Clavier Übung III

by cheldman

I was researching Bach, and was drawn to his love of the Organ. Keyboard pieces make up a substantial part of Bach’s repertoire, and the organ was his instrument of choice. Digging through his works Clavier-Übung III, a book of compositions for the organ, struck me as an especially unique collection.

It was some of his most complex and extensive work for the organ, drawing on many sources for inspiration and style. The music was ostensibly music for a high mass with twenty-one preludes between the opening and closing in keeping with Luther Tradition, but Bach, known for giving recitals to fans after mass worked not to be confined by the structure through the collection. While he draws heavily on religious masters such as Palestrina and Caldara, from whom he takes the use of modal forms, motets and cannons, at the same time his French chorales show his commitment to the advances of the baroque period. Through this combination of the old and the new, Bach would have been able to take advantage of both schools of thought to create a unique sounding collection.

For Bach this program would be more then a mass. While translating Lutheran doctrine to music, it would also be a sort of columniation of Bach’s own work with the organ. He made it a manifesto of what the organ could do, using all possible styles, past and present and from all countries: German, Italian, and French music was all represented, in order to go beyond what people though the organ could every be.

It is a tremendous work, just as Bach had planned, one of the clear pinnacles of the Baroque Organ.