A Female Voice
A Female Voice
Mary in Bach’s Magnificat Settings BWV 243 and 10
This chapter focuses on two settings of the Magnificat, the praise of Mary, a festive, Latin Magnificat, and a German chorale cantata based on the same text. The Magnificat is a piece about Christ’s coming and the anticipation of his glorious arrival, and also marks Johann Sebastian Bach’s own arrival in Leipzig in 1723. Its two pieces are not only musically distinct, but also represent two distinct forms of worship services: mass and vespers. The chapter first traces the beginnings of the Magnificat before discussing how Bach highlights the female voice and employs gender typologies to convey the message of the biblical canticle. It also includes a description of the chorale cantata Meine Seel’ erhebt den Herren BWV 10, which is based on the German text of the Magnificat. It suggests that Meine Seel’ erhebt den Herren and the Latin Magnificat have three similarities: the staging of female humility, male power, and intimate love.
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