UPDATED 11/25/2010

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Johann Sebastian Bach
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Canonic Variations on Vom Himmel hoch, BWV 769 Click to Listen [11:6] (A=465)
A veritable tour de force of canonic treatments in 5 variations on the famous German Christmas hymn, one of two pieces submitted by Bach in 1746 with his application for membership in the Leipzig Society of Musical Sciences (he was admitted as the 14th member of that society in June of 1747). All for two claviers and pedal, the movements translate roughly from the Italian: Var. I Canon at the Octave (right and left hands), Var. II Canon at the Fifth (right and left hands), Var. III, Canon at the seventh (pedal and left hand), Var. IV Canon at the Octave through Augmentation (right hand and lower voice of left hand played half as fast), and Var. V, Other kinds of inverted canons: 1) at the sixth (right hand upright, left hand inverted), 2) at the third (right hand inverted, left hand upright, 3) at the second (pedal upright, lower voice of left hand inverted), 4) at the ninth (pedal inverted, upper voice of the right hand upright), and just for good measure a stretto of five voices over the concluding pedal point! Midi File available. Instrument: Gottfried Silbermann Organ, Reinhardtsgrimma / Sachsen, Germany (1731) - Samples by Prof. Helmut Maier

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Chorale Text
German:
Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her,
Ich bring euch gute neue Mär;
Der guten Mär bring ich so viel,
Davon ich singn und sagen will.
--Martin Luther, 1535

English:
From heaven above to earth I come
To bear good news to every home;
Glad tidings of great joy I bring,
Whereof I now will say and sing.
--tr. Catherine Winkworth


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