Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1710s’ Category

Feast of Antonio Vivaldi (July 28)   Leave a comment

Above:  Antonio Vivaldi

Image in the Public Domain

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ANTONIO LUCIO VIVALDI (MARCH 4, 1679-JULY 28, 1741)

Italian Roman Catholic Priest, Composer, and Violinist

“The Red Priest”

The volume of Antonio Vivaldi‘s output as a composer is staggering, but biographical information is much less plentiful.  (The catalog of our saint, who influenced Johann Sebastian Bach, includes concerti (including The Four Seasons), various choral works (many of them sacred), and about 40 operas.

Vivaldi came from a musical family.  He, born in Venice on March 4, 1679, first studied music under his father, Giovanni Battista Vivaldi, a violinist at St. Mark’s, Venice.  Our saint, apparently a redhead, studied music under Giovanni Legrenzi.

Vivaldi, from March 1703 a priest, spent much of his time traveling in Europe.  From 1703 to 1740 he had an association with the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for abandoned girls.  The institution had one of the finest orchestras in Italy.  Vivaldi composed hundreds of works for that orchestra.  The asthmatic priest and violin virtuoso traveled, though, spending 1719-1722 in Vienna and 1737-1738 in Amsterdam, for example.  By 1735 Vivaldi was back in Venice as the maestro di concerti at the Ospedale for a second time, but he was back in Verona two years later.  Frequently over the years Vivaldi visited Venice, where he produced many operas.  He returned to Vienna in 1740 to seek employment in the imperial court.  Vivaldi, aged 64 years, died in that city on July 28, 1741.

Vivaldi’s musical legacy continues to enrich the world, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

PROPER 5:  THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES OF NISIBIS, BISHOP; AND SAINT EPHREM OF EDESSA, “THE HARP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT”

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GETULIUS, AMANTIUS, CAERAELIS, AND PRIMITIVUS, MARTYRS AT TIVOLI, 12O; AND SAINT SYMPHOROSA OF TIVOLI, MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT LANDERICUS OF PARIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF THOR MARTIN JOHNSON, U.S. MORAVIAN CONDUCTOR AND MUSIC DIRECTOR

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Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servant Antonio Vivaldi.

Teach us to drive from the world all chaos and disorder,

that our eyes may behold your glory,

and that at last everyone may know the inexhaustible richness of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Psalm 96

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 5:18b-20

Matthew 13:44-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61

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Feast of Giovanni Battista Bononcini and Antonio Maria Bononcini (July 8)   1 comment

Above:  Flag of the Duchy of Modena

Image in the Public Domain

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GIOVANNI BATTISTA BONONCINI (JULY 18, 1670-JULY 9, 1747)

Italian Composer and Musician

brother of

ANTONIO MARIA BONONCINI (JUNE 18, 1677-JULY 8, 1726)

Italian Composer and Musician

The Bononcini brothers were composers whose music–much of it sacred–has survived, fortunately.  They were sons and students of Giovanni Maria Battista, a composer and musician at Modena.  Both brothers also studied at Bologna under the renowned Giovanni Paola Colonna.  The Bononcini brothers became cellists and professional musicians.

The professional lives of the brothers overlapped.  From 1690 to 1693 Antonio was a musician in the court of the Cardinal Archbishop of Bologna.  At the same time Giovanni, the maestro di cappella of San Giovanni, Monte, had built a reputation as  a composer of operas.  Giovanni, in Rome from 1692 to 1699, moved to Vienna, where Antonio lived and worked.  Antonio was the kappelmeister in the imperial court from 1705 to 1713.  Giovanni was the court composer from 1700 to 1711.

The brothers parted ways and left Vienna.  Giovanni returned to Italy in 1711; Antonio followed suit two years later.  From 1721 to 1726 Antonio was the maestro di cappella at Modena.  He died, aged 49 years, on July 8, 1726.  Giovanni went to England in 1720; the Royal Academy of Music had invited him.  There he was an artistic rival of George Frederick Handel, whose reputation has proved more enduring.  In London Giovanni saw eight of his operas produced.  He also composed chamber music and works for the harpsichord.  Giovanni’s time in London ended in disgrace.  He left for Paris in 1733, after having submitted a madrigal by Antonio Lotti to the Academy of Ancient Music as if it were a Bononcini composition.  By the late 1740 Giovanni was in Vienna again.  There he composed a Te Deum.  Giovanni died on July 9, 1747, aged 76 years.

