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Composers and Their Teachers - Bach


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Here is something fun, I hope. Take a famous, well-respected composer's work and then post a work by his or her teacher that you can hear the teacher's influence upon the composer.

I'll start with Bach. His teacher was George Bohm (1661-1733), a well-known and one of the finest composers of the North German School. In addition to Bohm Buxtehude (1637 - 1707) was, of course, a major influence on Bach and the Baroque in general. As you may know Bach traveled days to hear Buxtehude play. Bach ended up staying there several months before returning - to the consternation of his employers.


Here is Bohm's Prelude Fugue and Postlude in G minor -


Here is Bohm's Prelude and Fugue in C


Buxtehude's Praeludium in G minor (Bwv 149).


Note the strong influence of Italian opera at this time. Popora, an excellent Italian opera composer offers a good example of what Buxtehude was translating to instrumental works with the organ which could offer the greatest dynamic range and orchestral color to match the opera stage. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyIUpGnqgKE

The sectional form highlights contrasting timbres/textures and forms to create a dramatic arch. There are recitativ like sections with singing lines followed by more homophonic passages and fugal sections - much like a Baroque opera. This makes the Buxtehude harder to play than many of Bach's works as it is difficult to maintain a proportional pulse and yet a singing, slightly improvisatory feel without letting the whole thing sounding rambling. Note the comparison to Bohm's Prelude where the form is no longer as sectional or contrasting. With Bohm, greater attention is paid to motivic consistency and less dramatic harmonic digressions, and of course, the sections of recitative, aria like sections are gone. Also just the overall form - a Praeludium is a sectional work intended to start a church service or event - yet it could be performed outside its liturgical function due to the dimensions Buxtehude stretched the work. Yet, note how with Bohm, the fugue becomes its own piece as a companion to the prelude. Up to present day organists will play the Prelude at the start and the fugue as a postlude of a service ... if both are very short as in Bach's Little Prelude and Fugues, thenboth may be played either at the start or end.

Buxtehudes' Praeludium in C (Bwv 136)

Note with the Bohm and Buxtehude - the rising scalar figure is a prominent figure for development in the C major works!.


This Prelude and Fugue in C was inspired by Bohm's - particularly for the pedal solo


The Prelude and Fugue in G minor (535 - early one)

(the sequence of diminished chords in the prelude is noteworthy for the length Bach allows it to continue)

Swingle Singers do the Fugue in G minor (The Great) of Bach - this is when you just are amazed at the Swingle Singers --- I mean how the heck did they get some of those passages at that speed.

(Oh wait here is another great Swingle Singer piece from Partita 5)

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