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Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

Cantata BWV 134
Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiß
Cantata BWV 134a
Die Zeit, die Tag und Jahre macht
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of August 2, 2009 [Continue]

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (August 7, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
<< While music history, taking Bach's words and music, has treated Köthen as one of Bach's best times, I think it was much more ... >>
Bruce Simonson wrote:
< Thank you for raising and elaborating on this question. I have occasionally wondered about the Köthen period, and if Bach purposely "hung out with a more secular crowd" during this time. And, if he did, was he "relieved" for the "reprieve", and to coin an inelegant phrase, to "take religious less seriously"? >
Bach's Köthen period was (like other times in his life) both good and bad. Remember that it was during his Köthen period (specifically 7 July 1720) that his first wife died (namely Maria Barbara Bach, daughter of Johann Michael Bach).

As to the sacred vs. secular, that has absolutely no relevance here. The reason why he focused so much on the secular music in Köthen was because (with the noticeable exception of the Agnuskirche), there was no Evangelical (Lutheran) churches in Köthen (as it had converted generations before to a Reformed (Calvinist) state). As Bach was an Evangelical, he would not have had any sensibilities towards Calvinism. Besides which, the only acceptible form of music in Calvinist societies is simple Psalm-singing (this going back to Calvin himself, who wrote against all other forms of music, both instrumental and vocal--he felt that music was "worldly" and therefore of the devil). He (Bach) had applied (unsuccessfully) for the vacant position of Organist at the Jakobiskirche zu Hamburg in November 1720, the reason (he stated) being that he was concerned about the education of his children. So religion still played a key role throughout his life (even in the Köthen period). To him (as to Luther) music had two aims: the glory of God and the refreshment and erudition of one's fellows. And one must not forget that Bach actually did compose some religious music in Köthen (parts of the Orgel-Buechlein was composed there, in addition to Kantaten BWV 22 and BWV 23, which were performed for the first time at his trials in Leipzig [7 February 1723, BWV 23 first (without the Chorale at the end), then BWV 22 after the sermon], which he then repeated on Estomihi Sunday in 1723 [this time with the Chorale at the end of BWV 23 and in B minor instead of C minor (entire work) and with colla parte Brass instruments (Chorale)] ).

< I asked this question at a recent conducting workshop. If I remember this part of the ensuing discussion correctly, the historic record shows that Bach and his family attended Lutheran church services while in Köthen, to the extent of even having a pew assigned (allocated? ... reserved? ... traditionally used by?) them in church in Köthen.
Anyone know if Bach was a "churching guy" while at
Köthen? >

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 7, 2009):
N.B.

I will divide my conclusive remarks on BWV 134 in three aphorisms.

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 7, 2009):
3.1. The Cantata 134 through the lens of its highest purpose

Only outside speculation we may attain something solid from the strongest hypotheses on the academic table, a case in point is to observe that the brief recitative, which opens Cantata BWV 134, is empathetic related with Sebastian's motto, no matter whether Bach indeed wrote its libretto. For what is the happiness of a believing soul? A hopeful joy, although not waiting for a fugitive ecstasy, not longing for what cannot be enjoyed along with an awaken spirit, otherwise it would prompt an insensibility of conscience, ever required when it is case of celebrating lightly a not exactly innocent pleasure. Quite different is the happiness of a believing soul, for it is innocently full of conscience; at hand and therefore not impatiently anxious, but already rejoicing; not desperately awaiting a moribund delight, being rather an eternal bliss that will resurrect with the believer to rejoice anew. And what joy is found in piety better than loving God above all things? For if we love him, we are known by him, as he is known only in love, for God is love. And if we know him in love, we know he lives, since, in love, we experiment new demonstrations of his love and goodness, being this the principle of an ardent love, that love dilates the heart, growing even more while known. And if suddenly our frailty stumbles, our love unworthy of his, yet, let the longest night of temptation go away, and "a bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench", his revealed love rather prompting ours to write only in his praising, as the composer's motto proclaims: soli Deo gloria. For faith abiding in love promotes a fearless, abounding, immaculate, trustful and hale uplifting mood, smiling with confidence before the law of the downfall of all things, rejoicing through the affect of a holy joy appropriately conducted with orchestrated pleasure by the tenor aria. Piety is uplifted by the renewed light of an intact love shining on him who, upraised by the refreshed blessedness of our living Savior, is elevated from laments and desperate elegies to the joyful sacrifice of thankfulness, which the Highest One receives as a delightful aroma from his cherished creatures.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 7, 2009):
Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote:
< the composer's motto proclaims: soli Deo gloria. >
I'm not sure we can call this Bach's motto and posit a uniquely profound spirituality to the composer. The phrase is the final aphorism of the "Five Soli" which the Lutheran reformers used as tags to summarize doctrine.

1 Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone")
2 Sola fide ("by faith alone")
3 Sola gratia ("by grace alone")
4 Solus Christus or Solo Christo ("through Christ alone")
5 Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone")

Bach's use of the tag at the end of a work was a common convention: Handel used it as well. The same could be said of "J.J." (Jesu Juve = Jesu help) which appears at the beginning of works. I suspect that Bach added them as unconsciously as writing a date to begin a letter. By the mid-18th century the abbreviations may have had the more mundane function of indicating the beginning and end of a work. We don't ascribe much of a theological frame of mind to someone who says, "Goodbye" (= "God be with ye").

