Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Peters, Mark A. “J.S. Bach’s Meine Seel’ erhebt den Herren (BWV 10) as Chorale Cantata and Magnificat Paraphrase.” BACH: Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute 43, no. 1 (2012): 29-64.

J. S. Bach’s chorale cantata Meine Seel’ erhebt den Herren, BWV 10, is unusual because it is also a Magnificat paraphrase, situating the work within both liturgical, poetic, and compositional traditions. The text is derived from Martin Luther’s German translation of the Magnificat (Meine Seele), making BWV 10 the only Bach chorale cantata based on a biblical text. It is also the only chorale cantata based on a Gregorian chant melody, the ninth psalm tone, rather than a chorale. Bach accommodates the irregular text of Meine Seele with the flexible psalm tone formula. The psalm tone melody is shorter and simpler than a typical chorale melody, and the reciting tone allows for variable phrase lengths. In the opening movement, Bach presents the Meine Seele melody twice, the only example of him doing so in a chorale-cantata first movement. The two presentations of the cantus firmus differ in rhythm, text accent, and key signature. The fifth movement duet also exhibits an unusual setting related to the distinctive nature of the psalm tone. The two halves of the vocal melody are unequal in length, and the psalm tone only appears in the trumpet. The Meine Seele text and melody also appear in the final movement of the cantata. Again, Bach employs an unusual compositional approach not only by setting two verses of the text to the same melody, but also by reharmonizing the second verse instead of repeating the same music as he does in BWV 178, 94, and 130. The special treatment Bach and his librettist gave to BWV 10 is consistent with the importance of the Magnificat in Leipzig and with Bach’s apparent vigor in taking up the compositional challenge of the chorale cantatas.

Works: J. S. Bach: Meine Seel’ erhebt den Herren, BWV 10 (47-61)

Sources: Plainchant: Ninth psalm tone (47-61)

Index Classifications: 1700s

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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