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Cantata BWV 166
Wo gehest du hin?
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of April 16, 2006 (2nd round)

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 16, 2006):
Week of April 16 - Cantata 166

Week of April 16, 2006

Cantata BWV 166, “Wo gehest du hin?”

Leipzig, 1724 | 1st performance: May 7, 1724 - Leipzig

First Annual Cantata Cycle, 1723-24 (Jahrgang I)

Previous Sunday in 1724 (Jubilate Sunday)
Cantata BWV 12, “Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen”
Next Sunday in 1724: (Rogate Sunday):
Cantata BWV 86, “Wahrlich, wahrlich, ice sage euch”
Week from Thursday: (Ascension Day)
Cantata BWV 37, “Wer da gläubet”

(Mvt. 1) John 16: 5
(Mvt. 3) Bartholomäus Ringwaldt
(Mvt. 6) Ämilie Juliane von Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
(Mvt. 2, Mvt. 4, Mvt. 5) Anon


Movements & Scoring:

Mvt. 1: Aria
"Wo gehest du hin?"
Soloists: Bass
Ob, 2 Vn, Va, Bc

Mvt. 2: Aria
“Ich will an den Himmel denken"
Soloists: Tenor
Instruments: Ob, B

Mvt. 3: Chorale
“Ich bitte dich, Herr Jesu Christ”
Soloists: Soprano
Instruments: 2 Vn, Va, Bc

Mvt. 4: Recitative
“Gleichwie die Regenwasser bald verfließen”
Soloists: Bass
Instruments: Bc

Mvt. 5: Aria
“Man nehme sich in acht”
Soloists: Alto
Instruments: Ob, 2 Vn, Va, Bc

Mvt. 6: Chorale
“Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende!”
Choir: SATB
Instruments: Ob, 2 Vn, Va, Bc

Liturgical Comments:

Written for the Fourth Sunday after Easter. The name “Cantate” Sunday comes from the opening words of the Latin introit, “Cantate Domino canticum novum”. Ascension Day, when a cantata was required, falls on the Thursday after the next Sunday.

Other Cantatas written for Cantate Sunday:
BWV 108 Es ist euch gut, dass ich hingehe (Leipzig, 1725)

The orders for Mass and Vespers can be found in an appendix at the end of this posting. Extracted from Wolff.

Texts of Readings:
Readings: Epistle: Jas. 1: 17-21; Gospel: John 16: 5-15

Introduction to Lutheran Church Year:

Piano Vocal Score: (free PDF download)


Music (free streaming download):

Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten
Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut


Previous Discussion:

Performances of Bach Cantatas:

Order of Discusssion (2006)


ORDER OF SUNDAY & HOLYDAY MASS (Amt) - 7:00 -10:00 am

1. Choir: Hymn in figural or polyphonic setting
2. Organ: Prelude introducing Introit
3. Choir: Introit Motet in figural or polyphomic setting

4. Organ: Prelude introducing Kyrie
5. Choir: Kyrie in figural setting
6. Choir: Gloria in figural setting (minister sings intonation from altar)

7. Minister & Altar Singers (lower form boys):
Salutation & Collect (Prayer of Day) sung from altar
8. Minister: Epistle sung from altar steps

9. Organ: Prelude introduing Hymn
10. Congregation: Hymn of Season (de tempore)
11. Minister & Altar Singers: Gospel with responses sung from altar steps

12. Organ: Prelude introducing cantata
13. Choir: First Cantata

14. Choir:: Credo sung in chorale setting, minister intones from altar steps
15. Organ: Prelude introducing Wir Glauben
16. Congregation: Wir Glauben All (German Credo)

17. Minister: Spoken annoucement of Sermon from altar
18. Organ: Prelude introducing hymn
19. Congregation: Hymn
20. Minister: Text of Sermon & Lord’s Prayer from pulpit
21. Minister: Sermon (8:00 a.m., 1 hour)
22. Minister: Prayers, Announcments & Benediction from pulpit

23. Organ: Prelude introducing hymn
24. Congregation Hymn
25. Mnister & Altar Singers: Preface in Latin from altar
26. Choir: Sanctus in figural setting (without Osanna or Benedictus)
27. Minister: spoken Communion admoniton, Words of Institution
28. Congregation: Distribution of Communion at altar steps