Of the two brothers Giovanni was (and remains) the more famous composer.  Antonio composed about 40 cantatas, plus a Stabat Mater, a Salve Regina, at least one mass, and a number of operas.  Giovanni was mainly an operatic composer, with at least 28 operas to his credit.  He also wrote choruses and oratorios, among other compositions.  One of his sacred works was La Conversione de Maddelena.

These are beautiful and inspiring works of music that ennoble those who listen to them.  These are the enduring legacies of talented composers, brothers.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 9, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS STEFAN AND KAZIMIERZ GRELEWSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS,  1941 AND 1942

THE FEAST OF DIETRICH BUXTEHUDE, LUTHERAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY DAY AND PETER LAURIN, COFOUNDERS OF THE CATHOLIC WORKER MOVEMENT

THE FEAST OF THOMAS TOKE LYNCH, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring

Giovanni Battista Bononcini, Antonio Maria Bononcini,

and all those who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 728

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Feast of Blessed Gennaro Maria Sarnelli (June 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Gennaro Maria Sarnelli

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED GENNARO MARIA SARNELLI (SEPTEMBER 12, 1702-JUNE 30, 1744)

Italian Roman Catholic Priest and Missionary to the Vulnerable and Exploited People of Naples

Also known as Blessed Januarius Maria Sarnelli

Blessed Gennaro Maria Sarnelli was a close friend and co-worker of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787; feast day = August 1).   Their mutual activities included visiting the dying in Naples.

Sarnelli, born in Naples on September 12, 1702, was a civil and a canon lawyer before turning to the priesthood.  While ministering to terminally ill patients our saint discerned a vocation to the priesthood.  He therefore entered seminary.  He, ordained a priest on June 8, 1732, gave his money and possessions to the poor.  The following year Sarnelli joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists), which Liguori had founded in Naples, to work among neglected people, the previous year.  Sarnelli worked with “at risk” youth, teaching them the catechism.  He also helped many women escape prostitution.  This put our saint’s life at risk, for some violent people profited from thusly exploiting women.  Furthermore, Sarnelli ministered to the elderly, the sick, prisoners, and those boys forced to labor at the docks.  Somehow our saint found the time to write more than 30 books on theological, social, and pastoral topics.  (One presumes he also ate and slept, after all.)

Sarnelli, aged 41 years, died in Naples on June 30, 1744.  He had spent his life in service to God, as manifested in the vulnerable and exploited people of Naples.

Pope Pius X declared Sarnelli a Venerable in 1906.  Pope John Paul II beatified our saint in 1996.

The poor will always be with us, Jesus reminds us from the pages of the Bible.  Furthermore, the divine commandment to care for the less fortunate is a timeless one.  How we treat the least of Christ’s brethren is a matter God seems to take seriously, if the Bible is any indication of divine priorities.  I propose that, by this standard, Sarnelli passed the test with flying colors.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 7, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HELDER CAMARA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF OLINDA AND RECIFE

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADALBERT NIERYCHLEWSKI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF MITCHELL J. DAHOOD, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MOSES, APOSTLE TO THE SARACENS

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom

the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Saints Rosa Venerini and Lucia Filippini (May 7)   2 comments

Above:  The Flag of the Vatican

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ROSA VENERINI (FEBRUARY 9, 1656-MAY 7, 1728)

Foundress of the Venerini Sisters

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SAINT LUCIA FILIPPINI (JANUARY 13, 1672-MARCH 25, 1732)

Foundress of the Religious Teachers Filippini

Her feast transferred from March 25

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I feel so nailed to the Will of God that nothing else matters, neither death nor life.  I want what He wants; I want to serve Him as much as pleases Him and no more.

–Saint Rosa Venerini

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The two saints I celebrate in this post did much to address the problems of the financial, material, cultural, and spiritual poverty of girls and women, first in parts of Italy.