I'm not saying that this is not a personal act of piety on Bach's part, but only that it is a standard convention used by a conforming Lutheran. It has a public, social function which was part of the job description. That diminishes neither the composer or the work: it merely places them in historical context.

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 7, 2009):
3.2. The Cantata 134 through the lens of its highest purpose

In order to acknowledge the wondrous rescue, it is necessary to fathom some real peril; but the soothing cultural environment refuses to see any danger instead of accepting the victory over it. In fact, the present age suffers from the idea that a healthy mind must desperately find a lightsome mood, and a sacred cantata makes no sense in such an atmosphere of "do not tell me that there is anything wrong in the world". As if the world's sickness was a medieval lunacy surpassed by the present level of education, which cannot see any hellish scene in men fighting and betraying each other with villainy and deviltry. What is demanded, after all? Is it necessarto testify the elemental forces of hell clashing in a thermal battle? Some superheated sulfur, any scalding magma expelled by a beast from the deep darkness? Is the present culture so blind as not to acknowledge the sins it daily proclaims from west to east, from north to south, from the periodical newspapers to the casual tittle-tattle of the day? Well, "they that are whole have no need of the physician", and the present culture needs only a professional to convince the world of its salubrity. With a frivolous mood as a goal, one cannot do much than trying to find a joy after another, a delightful promenade, a promising bargain, a blissful date, a crispy tenderloin and some music, perhaps even a cantata, but never existentially experienced, for the present age is exceedingly mature to be uneasy with sin, and extraordinarily healthy to be grateful to the Physician of the soul. Such a frame of mind cannot understand a holy joy, and has no way else than declaring it mythological. The present requires a mood of salubrity, not salubrity itself. It craves to fight against any awareness of sickness and despair, and, as soon as it conquers the beloved delusion, God is not necessary anymore. And what woe the present age could crave more than denying perdition to reject salvation? No age before has so largely refused any sorrow against a sanctified joy, no former generation has assumed frivolity as a principle of good mood, and at least not in the name of knowledge and science. Nothing could touch us, no serious alert could shake us inasmuch as we decided to protect our superficial humor with the shield of a matured harlequinade. Certainly, Cantata BWV 143 cannot be existentially seized without its truth rescued from the overconfident fantasy of having surpassed it. One is perhaps too much accustomed to ignore with lofty eyes what seems folly and definitely overtaken, keeping but an emptied form, and as if nothing else was worthy of sober interest, till his humbled eyes start to suspect that to be a consecrated property of God might be indeed advantageous. Yes, doubt is gluttonous, unquenchable, never satisfied; but it is now confronted by faith as a mightier opponent, and to overcome all distrust this world daily sows, surrendering open-mindedly at the gates of God, is a fortune to rejoice over, and the proper affect guided here. Now the Savior's works are justly benefiting the believer, and only faith has conquered their favor. Hell has certainly done more in the world than intellectualism suspects - and, behold! Confusion is at leisure, and disbelief grows. There goes idolatrous misleading ways, and the way misrepresented by hypocrisy - behold! the banquet of scandals, the pleasure of derision, the nexus of hostility; delusions and lies, hatreds and lusts, drugs and humiliating vices, hidden intentions and projects of machination, the plot of militancy, the organized crime and the systematized politics of criminalizing innocence; families degraded, and impurity extolled in an increasing swell of perverse imagination, of terrorism and suicide bombers, being their peace merely an insidious treaty, and a rightness that is only appearance of justice, all these miseries but crumbs from the daily multitude of sins - and, nevertheless, Christ covered and vanquished them all! For as a dust faces the soap and disappears, sin could kill Christ just to be devoured by his innocence, which now blesses us to cleanness and justice. For no one is fortunate in debt, but since his blood redeemed us from the bondage of iniquity, since we are forgiven, our consciousness purged, let us enter into the holiest of his presence in plentiful of peace, grateful that, through his innocent blood, we overcome all the accusations, victorious by the labor of his love, no matter enemies and death, as the recitative proclaims.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 7, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Bach's use of the tag at the end of a work was a common convention: Handel used it as well. The same could be said of "J.J." (Jesu Juve = Jesu help) which appears at the beginning of works. I suspect that Bach added them as unconsciously as writing a date to begin a letter. By the mid-18th century the abbreviations may have had the more mundane function of indicating the beginning and end of a work. We don't ascribe much of a theological frame of mind to someone who says, "Goodbye" (= "God be with ye"). >
Exactly.

Here's a screen grab of the last page of a Christoph Graupner cantata, showing his use of the SDG signature, along with the customary squiggle line which means, "end of the composition," akin to the thin/thick line we use now to end a score: http://www.bytenet.net/kpclow/bachlist/sdg.jpg

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 7, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I'm not sure we can call this Bach's motto and posit a uniquely profound spirituality to the composer. >
It is said that, in a dialogue with Hippias, Socrates decided to drop Homer, and since it was impossible to ask him what he had meant with some particular verses. In the same manner, I am delighted to take the motto myself, adding to "my soli Deo gloria", and against any possible hesitation, that I mean it.

