9th Biennial Conference on Baroque Music


 Eschatology, Theology and Music: Death and beyond in Bach’s Vocal Music

Robin Leaver

Rider University, Princeton, USA

In this anniversary year of Bach’s death it seems appropriate to examine Bach’s treatment of death and the afterlife. Many of the studies devoted to this theme have tended to characterise Bach has having a morbid preoccupation with death. But are Bach’s musical expositions of death and eternity more in line with a Lutheran ‘ars moriendi’? Or are they reflections necessitated by the unfolding pattern of the biblical lections assigned to the specific Sundays, festivals and observances of the church year, rather than personal preference? Such questions will be addressed, and it will also be suggested that Bach was more sophisticated in his treatment of death and the life hereafter than has generally been suggested.

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Last updated on 26 April 2000 by Yo Tomita