Use Of Trumpet In Bach’s Mass In B Minor Throughout history, in every field, there have been several families who stand out for their achievements. In music, few families can compete with the success or the productivity that the Bachs can proudly claim. The Bach family represents the most f midable example of a musical dynasty.1 The musical output of this family is remarkable. There were musician Bachs in the sixteenth century: the last of the line died in 1846. In between, there was no generation without a musician.
They were all re ted: and even using quite strict criteria, seventy-five of them made their living, or part of it, by practicing music.2 Besides the musical nature of the family, another noteworthy fact is that the Bach family remained in a specific area of Germany fo many generations. The family of which Johann Sebastian Bach was a descendant was purely and thoroughly German, and can be traced to its home in Thuringia even before the time of the Reformation.3 This geographic stability was probably one of the fac rs that contributed to the common interest in music that existed from generation to generation. Also, the composers in the family showed a strong sense of patriotism and dedication to the progression of German ideas and beliefs in the development of th r musical styles. For generations they had at once festered and represented those forms of music which appeal most nearly to the transcendental and metaphysical spirit of the German people, and which were destined to be brought by them to the highest rfection – namely, instrumental music and Protestant sacred music, which chiefly grows out of instrumental music.4 The Bachs played an important role in several developments of instrumental music, including the role of the trumpet. In the music of th later Bachs, especially Johann Sebastian, the trumpet evolved into an important melodic character, which employed a similar range to that of the soprano. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, however, a trumpet was any one of many variegated win instruments with several common characteristics.5 The principle use of the trumpet was for military fanfares, and anything outside this genre was a rare exception. During the Baroque period, with the help of composers such as Sebastian Bach, the trum t grew in importance as new and inventive styles began to flourish.
Thus, Johann Sebastian Bach, along with many other members of his family played an integral role in building a German musical tradition, and they also greatly assisted the progress mad in the employment of the trumpet in all genres of music. Sebastian Bachs Mass in B Minor is a fine example of both the culmination of German style and the establishment of the trumpet as an important member of the orchestra. He was born at Eisenach on 21 March, 1685, son of Johann Ambrosius, court trumpeter and director of the town musicians; who, in turn, was son of Cristoph, town musician at Arnstadt in the mid-seventeenth century. Sebastian was the youngest of Ambrosiu s eight children, only four of whom did not die at a very early age. On May 3, 1694, when Sebastian was only nine, his mother died. Less than seven months later, on November 27, his father remarried. Slightly more than two months after the marriage, s father also passed away.
Sebastian and his older brother Jacob were sent to live with another brother Johann Cristoph, who was in his twenties and held an organists job in Ohrduf. It was from Cristoph that Sebastian received his first keyboard less s. As his brothers family grew, Sebastian was forced to make his own way. He moved to Lunenburg, where he continued his education and began paying his tuition by singing in the choir. He was only fifteen.
From this point on, for the rest of his lif Sebastian would earn his living as a musician. On October 17, 1707, he married his cousin, Maria Barbara Bach. They had seven children, but she died in 1720. In December of 1721, he married his second wife, Anna Magdalena Wilcken, who was, interest gly, the daughter of a trumpeter. They had thirteen children of their own, which brought the total number of Sebastians offspring to twenty, but only ten would reach maturity. In pursuit of his musical ambitions, he moved numerous times, but most of s life was spent in the towns of Arnstadt, Muhlhausen, Cothen, and he eventually settled in Leipzig in 1723.
He was named cantor of the city. It was in Leipzig that he composed his greatest sacred works, including the Mass in B Minor. He died from a rebral hemorrhage on July 28, 1750. Bachs Mass in B Minor is a monumental work from the baroque period, and it is a culmination of the musical growth and experience of the composer. His High Mass was not composed in one period, but was written in sections, beginning in 1724, and he w ked on the piece until the last year of his life.
The Sanctus was the first section of the mass that Bach composed, but it was not originally intended to be used as a part of the mass. An early autograph score of the Sanctus and its performing parts, hich were written at different times and on different paper, attest to the fact that the Sanctus was performed as early as Christmas Day 1724, again in 1726 or 1727, and once more towards the end of Bachs life.6 Even though the Sanctus is not the fir section of the mass in performance order, it was the first section that Bach composed. In 1733, he composed the Missa, which was comprised of the Kyrie and the Gloria. Kyrie and Gloria were the two parts of the Missa, written in 1733, which eventual formed the first section of the Mass in B Minor.7 Still though, Bach had not joined the two sections together, and he had not yet composed the other sections that make up a complete mass. The Missa and the Sanctus still existed as two completely sep ate pieces.
