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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 80
Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott
Cantata BWV 80a
Alles, was von Gott geboren
Cantata BWV 80b
Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 2, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< If the two Sundays surrounding Oct. 31, 1724 each had a cantata suited or composed for St. Thomas Church, then BWV 80b as a chorale cantata would most naturally be performed at St. Nicholas. >
I'm not convinced that the two churches had distinctive repertoires.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 2, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>My reaction was to your sentence, this one: "It is a conjecture which has no basis in any real Bach scholarship that has been conducted in regard to BWV 80 in its various forms." That's your blanket statement to which I was referring, specifically, and which I quoted directly.<<
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Thanks for quoting directly once again. I stand 100% behind this statement and am still waiting for reliable, up-to-date evidence (hopefully based upon original sources, newly discovered or otherwise, which might lead me to revise my opinion and hopefully others as well who have contributed to this thread regarding the matter of BWV 80, BWV 80a, BWV 80b, and the W.F. Bach modifications and additions.
Coarse language is not necessary when discussing objectively a subject such as this one. >
Let's try this one last time, because I want to make sure this is clear.

Once again, the offensive statement was as follows, verbatim:
"It is a conjecture which has no basis in any real Bach scholarship that has been conducted in regard to BWV 80 in its various forms."
If you had said something less full of chutzpah in the first place, I wouldn't have objected at all. Some better-worded sentence that didn't place yourself in the high-and-mighty position to prejudge (and evaluate) all existing Bach scholarship that you didn't happen to have encountered yet. Something that doesn't present a false front where you allegedly know ALL the scholarship that has been conducted, and are in some position to decide what's real/worthwhile and what's not.

Something simple like this:
"I personally have not yet encountered a published analysis that would either support or refute that claim about BWV 80 in its various forms."

Notice the differences? It doesn't put down your interlocutor's conjecture as wrong. It admits honestly that you don't know everything. It leaves the door open to further research. It doesn't gratuitously bash the serious work of skilled researchers, whose work you happen not to agree with. It respects everybody and it respects the work.

Do you notice the difference? This is about tone (presenting yourself), and about respect for serious scholarship, not all of which you're in a position to judge.

Haughty pretentiousness is not necessary when discussing objectively a subject such as this one. Since you still "stand 100% behind" your original statement, you're still hitting us all over the head with the same old pretentiousness about your command of the Bach literature; and still never backing down about the fact that you really don't know everything. You obviously know a lot, and you are generous in sharing what you know. I appreciate that. Now, is there any way you can appreciate the distinction I have pointed out above? Please?

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 2, 2006):
Some more information from the NBA KB which I have just uncovered (I had not read this before now. This is in response to Ed's questions):

BWV 80b (the older, original version of "Ein feste Burg" as a Leipzig cantata)

Mvt. 1 = simple 4-pt. setting of "Ein feste Burg" and the beginning of Mvt. 2 (aria)

Watermark on the page is a "MA" or "AM" (depending upon which side of the paper is being viewed) which was produced or available to Bach (this is verified by the existence of other documents using the same type of paper from this specific paper mill) from October 17, 1727 until December 2, 1731 by Adam Michael in the (Doubrava) ('Grün'='Green') paper mill in Asch/Böhmen (Bohemia - which country this is located in now, someone will have to look up and inform us). Note: the identification of this source is preceded by a "vielleicht" ("perhaps") indicating that this location is only a reasonable guess, but the name of the papermaker is quite certain. Vertically passing through each capital letter of either "MA" or "AM" there are dashed lines, the number of dashes varying slightly, usually between 5 and 6.

The page containing mvt. 1 and part of mvt. 2 is separated into 3 parts/fragments and obviously not all of these parts of a single page will display the watermark which appears only once on a page.

All three fragments do not have manuscript signatures assigned to them as usually happens with manuscripts kept in larger libraries.

1. The top part (one third) of the page is located in Paris in the Musée Adam Mickiewicz. It once belonged to the Polish concert pianist, Maria Szymanowska (1789-1831). It has an incomplete title at the top of the fragment in Bach's handwriting: "J.J. Festo Reformationis. Concerto. Ein feste Burg ist unser Go | à 4 Voci. 1 Hautb. 2 Violini Vio | di Bach."

