements for unaccompanied
voices, from three to eight in number. The movements are interspersed
with chorales harmonised in four parts. The seventh motet, “Ich
lasse dich nicht,” though as fine as any, is considered to be almost
certainly not by Bach, and is therefore only given as an appendix in
vol. 39 of the Bach Gesellschaft edition. The appendix also gives a
figured bass and instrumental accompaniment to No. 2. “Der Geist hilft
unsrer Schwachheit auf.”

Motets by Bach and other composers are sung in the Thomas Church at
Leipsic, and in the Kreuz-Church at Dresden at vespers on Saturday

[Sidenote: _Secular Works_]

Bach also wrote a few secular vocal works. Among these are several
birthday, wedding and funeral cantatas--odes for important personages;
some “Dramme per Musica,” two of which, the “Choice of Hercules,” and
“Tönet ihr Pauken” are taken bodily from the _Christmas Oratorio_,
other words being adapted to the music; a cantata for the dedication
of a new organ at Störmthal, a comic cantata in praise of coffee. Some
of the secular cantatas were composed for the Concert Society which
met once a week about 1736 in a coffee-house in the Katharinen-strasse
at Leipsic, and of which Bach was the director. Among these was “The
strife between Phœbus and Pan.”

[Sidenote: _Smaller Masses and Magnificat_]

Besides the B minor Mass Bach wrote four “short” masses of much
smaller calibre, four “Sanctus,” and a “Magnificat” in D major of great
power and beauty. This work appears in two forms, of which one is much
finer than the other, and is therefore considered to be the latest. It
was the custom to intersperse the singing of the Latin Magnificat with
four chorales, but this custom not coinciding with Bach’s sense of the
fitness of things, he added the chorales as an appendix to his score.

The work is for a five part choir, with arias, a duet, and a trio.
The trio is a remarkable canon, or rather piece of canonic imitation
in the voice parts, to the words “suscepit Israel puerum suum,” to
which the strings play an accompaniment, while the oboes play in their
highest register the chorale “meine Seel’ erhebt den Herren” (“my
soul doth magnify the Lord”). And, as showing Bach’s sense of form,
the whole work is welded together by a fresh working of the material
of the opening chorus, at the words “sicut erat in principio et
nunc.... Amen.” We have remarked on this kind of construction in the
second cantata of the _Christmas Oratorio_,[75] and it is not at all
infrequent with Bach.

Except opera and oratorio Bach wrote every kind of work that was
known in his day. The Bach Gesellschaft completed the publication of
his works in full score in 1898 in some sixty large quarto volumes.
Complete editions of the vocal works in pianoforte score and the
instrumental in full score have been published by Peters, and by
Breitkopf and Härtel of Leipsic, while the editions of selected
portions published from time to time since the beginning of the
nineteenth century are innumerable.

But when we say “complete edition” it must be understood as referring
only to the works that have been preserved, for a large number seem to
have been lost when the great man died: before his property was valued
for probate there was an unseemly scramble for his manuscripts among
his elder sons.

[Sidenote: _The “year courses”_]

Mizler, in his “Necrology,” tells us the bare fact that there were five
“year courses” of cantatas, _i.e._ sets of cantatas for each Sunday
and holy day throughout the year. The Lutheran ecclesiastical year
contains fifty-nine such days (six Sundays in Lent and three in Advent
are excluded). The five courses would therefore require no less than
295 cantatas. Of these W. Friedemann took three “year courses,” since
he could use them in his post of organist at Halle, but his wretched
circumstances forced him afterwards to part with them one by one.

Forkel only knew of “eight to ten motets for double chorus,” and
twenty-one church cantatas, two five-voice masses, a mass for two
choirs, of which the first choir is accompanied by strings, the second
by wind, a double-chorus Passion with text by Picander (this must be
the “Matthew Passion”), a Sanctus, some motets, a single fugue for four
voices, and a comic cantata.

The other two “year courses,” which included about ninety cantatas, and
the two known Passions, went to C. P. Emmanuel Bach.

[Sidenote: MSS. of Works]

The MSS. of the larger number of the existing works of Bach are in the
Royal Library and in that of the Joachimsthal at Berlin. Many of these
are in autograph. The parts are of more value than the scores, since
they are not only more carefully copied, but contain the corrections
for performance.

Bach used to wrap up his scores and parts in covers on which the name
of the work and title of the composer were fully given, while on the
MSS. themselves nothing was given. If the cover were lost, therefore,
the composer’s name was lost. Many works by other composers are found
in Bach’s handwriting, both score and parts.

[Sidenote: _Difficulties in the way of publication_]

The Bach Gesellschaft has been at immense pains to search for all that
exists of Bach’s compositions. In vol. vi. they give a long account of
the difficulties they had to contend with in publishing the B minor
Mass; the owner of the autograph score, placing every difficulty in
their way, would neither sell it nor lend it to them, and finally tried
to dispose of it secretly to some unknown person. They were obliged,
therefore, to publish it from such copies as they could collect; but
almost immediately after they had done so they obtained access to the
precious MS. and were able to publish an appendix, giving whatever
variations from their own edition were found there.

Of Bach’s instrumental compositions the most important are, as we have
indicated, those for the organ and other keyed instruments. He has left
many orchestral works, but these have not the significance of his organ
and clavier music, for the symphony, in the modern sense, was not yet

[Sidenote: _Bach’s playing_]

His playing is thus described by the poet Schubart:--“J. S. Bach was
a genius of the highest order, his soul is so peculiar, so gigantic,
that centuries will have to pass before he is reached by anyone. He
played the clavier, the flügel, the cymbal with equal creative power,
and the organ--who is like him? who will ever equal him? His fist was
gigantic; he could, for example, stretch a 12th with the left hand, and
perform running passages between with the three inner fingers; he made
pedal runs with the greatest possible exactness, he drew the stops so
silently that the hearer almost sank under the magic effect; his hand
was never weary, and lasted out through a whole day’s organ playing.

“The comic style was just as familiar to him as the earnest; he was
equally a virtuoso and composer. What Newton was as a philosopher Bach
was as a musician. He had such a wealth of ideas, that no one except
his own great son can come near him; and with all this he combined also
the rarest talent for teaching.”

[Sidenote: _The Grace notes_]

With respect to the Manieren or grace-notes attacked in the “Kritische
Musikus” by Scheibe, a friend of Bach’s answered the attack by saying
that by means of these signs no performer would now be able to destroy
the effect of a piece by applying his own method; those who went wrong
would be put in the right way, and the honour of the master would be

The four chief ornaments are--

The Vorschlag (appoggiatura)

[Music: Appoggiatura Written Played]

It appears more in the parts than in the scores, and seems to have been
mostly added after they were written out. When Bach required it to be
played slowly he wrote out its exact value in full-sized notes.

The Trill (_tr._) seems to have been put down rather recklessly,
perhaps on account of fashion. Thus, the oboe sometimes has trills
given it which are quite impossible to perform.

Each composer had his own method of writing the various signs and there
was of course hopeless confusion. There is no doubt that the trill was
used to mean three different things, at the choice of the performer:
namely, the vibrato of the violin and tremulant of the organ, or a real
trill, or simply a _tenuto_. The sign [Music] appears to be equivalent
to _tenuto_, thus [Music]

Notes which are neither detached (gestossen) nor slurred, nor held
out, must be sustained for half their value, but if the word _ten._
appears above them they must be given their full value. These notes are
generally quavers and crotchets in moderate and slow tempo, and they
must not be played weakly, but with a refined and quite gentle touch.
Some of the signs can be interpreted by the fact that they are written
out in full in the parts. In this way Reitz has shown the Schleifer
(Glide) [Music: crotchet with glide] to mean [Music: crotchet preceded
by two ascending demisemiquavers] It was called in French _Coulé_,
sometimes written [Music] The Pralltriller or half trill [Music] is
lengthened when over long notes. It means no precise number of notes.
This is J. S. Bach’s own explanation,


It will be seen that all four signs mean the same thing, and no turn
is to be played as in the shake. According to C. P. Emmanuel Bach it
must be so rapid that one does not perceive any loss of time from the
principal note.[76]

The Mordent [Music: crotchet with mordent] is to be played [Music: two
demisemiquavers descending, then dotted quaver on the initial note]
the lower note being either a semitone, as above, or a tone, as in the
little E minor fugue (Peters, 242).


[75] P. 144.

[76] This description of the _Manieren_ is extracted from the
Introduction to vol. vii. of the Bach Gesellschaft Edition.

Chapter XII

    Innovations in the Fingering and Use of Keyed and Stringed

At Weimar Bach had devoted a considerable part of his energies to
the clavier, as his official duties demanded. The harpsichord, being
deficient in expression and in duration of sound, required rapidity of
movement and polyphonic writing to produce its due effects. Bach did
what was possible, however, to use the legato style on it, and on the
other hand introduced on the organ, as far as it would bear it, the
rapid execution peculiar to the harpsichord.

[Sidenote: _The fingering of keyed instruments_]

Before his period the fingering of keyed instruments had not been
reduced to any systematic method. Michael Prætorius in his _Syntagma
Musicum_ thinks the matter of no importance, and that if a note was
produced clearly and distinctly it was a matter of indifference how it
was done.[77]


At the beginning of the eighteenth century the necessity of some method
seems to have dawned on musicians; up to that time the thumb and little
finger had hardly been used, owing to their shortness. In order to play
legato on the organ, the middle fingers were made to go under and over
each other. Daniel Speer, in 1697, gives the following fingering for
the scale of C (for convenience we alter it to English numbering):--


Mattheson taught--


J. F. B. C. Majer, a Swabian organist about the same time, taught--


There is no advance in these fingerings on the book by Ammerbach,
published in 1571.

The right thumb it will be seen was unused, and hung helpless--the
fingers being stretched out flat to reach the keys.

In order to bring the thumb into use, Bach caused the fingers to be
curved and to remain over their respective keys, so as to be able to
strike them accurately and rapidly. The thumbs had to pass under the
fingers, and to take an equal part with them in the playing.

[Sidenote: _Bach’s method of fingering_]

The new kind of fingering was made the more necessary by the use of all
the keys equally; for hitherto only a few keys had been used. The hand
and arm were to be held horizontally, the wrist straight; the fingers
bent in the natural position assumed by the hand when about to grasp
any object. Each finger had to fall without disturbing the others;
and Bach devoted an immense amount of labour to make his fingers
independent and equal in strength. He could perform trills with all
fingers equally well, and could play melodies at the same time with
the other fingers. After a finger had held down a note as long as was
necessary it was drawn towards the inner part of the hand on leaving
the key. The wrist and elbows were kept perfectly quiet. The method was
the same for both organ and harpsichord. The keys were not struck but
pressed down. Bach raised his fingers so little that their movement was
hardly noticeable. They were, however, still passed over one another,
as well as the thumb, and in order not to break the legato effect, the
finger passed over was drawn back before leaving the key. This method
was particularly applicable to the clavichord, one of Bach’s favourite

He liked the upper row of keys to be shallower than the lower, so that
he could slip down from one to the other without change of finger.

[Sidenote: Other Fingering Methods]

But others were at work on the same ground. Couperin, organist of St
Gervais at Paris, published in 1717 his “L’art de toucher le clavecin.”
J. G. Walther used the thumb, and has left some organ chorales with
this indicated.

Heinichen and Handel also used the thumbs, and bent their fingers over
the notes, so that they struck the right ones unconsciously.

Two short pieces with Bach’s fingering in his own hand have come down
to us--the rules laid down by his son C. P. Emanuel differ from them
considerably--thus Emanuel limits the crossing to the thumb; Sebastian
prescribes crossing of fingers as well.

Sebastian, in fact, retained all that was advantageous in the old
system and engrafted on it the use of the thumb, etc. His son, who was
the forerunner of modern piano-playing, simplifies his father’s rules.
His compositions were of a far less complicated nature than those of
his father, and he therefore was able to use simpler fingering.

The hammer-like stroke required for the modern piano effectually
banished the crossing of fingers over one another, by which pressure
only, not a blow, could be obtained. The loss of Bach’s complete
method of fingering (which is not adapted for the piano) causes his
compositions to be more difficult to the modern player than they were
to him, but this does not hold good of the organ, the nature of which
remains the same as in his time.

He played equally in all keys, and for this purpose had his instruments
tuned in equal temperament, as is universally the case at present.
Experiments had been made in this method of tuning by Werkmeister, who
died in 1706, and, later, by J. G. Neidhardt.

[Sidenote: _Equal temperament_]

The early experiments in tempering must have led to curious
results--thus the major-thirds were flattened; and yet only when three
major-thirds are sharpened (CE, E G♯, G♯ (A♭) C) do they reach a purely
tuned octave. Bach mastered the problem for himself. He tuned his own
harpsichord and clavichord, making the major-thirds rather sharp; and
he must have flattened the fifths as we do. His son Emanuel speaks
of his testing the fifths by tuning their octave below, and making
this a fourth below the starting point. What he did was the result of
practical experiment, for he would have nothing to do with mathematical
theory. He always quilled his harpsichord himself; and he made a point
of practising the clavichord, since the expression possible on this
instrument made the ear keener and more sensitive to the possibility of
effect on the more inexpressive harpsichord.

Spitta considers that Bach’s genius in a way foresaw the advent of a
more perfect instrument than either the clavichord or harpsichord--an
instrument which should combine the expression of the first with
the power of the latter, and at the same time approach the organ in
possibilities of legato and sustained sounds. Such an instrument is the
modern pianoforte.

[Sidenote: _The Lute-harpsichord_]

In 1740 Bach planned a lute-harpsichord, and got Zacharias Hildebrand,
an organ-builder, to make it under his direction. It had gut strings,
two to each key, and a set of octave metal strings. It had also cloth
dampers, which made the instrument sound something like a real lute;
and when these were raised, it sounded like a theorbo--it was in size
shorter than an ordinary harpsichord (Adlung Mus. Mech. II., p. 139).

Although Bach was concertmeister, or leader of the orchestra at Cöthen,
it is not to be supposed that he had any extraordinary facility on the
violin. Quantz, in “Versuch einer Anweisung, etc.,” rightly considers
that for such a post, at any rate in those days, it was more necessary
that the holder should be a good all-round musician with sufficient
facility to execute the ordinary orchestral music, than that he should
be a “virtuoso”--and not every virtuoso makes a good leader.

[Sidenote: _Knowledge of stringed instruments_]

His knowledge of the construction of stringed instruments was
sufficient for him to invent a new one while he was at Cöthen, in
order to meet the demands made on the performer by his own music.
This instrument, which he called the viola pomposa, was something
between the viola and violoncello. It was played like a violin, and
had five strings tuned to the four strings of the violoncello, with
the addition of E above the first string. This additional string
makes the performance of his sonatas for violoncello comparatively
easy. Thus in the sixth violoncello sonata, which is expressly written
for five strings, in the third bar of the saraband the chords [Music]
are comparatively easy with the additional string; and in the gavotte
[Music] the first chord would be played with two open strings, which is
impossible with a four-stringed instrument. He also altered the tuning
of his violoncello, as in the fifth sonata, where he lowers the first
string to G[78] and obtains the chords [Music] etc.

[Sidenote: Practical Knowledge]

It seems impossible that he could have himself performed his violin
and violoncello sonatas; they tax the highest efforts of the best
performers of the present day; but his knowledge of stringed
instruments and their possibilities is shown by these compositions
to have been as profound as his knowledge of the organ. No mere
theoretical knowledge could have sufficed to enable him to write
these things; he must have had a wider practical knowledge than any
but the best _virtuosi_, and to this he united his enormous genius for

It appears natural that the German violinists, with their feeling for
full harmony, should have cultivated the art of double-stopping on
stringed instruments, rather than that of pure melody and tone. It
is said that Bruhns the organist, Buxtehude’s pupil, while playing
in three and four parts on his violin, would sometimes sit before an
organ, and add a bass on the pedals.[79]


[77] In “The Compleat Tutor for the Harpsichord or Spinnet, wherein
is shown the Italian manner of Fingering, &c.” by S. and S. Thompson,
the date of which is later than 1742, since it contains the minuet in
_Samson_, the little finger is never used in a scale, and fingers are
made to go under one another, in the way the thumb is used nowadays.
The English numbering is used; and the example of an ascending and
descending scale on p. 153 shows the chaotic condition of things.

