Exploring the Religious Significance of Brandenburg Concerto No.5

Fascinated by the other-worldly keyboard capriccio of Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, I devoted my last paper to exploring the religious symbolism of the piece. In this paper, I will continue studying this subject and examine questions reminaed unresolved from the previous essay.

Drawing on Michael Marissen’s writings in The Social and Religious Designs of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, I have evidenced the religious symbolism embedded in the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto with relevant passges from Lutheran theological documents. In the next draft, I would like to bring in broader Lutheran theology on music-makings, especially to demonstrate Luther’s own writings about music, discussed in Robin Leaver’s article ” Luther on music” (Lutheran Quarterly 20/2, 2006: 125-145). An efficient use of this resource will better justify my interpretations of sacred messages from Bach’s “secular” composition.

In addtion, I will also expand the music analysis provided in the current draft. For the moment, I have overviewed the formal structures of each movment and specifically broken down the keyboard cappricio in the first movement in terms of its musical gestures and designs. To further strengthen my argument, I will be drwaing attentions to overall harmonic progressions and musical details in other movements as musical evidences of Bach’s perception and depiction of heaven and earth. Importantly, more comprehensive musical analysis potentially enables a new aspect of my argument. Currently, my thesis centralized on examining how Bach delivered religious messages in the music. However, with closer musical analysis of the piece, I have noticed a recognizable cyclic musical depictions in all movements of Fifth Bradenburg Concerto which starts from the earth, progressing to the heaven, and eventually returned to the earth. Therefore, building on my current argument on the religious metaphors that Bach adapted in his composition, I hope to also prove the religiously transformative listening and performing experience generated from the music.


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