The Neumeister Collection is a compilation of 82
chorale preludes found in a manuscript copy produced by
Johann Gottfried Neumeister (1757–1840). When the
manuscript was rediscovered at the Yale University in
the 1980s it appeared to contain 31 previously unknown
early chorale settings by Johann Sebastian Bach, which
were added to the BWV catalogue as Nos. 1090–1120 and
published in 1985.
Alle Menschen müssen sterben (All People Must Die) is
not to be confused with another piece by the same
title, the BWV 643 from Das Orgelbüchlein, this work
was one of 38 Bach chorales rediscovered in the
Neumeister Collection that had been missing for two
centuries. Musicologist Christoph Wolff found the
manuscripts in the Yale Library in 1985, thus
presenting the music world with a bevy of totally
unknown Bach works. This one, was probably written
before 1708, the year Bach began work in the service of
the Duke of Sachsen-Weimar. Despite what many
modern-day observers would consider a morbid title, the
music to this work is quite uplifting, even triumphant.
Bach was a deeply religious man who viewed death as a
liberating experience leading to eternal salvation for
righteous believers. The music here depicts that
optimistic feeling, building from its glorious, quite
happy theme a sense of expectation and excitement.
Sonorities begin to rise about midway through,
eventually leading to a triumphant chordal statement of
the theme at the close. Bach's contrapuntal writing
throughout is inventive and highly atmospheric in this
approximately three-minute work.
Although originally written for Organ, I created this
Arrangement of the Chorale Prelude "Alle Menschen
müssen sterben" (All People Must Die) BWV 1117 for
String Trio (Violin, Viola & Cello).