29. Organ: Prelude introducting Communion Cantata
30. Choir: Second Cantata

31. Organ: Prelude introducing hymn
32. Congregation: Hymn during Communion
33. Minister & Altar Singers: Collect with responses sung from altar
34. Minister: spoken Benediction

35. Organ: Prelude introducing Hymn
36. Congregation: Hymn
36. Choir: Hymn in figural setting (festal days)


1. Organ: Prelude introducing Hymn
2. Choir: Hymn in figural setting

3. Choir: Cantata (repeated from morning)

4. Organ: Prelude introducing Hymn
5. Congregation: Hymn
6. Minister & Altar Singers: Psalm
7. Minister: Lord’s Prayer from altar steps

8. Organ: Prelude introducing hymn
9. Congregation: Hymn

10. Minister: Annoucement of Sermon from pulpit
11. Congregation: Hymn
12. Minister: Sermon from pulpit
[13. Choir: Passion or narrativer oratorio, no cantata]
14. Minister: spoken Prayers, Collect & Benediction from pulpit

15. Organ: Prelude introducing Magnificat
16. Choir: LatinMagnificat in figural setting
17. Congregation: German Magnificat Hymn (Meine Seele)

18. Minister: spoken Responsary, Collect & Benediction from altar
19. Congregation: Hymn ­ Nun Danket Alle Gott

Neil Halliday wrote (April 20, 2006):
The alto aria (BWV 166/5) is noteworthy for the striking, unsettled tonality in the middle section that speaks of the fickle nature of fortune. This section begins, as expected, in the relaminor (G minor); but the first statement of the three lines of text (in this middle section) modulates and ends on A minor, while the second statement of these same three lines of text modulates from A minor and ends on a very unexpected C minor, before returning to the confident B flat major of the `da capo'.

This aria also features Bach's thick-textured instrumental writing, with at least one and sometimes many of the five lines (v.1 plus oboe, v.2, viola, alto, continuo) nearly always having the 4-note `slow trill' figure. This is well captured in Rilling's recording [2].

[Rilling [2] does have his characteristically undifferentiated phrasing in the continuo, in the tenor aria and soprano chorale, detracting from the charm of these movements. The soprano chorale, especially, begins to sound mechanical].

The lovely tenor (BWV 166/2) aria shows Bach's ability to effortlessly weave another line into pre-existing material, with the tenor line engaging in the imitative/canonical counterpoint of the oboe and violin lines.

BTW, is BWV 584, an organ trio on which this movement is based, by Bach? The Rilling booklet [2] says " the transcription which supplied us with the knowledge of this beautiful cantata movement is not by Bach

Neil Halliday.

PS, notice this comment from Aryeh, in the earlier discussions:
<"I would like you to notice that each recording of this BWV 166 is faster than its predecessors are. IMHO, the gradual tendency to velocity causes the cantata to lose most of its soul">. (Suzuki [7] has come back a bit from Koopman's fastest time for the cantata [4], after this remark was made).

While this may be the subjective impression of an older generation of Bach listeners (to which I belong), this was certainly my experience of Veldhoven's brisk "Mache dich" SMP (BWV 244|) radio performance, heard during easter.

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 20, 2006):
Neil Halliday wrote:
>>BTW, is BWV 584, an organ trio on which this movement is based, by Bach? The Rilling booklet [2] says "the transcription which supplied us with the knowledge of this beautiful cantata movement is not by Bach himself." <<
The NBA has not included BWV 584 among Bach's compositions or transcriptions for organ. However, there are almost 10 pages devoted to a detailed discussion of BWV 584 (now regarded as a work of doubtful authenticity in the most recent BWV Verzeichnis). The discussion centers upon refuting the arguments presented in the BJ at the beginning of the 20th century, arguments which were directed at claiming that this organ trio was the precursor upon which the tenor aria in this cantata was based. In very detailed and persuasive arguments presented by Alfred Dürr, the editor of the volume containing this cantata NBA KB I/12, the conclusion is reached that Bach would never have even authorized let alone composed this trio as it stands. It is, however, possible that both BWV 584 and BWV 166/2 are based on a yet older source which has not been located.

