This season at New England Conservatory, 30+ concerts demonstrate just how vital music is to human struggle, and what revolution in artistic expression sounds like. Programs range from roots music to Beethoven, fight songs to anti-war anthems. Join our year-long exploration of how music speaks truth to power!
The Reformative Spirit:
The Chorales of Martin Luther
Guest conductor William Weinert, Director of Choral Activities at Eastman School of Music, leads the NEC Chamber Singers in music based on chorales written by Martin Luther for his breakaway church services as leader of the German Reformation.
Luther's best-known action, the nailing of his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg, was his protest against clerical abuses, including the "monetization" of the sale of indulgences. When he accused the clergy of his time of preaching that "so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out," his plain speaking hit home, and he had no choice but to establish his own worship services.
Luther's clarity with words carried over to the music of his chorales and his selections of sacred texts to set to music. Luther's chorales have survived over the centuries in hymnals, and through adoption by composers of every era, from Bach to Brahms to the present.
Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul;
Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures;
Which rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave?
Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?
—"Warum ist da Licht gegeben…" (Job 3:20–23)
J.S. Bach Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott
Heinrich Schütz Das ist mier lieb (Psalm 116)
Johannes Brahms Warum ist da Licht gegeben
Beyond his work in the concert hall and with church choirs, William Weinert's association with ecclesiastical music and music of the Baroque includes his edition of motets by Melchior Franck. Between 1998 and 2011 he was editor of The American Choral Review, the journal of the American Choral Foundation.
1546 portrait of Martin Luther from the workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, in the collection of Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Meta and Paul J. Sachs, 1955.164.
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