[78] Our readers will remember the familiar case in Schumann’s
pianoforte quartet, where he lowers the C string to B♭ for a particular
effect. De Beriot _raises_ his fourth (violin) string to A for certain

[79] M. Vivien, a pupil of Léonard, and one of the first violins in the
orchestra at Brussels about 1876, had a violin of which the bridge was
cut nearly flat at the top. This enabled him to play on three and (with
a little extra pressure of the bow) four strings at once, by which he
produced very full effects.

Chapter XIII

    The Organs in Leipsic Churches--Bach’s Method of Accompanying--The
    Pitch of Organs.

[Sidenote: Thomas Church Organ]

There were two organs in the Thomas Church, the larger of which dated
from 1525. In 1721 it was enlarged by Scheibe, a builder of whom Bach
had a very good opinion. In 1730 it was again improved, by giving the
choir organ a keyboard of its own, instead of its being acted on by the
great key-board as was formerly the case.

The organ contained:--


  1. Principal (open diapason),       16 ft.
  2. Principal (open diapason),        8 „
  3. Quintadena,                      16 „
  4. Octave (our principal),           4 „
  5. Quinta,                           3 „
  6. Superoctava (our fifteenth),      2 „
  7. Spiel-Pfeiffe,                    8 „
  8. Sesquialtera gedoppelt,
  9. Mixture,                       6, 8 and 10 ranks.


  1. Grobgedackt,                       8 ft.
  2. Principal (open diapason),         4 „
  3. Nachthorn,                         4 ft.
  4. Nasal,                             3 „
  5. Gemshorn,                          2 „
  6. Cymbal,                            2 ranks.
  7. Sesquialtera,
  8. Regal,                             8 ft.
  9. Geigenregal,                       4 „


  1. Principal,                         8 ft.
  2. Quintadena                         8 „
  3. Lieblich Gedacktes,                8 „
  4. Klein Gedacktes,                   4 „
  5. Traversa,                          4 „
  6. Violino,                           2 „
  7. Raschquint gedoppelt,
  8. Mixtur,                            4 ranks.
  9. Sesquialtera,
  10. Spitzflöt,                        4 ft.
  11. Schallflöt,                       1 „
  12. Krumbhorn,                       16 „
  13. Trommet,                          8 „


  1. Sub-bass von Metall,               16 ft.
  2. Posaune Bass,                      16 „
  3. Trommeten Bass,                     8 „
  4. Schalmeyen Bass,                    4 „
  5. Cornet,                             3 „

There were also Tremulant, Vogelgesang, Zimbelstern-Ventils and ten
bellows. The organ loft has been twice enlarged, first in 1802, and
afterwards in 1823. It now accommodates the whole of the large double
chorus and double orchestra employed in performance of the Passion
music on Good Friday.

The smaller organ was built in 1489. In Bach’s time it stood in a
gallery opposite the large organ. It was of very little use, and in
1740 was sold to St John’s Hospital. It had three manuals, pedal, and
twenty-one stops, and was only employed on high festivals. As it was at
a considerable distance from the other organ, difficulty was felt in
keeping the two choirs together. This gallery remained, and was used
for musical purposes, till 1886.

The organ of the Nicolai Church was built in 1598, repaired in 1692,
and in 1725 was thoroughly renewed by Scheibe at a cost of 600 thalers.

[Sidenote: Leipsic University Organ]

The organ at the University Church was the best in Leipsic at that
time. It consisted of:--


  1.  Principal (open diapason),      16 ft.
  2.  Quintatön,                      16 „
  3.  Principal (open diapason),       8 „
  4.  Schalmei,                        8 „
  5.  German Flute,                    8 „
  6.  Gemshorn,                        8 „
  7.  Octave,                          4 „
  8.  Quinte,                          3 „
  9.  Quintnasat,                      3 „
  10. Octavina,                        2 „
  11. Waldflöte,                       2 ft.
  12. Mixture,                         5 and 6 ranks.
  13. Cornet,                          3 ranks.
  14. Zink,                            2 „


  1. Principal,                          8 ft.
  2. Gamba,                              8 „
  3. Grobgedackt,                        8 „
  4. Octave,                             4 „
  5. Rohrflöte,                          4 ft.
  6. Octave (fifteenth),                 2 „
  7. Nasat,                              2 „
  8. Sedesima,                           1 „
  9. Schweizer Pfeife,                   1 „
  10. Largo (No. of feet not stated).
  11. Mixture,                           3 ranks.
  12. Clear Cymbal,                      2 „


  1. Lieblich Gedackt,           8 ft.
  2. Quintatön,                  8 „
  3. Flûte douce,                4 „
  4. Quinta Decima,              4 „
  5. Decima Nona,                3 „
  6. Hohlflöte,                  2 „
  7. Viola,                      2 „
  8. Vigesima Nona,          1-1/2 „
  9. Weitpfeife,                 1 „
  10. Mixtur,                    3 ranks.
  11. Helle Cymbal,              2 ft.
  12. Sertin (perhaps serpent),  8 „


  1. Principal,                              16 ft.
  2. Quintatön,                              16 „
  3. Octave,                                  8 „
  4. Octave,                                  4 „
  5. Quinte,                                  3 „
  6. Mixtur,                                  5 and 6 ranks
  7. Quinten-bass,                            6 ft.
  8. Jubal,                                   8 „
  9. Nachthorn,                               4 „
  10. Octave,                                 2 „
  11. 2nd Principal,                         16 „
  12. Sub-bass,                              16 „
  13. Posaune,                               16 „
  14. Trompete,                               8 „
  15. Hohlflöte,                              1 „
  16. Mixtur,                                 4 ranks.

The organ had been tried by Bach on its completion in 1716, who wrote
a very elaborate report.[82] It may be of interest to quote some of
Bach’s remarks, 1. He says that the space occupied is too confined to
admit of easy access to some of the parts, in case of repairs being
required. This was, however, not the fault of the builder Scheibe, as
he was not allowed the space he asked for.

2. The wind must be made to come more equally, so as to avoid heavy
rushes of wind.

3. The parts quite fulfil the description in all respects; and the
contract, with the exception of the Schallmey and Cornet, which were
changed by order of the college for a 2 ft. Octave (15th) and 2 ft.
Hohlflöte, is completed.

4. The defects of intonation must be done away with; and the lowest
pipes of the Posaune and Bass Trumpet made to speak less roughly and
harshly. The instrument to be frequently and thoroughly tuned in good

5. The keys have too great a fall, but this cannot be helped, owing to
the narrowness of the structure.

6. Finally, the window behind the organ should be built up as far as
the top of the organ, or covered with an iron plate, to prevent damage
by weather.

The above list of 54 stops is given by Spitta, who quotes from the
“Acta” of the university; but a MS. chronicle of Leipsic, discovered
after 1880, of which the references to musical matters are quoted
in the “Musikalisches Centralblatt” for 1884, has the following
entry:--“1716, June. This summer the beautiful Pauliner organ, which
consists of 67 stops, was finished.” A complete list of the stops
follows, but is not given in the “Musikalisches Centralblatt.”

During the concerted music, the organist had to accompany from figured
bass, and the voice part was rarely given him, as the cantor would
not trouble to write it out, though Bach, with his characteristic
thoroughness did so in many cases.

[Sidenote: _Bach’s method of playing from figured bass_]

There exists a specimen of Bach’s method of playing from figured bass
in a MS. accompaniment to a violin sonata of Albinoni, by H. N. Gerber,
a pupil of Bach.[83] It contains a few autograph corrections by Bach
himself, and it may be taken, therefore, as an example of the manner
which Bach approved of. It is described by Spitta as of no melodic
character, as being in four parts throughout, and as not adhering
strictly to the harmonies given by Albinoni where an improvement was
possible. The adornment of a figured bass accompaniment by a melody in
the right hand was only possible to the greatest artists, such as Bach
himself; and it soon went out of fashion.

During the seventeenth century it was the custom for performers to
elaborate the melody written by a composer, and naturally Bach’s
were treated in this way. But it was complained that he left little
for the performer to add, for he “indicated all the _manieren_, the
small ornaments, and everything else that is understood by ‘Method’
in playing, by actual notes,” and the performer could therefore not
impress his own individuality on the piece.[84] Bach was particular
to show exactly what he required; and it is evident that there was at
this time a school of musicians rising, who objected to superfluous
ornaments on the part of the performer. J. S. Petri objects to
extemporised shakes and right hand melodies. Scheibe objects to
contrapuntal accompaniment. Kirnberger says that the accompanist should
aim at simplicity, and only add such ornaments as were absolutely

If the pedal was employed, the left hand helped with the harmonies. But
if the bass moved rapidly the pedals only played short notes to mark
the essential harmonic progressions; or the bass was even omitted, as
the other instruments played it. For accompanying the solo voices in
arias and recitatives the Gedact 8 feet was usually used alone, and
was sometimes therefore called the “Musik gedact”: it is the same as
the English stopped diapason. The chords in a recitative were not held
long, even if the bass notes were. They were played arpeggio, as on a
harpsichord. But Petri considers that if there is a very soft stopped
flute, the chords may be held in the tenor register and the changes of
harmony indicated by a short pedal note.

[Sidenote: Organ-playing]

Staccato playing was universal on the organ, but Bach and his pupils
insisted on a legato style, and gradually eliminated the staccato,
though in accompanying they still kept to it. The tradition of Bach’s
style of accompaniment was carried on by Kittel a pupil of Bach, who
spread the knowledge of it through Thuringia, and one of Kittel’s
pupils, M. G. Fischer of Erfurt, continued it. He died in 1829, and
was heard by Grell of Berlin (b. 1800, d. 1886), who described the
performance to Spitta. He played the bass with considerable power, and
accompanied it by short chords in the right hand on another manual,
thus agreeing with Petri’s direction that the organist is to accompany
in as short a style as possible, and to withdraw the fingers after
striking the chord.

But this was by no means Bach’s only method of accompanying, for he
demands in the majority of cases a legato accompaniment, and sometimes
a “melodic” manner. In his _Matthew Passion_ and some of his cantatas
the organist is to play short chords in _recitativo secco_.

He considered the Gedact peculiarly adapted for purposes of
accompaniment; and in many passages he dispensed with part or the
whole of the bass instruments.

In order not to drown the voices, or make the organ too prominent, no
reeds or mixtures were allowed to be used in accompanying. They were
reserved for solo organ work, in which Bach made use of astonishing
combinations of stops. Orchestral effects were produced by the
contrasts of tone-colour in the different groups of instruments,
string, brass, reeds and flutes. To these the organ, making use of
diapason work only, formed a background, and it was not allowed to
predominate over them.

[Sidenote: _The number of performers in a cantata_]

Bach, in 1730, fixed the number of voices requisite for the
performance of a cantata at twelve, and of instrumentalists, excluding
the organist, at eighteen. His sympathies were so much more with
instrumental than vocal music, that he treated the voice merely as
an instrument capable of expressing words. The influence of Handel’s
works, in which the voice parts were of more importance than those of
the instruments, brought about the change of arrangements by which the
singers outnumbered the instrumentalists.

Students and admirers of Bach’s music have often wondered how he could
have got boys to overcome the immense difficulties of its execution.
They certainly complained of the difficulties, but execution was at
that time, owing to the Italian influence, more studied than now.
Boys were made to practise shakes diligently every day. They were
not expected to enter very much into the spirit of the music; it
sufficed if they sang the notes correctly. Moreover there were plenty
of falsetto sopranos and altos, and these could, of course, take the
upper parts. The tenor voice became a soprano, the bass an alto. A
falsetto soprano could sing up to E and F above the treble stave.

[Sidenote: _The pitch of organs_]

The pitch question at Leipsic must have caused considerable difficulty.
The organ at St Thomas’ Church was a tone higher than that of St
Nicholas,[85] and many of the cantatas have the organ (continuo) parts
in two keys, for the two organs. There must have been a separate set
of string and wind instruments for each church; for the frequent
alterations of strings by so great an interval as a tone would hardly
conduce to good intonation.

There were in fact two recognised pitches in use, called chorus pitch
and chamber pitch. Of these the chamber pitch was used for ordinary
orchestral performances, and was a tone lower than the chorus pitch, to
which the organ was usually tuned. This would cause no inconvenience if
the orchestras were not used in the churches; but it is very strange
that such a troublesome arrangement should have been allowed to
continue after it had become the custom to employ the orchestra every


[80] The portion in front of the main organ and therefore behind the

[81] See Glossary.

[82] Given by Spitta, vol. ii. p. 289.

[83] It is given by Spitta as a supplement to vol. iii. It is worth
noticing that the right hand plays the three upper notes in each chord,
the left only playing the bass; and this is how harmony exercises are
still written in Germany.

[84] There are organists still living who have not forsaken the ancient
custom of adding small ornaments to the written notes.

[85] This is referred to by Berlioz in his “Instrumentation.” Organ
builders would frequently use the higher pitch to save the expense of
the largest pipes, unless carefully watched.

Chapter XIV

    Bach as “Familien-Vater”--As a choirmaster--His eagerness to
    learn all that was new and of value in music--He finds time to
    conduct public concerts--His self-criticism--Bach was never a
    poor man--His reputation was gained by his playing rather than
    compositions--Portraits--Public monuments.

[Sidenote: _Bach as Familien-Vater_]

One often hears in Germany the expressions “Familien-Vater,”
“Haus-Vater,” applied as terms of special commendation to public men,
in the sense that their private life is of estimable character, that
they do their duty well by their families instead of spending their
whole energy in accumulating money or fame. To no artist could these
terms be more fittingly applied than to the subject of this memoir.
We have seen that he was unremitting in his efforts to give his sons
and pupils the best possible education, and helped them forward in
every way he could when they entered their professions, and how he
secretly obtained a post for his son-in-law, Johann Christoph Altnikol,
as a kind of wedding-present. Forkel says he was a “_vorzüglich
guter_ (particularly excellent) _Haus-Vater, Freund_ (Friend) _und
Staatsbürger_ (Citizen). His company was pleasant to everyone, whether
a stranger or an intimate, and anyone visiting him was sure of a
courteous reception, so that his house was seldom without guests.”

[Sidenote: _Choice of Sponsors_]

An interesting feature in his private life is his choice of persons to
act as god-parents to his children. They were seldom his own relations,
but persons of distinction, who might be able to help the children
on in their subsequent career. Among them were Bach’s great friend,
Prince Leopold of Cöthen, his brother Prince August Ludwig, his sister
Princess Elenore, Privy Councillor Von Zanthier, Dr Gilmar, one of the
chief men in the church at Mühlhausen; Gesner, rector of the Thomas
School. Though far from seeking wealth, Bach was sufficiently a man of
the world to see the value of ensuring a respectable position both for
himself and his sons by any legitimate means in his power.

[Sidenote: _Bach as choirmaster_]

As a choirmaster Bach seems to have been a failure. He was far too
irritable to be able to control boys, and the task was evidently
extremely distasteful to him. Though he was sympathetic in the extreme
with those who were in earnest in matters of art, it is very clear that
he had not the tact and patience required for elementary teaching. One
can well imagine how the stupidity and incompetence of many of the
boys who came under him must have galled his ardent nature; and he was
quite unfit to be a schoolmaster. Yet it is evident that he gained the
confidence of some boys from the fact of his having trained them to
assist him in the orchestra.

