Bach's Major Vocal Works Music, Drama, Liturgy Markus Rathey

Publication date:
19 Feb 2016
Yale University Press
248 pages: 216 x 140mm

Every year, Johann Sebastian Bach’s major vocal works are performed to mark liturgical milestones in the Christian calendar. Written by a renowned Bach scholar, this concise and accessible book provides an introduction to the music and cultural contexts of the composer’s most beloved masterpieces, including the Magnificat, Christmas Oratorio, and St. John Passion.
In addition to providing historical information, each chapter highlights significant aspects—such as the theology of love—of a particular piece. This penetrating volume is the first to treat the vocal works as a whole, showing how the compositions were embedded in their original performative context within the liturgy as well as discussing Bach’s musical style, from the detailed level of individual movements to the overarching aspects of each work. Published in the approach to Easter when many of these vocal works are performed, this outstanding volume will appeal to casual concertgoers and scholars alike.

Markus Rathey is associate professor of music history at the Yale School of Music, the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, the Yale Department of Music, and the Yale Divinity School. He lives in Hamden, CT.

“An excellent general perusal of Bach’s major choral works, this book is recommended for classical music lovers, Bach fans, and those who are interested in Christian music and theology.”—Library Journal

“These are the program notes you have always wanted . . . Rathey helps the amateur listener appreciate details he might otherwise miss. Those who seek to take the next step in their en­joyment of Bach’s genius would do well to turn to him.”—First Things 

“Rathey securely and authoritatively succeeds in making these vocal works accessible on many levels.”—Choice

“This delightful book written by the Yale musicologist Markus Rathey offers a background account of Bach’s major vocal works in chapters… If you too are a Bach fan then I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.”—Robin Gill, Theology

“His writing style is beautifully clear, and careful to elaborate more obscure points —although without ever becoming condescending or over simplistic… excellent, in my opinion.”—Cl?assical Music