Hearing Bach's Passions

Oxford University Press
1
Free sample

Johann Sebastian Bach's two surviving passions--St. John and St. Matthew--are an essential part of the modern repertory, performed regularly both by professional ensembles and amateur groups. These large, complex pieces are well loved, but due to our distance from the original context in which they were performed, questions and problems emerge. Bach scholar Daniel Melamed examines the issues we encounter when we hear the passions performed today, and offers unique insight into Bach's passion settings. Rather than providing a movement-by-movement analysis, Melamed uses the Bach repertory to introduce readers to some of the intriguing issues in the study and performance of older music, and explores what it means to listen to this music today. For instance, Bach wrote the passions for a particular liturgical event at a specific time and place; we hear them hundreds of years later, often a world away and usually in concert performances. They were performed with vocal and instrumental forces deployed according to early 18th-century conceptions; we usually hear them now as the pinnacle of the choral/orchestral repertory, adapted to modern forces and conventions. In Bach's time, passion settings were revised, altered, and tampered with both by their composers and by other musicians who used them; today we tend to regard them as having fixed texts to be treated mith respect. Their music was sometimes recycled from other compositions or reused itself for other purposes; we have trouble imagining the familiar material of Bach's passion settings in any other guise. Melamed takes on these issues, exploring everything from the sources that transmit Bach's passion settings today to the issues surrounding performance practice (including the question of the size of Bach's ensemble). He delves into the passions as dramatic music, examines the problem of multiple versions of a work and the reconstruction of lost pieces, explores the other passions in Bach's performing repertory, and sifts through the puzzle of authorship. Highly accessible to the non-specialist, the book assumes no technical musical knowledge and does not rely on printed musical examples. Based on the most recent scholarship and using lucid prose, the book opens up the debates surrounding this repertory to music lovers, choral singers, church musicians, and students of Bach's music.
Read more
Collapse

About the author

Daniel R. Melamed is Associate Professor of Music at the School of Music, Indiana University. He is the author of J. S. Bach and the German Motet, co-author (with Michael Marissen) of An Introduction to Bach Studies, editor of Bach Studies 2, and has published articles, reviews and musical editions on J. S. Bach and members of the Bach family. He serves as associate editor of the Journal of Musicology and was vice president of the American Bach Society.
Read more
Collapse
4.0
1 total
Loading...

Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
Read more
Collapse
Published on
Mar 24, 2005
Read more
Collapse
Pages
192
Read more
Collapse
ISBN
9780195347036
Read more
Collapse
Read more
Collapse
Read more
Collapse
Language
English
Read more
Collapse
Genres
Music / History & Criticism
Read more
Collapse
Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
Read more
Collapse
Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
Read more
Collapse
Eligible for Family Library

Reading information

Smartphones and Tablets

Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.

Laptops and Computers

You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.

eReaders and other devices

To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
Of all the things we can know about J. S. Bach's Mass in B Minor and Christmas Oratorio, the most profound come from things we can hear. Listening to Bach explores musical style as it was understood in the early eighteenth century. It encourages ways of listening that take eighteenth-century musical sensibilities into account and that recognize our place as inheritors of a long tradition of performance and interpretation. Daniel R. Melamed shows how to recognize old and new styles in sacred music of Bach's time, and how movements in these styles are constructed. This opens the possibility of listening to the Mass in B Minor as Bach's demonstration of the possibilities of contrasting, combining, and reconciling old and new styles. It also shows how to listen for elements that would have been heard as most significant in the early eighteenth century, including markers of sleep arias, love duets, secular choral arias, and other movement types. This offers a musical starting point for listening for the ways Bach put these types to use in the Mass in B Minor and the Christmas Oratorio. The book also offers ways to listen to and think about works created by parody, the re-use of music for new words and a new purpose, like almost all of the Mass in B Minor and Christmas Oratorio. And it shows that modern performances of these works are stamped with audible consequences of our place in the twenty-first century. The ideological choices we make in performing the Mass and Oratorio, part of the legacy of their performance and interpretation, affect the way the work is understood and heard today. All these topics are illustrated with copious audio examples on a companion Web site, offering new ways of listening to some of Bach's greatest music.
The scandal over modern music has not died down. While paintings by Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock sell for a hundred million dollars or more, shocking musical works from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring onward still send ripples of unease through audiences. At the same time, the influence of modern music can be felt everywhere. Avant-garde sounds populate the soundtracks of Hollywood thrillers. Minimalist music has had a huge effect on rock, pop, and dance music from the Velvet Underground onward. Alex Ross, the brilliant music critic for The New Yorker, shines a bright light on this secret world, and shows how it has pervaded every corner of twentieth century life.

The Rest Is Noise takes the reader inside the labyrinth of modern sound. It tells of maverick personalities who have resisted the cult of the classical past, struggled against the indifference of a wide public, and defied the will of dictators. Whether they have charmed audiences with the purest beauty or battered them with the purest noise, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art.

Ross, in this sweeping and dramatic narrative, takes us from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties, from Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies. We follow the rise of mass culture and mass politics, of dramatic new technologies, of hot and cold wars, of experiments, revolutions, riots, and friendships forged and broken. In the tradition of Simon Schama's The Embarrassment of Riches and Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club, the end result is not so much a history of twentieth-century music as a history of the twentieth century through its music.

©2019 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google|Location: United StatesLanguage: English (United States)
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.