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 Revised 9-30-08

AN HISTORY OF THE BACH B-MINOR MASS AND THE LOS ANGELES BACH FESTIVAL

Background

To have the audacity to analyze a piece of this magnitude is something that few willingly attempt and at which few seldom succeed.  Rather than re-invent the wheel, I am going to pull information from several existing sources that may be of interest to the reader.  Where I find an article of interest, I will create a link to the original document and try to add the proper citation.  One such article comes from the website for the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. 

This next is taken from "Light on a Gothic Tower" , chapters 20 and 21, by Dr. Royal Davis, former minister of First Church. When John Smallman envisioned the Los Angeles Bach Festival, it was the death of the existing director of this city that caused him to create our festival in order to perpetuate the glorious music of Bach in our own city.  In 1934, the Los Angeles Oratorio Society, in conjunction with the Cathedral Choir of First Church, was invited to present its first performance of the Bach B Minor Mass.  The B Minor Mass received its premier West Coast performance in 1929 at the Shrine Auditorium.  Prior to that date, it had not been performed west of Chicago.  The Los Angeles Bach Festival has held an annual performance of Bach's works since that date, and is now entering its 75th year of straight performances.  So well attended were these performances, with audiences attending from across southern California, that attendance frequently exceeded our capacity and guests had to be turned away for lack of seating space.

Upon the death of John Smallman in 1937, Arthur Leslie Jacobs took over the Cathedral Choir and the Bach Festival.   Arthur Leslie Jacobs and his wife, Ruth Krehbiel Jacobs worked as a team to shape and redirect the choral music of First Church.  In addition to the Cathedral Choir, first Church hosted four additional choirs, known as the Church Youth Choir, the High School Choir, the Crusader's Chorus and a boy's choir.  To this, Mrs. Jacobs added a Cherub choir for kindergarteners and those in the primary grades.  It was under his administration that the Los Angeles City Schools became involved with our festival.  As a direct result, the festival for that year contained one complete concert that was performed by the youth of the Los Angeles area schools under the direction of their own teachers.  Each school, designated as either Jr. High or High School, prepared the selected music at their own schools.  Before the public performance, combined rehearsal were held in the Sanctuary.  Such a performance had to be a lasting memory for those who were privileged to participate.  The work involved in putting together such a performance had to be time consuming and a lot of hard work by all.  it was under Mr. Jacobs that First Church saw its first woman organist of record, Marian Reiff Craighead.

The following pages will give you an over-view of the B Minor Mass as well as some insights in what is involved in putting this huge festival together.  Some of the links go to other pages within this website and will link you back to this page.  Some links will take you away from this website. To return to this website, please use your back arrow.

Anatomy of the B Minor text About the Festival and how to get tickets
A little bit about the Mass The Bach Festival Timeline

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