Towards Christmas with Bach
Scroll down for links to concert diaries that will tell you about a Christmas Bach concert near you
The month of December saw some significant events in Bach’s life. For example it was in December that the Bachs moved to Cöthen in 1717 where the wonderful Brandenburg Concertos were completed. However, it was in his post at Leipzig that perhaps Bach was best able to give full vent to his creative powers at Christmas and New Year.
There would be some drawbacks… perishing cold in the churches! However Bach would have still been beavering away preparing for the Christmas celebrations to come and we have some truly magical music to hand…Christmas and New Year cantatas, Magnificats in E flat and D and the deeply moving yet utterly joyous Christmas Oratorio of 1734/1735.
Leipzig approaches 1000th anniversary (1015-2015)
Today, Leipzig has one of the best Christmas markets in Germany. It is held in the famous Markt Platz in front of the Old Town Hall just a few minutes’ walk from the main Leipzig churches, the Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche where Bach’s Christmas and other music was performed between the two venues. There will be a feast of his music performed at the Thomaskirche again this year including the annual three performances of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio given by the Thomanerchor on 12, 13 and 14 December….also an exciting way to greet 2015, the city of Leipzig’s 1000th anniversary.
Follow us as we help to celebrate the Leipzig anniversary on our website, in our Journal and our at Bachfest in Oct/Nov 2015.
Enjoy your Christmas Bach!
With a sparkling performance of Bach’s fifth Brandenburg Concerto at 2014 Bachfest still ringing in our ears, we move on towards our 25th Anniversary Bachfest in 2015. Planning is already underway and we look forward to announcing the programme in the spring. The theme will reflect the City of Leipzig’s 1000th Anniversary and Bach’s year’s serving as the City’s Cantor from 1723-1750.
Bachfest 2015 from 31 October-mid December
Become a Bach Friend – Join Online today
Launched in 2013, the list of Bach Friends is growing in number. Bach Friends support the work of the London Bach Society and its annual Bachfest. By joining the Bach Friends you will be helping us to make things happen.
You can join online by navigating to the Bach Friends page where you will find more details, can survey the choices and access a donate button. Gift Aid can be applied, increasing the value of your Bach Friendship.
We look forward to welcoming you.
Dr. William H Scheide (1914-2014)
The death has been announced today of the philanthropist and Bach devotee Dr. William Scheide. Paul and I met Dr. Scheide at a performance of Bach’s Johannes-Passion my husband was directing in Princeton. Scheide then invited us to his home to talk ‘Bach’ and he later showed us the original Haussmann portrait (1748) and some manuscripts in the Scheide Library. We were honoured. Dr. Scheide was not only a generous philanthropist, but also an active performer, directing the Bach Aria Group across America for 34 years and bringing Bach’s music into the lives of many who would otherwise not have had the chance to hear the music ‘live’. The Bach world has lost a real friend. www.bach-archiv.de
Sir David Tang wins Asian Arts Award
Sir David Tang, LBS President
Watch this clip and see our President receive his richly deserved award
Judith Weir is appointed Master of the Queen’s Music
Judith Weir, the new Master of the Queen’s Music
The appointment of the composer Judith Weir CBE as Master of the Queen’s Music in succession to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies is announced today. She is the first female to hold this historic position. Many congratulations and good wishes. For more information visit www.musicsalesclassical.com.
Sir John Tavener’s Service of Thanksgiving
A Service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Work of the composer Sir John Tavener took place on 11 June in the splendour and spiritual atmosphere of Westminster Abbey. The congregation was a mix of specially invited guests, musical colleagues and audience followers.
HRH The Prince of Wales, a personal friend of the composer, attended in a private capacity.
The Address was given by Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Bible Readings were delivered by Simon Russell Beale and Sir Magdi Yacoub, and Tavener’s eldest daughter Theodora read a moving piece her father wrote specially for his three children. The music was provided by the Choir of Westminster Abbey directed by James O’Donnell, the Britten Sinfonia conducted by Stephen Layton, soloists Nicholas Daniel, Stephen Isserlis, Thomas Gould and the soprano Patricia Rozario.
Among the invited guests was Mrs Margaret Steinitz who also represented the London Bach Society. The late Dr. Paul Steinitz with the London Bach Society choir (1947-1989) gave the first professional public performance of a Tavener work, his Three Holy Sonnets of John Donne, on 20 July 1964 in the Priory Church of St. Bartholomew-the-Great, West Smithfield fifty years ago. The composer was just 20. There followed a lifelong friendship and musical association with the significant musical figure that is the late John Tavener.
Trusteeship of the London Bach Society
One of the objectives of the London Bach Society’s Strategic Plan for the development of the Society in the run-up to the 70th anniversary in November 2016 is the appointment of four new Trustees to complement the team, bringing the total serving to nine.
Full details are published in a pdf that can be downloaded from the “About Us” pages. Scroll down to Governance & Contact (See Navigation).
Paul Steinitz Memorial
We have received enquiries as to whether there is a public memorial to our founder, the Bach scholar and conductor Dr Paul Steinitz (1909-1988).
Paul’s memorial is in the Cloister of London’s oldest church, the Priory Church of St. Bartholomew-the-Great, West Smithfield, London EC 1. Dr Steinitz was Director of Music at this historic church from 1949-1961 and many of the London Bach Society’s pioneering Bach concerts were presented there during his lifetime, including annual performances of Bach’s Matthäus-Passion.
The Memorial was unveiled by the Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor of London on 18 April 1991 at a concert of Bach Cantatas for the 1st and 2nd Sundays after Easter.
Here’s our recommended pick of Bach works to listen to this Eastertide:
- Good Friday – Matthäus-Passion
- Easter Sunday – Cantata “Christ lag in Todesbanden” BWV4
- Easter Monday – Cantata “Bleib’ bei uns, denn es will Abend werden” BWV 6
- Easter Tuesday – Cantata “Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiβ” BWV 134
Mahan Esfahani nomination
Mahan thrilled LBS audience on 21 March
It has just been announced that harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani has been nominated for an RPS Award in the Instrumentalists Category. The awards are promoted by the Royal Philharmonic Society. The winners will be announced on 13 May 2014 at the annual RPS Awards dinner at the Dorchester Hotel, London. MS
Bach’s Cantata “Himmelskönig, sei willkommen ” (Welcome, King of Heaven)
Bach provided Cantata BWV 182 for performance on Palm Sunday 25 March 1714, just a few weeks after his appointment as Kapellmeister by Duke Wilhelm Ernst at the Court at Weimar. Bach had already been serving as composer and chamber musician, having arrived in the city in 1708. So this new appointment represented promotion for Bach, with the requirement to provide cantatas for the weekly services at the Himmelsburg (Heaven’s Castle).
Bach’s appointment in March 1714 would have come during Lent when no cantatas were usually sung during the Services, exception being Cantata BWV 54 for solo alto, strings and basso continuo that probably pre-dates 1714 and which was performed at Weimar on 24 March 1715, the Third Sunday in Lent. So we can safely assume that “Himmelskönig, sei willkommen” would have been the first cantata provided by Bach in his ‘elevated’ post. It is scored for alto, tenor and bass soloists; soprano, alto, tenor and bass chorus, recorder, solo violin, violin I, viola I & II, ‘cello I & II, bass, and organ continuo. 25 March is also the Feast of the Annunciation, so in 1714 BWV 182 would have served both this and the Palm Sunday liturgy.
The text is based upon the Gospel for the Day: St. Matthew 21, vv 1-9 and was probably provided by Salomo Franck, although there is a question mark here.
300 years later, Palm Sunday falls on 13 April 2014.