Above:  Saint Rosa Venerini

Image in the Public Domain

St. Rosa Venerini (1656-1728), the third of four children of Goffredo Venerini (a physician at Viterbo) and Marzia Zampichetti Venerini, struggled with her divine vocation for years, despite strong support from her family.  At the age of seven years our saint made a vow to consecrate her life to God.  She struggled with that promise and with temptations during her youth.  In the Autumn of 1676 the 20-year-old Rosa, with the encouragement of her father, entered the Dominican Convent of St. Catherine.  An aunt, Anna Cecilia, taught her how to listen for God in meditation and silence.  After a few months, however, Rosa left St. Catherine’s, for her father had died.  Later Domenico, her 27-year-old brother, died.  Then our saint’s mother died.  Eventually a sister, Maria Maddalena, married, leaving Rosa at home with only the fourth child, her younger brother, Orazio, aged 24 years.

The turning point in Venerini’s discernment process started in May 1684.  That month she began to host a rosary prayer group for girls and women in her home.  Our saint noticed the varieties of poverty of these females.  Their spiritual poverty, Venerini decided, was especially alarming.  She therefore devoted the rest of her life to improving the Christian formation of young women.

Thus it came to pass that, on August 30, 1685, Venerini left home and founded her first school, the first public school for girls in Italy, with the assistance of two friends, Geroloma Coluzzelli and Porzia Bacci, and the approval of Urbano Cardinal Sacchetti, the Bishop of Viterbo.  There was strong opposition.  Some people, for example, took offense at our saint’s boldness.  How dare a woman do such a thing, they argued.  Also, some priests considered to be their sole province.

Nevertheless, the work of the Venerini Sisters prospered, due in part to the support of bishops.  From 1692 to 1694 alone, the Venerini Sisters founded ten schools in Monefiascone and the villages around Lake Bolsena.  They opened more schools in other parts of Italy, arriving in Rome in 1713.  Three years later, Pope Clement XI and eight cardinals visited a Venerini school in the Eternal City.  His Holiness said,

Signora Rosa, you are doing that which we cannot do.  We thank you very much because with these schools you will sanctify Rome.

Venerini died at Rome on May 7, 1728.  She was 72 years old.  Our saint had established 40 schools.

The order has expanded its work around the world.

Pope Pius XII declared Venerini a Venerable in 1949 then a Blessed three years later.  Pope Benedict XVI canonized her in 2006.

Above:  Saint Lucia Filippini

Image in the Public Domain

St. Lucia Filippini, born in Cornetto, Tuscany, on January 13, 1672, became a Venerini Sister then established her own order.  Filippini, orphaned at the age of six years, grew up in the home of an aunt and an uncle.  Our saint, devout from an early age, worked with St. Rosa Venerini, who entrusted the task of training schoolmistresses to her.  St. Lucia also directed Venerini schools.  In 1707 Pope Clement XI called Filippini to Rome, where she founded the first school of the Religious Teachers Filippini, devoted to the education of young girls.  When our saint died at the age of 60 years on March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation), 1732, she had founded 52 schools.

Pope Pius XI declared our saint a Blessed in 1926 then canonized her four years later.

The influence of an educator is great and mostly indirect.  He or she has direct influence on pupils, obviously, and they influence others, who influence more people, et cetera.  People pass down lessons from generation to generation.

Sts. Rosa Venerini and Lucia Filippini therefore influenced a countless host.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 12, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARTIN DOBER, MORAVIAN BISHOP AND HYMN WRITER; JOHANN LEONHARD DOBER, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; AND ANNA SCHINDLER DOBER, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDITH CAVELL, NURSE AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT KENNETH OF SCOTLAND, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT NECTARIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, ARCHBISHOP

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all to whom

the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of George Frederick Handel (April 15)   4 comments

Above:  Handel

Image in the Public Domain

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GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL (FEBRUARY 23, 1685 OLD STYLE/MARCH 5, 1685 NEW STYLE-APRIL 14, 1759)

Composer

Also known as Georg Friedrich Handel and George Frideric Handel

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I should be sorry if I only entertained them. I wish to make them better.

–Handel

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The feast day of this saint in The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is July 28.  The Episcopal Church adds Johann Sebastian Bach and Henry Purcell to that feast.  The ELCA/ELCIC version of the feast is Heinrich Schutz, J. S. Bach, and G. F. Handel.  My strategy in this matter is to break those two feasts apart, as I have begun to do.

