The Baroque Era

17th to mid-18th century

(Classical Music Map)


I. History of Classical Music  (by John Stanley)
The great composers and their masterworks in MP3 format
Albeniz Borodin Donizetti Hindemith Prokofiev Schutz
Albinoni Brahms Dowland Janacek Puccini Scriabin
Allegri Britten Dvorak Kodaly Purcell Sibelius
Arne Bruckner Falla Leoncavallo Rachmaninov Smetana
Auber Busoni Field Liszt Rameau Strauss J.S.
Bach Byrd Gabrieli Lully Ravel Strauss R.
Barber Carissimi Gershwin Mahler Respighi Stravinsky
Bartok Charpentier Gesualdo Mendelssohn Rimsky-Korsakov Tallis
Beethoven Cherubini Glinka Meyerbeer Rossini Tchaikovsky
Bellini Chopin Gluck Monteverdi Saint-Saens Telemann
Bernstein Clementi Gounod Mozart Scarlatti Verdi
Berwald Corelli Grieg Mussorgsky Schoenberg Victoria
Berlioz Couperin Handel Pachelbel Shostakovich Villa-Lobos
Bizet Debussy Haydn Paganini Schubert Vivaldi
Boccherini Delibes Hildegard Palestrina Schumann Wagner
Orff  "Carmina Burana"
II. History of Jazz

Johann Sebastian Bach



Born in Eisenach in eastern Germany, Johann Sebastian Bach was the most significant member of a vast musical family. Both his parents died by the time he was ten, whereupon he moved into his elder brother's Ohrdruf home and spent the next five years attending the Lyceum. His brother, Johann Christoph, was an organist and taught Bach both to play and to build the instrument. At age 15 he was sent to the Michaelisschule at Luneburg, where he sang m the choir until his voice broke. At 17 lie applied for and received the post of organist in Sangerhausen; but the Duke of Wcisscnfels overruled the decision in favour of an older organist.

Instead, Bach spent a few months as a court musician at Weimar before visiting Arnstadt in 1703 to see the new organ at the Neuekirche. He so impressed the authorities that he was offered the job of organist, already promised to Andreas Bonier. His playing was clearly astonishing but he was too young to be an effective teacher; conflicts arose between Bach and the authorities over the teaching of choristers. Matters deteriorated further in 1705 when Bach took extended leave of absence to walk to Lubeck to hear the composer Buxtehude play the organ.

Two years after this episode Bach resigned and took another post in Muhlhausen. That same year he married and was settling into his post when in 1 708 he was required to play before the Duke of Weimar, who promptly offered him better employment as organist and chamber musician and later as Konzertmeister.

At Weimar Bach developed his composing. He studied and made arrangements for organ or harpsichord of a number of Vivaldi's concertos, experience which was later to influence his own two Violin concertos in E and A minor and the Double violin concerto in D minor.

During 1716 Bach heard rumours that the Duke of Weimar intended to hire Telemann as his Kapellmeister, a position he had expected himself. Bach responded by finding a rival Kapellmeister's position in the court at Cothen. In order to prevent him taking up the post, the Duke had Bach arrested and imprisoned in November 1717. A month later he was discharged and he and his family left the court in disgrace.

Prince Leopold at Cothen was a far more congenial patron; it was under his patronage that Bach composed the six Brandenburg concertos, named after their dedication to Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg, in 1721. The pieces were described as "concertos for several instruments" and feature a group of soloists contrasted against the bulk of the orchestra. Unlike the Concerti grossi of Corelli, the Brandenburg concertos call for unusual combinations of instruments: the fifth concerto, for example, has a solo group consisting of flute, violin, and harpsichord; the second combines trumpet, flute, violin, and oboe. While at Cothen Bach also wrote prolifically for the keyboard, including his Italian Concerto and Book 1 of The well-tempered clavier, consisting of preludes and fugues in every key.

Bach's wife died in 1720, and the next year he married Anna Magdalena Wilcke. His position at Cothen soured late in 1721 when Prince Leopold himself married. The prince's wife did not enjoy music and disliked Bach's involvement at court. Fortunately in 1722 the post of Kantor at the Thomasschule in Leipzig became vacant. It was initially offered to Telemann, and then to Johann Graupner, but neither was released by his current employer. Bach was eventually invited to accept the position and in 1723 moved to Leipzig, where he-was to remain the rest of his life.

Bach approached the new task with enthusiasm. His duties at the school included teaching music and other subjects to the 50 or 60 pupils, and writing a cantata for Sunday services and church feasts. The wealth of singers and instrumentalists at the school allowed Bach to compose works on a grand scale: one such piece was the St Matthew Passion. This huge work is a setting of the Gospel text for soloists, a double choir, and 40 players and was first performed in the Thomaskirche in Leipzig on Good Friday 1727 or 1729. It combines chorales (hymn settings) with choruses and arias, all woven together by a narrator, the Evangelist, who sings the Gospel text to a simple organ accompaniment. Together with the St John Passion, first heard in 1724, the work represents the pinnacle of devotional music up to that time.

In a letter to the diplomat Georg Erdmann in 1730, however, Bach voiced his great dissatisfaction with the remuneration and irksome duties of his employment and expressed the desire for another opportunity elsewhere. He tried for a post at Dresden, submitting the Gloria and Kyrie from his then unfinished Mass in В minor, but was not successful. His teaching workload grew enormously and council records register his frequent absence from some duties - presumably because he was teaching or composing at home.