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 7, 2009):
3.3. The Cantata 134 through the lens of its highest purpose

Hardly a connoisseur would establish baroque art on romantic ground and poetical imagination, for even when a great length of fantasy is found, even when you are authorized to infer a nightingale singing around the steeple..., baroquely, such idyllic imagery is spreading the glory with which the artist is dazzled in sight of the remainder features of what was created immaculate. Baroque is not given to Faustian introspection, but any darken aspects is driven trough light into the light through which God's glory can be seen again. Of course, to be indignant is not the aim of those sincere civility that would rather guide a docile character to verity. Anyway, even some inner uproar is more than the indifference of a post-Faustian culture. Far from it, though, the purpose of cantata BWV 143 is God's glory, inasmuch as it resonates on us through an affect of joy, being this sacred music an instrument in the divine hands to aid us, and since, despite the factual reasons to sadden the earth, we have greater ones prompting us to rejoice. Yes indeed, this gladness is not a fruition of immanence and immediacy, but an enjoyment surpassing all undeniable evil, and therefore encountered in sobriety, without Dionysian oblivion, which tries to overlook evil as if nonexistent, or to affirm it as if evil should be regarded good in other to extol life at all costs. I confess that such a balderdash has deluded me in the past, but it is clearly seen that extolling the world at the expense of flattering its sins can only increase their number in damage of all community. Certainly, this harm is so vast nowadays that only a portentous reason of joy, such as we have, can overthrow the despondency that threatens our opened eyes. And, yes, we do not need to close them, we do not feign to live in a golden age; for although the days are evil, even death cannot defeat us, being with this in mind that we salute the duet, finding delight in sobriety as never could be achieved in intemperance.

Now, no one has yet denied that the polished orchestral preamble is already able to reveal the duet as the work's climax, for it has indeed an evident inventive power that intermingles perfectly with the joy-motif of gratitude and praise. And if one is able to hear it with more than merely an aesthetic fruition, being this artistic enjoyment an accompaniment to the grateful joy of praising God for his fervent love, in this case the fruition of music will be as adequate as the string introduction to the radiant singing duet. In fact, when the earth sadden us, thanksgiving is not merely a fruit of consolation, but of a transcendent joy, able to expect victory through the , and to expect victory in combat against the fragility of our character. Such a transcendence is based on resurrection, as the last recitative points out in listing refreshment, comfort, and victory over all things that would be incurable if death was destined to prevail, when, inversely, faith arrives at the last choral resounding the foretaste of an eternal joy, and flavoring the loving-kindness of our victorious Savior.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 7, 2009):
Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote:
< I am delighted to take the motto myself, adding to "my soli Deo gloria", and against any possible hesitation, that I mean it. >
And I'm delighted that you do. I'm just not convinced that your personal connection with Bach tell us anymore about the the composer and his works than mine would.

It's interesting how the debate on this list parallels Christological debates. Who is Jesus of Nazareth?

Son of God?
Itinerant Rabbi?
Messianic revolutionary?
Ethical teacher?
Delusional peasant?

Over the years, I've seen a similar spectrum of personas proposed here for Bach:

Bach the Profound Lutheran
Bach the Conforming Lutheran
Bach the Profound Non-sectarian Christian
Bach the Progressive Ecumenist
Bach the Conforming Free-thinker
Bach the Syncretic Spiritual Universalist
Bach the Non-Religious Aesthete

I would suggest that all, with the exception of the second, are beyond historical investigation. What we can agree on is that we all see something profound about ourselves in the music of Bach. Bach himself remains
inscrutable.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 7, 2009):
BWV 134 [...] highest purpose

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote:
< Far from it, though, the purpose of cantata BWV 143 is God's glory, inasmuch as it resonates on us through an affect of joy, being this sacred music an instrument in the divine hands >
I believe BWV 134 was intended here, although similar thoughts have also been expressed re BWV 143 in the previous week.

To call the music <an instrument in the divine hands> is to overlook Bach's gloss on the Biblical scene of 2 Chronicles 5:13, and the accompanying heading <How the Glory of the Lord Appeared After Beautiful Music>. God appears in response to the invitation of the music, made by men, specifically not an instrument in divine hands. A subtle but important distinction, to my mind. An additional delightful detail: in response to the invitation of music, the appearance of the cloud, the presence of God, obscures the priests (2 Chronicles 5:14).

Perhaps best not to point that out too vigorously, in order not to jeapordize employment for our many list members and other friends who are church musicians.

William Hoffman wrote (August 7, 2009):
[To Douglas Cowling, regarding The Cantata 134 through the lens of its highest purpose]
Thank you, Doug Cowling, for the for five Lutheran Sola, the core of the Lutheran Reformation. To the description of Bach as a "conforming" Lutheran, I would use the word "confessing," not in the dualistic, reactionary, sense of contrition, but in the unifying sense of the Augsburg Confession and the omnibus Formula of Concord, which Bach affirmed and utilized in Leipzig. I think confession in the Lutheran tradition is an act of witness to and trust in faith and in God's mercy and humanity's responsibility, as expressed in the Five Sola or Alein.

