Bach and Sons at the Region VIII AGO Convention

header1.jpgThe unique and original organ and media event, Bach and Sons, was presented by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, organist and David Jordan, media artist, as a featured event at the Region VIII American Guild of Organists Convention in Salem, Oregon on June 24, 2013. Bach and Sons played to an enthusiastic audience of not only organists, but historians, educators, students, and music lovers as well.

Bach and Sons was created by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, organist and David Jordan, media artist to bring to life Johann Sebastian Bach and his family.  Using live narration by the women important in the Bach family, historically informed live performance of the organ music of JS Bach and his sons, live camera feeds, and stunning visuals the audience was involved in and engaged by the story of Bach.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist

Luther and Bach

On July 26th and August 2nd (2013) I will be performing organ concerts at the Stadtkirche in Wittenberg-Lutherstadt, Germany.  The Stadt- und Pfarrkirche St. Marien zu Wittenberg (Town and Parish Church of St. Mary’s) is the civic church of the German town of Lutherstadt-Wittenberg. The reformer Martin Luther preached there and the building also saw the first celebration of the mass in German rather than Latin and the first ever distribution of the bread and wine to the congregation – it is thus considered the mother-church of the Protestant Reformation.

Because of the strong tie to Luther and the Reformation, and the ongoing decade-long celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Wittenberg, the repertoire I have chosen for both concerts is entirely based on Luther chorales or the chorale settings of Luther texts.  The first of the concerts will be comprised of Luther chorale settings by American composers and the second of settings by Johann Sebastian Bach.

The compositions chosen for the second concert represent the entirety of Bach’s compositional output from the early years to the end of his life.  The program begins with a setting of Luther’s most famous chorale and text, Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott (originally BWV 720).  Thought to be composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, it is now assumed to have been composed by Johann Michael Bach.

Also included in the program are settings of chorales composed by Martin Luther:

Von Himmel hoch da komm’ ich her (BWV 769)

Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland (BWV 661)

Christ lag in Todes Banden (BWV 625) — melody by Wipo aus Burgund of the 11th century with a new melodic version from Martin Luther in 1524

Komm, Heiliger Geist (BWV 651) — existing melody of unknown origin adapted by Martin Luther and Johann Walther

Arrangements of chorales by other composers using Luther texts complete the program:

Von Himmel kam der Engel Schaar (BWV 607) — melody by Michael Praetorius

Wir glauben all’ an einen Gott (BWV 1098) — melody by Johannes Eccard

Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam (BWV 684) — melody first appearing in the Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn of 1524

Bach obviously found great delight in creating organ settings of these Luther chorales.  They certainly create a joyous program for the Stadtkirche during this 500th anniversary celebration of the Reformation.

 

Preserving the Past for the Future – September 6, 2014

dornheim-from-front-full-view.jpgOn Sunday, September 6, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. we will be performing our Bach and Sons organ and multi-media concert at the Bach Wedding Church in Dornheim, Germany.  It is thrilling to have the opportunity to present our concert, which we see as a means to preserve the story of Johann Sebastian Bach for future generations, in this historic church.

JS Bach’s Wedding Church is now a well-known memorial to Bach, with thousands of visitors from all over the world.  However, this monument to the past was nearly destroyed in 1996. It was in such a desolate state that demolition was being considered.  However, a group of villagers, led by true patrons of the arts and Bach history Rosemarie and Juergen Frey, rescued the building and provided for its restoration.

These citizens of Dornheim, with financial support from the Foundation for the Protection of Monuments in Thuringia, the Office for Protection of Monuments, and the Protestant churches of Thuringia, have not only provided a place for organists to perform, but through their research and preservation work have made sure this integral part of the story of Johann Sebastian Bach never dies. 

