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Composed: 1740; 1922

Orchestration: 2 piccolos, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 English horns, 2 E-flat clarinets, 2 clarinets, 2 bass clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 contrbassoons, 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (cymbals, glockenspiel, triangle), celesta, harp, and strings

First Los Angeles Philharmonic performance: March 21, 1935, Arnold Schoenberg conducting

About this Piece

In “Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist” (Come, Creator God, Holy Spirit), Schoenberg kept Bach’s original keys but gave the pieces brilliant orchestral color, including the glitter of glockenspiel, triangle, and cymbals; arrangements fully as extravagant in their own way as Stokowski’s better-known Bach transcriptions.

Although many contemporaries viewed Arnold Schoenberg’s 12-tone method as the most radical break possible with Western musical tradition, he never felt that way himself and was always deeply involved with earlier music, including arranging older works, from Baroque cellos concertos to Strauss waltzes. In the spring of 1922, Schoenberg arranged two of Bach’s “Great 18” Leipzig organ chorale preludes for orchestra at the request of Josef Stránsky, the Czech conductor who had succeeded Mahler as leader of the New York Philharmonic in 1911; Stránsky premiered them in the fall of 1922, on one of his last concerts as the orchestra’s music director.