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Bach Perspectives, Volume 10Bach and the Organ$
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Matthew Dirst

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040191

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040191.001.0001

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Did J. S. Bach Write Organ Concertos?

Did J. S. Bach Write Organ Concertos?

Apropos the Prehistory of Cantata Movements with Obbligato Organ

(p.60) Did J. S. Bach Write Organ Concertos?
Bach Perspectives, Volume 10

Christoph Wolff

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explores the prehistory of the cantata movements with obbligato organ and asks whether Johann Sebastian Bach wrote organ concertos by focusing on the sinfonias of his Cantatas 146 and 169. Bach presented church cantatas with concertato organ sinfonias several times between 1725 and 1728. This can only mean that neither the clergy, the congregation, nor anyone else objected to this innovative type of church music. This chapter analyzes the two first entries in the autograph manuscript P 234 (ca. 1738), the D-minor and E-major harpsichord concertos (BWV 1052–1053) and their related movements in cantatas 49, 146, 169, and 188, and challenges the notion that they are concertos for violin, oboe, or any other solo instrument. Instead, it argues that they are keyboard concertos in the same two keys and were designed for performance on either harpsichord or organ. The chapter concludes that Bach composed such works primarily for his own use, sketching out a solo part and making appropriate adjustments and improvisatory elaborations as needed at either harpsichord or organ.

Keywords:   cantata movements, obbligato organ, Johann Sebastian Bach, organ concertos, sinfonias, church cantatas, church music, keyboard concertos, harpsichord, organ

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