I want to discuss this next week when we deal with Cantata BWV 190, which may have originated in Köthen and was parodied in the best sense of the word, like Cantata BWV 134: through invention and transformation.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 8, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote in response to Doug Cowlng:
< To the description of Bach as a "conforming" Lutheran, I would use the word "confessing," not in the dualistic, reactionary, sense of contrition, but in the unifying sense of the Augsburg Confession and the omnibus Formula of Concord, which Bach affirmed and utilized in Leipzig. >
I fail to grasp the distinction between conforming and confessing. Further elucidation welcome.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 8, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I fail to grasp the distinction between conforming and confessing. Further elucidation welcome. >
Conforming generally means that there is an external submission to the external, verifiable aspects of religious practice. In many situations there were extreme legal penalties for refusal to conform. When Catholicism was suppressed in 16th century England, thousands of Catholics preferred to conform to the Anglican Church while remaining secretly attached to the "Old Faith" rather than pay financial penalties. In 15th century Spain, many Jews "converted" and conformed to Catholicism rather than go into exile or be tried for heresy. In both instances, the sincerity of their conformity was questioned with tragic results. Many of the American colonies took conformity very seriously.

Confessionalism is generally restricted to those churches, the Lutheran in particular, where subscription to a particular document is asked for. The Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches are not confessional, as there is no such document of belief which has to be signed -- recitation of the Apostles Creed is more an affirmation of baptism than a covenant. If I recall, Bach was required to sign such documents upon his appointment in Leipzig (is this right?) Again, the state of Bach's conscience in all these matters is unsearchable. The grandeur and beauty of his music is not a proof of faith, only of musical genius.

Evan Cortens wrote (August 8, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Apostles Creed is more an affirmation of baptism than a covenant. If I recall, Bach was required to sign such documents upon his appointment in Leipzig (is this right?) Again, the state of Bach's conscience in all >
Off the top of my head, I believe Bach was required to take and pass a basic theology exam, the intent of which was more along the lines of what Doug describes (i.e., do you believe this?) rather than a knowledge-based quiz. It is my understanding that tests of this nature were extremely common for organist and cantor positions all across Lutheran Germany.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 8, 2009):
BWV 134 Bach's examination

Evan Cortens wrote:
< It is my understanding that tests of this nature were extremely common for organist and cantor positions all across Lutheran Germany. >
I'm curious about the differences between confessional requirements for appointments at Lutheran and Calvinist churches. It appears that Calvinists were prepared to accept Lutherans as organist/choirmasters (I don't know what their title was in parish churches): Bach directed the music in the Calvinist court chapel in Köthen, Handel served in Halle. It appears that the Lutherans were more rigorous and required card-carrying adherents. Were there Lutheran churches elsewhere who appointed non-Lutherans? Or was Bach's examination a requirement because he was on the faculty of the school attached to the churches?

Paul T. McCain wrote (August 10, 2009):
[To Douglas Cowling] It was common throughout territories in Germany whose princes were Lutheran to require all servants of the Church to formally subscribe the Lutheran Confessions and the Church Order of the territory.

Paul T. McCain wrote (August 10, 2009):
BWV 134 [...] highest purpose

While of course no one can search the human soul, save for God, it would be more than a little misleading to leave the impression that Bach's personal convictions were entirely unclear, uncertain and beyond any finding out. This would simply not represent the literature and research on Bach accurately. In fact, it is highly likely that J.S. Bach was a man of his time and place: an orthodox Lutheran.

One does not have to agree with orthodox Lutheranism to love Bach and appreciate his music, but it is certainly also the case that one go out of one's way to question, doubt, denigrate the faith to which, from all indications, Bach did hold, and impose 21st century secularism on J.S. Bach in order to appreciate and love his music.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (August 27, 2009):
[To Douglas Cowling] Actually, there are some errors here,Doug.

1.) Handel never served as a Church Organist in Halle. He did have a short-lived career as an Organist at the Protestant Cathedral in 1704, but he resigned the post and moved to Hamburg.

2.) Unlike Köthen, Halle never became Calvinist. It was the hotbed of the Pietist movement within the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church, a movement (which began in the mid-17th century) that had many Calvinistic tinctures, but was strictly an Evangelical phenomenon.

3.) One of the halmarks of Calvinist doctrine is its prohibition of music beyond simple Psalm-singing. Therefore, Organists in Calvinist lands and areas were not employed by the Church. They were employed by the city or town in which the Church was located. A perfect example of this phenomenon is the position of Organist at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. All the Organists there were actually city employees. And in fact, there is reason to believe that Sweelinck (like his father and ancestors, and like his son) was a Catholic, and according to some sources, he was repremanded once for celebrating a Catholic Christmas.

