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The supreme musical achievement of J.S. Bach

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His final composition was a full scale Mass in B minor.

Crucifixus was written by Johann Sebastian Bach as part of his Mass in B minor. It is a part of the second section, the Credo, and consists of a standard 4-part chorus. The music is a re-working of a piece he wrote in 1714, Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, BWV 12.

Bach’s Mass in B minor was the last piece he composed. He began the work many years before as a smaller Missa, with the aim of dedicating it to Augustus III, a Catholic who assumed the throne of Poland, in 1733. Bach, himself a Lutheran, was hoping to land the position of Electoral Saxon Court Composer, a spot he would not fill until three years later.

In his later years, Bach expanded his Missa into a complete Latin Ordinary. Unfortunately, he never heard the work performed in its entirety during his lifetime.

The Mass in B minor is widely regarded as one of the supreme achievements of classical music. Italian musicologist, Albert Basso summarized the work:

The Mass in B minor is the consecration of a whole life: started in 1733 for “diplomatic” reasons, it was finished in the very last years of Bach’s life, when he had already gone blind. This monumental work is a synthesis of every stylistic and technical contribution the Cantor of Leipzig made to music. But it is also the most astounding spiritual encounter between the worlds of Catholic glorification and the Lutheran cult of the cross.

Here’s a recording of the full Mass in B minor.

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Song: Crucifixus | Singer: Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

Hometown: Eisenach

Fun Fact: Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the most prolific composers of the western tradition. He was a Lutheran, but much of his music is celebrated in all branches of Christianity. His mastery of counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organization has led many to consider him one of the greatest composers of all time.
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