Thursday, March 15, 2012

Special Music Sunday in Lent


March 18 at 10:00 a.m.
Jesu, meine Freude by Dietrich Buxtehude (ca. 1637-1707)
Benedictus, qui venit by Johann Michael Haydn (1737-1806)

On the Fourth Sunday in Lent, March 18 at 10:00 am, the St. Mary’s Adult Choir, soloists and string orchestra will present two choral works, Jesu, meine Freude (Jesus, My Joy) by the Baroque composer Dietrich Buxtehude, and Benedictus, qui venit (Blessed is He Who Comes) by Michael Haydn, an Austrian composer of the Classical period. Both of these pieces invite us to reflect on our relationship to God as we reach the mid-point in our Lenten journey.

Although little is known about his early life, Dietrich Buxtehude influenced several composers of his time, most notably J.S. Bach. In 1705 Bach was given a month’s leave from his job in Arnstadt to visit and study with Buxtehude at St. Mary’s Church in L├╝beck. Bach stayed for four months and was almost fired from his job! He heard Buxtehude’s organ music and his vocal compositions, likely including Jesu meine Freude. The piece is a set of six variations on the German chorale tune (in our hymnal #701). The first and last movements are simple settings of the tune, interspersed with instrumental counterpoint. The central movements are solo arias for sopranos and bass, and a rhythmically-challenging trio.

Johann Michael Haydn was born 275 years ago in an Austrian village, the younger brother of well-known composer Joseph Haydn. As a child he followed in his brother’s footsteps and sang in the choir at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. In 1763 he became the “Kapellmeister” (choirmaster) at St. Peter’s in Salzburg where he composed over 360 church compositions, as well as instrumental music. Like Buxtehude, he influenced other composers, particularly Mozart whose famous Requiem resembles Michael Haydn’s earlier setting. In the intimate scale of the Benedictus, qui venit, Haydn conveys the same gentle and trusting spirit that we hear in much of Mozart’s early music.

All are welcome to join us for this service of Lenten musical refreshment on Sunday, March 18 at 10:00 a.m.

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