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Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of by Peter Guralnick

By Peter Guralnick

This masterful exploration of yankee roots music--country, rockabilly, and the blues--spotlights the artists who created a tremendously American sound, together with Ernest Tubb, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, and Sleepy LaBeef. In incisive snap shots in line with looking interviews with those mythical performers, Peter Guralnick captures the boundless ardour that drove those males to music-making and that saved them determinedly, and infrequently nearly desperately, at the street.

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After spells as church organist at Arnstadt and Mulhausen, Bach’s first important position was at Weimar, where in 1708 he became the court organist and a chamber musician to the duke, Wilhelm Ernst. When eight years later a disgruntled Bach overinsistently applied for permission to leave, having been passed over for the senior post of Kapellmeister, the duke’s response was to jail him for one month for his impertinence. ) The position he was attempting to leave for, and which he took up in 1718, was Kapellmeister at the small court of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen.

All the major German composers wrote them, but no one as ambitiously or lavishly as Bach, whose cantatas often combine recitatives and arias, choruses and chorales into one dramatic whole. Bach also wrote several secular cantatas, either to celebrate civic or royal occasions or – as in the so-called “Coffee” and “Peasant” cantatas – purely as quasi-operatic entertainments. About three-fifths of Bach’s cantata output – over two hundred works – has survived, but most of them remain little-known, partly because of their number but also because their often morbid texts do not appeal to modern tastes.

82 As well as large-scale works involving combinations of soloists and chorus, Bach also wrote a number of solo cantatas of which the best is No. 82, Ich habe genug (It is enough). The text is a response to the biblical story of Simeon who, having seen the Christ child, felt he could die in peace. It is one of Bach’s most intensely personal and consolatory works, with the opening words JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH The pioneering complete cantata series on Teldec, directed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt, now sounds rather bald and prosaic.

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