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Bach, Johann Sebastian Johann Sebastian Bach
Germany Germany
(1685 - 1750)
7195 sheet music
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Violin Sheet music String Quartet Johann Sebastian Bach
Bach, Johann Sebastian: Chorale Partita: "O Gott, du frommer Gott" for String Quartet

Chorale Partita: "O Gott, du frommer Gott" for String Quartet
BWV 767
Johann Sebastian Bach

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Composer :Johann Sebastian BachJohann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)
Instrumentation :

String Quartet

Style :


Arranger :
Publisher :
Johann Sebastian BachMagatagan, Mike (1960 - )
Copyright :Public Domain
As organist at Weimar, Johann Sebastian Bach was charged with providing a harmonic underpinning for the singing of Lutheran chorale tunes chosen for each day. Bach wrote out many of these harmonizations, in part as instruction for younger composers (they are still used for this purpose). A derivation of this practice, Bach's conception of the organ chorale, as manifested in the chorale preludes, dates from 1713 -1714, about the time he became familiar with Vivaldi's concertos.

In all his chorale arrangements, Bach took inspiration for the style and atmosphere from the words of the hymn on which his composition was based. But the main role in his chorale partitas seems to be given to pure pleasure in playing and inventiveness. For his variations on ‘Sei gegrüsset, Jesu gütig’, he literally pulls out all the stops. For over twenty minutes, he explores the harmonic, rhythmic and stylistic possibilities of the melody forming the base of the piece. The art of variation was already considered old-fashioned in Bach’s day. But Georg Böhm, the organ virtuoso with whom the fifteen-year-old Bach became acquainted during his schooldays in Lüneburg, was a master of variation. Through Böhm, Bach also came into contact with Reincken, and through him with Buxtehude, who were both composers with a flair for the art of variation. There was much that Bach could learn from these masters, but the challenge of variation must have held particular appeal for the young composer. It was not just conceiving of the most varied and sophisticated series possible, but also the virtuoso interpretation of that series that provided the opportunity of rivalling his idols.

The chorale partita (BWV 766-770) is a special form of chorale arrangement, as the chorale (or hymn) serves as the starting point for a series of variations. The art of variation was at its peak in the seventeenth century. Usually, a folk song was taken as the starting point for a series of variations that increased in difficulty and speed. The genre was not restricted to keyboard instruments. The blind Dutch recorder and carillon player Jacob van Eyck was also a master in the art, for example. The five compositions by Bach bearing the name of chorale partita do not come from a single source, nor are they dated, but it is supposed that they originated in his teens and may have been revised later on.

This chorale partita, an imposing set of variations, is probably one of Bach's earliest major organ works. It's thought to date from Bach's late teens, when he was influenced by the partitas of Georg Böhm, organist at the Johanniskirche in Lünegurg, where he was studying; Buxtehude is another likely inspiration. Of course, Bach may have touched up the score later, when he could benefit from a few more years of experience. Bach based the partita on the Lutheran chorale or hymn O Gott, du frommer Gott (Oh God, Thou Just God) and provides a variation for each of the hymn's eight verses. Some have suggested that Bach intended each variation to be played immediately before or after a congregation sang the corresponding verse, although this was not a common practice. Bach may simply have been trying to master variation techniques in a score never intended for liturgical use. Indeed, because this work does not require an organ with pedals, Bach may have intended it for domestic playing on harpsichord or clavichord, or whatever modest organ may have been available. Bach establishes the hymn tune (a variant of the standard version) with block chords. The first variation introduces an obsessive bass ostinato that precedes each elegantly ornamented period of the chorale. The second variation finds a small, rhythmic motif darting from level to level of the three-voice polyphony. The third variation is a toccata, with the melody vibrating in sixteenth notes. The little rhythmic element from the second variation reappears in the fourth, now expanded into scale passages. The unornamented melody reasserts itself in the right hand in the fifth variation, over a syncopated accompaniment. Next, the scales from the previous variation return as the basic material of a new ternary variation in courante form. The partita reaches its expressive high point in the chromatic seventh variation, an ascending and descending tetrachord providing the countersubject for four-voice polyphony. The large, last variation breaks into three parts: an energetic echo-effect section in which the first portion of the hymn becomes a fanfare, a quiet andante, and then a joyous, presto finale.

Source: AllofBach (

Although originally written for Pipe Organ, I created this Interpretation of the Chorale Partita (BWV 767) "O Gott, du frommer Gott" (Oh God, Thou Just God) for String Quartet (2 Violins, Viola & Cello).
Source / Web :MuseScore
Sheet central :O Gott, du frommer Gott (3 sheet music)
Added by magataganm the 2016-11-16

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This sheet music is part of the collection of magataganm :
Viola Arrangements

Viola Arrangements
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