thanks for the info..to celebrate Beethoveens birthday, NPR has been playing his music all day long.. As I do not fall into the liberal camp, it's nice that music transcends politics.. My hat is off to both stations for these tributes :)
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Dmurfet, you are killing me. I will let Bach speak for himself from BWV 80.
Das Wort sie sollen lassen stahn
Und kein' Dank dazu haben!
Sorry, with all due respect, I would point out that Bach's cantatas and Passions were written to the glory of God as acts of worship. The works deny comprehension and appreciation outside of that context.
Das Reich muss uns doch bleiben!
Soli Gloria Deo
I think I have not been clear enough, and probably a little niiave with my knowledge of Bach.
I don't hate the singers, or singing. I like it. It's just when they start warbling just to show us how great their voices and talents are, for no apparent reason, then I switch off. Opera singers are no longer the worst for this - RnB singers are. I begin to wonder if they could hold a note even if they tried.
I love plain chant, most god fearing choral music, but perhaps not the lone choirboy (even if they can hold a note) - I must admit, having listened fairly extensively - a good 50% of it I find acceptable (as though Bach was worried about my accfeptance of his work).
Tongue firmly in cheek.
Thanks for the link. Here's another you might like,if you don't have it already:
You're entitled to your opinion,of course. Because I don't speak German,I can't take a steady diet of his cantatas. When he wrote them,he was under paid and over worked and had to have a new one ready each Sunday. Many of them are GREAT;some of them are reworkings that sound like they were scribbled off on late Saturdays. ((See Spitta's Bach biography))
My apology if I came on a bit too strong in my first post. You may gather that these works are extremely precious and personal to me. I understand they are not everyones cup of tea. If you're listening to Bach that "warbles" like Italian opera, my sympathy. It should not be that way.
Pragmatist-- You are correct. When Bach was cantor at St. Thomas Kirche in Leipzig, he was overworked, underpaid, and surrounded by talent unable to do his work justice. He wrote works appropriate for each Sunday of the church year. This meant that he would write cantatas supporting that week's appointed gospel or epistle reading, or instead sometimes he would write a cantata based on an existing Lutheran hymn, which were in turn appropriate for or based on that week's epistle or gospel. These works were not intended to entertain anyone, although some are very beautiful. They were not intended to be great works of art. That was not the purpose for which Bach wrote them. An example of what I mean is in the contrast between Jesu der du meine Seele (BWV 78) and Ich habe genug (BWV 82). The first, based on a Lutheran hymn by Johann Rist begins with an anguished cry of thanks to Jesus from a tormented soul. It is not pretty music, nor should it be. The second was I believe ultimately based on the song of Simeon (Nunc Dimitus) which is also a cry of thanks to God for sending his Son, but the mood is one of ultimate serenity and contentment, and the music is absolutely gorgeous.
Bach's vocal work is music for the "Gottesdienst" or Divine Service, it is thoroughly Lutheran in theology and character, and the language is German.
I read German just well enough to know that the English translations provided in liner notes are pretty worthless. In some cases, they aren't even close and clearly intend to obscure or mask the text. This is unfortunate, and all of this means that if you don't read some German you have a real problem in grasping these works.
The works were never meant to have universal appeal.
Dmurfet et al., Despite all the talk here about the cantatas, the Bach work I would recommend here would be the B Minor Mass, one of Bach's greatest works (none of the unevenness and pedestrian level of inspiration that impairs many of the cantatas) and one of the greatest choral works ever written by anyone. It's hard for me to believe that anyone with ears and taste could listen to a good performance of this heaven-storming piece of music and remain unmoved.