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Komm, Susser Tod

From Wind Repertory Project
Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (trans. Erik Leidzén)


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This work may also be found under the German spelling Komm, süßer Tod, or the English title Come, Sweet Death. It bears the designation BWV 478.


General Info

Year: 1736 / 1936
Duration: c. 4:15
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Solo voice and basso continuo
Publisher: Carl Fischer
Cost: Score and Parts – Out of print.

For availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


Instrumentation

Condensed Score
D-flat Piccolo
Flute
Oboe
Bassoon
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet Solo-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Bass Saxophone
B-flat Cornet Solo-II-III
B-flat Trumpet
E-flat Horn or Alto I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium
Tuba
String Bass
Timpani
Percussion

(percussion detail desired)


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.

- 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


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class B
  • Louisiana: III
  • Tennessee: V
  • Iowa: III
  • Kansas: III
  • West Virginia: II


Performances

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Works for Winds by this Composer


Resources