Bach Christmas Oratorio Essay

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The highly revered Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. The last child of a musically-inclined family, Bach developed his skill in Lüneburg with his eldest brother after the passing of their parents. By 1703 he was actively working for the Protestant church as a musician, concentrating on organ repertoire and chamber music compositions. While his relationship with his employers was not always the most forthcoming, Bach continued to compose and was granted the title of court composer in Germany in 1736 by the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, Augustus III. When he died in 1750 due to health complications, Bach left behind an incredible legacy with hundreds of cantatas, canons, fugues, concertos,…show more content…
An oratorio is defined as a composition that uses a choir, soloist, and ensemble as the main focus of a concert piece. The work incorporates music from Bach’s earlier compositions and is considered a classic example of parody music. While the author of the text is unknown, it is likely that is was by a Christian Friedrich Henrici, a longtime collaborator of Bach’s, who went by the pen name Picander. Modern renditions are commonly performed in two parts, as the total duration of the Oratorio is around three hours long. Today’s performance is of the first half of the Oratorio, parts I through…show more content…
While the piece follows the liturgy, Bach chooses not to mirror the Gospel reading structure for the narrative coherency of the piece. The story unfolds with the six parts - ‘The Birth and Annunciation to the Shepherds’, ‘The Adoration of the Shepherds’, ‘Prologue to the Gospel of John’, ‘Circumcision and Naming of Jesus’, ‘The Journey of the Magi’, and ‘The Adoration of the Magi’. Taking liberty, Bach completes the piece prior to Mary, Joseph, and Jesus’ flight to Egypt, as it was considered unfit for the seasonality of the celebratory
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