Handel was a child prodigy.  He was a child of the 63-year-old Georg Handel (a barber-surgeon) and Dorothea Taust, of Halle.  Our saint, born on February 23, 1685 (Julian Calendar)/March 5, 1685 (Gregorian Calendar), played the organ at the ducal court at Weissenfells at the tender age of eight years.  The following year Handel began to study composition and various instruments under Friedrich Wilhelm Zachau, an organist at Halle.  By the age of ten years Handel had at least six sonatas for oboe and continue to his credit.

Georg Handel, who died in 1697,  wanted our saint to become an attorney.  So it came to pass that young Handel studied law at the University of Halle.  Our saint completed that course of study, per the wishes of his late father, although he had begun to support himself as a church musician.  Handel, although a Lutheran, was organist at a Reformed church.

Handel became a musician and composer.  Among his friends was composer Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), whom he met in college.  From 1703 to 1706 Handel worked in Hamburg, a center of German opera.  He played the violin and the harpsichord in the opera orchestra there.  Our saint also wrote the St. John Passion and this first two operas (Almira and Nero) at Hamburg.

Handel spent 1706-1710 in Italy.  There he visited Florence, Rome, Naples, and Venice, met major Italian composers, and composed major works, including operas.

After completing his Italian tour Handel went to work as the musical director for Georg Ludwig, the Elector of Hanover (and, starting in 1714, King George I of Great Britain).  Our saint visited London, where he debuted his opera Rinaldo, in 1711.  The following year he settled in that city.  In 1726 he became a naturalized British subject.

Handel was a great composer.  He and J. S. Bach, who was unlike him in many ways, wrote much of the best music of the Baroque Era.  The great Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), citing Messiah (1741), declared that Handel was “the master of us all.”  Handel’s vast catalog of compositions included instrumental and vocal music, from the Water Music to operas to oratorios on Biblical topics (Messiah, Judas Maccabaeus, Samson, Esther, Israel in Egyptet cetera).

Handel, a lifelong bachelor, enjoyed life and lived it well.  The man who demonstrated the ability to speak three languages in the same sentence was generous of spirit and gave liberally to charities; he had much to share with the less fortunate.  He, although a solitary figure, enjoyed parties, good food, and fine wine.  He did not hold grudges and, when he realized that he had caused offense, was quick to apologize.

Handel died in London on April 14, 1759, aged 74 years.  The site of his burial was Westminster Abbey.

I intend no disrespect to lawyers when I write that it is fortunate for the world that Handel became a composer, not an attorney.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HUGH THOMSON KERR, SR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST; AND HUGH THOMSON KERR, JR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PLUTARCH, MARCELLA, POTANOMINAENA, AND BASTILDES OF ALEXANDRIA, MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF RANDOLPH ROYALL CLAIBORNE, JR., EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF ATLANTA

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Almighty God, beautiful in majesty and majestic in holiness,

who teaches us in Holy Scriptures to sing your praises and who gave your

musician George Frederick Handel grace to show forth your glory in his music:

Be with all those who write or make music for your people,

that we on earth may glimpse your beauty and know the

inexhaustible riches of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Savior;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

2 Chronicles 7:1-6

Psalm 150

Colossians 2:2-6

Luke 2:8-14

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 491

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Feast of William Derham (April 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  William Derham

Image in the Public Domain

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WILLIAM DERHAM (NOVEMBER 26, 1657-APRIL 5, 1735)

Anglican Priest and Scientist

Despite the negative opinions of some, whether in the church or outside it, there has long been a good relationship between science and elements of the church.  In fact, certain scientists have been clergymen, members of religious orders, or prominent laymen.  William Derham was a scientist and an Anglican priest.

Derham, born at Stoulton, Worcestershire, England, on November 26, 1657, became a priest of The Church of England.  He studied at Blockley, Gloucestershire, then at Trinity College, Oxford (1675-1679).  Out saint, ordained to the priesthood in 1681, became the Vicar of Wargrave, Berskshire, that year.  Starting in 1689 Derham served as the Rector of Upminster, Essex.  He doubled as Canon of Windsor in 1716-1735.

Derham recognized no conflict between religion and good science.  He wrote four books:

  1. Artificial Clockmaker (1696),
  2. Physico-Theology (1713),
  3. Astro-Theology (1714), and
  4. Christo-Theology (1730).

