Saturday, February 7, 2009

Kapellmeister Bach

J.S. Bach was a Lutheran whose Calov Bible reflected the anti-Calvinistic sentiments of Abraham Calovius. But from 1717 to 1723, Bach was employed as Kapellmeister at the court of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen, who was a devout Calvinist. As such, Prince Leopold held to exclusive a cappella psalmody in public worship so only the psalms were sung in worship to simple settings. Nevertheless, he cultivated a love of the arts in his court, and personally enjoyed the opera as well as played the harpsichord and violin. As court chambermusician, Bach produced for Prince Leopold some of his most famous works, such as the Brandenburg Concertos, the first book of the Well-tempered Clavier, the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, the Solo Sontates and Partitas for Violin and the Six Suites for Cello, all of which were designed to be played outside church worship services. In this way, he served as Kapellmeister for the court not the chapel (when I consult the two psalters I employ most frequently, I find several settings composed by J.S. Bach and appreciate those contributions to my psalmody very much). Bach worked for Prince Leopold for six years, but their friendship was life-long. Thus, in the court of Prince Leopold, one finds a beautiful example of Reformed and Lutheran Christian brotherhood, and a love of the arts, specifically music appreciation, complimenting an adherence to the regulative principle of worship.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, i. Allegro, performed by the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra:

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