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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 184
Erwünschtes Freudenlicht
Cantata BWV 184a
[Text Lost]
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of March 6, 2011

William Hoffman wrote (March 6, 2011):
Cantata 184: Bach's Interests, Design; Easter & Church Year

In all likelihood, Bach composed only two cantatas for the Third Day of the Pentecost Festival, Pentecost Tuesday: BWV 184, "Erwünschtes Freudenlicht" (Desired Light of Joy) in 1724, and BWV 175, "Er rufet seinen Schafen mit Namen" (He Calls His Sheep by Name), in 1725. Yet these two works, using recycled materials, are emblematic of Bach's intense and fruitful interest in popular musical and religious interests of his day as well as his basic strategy to created a significant and meaningful well-order church music to the glory of God

Pentecost Tuesday: Gospel, John 10:1-10 (Parable of Sheep); Epistle, Acts 8:14-17 (Holy Spirit in Sumaria)

Date (Cy.) | BWV Title | Type/Note
5/30/1724 (1) 184 Erwunschtes Freudenfest Chorus/Parody
5/22/1725 (2) 175 Er rufet seinen Schafen mit Namen Solo/Partial Parody
6/11/1726 (3) no record
5/27/1727 (1) (184) Erwunschtes Freudenfest /repeat
6/7/1729 (4) [P40] Ich klopf an deine Genadentüre /Picander text only
5/15/1731 (184) Erwunschtes Freudenfest /repeat
5/31/1735 (?184) Erwunschtes Freudenfest /no repeat documented

By contrast, for the next Sunday, the Trinity Festival, that ends the de tempore first half of the church year, Bach presented four different cantatas. He recycled Weimar Cantata BWV 165 and Cöthen serenade 194a while composing new Cantatas BWV 176 (1725) and 129 (1726/27). In addition he presented as the Sanctus in C, BWV 237, and possibly presented the Missa (Kyrie-Gloria) of the B Minor-Mass, BWV 323I, in 1733, followed by the Missae (Kyrie-Gloria), BWV 233-236, in the second half of the 1730s.

Bach's Interests and Grand Design

When Bach came to Leipzig in early May 1723 to begin what would become his last calling as church cantor and city director of music, he brought with him some 30 sacred cantatas composed in Weimar between 1714 and 1717 and a handful of secular serenades recently composed as capellemeister at Cöthen. These would help him substantially fulfill his primary composing task of providing new works for the some 60 sacred services during the church year.

Serendipity prevailed with the Cöthen dance movements. These enabled Bach to reuse the pastoral-influenced shepherd music, with new sacred texts, to engage churchgoers with familiar sacred biblical themes and popular profane dances in the gallant style. At the same time, Bach was able to preserve the basic form of these previously-composed works. The sacred Weimar cantatas were expanded mostly with additional recitatives and chorales emphasizing the biblical lessons and sermon of the particular service, while virtually all the Cöthen music was retained with new substitute texts and new appropriate chorale hymns.

Cantata BWV 184 is among the five sacred "Shepherd Cantatas" with pastoral music Bach composed for Pentecost Tuesday and the Second Sunday after Easter. For Pentecost Tuesday, the two Shepherd Cantatas, BWV 184, "Erwünschtes Freudenlicht" (Desired Light of Joy) and 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 its three Köthen dance-forms: minuet (2), polonaise (4), and gavotte (6). Cantata BWV 175 of 1725 has two pastorales, a newly-written aria (2), and an expanded, parodied aria (4) 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 from 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 (5); Cantata BWV 85, "Ich bin ein gutter Hirt" (I am a Good Shepherd), composed in 1725, with a pastorale tenor aria (5); and the chorale Cantata BWV 112 for Misericordias Domini 1731, "Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt" (The Lord is my Faithful Shepherd, Psalm 23) with a pastorale alto aria (2) and a bouree soprano-tenor duet (4).

The significance of the pastoral(e) is summarized in Little and Jenne, <Dance and the Music of J. S. Bach> (1991: 47): "Yet the classic proportions of the gavotte, both as music and as dance, reach a high point in popularity during the "pastoral" craze of the 1720s and 1730s, when those who lived in cities and courts idealized a simpler rural life, with shepherds and shepherdesses doing rustic dances indoors to the accompaniment of bagpipes. It was during this period that Bach wrote most of his gavottes, frequently including pastoral references but always retaining the ideals of calm balance and expected rhyme, which are so characteristic of this dance."