Of his own boyhood at Lüneburg a remarkable story is told to the effect
that when his voice broke he for some days spoke and sang in octaves.
It is of course quite conceivable on acoustical grounds that the
first harmonic may have been prominent enough to be heard with the
fundamental note; and that he, being a musician, observed a phenomenon
which would escape an ordinary boy.

[Sidenote: _Bach’s eagerness to know all that was new_]

Throughout his life he was ever eager to become acquainted with
everything new that was of any value. New organs, new compositions,
newly-invented instruments, were all a source of interest to him. Thus,
directly Silbermann of Freiburg had made a few of his “fortepianos” in
imitation of the new invention of Cristofori, Bach was eager to try
them. But the hammerlike blow required was quite foreign to Bach’s
method of playing, in which the fingers were always kept as close as
possible to the keys; and though he praised the tone, he rather freely
condemned the touch. Silbermann was exceedingly angry and would not
have anything to do with Bach for a long time; but he, nevertheless,
set to work to improve the touch, and after some fifteen years of
patient labour succeeded in producing the satisfactory instruments
which Bach played on at Potsdam shortly before his death. Hilgenfeldt
considers that the general use of the pianoforte took its origin from
these perfected instruments.

[Sidenote: _Public concerts_]

In the midst of all his occupations Bach found time to conduct public
concerts, of which Hilgenfeldt quotes the following advertisement:


    “The two public musical concerts or assemblies, which are held here
    every week, are still flourishing. One is directed by Herr John
    Sebastian Bach, Capellmeister to the Grand-duke of Weissenfels,
    Music director of the Churches of St Thomas and St Nicholas; and it
    takes place in the Coffee-house of Zimmermann, in Catherine Street,
    every Friday evening from 8 to 10 o’clock; but during the Fair
    twice a week, namely, Tuesdays and Fridays. The members of these
    musical concerts consist for the most part of students, and there
    are always good musicians among them, so that often, as is known,
    some of them become in time celebrated performers. Every musician
    is allowed to perform publicly in these musical concerts, and there
    are usually some among the audience who are able to judge the value
    of a competent musician.”

[Sidenote: _Self-criticism_]

Bach was a severe critic of his own works. Hilgenfeldt tells us that
many of those which did not come up to his ideal of what they should
be were cast aside by him, and that such of his youthful works as he
considered worth keeping were constantly improved by him and brought to
a higher standard. Thus, the first movement of the third organ sonata,
which originally belonged to the _Wohltemperirte Clavier_, was altered
to the extent of having large portions cut out, and others essentially
changed and improved, so that phrases of small significance obtained an
importance of which no signs appeared in the earlier composition.

[Sidenote: _Teaching_]

He reserved his teaching for those who could really profit by it, and
if he found that a pupil had not sufficient talent, he would, with
every kindly courtesy, recommend him not to seek his living by music.
The result was that a strong feeling for the dignity and value of art
was spread by his pupils, who for the most part attained to important
positions in their profession. One of his pupils, Doles, whose name had
a place of honour in the old Gewandhaus at Leipsic, was Cantor of St
Thomas for thirty-four years (after the death of Harrer), and was held
in great esteem as a teacher and composer.

[Sidenote: _A good standing always maintained_]

Though at no time rich, Bach was never a poor man. The various payments
in kind, such as rent-free dwelling, garden produce, etc., were almost
sufficient to support him, and to make his salary available for
self-improvement, for journeys, and for the education of his children.
And that he was able to collect more than eighty theological works,
at a time when books were an expensive luxury, and that he could give
no less than three clavichords with pedals at once to his son, Joh.
Christian, shows that his position was one of comfort.

[Sidenote: _Recognition on his death_]

Though the Council and the _Leipsic Chronicle_ took little notice of
his death, it appears that the Society founded by Mizler caused a
funeral ode by the then rector, Dr Ventzky, to be set to music and
performed; and he seems to have been much mourned outside Leipsic, as
the chief support of serious German music.

Not as a composer, but as a performer, however, was he mourned. It was
reserved for later generations to fully appreciate what Hilgenfeldt
describes as the “spiritual and everlasting” side of his genius. In
those days the composer and performer were one and the same person.
No one was considered an artist who could only perform, however well,
if he could not also compose; and, especially on the organ, good
improvisation was considered the chief qualification of a musician. He
was expected to be in a position to extemporise at any time and under
any conditions a fugue, or a set of variations on any theme given to
him; and his ability in this respect was the criterion by which he was
judged. It was natural, therefore, that Bach’s fame during his lifetime
should rest more on his extempore performances than on his written
compositions, which, remaining in manuscript, would probably serve
chiefly as models for his pupils to work from.

[Sidenote: _Portraits and Statues_]

Four portraits of Bach are known to have been painted. One, which seems
to have been the first, is a half length picture showing him in a dress
coat of the fifth decade of the eighteenth century. It belonged to
Kittel, and was kept by him as a kind of sacred possession, only to be
shown on special occasions, or as a reward to a diligent pupil. It was
in a massive gold frame, and hung behind a curtain over the harpsichord
in Kittel’s study. On his death it came into the possession of the
church of which he was organist.

The second was also a half-length, and belonged to his son Carl Philip
Emanuel. It was painted by Hausmann.

The third, also by Hausmann, is shown in our frontispiece. It is
preserved in the Thomas School, and, according to Becker, was painted
on his becoming a member of the Leipsic Musical Society. A fourth,
preserved in the Joachimsthal Gymnasium at Berlin, was formerly in
the possession of Princess Amalie of Prussia, and seems to have been
painted by Geber.

A few good copper engravings were made from the various portraits,
and a number of bad lithographs from the engravings. Some successful
plaster busts have also been made from the pictures.

Germany is much given to honouring those of her sons who have
distinguished themselves in art by erecting memorials to them in public
places: but not till nearly one hundred years after his death was such
a monument thought of for Bach. In 1840, Mendelssohn gave an organ
recital in the Thomas Church, with the object of opening a fund for
this purpose with the proceeds, and on April 23, 1843, a medallion by
Knauer was solemnly unveiled on the walls of the Thomas Church. The
opportunity was taken of performing many of Bach’s compositions; and
amongst those present was the last descendant of the great man, with
his wife and two daughters. This was William Bach, then 81 years of
age, a son of the Bückeburger Bach.

In 1864 a large new organ was erected in the New Church at Arnstadt
“in honour of Johann Sebastian Bach,” containing his portrait over the
keyboards: and in 1884 a Bach festival was held at Eisenach on the
occasion of the unveiling of a fine bronze statue of the composer in
the Market-place.

Catalogue of Bach’s Vocal Works

  _Matthew Passion._      First performed, 1729. English edition,

  _St John Passion._       Probably written at Cöthen, and much
  altered before it received its present form. English edition,
  published by Novello.

  _St Luke Passion._      Of doubtful authenticity. English edition,

  _Mass in B minor._

      „       _F._

      „       _A._ Written in 1737. Partly borrowed from other works.

  _Mass in G minor._}
  _ „      G major._}  Adapted from cantatas.

  These four “Missæ breves” contain the Kyrie and Gloria, the only part
  of the Mass retained in the Lutheran Service in Latin.

  _Magnificat in D._      Written for the Christmas Festival at St
  Thomas’ Church, and sung at vespers after the sermon. Edition with
  English words, Novello. It is for five voices, three trumpets, two
  flutes, two oboes, strings and organ.

  _Sanctus in C._      }  Sung after the morning sermon, as an
  _  „        D._      }    introduction to the Communion Service.
  _  „        D minor._}
  _  „        G._}


_The numbers refer to the Bachgesellschaft Edition._

  2       _Ach Gott vom Himmel sieh darein._ Second Sunday
  after Trinity. Chorale Cantata.

  3       _Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid._ Second Sunday after
  Epiphany. Chorale Cantata.

  58       _Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid._ Second Sunday after
  Christmas. Solo Cantata for soprano and bass.

  135       _Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder._ Third Sunday after
  Trinity. Chorale Cantata, Leipsic.

  162       _Ach, ich sehe, itzt, da ich._ Twentieth Sunday after

  114       _Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost._ Seventeenth Sunday
  after Trinity. Chorale Cantata.

  26       _Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig!_ Twenty-fourth
  Sunday after Trinity. Chorale Cantata.

  33       _Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ._ Thirteenth Sunday
  after Trinity. Chorale Cantata.

  72       _Alles nur nach Gottes Willen._ Third Sunday after

  68       _Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt._ Tuesday in Whitsun-week.
  English edition, “God so loved the World,” Novello.

  42       _Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbaths._ First Sunday
  after Easter (Quasimodogeniti).

  186       _Arg’re dich, o Seele nicht._ Seventh Sunday after Trinity.

  128       _Auf Christi Himmelfahrt allein._ Ascension Day.

  131       _Aus der Tiefe rufe ich, Herr, zu dir._ Composed for Dr.
  G. C. Gilmar, Pastor of Mühlhausen.

  38       _Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu dir._ Twenty-first Sunday
  after Trinity. Chorale Cantata.

  131       _Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu dir._ Composed at Mühlhausen
  about 1707.

  185       _Barmherziges Herze, der._ Fourth Sunday after Trinity.

  132       _Bereitet die Wege, bereitet._ For no special season.
  Weimar, 1715. Words by Salomo Franck.

  87       _Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinem Namen._ Fifth
  Sunday after Easter.

  6       _Bleib’ bei uns, denn es will Abend._ Tuesday in Easter
  Week. English edition, “Bide with us,” Novello.

  39       _Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot!_ First Sunday after

  148       _Bringet dem Herrn Ehre._ Seventeenth Sunday after

  63      _Christen, ätzet diesen Tag._ Christmas.

  4      _Christ lag in Todesbanden._ Easter Day.

  121      _Christum wir sollen loben schon._ Christmas. Chorale

  7      _Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam._ St John’s Day.
  Chorale Cantata.

  95      _Christus, der ist mein Leben._ Sixteenth Sunday after

  141      _Das ist je gewisslich wahr._ Third Sunday in Advent.

  122      _Das neu gebor’ne Kindelein._ First Sunday after Christmas.
  Chorale Cantata.

  40      _Dazu ist erscheinen der Sohn._ Christmas.

  195      _Dem Gerechten muss das Licht._ Wedding Cantata.

  15      _Denn du wirst meine Seele nicht in Hölle lassen._ Monday
  in Easter Week. Composed at Arnstadt, probably in
  1704. See p. 27.

  157      _Der Friede sei mit dir._ Purification; also for Easter.

  196      _Der Herr denket an uns._ Wedding Cantata.

  112      _Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt._ Second Sunday after
  Easter (Misericordias).

  31      _Der Himmel lacht, die Erde jubiliret._ Monday in Easter
  Week. One of the few cantatas containing a chorus for five
  voices. The instrumental introduction is called “Sonata.”

  75      _Die Elenden sollen essen._ First Sunday after Trinity.

  76      _Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre._ Second Sunday after Trinity.

  116      _Du Friedensfürst, Herr Jesu Christ._ Twenty-fifth Sunday
  after Trinity. Chorale Cantata.

  104      _Du Hirte Israel, höre._ Second Sunday after Easter
  (Misericordias). English edition, “Thou Guide of Israel,” Novello.

  77      _Du sollst Gott, deinen Herren, lieben._ Thirteenth Sunday
  after Trinity.

  23      _Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn._ Quinquagesima (Estomihi).

  _Ehre sei dir Gott gesungen._ Part V. of Christmas  oratorio.
  English edition, Novello.

  _Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe._ Christmas. Incomplete.

  80      _Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott._ Reformation Festival,
  English edition, “A Stronghold Sure,” Novello. Composed 1717, when
  Bach went to Cöthen. This was the first cantata published in the
  nineteenth century. It was also arranged to Latin words, beginning,
  “Gaudete, omnes populi.”

  134      _Ein Herz, das Seinen._ Wednesday in Easter Week. Cöthen,
  between 1717 and 1723.

  24      _Ein ungefärbt Gemüthe._ Fourth Sunday after Trinity.

  136      _Erforsche mich Gott, und erfahre._ Eighth Sunday after
  Trinity. Leipsic, 1737 or 1738.

  66      _Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen!_ Tuesday in Easter Week.

  83      _Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde._ Purification.

  126      _Erhalt’ uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort._ Sexagesima.
  Chorale Cantata.

  173      _Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut._ Tuesday in Whitsun-week. The
  music was originally written for a Serenade for the birthday of
  Prince Leopold of Cöthen. The MS. Serenade is in the Royal Library at

  175      _Er rufet seinen Schafen mit._ Wednesday in Whitsun-week.
  Solo Cantata for tenor and bass.

  172      _Erschallet,ihr Lieder._ Whitsunday.

  184      _Erwünschtes Freudenlicht._ Wednesday in Whitsun-week.

  19      _Es erbub sich ein Streit._ Michaelmas Day.

  9      _Es ist das Heil uns kommen her._ Sixth Sunday after

  45      _Es ist dir gesagt, Mensch, was gut ist._ Eighth Sunday
  after Trinity.

  176      _Es ist ein trotzig und verzagt Ding._ Trinity Sunday.

  108      _Es ist euch gut, dass ich hingehe._ Fourth Sunday after
  Easter (Cantata).

  25      _Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe._ Fourteenth
  Sunday after Trinity. Edition with English words, “Lo, there is
  no soundness within my body.” Rieter-Biedermann.

  90      _Es reifet euch ein schrecklich._ Twenty-fifth Sunday
  after Trinity.

  187      _Es wartet Alles auf dich._ Seventh Sunday after
  Trinity, 1737. Music is used for Mass in G minor.

  _Fallt mit Danken._ Part IV. of Christmas oratorio. English edition,

  52      _Falsche Welt, dir trau._ Twenty-third Sunday after
  Trinity. Solo Cantata for soprano.

  30      _Freue dich, erlöste Schaar._ St John’s Day, originally a
  “Dramma per Musica” in honour of the Saxon Minister, Von Hennicke.
  Composed in 1737, and arranged as a church cantata, 1738, after Bach
  had received the title of Court Composer. It is in the “Lombardic”
  style introduced by Vivaldi, consisting of frequent syncopation.

  35      _Geist und Seele wird._ Twelfth Sunday after Trinity.

  129      _Gelobet sei der Herr, mein Gott._ Trinity Sunday.

  91      _Gelobet seist du, Jesus Christ._ Christmas. Chorale
  Cantata. Words by Martin Luther.

  18      _Gleich wie der Regen und._ Sexagesima. The orchestration
  is unusual, consisting of four violas, fagotto, violoncello and organ.

  191      _Gloria in excelsis Deo._ Christmas. Rearranged from
  the B minor Mass.

  79      _Gott der Herr, ist Sonn’ und Schild._ Reformation Festival.

  106      _Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit._ For no special season.
  English edition, “God’s time is the best,” Novello. Called “Actus
  tragicus,” probably a funeral cantata. Mühlhausen about 1708.

  43      _Gott fähret auf mit Jauchzen._ Ascension Day. English
  version, “God goeth up with shouting,” Novello.

  71      _Gott ist mein König._ Election of Town Council at
  Mühlhausen, 1708. See p. 36.

  191      _Gott ist uns’re Zuversicht._. Wedding Cantata.

  28      _Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr._ First Sunday after Christmas.

  120      _Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille._ Election of Town
  Council at Leipsic. In the score the letters J.J. (Jesu juva)
  frequently occur.

  169      _Gott soll allein mein Herze._ Eighteenth Sunday after
  Trinity. For alto solo.

  171      _Gott, wie dein Name, so ist auch dein Ruhm._ Circumcision.
  The first chorus occurs with modifications as part of the “Credo”
  of the B minor Mass.

  67      _Halt’ im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ._ First Sunday after
  Easter (Quasimodogeniti). Edition with English words, “Hold in
  remembrance Jesus Christ,” Rieter-Biedermann.

