Classical Music

Music In The Making: An Easter Celebration

Featuring a celebration of Bach’s achievements with his Mass in B Minor!

On this week’s episode of Music in the Making, we’re listening to selections from one monumental work just in time for Easter!

Manuscript selection from Bach's Mass in B Minor
Read between the lines: Manuscript selection from Bach’s Mass in B Minor

Johann Sebastian Bach – Mass in B Minor, BWV 232

Moores School Choral Artists; Charles Hausmann, conductor

4/18/2004

Moores Opera House

In this episode, we’re featuring selections of the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei from this larger-than-life work. I have chosen this particular work to air on this holiday because I believe it relates to the Easter holiday and because of the themes about life that it addresses.

When Bach began working on this Mass, he was currently serving as cantor at the Lutheran St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. Considering this fact, it seems impossible that Bach would be encouraged or even have the opportunity to write an entire Catholic Mass. It also seems unlikely that a Mass such as this would survive in the Catholic liturgy, as it was too large in size and concept.

However, the Mass in B Minor makes more sense when you consider that Bach finally assembled this piece during the last three years of his life. At this time, Bach was compiling works to culminate or “sum up” his entire musical career. The best example of this is his unfinished “Art of the Fugue.” With that being said, the Mass in B Minor seems to be Bach’s last testament to the repertoire of choral music. And even though he was most likely well aware that it would never be performed in the near future, nor would it be performed in a traditional Catholic setting, he wrote his Mass in B Minor to stand as the highest aspiration and greatest achievement in choral music to date. And while not entirely reasonable, this goal of his was certainly noble.

This episode originally aired Sunday, March 27th, 2016. Catch Music in the Making every Sunday at 7:06 PM on Classical 91.7.

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