Johann Sebastian Bach


from  Cantata No. 29
"Wir danken dir, Gott , wir danken dir"

Transcription for Organ by
Ennis Fruhauf
(7 pages)


       Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was born into a musical family of  Eisenach [located in central eastern Germany], eventually establishing himself as a composer, musician, choirmaster and organist.  His early career included two church music posts, followed by two court appointments that fostered production of secular and ceremonial music. In 1723 Bach was named Kantor of the Thomasschule and Director musices for the town of Leipzig, overseeing the music of the Thomaskirche and its associated parishes.  In additon to his sacred music duties and compositions, Bach continued with his secular activities, affiliations, and compositional output.  

Bach’s Cantata No. 29, Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir,”  is one of four cantatas originally written to celebrate the annual investiture of Leipzig's Municipal Council to have survived intact.  The work would  have been performed in St. Nicholas’ Church on the Sunday prior to the traditional St. Bartholomew’s Day ceremony that took place in the municipal council chamber;  it was first performed on August 27, 1731, and is thought to have been repeated for the opening sessions of 1739 and 1749.

The Sinfonia is a brilliant instrumental adaptation of the prelude from Bach's third unaccompanied Violin Partita (in E major, S.1006).  In its cantata setting, the movement is transposed down a whole step (from E to D Major), and is rescored for choir and soloists, strings, oboes, trumpets (trombas), tympani, organ obbligato and basso continuo. The solo line of the original violin preludio is present throughout in the right hand of the organ adaptation, with occasional alterations to idiomatic violin figurations. The sinfonia's ceaseless rhythmic drive provides unusual challenges for the player, while at the same time imparting a compelling impetus to the work.

        In this transcription, intended for a three-manual instrument, adaptations have occasionally been made to manual and bass line figurations to facilitate performance. While pedal and left hand move at a relaxed pace, the rigors of the right hand solo will require patience and discipline.  Although ideally suited to a Baroque registration and interpretation, a French romantic rendition – registered for grand orgue and performed in an equally grand manner – will also provide a stunning addition to concert repertoire.

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