….Jeannine Jordan, concert organist and creator with David Jordan of the Bach and Sons, organ and multi-media eventheader21.jpg

Bach and Sons in Austria

In August, we were privileged to perform the world premier of the German version of our organ and media event, Bach and Sons, in Ried, Austria.  Part of the Innveirtler Kultursommer concert series, the concert played to an enthusiastic audience at the stunning Baroque Stadtpfarrkirche.

Stadtpfarrkirche, Ried, Austria

With the incredible organ music of Johann Sebastian Bach and his sons superbly played by Dr. Jeannine Jordan on the Mathis organ; narration in German by Dr. Jordan telling the story of the Bach family through the eyes of the women important to the Bach family; stunning visuals by David Jordan putting the audience in the cities, churches, schools, and homes where Bach lived and worked;  and what the audience loved most — three camera feeds with live images projected to a large screen giving everyone an opportunity to see the organist actually playing this great music, the audience was in awe of this new telling of the story of Bach.

To learn more of the Bach and Sons organ and media experience, please visit the Bach and Sons website at www.bachandsons.com

The Bach Family in Eisenach

(Elisabeth Bach, mother of Johann Sebastian Bach, recounts his first 10 years.)

I want to tell you an amazing story: the story of my son, Johann Sebastian Bach. This is the story of a precocious talented little boy whose name was to become known throughout the world centuries later.

Birthplace of JS Bach – Eisenach, Germany

My precious boy was born on March 21, 1685 in Eisenach, Germany to my husband, Ambrosious and me, Elisabeth Bach. We are quite a family, we Bachs. The name Bach is nearly synonymous with the word musician around this part of the world.

The story goes that my husband’s great grandfather, Vitus, taught himself to play the lute to while away the time at his mill while corn was being ground for use in his bakery. Well, his love for his lute and music was so great that he taught his sons to not only bake bread, but more importantly, to also play wind instruments. His son Johannes got so good as a stadtpfeifer (city wind instrument player) that eventually he gave up baking and devoted himself to music-making.

Ambrosius Bach
Father of JS Bach

After that, right through the next generation and down to my husband, the Bachs have been and are musicians. In fact, my husband is very well known in Eisenach. You see he is not only a town musician but a court musician as well! He often plays his violin for our Duke and his guests at the castle. I am so proud of him!

Ambrosious and I have decided that our children must study music and follow in the footsteps of his ancestors. After all, there is no better way to make a living here in Germany than to make music. So, that is why we have made sure that all of our children are studying music.

Our youngest boy, Johann Sebastian, is already studying the violin and viola with Ambrosious. Ambrosious is planning to find a way to get our young son into the court orchestra as soon as possible. Our children are so talented. In fact, Johann Cristoph, our oldest, is now an organist and teacher in Ohrdruf where he has just married a wonderful girl.

(This story and the images are from the organ and multi-media and event, Bach and Sons, presented by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist with media artist, David Jordan.  Visit bachandsons.org to discover more.)

Johann Sebastian Bach An Orphan At Age Ten

(Maria Salome, sister of Johann Sebastian Bach, continues the story of Johann’s early years.)

You see, it has been nine months since our mother, Elisabeth, suddenly died and so much has changed! Our lives have been in turmoil since then.

As the eldest child and only daughter of the Ambrosious Bach family, I loved helping my mother with all the things around the house. But suddenly with mama’s death, I was left to care for my two little brothers.

Latienschule
Eisenach, Germany

Johann Sebastian was just ten when mama died and he misses her so much. He and Jakob are good though and are still practicing their violin and viola, and they both returned to the Latienschule a few months ago.

Papa was very sad, but after seeing the widow Kaul every Sunday for several months, he finally married her. Her name is Barbara Margarethe. She helped make our home happy again. We had a wonderful Christmas and Epiphany then one day, just a few short months after Papa married again, he came home from the court very ill. A few days later he died too. It was awful!

Now life has changed again. Our step-mother is now a widow for the third time, but this time she has the three of us to feed. She asked for help from the town council and they have given her enough money to feed only two of us. She has decided she must send my brothers, Johann and Jakob away.

