Thursday, July 28, 2016

For All the Saints: Bach, Schütz, Handel, Purcell

Bach's grave in Leipzig  
On the Lutheran (ELCA) calendar, Johann Sebastian Bach, Heinrich Schütz, George Frederick Handel are honored today, the anniversary of Bach's death. Bach (1685-1750) was the Baroque composer, known during his lifetime for his organ playing, but in the 19th century, his many compositions began to be appreciated, so that now he is considered one of the greatest composers.

Handel (1685-1759) is known for works like Messiah, Water Music, and Music for the Royal Fireworks, and he wrote many operas, organ concertos, anthems, and oratorios. Born in Halle, he emigrated to London and became a British subject. A few years ago we visited his grave in Westminster Abby.

Schütz (1585-1672) was one of the most important composers prior to Bach and one of the greatest of the 1600s. His sacred music survives, and a few secular works, about 500 altogether. In Dresden, we saw a memorial to the composer; he was buried in the former Frauenkirche in that city.

On the Episcopal calendar, Bach and Handel are honored today and also Purcell instead of Schütz. Purcell (1659-1695) was the most important English composer prior to the 20th century. He is known for his anthems, keyboard works, songs, and his opera Dido and Aeneas. He too is buried in Westminster Abbey.

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