  96      _Herr Christ, der ein’ge Gottes Sohn._ Eighteenth Sunday
  after Trinity. Chorale Cantata. Words by Elizabeth Creutzinger.

  102      _Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem._ Tenth Sunday after

  105      _Herr, gehe nicht in’s Gericht._ Ninth Sunday after

  _Herr Gott, Beherrscher aller Dinge._ Wedding Cantata. Incomplete.

  130      _Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir._ Michaelmas Day.

  16      _Herr Gott, dich loben wir._ Circumcision. Chorale Cantata.

  113      _Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut._ Eleventh Sunday after
  Trinity. Chorale Cantata.

  127      _Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’r Mensch und Gott._ Quinquagesima
  (Estomihi). Chorale Cantata.

  _Herrscher des Himmels._ Part III. of Christmas oratorio.
  English edition, Novello.

  _Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben._ Part VI. of Christmas
  oratorio. English edition, Novello.

  73      _Herr, wie du willt, so schick’s mit mir!_ Third Sunday
  after Epiphany.

  147      _Herz und Mund und That und Leben._ The return of Mary
  from Egypt.

  182      _Himmelskönig, sei willkommen._ Annunciation. Originally
  composed for Palm Sunday.

  194      _Höchst erwünschtes Freudenfest._ Dedication of the
  organ at Störmthal.

  55      _Ich armer Mensch, ich Sündenknecht._ Twenty-second
  Sunday after Trinity. For tenor solo.

  85      _Ich bin ein guter Hirt._ Second Sunday after Easter

  84      _Ich bin vergnügt mit meinem Glücke._ Septuagesima.

  48      _Ich elender Mensch wer wird mich._ Nineteenth Sunday
  after Trinity.

  133      _Ich freue mich in dir._ Christmas. Chorale Cantata.
  Leipsic, 1737.

  49      _Ich geh’ und suche mit._ Twentieth Sunday after Trinity.

  109      _Ich glaube lieber Herr, hilf meinem._ Twenty-first
  Sunday after Trinity.

  82      _Ich habe genug._ Purification.

  188      _Ich habe meine Zuversicht._ Twenty-first Sunday after
  Trinity. The copyist directs that the “organ concerto” of
  “Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal” in D minor (arranged from
  the Clavecin Concerto in that key) is to be used as an
  “introduction.” Words by Picander.

  92      _Ich hab’ in Gottes Herz und Sinn._ Septuagesima. Chorale
  Cantata. Words by Paul Gerhardt.

  21      _Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis._ “Per ogni tempi,” “For all
  times.” English edition, “My spirit was in heaviness,” Novello.
  Composed on his being made concert-meister at Weimar, and performed
  there on the third Sunday after Trinity, 1714.

  162      _Ich, ich sehe, jetzt da ich zur Hochzeit gehe._ Solo Cantata
  for soprano, alto, tenor, bass.

  158      _Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest._ Purification. Solo
  Cantata for tenor and bass. The violetta occurs in the score.

  174      _Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem._ Whitsunday. Solo
  Cantata for alto, tenor, bass.

  177      _Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ._ Fourth Sunday after
  Trinity. Chorale Cantata.

  156      _Ich steh’ mit einem Fuss im Grabe._ Third Sunday after

  160      _Ich weiss, dass mein Erlöser._ Monday in Easter Week.

  56      _Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen._ Nineteenth Sunday
  after Trinity. For bass solo.

  164      _Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo._ Thirteenth Sunday after
  Trinity. Solo Cantata for soprano, alto, tenor, bass.

  167      _Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes._ St John’s Day. Solo
  Cantata for soprano, alto, tenor and bass.

  193      _Ihr Pforten zu Zion._ Election of Town Council.

  103      _Ihr werdet weinen und heulen._ Third Sunday after
  Easter (Jubilate).

  97      _In allen meinen Thaten._ For no special season. Words
  by Dr Paul Flemming.

  _Jauchzet, frohlocket._ Christmas oratorio. Part I., English version,

  51      _Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen._ Fifteenth Sunday after
  Trinity. Solo Cantata for soprano.

  78      _Jesu, der du meine Seele._ Fourteenth Sunday after
  Trinity. In this cantata the ground bass of the “Crucifixus”
  of the B minor Mass is used. Edition with English words, “Jesu,
  Saviour, who by dying,” Rieter-Biedermann.

  41      _Jesu, nun sei gepreiset._ Circumcision. Chorale Cantata.
  English edition, “Jesus, now will we praise Thee,”

  22      _Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe._ Quinquagesima (Estomihi).
  Bach’s test piece for the Leipsic post after the death of Kuhnau.
  Performed there, February 7th, 1723.

  81      _Jesus schläft, was soll ich hoffen?_ Fourth Sunday after

  161      _Komm du süsse Todesstunde!_ Purification; also for the
  Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity.

  _Kommt, eilet, lauft._ Easter oratorio.

  181      _Leicht gesinnte Flattergeister._ Sexagesima.

  8      _Liebster Gott, wann werd’ ich sterben._ Sixteenth Sunday
  after Trinity.

  123      _Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen._ Epiphany.
  Chorale Cantata.

  32      _Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen._ First Sunday after
  Epiphany. Called “Dialogue.” Solo Cantata for soprano and bass.

  137      _Lobe den Herren, den Mächtigen._ Twelfth Sunday after
  Trinity. Leipsic, between 1742 and 1747. Words by Joachim Neander.

  69      _Lobe den Herrn meine Seele!_ Twelfth Sunday after

  143      _Lobe den Herrn meine Seele._ New Year’s Day.

  11      _Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen._ Ascension Day. Called
  by Bach “oratorium festo ascensionis Christi.” Part of this
  cantata is used in the B minor Mass.

  115      _Mache dich, mein Geist, bereit._ Twenty-second Sunday
  after Trinity. Chorale Cantata.

  149      _Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg._ Michaelmas Day.

  124      _Meinen Jesum lass’ ich nicht._ First Sunday after Epiphany.
  Chorale Cantata.

  10      _Meine Seel’ erhebt den Herren._ Return of Mary from
  Egypt. Chorale Cantata.

  189      _Meine Seele rühmt und preist._ For no special season.

  13      _Meine Seufzer meine Thränen._ Second Sunday after
  Epiphany. Solo Cantata for soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices,
  accompanied by wind instruments and organ, no strings being used.

  155      _Mein Gott, wie lang’._ Second Sunday after Epiphany.

  154      _Mein liebster Jesus ist verloren._ First Sunday after

  125      _Mit Fried’ und Freud’ ich fahr’ dahin._ Purification.
  Chorale Cantata.

  150      _Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich._ For no special season.

  101      _Nimm’ von uns Herr, du treuer Gott._ Tenth Sunday after
  Trinity. Chorale Cantata.

  144      _Nimm, was dein ist, und gehe hin!_ Septuagesima.

  192      _Nun danket alle Gott._ For no special season.

  50      _Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft._ For no special season.

  61      _Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland._ First Sunday in Advent.
  First composition in A minor. Inside the cover of this cantata
  Bach has written the order of the service for the morning of
  Advent Sunday, 1714, at Leipsic. See p. 44.

  62      _Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland._ First Sunday in Advent.
  Chorale Cantata. Second composition in B minor.

  163      _Nur Jedem das Seine!_ Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity.
  Solo Cantata for soprano, alto, tenor and bass.

  34      _O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe._ Whitsunday.
  English edition, “O Light Everlasting,” Novello.

  _O ewiges Feuer._ Wedding Cantata. Incomplete.

  20      _O Ewigkeit du Donnerwort._ First Sunday after Trinity.

  60      _O Ewigkeit du Donnerwort._ Twenty-fourth Sunday after
  Trinity. Solo Cantata for alto, tenor and bass.

  165      _O heil’ges Geist- und Wasserbad._ Trinity Sunday. Solo
  Cantata for soprano, alto, tenor, bass.

  118      _O Jesu Christ mein’s Lebenslicht._ The accompaniment
  is for two litui, cornet and three trombones; no strings or organ.
  It was probably intended for the open air (perhaps for a funeral)
  as it is the only cantata with no continuo part.

  119      _Preise Jerusalem den Herrn._ Performed in the Nicolai
  Church on August 30, 1723, at the election of Town Council. It was
  also performed by Mendelssohn on the unveiling of the Bach Memorial
  at Leipsic, April 23, 1843.

  46      _Schauet doch und sehet._ Tenth Sunday after Trinity.

  153      _Schau’ liebe Gott wie meine Feinde._ Second Sunday
  after Christmas.

  53      _Schlage doch! gewünschste Stunde._ Funeral Cantata
  for alto solo.

  180      _Schmücke dich o liebe Seele._ Twentieth Sunday after
  Trinity. Chorale Cantata.

  36      _Schwingt freudig euch empor._ First Sunday in Advent.

  64      _Sehet welch’ eine Liebe._ Christmas.

  159      _Sehet, wir geh’n hinauf._ Quinquagesima (Estomihi).

  117      _Sei Lob und Ehr’ dem höchsten Gut._ For no special season.

  57      _Selig ist der Mann._ Christmas. Solo Cantata for soprano and

  88      _Siehe ich will viel Fischer._ Fifth Sunday after Trinity.

  179      _Siehe zu dass deine Gottesfurcht nicht._ Eleventh Sunday
  after Trinity.

  65      _Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen._ Epiphany. Edition with
  English words, “They all shall come from Saba,” Rieter-Biedermann.

  44      _Sie werden Euch in den Bann thun._ Sunday after Ascension
  Day (Exaudi).

  183      _Sie werden Euch in den Bann thun._ Sunday after Ascension
  Day (Exaudi).

  190      _Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied._ Circumcision. Incomplete.
  Performed 25th of June 1730, at the second Jubilee celebration of
  the Augsburg Confession.

  145      _So du mit deinem Munde bekennest._ Easter Day, and Wednesday
  in Easter Week.

  151      _Süsser Trost, mein Jesus kömmt._ Christmas.

  168      _Thue Rechnung Donnerwort._ Ninth Sunday after Trinity. Solo
  Cantata for soprano, alto, tenor, bass.

  152      _Tritt auf die Glauben’s Bahn._ First Sunday after Christmas.

  _Und es waren Hirten auf dem Felde._ Part II. Christmas oratorio.
  English edition, Novello.

  110      _Unser Mund sei voll Lachens._ Christmas.

  142      _Uns ist ein Kind geboren._ Christmas.

  170      _Vergnügte Ruh’ beliebte._ Sixth Sunday after Trinity.
  For alto solo.

  140      _Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme._ Twenty-seventh Sunday
  after Trinity. Leipsic, 1742. Words by P. Nicolai.

  70      _Wachet, betet, seid bereit allezeit._ Twentieth Sunday
  after Trinity.

  86      _Warlich ich sage euch._ Rogation Sunday.

  14      _Wär’ Gott nicht mit uns diese Zeit._ Fourth Sunday after

  138      _Warum betrübst du dich mein Herz._ Fifteenth Sunday
  after Trinity. Leipsic, 1737. Words by Hans Sachs.

  94      _Was frag’ ich nach der Welt!_ Ninth Sunday after Trinity.
  Chorale Cantata.

  98      _Was Gott thut das ist wohlgethan._ Twenty-first Sunday
  after Trinity.

  99      _Was Gott thut, das ist wohlgethan._ Fifteenth Sunday
  after Trinity.

  100      _Was Gott thut, das ist wohlgethan._ For no special
  season. Words by S. Rudigast.

  111      _Was mein Gott will das g’sche all’ zeit._ Third Sunday
  after Epiphany. Chorale Cantata.

  89      _Was soll ich aus dir machen._ Twenty-second Sunday
  after Trinity.

  107      _Was willst du dich betrüben._ Seventh Sunday after

  12      _Weinen, klagen, sorgen, zagen._ Third Sunday after Easter
  (Jubilate). The opening chorus is on the same ground bass as the
 “Crucifixus” of the B minor Mass.

  37      _Wer da glaubet und getauft wird._ Ascension Day.

  17       _Wer Dank opfert der preiset mich._ Fourteenth Sunday
  after Trinity. Edition with English words, “Whoso offereth praise,”

  59       _Wer mich liebet der wird mein._ Whitsunday.

  74       _Wer mich liebet der wird mein._ Whitsunday. Solo Cantata
  for soprano and bass.

  93       _Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten._ Fifth Sunday
  after Trinity.

  47       _Wer sich selbst erhöht der soll._ Seventeenth Sunday
  after Trinity.

  27       _Wer weiss wie nahe mir mein Ende._ Sixteenth Sunday
  after Trinity. English edition, “When will God recall my spirit,”

  54       _Widerstehe doch der Sünde._ For no special season.
  Alto solo.

  1       _Wie Schön leuchtet der Morgenstern._ Annunciation.
  Chorale Cantata.

  29       _Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir._ Election of Town
  Council at Leipsic, 1737.

  146       _Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal._ Third Sunday after
  Easter (Jubilate).

  166       _Wo gehest du hin?_ Fourth Sunday after Easter (Cantate).
  Solo Cantata for alto, tenor, bass.

  178       _Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält._ Eighth Sunday
  after Trinity. Chorale Cantata.

  139       _Wohl dem der sich auf seinen Gott._ Twenty-third Sunday
  after Trinity. Chorale Cantata, Leipsic, between 1737 and 1744.

  5       _Wo soll ich fliehen hin._ Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity.
  Chorale Cantata.


  _Lass, Fürstin, lass noch einen Strahl._       Called “Weeping
  Leipsic.” Written for the death of Princess Christiane Eberhardine,
  wife of Augustus the Strong.


  _Jesu meine Freude._       Five voices. English edition, “Jesu,
  priceless treasure,” Novello. A hymn by Franck in six stanzas.

  _Der Geist hilft unsrer Schwachheit auf._       Eight voices. Written
  for the funeral of the Rector Heinrich Ernesti, 1729. The composer
  added a figured bass for the organ. English edition, “The Spirit
  also helpeth us,” Novello.

  _Furchte dich nicht._       Eight voices. English edition, “Be not
  afraid,” Novello.

  _Komm Jesu, komm._       Eight voices.

  _Lob und Ehre und Weisheit und Dank._       Eight voices. English
  edition, “Blessing, Glory and Wisdom,” Novello.

  _Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied._       Psalm 149, eight voices.
  English edition, “Sing ye to the Lord,” Novello.

  _Ich lasse dich nicht._       Eight voices. This motet is by some
  attributed to Joh. Christoph Bach. English edition, “I wrestle and
  pray,” Novello.

  A Latin motet for two choruses heard by J. L. Gerber at Christmas,
  1767, is lost.

  _Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden._       Psalm 117. Four voices.


  _Drama: Geschwinde, ihr wirbelnden Winde._       The contest between
  Phœbus and Pan.

  _Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten._       For soprano voice.

  _Amore traditore._       For bass voice, accompanied by cembalo

  _Drama: Zerreisset, zerspringet, Zertrümmert die Gruft._       For
  the name-day of Dr A. F. Muller. Leipsic, Aug. 3, 1725.

  _Drama: Schleicht, spielende Wellen._       For the birthday of
  Augustus III.

  _Drama: Vereinigte Zwietracht der wechselnden Saiten._       For
  a University celebration, Leipsic, 1726.

  _Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd._

  _Non sa che sia dolore._       For soprano solo.

  _O holder Tag, erwünschte Zeit._       Wedding Cantata for soprano

  _Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht._       In praise of coffee.

  _Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet._       Complimentary Cantata to Carl
  Heinrich von Dieskau.

  _Mit Gnaden bekröne der Himmel die Zeiten._

  _O angenehme Melodei._       Soprano solo.

  _Durchlauchster Leopold._       Serenade for two solo voices and

  _Schwingt freudig euch empor._       For the birthday of a teacher.

  _Die Freude reget sich._       For the birthday of Professor Rivinus.