It was not until the 1740s that Bach began to add to the Missa and complete the mass cycle. It was during this last decade of his life that he added the Sanctus, Credo, Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, and Dona nobis pacem to the Kyrie and G ria.8 Bach had now completed a traditional mass setting for his Mass in B Minor. This was accomplished by means of an extraordinary mixture of newly-composed material with existing music which Bach revised for its new role. What is even more remarka e is that he did it for no discernible practical purpose.9 From a contemporary viewpoint, it would seem that a work of this magnitude, completed in the twilight of the life of one of the greatest composers in history would be greatly anticipated and p formed as often as possible. The Sanctus is, however, the only part of the B Minor Mass that has a provable performance history in Bachs lifetime.10 There were several reasons that this occurred.
One problem in performing the piece would have been e difficulty of the parts, both for the choir, and the orchestra. The difficulty of the piece would have greatly limited the number of groups that could give a quality performance of the work. Since it was a mass, it seems that the obvious outlet for s performance would be in the church. However, it could not even be considered for use in the Protestant church, because the Protestants had moved away from many of the Roman rites. On the other hand, Bachs Mass was also unusable in the Catholic rit now only on account of its departure from the prescriptive Latin text, but also, and in particular, because of the liturgically impermissible layout of the closing sections.
All this is quite apart from the works gigantic dimensions, which burst all turgical bounds, Catholic or Protestant.11 Even though the circumstances involved in the prevention of the immediate performance of the work seem tragic, it does make a strong statement about Bachs character and conviction. Bach was under no pressur rom anyone to complete the mass, but he felt it was his duty. There was, after all no, deadline: in this task the only obligation Bach acknowledged was his personal responsibility to his creator, to tradition, and to posterity.12 This level of comm ent and determination is quite remarkable. Bach has been quoted as saying Anyone who works as hard as I did, will get as far.13 This modesty and devotion helped Bach secure his place in history. Some scholars have argued that the sections of what we know as the Mass in B Minor were not intended to be performed together. However, Bach himself bound the four sections together, in the order they would occupy in a regular setting of the mass.
Ev though a complete performance was not feasible while he was alive, he clearly felt that the sections belonged together. The piece is now called the Mass in B Minor, but most of the piece is written in the key of D major, the relative major of B minor. Bach used a cantata mass style that had previously been employed by Neapolitan composers. Each large section is broken into several movements. Bach used the perfect numbers of the trinity in this practice.
The Kyrie is broken into three movements, d the Gloria broken into nine. Although Bach adopted most of this mass from his previously existing body of work, he adjusted and reworked it so that everything flowed together. The Symbolum Nicenum, or Credo, was a symbol of the cross, and it was com ised of nine movements, arranged symmetrically. The Crucifixion is the fifth movement, so it occurs exactly in the middle of this section. Five is also the number of wounds Christ suffered upon the cross.
Many examples of tone painting are also emplo d in the work, especially in the movement announcing the Crucifixion. The burial of Christ is displayed through the descending chromatic melodies into the instruments softest, lowest registers (Example A). Also, everyone but the voices and continuo d p out in the final four and a half measures of the movement. This depiction of Christs burial is immediately followed by the Resurrection, which begins in D major, with the trumpets and drums pronouncing the glorious occasion that Christ has risen fro the grave. The piece begins with ascending figures to help set the proper mood (Example B). In brief, Bach used a great deal of symbolism to help unify the piece, and to strengthen the relation of the music to the text.14 Sebastian Bach used the trumpet in many of his pieces in such a way that excerpts from his music are among the most difficult in the repertoire to this day.
It is appropriate to discuss the trumpet prior to Bach, so that one can appreciate the leaps t t Bach made in his writing for the instrument. In the periods before the Baroque era, the trumpet was restricted almost entirely to use in the military. Werner Menke states that Up to the sixteenth century, where we must begin our closer examination, he use of the trumpet had been limited to the sphere of warfare and festive occasions.15 The trumpet was not used as a melodic instrument, or even as a rhythmic accompaniment, but it was a viewed as a signal instrument. The tone of these signal inst ents is described to us by the writers of classical antiquity as very unbeautiful, harsh, and barbarous.16 Before the Baroque period, trumpeters did not even really view themselves as musicians who were working to per …