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Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. Dietrich Bartel

Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. Dietrich Bartel

Dr. Dietrich Bartel, Professor of Music, has taught at CMU and CMBC (one of CMU's predecessor colleges) since 1985. He will retire this spring.

What are you teaching right now that you're most excited about?

I'm teaching a course called Studies in Baroque Music, where we focus on the cantatas of J.S. Bach. The basic question we ask is: How is Bach, who was a Lutheran Cantor, preaching through his music? Besides looking in depth at the rhetoric of the music and text, we are also learning a Bach cantata, which the class will perform in a worship service later in the semester. This course is also very closely tied to my area of writing and research. Lots of fun!

What are you researching and writing?

I just published a book on the last treatise of the late 17th century German music theorist and organist, Andreas Werckmeister. It's called Andreas Werckmeister's Musicalische Paradoxal-Discourse: A Well-Tempered Universe (Lexington Books, 2017). So, continuing that trajectory, I am now working on a book on Johann Mattheson, particularly his later writings. Mattheson was both a fan and an outspoken critic of Werckmeister, so that helps to make things interesting. He writes in a very colourful but also convoluted German that is so outrageous at times. But, he is also a very pious and spiritual person, so his writings are thoroughly peppered with theological commentary.

What you are reading for enjoyment?

I recently finished a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, after whom my parents named me. It's called Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Charles Marsh. I also recently enjoyed Lawrence Hill's Some Great Thing, a lovely novel set right here in Winnipeg.

Where or how do students give you hope?

On the one hand, when I read student essays and hear them perform on Thursdays at our student recitals, I am struck by their hard work, curiosity, and imagination. On the other hand, our students are incredibly supportive of one another. So often, particularly in university music departments, students can get pretty nasty in their competitiveness. That does not seem to happen much here. The kind of support students have for one another is really exemplary.

Do you have any interesting projects underway in the broader community or church?

I don't just teach and research German Baroque music, I also love to play it. For 20 years now, I have been involved in music ministry at All Saints' Anglican Church. There is a very fine organ there, and a great, completely voluntary choir. Doing music in worship nourishes both my soul and my mind, and I can't imagine myself not on the organ bench on Sunday mornings.

What saying or motto inspires you?

Staying with a German Baroque theme here, J.S. Bach wrote in the dedication of his Orgelbüchlein, "to the Glory of God and the edification of my neighbour." I hope that what I do in the classroom, what I do in my research and writing, and what I do on Sunday mornings all somehow fits under that motto. If it was good enough for Bach, it is certainly good enough for me.

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