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 20, 2006):
BWV 166/2 and BWV 584

As a response to Neil Halliday's inquiry, I have scanned and asked Aryeh Oron to post BWV 584 on the BCW where it is available now for viewing at:

Thanks to Aryeh for quickly assisting in making this possible.

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 21, 2006):
Here is a summary translation of points mentioned by Alfred Dürr in his discussion of the historical aspects of this cantata BWV 166 with particular attention to BWV 166/2 (NBA KB I/12 pp. 18-22).

There is no autograph score available, only a simple set of original parts with doublets and the usual 3rd continuo part missing. It is not unusual for this to happen, but unfortunately a switch occurred in this instance where the original 1st violin part instead of the doublet was given away as well. Thus it becomes necessary to reconstruct the missing 1st violin part for the Aria during which the doublet parts have a tacet. Since the original score is missing, there is no way to ascertain the history of development of this cantata as such a score offers clues as to whether this was an original conception from 1724 or whether Bach had a clean/clear copy score for this 1724 performance which would point to an earlier origin of parts or even the entire cantata.

Only by virtue of the existence of BWV 584, a trio for organ, is it possible to find further assistance in reconstructing the missing violin part for BWV 166/2. But first it will be necessary to revisit the observations and conclusions given by Reinhard Oppel in the BJ 1909, pp. 27-40, where this source was thoroughly analyzed. These are his observations and arguments:

This trio corresponds to mm 1-30, essentially the main part/section of the cantata aria. There is no correspondence with the middle section. The upper/treble part of the trio is almost identical with the oboe part in the aria, but, from time to time, it seems to fall more in line with the tenor part. The same is true for the organ pedal part as compared to the bc. The middle voice/part of the trio seems to derive some of its material (once again from time to time) from the tenor part (mm. 13-14, 16, 17, 27-28), but otherwise offers material in the manner in which the voice-leading takes place, material for which there is no analogy anywhere in the cantata aria. Despite this fact, this voice-leading is not arbitrary nor can it be considered as material added as an afterthought because it makes use of the same thematic material as the upper/treble part does:

Trio: Aria:

mm 1-7 11-17 28-30 mm 1-7 11-17 28-30
Upper a b a Oboe a b a

Middle b a' b Tenor - x -
Pedal c c c bc c c c

[mm 28-30 in both Trio and Aria are shortened]

Oppel concluded that the plan Bach used for construction of this mvt. in the Trio represents the composer's first conception and not a transcription of an already existing Aria. Oppel argues as follows:

1. mm 11-17 are a transposed repetition of mm 1-7 with simply a switch in the manuals used - it is inconceivable that Bach would have composed the counterpoints in a and b without relating them to each other (in the Aria) and then only later used this possibility in the organ trio.

2. the identity/sameness of the notes on the 2nd and 3rd beat of mm 1 & 3 of the Aria does not appear to be very favorable and only later do their purpose become clear by means of the middle part/voice (in m 3 the upper part/voice is only the imitation of the middle voice/part which lies higher. The proof that this trio is Bach's earlier version lies in the inconsequentiality with which Bach treats the transposed repetition (mm11-17) and does not maintain the counterpoint a (of the middle part/voice).

3. mm 9-11 constitute a transition/bridge which is obtained by the transposition to d-minor of mm 7-8. Evidence for the transitional character is seen in the repetition of this section (mm 9-10) in mm 20-21 as well as in the reuse of the opening motif (last beat of m9 to 1st beat of m 10 in the upper voice/part, the same in mm 19-20.

4. mm 23-25 are obtained by imitation of previous material (mm 23-24 of the middle voice/part correspond to mm 24-25 of the upper voice/part

5. the use of the motif with 16th notes, mm 21-23, in the trio makes more sense musically in the trio than in the Aria where a part of this motif is sacrificed for the purpose of declamation

6. the ending of the Aria (Tenor mm 26-28) is derived from the middle voice/part of the Trio

7. the 16th-note rest after "ich" in the Aria is a later change - if Bach had composed this mvt. with the vocal part in mind, he would have maintained this rest elsewhere in this mvt.

Dürr now continues:

The power of these arguments varies considerably from item to item. It will become clear as investigate further that particular items 3 through 6 can be explained with an entirely different interpretation. Item 7 speaks more for the prior existence of instruments in either the aria or the trio, but not for the trio itself/alone.

