Jesu, meine Freude

Jesu, meine Freude

BWV 1105 performed by Leo van Doeselaar
Walloon Church, Amsterdam

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Listen to what I can do!

Bach’s creative impatience is conspicuous in his first setting of a popular chorale

In this piece, we must resolutely set aside the severe image of Bach in a powdered wig (for a while at least). We have to imagine him as tradition-conscious, certainly self-assured, a true professional and... still a teenager! While it was not unusual for young musicians (especially those of the Bach family) to start composing themselves before their fifteenth birthday, in this chorale the young Sebastian far outstrips many of his teachers and their influences.

This is the first of Bach’s known works to use the chorale ‘Jesu, meine Freude’. As a diligent pupil wanting to show what he could do, the young composer tried out a different technique for each phrase. We thus hear imitation, echoes and a melody that jumps from soprano to alto to bass – techniques that also crop up later in the Orgelbüchlein. Take especial note of a rather curious effect, whereby the melody is twice stretched out beyond breaking point, creating an ideal moment for unusual, expressive chord combinations. A special timbre for Christmas time – for which this song was intended.

Neumeister Sammlung, BWV 1090-1120
At the end of 1984, the Bach world was turned upside down. In that year, no fewer than 31 undiscovered organ works by Bach turned up in the library of Yale University. They are included in a manuscript compiled by organist Johann Gottfried Neumeister (1756-1840), which ended up in the United States via Christian Heinrich Rinck and Lowell Mason. It is therefore known as the ‘Neumeister collection’. 

Neumeister copied the larger part of his collection in 1790 from a much older manuscript that has been lost. He selected a variety of popular organ chorales that he could play himself for ordinary church services. The majority are works by two of Bach’s cousins, Johann Michael and Johann Christoph, as well as by Bach himself. There are also arrangements by Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow and Johann Pachelbel, among others. So in his collection, Neumeister gives an idea of the repertoire that would have been familiar to Bach in his younger years. Bach’s own compositions in the Neumeister collection are very old, dating mostly from before 1708 and probably even from around 1700, when Bach was about fifteen years old. Later, Neumeister added a further five chorales that were much newer, written by his own teacher Georg Andreas Sorge.

Jesu, meine Freude
organ works
Neumeister Sammlung (organ)
circa 1700
Ohrdruf? Arnstadt?

Extra videos

Organist Leo van Doeselaar

“'Jesu meine Freude' is one of the chorales that were discovered in 1984.This early work cast a new light on the Wunderkind Bach, says Leo van Doeselaar.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    25 September 2015
  • Recording date
    24 June 2014
  • Location
    Walloon Church, Amsterdam
  • Organist
    Leo van Doeselaar
  • Organ
    Christian Müller, 1734
  • Producer
    Frank van der Weij
  • Film director
    Jan Van den Bossche
  • Directors of photography
    Sal Kroonenberg, Ruben van den Broeke
  • Grip
    Antoine Petiet
  • Music production, editing and mix
    Holger Schlegel
  • Film editor
    Dylan Glyn Jones
  • Colorist
    Jef Grosfeld
  • Production assistants
    Marco Meijdam, Zoë de Wilde

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