He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1703, contributed to papers thereof, and edited scientific works by other people.  Derham’s scientific interests included zoology and astronomy.  He wrote about sunspots, marsupials, Jupiter’s moons, and the aurora borealis, among other topics.  In 1709 he published an estimate of the speed of sound.

Oxford granted Derham a Doctor of Divinity degree in 1730.

Derham died at Upminster (near London), England, on April 5, 1735.  He was 77 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 16, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADALBALD OF OSTEVANT, SAINT RICTRUDIS OF MARCHIENNES, AND THEIR RELATIONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM KIDUNAIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT, AND SAINT MARY OF EDESSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ANCHORESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CACCIAFRONTE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MEGINGAUD OF WURZGURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ABBOT

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God of grace and glory, you create and sustain the universe in majesty and beauty:

We thank you for William Derham and all in whom you have planted the desire

to know your creation and to explore your work and wisdom.

Lead us, like them, to understand better the wonder and mystery of creation;

through Christ your eternal Word, through whom all things were made.  Amen.

Genesis 2:9-20

Psalm 34:8-14

2 Corinthians 13:1-6

John 20:24-27

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 738

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Feast of Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Johann Christian Bach (March 21)   4 comments

st-thomas-church-leipzig

Above:  St. Thomas’s Church, Leipzig

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (MARCH 21, 1685-JULY 28, 1750)

father of

CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH (MARCH 8, 1714-DECEMBER 14, 1788)

half-brother of

JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH (SEPTEMBER 5, 1735-JANUARY 1, 1782)

Composers

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Johann Sebastian Bach is an officially recognized saint on several calendars.  The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and The Lutheran Church–Canada assign him the feast day of July 28, without any other composers.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada designate July 28 as the feast day for not only J. S. Bach but also Heinrich Schutz and George Frederick Handel.  The Episcopal Church, in A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016), assigns July 28 to J. S. Bach, George Frederick Handel, and Henry Purcell.  Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), celebrates the life of J. S. Bach on March 21.

For generations certain members of the Bach family were distinguished in creative endeavors, mostly in music.  I have chosen to focus on three of these Bachs–a father and two of his sons.

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JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750)

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johann-sebastian-bach

Image in the Public Domain

Johann Sebastian Bach, born at Eisenach on March 21, 1685, was the youngest child of Elizabeth Lammerhirt (1644-1694) and Johann Ambrosious Bach (1645-1695), a string player.  In 1695 the orphaned J. S. Bach moved in with his eldest brother, Johann Christoph Bach (1671-1721), the organist at St. George’s Church, Eisenach, and a former pupil of Johann Pachelbel.  Johann Christoph Bach also taught his youngest brother to play keyboard instruments.  J. S. Bach, who joined the boys’ choir at St. Michael’s Church, Luneburg, in 1700, studied music in the school library there.  By 1702 he was apparently a skilled organist at Sangerhausen.  Johann Sebastian did not get that job, but he did join the ducal orchestra at Weimar the following year.  Later he became the organist at St. Boniface’s Church, Arnstadt.

Life changed for J. S. Bach in 1707.  That year he became the organist at St. Blasius, Muhlhausen.  He also married Maria Barbara Bach (1694-1720).  The couple went on to have seven children, including Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788).  J. S. Bach resigned his position at Muhlhausen in 1708 and accepted a new job as the court organist at Weimar.  In 1714 J. S. Bach became the concert master, with the responsibility of composing a cantata each month.  Two years later, a less qualified man became the kappelmeister, a position J. S. Bach wanted, at Weimar.  Our discontented saint departed the court in 1717.  He became the kappelmeister at Kothen, serving until 1723.  Maria Barbara died suddenly on July 4, 1720.  J. S. Bach married his second wife, Anna Magadalena Wilcken (1701-1760), on December 3, 1721.  The couple went on to have 13 children, including Johann Christian Bach (1735-1795).

In 1723 J. S. Bach accepted the position of cantor at Thomas’s Church, Lepizig.  His responsibilities included composing, teaching, and leading music, as well as providing musicians for that and three other congregations (New Church, St. Peter’s Church, and St. Nicholas’s Church).  From 1729 to 1737 and 1739 to 1741 J. S. Bach directed the Collegium Musicum, founded by Telemann in 1704, at Leipzig.  In 1736 he became the court composer at Leipzig.  Later in life J. S. Bach spent much time traveling; some of the time he was in the court of Frederick II “the Great” of Prussia, in Berlin.

