What Made Bach Great? Johann Sebastian Bach 1685-1750 (edit)


Since the beginning of my channel I’ve been wanting to make a video on BA People have asked me why haven’t you made one on him yet? well, one of the reasons is I Wasn’t sure what to call it and what it would be about Because there’s so much to talk about But I think I’m just gonna call it. What makes BA great and I don’t mean that in a trite way I mean what makes his music? Still relevant over 300 years later. Why am I talking about it right now? That’s what I wanted to explore but I like to begin with this Johann Sebastian Bach was born in 1685 And died in 1715 During that time. He left a legacy that musicians and music historians would be delving into for centuries to come His limitless musical explorations expressed the order of the physical and biological universe in exquisite mathematical precision and detail his musical was written to express the divine beauty in all creation and His influence on all successive composers is unparalleled and remained so to this day, so when I knew I was coming to Germany And I was close to life saying I said There’s no way I’m going to pass up the opportunity to come here To see the streets were bombed and walked we’re right now in the rock museum, which is about Onto the arch of the church that he was the Kapellmeister. It’s pretty surreal experience to be here Before I go on with my pilgrimage to Leipzig I want to talk about some of the monumental works of Bach’s lifetime Many of you might be familiar with the air on the g string Jesu joy of man’s desiring I’m talking about the monumental the landmark works that he wrote there’s about eight of them or so that if you really want to know about BA you should really Know these pieces or be familiar with them. There are the two books of the well-tempered clavier. The first was written in 1722 When he was 37 years old There are 24 preludes and fugues in that as our the second book which was written in 1742 20 years apart Also has 24 preludes and fugues, these are just the most brilliant works of counterpoint and harmony and melody Really in the history of music. These are the things that Hyden and Mozart and Beethoven and Schaumburg and everyone study We’re gonna talk about some of them in at just a moment. Uh, then I think you’d have to say the Brandenburg Concertos The Goldberg Variations The orchestral Suites the mass and b-minor The st. Johannes Passion the st. Matthew Passion these six cello suites And lastly is the art of fugue bwv 1080 This was written in the last decade of Bach’s life It is a series of fourteen fugues and four canons based on a single subject. It was the culmination of his experimentation with monothematic Contrapuntal writing Wants to be familiar with if you want to know and understand the Greatness of Bach why people still talk about him 300 years after his death some of these pieces are immense the Johannes passion is An hour and a half long, the st. Matthew Passion is over two and a half hours long. These are just just Amazingly moving grand works of just just monumental scale But let’s get into what makes Bach’s music extraordinary I want to talk about box use of harmony and to do that I’d like to begin with a particular box cantata, which is cantata number 54 veter Stay here ductus unda which translates to Stand firm against sin or just resist sin. Its opening chord is one of the most striking in all of Bach’s harmonic arsenal It was really unprecedented for the time there’s a great video of Glenn Gould Discussing this exact thing that was actually in my original edit of this video that was taken down Let’s go head over to the church and check it out That less little clip I played had a very sophisticated Harmonic moment in it. It’s in bar 20. This is the emajor Prelude from the first book of the well-tempered clavier That was actually ondrea’s shift playing it But there’s one point in bar 20 where the bass note goes to G and you have this That is a G major 7 sharp 5 chord that’s actually out of the melodic minor scale That is not a sound that you hear again until the 20th century. You could say. Oh, that’s just a simple suspension Bacchus specifically went to that sound He heard that sound that is a hundred and fifty years ahead of its time. You don’t hear that in Mozart You don’t hear it in Beethoven. You don’t hear it in the Chopin You don’t hear those sounds until you start getting to Keith Jarrett Really now there are some 20th century composers if you listen to Allen rothorn he has an oboe concerto that you’ll hear Lydian augmented chords That’s a perfect example 1950 the Allan Roth Soren oboe concerto he goes in the strings right to this Sound C major seven sharp five resolving down the C major and then Then it goes down to this C-major over B fives the BNF sharp. These are the kind of sounds Bach was using in 1722 230 years before At the end of the beefs ondrea’s ship actually goes from this a diminished chord down G E major seven resolving up to E major These sounds are all through box music take the very first Prelude from the well-tempered clavier in C major He uses major 7th chord to use his dominant 7th chords over the tonic. He has so many sophisticated harmonic devices that he uses another great example of sophisticated harmony and Suspension after suspension is from the Johannes passion the st. John passion. Let’s check out the opening of it The idea that there was a person that lived over 300 years ago and was able to imagine these sounds that were so far So advanced is really astounding now There’s many many Bach pieces that I could suggest you listen to what I presented Here the eight or nine works that I suggested to start with the well-tempered clavier book one Listen to it. There’s some beautiful beautiful versions of it if you want to learn even more about BA There’s a great documentary here on YouTube called a passionate life. It’s by Sir John Eliot Gardiner He’s a British conductor and he did a fantastic fantastic Documentary on Bach back in 2013. You should definitely check it out That’s all for now, please subscribe here to my everything music YouTube channel If you’re interested in the Beato book go to my website at wwlp.com You can also become a member of the Beato club. There are PDFs available. There’s extra lessons. There are live streams Check it out on my website as well. Thanks for watching

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