Susanne Langner. Photo: Matthias Heyde.
Fri 9.2.2018 07.00 pm The House of Nobility, Helsinki
The Residency Series at the House of Nobility
Sat 10.2.2018 07.00 pm Turku Cathedral, Turku
Cathedral Church Music Week

Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust

Protestant church music before and after Bach

Schein – Tunder – Buxtehude – J. C. Bach – Bernhard – Mozart – J. S. Bach

Susanne Langner, alto
FiBO Players


“Music is among the most beautiful and great gifts of God”, wrote Martin Luther. The reformer was known as a music-lover, who wanted the new service to also be a meeting place for people to take part in the music. In the aftermath of the jubilee year celebrating 500 years since the Reformation, the Finnish Baroque Orchestra dedicates the first spring concert in the House of Nobility to early 17th century and 18th century Lutheran composers from North Germany.

Lutheranism turned a new page in the history of church music. A grand novelty was that hymns were sung in the vernacular language. Luther and his colleagues wrote music and lyrics to many hymns, which quickly started to live their own lives as Lutheran compositions. The first generation of Lutheran composers, such as Johann Hermann Schein, set the foundation for the new reformed repertoire. The following generations combined Venetian multi-choir music and German early Baroque to an original, North German Lutheran style. In the front line was the cantata that communicated intensively through the music.

The composers presented in this concert; Franz Tunder, Christoph Bernhard and the great Dietrich Buxtehude, who was admired by Bach, are some of these 17th century North German Baroque composers. Bach himself came from a solid musicians’ family, and this concert also includes his older second cousin Johann Christoph Bach.

The concert culminates in Bach’s cantata Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust, with the experienced Bach-interpreter Susanne Langner as soloist. The cantatas that Bach wrote while working as the cantor of St. Thomas in Leipzig are the jewels of church music, and brilliant embodiments of specifically Lutheran music.

As cantor of St. Thomas, Bach acted in the core area of Protestant doctrine. During this orthodox era, music, too, was watched closely, and the city officials often expressed their indignation towards the skilfully creative Bach. At the end of the 18th century, church music was beginning to free itself from only playing the role as the manifestation of faith, and turned towards independent sacred music. Mozart, for instance, a devout Catholic, honoured Bach by arranging his Fugues for string trio and commenting on them with his own preludes. We will now hear the first twin piece from this compilation. The Fugue is borrowed from Bach’s collection Das wohltemperierte Klavier.

Duration: 1 h 45 min (incl. intermission)

Petteri Pitko introduces the concert at the House of Nobility on February 9th from 6–6.30 pm.