Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata 66 "Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen" mvt. 1
Bach spent the last 27 years of his life in Leipzig, Germany, as director of the St. Thomas church choir and boys' school. In the first few years of his tenure there, he wrote a full "cantata" every week. A "cantata" is a multi-movement work with a religious text for chorus, soloists, and orchestra, so it is an amazing feat to do this so quickly...not to mention that he had to leave time for the parts to be copied for the performers--no xerox machines!--and the ensemble to rehearse.
This joyful cantata was written for Bach's first Easter in Leipzig, and the opening chorus features virtuosic and incredibly exciting violin writing (perhaps that's why this is one of my favorite Bach cantatas): the violins go up to an A two octaves above the A string, which is the highest note written for violin in any of his orchestral writing.
You will hear the alto sing (in German), "All hearts rejoice!" followed by the tenor's response, "All sorrows depart!" and the whole choir singing "The savior lives and reigns within you!" The middle section tells us, "Dispel grief, fear, and anxiety, for He revives the realm of the spirit," and the music paints the "grief, fear, and anxiety" which then is "dispelled" by the return of the first section.
Thrilling live performance by Choir and Orchestra of the J. S. Bach Foundation and
In May 2017 I challenged my students to practice every day for 30 days in a row. In addition, I asked them to listen to 30 bite-sized musical selections I emailed daily. I collected my picks in this blog for posterity. So these are works I find particularly fun, interesting, or important, including a handful by composers who were born or who died in May. Please enjoy!