Fugue in G major / Machs mit mir, Gott, nach deiner Güt

Fugue in G major / Machs mit mir, Gott, nach deiner Güt

BWV 957 performed by Bart Jacobs
St-Bavokerk, Haarlem

Behind the music

Story
Story
Extra videos
Extra videos
Credits
Credits

A mystery solved

After 250 years, a short fugue for harpsichord shows its true colours.

This is not the only work by Bach without a clear context. There are dozens of them, certainly within the organ repertoire. However, few pieces underwent such a dramatic twist as this one. With no handwritten source by Bach, Machs mit mir Gott, nach deiner Güt was regarded for many years as a fugue. It was even undecided whether it was a fugue for harpsichord or organ. That is until the discovery in New York, in 1985, of the Neumeister Sammlung, which contained an extra long version of BWV 957 among all sorts of other hitherto unknown works by Bach (and other composers).

Even more exciting is that in this source the fugue is followed seamlessly by a setting of the chorale Machs mit mir, Gott, nach deiner Güt. The experts soon set to puzzling it out and what do you know – the chorale melody is present throughout the work, although well concealed in the decorative fugue theme. Although eyes are more useful than ears in this case, listen carefully to each ‘heavy’ beat of the bar. This really is a chorale arrangement. It is a unique piece – or did Bach write more fugues using this technique?

In the words of the hymn arranged by Bach, Johann Schein (one of Bach’s predecessors in Leipzig) was thinking about the end of life. To us, this may seem a melancholy theme, but for Baroque congregations death was a doorway to heaven, which you could confidently open with God at your side. Cheerful music was therefore quite suitable, certainly for a closing line like ‘Herr, in deine Händ’, ist alles gut, wenn gut das End’.

BWV
957
Title
Fugue in G major / Machs mit mir, Gott, nach deiner Güt
Instrument
Organ
Genre
organ works
Year
before 1720

Extra videos

Organist Bart Jaobs

“Bart Jacobs loves to play this piece. Why?”

Vocal texs

Original

Translation

Credits

  • Release date
    4 August 2017
  • Recording date
    22 September 2016
  • Location
    St Bavo's Church, Haarlem
  • Organist
    Bart Jacobs
  • Organ
    Christian Müller, 1738
  • Director
    Bas Wielenga
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Bas Wielenga, Jeroen Simons
  • Lights
    Gregoor van de Kamp
  • Producer
    Jessie Verbrugh
  • Interview
    Onno van Ameijde
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