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Bach Vespers: My Soul Longs after You



Sunday, October 4, 2020 | 6:00 P.M.

Streamed on this page and social media

Viewing free, offering accepted

The season opens with a Bach Vespers centered around the chamber cantata Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich ("My Soul Longs after You, Lord"), one of Bach's early attempts at the genre that would make him famous. This event will be broadcast online.




Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich, BWV 150



Rick Erickson, Conductor

Bach Choir

Bach Orchestra



The heart of this Bach Vespers is the cantata Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich, which may well be one of Johann Sebastian's first attempts at the genre which would later make him renowned throughout history. The cantata is in seven movements: an orchestral sinfonia, thereafter alternating chorus and aria, ending with two choruses. The text consists of poetry and, unusually for Bach, scripture from only the Old Testament, specifically Psalm 25. The work itself is full of text painting — the use of certain musical devices to express the lyrics — most notably the opening motive of the cantata; the descending chromatic scale was commonly used in the eighteenth century to depict sorrow or anguish, and expresses the speaker's despair at their absence from God. The middle choruses are highly reminiscent of the North German style: syllabic text setting with rhetorical pauses, followed by dense imitation based on very short musical ideas. The final chorus, which is sung over a repeating bass line, caught the attention of Johannes Brahms, who not only edited the first edition of the cantata in the late nineteenth century, but used this bass line in his Fourth Symphony.

— Christopher Holman

Director of Musicology



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