  _Drama: Lasst uns sorgen, lasst uns wachen._       Complimentary
  Cantata to a Saxon Princess. The opening chorus from
  Christmas oratorio.

  _Tönet ihr Pauken! erschallet Trompeten!_       For the birthday
  of the Queen of Saxony, December 1733. See p. 145.

  _Drama: Preise dein Glücke._       For the anniversary of the election
  of Augustus III. as King of Poland, 1734.

  _Drama: Angenehmes Wiederau._       Persons represented--Fate,
  Happiness, Time, and the river Elster. The opening chorus from
 the cantata “Freue dich erlöste Schaar.”

  _Drama: Auf schmetternde Töne der muntern Trompeten._       For
  the name-day of King Augustus III.


  Three Passions.       It is known that Bach wrote five Passions,
  from information given by his son C. P. Emanuel, and his pupil
  Agricola in Mizler’s Necrology.

  A great funeral ode on the death of Prince Leopold of Cöthen.

  Several Cantatas.

Catalogue of Instrumental Works


_The numbers refer to the volumes in Peters’ edition in which each work
will be found._

  _Six sonatas for two manuals and pedal (240)._     These sonatas
  and the passacaglia were written for his young son, W. Friedemann,
  to practise on the pedal clavichord. Many of the trills, which are
  necessary on this instrument, are intended to be omitted when the
  pieces are played on the organ. According to tradition the date is
  1723. The first movement of the sonata in D minor appears in 1722,
  as the prelude in that key in Part I. of the Forty-eight.

  _Passacaglia in C minor (240)._

  _Trio for two manuals (243) and pedal in D minor._       This trio
  is overladen with grace notes in the fashion of the day. The
  performer is recommended by Griepenkerl to exercise his taste as
  to which he retains or omits.

  _Pastorale in F (240)._       In four movements. Mostly copied
  singly. Forkel possessed a copy in which all four movements were
  combined in a whole.

  _Preludes and Fugues (241)._

  _In C._

  _In G._       The subject of the fugue is the same as that of the
  opening chorus in the cantata, “Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis.”

  _In A._

  _Fantasia and Fugue in G minor (241)._       Composed at Cöthen,
  probably as an act of homage to Reinken. In one copy the fantasia
  is called “prelude.” In another copy the fugue is in F minor with
  a remark, “The very best pedal-piece by Herr Joh. Seb. Bach.”

  _Prelude and Fugue in C (241)._

  _A minor._

  _E minor._

  _B minor._       The Peters’ edition is from the original MS. in the
  possession of Sir Herbert Oakeley.

  _Prelude and Fugue (242) E flat._       From the “Clavierübung.”
  The fugue, like those of Buxtehude, is in three movements.

  _Toccata and Fugue (242) in F._       The compass of the pedals in
  this toccata shows that it must have been written for the organ in
 the Lutheran Church at Cöthen. (See Glossary “Orgel-büchlein.”) In
  the Bachgesellschaft edition the toccata is called fantasia.

  _In D minor._       Called Dorian from the flat being omitted from
  the signature. The toccata is called “prelude” in some copies.

  _Preludes and Fugue (242) in D minor._       The prelude has no
  pedal part. The fugue is arranged from the earlier violin solo fugue
  in G minor (228).

  _In G minor._

  _Fantasia and Fugue (242) in C minor._

  _Prelude and Fugue in C (242)._       This was originally in E major.
  The fugue is in two portions, divided by nine bars of florid passages.
 It was transposed to C for some of the old organs which had only two
  octaves of pedals. In Kirnberger’s MS. it is called “Preludio con
  Fantasia con Pedal.”

  _Toccata and Fugue in C (242)._       The toccata is separated from
  the fugue by a very beautiful aria, in which a melody is accompanied
  by chords and staccato bass, the only instance of the kind in Bach’s
  organ works. In one MS. the toccata is called “Preludium.”

  _Prelude and double Fugue (242) in A minor._

  _Prelude and Fugue (242) in E minor._

  _Prelude and Fugue (243) in C major._

  _In G._

  _In D._       The prelude is in two movements. The work, which
  is very brilliant, is inscribed “Concertata” as if intended more for
  concert than church use. In one copy the work is called simply
  “Pièce d’orgue, von Joh. Seb. Bach.”

  _Toccata and Fugue in D minor (243)._

  _Prelude and Fugue in C minor (243)._      In some MSS. this is
  in D minor.

  _Fugues (243) in C minor._      On a theme by Legrenzi. A second
  subject appears in the course of the fugue, which after being worked
  independently is finally united to the first in a double fugue.

  _In G minor._

  _In B minor._      The subject is by Corelli.

  _In C minor._      Probably written for pedal clavichord. Composed
  at Arnstadt.

  _Canzona in D minor (243)._      In two movements. It was popular, and
  many copies appear to have existed.

  _Fantasias (243) in G._      In three movements of which the tempi are
  indicated by Bach. “Très Vitement,” “Grave,” “Lentement.” From the
  number of copies which exist this fantasia, also called “Pièce
  d’orgue,” appears to have been very popular.

  _In C minor._      In five voices. In some MSS. called “Prelude.”

  _Prelude in A minor (243)._

  _Fifty-six short Chorale-preludes (244)._

  _Three sets of Chorale Variations called “Partite” (244)._

  _Some Canonic Variations on the Christmas hymn “Vom Himmel hoch da
  komm ich her” (244)._

  _Seven Chorale-preludes (244)._

  _Sixty-three “Larger and more artistic Chorale-preludes” (245 and

  _Four Concertos for two manuals and pedal (247)._       Arranged
  from the Violin Concertos of Vivaldi. The originals were, like
  Handel’s “Concerti grossi,” for four violins, one or two violas,
  violoncello, bass and continuo.

  _Eight small Preludes and Fugues (247)._       For the instruction
  of his son Friedemann.

  _Allabreve pro organo pleno (247)._      Organo pleno means a
  complete organ, as opposed to a positiv, or one manual instrument.
  It has the same kind of sense as our expression “Full orchestra,”
  and does not mean that the full force is to be employed the whole

  _Prelude in C (247)._      Without pedal.

  _In G “pro organo pleno” (247)._

  _Fantasia in C (247)._      Without pedal.

  _Fugue in C (247)._      The pedal only enters in the last five bars,
  and is used in Buxtehude’s manner, merely to complete the harmony.

  _Prelude in G (247)._      Composed at Weimar.

  _Fugue in G minor (247)._

  _Fantasia and Fugue in A minor (2067)._      An early work, in
  some MS. called “Preludio e Fuga per il cembalo,” so that it
  was probably intended for the pedal clavichord.

  _Fugue in G (2067)._

  _Little Harmonic Labyrinth (2067)._      Consisting of three movements
  called “Introitus,” “Centrum,” “Exitus.” Starting in the key of C,
 it perpetually modulates, chiefly by enharmonic changes, and finishes
  by a return to C.

  _Fugue in G (2067)._

  _Fugue in D (2067)._

  _Concerto in G (2067)._      Called also “Fantasia.”

  _Trio for two manuals and pedal in C minor (2067)._

  _Aria in F for two manuals and pedal (2067)._

  _Eleven Chorale-preludes (2067)._


  _Concerto in F (261)._      For violins, piccolo, three oboes, and two
  corni di caccia, with accompaniment for two violins, viola,
  violoncello and bass.

  _Concerto in F (262)._      For violin, flute, oboe, and trumpet
  concertante, with accompaniment for two violins, viola, violoncello
  and bass.

  _Concerto in G (263)._      For three violins, three violas, three
  violoncellos and one bass. Rearranged as the introductory “symphony”
  to the cantata “Ich liebe den Höchsten.”

  _Concerto in G (264)._      For violin and two flutes concertante,
  with accompaniment for two violins, viola, violoncello and bass.

  _Concerto in D (265)._      For clavecin, flute and violin concertante,
  with accompaniment for one violin, viola, violoncello and bass.

  _Concerto in B flat (266)._      For two violas, two violas da gamba,
  with accompaniment for violoncello and bass.

  _Overture or Suite in C major (267)._      For two violins, viola,
  two oboes, bassoon, violoncello and bass.

  _Overture or Suite in B minor (268)._      For two violins, viola,
  violoncello, flute and bass.

  _Overture or Suite in D major (269)._      For two violins, viola,
  bass kettle-drums, two oboes, and three trumpets.

Works for Cembalo, Clavichord, Spinet, &c.

  _The Forty-eight Preludes and Fugues. Part I. (1 and 1a).
  Part II. (2 and 1b)._      For clavichord. See p. 131.

  _Sonatas (213) in A minor._      From a sonata for two violins,
  viola da gamba and bass in Reinken’s “Hortus Musicus.”

  _In C major._      Arranged from Reinken’s “Hortus Musicus.”

  _In D minor._      Arranged from the sonata in A minor for violin
  alone (228).

  _Prelude and Fugue in E flat (214)._

  _Fugue in B minor (214)._

  _Suites in A minor (214)._

  _In E flat._

  _In G._

  _Preludio con Fughetta in F (214)._

  _In G._

  _Prelude in G (214)._

  _The adagio of violin solo sonata in C arranged for clavier (214)._

  _Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor (207)._

  _Prelude and Fugue in A minor (207)._      Composed at Cöthen.

  _Toccata and Fugue in E minor (210)._      The toccata is in three

  _Toccata and Fugue in F sharp minor (210)._      Allegro moderato,
  lento, fugue (for three voices) allegro moderato fugue (for four

  _Toccata and Fugue in C minor (210)._      The toccata is in two
  movements--allegro moderato and adagio.

  _Fantasia and Fugue in A minor (208)._

  _Fantasia and Fughetta in B flat (212)._      These are written on
  one stave, with figures for the harmony.

  _In D._

  _Capriccio sopra la lontananza del suo fratello dilettissimo
  (208)._      See p. 28.

  _Toccata and Fugue in D minor (210)._      The toccata contains
  three movements--allegro moderato, allegro, adagio.

  _Four Duets (208)._      For right and left hand.

  _A Prelude with Fugue on the notes B, A, C, H (212)._      Apocryphal.

  _Six Partitas in B flat, C minor, A minor, D, G, E minor
  (205)._      From the Clavierübung, Part I.

  _Concerto “in the Italian style” (207)._      From the Clavierübung,
  Part II.

  _Suite in B minor (208) or Partita._      From the Clavierübung,
  Part II. The work is entitled “an overture after French taste,
  for a clavicymbal with two manuals.”

  _Air with thirty variations for harpsichord with two manuals
  (209)._      From the Clavierübung. The theme is in the bass.
  The work was composed for his clever pupil, J. T. Goldberg,
  at the request of Baron Kayserling, who presented Bach with
  a snuff-box containing one hundred louis d’or in return for it.

  _Six little Preludes (200)._

  _Little two-part Fugue in C minor (200)._

  _Fifteen two-part Inventions (201)._

  _Fifteen three-part Inventions; also called Symphonies (202)._

  _Six little Suites called the French Suites (202)._      From Anna
  Magdalena’s first book.

  _Six large Suites called the English Suites (203)._

  _Toccata and Fugue in G minor (211)._      The toccata is in three

  _Prelude and Fugue in A minor (211)._

  _Fantasia and Fugue in D (211)._      The fantasia is in five

  _Prelude and Fughetta in D minor (200)._

  _     „           „      E minor (200)._

  _Prelude and Fugue in A minor (200)._

  _Two Fantasias in C minor (207, 212)._

  _Two Fugues in C (200)._

  _Two Fugues in D minor (212)._

  _Fugues in A major (212)._

  _   „      E minor._

  _   „      A minor._

  _Twelve little Preludes or exercises for beginners (200)._      No. 3
  is also intended for the lute. Some of these are found in the
  “Clavierbüchlein für W. F. Bach.”

  _Part of a Suite in F minor (212)._

  _Unfinished Fugue in C minor (212)._

  _Sixteen Concertos arranged from the Violin Concertos
  of Vivaldi (217)._

  _Art of Fugue (218)._      See p. 134.

  _The Musical Offering (219)._      See p. 135.

  _Fantasia in A minor (215)._

  _Air varied in G minor (215)._

  _Toccata in G (215)._      In three movements.

  _Overture in F._      Consisting of “Overture,” “Entrée,” “Minuet,”
  “Trio,” “Bourrée,” “Gigue,” all in the same key.

  _Fantasia in G minor (215)._

  _Capriccio in E (215)._      “In honour of J. C. Bach of

  _Fantasia con imitazione in B minor (216)._      It is doubtful
  whether this is intended for organ or pedal harpsichord.

  _Sonata in D (216)._      Modelled on Kuhnau.

  _Two Fugues in A (216)._

  _Three Minuets (216)._

  _Minuet in G minor (1959)._

  _Adagio and Presto in D minor (1959)._

  _Prelude in E flat (1959)._

  _Fugue in B flat (1959)._      From a fugue by J. C. Erselius.

  _Sixty-nine Chorale Melodies with figured bass._      Published in

_Of doubtful authenticity (1959)_:

  _Sarabande with 16 Partite._

  _Passacaille in D minor._

  _Suite in B flat._

  _Allemande_ }
  _Courante_  } _in A._
  _Gigue_     }

  _Fantasia._      Through all keys. Attributed to J. D. Heinichen.

  _Fantasia in G minor._      In five movements.

  _Fantasia and Fugue in D minor._

  _Fugue in G minor._

  _Scherzo in D minor._

  _Andante in G minor._

  _Fugue in B flat._      An extension of a sonata movement in
  Reinken’s “Hortus Musicus.”


  _In C._

  _„  E minor._

  _„  G._

  _„  D._

  _„  (a) E minor._

  _„  (b) E minor._


  _In A._

  _„  G._

Of works not already mentioned, the “Bachgesellschaft” publishes in
vol. xlii., Part II., the following apparently authentic compositions:--

  _Prelude and Fugue in A minor._

  _Concerto and Fugue in C minor._

  _Prelude in B minor._

_Of more doubtful authenticity_:

  _Fantasia in C minor._      Molto allegro.

  _Toccata quasi fantasia con fuga, A major._

  _Partie, A major._

  _Allemande in C minor._

  _Gigue, F minor._

  _Allemande and Courante, A major._

  _Allemande in A minor._

  _Two Fantasias and Fughettas._

  _An Unfinished Fugue in E minor._


  _Concerto in F (248)._      For clavecin and two flutes concertante,
  with accompaniment for two violins, viola and bass.

  _Concerto in G minor (249)._      For clavecin, with accompaniment
  for two violins, viola, violoncello and bass.

  _Concerto in F minor (250)._      For clavecin, with accompaniment
  for two violins, viola and bass.

  _Concerto in D major (251)._      For clavecin, with accompaniment
  for two violins, viola and bass.

  _Concerto in A major (252)._      For clavecin, with accompaniment
  for two violins, viola, violoncello and bass.

  _Concerto in E major (253)._      For clavecin, with accompaniment
  for two violins, viola and bass.

  _Concerto in D minor (254)._      For clavecin, with accompaniment
  for two violins, viola and bass. The first allegro is arranged as
  the introductory symphony of the Cantata, “Wir müssen durch viel

  _Concerto in A minor (255)._      For clavecin, flute and violin, with
  accompaniment for two violins, viola, violoncello and bass.

  _Concerto in C (256)._      For two clavecins, with two violins,
  viola and bass.

  _Concerto in C minor (257)._      For two clavecins, with two
  violins, viola and bass.

  _Concerto in C minor (257b)._      For two clavecins, with two
  violins, viola and bass. Arranged from the concerto for two violins.

  _Concerto in D minor (258)._      For three clavecins, with two
  violins, viola and bass.

  _Concerto in C (259)._      For three clavecins, with two violins,
  viola and bass.

  _Concerto in A minor, after a concerto for four violins by Vivaldi
  (260)._      For four clavecins, with accompaniment for two violins,
  viola and bass.