2. The middle (fragment) of the first page is located in St. Petersburg at the Saltykow-Stschedrin Library. This may have originally been owned by Aloys Fuchs. It later came into the possession of a Russian musician and music publisher, Pjotr Iwanowitsch Jürgenson (1836-1904) and through his stepson it finally came to the St. Petersburg Library. It was first mentioned in 1938 and later 'rediscovered' by Wolf Hobohm of Magdeburg. There is a note attached in which Aloys Fuchs attests that this document is genuine, dated February 3, 1853. This fragment has the watermark with the letters "MA" or "AM". This type of watermark is listed as number 122 in the catalog of watermarks published by the NBA. It can be documented among all other Bach manuscripts as being used by Bach as manuscript paper only from October 17, 1727 to December 2, 1731.

3. The bottom third of the page (the 3rd fragment) belonged for a long time to an English singer and church musician, William Hayman Cummings (1831-1915). It, along with other items from the Cummings Collection was auctioned off at Sotheby's in London on May 17, 1917 and purchased by someone with the name Rathbone. In 1924 and 1926 two attempts were made to place it up for auction. From this point onward, the trail goes cold and this fragment was assumed to have been lost. It was later acquired (date not given) by William H. Scheide of Princeton, NJ. Additional information on this fragment includes the orchestration for mvt. 2, for which only "Hautb." Had appeared on the middle fragment. The rest reads: "Violini é Viola in unisono | Soprano | Basso | Cont." By means of radiography, parts of the two dashed lines of the watermark were made visible.

Yoshitake Kobayashi, the world's foremost expert on Bach's handwriting, examined the entire page (now pieced together from the three sources) and has made a reasonable conjecture based only upon certain features of Bach's notation and script: 1728-1731? [sic] but Kobayashi is not entirely certain about this.

Given the above evidence, even with some question marks attached, it would appear that 1723 or 1724 or even 1725 would not seem reasonably possible dates for the first performance of BWV 80b/1 & 2.

In lieu of new evidence, such as the discovery of a cantata text booklet covering the late portion of the liturgical year, as for instance in particular, 1724, it will be very difficult to justify undoing what experts have determined thus far through a very close examination of the existing evidence.

All the above evidence has essentially been in place since 1988, but how many Bach experts and others writing program notes or attempting to impart information about BWV 80 BWV 80a, and BWV 80b, since 1988 have actually bothered to check out what the NBA KB has had to say about all of the nitty-gritty details. The list of casualties grows (Ed will proprovide an even more complete list of those scholars and editors, who, without bothering to update the out-of-date information that they have, nevertheless cause confusion among those listeners who might want to get a better handle on this material. I laud Ed for beginning to examine this information in depth and attempting to 'weed out' that which causes unnecessary confusion. It was also interesting to speculate along with Ed on the possibility of a connection between BWV 80b and the Sunday cantata which preceded and followed it directly. As a result of this research which I have relayed to any interested reader in response to Ed's many questions, I personally see the issue at the present time as tentatively resolved in favor of what the NBA had presented. Anyone with new evidence to the contrary will be encouraged to present it to this forum.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 2, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Ed Myskowski wrote:
Another reference work to include is:
"Bach Handbuch" Konrad Küster, Kassel, 1999, pp. 272-274:
"BWV 80b on October 31, 1724?"
Information based upon the earlier
Wolff essay with the speculation that since Oct. 31, 1723 was a Sunday, the next possible date might be the following year Oct. 31, 1724(?)[sic] Küster makes no attempt to relate BWV 80b to the preceding or following cantatas which we have just discussed. >
Your interest and prompt responses are always appreciated. I expect we are down to a small group on this issue. I have skipped a few less important points to get to the citation above, which IMO is the most critical. Wolff's original hypothesis may have overlooked the fact that Oct. 31,1723 was a Sunday, which carried over to the Table of Works in the 1983 New Grove. I neglected to go back to recheck Wolff (2001), Table 8.7, the list of works for Jahrgang I, which in fact does indicate music performed on Oct. 31, 1723: BWV 163, a repeat performance of a Weimar work.

The only possibility for a 1723 performance of BWV 80b is in combination with BWV 163. Is this out of the question, given that they are both Weimar works (with update for BWV 80b), and that the conjunction of Reformation Festival with a Sunday was something of an event for Bach's first year in Leipzig? This does not rise even to the level of hypothesis, just pub speculation.

