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2.110536 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - GERMANY: A Musical Tour of Baroque Churches in Bavaria (NTSC)

A Musical Tour of Germany – Baroque Churches in Bavaria
With music by J.S. Bach



Rohr, Lower Bavaria: Monastic Church of the Assumption

In 1133 the childless nobleman Adalbert von Rohr, left his property in Rohr to the Bishop of Regensburg, who founded an Augustinian house there. The present buildings are approached through the morning countryside, passing the guest-house on the way to the monastery church. This was built between 1717 and 1723 by Egid Quirin Asam, who was responsible for the high altar. Other contributions were made by his brother, Cosmas Damian Asam. Much of the monastic complex was destroyed in the secularisation of 1803. In 1945 restoration took place under Benedictines from Braunau, resulting in the present buildings, with its cloisters, school and guest-house. The dramatic high altar of the church has a remarkably vivid representation of the Assumption of Our Lady, her body ascending to the Holy Spirit above from her open tomb below, with life-size figures observing the scene.

Music J. S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in E flat major, BWV 552

In 1723 Johann Sebastian Bach resigned from his court position at Cöthen, after the marriage of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen, his young patron, to a woman Bach described as ‘amusica’. From his position at court he moved to Leipzig, where he was employed, until his death in 1750, by the City Council, with responsibility for the music of the five principal city churches and for the training of the boys at the Choir School of St Thomas. In Leipzig he started the composition of his Clavierübung, adopting the title from the work of a predecessor in Leipzig, Johann Kuhnau. The third of the four volumes appeared in 1739 and consists largely of works for the Lutheran liturgy. It opens with an impressive and majestic Prelude in E flat, and the whole collection ends with a fugue in the same key, known to English audiences as the St Anne Fugue, because of the similarity of its opening subject to a well-known Anglican hymn-tune of that name.


Ottobeuren: Benedictine Abbey Church

The monastery at Ottobeuren was founded in 764 and included buildings from the succeeding centuries, subsequently destroyed by fire. The present buildings date from the beginning of the 18th century, with the church rebuilt under the architect Johann Michael Fischer. The baroque Holy Trinity Organ by Karl Joseph Riepp, in fact a double organ, installed to mark the 1000th centenary of the monastery, enjoys particular fame as the only such instrument to be preserved in its original form, without any major restoration.

Music J. S. Bach: Toccata in D minor, BWV 565

Bach’s famous Toccata in D minor, BWV 565, is an early work, probably written while he was organist at Arnstadt or at Mühlhausen¸ that is in 1706 or 1707, before he moved to Weimar as organist and later chamber musician to Duke Wilhelm Ernst. The Toccata leads to a Fugue and an imposing conclusion.


Regensburg: Alte Kapelle

The Stiftskirche Unsere Liebe Frau zur Alten Kapelle (Collegiate Church of Our Lady at the Old Chapel) was built in the 9th century and is said to be the oldest church in Bavaria. The choir was built about 1445, with side chapels added later. The interior of the church is, however, exuberantly rococo in style, with elaborate gilding and ornamentation. The icon of Our Lady, the gift of the Emperor Heinrich II, who made the Alte Kapelle his electoral court church, is preserved as a continuing object of reverence.

Music J. S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in D major, BWV 532

Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in D major, BWV 532, was written during his period of employment in Weimar, between 1708 and 1717. The Prelude is followed by a four-voice Fugue with an extended semiquaver subject.


Weltenburg, near Kelheim: Abbey Church of St George and St Martin

The monastery at Weltenburg was founded in the 7th century by German and Irish or Scottish monks, and was taken over by the Benedictines in the 17th century. The present building, on a peninsula in the Danube, dates largely from the 18th century and can be approached from Regensburg by water. The rebuilding of the church was undertaken by Cosmas Damian Asam and he and his brother Egid Quirin Asam are both represented in the cupola fresco. The nave is bordered by Corinthian columns and above is a cupola and surrounding windows. Above the high altar is a dramatic representation of the triumph of St George over the dragon, and there are other figures of the co-patron St Martin, with St Maurus. The many angels in the cupola fresco and elsewhere recall the Benedictine Congregation of the Holy Guardian Angels, whose members make up the Abbey community.

Music J. S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 548

Bach’s immediate preoccupation, when, in 1723, he assumed the position of Thomaskantor in Leipzig, was to provide music for use at services, particularly in the form of cycles of cantatas. He continued to write and perform music as an organist, and the Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 548, seems to have been written between 1727 and 1731. The Fugue is popularly known in England as ‘The Wedge’, because of the shape of the fugal subject.

Keith Anderson


J. S Bach ‘Organ Favourites’, played by Wolfgang Rübsam [Naxos 8.550184].

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