Before Thy Throne I Now Appear

Title: Before Thy Throne I Now Appear
Date of Composition: Copyright © 1995 Daniel Bukvich
Level of Difficulty: University
(requires a level of musical sophistication that is not often present in high school students)
Instrumentation: Wind Ensemble/Concert Band
Ensemble Set-up: Bukvich Symphonic Band Diagram
Performance Time: 5:55
Publisher: Wingert-Jones Music
11225 Colorado
Kansas City, MO 64137-2502
or toll-free 800-258-WJMO
Dedication: Christopher John Rowell and Tabetha Lynn Smart
Program Notes:

Bach’s last composition, dictated at his deathbed, is an organ prelude based on the chorale “Wenn Wir in Hochsten Noten Sein”. Taking a line from an inner stanza of that hymn, Bach titled this work “Before Thy Throne I Now Appear”.

Bach added a few ornamental notes to the first clause of the hymn in order to bring the number of notes up to fourteen, which represents B-A-C-H (B=2, A=1, etc.) in the figure alphabet. He also managed to include forty-one notes in the complete chorale melody, forty-one being fourteen backwards and standing for J.-S.-B-A-C-H. Bach’s number fourteen is twice seven, seven being for him a particularly significant number. There are seven colors in the solar spectrum and seven tones in the diatonic musical scale. Seven is the biblical number of new departures, and of rebirth.

In Bach’s fugal treatment, the initial phrase of the hymn appears after a prelude which covers seven bars; and each clause of the chorale melody is separated from the previous one by seven bars of counterpoint.

Daniel Bukvich’s re-composition includes the above-mentioned organ prelude (BWV 668), plus the original chorale melody and two of J.S.Bach’s harmonizations; No. 68 and No. 247.

The music, moving almost imperceptibly yet with a deep charge of emotion, emulates a slowly pulsing heart. The tempo is “quarter note” = mm 72, which gives seventy-two pulse beats and eighteen full respirations per minute. Each measure corresponds to one inhalation and exhalation at about the rate produced in deep sleep.

The work was commissioned by the Epping High School band, Epping, N.H., Bruce Gatchell, conductor, as a memorial to band members Christopher John Rowell and Tabetha Lynn Smart who died in an automobile accident in June of 1990. The instrumentation at the beginning and end of the piece reflects the fact that one was a timpanist, the other a flutist.

Portions of the program notes were extracted from those written by Anthony Conrad Mengelkamp for the CD, "Music of Daniel Bukvich," published in 1997; edited for content by Susan G. Weaver.


There are potential problems with balance in this piece. Some of the flute parts are scored extremely low and very dissonant on purpose. It requires a great deal of sensitive listening on the part of the conductor and players in order to have those parts work in the subliminal way in which they are intended.

Recordings: Details about recording(s):
  • Performer(s): University of Idaho Lionel Hampton School of Music Wind Ensemble
  • Conductor: Robert Spevacek
  • Location: University of Idaho Administration Auditorium
  • Date recorded: October 19, 1997
  • Recording engineer(s): Recording Engineers, University Conferences & Events, P.K. Northcutt II
  • Digital mastering: Digital Sound Mastering, P.K. Northcutt II

File(s) available:

Recording(s) posted: [2002-11-05 00:00:00]

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