Oppel has overlooked one important argument, but this argument, using the same logical approach, also speaks against the theory that the Trio came first. Here is a comparison of the questionable parts:

Trio: Arie:
mm 7-9 19-21 mm 7-9 19-21
Upper d d' Oboe d d'
Middle e e' Tenor a a
Pedal c c bc c c

It seems inconceivable here that the Trio version would have preceded the Aria, specifically that both places (7-9, 19-21) of the Trio have been arbitrarily so conceived that the main theme a in the entire mvt. could have been so easily inserted without any changes necessary into the Tenor part of the Aria. It is all the more improbable that the accidental counterpoint d and e in mm 19-21, would not reappear completely unchanged (but still close enough so that a connection between them can be recognized) and still be able nevertheless to make possible a note-for-note repetition of the melody in the vocal part.

The solution to this riddle appears immediately if you begin trying to combine the Trio and the Aria with each other. The result will be that the Tenor and the middle (left-hand, lower-manual) part fit together with little difficulty so that an Aria with 2 (!) obbligato instruments will appear in which the 2nd obbligato part should be thought of as pausing while the middle part of the Trio is playing along with the Tenor part. From the resulting score (the reconstruction given in the NBA) it will become evident that not only the main section, but also the middle section was planned in such a way to include both obbligato parts (an observation already given by Oppel, who, however, thought that Bach wanted to have this 2nd obbligato part played on the organ). The only difference being that the middle section was not as easy to reconstruct since the Trio did not include this section at all.

A summary of the entire problem is as follows:

1. Neither the Trio BWV 584 nor the Aria BWV 166/2 in their present forms were the original version of this mvt. but rather the original must have been an aria for voice, 2 obbligato instruments and bc.

2. The Trio BWV 584 is an arrangement of this original Aria for organ, an arrangement which dropped the vocal part and in only a few places, where there was insufficient material to be derived from the 2 obbligato instruments, it [the missing vocal part] was inserted as the middle part. It is entirely improbable that Bach would have authorized this arrangement: Bach would not have simply omitted theme a in mm 7-9 and mm 19-21!

3. The Aria BWV 166/2, in the form in which it has been transmitted to us, is incomplete. Of the two possible explanations for this:

1. Bach wanted to reuse a work that he had composed earlier and, in the process, boldly dropped one of the obbligato parts

2. the part for BWV 166 which contained the 2nd obbligato part for this mvt. was lost the first one (no. 1) is not convincing based upon the gap left by the missing part. It can only be due to the few performances of this cantata which have been recorded that musicians have not complained about sections like mm 4-5 or m 31 and m 41. Certainly, no one could honestly claim that they were doing Bach justice with this type of performance.

Let's assume that this mvt. BWV 166/2 has been published previously only in this incomplete state because the 2nd obbligato part was missing. What type of part would this lost obbligato part have been? We know from descriptions of the existing parts from other sources such as the cover page and this agrees with what we have before us. Although it is conceivable that there was a single part for only this mvt. for possibly a Violoncello piccolo, Viola d'amore, Traversa, or some similar instrument (these parts do not always appear on the title pages or covers of cantatas) since such an instrument would have been played by one of the instrumentalists already listed in the ensemble, there is still possible another explanation/interpretation which may be closer to the truth and will applied for providing a practical solution for performing this music. As described earlier, the fact that the 1st Violin part was not copied by the main copyist allows us to conclude that the surviving part is a doublet copy while the original first copy was probably included in the score when the score was given away and eventually lost. Normally there are no differences between the 1st copy and the 2nd (doublet) and for this reason, when the doublets are removed from the original set of parts, not much attention is focused upon which of these two parts gets separated from the other. The situation is very different, however, when mvts. containing Solo Violin parts are involved. No extra doublet part is prepared for these and the solo parts in the doublets simply have a 'tacet' marked since they will not be playing this part. It really makes sense to think that the solo obbligato part was lost in this fashion, or, to put this another way, 'if the lost obbligato part was supposed to be played by the Solo Violin I, then that is the reason why it does not exist now.' This seems to be the most reasonable interpretation/solution for the circumstances surrounding the missing part.

The publication of this reconstruction of BWV 166/2 by the NBA is based upon the supposition that states: It is a fact that one part for the Aria "Ich will an den Himmel denken" is missing/not extant and that this part must have been a part composed for the Solo Violin 1.

