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Cantata BWV 214
Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten!
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of September 14, 2008

William Hoffman wrote (September 14, 2008):
BWV 214

BWV 214. Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten Resound, all ye drums! Resound, all ye trumpets!
Dramma Per Musica, Congratulatory Cantata for the Birthday of Maria Josepha Queen of Poland and Electress.
1st performance: December 7, 1733 - Leipzig, at Gottfried Zimmermann's coffee-house.
Text: Anon. (probably J. S. Bach, BCM), printed text exists.

Soloists: Bellona (Soprano), Pallas (Alto), Irene (Tenor), Fama (Bass); 4-part Chorus
Orchestra: 3 trumpets, timpani, 2 transverse flutes, 2 oboes, 2 violins, viola, continuo (with organ & bassoon).

All of the BWV 214 arias and choruses (as well as the recitatives), are original compositions, with the lyrical music available for future parodies. The musical affect is one of mood - joy in all its facets. Since time was particularly short, there are only nine movements in BWV 214 instead of the 13 movements in the previous Dresden Court cantata, BWV 213. The framing (opening or closing) choruses are used in the same positions in the XO (BWV 248) first four parts for the six days of Christmas. The five BWV 213 and two BWV 214 internal arias also are placed variously within the first four parts focusing on the Birth, Annunciation, Adoration, and Naming. As with the BWV 213 closing chorus (a parody itself), BWV 214 has one number not parodied in the XO (BWV 248), the first aria, by Irene, the third movement.

Text: The BCW says Bach was "probably" the author. Alfred Dürr in the 2005 English Edition of The Cantatas of J.S. Bach (p.829f) says: "The librettist of the Queen's Cantata is unknown. Occasionally one hears the conjecture that Bach himself might have written the text, but this is contradicted by the observation that all three arias are designed according to the same verse scheme: it is most unlikely that Bach would have composed this constraint on himself without drawing the least consequences from it in his musical setting of the words." He notes the "pretentious subtitle `dramma per musica'," but there is no dramatic plot." Instead the vocal quartet represents four goddesses from ancient mythology: Bellona, goddess of war (soprano); Pallas, guardian of the muses and of knowledge (alto); Irene, goddess of peace (tenor); and famma, goddess of fame (bass). "Each goddess in turn praises the Queen within her own prescribed sphere. Nothing else happens." This lack of plot, the shortness of time for a text directed to the Queen, and some of the simple phrasing have lead to the suggestion that Bach was the author. W. Gillies Whittaker in the Cantatas of JSB (II: 640, points out that the surviving printed libretto "is merely initialed as J.S.B." However, Z. Philip Ambrose in the footnotes to his translation (below) reveals some academic learning, which could point to a professor at Leipzig University, which was another source, after Picander, for Bach's secular cantata librettos. The significance of the secular libretto was the subject of a paper, "Sound-Encoded Politics: J. S. Bach's Cantata "Tönet, ihr Pauken (BWV 214)" by Szymon Paczkowski (Institute of Musicology, Warsaw University), delivered at the American Bach Society Biennial Meeting, May 8-11, 2008, at Bethlehem PA. I take the liberty of quoting his abstract, second paragraph, in full:

"This (Alfred Dürr's) appraisal is surprising in its superficiality. After all, the splendid music of Tönet, ihr Pauken could not have been subsequently adapted for the purposes of a religious piece had it not been for some kind of match existing between the oratorio and the supposedly trifling lines of the cantata - contrary to received opinion, there is a great deal more of a hidden meaning in the libretto of BWV 214 than its critics have been willing to concede. The text carries certain illusions and metaphors which, once properly unlocked, make it possible to recognize a latent political program of the piece (which would have been - and continues to be - virtually obscure to anyone but its Saxon audience in 1733), and better to understand the sound code that Bach chose to employ for this piece. It would seem that the libretto, no less than the magnificent music, pays a skilful tribute to the contemporary propagandist project of the Dresden Court in a period when the War of Polish Succession was being fought in Europe. This paper seeks to analyze the political circumstances of the cantata's composition and to highlight their relevance to its interpretation."

