Analyzing Bach Cantatas

Overview

"Bach's cantatas are among the highest achievements of Western musical art, yet studies of the individual cantatas that are both illuminating and detailed are few. In this book, noted Bach expert Eric Chafe combines theological, historical, analytical, and interpretive approaches to the cantatas to offer readers and listeners alike the richest possible experience of these works. A respected theorist of seventeenth-century music, Chafe is sensitive to the composer's intentions and to the enduring and universal qualities of the music itself.
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Analyzing Bach Cantatas

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Overview

"Bach's cantatas are among the highest achievements of Western musical art, yet studies of the individual cantatas that are both illuminating and detailed are few. In this book, noted Bach expert Eric Chafe combines theological, historical, analytical, and interpretive approaches to the cantatas to offer readers and listeners alike the richest possible experience of these works. A respected theorist of seventeenth-century music, Chafe is sensitive to the composer's intentions and to the enduring and universal qualities of the music itself. Concentrating on a small number of representative cantatas, mostly from the Leipzig cycles of 1723-24 and 1724-25, and in particular on Cantata 77, Chafe shows how Bach strove to mirror both the dogma and the mystery of religious experience in musical allegory. Analyzing Bach Cantatas offers valuable information on the theological relevance of the structure of the liturgical year for the design and content of these works, as well as a survey of the theories of modality that inform Bach's compositional style. Chafe demonstrates that, while Bach certainly employed ""pictorialism"" and word-painting in his compositions, his method of writing music was a more complex amalgam of theological concepts and music theory. Regarding the cantatas as musical allegories that reflect the fundamental tenets of Lutheran theology as established during Bach's lifetime, Chafe synthesizes a number of key musical and theological ideas to illuminate the essential character of these great works. This unique and insightful book offers an essential methodology for understanding one of the central bodies of work in the Western musical canon. It will prove indispensable forall students and scholars of Bach's work, musicology, and theological studies."
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"...Chafe has worked to push Bach studies beyond formalist analysis and to demonstrate how the composer represented Lutheran theology by means of musical language and structures...Perhap's Chafe most interesting contribution is the application of his own pioneering studies of modality in Monteverdi to Bach's compositions."--Theological Studies

"Chafe is a major Bach scholar, and this book will become a classic in the literature."--Choice

"Informed examination of the Bach cantatas still yields new information and interpretations. Eric Chafe's Analyzing Bach Cantatas is a good example...of most interest to music scholars, and particularly to Bach specialists. However, it is good for the rest of us to be reminded occasionally that there is-or should be-more to church music than just entertaining sounds, for church music is itself a theological statement."--Southwestern Journal of Theology

"....Analyzing Bach Cantatas is recommended for anyone who has a serious interest in gaining a deeper understanding of Bach's cantatas and one of the musical-allegorical means Bach may have employed to embody the meaning of the text."--Journal of American Musicological Society

"[A]n extremely ambitious work...consistently clear and straightforwardChafe offers powerful interpretive tools to his readers."--Current Musicology

"The chief strengths of Analyzing Bach's Cantatas lie in its ability to enhance our sensitivity to Bach's use of tonality and in Chafe's numerous astute and eloquently expressed insights into aspects of Bach's sacred vocal works."--Journal of American Musicological Society

"The book's observations are firmly grounded in the realm of the heard, or the felt. The results achieve the aim of all good analysis: a direct impact on the reader's musical encounter. Listeners, who now mainly experience Bach's cantatas in the context of the concert hall rather than the church, will find their hearing altered by their new awareness of the network of sacred meaning that Chafe brings to light."--The Eighteenth Century Current Bibliography

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195161823
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/28/2003
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Chafe is the Victor and Gwendolyn Beinfield Professor of Musicology at Brandeis University. His previous books include Monteverdi's Tonal Language (1992), which won both the American Musicological Society's Kinkeldey Award and the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award, and Tonal Allegory in the Vocal Music of J. S. Bach (1991).

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1. The Hermeneutic Matrix
2. The Lutheran "Metaphysical" Tradition in Music and Music Theory
3. Cantata 21, "Ich hatte viel Bek├╝mmernis"
4. Modal Questions
5. Bach's Reflection on the Past: Moral Chorales in Cantata Designs
6. Two Chorale Cantatas
7. Cantata 77: The Theological Background
8. "Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben": An Analysis of Cantata 77
9. Epilogue: Cantata 60, "O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort"
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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