  _Concerto in A minor (229[86])._      For violin, with accompaniment
  for two violins, viola and bass. Also arranged for clavecin and
  strings in G minor.

  _Concerto in E (230[87])._      For violin, with accompaniment for
  two violins, viola and bass.

  _Concerto (231[87]) in D minor_.      For two principal violins, with
  accompaniment for two violins, viola and bass. Also arranged for two
  clavecins and strings in C minor (_257b_).

  _Three Sonatas and three Suites for violin, without accompaniment
  (228)._      Composed at Cöthen. The fugue of the sonata in G minor
  is also arranged for organ in D minor. The sonata in A minor is also
  arranged for clavecin alone in D minor (213), and the suite in E major
  in the same key for clavecin. The prelude in E forms the obbligato
  organ part of the opening chorus of the cantata “Wir danken dir.”

  _Six Sonatas for (232 and 233) Violin and Figured Bass._

  _Six Sonatas for Flute or Violin and Clavier (234 and 235)._

  _Suite in A for Violin and Clavier (236)._

  _Sonata in E minor for Violin and Clavier (236)._

  _Fugue in G minor for Violin and Clavier (236)._

  _Sonata in C for two Violins and Clavier (237)._

  _Sonata in G for Flute, Violin and Clavier (237)._

  _Trio for Flute, Violin and Clavier (237)._      From the “Musical
  Offering”; the clavier part supplied from the figured bass by

  _Six Sonatas or Suites for the Violoncello (238)._

  _Three Sonatas for the Viola da Gamba and Clavier (239)._

  _Clavierbuch of Anna Magdalena Bach, 1725._      Contains twenty
  easy pieces, consisting of minuets, polonaises, rondos, marches,
  and one song.

  _Principles of Thorough-bass for his pupils._      Dated 1738, and
  preserved by J. P. Kellner. It is divided into two parts for
  beginners and advanced pupils. The author says, “The ultimate
  end and aim of thorough-bass should only be the glory of God
  and recreation of the mind. Where these are not kept in view
  there can be no real music, only an infernal jingling and
  bellowing.” The complete work is quoted as an appendix in
  Spitta, vol. iii.


[86] Pianoforte score.

[87] Pianoforte score.


~Adlung~ (J. A.). Musica mechanica organœdi, 1768, (notes in).

~Bach~ (J. S.). Eine Biographie, mit Portrait. Cassel, 1855.

~Bachgesellschaft.~ The complete works of Bach in 60 volumes, with
important introductory notices; published by the Bach Society of
Leipsic. Breitkopf & Härtel, 1851 to 1898.

~Bitter~ (C. H.). Joh. Seb. Bach. Berlin, 1865: 2 vols.; and 1880: 4

~----~ Die Söhne Sebastian Bachs. 1883. In Waldersee’s Sammlung
musikalische Vorträge, vol. v.

~Brockhaus.~ Conversationslexicon. Leipsic, 1833.

~Bruyck~ (C. D. van). Technische und æsthetische Analysen des Wohlt.
Clav. 1867.

~Conrad~ (E. F.). Echt oder unecht? Zur Lucas-Passion. Berlin.

~David~ (E.). La vie et les œuvres de J. S. Bach. In “Bibliothèque
Contemporaine.” Paris, 1882.

~Ersch und Gruber.~ Allgemeine Encyclopædie. Part VII. Leipsic, 1821.
(Article by C. M. von Weber.)

~Fétis.~ Biographie Universelle des Musiciens. 2nd edition. 1889.

~Forkel~ (J. N.). Über Johann Sebastian Bachs Leben. Kunst und
Kunstwerke. Leipzig, 1802.

~----~ An English translation of the above appeared in 1820, and a
French edition, with notes by F. Grenier, was published at Paris in

~Franz~ (R.). Über J. S. Bachs Magnificat. 1863.

~----~ Ueber Bearbeitungen älterer Tonwerke, namentlich Bach’scher und
Händel’scher Vocal-musik. 1871.

~Frommel~ (G.). Händel und Bach. 1878.

~Fuchs~ (H.). Le Bicentenaire de Bach. La Passion selon Saint Matthieu
a Bâle. 1885.

~Gerber~ (E. L.). Lexicon der Tonkünstler. Leipsic, 1790.

~----~ Lexicon der Tonkünstler. Leipsic, 1812.

~Grosser~ (P. E.). Lebensbeschreibung. Nebst einer Sammlung
interessante Anekdoten. Breslau, 1834.

~Hauptmann~ (M.). Erlauterungen zu J. S. Bach’s Kunst der Fuge. 1841.

~Hilgenfeldt~ (C. L.). Leben Wirken und Werke.

~Hiller~ (J. A.). Lebensbeschreibungen berühmter Musikgelehrten und
Tonkünstler. Part I. 1784.

~Hirschung.~ Historisch-literarisches Handbuch berühmter Personen. Vol.
i. 1794.

~His~ (W.). Johann Seb. Bach: Forschungen über dessen Grabstätte. 1895.

~Iliffe~ (F.). The Forty-eight Preludes and Fugues of J. S. Bach,
analysed 1897.

~Johnston~ (H. F. H.). Passion Music. 1858.

~Junghaus~ (W.). J. S. B. als Schüler der Partikularschule in Lüneburg.

~Kuhnau~ (J. C. W.). Die blinden Tonkünstler. 1810.

~Ludwig~ (C. A). J. S. B. in seiner Bedeutung für Cantoren.

~Mangold~ (C. A.). Bach’s Passion, Ein Beitrag zur Characteristik der
Bachschen Compositionsweise. 1860.

~Mendel.~ Musikalisches Conversations Lexicon. 2nd edition, 1881.

~Meyer~ (Dr P.). Joh. Seb. Bach. Vortrag in “Oeffentliche Vorträge
gehalten in der Schweiz.” 1871.

~Minerva.~ Zur Erinnerungsfeier an J. S. Bach’s Todestag. Jena, 1850.

~Mizler~ (L. C.). Musikalische Bibliothek, vol. iv., Part I., pp.
158-176. Leipsic, 1754. An article compiled by P. Emanuel Bach and J.
F. Agricola.

~Mosewius~ (J. T.). J. S. B. in seinen Kirchen-Cantaten und
Choralgesangen. 1845.

~----~ J. S. B.’s Matthäus-Passion Musikalisch-æsthetisch dargestellt.

~Oordt~ (A. M. van). Een Kort Woord over Bach. 1873.

~Polko~ (E.). Unsere Musikklassiker.

~Poole~ (R. L.). Life of Bach, in Hueffer’s “The Great Musicians.” 1881.

~Reissmann~ (A.). Leben Johann Sebastian Bach’s.

~Riemann~ (H.). Analysis of J. S. Bach’s Wohltemperirtes Clavier. 1893.

~Rochlitz~ (A. F.). Allg. Musik Zeitung, 1831, (article in).

~Schaeffer.~ J. Seb. Bach’s Cantata, “Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen”
in den Ausgaben von R. Franz und den leipziger Bach-Verein Kritisch
beleuchtet. 1877.

~Schauer~ (Dr J. K.). Lebensbild. Jena, 1850.

~Schick~ (M.). J. S. B. Lebensbild.

~Schiffner~ (A.). Sebastian Bach’s Nachkommenschaft. 1840.

~Schilling~ (Dr G.). Universallexicon der Tonkünst. Stuttgart, 1835.
(Article by A. B. Marx.)

~Shuttleworth~ (Miss Kay). “Life of Bach.”

~Siebigke.~ Museum berühmter Tonkünstler. 1801.

~Spitta~ (P.). John Sebastian Bach. 2 vols. 1873-80.

~----~ The above, translated by Clara Bell and J. A. Fuller Maitland.
Novello, London, 1884. 2nd edition, 1899.

~----~ Die Passions-Musiken von Seb. Bach, 1893, in “Sammlung
gemeinverstandlicher wissenschaftlicher Vorträge.” Serie 8, Heft 176.

~----~ Ueber die Beziehungen S. Bach’s zu C. F. Hunold und Mariane von
Ziegler, in Curtius E. Historische und Philologische Aufsätze. 1884.

~Taylor~ (Sedley). The Life of J. S. B. in relation to his work as a
Church Musician and Composer. 1897.

~Todt~ (B.). Vademecum durch die Bachschen Cantaten. 1895.

~Tudor~ (H.). Das Heroentum in der Deutschen Musik. An essay on the
music of Bach, Beethoven and Wagner. 1891.

~Walther~ (J. G.). Musikalisches Lexicon. 1732. Contains a short
article on J. S. Bach.

~Westphal~ (R.). Allgemeine Theorie der Musikalischen Rhythmik. Mit
besonderer Berücksichtigung von Bach’s Fugen, &c. 1880.

~Winterfeld~ (C. von). Der evangelische Kirchengesang. Leipsic, 1847.

[Illustration: The performance of a Church Cantata

From Walther’s Lexicon, Leipsic, 1732]


~Ahle~, Joh. Rudolph, was born 1625, and, after holding a post at
Erfurt, became organist and burgomaster of his native town Mühlhausen.
His chorale tunes are still popular in Thuringia. On his death in 1673
he was succeeded by his son Joh. Georg, who was a member of the Town
Council, and poet laureate to the Emperor Leopold I.

~Böhm~, Georg. Is described by Walther as a fine composer and
organist of St John at Lüneburg. Bach modelled some of his early
chorale-preludes, notably “Wir glauben all’ an einen Gott” on Böhm’s

~Brust-positiv.~ The name given to the choir manual when its pipes
stand in front of the rest of the organ, as in many of the old English
cathedral organs.

~Buxtehude~, Dietrich, 1637-1707, organist at the Marien-Kirche at
Lübeck. His organ fugues, toccatas, &c., are of great importance as
having furnished Bach with his earliest models. The fugues are usually
in three portions, as in Bach’s great E flat fugue (Peters, 242). Many
of his organ works have been published by Spitta.

~Caldara~, Antonius. Born at Venice 1678, a pupil of Legrenzi and
Fux, and the writer of many operas, and much church music. He was
successively Capellmeister at St Mark’s, the Court of Mantua, and
to Charles VI. at Vienna. He was a clever imitator, but had little
inventive genius. On coming to Germany, his style improved in vigour.
Bach admired him sufficiently to copy his Magnificat in C.

~Cantor~, Choirmaster. The office is rarely held by the organist as in
England, since the cantor has to conduct the “Hauptmusik” with a baton
while the organist plays.

~Cembalo~, or clavicymbal, or clavessin, or clavecin, for which Bach
wrote his clavier works, was in shape like the modern grand piano, but
its interior construction was something after the model of the organ.
It had, in common with the organ, the defect of being unable to produce
piano or forte by the touch alone, this being done by stops. A complete
cembalo had the compass of [F on fourth ledger line below bass clef]
to [G on fourth ledger line above treble clef] and two manuals. Each
note had four strings producing 4, 8, and 16 ft. tone, two being of 8
ft. The strings were sounded by plectra made of quill, called jacks.
The instruments were sometimes also provided with organ pedals. It will
be seen at once that a piece played on 16, 8 and 4 ft. stops would
sound far fuller than when played on the modern piano with only unison

The cembalo was used to play the basso continuo in all concerted music
outside the church; and even in a concerto for clavier, a second
cembalo appears to have accompanied. The lute or regal, however,
sometimes took its place, for convenience of porterage.

Transposing clavicymbals, and clavicymbals with keyboards at both ends
were in use. The tuning was very troublesome, and had to be done before
each performance. Other names were Gravecymbalum, Flügel, Schweinskopf,
Steertstück. The claviorganum was a combination of clavicymbal and

~Choral~ is the German name for the Plainsong of the Roman Church.
After the Reformation the name Choral (English “Chorale”) was given to
the hymns which were either translated from the Latin, or originally
written in the fourteenth century by Johannes of Salzburg, Muscatblüet,
Hans Foltz, Michel Beheim, Johannes Gosseler, Jörg Breining, and
Heinrich von Laufenberg, and which took a firm hold on the German
people through the efforts of Martin Luther, Michael Vehe, W. Heintz,
Joh. Hofmann, and others. The peculiar variety to be observed in the
metrical construction of the German Chorale is directly traceable
to the influence of the Volkslied, for Luther himself wrote sacred
words for secular melodies. Other names connected with the chorale
are Valentin Triller, Veit Heefen, Count Albrecht the younger of
Brandenburg, Culmbach, Speratus, Spengler, Hans Sachs, Schensing,
Decius Graumann, Joh. Walter, a friend and fellow-worker of Luther, L.
Senfl, von Bruck and Fink. Later poets were Nic. Hermann, P. Nicolai,
Calvisius Hassler, &c., H. and J. Prætorius, Neumark, Flemming,
Teschner, Gerhard and Crüger. The music of the chorale was brought to
perfection by J. S. Bach.

~Chorale-Cantatas~, those in which a complete hymn is carried out,
each verse forming as a rule a separate movement, whether for chorus
or solo voices, though occasionally a verse is omitted in the longer
hymns. Sometimes recitatives break the course of the chorale melody,
or the melody is played by the instruments and accompanied by vocal
recitative. The chorales chosen are always well-known ones, and among
the finest of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

~Church~ Music. The services at Leipsic were regulated by an act passed
in 1540 by Duke Heinrich applying to all Saxony. A morning service
called matins was celebrated at St Nicholas every Sunday at 5.30 A.M.,
in which the Venite, Psalms, Te Deum and Benedicamus Domino were sung
by the choir, and directed by the St Nicholas cantor.

Morning service took place at 7 at both St Thomas and St Nicholas;
a Latin motet was sung, followed by the Kyrie, Gloria in excelsis,
Collect in Latin, and at St Thomas a Litany was sung by four boys and
the choir alternately. The Gospel and Epistle and Creed were intoned
by the priest, and on certain days the Nicene Creed was sung in Latin
by the choir. The “Hauptmusik” (the cantata) followed the intoning or
singing of the Creed in Latin, and after it was finished the Creed was
sung by the congregation in German. This was followed by a sermon of
an hour’s duration. The service concluded with the general confession,
the Lord’s Prayer and blessing. Chorales were sung by the congregation
during the course of the service.

At the mid-day service there were only a sermon and two congregational
hymns without the choir. It began at a quarter to twelve. At vespers,
the choir sang a motet, and the Magnificat in German, besides leading
the congregation in some hymns. At Christmas, Easter and Whitsuntide,
similar services were performed for three consecutive days, matins
beginning at five instead of half-past to allow more time for the
festival services.

~Cithara~, Cither, a favourite instrument in the sixteenth century
of the guitar family, bearing 4, 5 or 6, or even 12 metal strings.
Prætorius condemns the four-stringed cithara as being “a vulgar
instrument only used by cobblers and tailors.” In England it was kept
at barbers’ shops for the amusement of customers waiting their turn.

~Clarino.~ Lichtenthal C. Dizionario della Musica, Milan, 1826, says
“the clarino is, according to some, a species of small trumpet, of
which the tube is narrower than that of the ordinary trumpet, and which
gives a more acute sound; but Northerners hold that the word means the
ordinary trumpet.” The word frequently occurs in Bach’s scores.

~Clavichord.~ A key-board instrument having brass strings which were
neither plucked with a quill as in the harpsichord, nor struck with a
hammer as in the pianoforte, but made to sound by a brass blade called
a tangent, which pressed against the string as long as the key was held
down. Although its tone had little power, the effects of crescendo,
diminuendo, and vibrato, called in Germany “Bebung,” were entirely
under the player’s control, and on this account it was a favourite
instrument with Bach. The clavichord was sometimes provided with pedals
for the use of organ students.

~Clavicymbal.~ See Cembalo.

