Johann Sebastian Bach was better known as a virtuoso
organist than as a composer in his day. His sacred
music, organ and choral works, and other instrumental
music had an enthusiasm and seeming freedom that
concealed immense rigor. Bach's use of counterpoint was
brilliant and innovative, and the immense complexities
of his compositional style -- which often included
religious and numerological symbols that seem to fit
perfectly together in a profound puzzle of special
codes -- still amaze musicians today. Many consider him
the greatest composer of all time.
Cantata 90 "Es reißet euch ein schrecklich Ende" ("A
terrible end shall sweep you away"), BWV 90, is a
church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it
in Leipzig for the 25th Sunday after Trinity and first
performed it on 14 November 1723.
Bach composed the cantata in his first year in Leipzig
for the 25th Sunday after Trinity. The prescribed
readings for the Sunday were from the First Epistle to
the Thessalonians, the coming of the Lord (1
Thessalonians 4:13--18), and from the Gospel of
Matthew, the Tribulation (Matthew 24:25--28). The
closing chorale is the seventh stanza of Martin
Moller's hymn "Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott"
(1584), sung to the melody of "Vater unser im
Himmelreich". Bach first performed the cantata on 14
The first aria (Mvt. 1): "Es reißet euch ein
schrecklich Ende" ("A terrible end shall sweep you
away"), was originally written for tenor and is
"expressively highly intense" for both the singer and
the violins, illustrating "reißet" (tears). John Eliot
Gardiner, who calls the cantata "magnificently
theatrical and terse", notes: "Bach seems, in fact, to
be taking on his entire generation of Italian opera
composers and beating them at their own game. The
unflagging energy of his melodic invention and rhythmic
propulsion is always directed towards giving truthful
expression to the text, and here it is as matchless as
it is exciting".
I created this arrangement for French Horn & Strings
(Violins (2), Viola & Cello).