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Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (arr Sapieyevski)

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Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (trans. Jerzy Sapieyevski)

General Info

Year: 1723 / 1985
Duration: c. 4:30
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: C.F. Peters
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $53.00


Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
Trumpet I-II
Trombone I-II


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

In his final job as Cantor of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Bach had the unenviable task of composing, rehearsing, directing, and performing nearly 60 sacred cantatas a year. Over his lifetime he would write some 400 of these, though sadly nearly half are lost. The Cantata No. 147 (Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben) was first performed on 2 July 1723. The final chorale is Jesus, des Menschen Freude. The work is in the form of a cantus firmus chorale prelude, where the melody appears in long notes within an inner voice which is orchestrated below a more elaborate triplet melody woven contrapuntally around it. This arrangement was created on a commission from the American Wind Symphony.

Program Note by Nikk Pilato

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is the most common English title of the 10th and last movement of the cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147 ("Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life"), composed by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1716 and 1723.

Much of the music of Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben comes from Bach's Weimar period. This earlier version (BWV 147a, composed 1716) lacked the recitatives, but included the opening chorus and the four arias incorporated into the later version. For Leipzig (composed 1723), Bach added three recitatives and the celebrated chorale movement which concludes each of the two parts.

Although it is the 32nd surviving cantata that Bach composed, it was assigned the number BWV 147 in the complete catalogue of his works. Bach wrote a total of 200 cantatas during his time in Leipzig, largely to meet the Leipzig Churches' demand for about 58 different cantatas each year.

Contrary to the common assumption, the violinist and composer Johann Schop, not Bach, composed the movement's underlying chorale melody, Werde munter, mein Gemüthe; Bach's contribution was to harmonize and orchestrate it. It is one segment of an extended, approximately 20-minute treatment of a traditional church hymn, as is typical of cantatas of the Baroque period

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Bach was not considered a saint by his students and contemporaries in Leipzig. However, he was obviously sincere when he write, "The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. If heed is not paid to this, it is not true music." With his demanding schedule, Bach must have felt a need for spiritual assistance very often. In addition to many other responsibilities, he composed (and taught) over 250 cantatas in five yearly sets – one for each Sunday of the year. Although characteristic of his genius, Bach's cantatas were considered old fashioned by his composer sons and many other musicians. Only one was published during his lifetime: his widow sold a large bundle of manuscripts for about 40 dollars.

This still-popular chorale, from a melody by Johan Schöp (1590-1664), occurs at the close of Bach's Cantata No. 147 – Be Thou Cheerful, O My Spirit. He used the same melody in Nos. 233 and 365 of his four-part chorales.

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band


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