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Flight Path - Western US

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Key sights:

Pacific coast, Oregon, Grand Canyon, desert SW, clouds

Source images (credit NASA):

042-317-420 - Mar 8, 2015 (Nikon D4, 17mm lens)


Dan Barstow

Bach in his senior years

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Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr - BWV 663 

J.S. Bach composed Allein Gott in Der Hoh sei Ehr  (Alone to God in the Highest be Glory) in Leipzig in about 1747.  Bach was in his early 60's.

Chorale preludes—liturgical compositions based on an existing melody—figure prominently in Bach’s oeuvre, and his collection of Leipzig preludes (known informally as the “Great Eighteen”) shows his mastery of this compositional form at its zenith.

Here is Bach's famous chorale “Allein Gott, in der Höh sei Ehr,” which is a German translation of the text of the Gloria from the Mass Ordinary. This piece is part of three movements from the Leipziger Choräle, in which Bach portrays the Trinity. This work portrays the Son, following the Father (BWV 662) and preceding the Holy Ghost (BWV 664).

Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, BWV 663 is cast as two fantasia-like upper parts, with constantly varying contrapuntal figurations, matched by a solid pedal continuo; the aria-like ornamented cantus firmus is heard in the tenor line.

It was during this time that Bach’s eyesight began to fail him. On the advice of his friends, Bach put himself in the hands of a visiting celebrated English ophthalmic specialist, who happened to be passing through Leipzig. Two cataract operations were performed on his eyes, in March and April 1750, and their weakening effect was aggravated by a following infection which seriously undermined his health. He spent the last months of his life in a darkened room, revising his great chorale fantasias (BWV 651-668). On the morning of July 28, 1750, he woke up to find he could bear strong light again, and see quite clearly. However, that same day he had a stroke, followed by a severe fever. He died that evening. Bach was buried in St. John’s Cemetery, and in the absence of any tombstone his grave was soon forgotten.

When St. John’s Church was rebuilt in 1894 a few Leipzig scholars and Bach admirers succeeded in having what were believed to be the composer’s bones exhumed. Partial identification was established by a series of anatomical and other tests. The bones were laid to rest in a stone sarcophagus next to the poet Gellert in the vaults of the Johanniskirche, and many people went to pay homage to his tomb until the church was destroyed by bombs in WWII. Once more his remains were rescued and in buried again in 1949, this time in the altar-room of the Thomaskirche where they remain to this day.

Notes by:  organist David von Behren

Learn More:

Great Eighteen Chorale Preludes

Organist - David von Behren

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David von Behren isthe Assistant University Organist and Choirmaster of the Memorial Church at Harvard University. He earned his Master of Music degree at Yale University’s School of Music/Institute of Sacred Music, studying organ with Martin Jean and improvisation with Jeffrey Brillhart. He is also a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music where he earned his Bachelor of Music degree in organ performance and music theory (double degree), pursuing organ studies with Todd Wilson. Von Behren is currently a doctoral candidate at Boston University College of Fine Arts where he studies with Peter Sykes.

von Behren is the first organist to receive the Cleveland Institute of Music’s prestigious Darius Milhaud Award and named one of The Diapason’s “20 Under 30” Class of 2016. David has been featured on National Public Radio's (NPR) From the Top and PipeDreams. David is represented by Concert Artists Cooperative management.


Lied Chancel Organ

First Plymouth Church

Lincoln, Nebraska


Feb 14, 2021

Astronauts of ISS 46

Expedition 46 Crew Portrait with Commander Scott Kelly, Flight Engineer Mikhail Korniyenko, Flight Engineer Sergey Volkov, Flight Engineer Timothy Peake, and Flight Engineer Timothy Kopra.  Photo Date: January 21, 2015.  Location: Building 8, Room 183 - Photo Studio.  Photographer: Robert Markowitz (NOT PICTURED: Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko).

ISS Expedition 46

Dec 11, 2015 - Mar 2, 2016

Commander Scott Kelly (US)

Sergey Volkov (Russia)

Mikhail Kornienko (Russia)

Timothy Kopra (IUS)

Timothy Peake (UK)

Yuri Malenchenko (Russia)

Learn more:

International Space Station

Expedition 40

Expedition 46

Earth photography

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