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Come, Sweet Death

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on 9 December 2013

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Transcript of Come, Sweet Death

Come, Sweet Death
(Komm', Susser Tod)

Johann Sebastian Bach
arranged by Alfred Reed

Bach's Life
Born on March 21, 1685
Born into a very talented family
His father, Johann Ambrosius Bach was a string player, town piper, and court trumpeter
Johann Bach's parents died when he was only 9 years old
He then went to live with his eldest brother, Johann Christoph Bach, who was organist in Ohrdruf

Bach's Life
His first real job was a violinist at the court of Duke Johann Ernst in Weimar, beginning in 1703
He didn't stay long at this job and left to become the organist at the Neukirche (New Church) in Arnstadt
Bach eventually left Arnstadt and became the organist at Muhlhausen, he only stayed here for one year
He then returned to Weimar and became court organist for Duke Wilhelm
Bach's Life
In 1717 he moved on to the position of Kapellmeister at the court of Prince Leopold in Cothen
In 1722 Bach received a job in the City of Leipzig
Here he was to work in several churches, preparing performances and providing new compositions, as well as teaching
Bach remained in Leipzig for the rest of his life
He died on July 28, 1750
Bach's Contributions
Bach took the fugue and brought it to it's highest potential
He wrote two books, "Das Wohltemperierte Klavier" (The Well-Tempered Clavier), of 24 preludes and fugues
Two each in every major and minor key center
One of his most famous fugues is the "Little Fugue in g minor"
He also wrote a collection of solo suites for violin and cello, solo sonatas, solo concertos, concerti grossi, and a number of orchestral suites
One of his most famous solo suite for cello is the "Suite No. 1 in G major for solo cello
69 "Sacred Songs and Airs"
Airs meaning tune or melody sung or played
These 69 are attributed to Bach
Each song or air was written with a single melodic line accompanied with figured bass
These sacred songs and airs were Bach's contribution to Georg Christian Schemelli's collection of 954 sacred songs and hymns
Bach was known for being the editor of these hymns and songs
Did Bach write "Komm', Susser Tod?"
According to the program notes in the score, scholars question whether or not Bach actually wrote all 69 sacred songs and airs
Some believe that all he did was arrange some of the songs
Others believe that he didn't write or even work on any of the songs
However even though scholars believe Bach may have only written or arranged a few of these songs, he did write "Komm', Susser Tod"
Alfred Reed
Born in New York City on January 25, 1921
His parents made music a part of his daily life
At the age of 10 he began taking trumpet lessons
By the time he was in high school he was playing at a professional level
He spent three years at Radio Workshop, while studying harmony and counterpoint
After his three years with Radio Workshop he became a member of the Air Force Band, serving three years
Reed's Life
After being released from the military he enrolled at the Julliard School of Music
There he studied under Vittorio Giannini
In 1948 he became a staff composer and arranger with NBC and ABC
There he wrote and arranged music for radio, television, record albums, and films
In 1953 Reed left NBC and became conductor of the Baylor Symphony Orchestra
Reed's Master thesis was "Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra, which eventually won the Luria Prize
Reed's Life
In 1955 he accepted a position for a major music publishing firm, Hanson Publications, in New York
In 1966 Reed left the music publishing firm and joined the faculty of the School of Music at the University of Miami
There he developed the first four-year Music Industry program
In 1980 he was appointed music director and conductor of the University of Miami Symphonic Wind Ensemble
He would stay in Florida for the rest of his life, which ended on September 16, 2005
Notable Works and Arrangements
"Alleluia! Laudamus Te"
"Armenian Dances"
"Ballad For Alto Sax and Band"
El Camino Real"
"A Christmas Intrada"
Come, Sweet Death"
A Festive Overture"
A Festival Prelude"
First Suite for Band"
Slavonic Folk Suite
"The Hounds of Spring"
"A Jubilant Overture"
"The Music-Makers"
"Ode For Trumpet"
"Russian Christmas"
Second Suite for Band"
"Viva Musica"
"Komm', Susser Tod"
Originally published for solo voice with basso continuo
This song consists of several short phrases separated by fermatas
This song is only 21 measures long
It consists of all 12 chromatic tones
Published in 1736
The song is written in the key c minor
"Komm', Susser Tod"
Come, sweet death, come, blessed rest!
Come lead me to peace
for I am weary of the world,
oh come! I wait for you,
come soon and lead me, close my eyes.
Come, blessed rest!
Come, sweet death, come blessed rest!
It is better in heaven,
for there is all pleasure greater,
therefore I am at all times
prepared to say "Farewell,"
I close my eyes.
Come, blessed rest!

Come, sweet death, come blessed rest!
I will now see Jesus
and stand among the angels.
It is henceforth completed,
so, world, good night,
my eyes are already closed.
Come, blessed rest.
"Come, Sweet Death"
The original is divided up into eight short phrases
This arrangement is also divided up into phrases, 16
Just like how it would have been played during the Baroque era, Reed does the same in his arrangement, by playing through it twice
Loud or soft?
Each instrument should play with a warm sound
The melody line should be played legato, especially the low brass
There might be need of subdividing in certain measures
Brass should not play with a bright sound but with a warm, blending sound
This piece or song is a plea, a cry out to a higher being to come and take him/her away
Paint a Picture
To fully understand how this piece is to be played the conductor must be able to paint a picture
This can be done in many ways
A loved one who is dying of cancer
Being wounded in war and left to die alone
Being in the most horrific state of pain that death is welcomed
Death is a passage to peace, joy, bliss, and comfort
Bach wrote Cantata BWV 16 "Komm, du susser Todesstunde
Come, O Sweet Hour of Death
It was written for the 16 Sunday after Trinity
Bach composed it while living in Weimar and it was performed on October 6, 1715
It's a six piece movement
Full transcript