Other notable pastorales include the opening alto da-capo aria, Cantata 174, "Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte," (I love God most high with all my heart - Francis Browne translation to Picander text), Pentecost Monday, 1729; the opening chorus of the Ascension Oratorio, May 19, 1735, "Lobet Gott in seinem Reichen" (Praise God in his Kingdom), parodied from the openings of two lost secular cantatas for the 1732 rededication of the Thomas School (BWV Anh. 18), and the Nameday of Saxon Prince Augustus III (BWV Anh. 12) in 1733; as well as two instrumental "pifa" shepherd pipe sinfonias to Bach's Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248 in 1734, and Handel's Oratorio "The Messiah" in 1741.

Besides BWV 184 for Pentecost Tuesday there are four other dance-infused Köthen serenatas parodied in 1724 as church cantatas in the first cantata cycle. They are: BWV 66a, "Der Himmel dacht auf Anhalts Ruhm und Glück" (The Heavens Resound in Anhalt's Glory and Fortune), for Easter Monday; BWV 134a, "Die Zeit, die Tag und Jahre macht" (The Time, the Day, the Year Make"), for Easter Tuesday; BWV 173, "Erhötes Fleisch und Blut" (Exhalted Flesh and Blood), for Pentecost Monday; and BWV 194, "Höchsterwüschtes Freudenfest" (Most Highly Desired Festival of Joy), for Trinity Sunday. The parodist librettist is unknown and the speculation centers on Bach and his Thomas Church pastor, Christian Weiss Sr.

Bach also composed two secular birthday Shepherd Cantatas for the Court at Sachsen-Weißenfels: BWV 208, "Was mir behagt, ist die mutre Jagd" (What pleases me above all is the lively hunt - Frances Browne translation of Salamo Franck text), Bach's first "modern," Italian-style cantata, Feb. 23, 1713, and BWV 249a, "Entflieht, verschwindet, entweichet, ihr Sorgen" (Fly, vanish, flee, O worries -- Richard Stokes translation of Picander text), Feb. 23, 1725, which five weeks later was parodied as the Easter Oratorio, BWV 249, on Easter Sunday, April 1.

As Bach's first year in Leipzig came to its end with the 50-day Easter Season of 14 services in 1724, he could have had two strategies for completing the first sacred cantata cycle. They would depend on the time needed for his composition of the required Good Friday oratorio Passion during the preceding closed Lenten period of 50 days when no cantatas were presented. If he had been able to complete his <St. John Passion, BWV 245>, with spare time available, Bach could have composed an Easter Festival Oratorio and began cantatas for the first Sundays after Easter with a unified libretto from a new Leipzig poet.

If time was a great constraint, Bach's EasterSeason alternative was to utilize the existing music from Weimar: two cantatas for Easter Sunday (BWV 4 and 172), Cantata BWV 12 for the Third Sunday After Easter (Jubilate), two Pentecost Cantatas (BWV 172 and 59), and Trinity Sunday Cantata BWV 165. For the Second and Third Days (Monday and Tuesday) of the Easter and Pentecost Festivals, and Trinity Sunday, Bach would reuse five Cöthen serenades. The few remaining Easter Season services would have new cantatas from the same librettist Bach had worked with during crucial periods in the rest of the first cantata cycle, possibly Pastor Weiss.

As part of his grand design for a well-ordered church music to the glory of God, Bach was already looking ahead to the immediate composition of a new, second cantata cycle, beginning again on the First Sunday After Trinity Sunday, the official start of the half-year Trinity season as well as the new academic year at the Thomas School. His option was to wait until the end of 1724 to begin at the traditional start of the church season on the First Sunday in Advent. As it turned out, Bach took the Easter Season alternative of reusing mostly old music, delayed the initial plan one year, and -- without a break -- began the composition of a second cycle of newly-composed chorale cantatas.

Easter Season and the Church Year

The Easter Season is the central observance of the Christian church year and it's first such observance. It began with Easter Sunday, known as the Lord's Day, on the first day of the week, and was associated with the Jewish Passover Observance. The Easter Season continued until the Day of Pentecost, 50 days after Easter Sunday. Then, the Easter Season was preceded by the Lenten Season, which, together with the Easter Season, is called the "Easter cycle."

