Magnificat (Bach)

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The Magnificat in D major is a motet in the setting of the Magnificat text by Johann Sebastian Bach for five soloists, a five-part choir and orchestra. Bach first composed a version in E-flat major (catalogued as BWV 243a) for Christmas in 1723 and then reworked that music in D major in 1733 (catalogued as BWV 243) for the feast of the Visitation. The Latin text is the canticle of Mary, mother of Jesus, as told in the Gospel of Luke.

Scoring and structure[edit]

The Tudor Consort performs Gloria Patri part of BWV 243, 2006

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The work is divided into twelve movements which can be grouped into three sections, each beginning with an aria and completed by the choir in a fugal chorus. Its performance lasts approximately thirty minutes. The indented parts below indicate the removed Christmas texts.

It is scored for five soloists, soprano I/II, alto, tenor, bass, a five-part choir, three trumpets, timpani, flauto traverso, two oboes (also oboe d'amore), two violins, viola, and basso continuo. It is one of few works which Bach set for a five-part choir,[citation needed] along with the Kyrie and Gloria, also of 1733, which he later expanded to form the Mass in B minor, and the motet Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227.

  1. Chorus – "Magnificat"
  2. Aria (soprano II) – "Et exsultavit spiritus meus"
    A. Chorale motet – "Vom Himmel hoch"
  3. Aria (soprano I) – "Quia respexit humilitatem"
  4. Chorus – "Omnes generationes"
  5. Aria (bass) – "Quia fecit mihi magna"
    B. Chorus – "Freut euch und jubiliert"
  6. Aria (alto, tenor) – "Et misericordia"
  7. Chorus – "Fecit potentiam"
    C. Chorus – "Gloria in excelsis Deo"
  8. Aria (tenor) – "Deposuit potentes"
  9. Aria (alto) – "Esurientes implevit bonis"
    D. Aria (soprano, bass) – "Virga Jesse floruit"
  10. Aria (soprano I/II, alto) – "Suscepit Israel"
  11. Chorus – "Sicut locutus est"
  12. Chorus – "Gloria Patri"


Bach composed in 1723 in his first year as Thomaskantor in Leipzig a version in E-flat major in 1723 for Christmas Vespers in Leipzig, using the Latin text of Magnificat with additional interpolated texts related to Christmas.[citation needed] In 1733, he adapted the Christmas version for a new version in D major, eliminating the interpolated texts, for the Marian feast of the Visitation, which was celebrated on 2 July in Leipzig at Bach's time. The second version had its premiere at the Thomaskirche on 2 July 1733, which coincided with the fourth Sunday after Trinity Sunday that year.

External links[edit]