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History[ edit ] The court chapel at the Schloss in Weimar where Bach was court organist. The organ loft is visible at the top of the picture.

Early versions of almost all the chorale preludes are thought to date back to —, during the period — when Bach served as court organist and Konzertmeister director of music in Weimar , at the court of Wilhelm Ernst, Duke of Saxe-Weimar.

Here he also wrote most of his organ works. It is probable that the longer chorale preludes composed then served some ceremonial function during the services in the court chapel, such as accompanying communion. In when Bach began to suffer from blindness before his death in July, BWV and were dictated to his student and son-in-law Johann Christoph Altnikol and copied posthumously into the manuscript. Only the first page of the last choral prelude BWV , the so-called "deathbed chorale", has survived, recorded by an unknown copyist.

There have been various accounts of the circumstances surrounding the composition of this chorale. It is a mid-eighteenth century salute to the musical traditions of the previous century. Each line of the chorale is established as a point of imitation for the different parts, which keep to a common rhythm.

A common distinctive feature is the use of musical figures to illustrate particular lines or even words in the hymn text. Normally each variation repeats the chorale melody and is essentially a separate movement. This might be a homage to Dieterich Buxtehude , who had written similar partitas and whose music and virtuosity at the organ is known to have exercised a considerable influence on Bach in his youth.

Buxtehude was one of its most celebrated exponents, with his individual expressive "vocal" ornamentation. Five chorale preludes of the Great Eighteen were written in this style: BWV , , , and There are six examples of the cantus firmus chorale: BWV , , , , and Bach elevated this form to the status of contemporary Italian trio sonatas or double concertos of Antonio Vivaldi and Giuseppe Torelli : it is probably his single most original innovation in the repertoire of organ chorales.

The three virtuosic chorale preludes of this type are BWV , and To listen to a MIDI recording, please click on the link.


Busoni: Bach: Chorale Prelude (BWV 659) No. 3 in G Minor

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Bach, Johann Sebastian


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