Johann Sebastian and Johann Jakob Bach walk to Ohrdruf, Germany

My brothers have been told they will walk the thirty miles to our older brother Christoph’s home in Ohrdruf. I will miss them so much, but I know Christoph and his family will take good care of our brothers. So much death around my little brothers is not good. It is something that I know will stay with Johann and Jakob forever.

(This story is one of many vignettes from the multi-media and organ program, Bach and Sons, created by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist and David Jordan, media artist.  Visit bachandsons.org to discover more.)

How Did A Sister-in-law Influence The Music Of JS Bach?

(Christoph Bach’s wife tells of taking Johann Sebastian Bach into their home.)

I am happy to have these two foundlings, Johann Sebastian and Jakob Bach in our home. It gives my husband, Christoph, a chance to get to know his little brothers and teach them how to play the clavier. The boys have settled into life here with us here in Ohrdruf since the sudden death of their parents, Elisabeth and Ambrosious, a few months ago. Thankfully, Johann Sebastian is able to help support our family with his beautiful voice. He sings for all sorts of occasions around Ohrdruf.

Sebastian is also really interested in Christoph’s collection of music scores and is always asking to see the books of music Herr Johannes Pachelbel gave to Christoph. In fact, the other night I caught Johann Sebastian copying by moonlight some of that organ music Christoph had expressly forbidden him to use. I know he is going to ruin his eyesight staring at that music in the near darkness.

(This story above is one of many vignettes from the multi-media and organ program, Bach and Sons, presented by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist with media artist, David Jordan.)

Johann Sebastian Walks to Luneburg

(Christoph Bach’s wife continues the saga of Johann Sebastian Bach and his move to Luneburg, Germany.)

After five years, having Johann still living with us has started to become a problem. You see, our little home is getting a bit too crowded with our first two babies now walking and our third on the way. I think Christoph and I are going to have to send Johann Sebastian away. We just do not have room anymore and with one less 15-year-old-mouth to feed, it will make life a bit more manageable for us. We think it is time Johann Sebastian learns to live on his own.

Johanneskirche
Luneberg, Germany

Herr Herder, the schoolmaster here in Ohrdruf, has suggested that Sebastian and his friend Georg Erdmann go together to Luneburg to sing and study at St. Michael’s School. In fact, he is sure the boys can get scholarships because they are such fine singers and musicians. The only problem is that Luneburg is so far away, nearly 200 miles, and they would have to walk. We will see what plans can be made.

We just got word that J.S. is doing wonderfully in Luneburg. He loves all the music at the church and he is doing well at school as usual. He tells us there is an incredible music library with over 1700 titles by 175 different composers in Luneburg. My husband would really love to get to Luneburg to see this music, but he is so busy here.

Johann S. Bach is also doing well financially. He has the scholarship of course, but he is also earning a living as a singer at weddings and funerals and we hear he is even performing as a street musician. We were told that Johann Sebastian has also made the acquaintance of some famous organists who play in and around Luneburg, a Herr Bohm and a Herr Reinken. I think Johann took some of the music he composed while he lived with us to Luneburg and it would not surprise me if he played one of those pieces for those great masters. I hope he will play his arrangement of “Von Himmel Hoch.”

(This story and the images are from the organ and multi-media and event, Bach and Sons, presented by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist with media artist, David Jordan.  Visit bachandsons.org to discover more.)

How Did A Princess Influence The Style of JS Bach?

(Eleonore d’Esmier, Duchess of Wilhemsburg, French born wife of the Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg-Celle tells of the Court’s influence on the young Johann Sebastian Bach’s musical development.)

My husband is George Wilhelm, the Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg. I recently married this great man and I now make my home here in Germany. You see, I am originally from France. In fact, I hail from the most famous of all courts in France, the court of Louis XIV. This is not only one of the most magnificent of courts in all Europe, but it is the court that all lesser courts seek to copy. All over Germany, counts, dukes, and other nobles are trying to recreate the lifestyle and grandeur of the Sun King’s Court.

