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Come, Sweet Death (arr Reed flex)

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Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (trans. Alfred Reed; arr. Kim Benson)


This work is also known by its German title, Komm', süsser Tod., and bears the designation BWV 492


General Info

Year: 1736 / 1976 / 2019
Duration: c. 3:10
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Solo voice and basso continuo
Publisher: C.L. Barnhouse
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $60.00   |   Score Only (print) - $7.00


Instrumentation (Flexible)

Full Score
Part 1
C Instruments

  • Flute
  • Piccolo
  • Violin
  • Guitar

B-flat Instruments

  • B-flat Clarinet
  • B-flat Trumpet
  • B-flat Soprano Saxophone

E-flat Instruments

  • E-flat Alto Saxophone
  • E-flat Clarinet

Part 2
C Instruments

  • Flute
  • Oboe
  • Violin

B-flat Instruments

  • B-flat Clarinet
  • B-flat Trumpet

E-flat Instruments

  • E-flat Alto Saxophone
  • Horn in E-flat

Horn in F
Part 3
B-flat Instruments

  • B-flat Bass Clarinet
  • B-flat Tenor Saxophone
  • Euphonium T.C.
  • B-flat Trombone T.C.

E-flat Instruments

  • E-flat Alto Clarinet
  • E-flat Baritone Saxophone
  • Horn in E-flat

Bass Clef Instruments

  • Trombone
  • Euphonium B.C.
  • Cello
  • Bassoon

Horn in F
Viola
Part 4
B-flat Instruments

  • B-flat Bass Clarinet
  • B-flat Tenor Saxophone
  • Trombone

E-flat Instruments

  • E-flat Baritone Saxophone
  • E-flat Alto Clarinet
  • E-flat Contra-Alto Clarinet

Bass Clef Instruments

  • Trombone
  • Euphonium B.C.
  • Cello
  • Bassoon

Part 5
Bass Part

  • String Bass
  • Electric Bass Guitar
  • Keyboard Bass

B-flat Treble Clef Bass

  • B-flat Bass Clarinet
  • B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
  • B-flat Tuba B.C.

E-flat Treble Clef Bass

  • E-flat Baritone Saxophone
  • E-flat Contra-Alto Clarinet
  • E-flat Tuba T.C.

Tuba
Keyboards

  • Piano
  • Electric Piano
  • Synthesizer
  • Accordion
  • Organ

Timpani
Mallet Percussion

  • Xylophone
  • Marimba
  • Vibraphone
  • Bells


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Come Sweet Death (Komm, süßer Tod) is one of a group of 69 so-called “Sacred Songs and Airs” attributed to J.S. Bach, each of which exists only in the form of a single melodic line with figured bass. These pieces were first published in 1736, some 14 years before Bach’s death, as the musical settings for a huge collection of 954 sacred songs edited by Bach himself. For all of its apparent simplicity of musical construction (a small, two-part song form, played through twice), this music is deeply moving and of great expressiveness, culminating in an exalted singing line that perhaps signified for the deeply religious Bach the willing embrace of death as the final deliverance from earthly strife, and an entrance into eternal glory.

The first performance of this setting took place on April 2, 1976, with the University of Miami Symphonic Wind Ensemble under the direction of Frederick Fennell.

- Program Note by the Antoinette Reading Junior High School Band concert program, 17 December 2014


Komm, süsser tod (Come, Sweet Death) is one of a group of 69 so-called “Sacred Songs and Airs” attributed to J.S. Bach, each of which exists only in the form of a single melodic line with figured bass. These pieces were first published in 1736, some fourteen years before Bach’s death, as the musical settings for a huge collection of 954 sacred songs and hymns assembled by Georg Christian Schemelli and edited by Bach himself. In 1832, they made their first appearance as an addendum to the 371 four-part, fully harmonized chorales in an edition published by C.F. Becker.

Ever since that time, there has been some disagreement among musical scholars as to just how many of these 69 melodies were actually written by Bach himself, how many were merely arranged by him, or even if there were actually that number at all that were in any way composed or worked on by him. The standard Bach Gesellschaft edition, for instance, lists 75 such pieces, not 69, and, on the other hand, one of the greatest authorities on German evangelical Church music, Johannes Zahn, claimed that only 21 of the 69 (or 75) should be considered as Bach’s own work, and all of the rest credited to other composers. However this may be, it is interesting to observe that since the first separate appearance of this group of pieces in 1832, there have been at least eight other editions prepared and published by different authorities, and the melody of Come, Sweet Death appears in all of them. Its authenticity as an original work from Bach’s own hand seems never to have been questioned by any of the compilers and editors of these collections during the past 150 years.

- Program Note from the Baldwin-Wallace College Symphonic Wind Ensemble concert program, 20 November 2015


Alfred Reed’s masterful transcriptions of Bach chorales have become band standards, and this new flexible version makes Come, Sweet Death available for bands requiring flexible instrumentation. The rich texture, singing lines and deep feelings of the original are maintained to give groups the unforgettable experience of performing this band classic.

- Program Note from publisher


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


Media Links


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project


Works for Winds by this Composer

Adaptable Music


All Wind Works


Resources

  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 305-313.
  • Perusal score