"The next annual festival relating to Christ that developed after Easter was probably Epiphany," p. 12, <Keeping Time: the Church's Years> Vol. 3, <Using Evangelical Worship>, Augsburg Press, 2009. Later, the Western (Roman Catholic) Church added Christmas Day on December 25, with the 12-day Christmas and Epiphany doublet ending on Epiphany January 6, while the Naming of Jesus occurs on January 1. The Eastern (Orthodox) Church retained Epiphany as the primary day of celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. In the 4th Century, the four-week season of Advent was added, preceding the nativity or birth of Jesus.

The two cycles centering on the nativity and the resurrection in the life of Christ constitute approximately half of the church or liturgical year and contain the Church's three great festivals of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, called the <de tempore> or set time. The flexible times after the Trinity and Epiphany Festivals constitute the other half of the church year. These two periods are called <omnes tempore> or "ordinary time," meaning that the Sundays are ordered or counted by number, but the two periods are of varying length. "The color for paraments and vestments is green, signifying the life of the church in the Spirit and recalling the tree of life that is Christ among us" (Ibid., p. 67).

When the Lutheran hymnal was established in the early years of the Reformation, the principles of the church year were preserved while the hymns (chorales) developed by Martin Luther and his followers also sought to emphasize their catechistic (doctrinal) and liturgical (worship) importance in church year and topical sequences. In the development of the hymnal, "from Advent through Pentecost the focus was on the life and work of Christ; throughout the Trinity (now Pentecost) season, the concentration was on the life of Christians in Christ," says Robin Leaver in <Luther's Liturgical Music> (Eerdmannan's Publishing, 2007: 167).

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 6, 2011):
William Hoffman wrote:
< When Bach came to Leipzig in early May 1723 to begin what would become his last calling as church cantor and city director of music, he brought with him some 30 sacred cantatas composed in Weimar between 1714 and 1717 and a handful of secular serenades recently composed as capellemeister at Cöthen. These would help him substantially fulfill his primary composing task of providing new works for the some 60 sacred services during the church year. >
Contractual question .... Was Bach obligated by statute to provide a "new" cantata every Sunday or was that a self-imposed goal he set for himself? It certainly was not an obligation to produce "original" works, given the performance of other composers' works. I'm not convinced that those works indicate some "failure" on Bach's part. Why could they not be part of the Great Cantata Plan.

I also wonder if there is any documentary evidence that the Passion music was written during the "closed" season of Lent? From a practical stance, five weeks would be a reasonable timeframe for the completion of the copying and the rehearsal of the Good Friday and Three-Day Easter music, but why do we have to assume that everything was crammed into such a such limited period of time?

I am more willing to believe that Bach was a consummate multi-tasker and that his desk was covered with numerous works-in-progress.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 6, 2011):
Introduction to BWV 184 -- Erwunschtes Freudenlicht

This weeks discussion continues the ongoing series of cantatas spanning from Easter to Ascension, Pentecost, and Trinity. With BWV 184, we have the first of two works for Whit Tuesday, among the large group of works for the three-day Whit festival (Whitsundtide) which is the focus of our weekly discussions for a couple of months, through the week of March 13.

Details of text, commentary, recordings, and previous discussion are accessible via: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV184.htm

That page also has convenient access to Gardiner’s notes to the pilgrimage CDs, by clicking on the PDF link under the picture of the CD cover.

The link to commentary by Julian [Mincham} is especially recommended as an introduction to listening.

See also the related post from Will Hoffman, earlier this evening.

Everyone seems to agree that this work is a <hasty revision of a lost Cöthen secular cantata> (Gardiner). I have no basis for diasagreement, but I do wonder about evidence for the supposed haste.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 7, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Everyone seems to agree that this work is a <hasty revision of a lost Cöthen secular cantata> (Gardiner). I have no basis for diasagreement, but I do wonder about evidence for the supposed haste. >
Ed as a piece of internal evidence I refer you to the quotation below, This last chorus has several characteristics which suggest haste and time constraints..

