Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/543

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

to Weimar as Hofmusikus, so that his residence at the latter place can only have lasted a few months. His journey to Lübeck took place at the end of Oct. 1705. This detail is worthy of mention, since it proves that he went in order to hear the 'Abendmusiken' there, which were held on the two last Sundays after Trinity, and on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Sundays in Advent. [See Buxtehude, vol. i. 286.]

P. 115 a, paragraph 2:—As Kapellmeister at Cöthen, Bach received the comparatively high salary of 400 thalers (1200 marks, or £60) a year. It is now certain that he went with the Prince to Carlsbad, not only in 1720, but in 1718. The journey to Hamburg, where he saw Reinken for the last time, took place not in 1721 , but in 1720, soon after the death of his first wife. In 1719 he was at Halle, where he tried to make the acquaintance of Handel, who was at that time on a visit to his family. This, and a second attempt in 1729, fell through, so that the two composers never met.

P. 115 a, l. 6 from bottom, for second read first. The 'Trauermusik,' written by Bach at Cöthen in 1729, was not on the death of the Duchess, but on that of the Duke himself, which took place Nov. 19, 1728. The Trauer-Ode here referred to as written in 1727, was occasioned by the death of Christiane Eberhardine, Electress of Saxony, and was performed on Oct. 17, 1727. Besides the Trauermusik, Bach wrote for the court of Cöthen a whole series of occasional cantatas, proving his intimate connection with the Ducal family: for Dec. 10 (the Duke's birthday), in 1717, 1718, and 1720; for New Year's Day, 1719 and 1720 (Gratulationscantaten); for Nov. 30 (the birthday of the Duke's second wife), 1726. Only three of these compositions are preserved; most of the poems to which they were set were written by C. F. Hunold. Bach took up his residence in Leipzig in May 1723. He was appointed Cantor of the Thomasschule, and director of the music in the churches, but not organist; he never occupied an organist's post after leaving Weimar in 1717. As Cantor he had to teach singing, and, at first, to give a certain amount of scientific instruction; as director of music he had to superintend the choral music in the churches of St. Thomas and St. Nicholas. The choirs were composed of the scholars of the Thomasschule, with the addition of students and amateurs, the so-called 'Adjuvanten.' The size of the chorus, according to our present ideas, was very small; the average number for a four-part chorus was about 12 voices. These were supplemented by a body of instrumentalists averaging 18 in number, and composed of the town musicians with the assistance of students, scholars, and amateurs. Part of the duties of University Music-director were fulfilled by Bach, and from 1729 to 1736 he conducted a students' musical society, in which secular chamber music was practised, and which held for some time an important place in the musical life of the town. Several public concerts were also given by the society under Bach's direction.

Bach's official duties were not very pressing, and he had time enough for composition. The musical materials with which he had to deal were however far from satisfying his requirements, especially as compared with the state of music at the court. Besides this, his governing authorities, the town council of Leipzig, showed themselves entirely incapable of understanding the exceptional greatness of this musician. They did everything to impede his freedom of action, and pestered him with petty accusations. In the summer of 1730 Bach's irritation was so great that he nearly resolved to leave Leipzig altogether. His intercourse with the rector and colleagues of the Thomasschule was at first not unpleasant, and during the rectorate (1730–1734) of the celebrated philologist, Johann Mathias Gesner, it was very agreeable. Bach could not get on with the next rector, however, Johann August Ernesti, a man still very young and without any tact. Certain, differences as to the appointment of one of the choir-prefects, who had to direct the choir in the absence of the cantor, led to a breach which in the course of the year became quite irreconcileable. Bach, with all his great and noble qualities, was easily irritated, and possessed unyielding obstinacy. The protracted conflict had very bad results on the discipline and working of the school, and even ten years after Bach's death the rector and cantor were accustomed to regard each other as natural enemies.

Bach's position in Leipzig was a highly respected one, and he soon became a celebrity in the town. Few musicians went there without paying him a visit, and even the 'stars' of the Italian Opera in Dresden did not fail to pay him respect. He kept up a friendly intercourse with the musicians of the Saxon capital. Pupils came to him from far and near; his house was a centre of refined and earnest musical culture; with his wife, an excellent singer and an accomplished musician, his talented sons and daughters, and his numerous pupils, he could organise, in his spacious house, performances of vocal and instrumental works, even of those which required a large number of executants. That he mixed in the literary and University society of the town is proved by his relations with the poetess Mariane von Ziegler and Professor Gottsched. In later life he seems to have withdrawn more and more from society. In the new impulse which was given to music about the middle of the century by the influence of the rich mercantile element, and which resulted in the foundation of the 'Gewandh.ius Concerts,' Bach, so far as we can learn, took no part.

Bach made frequent journeys from Leipzig. As he was still Kapellmeister at Cöthen ('von Haus aus' as the phrase was), he had to appear there occasionally and to place his services at the disposal of the reigning family. At the same time he kept up his connection with the court of Weissenfels, to which he had been appointed Kapellmeister in 1723 (not 1736). He often went to Dresden, where, since his passage