I am reluctant to give up on Wolff's satisfying idea that a performance of BWV 80b in 1723 was the nucleus which became the Chorale Cantata series of Jahrgang II. Perhaps Wolff was overly seduced by it as well?

Key questions:

(1) What was the evolution of Wolff's thinking from 1982 to 2001, regarding first performance of BWV 80b, and how is it documented?

(2) If BWV 80b was not the music for 1724, what was, and what happened to it? This is the same question I previously asked regarding 1723 and 1724, already half-answered by reading the references in hand a bit more
carefully. Not to give up.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 2, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
<< If the two Sundays surrounding Oct. 31, 1724 each had a cantata suited or composed for St. Thomas Church, then BWV 80b as a chorale cantata would most naturally be performed at St. Nicholas. >>
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I'm not convinced that the two churches had distinctive repertoires. >
I thought Thomas' original idea was interesting, and meant to write at the time in support of pursuing it. I agree, certainly far from proven, at this point.

Harry W. Crosby wrote (November 2, 2006):
So, who really did create those brass and drum embellishments in BWV 80, and just when?

In all likelihood, we will never have exact, pinpoint answers. If the necessary documents exist, they have not been found or identified.

However, I know from experience how desirable it is to keep the door open and to emphasize that any answer, however informed from known sources, remains conjectural. I am not a scholar in this discipline in any way, shape, or form, but I have forty years of experience in document research --- coincidentally, documents from the very Bach Family related years of 1684 to 1821 --- all relating to the establishment and growth of Spanish California.

One of my experiences seems at least obliquely apt to the BWV 80 case in question: During the past 125 years many accounts of the 1769 Portolá Expedition have been written and published (this was the first Spanish move into the territory that is now the U. S.'s State of California. The Spaniard Gaspar de Portolá directed a group of some 40 colonial soldiers from the existing company that served the original California settlement created 70 years earlier. Many of these soldiers became settlers of the new California, got land, and they, and alas, many others claimed later to have been members of the prestigious Portolá party. Family legends developed as they were passed down. When scholars got around to writing histories of all this, they used the readily available documents, but those included not only original accounts and records, but also "related" documents used in court cases, land claims, etc. As a result, a long list of names was assembled and rather codified as the "official" roster of that first expedition (which had, unfortunately, no surviving muster roll).

In 1977, in the great archive of Mexico, doing related research, I was going through huge bails of basically uncatalogued documents, each carpeta, as they were called, sorted time periods and the regions of what is now Mexico to which they pertained. To make a long story short, I found 200 numbered sheets, that is 400 sides, which listed all the supplies charged against individual soldiers of the old California presidio, and the dates and places of their issue. Suddenly, we had a list of all soldiers who accompanied Portolá, proven by the fact that they had received supplies in San Diego and Monterey of the new territory, and the fact that we have specific statements that no reinforcements were added during the time in question. To make it a perfect fit, the number of men so identified exactly matched the numbers carefully recorded by diarists of the expedition, even as they did not supply names.

At last we were able to know that four men had never been credited with participation, and three others, who had appeared in every published account that included names, did not accompany the expedition, but were added to the northern troops a year or more later. There were other corroborations too detailed to cite here, but the outcome was, finally, a muster of all those who took part in this germinal exploration/occupation.

My point is, this question is finally answered (to the glee of some descendants and the disappointment of others) because unequivocal documents are available for all to see. Such an outcome remains possible on countless points of Bach scholarship. In the meantime, please don't credit indirect evidence, sometimes indirect by time, or
place, or author's second- or third-hand association, as the final answer to anything. Let's speak instead of things like inferences or deductions from the best available evidence.

Been there and done that, Harry W. Crosby

Neil Halliday wrote (November 1, 2006):
BWV 80a, 80b

Thomas Braatz wrote:
< BWV 80b (the older, original version of "Ein feste Burg" as a Leipzig cantata)
Mvt. 1 = simple 4-pt. setting of "Ein feste Burg" and the beginning of Mvt. 2 (aria) >
Sorry if I have missed the information, but in what way does 80a differ from 80b? I understand that neither of them has the grand choral fantasia that we know as the first movement of BWV 80 (with or without the trumpets and drums!).

[Is it possible that 80a was performed in 1724? Thomas has located the evidence that a performance of 80b was not possible before Oct. ].

