For your edification: Bach’s un-Advent Cantata

Everyone thinks this is for Advent.  It’s actually for one of the last Sundays of the church year which precede Advent.  “Wachet auf” means, “wake up.”  It’s great music to jump start the morning.

Have you ever heard anything this beautiful before?

I have just recently picked up James R. Gaines’ Evening in the Palace of Reason, an account of the meeting in 1747 between Johann Sebastian Bach, the greatest composer who ever lived, and the Prussian emporer Frederick “the Great.”  It is a fascinating read, aside from the author’s occasional silly attempts to appeal to bourgeois dolts.

Somewhere along the way, the Actus tragicus, an early work of Bach’s, is mentioned, and I hadn’t recalled ever hearing it before.  So I looked it up on YouTube.  It is unspeakably beautiful.  Here ya go:

ICEL, bishops decide not to charge royalties to those offering music for free download

I hereby take back my remarks earlier this month in which I called ICEL and the bishops “tyrannical.” The big publishers may be, but ICEL and the bishops have hammered out a very liberal policy concerning musical settings of the liturgical texts which are made available for free download: They will not be charging any royalties or flat fees for such services. This is a great victory, and it shows that ICEL and the bishops have a far more reasonable view of Intellectual Property than I had thus far given them credit for.

This decision effectively emancipates the creativity of composers everywhere who wish to make musical settings of the new translation of the liturgy. Anyone can now compose and publish; no one need gain the favor of one of the big publishers in order for his work to see the light of day. This ends a monopoly, and I hope it also begins an era of artistic renaissance.

Learning to program manageable concerts

Last spring, I planned an organ recital that I thought would be really fantastic.  The problem was that I had gotten in over my head and, for a number of reasons, some of which were related to burnout, found myself unprepared as the recital neared and having to cancel it.

I have not failed to reflect on this, and I have come up with a program for this Fall (date to be announced later) which should be much more manageable, and dare I say enjoyable, to prepare for.  This lineup is based on an All Saints/All Souls theme:  I suppose you could call it the elitist’s version of the all-too-common “Halloween concert.”

Henry Walford-Davies:  Solemn Melody

J.S. Bach:  Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543

Bach:  Alle menschen muessen sterben (from the Neumeister Choraele)

improvisation on the Dies Irae

Olivier Messiaen:  Le Banquet Celeste

Messiaen:  Transports de joie

Hymn:  O Quanta Qualia (assuming there are enough people there to make the singing of it thrilling)

Calvin Hampton:  In Paradisum

Marcel Dupre:  Cortege et Litanie