4.) Bach never served as Organist at Köthen. The only connection to any church during this period of his life was the fact that he continued to have his children educated at the school attached to the Agnuskirche (the sole Evangelical church in the principality) and that he wrote the Orgel-Büchlein there. The only church music written during this period was not written for Köthen, but rather as test pieces for vacant Cantor positions elsewhere (the Jakobiskirche in Hamburg [November 1720--Bach wrote and performed the 4th version of BWV 21 for this occasion] and 7 February 1723 [his trial for the post of Thomaskantor in Leipzig--he wrote the Cantatas BWV 22 and BWV 23 (2nd version) for this occasion]).

5.) As to examinations, the ones I think that are being discussed were only common for people trying out for Cantorates. The only examinations for Organists in Evangelical Germany were primarilly done to see the abilities of the candidates for the position. The examinations for Cantorates were designed because not only was the person trying out for the position required to lead the musicians and congregation in song, but also to oversee the education and religious life of the students at the school attached to the church.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 27, 2009):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< 1.) Handel never served as a Church Organist in Halle. He did have a short-lived career as an Organist at the Protestant Cathedral in 1704,
2.) Unlike
Köthen, Halle never became Calvinist.
4.) Bach never served as Organist at
Köthen. 22 and 23 (2nd version) for this occasion]). >
I'm not sure what you're saying about the facts in the above situations. Handel was a Lutheran yet was hired as organist by the Halle Cathedral which was Calvinist (see Hogwood, "Handel", p. 21)

Bach directed the music and played for such music as was performed in the court chapel (Wolff, Chap 7)

 

Cantata 134: Fugitive Notes w/Easter Connections

William Hoffman wrote (August 11, 2010):
The following is an update from the BCW discussion of 8/2/09:

EASTER TUESDAY: BWV 134, Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiß [chorus, dialogue, parody)
4/11/1724, 134I (#3 new music), 134II, 3/27/31 (#5 new music), 134III, ?4/12/1735 (#1 new music, #3 altered music); parody of BWV 134a, Die Zeit, die Tage und Jahre macht, 1/1/1719, Prince Leopold
Sources: (1) score (SPK P44/3, CPEB, Pölchau, (2) parts set (DS St.18, CPEB Pölchau)
Literature: BGA XXVIII (Rust 1881), NBA KB 1/10 (Dürr 1956); Whittaker I:328-36, Robertson 113f, Young 27f, Dürr 281-85; BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV134.htm; Julian Mincham: http://www.jsbachcantatas.com/documents/chapter-49-bwv-134.htm; Previous Discussion, 8/2/2009: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV134-D2.htm
Text: Bach, based on Hunold, no chorale; Gospel, #3, Luke 24:46 (Thus Christ must suffer and arise);
Epistle, Acts 13:30 (But God raised him from the dead).
Forces: AT, 4vv, 2 ob., str., bc.
Movements: 2 arias, 3 recits. (all AT), 2 arias (T, AT), chorus; duration 20 minutes
1. Rec.(T), aso. (A): A heart that its Jesus living knows (134I,II from 134a/1
2. Aria dc (T., tutti): Up, believers, sing glad songs (134a/2, 3/8 gigue-passepied)
3. Rec. (TA, bc): Well for thee (134a/3)
4. Aria dc(AT, str, bc): We praise Thy fervent love (134a/4, 2/2 gavotte)
5. Rec. (AT): Then bring forth thyself (134I from 134a/5)
6. Chs. dc (tutti): Resound, ye heavens (134a/8, 3/8 gigue-passepied)

COURT NEW YEAR: BWV 134a, Die Zeit, die Tag und Jahre macht [serenata, dialogue chorus, parodied]
1/1/1719, Prince Leopold, Cöthen; formerly titled (BGA) "Mit gnade bekröne (Mvt. 2B); score incomplete, text survives; parodied in BWV 134, Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiß, Easter Tuesday, 4/11/1724
Sources: (1) partial score Bibl/ Conserv. Paris Ms. 2 (Pölchau), (2) parts set (BWV 134) Spk St.18 CPEB Pölchau)
Literature: BGA XXIX Anh. (Waldersee 1881), NBA KBI/35 (Dürr 1965), Whittaker II:518-20, Smend <Bach in Köthen> (rev. 1985:45-49), Dürr 809-815; BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV134a.htm
Text: Hunold (Halle, 1719), Zeit (Time, past, Tenor), Göttliche Vorsehung (Divine Providence, future, Alto); No. 7, Providence: "The Highest's favor is new every morning" (Lam. 3:23)
1. Rec. (T, bc), aso. (A, bc): The time, the day, the year make (134/1)
2. Aria dc (T, tutti): With gifts may crown the heaven (gigue-passepied) (134/2)
3. Rec. (TA, bc): House of the times (134/3)
4. Aria dc (AT, str., bc): There strive, there conquer the future (gavotte) (134/4)
5. Rec. (AT, bc): Remember now, fortunate land (134/5)
6. Aria dc (A, bc): The Lord of Times has many pleasing hours (4/4) (not parodied)
7. Rec. (AT, bc): Help, Highest, help that me men praise (not parodied)
8. Chs. dc (tutti): Delight on earth, rejoice from above (gigue-passepied) (134/6)
Thomas Braatz wrote (March 28, 2006):