There was no time for response accept to note that Bach was aggressively seeking the title of Royal Court Composer during this time, 1733-36, when he composed eight works for the court, and at the same time was immersed in numerous secular and sacred musical and literary influences from Dresden.

There was no time for follow-up discussion but a recognition that Bach was aggressively pursuing the title of Royal Court Composer during this period, 1733-36, when he presented eight cantatas for the Saxon Court at Dresden and was subject to much musical and literary influence, both sacred and secular, from Dresden.

Mvt. 1: Chorus (tutti): "Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten!" ("Resound, ye drums! Ring out, ye trumpets!"). Parody: BWV 248I/1 (tutti), "Jauchzet, frohlochet, auf preiset die Tage" (Triumph, rejoicing, rise, praising these days now). The opening chorus, "Tönet, ihr Pauken," is a signature piece for Bach, bolstered by its integration of text with music, introducing, in succession, royal drums and trumpets, and strings. It is also an expression of the popular "galant style." Martin Geck in JSB: Life and Work (2006 English edition, p. 420f), notes that the drammi per musica choruses are generally "free of strained contrapuntal passages; they are homophonic or loosely polyphonic. Bach relies on catchy themes and natural articulation." Geck calls this a "paradigm shift: the composition's aesthetic orientation changes from object to listener" "-- simple enjoyment for its own sake." This is Bach reflecting "Empfindsamkeit," the "era of feeling" yet "even the works of his theatrical or middle style retain a fair degree of figuration and development." The chorus is "a sophisticated construct of all kinds of motifs. The master composer cannot be denied!"

As to the parody version, now the XO (BWV 248) opening chorus, Part 1, The Birth: "Jauchzet, frohlocket! Auf, preiset die Tage" ("Triumph, rejoicing, rise, praising these days now"), Bach launches an oratorio celebrating six sacred days in the Christmas season. Geck acknowledges that Bach loses some effect that the instruments are not introduced, like a cast of characters. Thus "deleted lines in the score invite us to surmise that he wanted to start the sacred version as well with the words `Tönet, ihr Pauken.' But he opted for a text that accounted far better for the festive mood of the music than did the original birthday tribute to the Saxon Queen." The festive scoring for three trumpets and drums is reminiscent of the annual Town Council cantatas. Here, in the A section of this da-capo movement, the interplay, almost a dialogue of orchestra and chorus, is even more intricate and striking as themes are tossed around among the massed forces, enlivened in the style of a gigue in 3/8 time. The elaborate B-section, "Vivat regina! the hope of the Saxons," is more of a reflective prayer with orchestra answering. It can be performed by the vocal ripienists with the concertists joining in the last line (also in the XO (BWV 248)), "Long live the Queen, may she flourish and prosper!", before the reprise of the A section.

Mvt. 2: Recitative (T-Irene, Bc): "Heut ist der Tag/Wo jeder such erfreuen mag." ("This is the day/When ev'ryone may find delight."). Irene, goddess of Peace introduces the straight-forward narrative. Like the tenor Evangelist narrative in the XO (BWV 248), it is a proclamation introduction, setting the tone of congratulations to the Queen. Irene has no succeeding "Peace Aria," but does lead off the closing chorus. Irene makes reference to the day of rejoicing and the unity of Poles and Saxes (Catholics and Protestants). The olive tree as a symbol of peace is full and nature, with its descriptive music, is Irene's realm. There is no text in either the goddesses' arias or succeeding recitatives that address their character and attributes, other than their basic designation.

Mvt. 3: Aria (S-Bellona; 2 fls., Bc): "Blast die Wohlgegriffnen Flöten" (Blow the well-tuned, well-played flutes now"); original (no parody). ¾ time ?minuet. original Bellona as the Goddess of War has a song of triumph and celebration, not a call to war through rage or defiance as in an opera seria. Like Irene, Bellona makes references to nature. Note that all three Goddesses sing a lyric aria first, followed by a congratulatory recitative. In fact, the content and general mood of both the arias and succeeding recitatives are quite similar. Still, the music is quite intrinsic to the text and effective. Konrad Küster in the OCC article on BWV 214 (p.481) suggests that this aria found no place in the XO (BWV 248) because of its "extravagant, modern and almost gallant character. . .with its prominent syncopation and accompaniment of two obbligato flutes," introduced in the first like, like the instruments in the opening chorus. Could this be the composer's gesture of vanity, where text is the servant of music in a nod to the gallant style!

