Analyzing Bach Cantatas
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Analyzing Bach Cantatas

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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 for all students and scholars of Bach's work, musicology, and theological studies.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 150 x 226 x 22mm | 480.81g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • numerous music examples
  • 0195161823
  • 9780195161823
  • 510,067

Review quote

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

About Eric Chafe

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).show more

Table of contents

Introduction ; 1. The Hermeneutic Matrix ; 2. The Lutheran "Metaphysical" Tradition in Music and Music Theory ; 3. Cantata 21, "Ich hatte viel Bekummernis" ; 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 ; Indexshow more

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