<Alfred Dürr (NBA I/10 KB p. 91) states regarding BWV 134 as it parodied BWV 134a "Nicht einmal ein Schlußchoral wurde angefügt -- vielleicht ein Anzeichen für eine besonders frühe Entstehungszeit der Parodie" ("Not even a final choral was added --- perhaps this is an indication the parody was completed at a very early date") [long before it was needed in Leipzig, but with Bach already having prepared it far in advance - perhaps still Köthen while he was preparing his auditions for the Director of Music position in Leipzig]. If I remember correctly, Bach, during and right after his auditions in Leipzig had approached the authorities about presenting some Passion music or Easter cantatas, but this did not materialize. Could it be that this was one cawhich he quickly prepared? Again, the parody may have been prepared very quickly at an early date (in Köthen) to have it ready for performance (around Easter 1723) but then it was put aside as the opportunity for its use did not materialize before he officially took over his position on Trinity Sunday, 1723. Since Bach was able to reuse the original score and most of the original instrumental parts (except one of the continuo parts for organ, he had only to write the new text into the score and the vocal parts (conceivably only into the original vocal parts), but the latter have never been found. Instead, only the vocal parts with the new sacred text from 1723 (earliest date for the watermark of the paper used) exist.>

BCW Article, Bach's Passion Pursuit:
Graupner was unable to obtain his release, and informed the Leipzig Council on March 22, 1723, Monday of Holy Week. Meanwhile, on Sunday February 7, 1723, Bach presented his probe pieces, the Cantatas BWV 22 and BWV 23. <Bach decided to extend BWV 23 by one movement, the elaborate chorale setting, "Christe, de Lamm Gottes," BWV 23/4. . . . The movement was not a newly composed piece but was taken from a finished work, most likely the Weimar (or Gotha) Passion of 1717, BC D1, which Bach brought along to Leipzig in his baggage - perhaps to be able to show an example of a large-scale composition, perhaps to offer it for performance in case such a work was needed for the upcoming Good Friday Vespers. The need apparently did not arise. . . .> Christoph Wolff, JSB: The Learned Musician (2000:222). On April 9 the Town Council met and finally offered the Cantor's position to Bach. On April 19 he signed a pledge to teach at the Thomas School and on April 22 the Council elected Bach. On May 5 Bach came to Leipzig and an examination for theological competence, and on May 16 he assumed his initial duties with the University of Leipzig.

Here are the dates of Easter Season, Leipzig, 1723: Easter Festival, Sunday to Tuesday, March 28-30. 1st to 5th Sundays After Easter, April 4, 11, 18, 25, and May 2; Ascension Day, Thursday, May 6; 6th Sunday After Easter, May 13; Pentecost Festival, Sunday to Tuesday, May 16-18; Trinity Sunday, May 23.

Bach, like his colleagues Stözel, Telemann, and Graupner, who were unable to assume the Leipzig position, also had available sacred cantatas, secular serenades from Weissenfels and Cöthen, and Passion music.

Bach music available and performed: Annunciation, Cantata BWV 182 (Weimar, 1724); Easter Sunday, Cantatas BWV 4 and BWV 31 (Weimar, 1724); Easter Monday, Cantata BWV 66 (Cöthen, 1724); Easter Tuesday, Cantata BWV 134 (Cöthen, 1724) and BWV 158 (Weimar, 1725); Jubilate (Easter 3), Cantata BWV 12 (Weimar, 1724); Pentecost Sunday, Cantatas BWV 59 (1723) and 172 (Weimar, 1725); Pentecost Monday, Cantata BWV 173 (Cöthen, 1724) and BWV 208 (Weißenfels, BWV 68/2, 4, 1725); Pentecost Tuesday, Cantata BWV 184 (Cöthen, 1724); Trinity, Cantata BWV 194 (Cöthen, 1724).

Bach music available, not performed: Good Friday, Weimar/Gotha Passion; Easter Festival, ?Anh. 5-7 (Cöthen), Cantate (Easter 4), Anh. 191.

Bach apparently was fully prepared to present cantatas for the three-day Pentecost Festival at the University Church, and indeed did perform Cantata BWV 59 on Pentecost Sunday (Wolff, Ibid., 242f. The Easter and Pentecost Monday and Tuesday works originally composed in Cöthen (BWV 66, BWV 134, BWV 173, and BWV 184), probably were parodied in the spring of 1723 with Bach anxious to present existing music. Meanwhile, it is documented (NBR) that Thomas Church Pastor and School Inspector Dr. Christian Weiss. the Elder was Bach's host and intermediary with Leipzig authorities in the spring of 1723. Weiss, also a member of the Leipzig University faculty, resumed preaching in 1723, after losing his voice in 1718, and preached regularly again beginning at Easter 1724 (Dürr JSB Cantatas, 27f).

Dürr (29f) points out that St. Thomas pastors, preaching on the same text every year, sought diversity and avoidance of monotony in their sermons by introducing annual sermon cycles of themes or emblems and specific service chorales related to the church main service music pieces or cantatas. A review of Bach's chorale applications or usages, especially in the Leipzig service, show important patterns, particularly as they relate to Douglas Cowling's essential survey, BCW Cantata BWV 158 discussion:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/33721 .