Mvt. 4: Recitative (S-Bellona, Bc): Mein knallendes Metall. . .Rührt vieler Menschen Sinnen (My clanging metal's sound. . . Doth touch the hearts of many). Whittaker (p.651) suggests that Bach "in his dual role of poet and musician took care to provide verses which could lend themselves to illustration." He noted Augustus' success in war with Bellona's "militant note" with the sounds of metalic armament, cannons and explosions.

Mvt. 5: Aria (A-Pallas, ob. d'a, Bc): "Fromme Mussen! Meine Gleider/Sing nicht längst bekannte Lieder!" ("Faithful Muses! My companions!/Sing not long outmoded anthems!"). Parody: BWV 248II/6 (T, fl); "Frohe Hirten, eilt, ach eilet" ("Joyful shepherds, haste, ah hasten"). The central fifth movement in this palindrome-form work is a pastorale aria in 3/8 time, quite suitable for reuse in the XO (BWV 248) as the first aria in Part 2, the Annunciation, a tenor aria where the oboe d'amore becomes a shepherd's flute. Pallas (Athene), Goddess of Muses and Knowledge, also has six lines of joy and congratulations.

Mvt. 6: Recitative A-Pallas, str, Bc): "Unsre Königen im Lande. . .Ist der Musen Trost und Schutz" ("This our Queen o'er all the nation. . . Is the Muses' hope and shield."). Pallas, in the first accompanied recitative accompanied, with strings, offers more praise to the Queen, whose husband was a patron of the arts and had begun considering Bach's request to be named a Royal Court Composer.

Mvt. 7: Aria (B-Fama, tp, str, Bc): "Kron und Preis gekrönter Damen, /Königen! Mit deinem Namen/Füll ich diesen Kreis der Welt." ("Crown and star of crownéd ladies/ O great Queen! With thy name's honor/I will fill the orb of Earth."). Parody: BWV 248I/8 (same forces); "Großer Herr, o starker König/Liebster Heiland, o wie wenig, achtest du die Erden Pracht" ("Mighty Lord, O strongest sovereign/Dearest Savior, O how little Heedest thou all earthly pomp!"). Fame enters with a stirring da capo trumpet aria in stately 2/4 time (no introductory orchestral ritornello) with jaunty, striking syncopation. Imagine the Queen brought in on a litter with her own personal herald! Eat your heart out, George Frederick! It's a shame that Anna Magdalena's father, J.C. Wülcken did not live to hear this piece. Gottfried Reiche, famed Leipzig stadtmusicus, had that place of honor in many Bach cantatas. In the XO version (BWV 248), the subject is now the King in the second aria in Part 1, The Birth, with the addition of a flute. The same mood continues in the B section before the reprise.

Mvt. 8: Recitative (B-Fama, 2 fl, 2 ob, no Bc): "So dringe in das weite Erdenrund. . .Ihr Ruhm soll bis zum Axen" ("Let press forth now throughout the earthly ball. . . Her fame shall [prosper] to the axis"). Fame continues in an accompanied recitative with pairs of flutes and oboes, in summation of the occasion. This is not oratory as history but basic speech-making, rendering praise to royalty.

Mvt. 9: Chorus (tutti): "Blühet, ihr Linden in Sachsen, wie Zedern!" ("Flourish, ye lindens in Sax'ny like cedars!). Parody: BWV 248III/1 (tutti); "Herrscher des Himmels, erhöhe das Lallen" ("Ruler of heaven, give ear to our stammer"). Despite its brevity, the closing chorus, a gigue in 3/8 time, has much substance. As Dürr notes in The Cantatas of J.S. Bach (p. 831), it has a "clear, periodic phrase structure," with an instrumental passage followed by a "freely polyphonic vocal passage. . .in which the voices enter in turn leading to a choral insertion within a reprise of the instrumental passage. Three Goddess commence: Irene (tenor) with flourishing linden and cedar trees; Bellona (soprano), echoing with weapons, wagons, and axles; and Pallas (alto) singing with the muses. The tutti joins in joyous celebration. Bach uses this chorus, music virtually unchanged to open the XO (BWV 248) Part 3, The Adoration, and repeats the chorus at the end of Part 3, to close the three feast days of Christmas.

