Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen

Johann Sebastian Bach

Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen


About this work

Bach's Cantata No. 215 "Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen" (Praise your fortune, blessed Saxons) was written to celebrate the anniversary of the election of Augustus III as king of Poland on October 5, 1734. It is a setting of a text by Johann Christoph Clauder, and took only three days to compose. Augustus III himself heard the first performance from a window overlooking a market place in Leipzig; a torchlight parade of 600 students led by four Counts preceeded the performance, and the King "did not leave the window as long as the music lasted but listened and was heartily pleased." The cantata is scored for tenor, bass, and soprano soloists and double chorus, pairs of flutes and oboes, bassoon, a trio of trumpets plus tympani, strings, and basso continuo consisting of lute, harpsichord, cello, and double bass.

"Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen" opens with a monumental hymn of praise for double chorus and full orchestra, which Bach later re-used in the Osanna of his Mass in B minor (BWV 232). This is followed by pairs of recitatives for tenor, bass, and soprano soloists. The tenor's recitative is accompanied by oboes, bassoon, lute, and harpsichord and his aria is accompanied by a pair of oboe d'amore, bassoon, strings, and continuo. The bass' dramatic secco recitative is followed by a brilliant aria accompanied by oboes, bassoon, strings, and continuo. The soprano's delicate recitative is accompanied by sighing flutes and continuo and her following supple aria is lightly scored for flutes, oboes d'amore, strings, and continuo. The penultimate recitative and arioso is set for all three soloists plus full orchestra. The final movement is a stately hymn of praise to Augustus III for double chorus and full orchestra.