Magnificat (C. P. E. Bach)

The Magnificat, Wq 215, H.772, by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach is a musical setting of the biblical canticle Magnificat as an extended composition for voices and orchestra in nine movements, composed in Berlin in 1749. It is the composer's first extant major choral composition.

by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
Heimsuchung, occasion of Mary's song of praise, Rubens school, Unionskirche, Idstein
KeyD major
  • Wq 215
  • H.772
Bible textLuke 1:46–55
Composed1749 (1749): Berlin
Published1829 (1829): Bonn by N. Simrock
VocalSATB choir and solo
  • 2 horns
  • 2 traverse flutes
  • 2 oboes
  • bassoon
  • 2 violins
  • viola
  • continuo
  • (optional:) 3 trumpets
  • timpani
The composer, 1773

History edit

In Leipzig, where the composer grew up, the Magnificat was regularly part of Sunday services, sung in German on ordinary Sundays but more elaborately and in Latin on the high holidays (Christmas, Easter and Pentecost) and on the three Marian feasts Annunciation, Visitation and Purification.[1] When J. S. Bach's setting of the Magnificat was first performed on 2 July 1723, the boy was nine years old, ten years later his father transposed it to D major and performed it again. C. P. E. Bach set the text in the same key as the later version, formally as a cantata, in 1749 in Berlin,[2] where he was a harpsichordist at the court of Frederick the Great.[3]

Some sources assume that Bach composed the piece to apply for the title of Hofkapellmeister at the court of Amalie, the king's sister,[4] others suggest that he composed it to apply for his father's post as Thomaskantor in Leipzig.[4][5] Another suggested possibility, a composition intended for a memorial concert for his father for which every composing son wished to supply a piece worthy of him ("seiner würdig"), seems less likely as the father was still alive when the piece was composed.[6]

John Butt notes that the Amen fugue of the Magnificat shows similarities to parts of the Mass in B minor, the Gratias from the Missa and the Ex expecto from the Symbolum Nicenum.[7]

The composer chose the work to conclude a charity concert which he conducted in Hamburg in 1786 for the Medizinisches Armeninstitut. The concert began with the Credo from his father's Mass in B minor, followed by two excerpts from Handel's Messiah, the Hallelujah Chorus and the aria I know that my redeemer liveth, both sung in German.[3][8] Magnificat was published in 1829 by N. Simrock in Bonn.[6] It is the composer's first extant major choral composition.[8]

Scoring and structure edit

Bach scored the work in D major for four vocal soloists (soprano (S), alto (A), tenor (T) and bass (B)), a SATB four-part choir, and a Baroque orchestra of two traverse flutes (Ft), two oboes (Ob), two horns (Co), bassoon (Fg), two violins (Vl), viola (Va) and basso continuo (Bc), with three trumpets and timpani ad libitum. It takes about 42 minutes to perform.[2]

Movements edit

The Magnificat setting consists of seven movements for the text of the canticle (Luke 1:46-55), concluded by two movements of the doxology. The following table shows the title, voices, tempo marking, time, key and text source for the nine movements, based on the vocal score, edited by Günter Graulich after the autograph.[9]

Movements of C. P. E. Bach's Magnificat
No. Title Voices Tempo Time Key Text source
1 Magnificat SATB allegro di molto   D major Luke 1:47
2 Quia respexit S andante 3/4 B minor Luke 1:48
3 Quia fecit T allegro assai   G major Luke 1:49
4 Et misericordia S A SATB andantino 3/4 E minor Luke 1:50
5 Fecit potentiam B allegro 2/4 A major Luke 1:51
6 Deposuit potentes de sede A T allegretto   A minor Luke 1:52–53
7 Suscepit Israel A Andante. Con sordini. 3/4 D minor Luke 1:54–55
8 Gloria patri SATB allegro di molto   D major Doxology
9 Sicut erat in principio SATB alla breve moderato   D major Doxology

References edit

Sources edit

External links edit