The NBA offers a score for the Trio BWV 584 for study and in the musical score for BWV 166/2 the notes that have been added for the missing violin part are indicated with tiny rather than full-sized notes. No attempt was made to correct the numerous errors in BWV 584.

The reconstruction of the Aria involved:

1. The oboe and continuo parts were taken from the original set of parts, several phrasing marks from BWV
584 were used to complete the missing ones in the oboe part (they appear as dotted)

2. The violin part of the main section was primarily reconstructed from the middle part of the Trio. (A long list of corrections and phrasing marks used or added is given)

3. Another aid in the reconstruction of the violin part is derived from the figured bass on the existing bc part, but this is available only for the main part/section of the Aria since the middle section was left 'unfigured'. Where there was any doubt involved (some figures were incorrect), BWV 584 was used instead.

4. In the reconstruction of the violin part in the middle section, the following was done:

a) the violin part could be extracted from the exchange of parts between oboe and violin (mm 31-32, 34, 41-42, 43-44

b) mm 38-40 were derived from the combination of themes already present in mm 1-3. Since the oboe part in mm 38-40 repeats the violin part from mm1-3, it is easy to reconstruct the violin part as a repetition of mm 1-3 of the oboe part

c) only for mm 44-48 is there no parallel that can be extracted from earlier material. What is given here is completely conjecture.

Neil Halliday wrote (April 21, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
<"Here is a summary translation of points mentioned by Alfred Dürr in his discussion of the historical aspects of this cantata BWV 166 with particular attention to BWV 166/2 (NBA KB I/12 pp. 18-22)".>
Thanks for this summary of Oppel's and Dürr's arguments, and the score of BWV 584, which makes it possible to easily follow the violin line (in the outer sections at least), which is missing in the BGA score of BWV 166/2.

When I first heard the ritornello in the Rilling version [2] (with violin, oboe and continuo; note that Koopman [4] has two oboes, giving quite a different effect), my impression was of writing similar to the imitative writing for the upper instruments (flute, oboe, violin) in the slow movement of the 2nd Brandenburg, so my own theory is that Bach hadwritten an original instrumental trio (now lost) for oboe, violin, and continuo, and simply added a part for tenor later to create 166/2, which he has of course done, in an `effortless' manner, with several other cantata movements (he would have newly composed the middle section). This would mean (if this is the case) that the organ trio BWV 584, whether an authentic transcription by Bach or some-one else, would itself be a transcription of an original (lost) trio for oboe, violin and continuo, which may have been written - it does not matter - before or after BWV 166/2. This seems to me a better solution than postulating either an earlier lost aria, or earlier organ trio of doubtful authenticity.

As far as I can see, neither Oppel nor Dürr seem to have considered this straightforward possibility, although I must admit I find their considerations somewhat complex, making it by no means simple to draw all the threads of their arguments together.

Neil Halliday wrote (April 21, 2006):
I wrote:
<" my own theory is that Bach had written an original instrumental trio (now lost)..".>
but the the fact that the tenor part comes in (an octave lower) after the cadence in bar 6, with an almost exact imitation of the oboe part heard at the start, complicates this theory, even if the instrumental (or organ) trio does sound complete in itself. Back to the drawing boards...

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 21, 2006):
BWV 166/2 NBA Reconstruction Study Score

In order to make all the materials available for study, I have asked Aryeh Oron to create a page for the inclusion of the NBA score of BWV 166/2 for study purposes only. He has kindly and quickly made this possible. The results can be viewed at:

For comparison BWV 584 is found at:

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 28, 2006):
I have only the Cantate LP that Aryeh commented on extensively in the first round of discussion [1]. I heartily agree with his positive opinions of the performance. If you can play it, the LP is certainly worth tracking down. Perhaps it will eventually be reissued in digital format.

Neil Halliday wrote (April 29, 2006):
Aryeh's report on the 60's recording of BWV 166 [1] makes one hope that it is eventually transferred to CD, since I found none of the available recordings to be entirely satisfying.


Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 166: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Main Page | 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
Discussions of General Topics: Cantatas & Other Vocal Works | Performance Practice | Radio, Concerts, Festivals, Recordings


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