Bach entered on a new phase of composition with the Goldberg variations, published in 1741, which was commissioned by the insomniac Count Heyserling for his harpsichordist, Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, to play to him during his sleepless nights. Bach followed this with two works that reflected his increasing preoccupation with the fugue — the Musical offering, and the Art of fugue, which remained unfinished at his death.

Towards the end of his life Bach was troubled with cataracts, which made work increasingly difficult. Two operations failed to cure the problem, and in the last few months of his life Bach was practically blind. In the summer of 1750, weakened by the operations, he died of a stroke, leaving his fellow musicians to mourn one of the greatest composers of the time.


"The aim and final end of all music

should be none other than the glory of God

and the refreshment of the soul."

Johann Sebastian Bach


Johann Sebastian Bach



Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)



Brandenburg concerto 1 in F major BWV 1046
(Philharmonia Slavonica, conducted by Rudolf Pribil) - complete

Brandenburg concerto 2  in F major BWV 1047
(Philharmonia Slavonica, conducted by Rudolf Pribil) - complete

Allegro assai
Brandenburg concerto 3  in G major BWV 1048
(Philharmonia Slavonica, conducted by Rudolf Pribil) - complete

Brandenburg concerto 4  in G major BWV 1049
(Philharmonia Slavonica, conducted by Rudolf Pribil) - complete

Brandenburg concerto 5  in D major BWV 1050
(Philharmonia Slavonica, conducted by Rudolf Pribil) - complete

Brandenburg concerto 6  in B flat major BWV 1051
(Philharmonia Slavonica, conducted by Rudolf Pribil) - complete

Violin concerto 1  in A minor BWV 1041
(Camerata Labacencis, conducted by Eugen Duvier) - complete

Allegro assai
Violin concerto 2  in E major BWV 1042
(Camerata Labacencis, conducted by Eugen Duvier) - complete

Allegro assai

Violin concerto 3  in D minor for 2 violins BWV 1043
(Camerata Labacencis, conducted by Eugen Duvier) - complete

Largo, ma non tanto

Concerto for 3 Cembalos and String Orchestra in D minor BWV 1063
(Collegium Pro Arte, Cembalo - E. Kraus, Conductor - Kurt Redel) - complete

Alla siciliana
Concerto for 3 Cembalos and String Orchestra in D minor BWV 1064
(Collegium Pro Arte, Cembalo - E. Kraus, Conductor - Kurt Redel) - complete

Orchestral Suite 2  in B minor  BWV 1067
(Philharmonia Slavonicas, conducted by H. Adolph) - complete

Bourree Iand II
Orchestral Suite 3  in D major BWV 1068
(Camerata Romana, conducted by Eugen Duvier) - complete

Gavotte 1 and 2
Sinfonia 6/1 in G major
(Nurnberg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Peter Gmur) - complete

Sinfonia Op. 9/1  in B flat major
(Nurnberg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Peter Gmur) - complete

Allegro molto
  The well-tempered clavier
  St John Passion
  Mass in В minor
  Art of fugue


St. Matthew Passion

The Lutheran oratorio passion, a sacred drama popular in Germany, already existed in the 17th century as a mixture of Lutheran chorales, strophic arias, and choruses. By the next century, composers including Bach) had added the flare of operatic recitative and aria to the genre. Bach wrote three Passions during his career: the St Matthew, the St John and the St Mark, though of these the latter has largely been lost. The first two. however, remain favourites of the choral repertoire and are frequently performed in concert during the Easter season. The Si Matthew Passion, for double chorus, double orchestra, twо organs and soloists, is a grand work first performed on Good Friday 1727. The text is taken from the Gospel According to Matthew, chapters 26 and 27, with added recitative and aria texts by local poet Christian Friedrich Henrici. The narrative structure is thus: the Evangelist narrates the unfolding events as they occur in recitatives, with occasional lines of dialogue sung by soloists. Solos are also used for prayers and commentary on the story, as in the alto solo "Buss und Reu" ("Grief and Sin"). The chorus sometimes take a direct participatory role, presenting dialogue by the crowds in the drama for example, and sometimes offer detached commentary or prayer, including the interjected chorales. While Bach never wrote an opera, the Passions are very much in the same theatrical vein.

The work opens with a prologue in which the chorus lament the events to come. The narrative proper begins in Bethany with Christ prophesying his own imminent crucifixion. The story then follows the Biblical story of Judas's collusion with the Pharisees, Jesus's appeals to God. and finally the betrayal and arrest. After each section of narrative a commentary is inserted in the form of a recitative and aria or a chorale.
After another Prologue, which bemoans the arrest of Jesus, the second part begins with the interrogation before Caiaphas, Peter's denial, and the judgment by Pilate. Bach concludes the work with Jesus's crucifixion, death and entombment, and a final choral lament.

St. Matthew Passion - complete
  Arias and Choruses

The Monteverdi Choir The London Oratory Junior Choir


Part One

1 Chorale
2 Chorale
3 Aria (Alto)
4 Aria (Soprano)
5 Chorale
6 Aria (Tenore)
7 Recitative (Basso)
8 Aria (Basso)
9 Chorale

Part Two

10 Aria (Alto)
11 Aria (Basso)
12 Cliorale
13 Aria (Alto)
14 Aria (Basso)
15 Recitativo
16 Chorus


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