~Clavier~, literally Keyboard. The German name for all keyboard
instruments, such as the clavichord, harpsichord, spinet, instrument,
&c. The term is also applied to both the manuals and pedals of the

~Clavierbüchlein~, little clavier book for Bach’s son W. Friedemann,
when nine years old, in 1720. A diagram shows the keys and principal
ornaments, and one of the pieces is figured and called “Applicatio,
in nomine Jesu.” Some of the pieces are composed by the boy himself.
Eleven of the preludes of the Wohltemperirte clavier first appeared in
this book; some of the pieces are by other composers as J. C. Richter
and G. H. Stölzel of Gotha, and there are many of Bach’s own fugues.

~Clavierbüchlein~, vor Anna Magdalena Bach in 1720 and 1725. See p. 57.

~Clavierübung~, clavier practice. A work in four parts, consisting
of preludes, allemands, the Italian concerto, the French overture,
choralvorspiele, &c., intended, as the name implies, for educational
purposes. The work includes the well-known prelude and fugue for organ
in E flat, Peters 242, and the air in G with thirty variations written
for Goldberg.

~College~ of Instrumental Musicians of Upper and Lower Saxony. The full
text is given by Spitta, vol. i. p. 145, _et seq._ The statutes enacted
that no member was to settle in any town where another member was
already settled; no member was to take lower fees than his predecessor;
no member was to boast that he played on a superior instrument to
others; offices were only to be obtained by proper examination; no
member was to sing immoral songs; every member must conduct himself
with propriety in social “attendances,” and to see that his assistants
did the same; no member was to bring his art to disrepute by playing on
bagpipes, hurdy-gurdies, triangles, &c.

No bad language was to be allowed, and all low company to be
avoided; apprentices must, before binding, produce credentials of
respectability, and must serve for five years with industry and
constant prayer. After an apprentice has served his five years he is
to serve another three as an “assistant,” except when he marries his
master’s daughter, in which case he shall only serve one year as
assistant. In case of dissension arising, the matter must be brought
before six master-musicians, who shall decide it. No man is to seek
to oust an old master; but if a man becomes too old to do his work,
an assistant shall be appointed who shall receive half the salary.
Every master is to see that his assistants are properly paid for
services rendered. In order that the art of music may not be brought
into contempt by inadequate performance, no man shall be allowed to
keep more than three apprentices at one time (for this would compel
him to employ properly qualified assistants to carry out concerted
music). A master neglecting to teach his apprentices could be punished;
and an apprentice running away could never become a member of the
college. However great the number of members, no man was to be refused
membership who was found, after due trial, to be properly qualified.
Questions of evil morals arising among members were to be decided by a
board of elders.

~Concertmeister~, the leader of an orchestra who ranks immediately
after the conductor. In early times he was also the conductor of purely
instrumental music, while the capellmeister conducted whenever voices
were employed. The title is also bestowed as a mark of respect on
musicians of eminence who are not connected with an orchestra.

~Concerto.~ A term applied to both vocal and instrumental concerted
music. Several of Bach’s Cantatas are thus named; thus “Ein Herz das
seinen Jesum lebend weiss” is entitled “Concerto à quattro voci,
2 oboi, 2 violini, viola e continuo di J. S. Bach.” Concertos for
instruments were in several movements, but usually three. There
was sometimes a single solo instrument, but more frequently there
were several. The fine concerto in G in two movements is for three
violins, three violas, three violoncellos and bass without a solo
instrument. The concertos of Handel and Vivaldi, &c., are orchestral
compositions in several movements with or without wind instruments.
The Italian Concerto is a piece in three movements for clavecin without

~Consistory.~ The authorities of an important church, somewhat
analogous to the Dean and Chapter of an English cathedral.

~Continuo~ = Basso Continuo, the bass of a composition for voices
or instruments or both. It was always the lowest part, and was
usually provided with figures, that the accompanist might be able
to fill in the harmonies and keep the body of performers together.
It was performed on the organ, or cembalo or regal, according to
circumstances. The continuo of most of Bach’s cantatas was written out
in two keys, to suit the two pitches in use, “Chorton” being a tone
higher than “Kammerton.” All chamber music required the accompaniment
of a cembalo in figured bass; and even if there were one or more
“Cembali” obbligati a separate instrument would be employed for the
continuo. In all Bach’s church compositions in which there is an organ
obbligato part, there is another organ part for the continuo. The
conductor stood near the organist, as may be seen in the frontispiece
to Walther’s Lexicon.

~Cornet~, Cornetto, Zink, consisted of a curved wooden tube covered
with leather and having holes for the fingers with a cup mouthpiece
like a trumpet. Two cornets hang on the wall near the organ in
Walther’s illustration.

~Drese~, Johann Samuel, 1654-1716, was organist of the Court at Jena,
and afterwards Capellmeister at Weimar. He composed sonatas for the
clavier, motets and operas.

~Estomihi.~ Quinquagesima Sunday.

~Figural~ Music. Florid music, or all church music that is not
Plainsong, or its Lutheran equivalent the chorale-melody.

~Florilegium~ Portense, a work containing 115 “cantiones selectissimas”
of from four to eight voices, with figured bass for organ. A second
part contained 150 “concentus selectissimas” of from five to ten
parts. Published 1603 and 1621 by Bodenschatz, Cantor of Schulpforta,
and Pastor at Rehausen. A complete catalogue is given in Groves’
Dictionary, vol. i. p. 253.

~French~ Overture. A form of opera overture consisting of a slow
introduction, followed by a fugue or fugato, and concluding with a slow
movement. This form was applied to the clavier by Bach in the “Overture
in the French style” (E. P. 208) of the B minor Suite or Partita.

~Fux~, Joh. Joseph, born in Styria, 1660, organist, Court composer, and
Capellmeister at Vienna. A prolific composer of church music and opera,
but he is best known by his theoretical works, amongst which is his
Latin “Gradus ad Parnassum,” a treatise on composition, which has been
through many editions.

~Görner~, J. Gottlieb, was appointed organist of the Nicolai Church at
Leipsic in 1721 and was also head of a “Collegium Musicum” or musical
society. In 1729 he succeeded Gräbner as organist of St Thomas. He
was a mediocre musician, but put himself in rivalry with Bach, and is
reported by Scheibe to have “by his rudeness asserted his pre-eminence
among a large number of his equals.” He gave Bach a good deal of
trouble by assuming the position and emoluments of director of music
to the University; but they appear to have worked amicably together
afterwards, and Bach, by will, appointed him guardian of his children,
an office which he appears to have satisfactorily fulfilled.

~Hammerschmidt~, Andreas, born in Bohemia, 1611, organist of Freiberg,
afterwards at Zittau. According to Gerber, one of the greatest of
German contrapuntists. Walther gives a list of his compositions, which
are mostly for the church. His “Musical discourses on the Gospel” were
an important step in the development of oratorio.

~Hunold~, Christian Friedrich. A poet, known as Menantes, who wrote
poems for the Hamburg Theatre 1700 to 1706; became a professor at
Halle, and was much at the Cöthen Court, where he wrote texts for
Bach’s cantatas.

~Instrument.~ A name given to a keyed instrument of which the strings
went from side to side as in the obsolete square pianoforte, the
key-board being in the middle.

~Inventions.~ The fifteen Inventions and Symphonies were entitled by
Bach “A genuine introduction whereby a clear method is shown to lovers
of the clavier, and especially to those who are eager to learn, not
only (1) of playing in two voices clearly, but also, on making further
progress, (2) of playing three obbligato parts properly and well; so
that they at the same time will learn to make good inventions and play
them themselves, and will also learn what is most important, the art
of cantabile playing; and will acquire a good taste in composition.
Prepared by J. S. Bach, 1723.”

~Keiser~, Reinhard, was for forty years the celebrated composer and
conductor of operas at Hamburg. He had as colleagues Telemann and
Matheson. He wrote 116 operas, and produced many by other composers,
particularly Handel’s Rinaldo. Born near Leipsic, 1673, died 1739.

~Kuhnau~, Johann, 1667-1722, Bach’s predecessor as cantor at the
Thomas-schule, was a prolific writer on musical subjects. Amongst his
compositions are six Bible sonatas, representing scenes from Scripture
on the cembalo. He was the first to write chamber sonatas for the
clavier instead of for several instruments. He was also learned in
languages, mathematics, and law. He wrote passions, cantatas, &c., but
his style seems to have soon become antiquated, and his works could not
hold their own against the opera and the younger school.

~Lituus.~ The cantata No. 118, “O Jesu Christ mein’s Leben’s Licht,”
is scored for two litui, cornet and three trombones. There are no
string or organ parts, and the work is evidently intended for the open
air, perhaps for a funeral. There is no reason given for calling the
trumpets by their Latin name in this instance.

~Lute.~ This instrument appears in the score of the St John’s Passion.
It was sometimes used instead of a clavecin to accompany concerted

~Lute-Harpsichord.~ A keyed instrument with gut strings made after
Bach’s design by Zacharias Hildebrand, an organ builder. See p. 157.

~Matheson~, 1681-1764, wrote 89 volumes chiefly on musical subjects,
besides being a composer. He was a classical scholar, a student of
modern languages, law, and political science, a good musician, dancer,
and fencer. He appeared on the Hamburg stage as a singer, composed
and conducted operas there, became a great friend of Handel, was
made secretary of the English Legation, and cantor and canon of the
Cathedral. By his writings he materially helped forward the development
of the church cantata.

~Mizler~, von Kolof, Doctor of Philosophy and historian, born 1711 at
Wurtemberg, was a good amateur musician. In 1731 he went to Leipsic to
study divinity and afterwards philosophy and music. Here he founded
a “Society for Musical Science,” and became on friendly terms with
Bach, who seems to have given him some lessons. He wrote various
works dealing with the philosophy of music; and his chief importance
in connection with Bach was his “Necrology” in which he gives
valuable information concerning him. The work is in several numbers;
unfortunately that portion of it which deals with Bach is not in the
British Museum Library.

~Motet.~ The character and scope of the German motet are thus described
by Spitta, vol. i. p. 54. “It is in several parts; it admits of no
obbligato instruments, and its subjects are set to a text of the Bible,
or to a verse of a hymn. The period of its fullest bloom was about
1600, when music was essentially polyphonic, vocal, and sacred.” Under
the influence of harmony it gradually changed its form, introducing
solo voices and instruments, especially the organ.

~Oboe~ da Caccia. Hunting oboe, bent like a knee, and differing but
slightly from the modern Cor Anglais, or English horn. It occurs very
frequently in Bach’s scores. It is described in Grove’s Dictionary as a
bassoon raised a fourth, carrying the bass tone of the latter upwards
rather than lowering the treble tone of the oboe a fifth. It is also
called by Bach, Taille de basson, or tenor of the bassoon.

~Oberwerk.~ The Great organ.

~Oberpositiv.~ A choir organ of which the wind-chest is placed above
the others.

~Orgel-büchlein~, “Little organ-book.” The first collection was made,
according to Bach himself, at Cöthen between 1717 and 1723. The second
collection, consisting of six chorales, was published and sold by
Bach and his sons at Leipsic, Halle, and Berlin. The third collection
was continued till his death and was not published. The last portion
was dictated during his blindness to his son-in-law Altnikol. The two
unpublished parts were written on two staves only. The pedal compass
in the chorales extends to high F and F♯. These notes were found on the
organ of the Lutheran Church at Cöthen only. This organ is described by
Hartmann in 1803 as “an uncommonly powerful and excellent instrument.”
It had 8 stops on the pedals, 10 on the great, 10 on the choir. It is
now reduced in size and ruined in order to obtain more room in the

~Partita.~ A name given to sets of variations for organ or cembalo, and
appropriated from the town pipers.

~Pachelbel~, Johann, 1653-1706, born at Nüremberg, was assistant
organist at the Church of St Stephen in Vienna, whence he moved to
Eisenach as Court organist in 1677. From Eisenach he went to Erfurt
and to Gehren. In 1690 he became Court organist at Stuttgart; and
after a stay of three years at Gotha he became organist of a church at
Nüremberg till his death. He taught W. Friedemann Bach, and Bernhard,
son of Ægidius. According to Gerber, he improved church music, used
the overture form on the clavier, and continued the good work which
Froberger had begun in respect of clavier composition. Bach used his
chorales as models during the Arnstadt period.

~Picander.~ A poet of considerable reputation in his time named
Christian Friedrich Henrici. Born 1700 at Stolpen. Went to the
University at Leipsic, 1720. Became a lawyer, but was afterwards able
to live by his poetical compositions, though he obtained important
posts in Leipsic. Died 1764. He wrote the text for many of Bach’s

~Positiv.~ The name given to that portion of an organ and its manual
which corresponds to our choir organ. In a three manual organ there
are usually two choir manuals. The swell shutters, if any, are only
applied to a few stops, used generally on a fourth or “echo” manual.
Properly speaking the positive, called in Italian organs, piccolo,
had its foundation pipes pitched an octave higher than those of the
ordinary organ. Its diapason would therefore be a four-feet register.

~Regal.~ Sometimes used to accompany secular cantatas instead of the
clavecin. It was also used for choir practices. In 1709 Kuhnau in a
Memorial to the Council says, “A new regal is needed, the old one being
constantly in need of repair.” An inventory of the instruments at the
Thomas-schule between 1723 and 1750 mentions, “1 Regal, old and quite
done for”; “1 ditto bought 1696.”

The regal was a small reed instrument of the harmonium class, but with
small pipes to enhance the sound of the reeds. It could easily be
carried about, and was placed on a table when played. It could be made
so small as to take the size and shape of a large book, hence sometimes
called Book or Bible-regal.

~Schubart~, Christian F. Daniel. Born 1739. Master of Philosophy,
Theatre director, Court poet of Stuttgart, a good amateur musician.
Was a good organist and held various posts. In 1777 to 1787 he was
imprisoned in a castle on account of some views expressed in his
political paper “Deutsche Chronik.” Burney, who met him, remarks on his
great facility as a clavier player. He published several compositions
and works on music.

~Schütz~, Heinrich. 1585-1672. Brought opera from Italy to Germany and
also composed Passions. He was considered the best German composer of
his century. He wrote music to the Passions of Matthew, Luke and John
for the Court of Dresden, where he was Capellmeister. These are the
greatest works of the kind next to those of Bach. His compositions are
in the old church tones, but strongly influenced by the coming tonality
of modern music.

~Solo~ Cantatas. Those written for one or more solo voices without a
chorus. They sometimes conclude with the chorale in four parts.

~Spinet.~ Is defined by Hipkins (“The Pianoforte,” p. 121) as “a
Jack keyboard instrument with one string to a note,” as opposed to
the cembalo, harpsichord, &c., which had several strings to a note.
Adlung says the spinet was of limited compass, its lowest octave being
“short” and it was tuned a fifth above chorus pitch. It was sometimes
triangular in shape and could be placed on a table; its strings ran
from right to left of the performer, as in the “Instrument.”

~Rück-positiv.~ The name given to the choir manual when its pipes stand
behind the rest of the organ.

~Telemann~, G. Philipp. 1681-1767. A poet and musician who composed
no less than 600 overtures, 12 complete year courses of cantatas, 44
passions, 32 compositions for the instalment of preachers, 32 so-called
oratorios, 20 coronation pieces, 40 operas, and a mass of other music.
Besides all this he is described by Walther as the “greatest Polygraph
that Germany can show,” having written a number of books on music,
besides a quantity of bad poetry. He was successively organist and
director of the New Church at Leipsic (during which time he mastered
the English, Italian and French languages), Capellmeister in Sorau,
Concertmeister in Eisenach, Kapellmeister at Frankfort-on-the-Maine,
Music Director at Hamburg, where he formed one of the trio of
musicians, Keiser and Matheson being the others. He was on very
friendly terms with Bach and Handel. He was a candidate for the post of
Cantor at St Thomas, having during his previous residence in Leipsic
(1701-4) founded a flourishing “Collegium Musicum” among the students.
He had a great reputation throughout Germany. Bach copied some of his
music, and the influence of Telemann, at that time very popular, is
seen in Bach’s cantata “Herr Gott dich loben wir.”