For a view of dramma per musica and its Dresden context, I recently posted a BCW article, "Bach's Dramatic Music," which you can find at , especially the sections Drammi per Musica; Leipzig 1730s: Kapellmeister, Dresden Court; and Oratorios, Congratulatory Cantatas.

A Drama in Music
Irene (T), Bellona (S), Pallas (A), Fama (B)(1)
1. Chorus (S, A, T, B)
Sound, all ye drums now! Resound, all ye trumpets!
Resonant viols, make swell now the air!
Sing now your anthems, ye vigorous poets,
Vivat regina! How happy the shout!
Vivat regina! the hope of the Saxons:
Long live the Queen, may she flourish and prosper!

2. Recit. (T) Irene
This is the day
When ev'ryone may find delight.
This is the shining hour
To celebrate the Queen's glad birthday,
Which Poles and Saxons, all of us,
In greatest joy and bliss revealeth.
Mine olive
Tree with sap and richness runs.
It showeth yet no leaves of yellow;
I fear no storm, flash,(2) clouds of sadness,
gloomy weather.

3. Aria (S) Bellona
Blow the well-tuned, well-played flutes now,
That foe, lilies, moon be blushing,
Ring triumphantly with song!
Let your weapons clearly sound!
Such a feast demandeth gladness,
For both mind and spirit nurture.

4. Recit. (S) Bellona
My clanging metal's sound
As in the air the charges burst with thunder,
The joyful peal;
The spectacle's enchantment;
The joy which Saxons now perceive
Doth touch the heartof many.
My flashing piece of arms,
Next these my sons in order marching,
And their heroic sense of honor
Increase each moment more and more
The present day's delightful pleasure.

5. Aria (A) Pallas
Faithful Muses! My companions!
Sing not long outmoded anthems!
May this day bring you delight!
Fill with gladness now your breast!
Cast aside both quill and tablets
And rejoice with thrice the pleasure!

6. Recit. (A) Pallas
This our Queen o'er all the nation,
Sent to us as heaven's angel,
Is the Muses' hope and shield.
My Pierians(3) can do it:
They, who kiss her very hem in rev'rence,
For her constant happiness
Thanks and due and sound alway shall raise.
Yea, their hope is that her lifetime
May afford us lasting pleasure.

7. Aria (B) Fama
Crown and star of crownéd ladies,
O great Queen! With thy name's honor
I will fill the orb of earth.
All that virtue e'er doth prize,
Glory of heroic women,
These are native to thy being.

8. Recit. (B) Fama
Let press forth now throughout the earthly ball
My mouth, which with the queen's repute is filled!
Her fame shall to the axis
Of yon fair starry heaven prosper,
The Queen of all the Saxons and of Poland
Be e'er to heaven's care commended.
Through her will heaven' pole(4)
Make firm her many subjects' long awaited goal.
And may the noble Queen yet long amongst us here now tarry
And late, ah, late to heaven hasten.

9. Chorus (S, A, T, B) Bellona, Pallas, Irene, Tutti
Flourish, ye lindens(5) in Sax'ny like cedars!
Echo with weapons and wagons and axles!
Sing now, ye Muses, make full now the sound!
O joyful hours, o ye joyous ages!
Grant us more often these golden occasions:
Life to the Queen, yea, yet long may she live!
1. The names of the characters are found only in the PT (and in this order). Irene (trisyllabic) is Greek for "Peace," Bellona is the Roman goddess of War, Pallas is another name for Athena (the Roman Minerva), and Fama is the Roman god of fame or rumor.
2. Literally, "lightning."
3. Pieria is a region of Macedonia considered to be the seat of the Muses.
4. There seems to be a play between pole and Poland.
5. An allusion to the etymology of Leipzig from Slavic lipa 'linden tree.'
© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 14, 2008):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Since time was particularly short, there are only nine movements in BWV 214 instead of the 13 movements in the previous Dresden Court cantata, BWV 213. >
Could you explain more fully what you mean when you say the time was "particularly short"? Are you suggesting that the time for composition was limited? I would have thought that royal birthdays and anniversaries were fixed days in the civic calendar when composers knew that music was required.