'The closing chorus shows every sign, like that from C 173 of the previous week, of being hurriedly adapted from a duet. Both take the form of a suite movement, the first a minuet and this a gavotte. If anything, the latter appears to be even more of a rushed job, the minimal homophonic chordal parts taking up a mere twelve bars in all! The entire middle section consists of a duet for bass and soprano with a few minimal interjections, never more than a couple of bars at a time, from the flute and upper strings. One casualty of the restoration to full choir of the outer sections is the bubbling flute part. Low in its register, it is effective enough in a duet but a choir of even two voices per part can render much of it inaudible'.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 7, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Ed as a piece of internal evidence I refer you to the quotation below, This last chorus has several characteristics which suggest haste and time constraints. >.
If anything, the latter appears to be even more of a rushed job, the minimal homophonic chordal parts taking up a mere twelve bars in all!

One casualty of the restoration to full choir of the outer sections is the bubbling flute part. Low in its register, it is effective enough in a duet but a choir of etwo voices per part can render much of it inaudible'.

Why are these features a sign of haste? If anything, they are examples of compositional incompetence on Bach's part, a charge which should be lightly imposed. Why is a short "tutti" section evidence of a lack of time? The solo lines which make up the bulk of the movement show no sign of awkward reduction. If this movement is a victim of haste, then the cuts from the original model of the 'Agnus Dei" of the Mass in B Minor must make it a
high-speed fatality.

And can we really assume that the flute parts were inaudible? I simply don't believe that Bach would have made such an aesthetic error. The recorder part in the final movement in "Gottes Zeit" lies so low that even Rilling
transposes it up. No one would ever accuse "Gottes Zeit" of being a victim of haste.

What then would constitute internal evidence of haste?

There would be dates which told us the days of composition and copying. Both the full scores and parts would be full of mistakes with crossings out and sloppy handwriting. There would be shortcuts: parts that were doubling would have directions written into the full score so they didn't have to be duplicated, vocal parts in a full score would be underlaid in one part leaving the copyists to add them to other parts, figures might have been left out the continuo because Bach would play it himself.

No one denies that Bach worked to an inflexible and inexorable schedule, but the classic evidence that we see in other composer's manuscripts doesn't seem to be manifest. To me, this is just an extension of the prejudice against Bach's parody technique and a failure to appreciate how Bach operated in the framework of the church year, a schedule which is utterly divorced from the experience of 21st century devotees of his music.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 7, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Why are these features a sign of haste? If anything, they are examples of compositional incompetence on Bach's part, a charge which should be lightly imposed. >
Nice point. Note also the repeat performance in 1731. Although I do not see any information on score provenance in the BCW archives, I presume that what survives reflects this subsequent performance, with ample interim opportunity for Bach to review and revise any shortcomings imposed on the 1724 performance by time constraints.

DC:
< No one denies that Bach worked to an inflexible and inexorable schedule, but the classic evidence that we see in other composer's manuscripts doesn't seem to be manifest. To me, this is just an extension of the prejudice against Bach's parody technique and a failure to appreciate how Bach operated in the framework of the church year, a schedule which is utterly divorced from the experience of 21st century devotees of his music. >
EM:
There is not likely sufficient evidence at present to be conclusive. I do find Dougs alternative at least equally possible, and more attractive, than a scenario where Bach hastily whips together a reworking of a handy secular cantata in 1724, then repeats it in 1731.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 7, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Why are these features a sign of haste? If anything, they are examples of compositional incompetence on Bach's part, a charge which should be lightly imposed. Why is a short "tutti" section evidence of a lack of time? The solo lines which make up the bulk of the movement show no sign of awkward reduction. If this movement is a victim of haste, then the cuts from the original model of the 'Agnus Dei" of the Mass in B Minor must make it a high-speed fatality. >
With respect I think that the comparison with the Agnus Dei is nonsense. I devote quite a bit of time in my essay to this movement as it appears in BWV 11 demonstrating the sheer amount of attention given to various details which Bach gave to the revised version of the movement in the Mass. My points were not about what was omitted in 184 but principally about what was, or was not added.

Returning to 184, the particular application of this chorus should not be seen in isolation but in the context of several duets which Bach turned into mini choruses for later performances. In a number of occasions the minimal amount of revision is made sometimes resulting in misbalanced movements and some rather odd (for Bach) vocal layouts. If Douglas does not like the word haste then let's say that Bach chose these movements so that they could be adapted with the absolute minimum of time and effort spent on them. In some cases i suspect he might have even employed junior members of the firm to do the donkey work. Musically a number of such movements are, in my view, amongst the least satisfying in the Bach repertoire. Still sidestepping around the word 'haste' i find it a perfectly reasonable inference that these re-arrangements had to be produced very quickly and under pressures of time. Why should this, considering what we know of bach's phenominal output in his first 2 years at Leipzig, be contentious??

Not just my conclusion ---you will find Dürr and others coming to similar conclusions in a number of cases.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 7, 2011):
Julian Mincham. wrote:
< With respect I think that the comparison with the Agnus Dei is nonsense.
<>
In a number of occasions the minimal amount of revision is made sometimes resulting in misbalanced movements and some rather odd (for Bach) vocal layouts. If Douglas does not like the word haste then let's say that Bach chose these movements so that they could be adapted with the absolute minimum of time and effort spent on them. In some cases i suspect he might have even employed junior members of the firm to do the donkey work. >
I agree! The Agnus Dei is the quintessential masterpiece of adaptation, the exemplar of Bach's genius for transformation.

And I agree that "efficiency" is a better concept than "haste" with its negative connotations of misjudgment and error.

For instance, one could argue that Bach in haste "ruined" the word-painting of "Tönet ihr Pauken" when he adapted it as the simply-joyous opening of the Christmas Oratorio, or that Hercules' serpents are lost in the bass line of "Bereitet dich Zion". To render such a judgment is foolish, but I am still suspicious of "internal" evidence when we have such little knowledge of Bach's working method.

And yes, Bach was surrounded by first-rate musicians in his prefects, family and students. Why not hand them a secular cantata and a new libretto and say, "bring me a draft that I can work with." Bach's cantatas were produced in a corporate almost industrial environment with unstoppable deadlines. His ability to manage this music machine is one of the great hallmarks of his genius.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 7, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< And yes, Bach was surrounded by first-rate musicians in his prefects, family and students. Why not hand them a secular cantata and a new libretto and say, "bring me a draft that I can work with." Bach's cantatas were produced in a corporate almost industrial environment with unstoppable deadlines. His ability to manage this music machine is one of the great hallmarks of his genius. >
Yes. I was about to use Julians reference to donkey-work as my entry cue, but this is preferable. A few weeks ago Doug asked about Bachs contractual requirements to produce new music, or even perform his own music. I do not believe we have seen a response, as yet.

Wolff (JSB:TLM, pp 253-4)
<Even before he officially assumed his Leipzig office, Bach must have decided to provide the two main churches with works of his own composition. Once in Leipzig, unlike any of his predecessors, all of whom were also active composers, he embarked on a program to provide a piece of concerted music--a cantata--for every Sunday and feast day of the ecclesiastical year, except for the Lenten [sic] weeks preceding Christmas and Easter [...]> (end quote)

This is in the context ofChapter 8, beginning on p. 237: Redefining a Venerable Office--Cantor and Music Director in Leipzig: the 1720s. The several preceding page, 237-53, are mainly concerned with the existing political and academic structure (the corporate environment, in Dougs phrase) in Leipzig when Bach arrived, and with his contractual obligations, primarily with regard to teaching. I infer that Bach’s obligation to provide his own compositions was self-imposed, rather than contractual, although Wolff acknowledges that there were other non-recorded verbal agreements (and misunderstandings, from the outset) which perhaps border on the contractual. A self-imposed, or even informal, obligation for original compositions puts Bachs working to deadline, his haste, in a rather different light than often seems to be assumed. I believe that was the point of Dougs original question.

For those interested in the ongoing OVPP discussion, Wolff’s numbers for Leipzig musicians, and the associated supporting references, appear to be worth a careful read, which I have not attempted.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (March 7, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I infer that Bachs obligation to provide his own compositions was self-imposed, rather than contractual, although Wolff acknowledges that there were other non-recorded verbal agreements (and misunderstandings, from the outset) which perhaps border on the contractual. A self-imposed, or even informal, obligation for original compositions puts Bachs working to deadline, his haste, in a rather different light than often seems to be assumed. I believe that was the point of Dougs original question. >
You know, I can't imagine any serious musician who directed a major kapelle in the first half of the 18th century that wasn't expected to have composed his own music for performances at Sunday services. Leipzig couldn't have been that different from other cities or courts-- contract or not. There are enough contracts that survive that show this. And as you point out, while the specific line "original compositions" isn't used in the contract, it certainly have to be a verbal or gentleman's agreement.

William Hoffman wrote (March 8, 2011):
Intro. to BWV 184 -- Borrowings & Improvements

I appreciate the extended discussion on Bach's manner of self-borrowing and changes. Re. the Kothen Serenade revisions, Cantata BWV 134 underwent three versions until 1731 -- all in the recitatives! Firstly, some Bach scholars still fail to realize that Bach indeed "parodied" recitatives -- some one-fifth of his borrowings. Yes, some Bach scholars still consider that it is a lot "easier" to compose a recitative that an aria and therefore a lot easier to compose a new recitative in place of the old one. Here is the Abstract of my paper, "Bach's Recitative Self-Borrowing," given at the regional meeting of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the American Musicological Society, April 20, 1995, at Brigham Young University in Provo Utah:

"Johann Sebastian Bach's self-borrowing of recitatives was significant and complex. It was a deliberate practice during his tenure in Leipzig from 1723 to his death in 1750. Twenty percent of Bach's adaptation of vocal movements involved recitatives, the remainder being choruses and arias. Close examination and analysis, using examples, reveal varied techniques and characteristics. Recitatives were recycled by borrowing only portions of movements, altering vocal line but retaining accompaniment unchanged, or revising both text and music throughout."

As to BWV 134, it shows that Bach certainly had time later to make changes and he finally did write one new recitative, although I would hesitate to make a blanket statement that all Bach's "alterations" were always "improvements" over the previous. Barring changes in performing conditions, Bach's primary motivation for revision, at least with the serenades, IMHO, seems to have been to preserve their original Italianate dialogue structure and French dance style, while clarifying some of the music for the new purpose of presentation in a church service. The tradition of parody was practiced significantly and particularly in the late Renaissance with Masses and motets. For example, Monteverdi's collections of Italian madrigals subsequently were "parodied" by someone else as sacred Latin contrafaction.

Thus, I think, Bach had his cake and ate it too, presenting very accessible dance music and dramatic dialogue in church, despite the prohibition against operatic music. Then, he repeated these now-sacred pieces at least three times -- virtually unchanged!

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 9, 2011):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Thus, I think, Bach had his cake and ate it too, presenting very accessible dance music and dramatic dialogue in church, despite the prohibition against operatic music. Then, he repeated these now-sacred pieces at least three times -- virtually unchanged! >
I have nothing to add at the moment, but I find this a very instructive and enjoyable point.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 9, 2011):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< You know, I can't imagine any serious musician who directed a major kapelle in the first half of the 18th century that wasn't expected to have composed his own music for performances at Sunday services. Leipzig couldn't have been that different from other cities or courts-- contract or not. >
When Doug originally raised the question of Bachs specific contractual obligations, I anticipated that someone would provide a reference in support of requirements for original composition. Failing that, I had a quick look into Wolff (JSB:TLM). I was surprised not to find such a reference (which I have perhaps overlooked, however).

I had also forgotten to what extent Wolff points out his views that:
(1) Leipzig was unique as an intellectual and commercial crossroads
(2) Bach redefined the role of Thomaskantor, when he accepted the position

I agree that it is reasonable to expect that there were performance expectations which were not spelled out contractually. But that was Dougs question, what exactly was required? I think I am simply agreeing with Doug to point out that Bachs motivation, working to contract or working to self-imposed deadline, is significant in interpreting any particular composition as forced by need for haste.

A further relevant morsel from Wolff (p. 263-4), re demands on choir and musicians:
<In addition to the technical demands there was the problem posed by sheer quantity--having to deal week after week with one difficult piece after another, a relentless challenge no previous cantor had put before his musicians. Nevertheless, Bach carefully designed his performance schedule in such a way that he achieved a reasonable balance of what he could demand from himself and others.> (end quote)

 

Cantatas BWV 184 & BWV 184a: Complete Recordings of BWV 184 | Recordings of Individual Movements from BWV 184 | Details of BWV 184a | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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