Friends of the Rockbridge Choral Society
  Vol. 33                                        ONLINE  ONLINE  ONLINE                                     March 2018     
Providing financial support   since 1999 for The Rockbridge Choral Society and The Rockbridge Youth Chorale

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March 2018   
Birthdays in Music

Maurice Ravel            3/7/1875

 Nat King Cole            3/17/1919
Johann Sebastian Bach    3/21/1685
Mark Your Calendars

March 21, 2018
Music at Noon,
Organ Music for Lent,
Lexington Presbyterian Church, Noon

April 17, 2018 -
Rockbridge Youth Chorale Spring Concert,
7 PM
  Lexington Presbyterian Church

April 29, 2018 -
with orchestra and soloists,
Mass in B Minor, J. S. Bach
                   7 PM
Wilson Concert Hall, Washington and Lee University

The Bach B Minor Mass - Things You Might Not Know
    We have a big concert coming in April - the RCS presents Bach's Mass in B Minor.  Did you know that twice as many sections of this great work are actually in B major?   Here are a few other little known facts.
    Bach never heard the B Minor performed in its entirety during his lifetime.  In fact, as a whole, it lay dormant as a performance piece until 1859.  Felix Mendelsohn was instrumental in reviving the performance of Bach's choral works during the 1800's.  The first performance in the US was in 1900 by the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, PA. 
    Bach never gave this work a title.  Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach cataloged this work as the Great Catholic Mass, not the Mass in B-Minor. This label likely represents a family tradition and persisted until the 1800's.  Bach organized the score into four folders, each with a different title - Missa, Symbolum Nicenem, Sanctus, and Osanna - likely designed so that each section could be used separately.  This likely explains why the work was so often performed in separate sections at different times in the liturgical year, rather than as one whole work.
    Bach scored the B Minor Mass for what he considered the ideal performance ensemble - 4 to 6 violins, 4 violas, 2 celli, 1 bass, 2 to 3 oboes, 2 flutes, 1 to 2 bassoons, 3 trumpets, 1 kettledrum, and a chorus of 3 to 4 each of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses.  Earliest recordings were imbued with the bloated ideals of the 19th century - larger orchestras and choruses.  This is most often how the B Minor is presented today.  Interesting to note that this is not how the composer envisioned it.
Bach - the Tradesman

    One of our March birthday boys is Johann Sebastian Bach.  He was born in Eisenach, Thuringia, Germany.  His father, Johann Ambrosius, was a town musician.  As was true in the 1600's, music was a trade just like shoe-making or black-smithing.  Music was the Bach family business.  Bach himself had 2 wives and 20 children, 10 of whom survived to adulthood.  All but one of his six sons was a professional musician, staying with the family trade.
    Bach's eldest son, Wilhelm Freidemann Bach, became an accomplished organist and teacher.  His student, Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, may have been the first performer of the Goldberg Variations, which Bach himself wrote and which Goldberg reportedly played for an insomniac Russian count, ambassador to the electoral court of Saxony.  Though the Variations were the only compositions of this type that Bach ever produced, he may never have been so handsomely rewarded for a work as he was for these variations.  The sleep-deprived Count gave Bach a golden goblet filled with 100 Louis-d'or.  (Check it out here)

One TED Thing
    Worthy of your time, this short summary of a recent TED talk with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas tells us why music is so good at conveying emotion.  Our friend, Herr Bach, likely knew this intuitively. Check it out here.

Friends of the Rockbridge Choral Society
Rockbridge Choral Society
PO Box 965
Lexington, VA 24450