The opening chorus is a unique movement in Bach's work. The timpani solo is an obvious moment, but Bach's fragmenting of the thematic material in order to introduce the various instruments is a stunning technical tour de force.

William Hoffman wrote (September 15, 2008):
BWV 214

Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Could you explain more fully what you mean when you say the time was "particularly short"? Are you suggesting that the time for composition was limited? I would have thought that royal birthdays and anniversaries were fixed days in the civic calendar when composers knew that music was required. >
William Hoffman's reply. My "suggesting" is based upon factual, circumstantial and collateral evidence. The "civic calendar" at that time was set for two annual events involving traditional Dresden Court visits: August 3, the Nameday of August (both Augustus the Strong and his son, Frederick Augustus II) and the other annual visit in early October during the Michaelmas Fair to observe the son's ascension to the Polish Throne on October 5 (1733) and his birthday, October 7 (1696). On July 27, 1733, Bach sent his request to the new Elector for a royal court composer title. Eight days later, on August 3, the royal nameday, he presented BWV Anh. 12, a virtual parody of BWV Anh. 18 (only the recitatives were newly composed). On September 5, he presented BWV 213 for the birthday of Prince Friedrich Christian (b.1722). For that special event, Bach had no more than a month's warning. We have no record of a royal visit in early October 1733. On December 8, 1733, Bach presented BWV 214 for the special birthday visit of August's consort, Electress, Maria Josepha. For the celebration of August's coronation, virtual parody BWV 205a was presented on February 19, 1734.

As you can see, Bach was busy. It is conjectured that this succession of royal visits resulted from August celebrating his ascension and strengthening ties to his Protestant subjects in Leipzig. Also, it is conjectured that August wanted to hear Bach's music for the royal family, to see if he was worthy of a royal court composer title. And Bach certainly had his opportunities to responded in kind! As for the visit of Queen Maria Josefa, she was the new electress, replacing the esteemed Christiane Eberhardine, for whom Bach composed his Funeral Ode BWV 198 in 1727 on about a month's notice.

As for the procedures for "unscheduled" civic visits, notice was sent out by offical decree and in the newspapers between two and four weeks in advance and the royal residence was secured at Apel's baroque mansion. Bach Dokumente BD II, No. 350 lists the Leipzig newspaper account of the court name day visit by the royal couple on August 3, 1734, where at 4 p.m. "the Bachian Collegium Musicum will humbly perform a solemn music, with trumpets and timpani, at Zimmerman's garden, in front of the Grimma gate." As the end note in the NBR says (p. 164): "The identity of the work performed is not known."

The Queen's December visit would have required an indoor performance.Further, the three arias (the bass' trumpet aria is da capo) in BWV 214 (there were five in BWV 213!) all had a fixed strophic pattern of 6 lines each, so that Bach could get a headstart on composing the lyric music while awaiting the finished libretto. I believe there is evidence in the surving sources (original score and parts) to show that the work was completed the day before performance, with two original great choruses, three wonderful arias, and four musically striking recitatives! I look forward with anticipation to the highly-valued Providence information.

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 15, 2008):
BWV 214 - Provenance

Thomas Braatz has contributed Provenance page to the discussion of Cantata BWV 214.

Jean Laaninen wrote (September 17, 2008):
Introduction to BWV 214 - Royal music

This cantata caught my attention since last spring I covered the Funeral Ode, BWV 198. This raised in my mind the question of how many cantatas we may have addressing royal birthdays, and or celebrations that are memorials. I also got to wondering a little about the textual comparisons between these works--what similarities they might have and what would possibly be major differences.

I am not really qualified to answer these matters, but imagine several people on our list have given attention to such things.

I also found in the case of BWV 214 that the opening and closing movements seem to work quite well together as bookends, and perhaps there is a motivic reason in the openings that tends to contrast a little.

I would enjoy hearing comments from anyone on list, and again I thank William Hoffman for a great introduction.


Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 214: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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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