J. S. Bach died, nearly blind and aged 65 years, at Leipzig on July 28, 1750.  His final act was to dictate “Before Thy Throne I Come.”

For J. S. Bach composing music, whether overtly sacred or not, was an act of praising God, not of glorifying himself.  He composed thousands of works yet saw only ten of them published.  Some of his compositions, unfortunately, have not survived to today.  J. S. Bach, a Lutheran church musician, became engaged in arguments regarding music with some Pietistic Lutherans, who thought that his music was too elaborate.  (Pietists!)  Most of our saint’s compositions remained forgotten until the 1800s.  In 1829 Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) started a J. S. Bach revival.  J. S. Bach’s compositions included cantatas, motets, Latin liturgical works, Passions, oratorios, chorales, chamber music, orchestral music, canons, works for keyboard instruments, and works for the lute.  Among his greatest sacred works were the St. Matthew Passion, the St. John Passion, the Christmas Oratorio, the Mass in B Minor, and the Cantata #80. (I prefer a modern performance of the latter work; period instruments do not blow the roof off the building, so to speak.)

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CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH (1714-1788)

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Image in the Public Domain

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, born at Weimar on March 8, 1714, was Emanuel to those who knew him well.  Georg Philipp Telemann was his godfather.  C. P. E. Bach, who learned music from his father, studied law at Frankfurt, graduating in 1735.  From 1740 to 1767 C. P. E. Bach was the harpsichordist to Frederick II “the Great” of Prussia.  Frederick II’s insistence upon subservience in musicians bothered our saint, who was finally able to resign and become the kappelmeister at Hamburg, succeeding Telemann.  Meanwhile, C. P. E. Bach had married Johanna Maria Dannemann in 1744.  Three of their children survived childhood.

C. P. E. Bach, worthy to be his father’s successor, was a renowned composer, teacher, and performer of the harpsichord and the clavichord.  His Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments (Part I, 1753; Part II, 1762) influenced Franz Joseph Haydn (who called it “the school of schools”), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig von Beethoven.  C.  P. E. Bach’s compositions included symphonies, concertos, chamber music, sonatas, fantasias, dances, fugues, and sacred music.  His sacred music included a Magnificat and 21 Passions.

C. P. E. Bach died, aged 74 years, at Hamburg on December 14, 1788.

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JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH (1735-1782)

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johann-christian-bach

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Johann Christian Bach, born at Leipzig on September 5, 1735, was a half-brother of C. P. E. Bach.  J. C. Bach, trained in music by his father’s cousin, Johann Elias Bach (1705-1755), went to work with C. P. E. Bach in 1750, after the death of J. S. Bach.  Five years later J. C. Bach left for Italy; there he studied at Bologna.  His conversion from Lutheranism to Roman Catholicism offended much of his family.  From 1760 to 1762 he was the organist at the Basilica-Cathedral of the Nativity of St. Mary, Milan.

J. C. Bach spent most of the last two decades of his life in England.  There he preferred that people call him “John Bach.”  In 1762 he became the composer to the King’s theatre in London; he wrote Italian operas for it.  Later John Bach became the music master to Queen Charlotte (consort of King George III) and her children.  In 1773 John Bach married Italian singer Cecilia Grassi.  The couple experienced severe financial difficulties toward the end of his life; they were the victims of embezzlement.  The composer died, aged 46 years, in London, on January 1, 1782.  Queen Charlotte paid his estate’s debts and provided Cecilia with a pension.

J. C. Bach’s compositions included sonatas, polonaises, minuets, chamber quartets, symphonies, concertos, operas, oratorios, and various sacred works, including a Requiem and settings of the Magnificat, the Salve Regina, the Dies Irae, the Gloria, and the Te Deum.

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The music of these great composers has enriched the lives of many people, including me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ORDINATION OF FLORENCE LI TIM-OI, FIRST FEMALE PRIEST IN THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANGELA MERICI, FOUNDER OF THE COMPANY OF SAINT URSULA

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF PODLASIE, 1874

THE FEAST OF SAINT SURANUS OF SORA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MARTYR

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring

Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Johann Christian Bach,

and all those who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728

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