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Bach: A Mighty Fortress

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: It features two German innovators from two centuries apart.

When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517, events were set in motion that would eventually spark the Protestant Reformation in Europe.

In addition to being a scholar and priest, Martin Luther also dabbled in musical composition. In fact, he began writing church music for the newly-established Lutheran church in the early days of the Reformation. One of his most famous chorale tunes is “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott“, or “A mighty fortress is our God.”

Future generations of composers would come to use this theme in their own music, including the great Johann Sebastian Bach. While most of Bach’s cantatas were written for Sunday church services, his Cantata No. 80 was written for a festival to commemorate the Reformation.

What better way to pay respects to Martin Luther than with a glorious setting of his chorale tune from the hands of J.S. Bach!

Music Heard On This Episode

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): Cantata BWV 80, “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott”
Nikolaus Harnoncourt/Tolzer Knabenchor & Collegium Musicum of Vienna — Bach: Famous Choruses from Sacred Cantatas (Teldec, 1994)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): Cantata BWV 80, “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott”
Nikolaus Harnoncourt/Tolzer Knabenchor & Collegium Musicum of Vienna — Bach: Famous Choruses from Sacred Cantatas (Teldec, 1994)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

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