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 2, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Some more information from the NBA KB which I have just uncovered <snip>
I personally see the issue at the present time as tentatively resolved in favor of what the NBA had presented. Anyone with new evidence to the contrary will be encouraged to present it to this forum. >

Thanks for this information, exactly what I was asking for from NBA, and not accessible to many of us without your generous help. I just sent a post which now looks unnecessary, and probably crossed with yours. Perhaps enjoyable discussion for a few of us, in any case.

It would appear that Wolff (1982) misjudged the watermark evidence, and this was not picked up in the 1991 reprint and Postscript, after publication of NBA. Remaining questions, of interest to me (and I expect to you as well);

(1) What was the evolution of Wolff's thinking from 1982 to 2001? I am now going to speculate that between 1987 and 1991 he overlooked the watermark data summarized by you from NBA, and so his 1991 Postcript with the reprint, although it referenced NBA, did not in fact reflect all details therein. Sometime before the 2001 publication, he recognized this and incorporated the correct data in that publication with little fanfare. Very little, a single table entry. My speculation as to editorial oversight was probably overly generous, looks more like quiet retraction of a minor blunder (in pub language).

(2) What was the music for Oct. 31, 1724 (if any), and what happened to it?

I enjoyed pursuing this detail. I am truly glad that you turned out to be correct, and demonstrated it with detail and grace.

Aside to Julian Mincham: It appears that Robin Leaver's article in Boyd, with precise scholarship and documentation, perpetuated an error from other work. Too bad, what a nice story!

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 2, 2006):
Biographical documents

Harry W. Crosby wrote:
< At last we were able to know that four men had never been credited with participation, and three others, who had appeared in every published account that included names, did not accompany the expedition, but were added to the northern troops a year or more later. There were other corroborations too detailed to cite here, but the outcome was, finally, a muster of all those who took part in this germinal exploration/occupation. >
And there are times when an accepted biography is exploded. The English reformation leader, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, had many documentary holes in his life and most biographers had papered over the lacunae. Then a few years ago documents were found that showed he had undertaken a diplomatic mission to Poland for Henry VIII. Now historians are left with a tantalizing clue about secret state diplomacy but no documents.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 2, 2006):
Neil Halliday wrote:
>>Sorry if I have missed the information, but in what way does 80a differ from 80b? I understand that neither of them has the grand choral fantasia that we know as the first movement of BWV 80 (with or without the trumpets and drums!).<<
Yes, that is correct. Here is a short description of the situation:

Weimar, March 24, 1715 possible performance of a cantata for the Sunday Oculi (during Lent - which in Leipzig was part of a 'quiet period' when no figural music was performed in the churches).

This cantata entitled "Alles, was von Gott geboren" is BWV 80a for which the text still exists: Salomon Franck's "Evangelisches Andachts-Opffer", Weimar, 1715, pp. 60-62. All of the original music (score and parts) have been lost, but the orchestration was detailed in the Breitkopf catalog of 1761. Since much of the original text was reused when the cantata was parodied in its first Leipzig incarnation as a Reformation Day/Feast cantata, BWV 80b, it would be theoretically possible to reconstruct almost all of BWV 80a from BWV 80b/BWV 80 (The BWV Verzeichnis states that BWV 80a is 'reconstruierbar' (= "reconstructable").

BWV 80b is the older, earlier, Leipzig version of the later, newer full version of BWV 80 which had been expanded to include, for instance, the extensive first mvt. to which W.F. Bach much(?) later added the trumpet and timpani parts. In an earlier message, I had given all the details from the NBA KB which show how the transformation from BWV 80a to BWV 80b to BWV 80 took place.

>>Is it possible that 80a was performed in 1724?<<
This seems rather unlikely with the evidence we presently have before us. As a cantata for Oculi it was unusable in Leipzig. Further changes were necessary to transform it into a Reformation Day cantata.

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 2, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< BWV 80b is the older, earlier, Leipzig version of the later, newer full version of BWV 80 which had been expanded to include, for instance, the extensive first mvt. to which W.F. Bach much(?) later added the trumpet and timpani parts.>
Do we not have a date for W.F's version?