~Theorbo.~ A lute with an extra neck bearing the bass strings.

~Tromba~ da tirarsi. A slide trumpet, the soprano of the trombone.
Often used in Bach’s scores.

~Viola~ d’amore. A tenor viol of a specially agreeable and silvery tone
(Walther). It sometimes had sympathetic strings, though these were not
a necessary adjunct.

~Viola~ da gamba. Leg viol, the bass of the viol family, held between
the knees, like the violoncello, when played. It had six strings, the
lowest of which was the D below the bass stave, and its finger-board
was fretted. Its tone (like that of all the viol class) was weak
compared to the violoncello.

~Viola~ pomposa, an instrument invented by Bach. See p. 157.

~Violetta.~ This instrument occurs in the cantata “Herr Gott dich loben
wir” as an alternative of the “oboe di caccia.” It is described by
Walther as a fiddle (Geige) playing an inner part, constructed like a
viola, or small viola da gamba.

~Violino~ piccolo. A small violin whose lowest string was a fourth
higher than that of the violin. Its tuning was therefore C, G, D, A, an
octave above the viola. It frequently occurs in Bach’s scores.

~Violoncello~ piccolo, with five strings. This instrument occurs in the
score of a tenor aria in cantata No. 41, “Jesu nur sei gepreiset.” The
additional string was tuned to E, and enabled the performer to execute
the very florid high passages which Bach writes.

~Ziegler~, Christiane Mariane von, who wrote words for some of the
cantatas was born in 1695 at Leipsic. Began to publish poems when she
was fifteen. Left a widow in 1722, she devoted herself to writing
poetry and the practice of the keyboard instruments and lute, and
flute, and was held in honour by the most artistic society of her time.
Spitta gives an account of her life in Curtius’ Historische Aufsätze,
1884. See p. 197.


  Abel, Chr. F., 50

    „  Karl Friedrich, _id._

  Accompanying, his method of, 103, 104

  Ahle, Johann Georg, 33

  Altnikol, Johann C., 170

  Anhalt-Cöthen, appointed capellmeister to Prince Leopold of, 48

  Arnstadt, appointed organist at, 25;
    details of organ at, 26, 27;
    troubles with Consistory of, 29-33

  “Art of Fugue,” 134, 135

  “Bach Choir,” 143

  Bach as “Familien-Vater,” 170

  Bach Family, 3-18

  Bach Gesellschaft, 148

  Bach, Maria Barbara, his cousin, 33;
    marries her, _id._;
    her death, 51

  Bach Society, English, 142

  Bachs of Thuringia, the, 1, 2

  Bibliography, 202-204

  Birnbaum, his reply to Scheibe’s attack on Bach, 85

  Birth, his, 21

  Blindness, his, 88

  Böhm, becomes a pupil of, 23

  Books and instruments, his, 80, 81

  Börner, 25

  Burial, his place of, 89

  Buxtehude, visit to, 28

  Cantatas and the chorale, 91

  Carlsbad, visit to, 51

  Cassel, visit to, 44

  _Catalogue of Instrumental Works_, 191-195
    Orchestra, 194, 195
    Organ, 191-194

  _Catalogue of Vocal Works_, 177-190
    Church Cantatas, 177-188
    Funeral Ode, 188
    Lost Works, 190
    Motets, 188
    Secular Cantatas, 189

  _Cembalo, Clavichord, Spinet, &c., Works for_, 196-201
    Keyed instruments with accompaniment, 200
    Other instruments, 200, 201

  Children, his, 57

  Choirmaster, as, 171

  Christmas Oratorio, the, 144

  Clavichord, his favourite instrument, 78

  “Clavier, the Wohltemperirte,” 131

  Cöthen, appointed capellmeister at, 48;
    leaves, 56

  Death, his, 89;
    notice of in the _Leipsic Chronicle_, _id._

  Death of his Father, 21

  Death of his first wife, 51

  Dresden, competition with Marchand at, 46, 47;
    journey to, 46;
    plays organ at, 84

  Drese, Samuel, 48

  Early studies, 22

  Easter oratorio, 145

  Effler, Johann, 25

  Eilmar, G. C., 38

  English Bach Society, 142

  Erdmann, G., 46

  Ernesti, Johann August, 81;
    troubles with, 82, 83

  Eyesight, failing, 88;
    he becomes blind, _id._

  “Familien-Vater,” Bach as, 170

  Fasch, 65

  Father, death of his, 21

  Figured bass, his method of playing from, 165

  Final illness and death, 89;
    notice in the _Leipsic Chronicle_, _id._

  Fingering, and use of keyed and stringed instruments, 152-155

  Flemming, Field Marshal von, 47

  Forkel, 39, 78, 170;
    anecdote of Bach, 41

  Frederick the Great, visit to, 86, 87

  Frohne, J. A., 38

  “Fugue, Art of,” 134, 135

  Gesner, 81

  Glossary, 205-218

  Görner, 78;
    throws his wig at, _id._

  Grace notes (Manieren), 149-151

  Graupner, 65

  Halle, visit to, 43, 45

  Hamburg, competes for organistship at, 52;
    journey to, _id._

  Hamburg and Celle, visits to, 24

  Handel, his efforts to meet, 55, 56

  Harrer, Gottlob, 86, 90

  Hausmann, his portrait of Bach, 85

  Heitmann, J. Joachim, 53

  Herrings’ heads, story of the, 24

  Hildebrand, Zacharias, 157

  Hilgenfeldt, 39, 172

  Home life at Leipsic, 77

  Hurlebusch, anecdote of, 79;
    visit from, 79, 80

  Kauffmann, G. F., 65

  Kirchoff, G., 46

  Koch, Johann Sebastian, 36

  Krebs, Johann Ludwig, 49;
    Johann T., _id._

  Kuhnau, 44

  Lämmerhirt, Tobias, 36

  Last representative of his family, 90

  Leipsic, appointed Cantor of, 66;
    Cantor, duties of, 59-61;
    differences with the Council, 70;
    St Thomas’s School at, 59

  Leipsic church organs:--
    Thomas Church, Leipsic, 160-162
    University Church, Leipsic, 162-165

  Lost works, 147

  Lübeck, visit to, 28

  Lüneburg, removes to, 22

  Lute-harpsichord planned by Bach, 157

  Magnificat in D, 146

  Marchand, competition with, 46, 47

  Marriage to his cousin, 33, 36

  Marriage to Anna Magdalena Wülken, 56

  Mass in B minor, 114

  Mattheson, 54, 55

  Mizler, 85

  Money matters, his carefulness in, 80, 174

  Mühlhausen, appointed organist of St Blasius at, 33;
    resigns appointment, 39

  “Musical Offering,” 135;
    dedication to Frederick the Great, 136

  Ohrdruf, removes to, 21

  “Old Lutherans,” the, differences with, 38

    Accompanying, his method, 103, 104
    “Ein feste Burg” chorale, 94, 96, 101
    “Es ist nichts gesundes” cantata, 108-111
    “Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende” cantata, 106
    Mass in B minor:
      (Et incarnatus), 127
      (Et resurrexit), 128
      (Gloria), 127
      (Kyrie), 126
      (Sanctus), 123, 129
    Passion Music (St Matthew), 104, 105
    “Wir danken dir, Gott” cantata, 112

    As an examiner of, 78
    Description of at Thomas Church, Leipsic, 160-162
    Description of at University Church, Leipsic, 162, 165
    Pitch of, 169

  Passion Music (St Matthew), 114

  Personal details, 77

  “Pietists” the, differences with, 38

  Playing, his, 148

  Portraits of Bach, Hausmann’s, &c., 85, 175

  Pupils, list of his, 140

  Reinken, 52

  Rolle, Ch. F., 45, 65

  Saxe-Weimar, appointed chamber-musician to Duke of, 39;
    his salary, 40

  Saxon Court, appointed composer to the, 84

  Scheibe, his attack on Bach, 85;
    Birnbaum’s reply, _id._

  Schneider, J., 50

  Schott, 65

  Schubart, Johann Martin, 35, 49

  Self-Criticism, 173

  Silbermann’s pianos, 87, 172

  St Blasius, Mühlhausen, appointed organist of, 33;
    repairs to the organ, 37;
    resigns the post, 39

  Statues of Bach, 176

  Stauber, Pastor, 39

  Stringed instruments, his knowledge of, 157-159

  Teacher, Bach as a, 137, 140

  Telemann, 65

  Vogler, J. C., 49

  Walther, Johann Gottfried, 33, 40

  Weimar, appointed chamber-musician to Duke of, 39;
    his salary, 40;
    joins the Court orchestra at, 25

  Widow and daughter, fate of his, 90

  “Wohltemperirte Clavier,” the, 131

  Wülken, Anna Magdalena, marries her, 56

      “Art of Fugue,” 134, 135
      _Canon_, “Von Himmel hoch, da komm’ ich her,” 85
      “Denn du wirst meine Seele nicht in der Hölle lassen,” 27, 28
      “Erforsche mich Gott,” 107
      “Es ist nichts gesundes,” 108-110, 113
      “Freue dich erlöste Schaar,” 112
      “Gleich wie der Regen und Schnee,” 108
      “Gott ist mein König,” 36
      “Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende,” 106
      “Herr Gott dich loben wir,” 107
      “Ich hatte viel Bekümmerniss,” 108
      “Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe,” 66
      “Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland,” 44
      “O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort,” 108
      “The rich man died and was buried,” 86
      “Thomana sass annoch betrübt,” 81
      “Vor deinen Thron tret ich,” 89
      “Wir danken dir, Gott,” 112
      _Capriccio_ on the departure of his brother, 28
      “An Wasserflüssen Babylon,” 24, 52
      “Christ, der du bist der helle Tag,” 25
      “Ein feste Burg,” 43, 95, 96, 101
      “Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit,” 24
      “O Gott, du Frommer Gott,” 25
      “When we are in the greatest need,” 88
      “Wie schön leuchtet uns der Morgenstern,” 28
      _Christmas Oratorio_, 106, 144
      Easter Oratorio, 145
      Magnificat in D, 146
      Mass in B minor, 114, 123-130
      “Musical Offering,” 135
      Passion Music (St Matthew), 104, 105, 114
      Serenade, 51
      Toccata in G, 24
      Variations: “Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr,” 28
      “Wohltemperirte Clavier,” the, 131-134

  _Works for Cembalo, Clavichord, Spinet, &c_, catalogue of, 196-201

  _Works, Instrumental_--
    Catalogue of, 191-195
    Orchestra, 194, 195
    Organ, 191-194

  _Works, Vocal_--
    Catalogue of, 177-190
    Church Cantatas, 177-188
    Funeral Ode, 188
    Lost Works, 190
    Motets, 188
    Secular Cantatas, 189

[Illustration: THE




      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

Illustrations have been moved next to the text to which they refer, and
may not match the page numbers in the List of Illustrations. Sidenotes
not in italics were originally printed as page headers.

The following apparent errors have been corrected:

Advertisement page "_Second Edition_" changed to "_Second Edition._"

p. vi "2 vols" changed to "2 vols."

p. 4 "Gottlich" changed to "Gottlieb"

p. 12 "Sax-Eisenach," changed to "Sax-Eisenach."

p. 15 "Teleman" changed to "Telemann"

p. 19 "all’an" changed to "all’ an"

p. 24 (note) "music, Berlin" changed to "music, Berlin."

p. 27 "meïne" changed to "meine"

p. 63 "troulde" changed to "trouble"

p. 73 "leave Leipzic" changed to "leave Leipsic"

p. 85 "Von Himmel" changed to "Vom Himmel"

p. 87 (note 51) "Sansouci" changed to "Sanssouci"

p. 95 "viola violoncello," changed to "viola, violoncello,"

p. 108 "Reigen" changed to "Regen"

p. 108 "Bekummerniss" changed to "Bekümmerniss"

p. 113 "di J. S. Bach" changed to "di J. S. Bach."

p. 114 "an einem Gott" changed to "an einen Gott"

p. 121 "unecht. zur" changed to "unecht? Zur"

p. 122 "seventeenth" changed to "eighteenth"

p. 124 "I have" changed to ""I have"

p. 127 "Quoniam solus Sanctus" changed to "Quoniam to solus Sanctus"

p. 135 "Wenn wir im höchsten Nöthen sind" changed to "Wenn wir in
höchsten Nöthen sein"

p. 140 "Sätzes" changed to "Satzes"

p. 145 "Der Geist hift unsere Schwachheit auf" changed to "Der Geist
hilft unsrer Schwachheit auf"

p. 145 "Tonet" changed to "Tönet"

p. 149 "1. The Vorschlag" changed to "The Vorschlag"

p. 170 "Staatsburger" changed to "Staatsbürger"

p. 171 "Lüneberg" changed to "Lüneburg"

p. 176 "Johnn Sebastian Bach" changed to "Johann Sebastian Bach"

p. 179 "erzahlen" changed to "erzählen"

p. 183 "Hochzeitgehe" changed to "Hochzeit gehe"

p. 184 "meinem Thaten" changed to "meinen Thaten"

p. 185 "ursprung" changed to "Ursprung"

p. 186 "Geist" changed to "Geist-"

p. 186 "gewünschste" changed to "gewünschte"

p. 187 "Süsse Trost, mein Jesu kommt" changed to "Süsser Trost, mein
Jesus kömmt"

p. 188 "erhöbt" changed to "erhöht"

p. 188 "spirit," changed to "spirit,”"

p. 188 "auf seinem Gott" changed to "auf seinen Gott"

p. 189 "plandert" changed to "plaudert"

p. 189 "Dieskan" changed to "Dieskau"

p. 189 "sache" changed to "sa che"

p. 190 "wiederan" changed to "Wiederau"

p. 192 "Orgelbuchlein" changed to "Orgel-büchlein"

p. 196 "“Hortus Musicus.’" changed to "“Hortus Musicus.”"

p. 199 "Courante, A major" changed to "Courante, A major."

p. 202 "alterer" changed to "älterer"

p. 203 "Schuler der Partikularschule in Lüneberg" changed to "Schüler
der Partikularschule in Lüneburg"

p. 204 "Vorträge." changed to "Vorträge.”"

p. 204 "Berüchsichtigung" changed to "Berücksichtigung"

p. 212 "Freiburg" changed to "Freiberg"

p. 213 "Teleman" changed to "Telemann"

pp. 203, 213 and 216 "Kühnau" changed to "Kuhnau"

p. 217 "the English" changed to "the English,"

p. 218 "Historisches Aufsätze" changed to "Historische Aufsätze"

p. 220 "organist ship" changed to "organistship"

p. 220 "Kauffman" changed to "Kauffmann"

p. 220 "Johann, T." changed to "Johann T."

p. 222 "gesundes," changed to "gesundes,”"

p. 222 "Bekummerniss" changed to "Bekümmerniss"

p. 222 "an noch" changed to "annoch"

p. 222 "Got" changed to "Gott"

p. 222 "Cappricio" changed to "Capriccio"

The following possible errors have not been changed:

p. 14 Würtemburg

p. 14 Höhenlohe

p. 145 No. 2.

In addition, many of the cantatas' incipits are truncated and/or omit
punctuation; these have been left as printed.

The following are used inconsistently:

_bâton_ and baton

choralvorspiele and choral-vorspiele

concertmeister and concert-meister

deathbed and death-bed

Gedact and Gedackt

hammerlike and hammer-like

keyboard and key-board

lifetime and life-time

Nachthorn and Nacht-horn

Nicolai-Church and Nicolai-church

Rück-positiv and Rückpositiv

Schallmey and Schalmei

Thomasschule and Thomas-schule

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