Johann Michael Bach: Halt, was du hast
JM Bach was the son of the musician Heinrich Bach, and in
the tradition of the Bach family received most of his early musical education at home. He
was engaged for much of his life as an organist, and held posts at Arnstadt castle, and as
town organist in Gehren. His youngest daughter, Maria Barbara, married a distant cousin of
hers by the name of Johann Sebastian. Contemporary thought held that Johan Michael was
'quiet, withdrawn and artistically well-versed'; his family regarded him as a
'capable composer'. It was in the chorale motet, the vocal form to which he
devoted himself, that he composed works of real significance.
Halt, was du hast is a good example of the genre.
Scored for double choir, phrases of 'Jesu, meine Freude' alternate with
interjections of a more declamatory nature sung by Choir 2. A strongly homophonic style
predominates, there being little contrapuntal writing. His works for double choir stand
firmly in the tradition of Schütz, Scheich and Practorius.