Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Bach and the High Baroque

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What is it about Johann Sebastian Bach's music that makes it great? Composer and musicologist Robert Greenberg helps devoted admirers and casual listeners alike hear the extraordinary sweep of Bach's music and understand his compositional language in Bach and the High Baroque.

The Details

Professor Greenberg sets Bach in context by tracing the musical traditions and composers from whom he drew his inspiration, and explaining how Bach absorbed these influences to become the transcendent composer of the High Baroque. According to Professor Greenberg, no other composer is more representative of the period and its aesthetic of emotional extravagance and technical control.

Bach and the High Baroque Overview

  1. Part I gives an overview of Bach’s life and the stylistic trends present in the music of the High Baroque.
  2. Part II explores the diverse world of Baroque Europe with an ear for those elements—musical and nonmusical—that together constitute Bach’s inheritance. Among the influences in Bach’s life, the Lutheran Church must be considered the most important and profound.
  3. Part III continues with an in-depth examination of the influence on Bach of the French style and Italian opera.
  4. Part IV features two of Bach’s greatest masterpieces: the St. Matthew Passion and the Goldberg Variations. No works by Bach are more transcendent.

Bach and the High Baroque Musical Excerpts:

  • Brandenburg Concerto no. 2
  • Cantata no. 140, “Wachet auf, uns ruft die Stimme
  • Coffee Cantata
  • Fugue in C-sharp Major from The Well Tempered Clavier, Book I
  • Goldberg Variations
  • Partita no. 5 in G Major for Harpsichord
  • St. Matthew Passion
  • Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
  • Violin Concerto in E Major.
  • Orchestral Suite in D (“Air on the G String”)
  • B Minor Mass
  • Concerto in D Major for Harpsichord

Bach and the High Baroque Lectures

  1. Introduction
  2. Christmas, 1722
  3. Introduction to the Baroque Aesthetic
  4. Fugue
  5. Historical Overview from Constantine through the Great Thinkers of the Baroque
  6. Style Features of High Baroque Music, Part I—A Musical Glossary
  7. Style Features of High Baroque Music, Part II—A Musical Glossary
  8. Style Features of High Baroque Music, Part III—A Musical Glossary
  9. Bach’s Inheritance, Part I—The Protestant Reformation and the Rise of Lutheranism
  10. Lutheranism, the Chorale and the Chorale Prelude
  11. Bach’s Inheritance, Part II—The Development of the Italian Style
  12. The Italian Style, The Operatic Ideal and Lutheran Spirituality are Joined
  13. Vivaldi, Bach and the Concerto, Part I—Vivaldi and the Venetian Opera
  14. Vivaldi, Bach and the Concerto, Part II—Vivaldi’s Model and Bach, Violin Concerto No. 2 in E Major
  15. Vivaldi, Bach and the Concerto, Part II—Bach Violin Concerto No. 2 in E Major (cont.)
  16. Vivaldi, Bach and the Concerto, Part III—The Concerto Grosso and the Brandenberg Concerto No. 2
  17. Bach and the French Style, Part I—Dance and the Orchestral Suite
  18. Dance and the Orchestral Suite (cont.)
  19. Bach and the French Style, Part II—The Keyboard Suite
  20. The Keyboard Suite (cont.)
  21. Bach and the Opera, Part I—Cantata No. 140 Wachet auf, uns ruft die stimme
  22. Cantata No. 140 Wachet auf, uns ruft die stimme (cont.)
  23. Bach and Opera, Part II—Opera Buffa and the Secular Cantata, The Coffee Cantata
  24. Opera Buffa and the Secular Cantata, The Coffee Cantata (cont.)
  25. Bach Transcendent—The Saint Matthew Passion, Part I
  26. Bach Transcendent—The Saint Matthew Passion, Part II
  27. Bach Transcendent—The Saint Matthew Passion, Part III
  28. Bach Transcendent—The Saint Matthew Passion, Part IV
  29. Bach Transcendent—The Goldberg Variations, Part I
  30. Bach Transcendent—The Goldberg Variations, Part II
  31. Bach Transcendent—The Goldberg Variations, Part III
  32. Bach Transcendent—The Goldberg Variations, Part IV