One such example is Misericordi (Easter 2): Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing: "Der Herr is mein getreuer Hirt." which is found in Cantata BWV 85 (1725) and the pure-hymn cantata BWV 112, Bach's only chorale cantata definitely composed in Leipzig for the Easter season. The theme of the shepherd is important in Bach's sacred music as well as his earlier pastoral serenades and later drammi per musica, such as BWV 249a, 193a, 30a as well as music in BWV 248II, Christmas Oratorio, Annunciation to the Shepherds, arias from BWV 214/5 and BWV 213/3.

< Cantata BWV 184 is among the five sacred "Shepherd Cantatas" with pastoral music Bach
composed for the Pentecost Tuesday and the Second Sunday after Easter. For Pentecost
Tuesday, the two Shepherd Cantatas, BWV 184, "Erwünschtes Freudenlicht" (Desired Light of Joy) and BWV 175, "Er rufet seinen Schafen mit Namen" (He Calls His Sheep by Name), are based on the Gospel of John, 10:1-11, Jesus as the true Shepherd. Cantata BWV 184 preserves the three Köthen dance-forms: minuet, polonaise, and gavotte. Cantata BWV 175 of 1725 has two pastorales, a newly-written aria, and a parodied aria from Köthen Cantata BWV 173a/7.

<For the Second Sunday after Easter (Misericodias Domini), the three Shepherd Cantatas are based upon the Gospel of John, 10:12-16, "I am the Good Shepherd," and the Epistle Lesson, I Peter 2:21-25, the biblical illusions to one sheep led astray, as well as the Collect, the deliverance peril. The three cantatas are BWV 104, "Du Hirte Israel, höre (You Shepherd of Israel, Give Ear), composed in 1724 with an opening pastorale chorus and a siciliana bass aria; Cantata BWV 85, "Ich bin ein gutter Hirt" (I am a Good Shepherd), composed in 1725, with a pastorale tenor aria; and BWV 112, "Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt," with a pastorale alto aria and a bouree soprano-tenor duet.> BCW Article Bach's Dramatic Music.

So many dots to connect. To come: Bach's Parodied Recitatives. Later, Easter Season Chorales.

 

Cantata 134: Parodied Recitatives

William Hoffman wrote (August 12, 2010):
Bach's Parodied Recitatives

It appears that in the spring of 1723, as Bach successfully pursued the Leipzig Cantor's position, he prepared music for the Easter Season before he would officially assume the post and begin cantata presentations on the First Sunday After Trinity Sunday when the new term at the Thomas School commenced.

While Bach had on hand some seven service cantatas from Weimar suitable, with few adjustments, for the 13 services of the Leipzig Easter Season, he turned initially instead to four festive secular serenades composed more recently in Cöthen for presentation on the second and third days (Mondays and Tuesdays) of the three-day festivals of Easter and Pentecost. These would become Bach's first exercise in the long-established (Renaissance) practice of vocal parody or new text underlay. Thus, the new words would relate to the New Testament readings in the service Gospels and Epistles, while preserving the original arias, recitatives, and choruses. The parodied works are Cantatas BWV 66, BWV 134, BWV 173, and BWV 184. All four sacred scores survive, written in Bach's hand, with new recitative texts. Cantata BWV 134 is the only one to have significant alterations for subsequent performances and all four were repeated twice, in 1731 and 1735 as part of complete Easter season reperformances of Bach cantatas.

For parody adaptation, Bach simply substituted each word for another word with no changes in the music of the so-called madrigalian lyrical, poetic texts of the arias, recitatives and choruses. Bach would maintain the rhyme scheme and line length of the original movement. Because these substantial serenades had been composed in dialogue form with da-capo arias and choruses and extended recitatives and ariosi, Bach preserved the overall integrity of each work, usually using the same movements in the same order, alternating recitatives and arias. To keep each work under 25 minutes for the sacred service, he eliminated one aria and recitative while ending each work with either the chorus or a new sacred chorale.

Bach's parody practice would evolve into substantial revisions of arias as well as recitative texts and music, leading to wholesale parody in his Christological Cycle of major works involving an oratorio Passion according to Mark; at least three major feast-day oratorios for Christmas, Easter, and Ascension; and contrafactions from German to Latin of four Misse Kyrie-Glorias and the Great Mass in B Minor (BWV 232). Meanwhile, for practical purposes, Bach was able to recycle secular music into sacred cantatas or for other secular purposes, often as assembledges or pastiches, with new German texts, often provided by Leipzig poet Picander.

Bach scholarship only recognized this major, wide-spread parody practice in the 20th century, realizing that it was more significant and substantial then mere self-plagiarism or laziness. In total more than 200 movements are now recognized as parodies in Bach's vocal music, out of some 1500, not including 265 multi-stanza hymns and sacred songs which are intrinsic text parodies of their verses. Parodied recitatives, still not recognized by many Bach scholars, constitute some 23 movements, or more than one-tenth of the 200 vocal adaptations.

