Johann Sebastian Bach


from  Cantata No. 29
"Wir danken dir, Gott , wir danken dir"
Transcription for Organ
Ennis Fruhauf
(10  pages of music)


       Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was born into a musical family of  Eisenach, located in eastern central Germany. His early career included two church music posts, as well as three court appointmentstwo in Weimar and one in Cothen that encouraged his production of sacred, secular and ceremonial music. In 1723 Bach was named Kantor of the Thomasschule and Direktor musices for the city of Leipzig, overseeing the music of the Thomaskirche and its associated parishes.
Bach’s Cantata No. 29, Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir” is one of four originally written to celebrate the annual investiture of Leipzig's Municipal Council to have survived intact. The work would  have been performed in St. Nicholas’ Church on the Sunday prior to the traditional St. Bartholomew’s Day ceremony that took place in the municipal council chamber; it was first performed on August 27, 1731, and is thought to have been repeated for the opening sessions of 1739 and 1749.
The Sinfonia is a brilliant instrumental adaptation of the preludio from Bach's third unaccompanied Violin Partita (in E major, S.1006). In its cantata setting, the movement is transposed down a whole step (from E to D Major), and is rescored for strings, oboes, trumpets (trombas), tympani, organ obbligato and basso continuo. The solo line of the original violin preludio is present throughout in the right hand of the organ adaptation, with minimal alterations to idiomatic violin figurations. The sinfonia's ceaseless rhythmic drive provides unusual challenges for the player, while at the same time imparting a compelling impetus to the work.

In this transcription, intended for a two or three manual instrument, adaptations have occasionally been made to manual and pedal figurations to facilitate performance, and while pedal and left hand move at a relaxed pace, the rigors of the right hand solo are readily apparent. Although ideally suited to a Baroque registration and interpretation, a French romantic rendition — registered for grand orgue and performed in an equally grand manner — will also provide a stunning addition to concert repertoire.
        As a personal message from the publisher about the posting of this selection in the midst of a viral pandemic that has altered global life styles and values almost overnight, a translation of 'Wir danken dir, Gott' would be 'We thank thee, God'. Given the devastating events and worldwide losses of lives and hopes in which we now live, one might wonder at the title while forgetting all the wondrous blessings that we still enjoy on a daily basis—even in difficult times—and give thanks for healers, emergency workers and countless brave souls, and also for all the daily blessings to be found in 21st Century life styles. Perhaps it might help to understand that Bach and his family also suffered through regional epidemics in what is now Germany, and yet the composer was able to rise above the acute sorrows caused by personal family losses and continue to create music with the power to lift one's spirits and nourish the souls of all who pause to listen.

Click on the image below to download
a letter-sized PDF booklet
(Covers, notes, and 10 pages of music


                   Performances available online from YouTube
For YouTube sites that includes a stunning performance of Bach's E major
solo violin partita, another of Cantata S. 29, followed by three arrangements
of the sinfonia for organ solo, and one one more for a lute duo, here are
several Internet links to peruse:

    ◊  for the E major solo violin partita:
    ◊  for the cantata in a full performance:
    ◊  for two versions for organ solo performed on famous French pipe organs,
        the second one working from a transcription by Marcel Dupre:
    ◊  and one more for organ solo from New York City:
    ◊  and a revelatory performance by a lute duo: