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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 213
Laßt uns sorgen, laßt uns wachen
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of September 8, 2013

William Hoffman wrote (September 8, 2013):
Cantata 213: Intro. & Drama per Musica

Beginning with the succession in 1733 of Augustus to succeed his father, “Augustus the Strong,” Bach presented a series of drammi per musica of Festive Music for the (Catholic) Electoral House of Saxony celebrating visits to Leipzig. It began with a series of three homage cantatas observing birthdays of Augustus’ son, Prince Friedrich Christian (BWV 214) and wife, Maria Josepha,” BWV 214, and own coronation (BWV 215), followed by his Name day celebration, August 3, 1735 (BWV 207a), and his Birthday. October 7, 1736 (BWV 206), with the following BCW weekly discussion dates and titles:

Sept. 8, BWV 213 Laßt uns sorgen, laßt uns wachen, Birthday dramma per musica (1733)

Sep 15, 2013 214 Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten!, Birthday dramma per musica (1733)

Sep 22, 2013 215 Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen, Crowning dramma per musica (1734)

Sep 29, 2013 207a Auf, schmetternde Töne der muntern Trompeten, Name day dramma per musica (1735)

= 207 Vereinigte Zwietracht der wechselnden Saiten, Leipzig Honour (1726)

Oct 6, 2013 206 Schleicht, spielende Wellen, und murmelt gelinde!, Birthday dramma per musica(1736).

Music for both the Nameday (Augustus) and the Saxon ruler’s Birthday (October 7) were usually performed at Zimmerman’s coffeehouse gardens or the Royal Residence in Leipzig. The distinction between the two days is explained in Marva J. Watson’s “The Historical Figures of the Birthday Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach”:

<<Members of the court not only celebrated birthdays but also celebrated their “name days.” Even though these are on different dates, the name day was considered as important as the birthday. These were especially celebrated by the more traditional Catholics. A name day is a particular day of year associated with a person’s given name. It could be the feast day of the saint after whom the person was named or the day a person was christened or baptized. For example Bach wrote “Schleicht, spielende Wellen” [BWV 206] for the October 3 birthday of Augustus III. Bach wrote “Frohes Volk, vergnugte Sachsen” [BWV Anh. 12, 1733] (music lost) for the August 3 name day of the same ruler.>> [“Difference in Birthday and Name Day,” p. 9f (Master’s Thesis), 2010; BCW Articles, http://bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Historical-Figures-Watson.pdf : Chapter 2; also found on-line at BCW Articles, http://bach-cantatas.com/Articles/, scroll down to “The Historical Figures of the Birthday Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach.”

This Week’s BCW Discussion, Cantata 213, “Laßt uns sorgen, laßt uns wachen” (Let us take care, let us watch) is the first surviving, original Bach composition for the Dresden Court. Others are found with published text only, often containing parodied music with new text underlay. Bach’s initial Leipzig struggles, his connections to the Saxon Court and Cantata 213 are described in Watson’s thesis: “CHAPTER 4 – Birthday Music for the House of Saxony (42), Friedrich Christian, Crown Prince of Saxony (47), The Birthday Cantata for Friedrich Christian (48)” (Ibid.).

Background: Leipzig Profane Works

When Bach assumed the post of Director of Music in Leipzig in mid-May 1723, his major creative responsibility was to present annual cycles of sacred cantatas as Church Cantor for the some 60 services of the church year, based on his 1708 goal of a “well-regulated church music.” He also was required to present Oratorio Passions annually. In the first year, Bach was able to recycle virtually all of the 30 sacred cantatas composed in Weimar, reducing his workload. He also parodied the five extant Köthen serenades into sacred service cantatas. In the second year he composed new works for the entire cycle, including some 42 chorale cantatas. He then took a break during the entire Trinity season of the last half of 1725, and renewed his interest in instrumental and secular vocal music. Leipzig [See BCW Article, “Bach’s Dramatic Music: Serenades, Drammi per Musica, Oratorios,” (excerpts from http://bach-cantatas.com/Articles/HoffmanBachDramaII.htm ).

At the same time, Bach began to address his secular vocal composing responsibilities for music for civic occasions at the Thomas School, the University of Leipzig, and, most significantly, the Saxon Court in Dresden as well as other courts he continued to serve at Saxe-Weißenfels, Saxe-Gotha, and Köthen. He also would come to compose occasional music of homage for local notables, weddings and funerals, and all manner of other events. He would assume the directorship of the local Collegium musicum for weekly public concerts, publish collections of keyboard and composing studies, and actively participate in special events.

Bach’s secular cantatas composed in Leipzig, involve certain common characteristics. They used the Collegium musicum with its full compliment of instruments, especially ceremonial brass and drums. They emphasized the newer Galant Style with its emphasis on melody and enlivened dance with balanced phrases, involving Arcadian-influenced pastorale music. Much of the extant music was usually designed either to be parodied into sacred oratorios or cantatas without further use, or to be repeated as part an available repertory presented on two or more occasions. The significance of Bach’s secular composition is the subject of “Bach’s Secular Cantatas – A New Look at Sources", by Hans-Joachim Schulze (Bach 21, No. 1, Spring 1990, pp. 26-41 Major characteristics involve Bach’s deliberate effort, especially after 1730, to fashion a usable secular repertory available with little notice, to adapt other music for different uses, and to transform substantial core music (arias and choruses) into new parodied, large scale sacred works, specifically a passion and at least three sacred feast day oratorios. [Also, see Julian Mincham Commentary, Chapter 71,” Introduction to the Secular Cantatas,” http://www.jsbachcantatas.com/documents/chapter-71-introduction.htm .


Cantata 213

Cantata 213, “Laßt uns sorgen, laßt uns wachen” Dramma per Musica [Hercules at the Crossroads], for the (11-year) Birthday of Prince Friedrich Christian, was presented on September 5, 1733, Leipzig (Zimmermann’s Coffee House). The Scoring is: Soloists: Wollust = Lust (Soprano), Herkules = Hercules (Alto), Tugend = Virtue (Tenor), Merkur = Mercury (Bass); 4-part Chorus; Orchestra: 2 horns, oboe d’amore, oboe, 2 violins, bassoon, viola, continuo. It was the first of three successive, original drammi per musica for the royal household that were parodied in their choruses and arias for Bach’s six-part <Christmas Oratorio>, BWV 248.

The three homage cantatas were not repeated but their scores survive through the provenance of Carl Philipp Immanuel Bach. As was customary, the libretti of all three was published and distributed before the performance (see Thomas Braatz’ “Bach’s Text and Music Business Connections,” BCW, Yahoo Groups (Sign-in), http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/37508. Other Cantata 213 pertinent information on-line, see:

Details & Discography, BCW http://bach-cantatas.com/BWV213.htm

Wikipedia(on-line), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laßt_uns_sorgen,_laßt_uns_wachen,_BWV_213

Text & Francis Browne English translation, BCW http://bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV213-Eng3.htm

Julian Mincham Commentary, http://www.jsbachcantatas.com/documents/chapter-94-bwv-213.htm

Thomas Braatz, BCW extensive Provenace, http://bach-cantatas.com/Ref/BWV213-Ref.htm ; score/sketches (with bibliography), parts [based on the NBA KB I/36 (Werner Neumann, 1962), pp. 28-80]

Recording on-line, Ton Koopman, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Z9by3CEjIs

BCW Discussion 2, http://bach-cantatas.com/BWV213-D2.htm, materials:


Dürr on Cantata 213, Reused Movements

[Aryeh's verbatim liner notes by Alfred Dürr, which are an earlier, expanded, cogent, monograph on Cantata BWV 213, are found in slightly revised form in the 2005 edition of his <Cantatas of JSB> (Cambridge Univ. Press: 820-26); Aryeh Oron wrote (November 23, 2003): BWV 213 – Introduction]

<< Following the death of Augustus the Strong (1733) and the accession to the throne of his son Friedrich Augustus II, Bach began a period of increased activity with performances by his student Collegium Musicum of congratulatory cantatas in honour of Saxony's ruling house. Perhaps he hoped to add weight, also from this side, to his petition for the title of Hofkapellmeister that he had advanced in the dedication of the B minor Mass BWV 232). Even if the Elector was usually not personally present in Leipzig, Bach surely reckoned that he would be informed of the performances, and be convinced that favour and title would not be bestowed upon someone unworthy of them.

Bach conceivably also considered the possibility of later reusing the music already while composing these cantatas. Their purpose, after all, was fulfilled with the single performance. In any case, Bach was to have recourse to two such congratulatory cantatas, namely Tönet, ihr Pauken (BWV 214) and the present Laßt uns sorgen, laßt uns wachen, reworking their choruses and arias as he set out in 1734 to compose his Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248).

Hercules auf dem Scheidewege (Hercules at the Crossroads) - so the title of the libretto in the printed text by the poet Christian Friedrich Henrici (called Picander) - was performed by Bach and his student Collegium Musicum in Zimmermann's Garden on the afternoon of September 5, 1733, the birthday of Crown Prince Friedrich of Saxony. Whereas many other congratulatory cantatas, lacking a plot, make do with a lyrical poem in praise of the dedicatee, Picander created here a true "Dramma per musica". Hercules, a popular symbolic figure for Baroque personages of the ruling houses, was more appropriate than any other mythological hero to glorify the eleven-year-old grandson of Augustus the Strong. For the son of Zeus and Alcmene had already distinguished himself as a hero at an early age, for example as he simply crushed the serpents that his enemy Hera, the mother of the gods, placed in his cradle. Picander chose for his plot the myth related by Prodiclos in which Hercules encounters two women at a fork in the road. One of them promises him a pleasant, opulent life if only he follows her path. The other however offers hardship, but also virtue and fame if he decides upon her path. Hercules resolves to take the path of virtue. The poet then allows the actual meaning of what has taken place to be revealed by the god Mercury: Hercules is a likeness of Crown Prince Friedrich; he too decided already in earliest childhood upon the path of virtue.

The present-day listener who is familiar with Bach's Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) will find much in the music of this cantata that he already knows. Yet, he should keep in mind that the Hercules cantata is actually the original, and that the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) represents a later reworking. An overview of the movements re-employed should help make this clear:

Cantata 213: Mvt. 1. Chorus: "Laßt uns sorgen, laßt uns wachen," Christmas Oratorio: Part IV, Opening chorus (No. 36): "Fallt mit Danken, fallt mit Loben";

Cantata 213: Mvt. 3. Aria: "Schlafe, mein Liebster, und pflege der Ruh," Christmas Oratorio: Part II, Aria (No.19): "Schlafe, mein Liebster, genieße der Ruh";

Cantata 213: Mvt. 5. Aria: "Treues Echo dieser Orten," Christmas Oratorio: Part IV, Aria (No.39): "Flößt, mein Heiland, flößt dein Namen";

Cantata 213: Mvt. 7. Aria: "Auf meinen Flüeln sollst du schweben," Christmas Oratorio: Part IV, Aria (No.41): "Ich will nur dir zu Ehren leben";

Cantata 213: Mvt. 9. Aria: "Ich will dich nicht hören," Christmas Oratorio: Part 1, Aria (No.4): "Bereite dich, Zion";

Cantata 213: Mvt. 11. Aria: "Ich bin deine, du bist meine," Christmas Oratorio: Part III, Aria (No.29): "Herr, dein Mitleid, dein Erbarmen";

Cantata 213: Mvt. 13. Chorus: "Lust der Völker, Lust der Deinen," Christmas Oratorio: Part V, Opening chorus (No.43): "Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen" (Adoption of the music planned [recognizable from the strophic structure of the text] but not realized.). . . .>>

<< The choir, which at the beginning represented the voices of the gods, intones now as the "Chorus of the Muses" the concluding hymn in praise of the Prince. The composition has the character of a gavotte. It derives from a congratulatory cantata from the Cöthen period [BWV 184a], and was originally not for four-part choir, but rather for just two solo voices. The extended bass parts inserted between the rondo-like recurring tutti ritornelli are reminiscent of the original version. So superbly suited this chorus is as the joyous conclusion to the Hercules cantata, it would hardly have been a satisfactory introduction to the fifth part of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248). We may surely consider it fortunate that Bach rejected the plan to reuse this music for setting the already prepared text "Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen.">>


Double Parody

The other prior source material found in Cantata 213 is Mvt. 5. Aria: "Treues Echo dieser Orten,"

(William Hoffman wrote (September 11, 2008)): A Parody Sequence: BWV Anh.11, BWV 213/5, BWV 248/39. Thomas Braatz just submitted the following texts, with English translations. I think it points to Bach's amazing storehouse of not only music but texts for further use through transformation in various contexts. A quick look at Neumann's last edition (1984, pp. 294-302) of his Bach Cantata Handbook shows Bach does considerable triple parody of arias and choruses. Thank you, Thomas:

Here is a possible chain of texts for which Bach used essentially the same music as parodies.

Three instances of the famous Echo aria:

BWV Anh. 11/7 “Frommes Schicksal, wenn ich frage” (Godly fortune, when I ask thee)

Drama per musica

Nameday of Augustus II (3 August)

Es lebe der König, der Vater im Lande
Long life to the King now, the nation's true father
Landes-Liebe, Landes-Glückseligkeit, und Landes-Fürsehung
Love of Country, Good Fortune of Country, Providence of Country


Text: Picander

(Parodies first noted by Friedrich Smend: Joh. Seb. Bach, Kirchen-Kantaten V (1948) pp. 8 and 18)

Performance date: August 3, 1732

Music lost (no indication of instrumentation)>>


Cantata 213 High Point:

William Hoffman wrote (September 7, 2008
I think Mvt. 7 is the high point of BWV 213. While I am not versed in mythology or rhetoric, this is the physical center of the cantata, which is in pure palindrome form: opening chorus, recitative-aria alternation, closing chorus. It is also the assertion of the moral argument in favor of virtue, the "right way."

It may be a stretch but I note biblical overtones of a 14-year old boy preparing for a throne, like the 12-year old boy taken to the temple to be presented to the world. In Part 4 of the Christmas Oratorio, of course, the Feast is Circumcision and the importance is not so much law and cleanliness but the naming, blessing and honoring of the boy-child to the world.

BWV 213/7 BWV 248/41

Upon my wings thou be lifted, I would for thine honor live now;
Upon my pinions thou shalt rise, My Savior, give me strength of will
An eagle to the starry skies. That this my heart with zeal may do.
And through me Strengthen me
Shall thy light and glory be Thy mercy worthily
To perfection's state exalted. And with gratitude to honor!

I think it is also naccident that this aria is paired with its predecessor, in both BWV 213 and BWV 248, separated by a secular recitative in the former and a new, sacred recitative-chorale in BWV 248/40. The former, of course, is the "Echo" aria of Hercules (the Prince) in which he considers the "other way" of Pleasure, seeking the answer, "Yes" or "No." Its sister in BWV 248 is a question of whether the Savior's name frightens the singer. I also would suggest that BWV248/41, just by its sheer placement, could be the highlight of the Christmas Oratorio. It comes at the beginning of the second half of the Christmas celebration, after the first three days of Christmas and prepares the listener, the receiver, for the threat to come amidst reverence and the realization and admonition that follows.

In some respects, the Dresden Court cantatas BWV 213-215 are household works, domestic family pieces, for the son, the mother and the father, respectively, just as the Christmas Oratorio is the story of a couple with a son, and in both contexts, a story of celebration and proclamation to the world. We also could stress the shepherd element in both, charged with caring for the flock. The two common arias BWV 213/7 and BWV 248/41 in 4/4 time are a fugue in counterpoint, with a dance feeling - pastorale maybe? Imagine, if we can have chorales in ¾ time, why not dance-fugues or fugue-dances? The sense of uplift and affirmation in both, I think, is pronounced, a serendipitous situation! Also, Bach uses the oboe very effectively as a muted trumpet, a more intimate regal expression, especially in staccato with violin, one of his "trademarks," I suggest.

I also cite writer Martin Geck on the importance of Bach's Dresden drammi per musica. In his "JSB: Life and Work" (p. 213) he see these as part of Bach's "move from Christianity to humanism." "He is also dealing with an interior world, with grace, beauty and culture." I think Bach is able to deal profoundly and simultaneously, with the realms of "IN the world" and "OF the World" just as, I think, Bach was able in his closing Oratorio Passion choruses to embrace both dancing and mourning.


Cantata 213 Parody Overtones:

<<Opening Chorus BWV 213/1 ("Let us be careful and watch") compared to opening chorus, XO, BWV 248, Part IV, New Year's Day, the Naming of the Child ("Bow ye, thankful, kneel and praise ye"). Musically, how does this chorus compare with the opening chorus of the Epiphany Cantata, BWV 65, "Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen," with two horns plus pairs of recorders and hunting oboes introducing the Wise Men from Sheba in a stately march through the pastoral lands.

BWV 213/3, Pleasure's hypnotic song compared to the Shepherd's lullaby, BWV 248/19 in 2/4 tempo with two flutes added to the strings. Are there other Bach slumber songs that come to mind, especially cited by W. Gillies Whittaker in Bach Cantatas?

BWV 213/9, Hercules' proclamation rejecting Pleasure for Virtue compared to the XO BWV 248/4, the opening aria, a Call to Zion to prepare for and welcome the coming, in 3/8 time.

BWV 213/11, the Hercules(alto)-Virture(tenor) duet, with its overtones from the Song of Solomon, compared to thesoprano-bass duet in 248/29, shepherds' prayer in 3/8 time, with two hunting oboes replacing the violas.

Another possible biblical overtone, the central tenor aria, BWV 213/7, soaring on the wings of eagles, could be inspired by Isaiah 40:31, "they shall mount up with wings as eagles. . . .">>

Douglas Couling wrote (September 3, 2013):
William Hoffman wrote:
< his Name day celebration (August 3, 1735), and his Birthday (October 7, 1736) >
Isn't Augustus the Strong's birthday on May 12?

I'm assuming that the Catholic King-Electors celebrated the feast day of the patron saint after whom they were named. August 3. The Roman calendar has no saint for August 3. Is there a local saint or is the month of August standing in?

William Hoffman wrote (September 3, 2013):
[To Douglas Cowling] Strong Daddy’s birthday was May 12, Junior’s was October 7; their common Nameday was nominally August 3 but any day in the month was fine. When I get further into the Bach drammi per musica, I’ll try to account for Bach’s Saxon Court observances (a sort of repertory), although it appears in the later 1730s that Bach did not provide music for all the annual nameday and birthday visits, although we have a May 1738 special visit of the royal couple and their son for his coming wedding, BWV Anh. 196, text of Gottsched, music lost.

Douglas Couling wrote (September 9, 2013):
Name Days and Lutherans

William Hoffman wrote:
< Members of the court not only celebrated birthdays but also celebrated their “name days.” Even though these are on different dates, the name day was considered as important as the birthday. These were especially celebrated by the more traditional Catholics. A name day is a particular day of year associated with a person’s given name. It could be the feast day of the saint after whom the person was named or the day a person was christened or baptized. >
Did Lutherans celebrate name days?

If so, did Bach mark his own name day on June 24, the feast of St. John the Baptist? Or St. John the Evangelist which is the Third Day of Christmas on Dec 27? Interesting that both days were festivals with a mandatory cantata — any name cryptograms in those works?

Or given that all Bach's took Johann as their first name (do we know why?), was his name day on Jan 20, the feast of St. Sebastian, not a scriptural saint but an early martyr? Were non-scriptural saints included in Luther's church calendar?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 9, 2013):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< If so, did Bach mark his own name day on June 24, the feast of St. John the Baptist? Or St. John the Evangelist which is the Third Day of Christmas on Dec 27? Interesting that both days were festivals with a mandatory cantata — any name cryptograms in those works? >
It can get confusing at times with the dates of birth, because I know in Germany some parts did not adopt the Gregorian calendar reform until pretty late in the 17th century. Case in point: you will see Christoph Graupner's patron, the Landgraf of Hessen-Darmstadt birthdays given in the Old and New Style (new style moved his birthday to December 26, right smack in the middle of an extremely busy period musically already, including two cantatas for the Landgraf's birthday (one sacred, and one secular) and naturally plenty of music to feast by.

Douglas Couling wrote (September 9, 2013):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Beginning with the succession in 1733 of Augustus to succeed his father, “Augustus the Strong,” Bach presented a series of drammi per musica of Festive Music for the (Catholic) Electoral House of Saxony celebrating visits to Leipzig. It began with a series of three homage cantatas observing birthdays of Augustus’ son, Prince Friedrich Christian (BWV 214) and wife, Maria Josepha,” BWV 214, and own coronation (BWV 215), followed by his Name day celebration, August 3, 1735 (BWV 207a), and his Birthday. October 7, 1736 (BWV 206) >
I'm assuming that all of these drammi are closet operas and were never staged in Leipzig. Is there any evidence that comparable dramas and oratorios were semi-staged at Dresden? I'm thinking of Handel's "La Resurrezione" in Rome which had a painted backdrop of the Tomb on linen lit from behind by candles, and the singers, although not in costume, made entrances onto the stage. The same type of semi-staging was used with the composer's "Acis and Galatea" in London.

William Hoffman wrote (September 9, 2013):
[To Douglas Cowling] The most likely place was Dresden, especially in 1719 at the Court Theater celebration. Altho even serenades probably were not staged, they were held out of doors in various lavish venues such as gardens, estates, and coffehouses. See especially the performances described below. Unlike Roman semi-stagings at Cardinals' palaces, with elaborate flats and costumes, it is at least possible that identifiable characters were set apart and even may have interacted with each other. The coming BCW discussions in December of Bach's Coffee and Peasant cantatas wconsider stagings.

Bach’s Dramatic Music, BCW Article, http://bach-cantatas.com/Articles/HoffmanBachDramaII.htm

Some of the best-known serenatas are: Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, Serenata a tre for the wedding of the Duke of Alvito (1708); Heinichen’s simple Zefferio e Clori (2 voices, Venice, 1714), and his elaborate Diana sull’Elba for the Saxon Court celebrations and completion of the Court Theatre in 1719; the Hamburg Kapitänsmusiken civic celebrations of Keiser and Mattheson; and Telemann’s oratorical Deutschland grünt und blüht im Friede for the birthday of the Habsburg Kaiser Prince in Frankfurt in 1716.

Continually, the Hamburg opera composers stretched the boundaries between religious and civic music, beginning with the oratorio form (Petzold, p.160f). Mattheson cites an oratorio he wrote in 1709 for the feast of St. Peter, eliciting a financial reward from the Town Council. Telemann at Frankfurt composed an oratorio (now lost) about David and Jesus in 1718 for the local Collegium musicum. These civic works could include allegorical figures such as Peace and Justice, interspersed with biblical scenes and even an occasional chorale. Previously, Mattheson and Keiser had presented a gala evening double-bill of an occasional oratorio for the Hamburg Drill-Hall banquet (table-music) and a serenata for the civic ceremonies. These double-bills of oratorio and serenata also were presented at weddings.

Telemann’s 1716 serenade of festive music, “Germany Greening and Blooming in Peace,” runs the length of an oratorio with 41 numbers interspersing arias (with choruses), recitatives, choruses, and ensembles. The soloists represented allegorical figures Germany, Irene, Mars, the City of Frankfurt, Mercury and Fate. The orchestra included oboes, bassoons; three each of trumpets and horns with timpani, a separate brass contingent of three “clarini piccolo” and three hunting horns, as well as the customary strings and continuo. The librettist was Georg Christian Lehms and the performance took place in the Drill-Hall.

 

Cantata BWV 213: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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Last update: ýOctober 13, 2013 ý18:14:35