At least 24 cantatas were altered in Leipzig for specific secular and sacred occasions. More than half, 15, have at least one reworked recitative and are identified with asterisks. Twenty of these cantatas, in numerical order, were revised once: BWV 30a*, 34a, 36c, BWV 66a*, 120a*, BWV 134a*, BWV 173a*, BWV 184a*, 193a, 194a, 205*, BWV 207*, 208a*, 210a*, BWV 213, BWV 214, BWV 216, 248a*, BWV 249a*, and Anh. 4a*. One cantata, BWV 36c, was rearranged three times but contains no recitative revisions. Double revisions involve three cantatas: BWV 120a*, BWV BWV 249a*, and Anh. 12.

Bach's process of recitative adaptation shows certain distinct features. He usually reworked entire secular congratulatory cantatas, retaining the recitatives where appropriate. Beyond word-substitution, Bach would use various compositional techniques to adapt the recitatives:

1. The beginning of the text and music is the same, but the rest of the movement is different (BWV 69/2);
2. The text of the first phrase is altered, but all the music and the rest of the text are the same (BWV 173/5);
3. The text and vocal line are changed but the accompaniment is the same (BWV 173/1);
4-5. The same music is set to new text (BWV 134/1, 1724 version, while in the 1731 version, the entire text is retained but set to new music.

In one cantata movement, the soprano aria adaptation is a complex transformation, BWV 30a/8 from BWV 30/9. The revised movement has an identical first line, altered second, identical next four, substitution of subject "Gott" for "Hennikke" in the seventh; and word-for-word substitution in the final three lines.

Leipzig Poet Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici, 1700-1764) was Bach's principal librettist and most associated with parody. Their collaboration is documented as beginning with the Shepherd's Cantata BWV 249a, revised and presented a few weeks later in 1725 as the Easter Oratorio, BWV 249. Soon after, Leipzig poetess Mariane von Ziegler (1695-1760) set texts for two Easter Season Cantatas BWV 68 and BWV 74, which include previously composed arias set to her new texts.

As to the text adapter of Bach's initial parodies of the four Cöthen serenades in 1723, the most likely candidates are Bach himself and Christian Weiss, Sr., pastor of Leipzig's St. Thomas Church, perhaps in collaboration.

 

BWV 134 Bach's examination

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (November 16, 2010):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (August 27, 2009):
<< 1.) Handel never served as a Church Organist in Halle. He did have a short-lived career as an Organist at the Protestant Cathedral in 1704,
2.) Unlike
Köthen, Halle never became Calvinist.
4.) Bach never served as Organist at
Köthen. 22 and 23 (2nd version) for this occasion]). >>
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I'm not sure what you're saying about the facts in the above situations. Handel was a Lutheran yet was hired as organist by the Halle Cathedral which was Calvinist (see Hogwood, "Handel", p. 21) >
Actually, the Cathedral (as I stated before) was not Calvinist, but Pietist (which was still Evangelical [Lutheran]). Besides which, the Organist post he held was assistant to his old teacher Zachow (the Cathedral in Halle was called the Liebfrauenkirche).

< Bach directed the music and played for such music as was performed in the court chapel (Wolff, Chap 7) >
Wrong again. There is no evidence of Bach having any affiliation with the Köthen Court Chapel, especially since his music would have been frowned upon for use at a Calvinist institution. Hence all the religious music he wrote during this period (1717-1723) were for posts outside of Köthen (i.e., the vacancy in 1720 at the Jakobiskirche zu Hamburg and the trial pieces for the Kantorate at the Thomaskirche zu Leipzig). He himself attended, wrote some music with the Organ in mind (i.e., the Orgelbüchlein), and had his children educated at the school attached to the Agnuskirche zu Köthen (the only Evangelical chuch present). The only sacred music that he performed in Köthen at all came in 1729 at the funeral services held at the Court Chapel for his former employer (at which time he performed BWV 244a; apparently there was no fuss over the fact that his works were large-scale works).

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 16, 2010):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] I am a bit confused. Is this a continuation and/or response to an exchange from October of last year? Grammatically, why never and not; what do the asterisks contribute to the sense of the statements?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (November 16, 2010):
[To Ed Myskowski] They add emphasis, many E-mail clients present Yahoo mail in a non-rich (i.e. HTML) format, so any bolding of text would be lost.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 16, 2010):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Aha!. So, rather like a polite version of NO, NOT, NEVER? I have been using asterisks as a substitute for double-quotes (other than in actual quotations). The quotation marks are worse than lost, they are often translated as a variety of other characters: for example &%$#! Rather like a cartoon curse.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (November 17, 2010):
[To Ed Myskowski] What's ironic, is some actually use HTML tags to mark up normal writing, and substitute the tags with emotions or whatever. A lot of this I suppose is the influence of designers and coders ;)

"Oh my mother-in-law will be here for early morning breakfast.
[sarcasm] Oh joy! [/sarcasm].

 

Cantatas BWV 134 & BWV 134a: Details & Complete Recordings of BWV 134 | Recordings of Individual Movements from BWV 134 | Details & Recordings of BWV 134a | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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