With that goal in mind, my husband has decided we will create our own little French court in Celle, just south of Luneburg. Since I am French, however, we have a great advantage over other courts trying to become the Versailles of Germany because I really know what the Sun King’s court is like. Therefore, we speak French at the court of Celle and we have even hired an orchestra of French musicians to make music for us. We also play the great keyboard music by all the best and most fashionable French keyboard composers like Couperin and de Grigny. My generous husband has created such a lovely French court that I feel like I am “at home.”

Celle Castle

Quite often, students from Luneburg make the trip to Celle to hear our French music and take in our French culture here in this more heathen part of northern Germany. The other day, I met one incredibly talented young man, a Herr Johann Sebastian Bach. He was so enamored with our “French culture” that he has been copying the music of our great keyboard masters like mad. Why I hear he has even composed an organ piece after one of Francois Couperin’s harpsichord pieces. He calls it “Air” and it is really quite charming although quite difficult for the organists to play.

I overheard this young composer tell his friend, our music director Thomas de la Salle, that he was leaving St. Michaels in Luneburg to pursue his musical career. He is so young, only 17 I believe, but I guess that is all the schooling this young man named Johann Sebastian Bach needs. His incredible talent certainly proves that.

(This story and the images are from the organ and multi-media and event, Bach and Sons, presented by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist with media artist, David Jordan.  Visit bachandsons.org to discover more.)

Who Were Barbara Katharina and Maria Barbara Bach?

(Barbara Katharina Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach’s second cousin and elder sister of Maria Barbara Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach’s future wife)

Maria Barbara, did you hear who is coming to town? It is Johann Sebastian, our dear cousin Ambrosius’ son. He has been away from Eisenach so long I am not sure I would recognize him. When his parents died he was sent to live with his brother Christoph in Ohrdruf for a few years, then I believe he was sent all the way to Luneburg for school. Lately, though I heard that Johann Sebastian had been playing the violin for the Duke’s court in Weimar.

Now, Johann Sebastian has just been appointed the organist at the Neukirche right here in Arnstadt where that incredible new organ was just built! I was told that the concert Johann Sebastian gave when he came to try out the new organ was simply astounding and the committee just had to appoint him organist! I think I also heard, though, that he has to conduct the boy choir at the Neukirche. I wonder if he knows about that? I really do hope Johan Sebastian is up to the task of working with those ornery boys at the school. They sing so badly and can just be so awful!

However, the best news of all is that Sebastian is coming to visit his relatives next week when he gets to Arnstadt. That means us! We will be seeing our dear cousin Johann Sebastian very soon. You know he will be living at the Mayor’s house, don’t you? I can hardly wait to see him again!

Maria Barbara, have you heard? Johann Sebastian was just in a fight. I happened to be walking down the street near the Neukirche when this brawl erupted and that awful bassoonist Gegenbach

The Bassoonist

and our dear JS had come to blows. I think our cousin Johann got the best of that little bassoon player, though, as Johann drew his sword and just cut to tatters Gegenbach’s clothing! I was there! I saw it! And more than that, I am going to testify to the city authorities that the fight was not Johann Sebastian’s fault! Poor Johann Sebastian is just so bothered by those awful no-count untalented boys at that school. It is too bad he can’t just compose his beautiful organ music and be left alone.

The organ music dear Johann is composing now is so interesting. He tells me a wonderful composer named Georg Bohm that he met while he lived in Luneburg influenced him greatly. He just loves to compose variations on our wonderful hymns. Why sometimes just to be different, he puts the melody in the pedal in many of the pieces he is composing right now. He really is a genius, that cousin of mine.

(This story above is one of many vignettes from the multi-media and organ program, Bach and Sons, presented by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist with media artist, David Jordan.)