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 2, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>Do we not have a date for W.F's version?<<
The NBA indicates that W. F. based his version on a copy of BWV 80 made by Johann Christoph Altnickol. The latter is the key document used by the NBA. The editors speculate that Bach's original score (along with the original parts) was so worn out from use that a new copy of the score was made necessary. Altnickol then created a new score from the original score or existing parts. Based upon the various watermarks used, the dating of this Altnickol copy is established("mit Vorbehalt") with reservations for the time when Altnickol was in Leipzig (1744-1748). W.F. Bach's revision and expansion of Altnickol's copy must have taken place after this time frame. The NBA did not speculate beyond this regarding W.F. Bach's version.

There is a complicated stemma covering all the sources which the NBA used along with the reasoning for preferring one source over another.

The NBA KB I/31 devotes pp. 47-97 to a detailed analysis of all the versions of BWV 80. Only the 1st page (in 3 fragments) of the autograph score of 80b has survived. All other original sources (scores and parts) of BWV 80 in all of its incarnations (Weimar Oculi, early Leipzig, later Leipzig) have been lost.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 2, 2006):
<< BWV 80b (the older, original version of "Ein feste Burg" as a Leipzig cantata)
Mvt. 1 = simple 4-pt. setting of "Ein feste Burg" and the beginning of Mvt. 2 (aria) >>
< Sorry if I have missed the information, but in what way does 80a differ from 80b? I understand that neither of them has the grand choral fantasia that we know as the first movement of BWV 80 (with or without the trumpets and drums!).
[Is it possible that 80a was performed in 1724? Thomas has located the evidence that a performance of 80b was not possible before Oct. 1727]. >
For what it's worth, here's what the current BWV gives:

BWV 80: probably the mid-to-late 1730s, as I mentioned yesterday.

BWV 80b: 1728/1731, with a different first movement from BWV 80's.

BWV 80a: March 24 1715. First version of BWV 80, but not yet as a chorale cantata. Different text ("Alles, was von Gott geboren" etc)! The libretto was printed in Weimar in 1715. Six movements. The music is all lost, except for the final chorale (now labeled BWV 303) [thfound its way into later collections.] The missing movements were probably akin to the movements we know as BWV 80's 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7.

=====

Robin Leaver's little article about BWV 80a, in the Oxford Composer Companion, gives a different performance date: March 15 1716.

=====

And of course it's possible that there could have been other performances of "some" version of this, at any other appropriate time(s) between 1715 and the 1730s. We don't have a complete record of every time any particular vocal piece by Bach was performed. That is, we'd be on just as thin ice to assert that it "wasn't" performed, as to assert that it "was"; the evidence is lacking, either way.

We also don't know for sure that JSB himself didn't come up with the trumpets/drums idea, at some time after those particular movements were added to what we know as BWV 80. What's to stop anybody else from having sketched out now-lost parts for trumpets/drums, without changing the score? Hypothetically, of course!

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 2, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< We also don't know for sure that JSB himself didn't come up with the trumpets/drums idea, at some time after those particular movements were added to what we know as BWV 80. What's to stop anybody else from having sketched out now-lost parts for trumpets/drums, without changing the score? >
That has always been my completely unfounded notion as well. The brass is so well-integrated, especially in the second and third chorus, that it is easy to believe that father suggested it to son as a possibility.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 2, 2006):
< It would appear that Wolff (1982) misjudged the watermark evidence, and this was not picked up in the 1991 reprint and Postscript, after publication of NBA. Remaining questions, of interest to me (and I expect to you as well);
(1) What was the evolution of
Wolff's thinking from 1982 to 2001? I am now going to speculate that between 1987 and 1991 he overlooked the watermark data summarized by you from NBA, and so his 1991 Postcript with the reprint, although it referenced NBA, did not in fact reflect all details therein. Sometime before the 2001 publication, he recognized this and incorporated the correct data in that publication with little fanfare. Very little, a single table entry. My speculation as to editorial oversight was probably overly generous, looks more like quiet retraction of a minor blunder (in pub language). >
Why not just write up the question in a nice and thorough way, and then ask Dr Wolff in e-mail or a phone call? Maybe he knows some further info about the piece since 2001, or maybe he'd have some other comments that wouldn't fit into print in his book.

Better yet, since you're in Boston anyway, why not just prepare your materials and questions (in the well-organized way you apparently have done already) and then go meet the man on campus, to ask him about it?

=====

I haven't met Wolff myself yet, but I did get some cordial and supportive help from him when I asked him a question about something else by e-mail, a couple of years ago.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 2, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< All the above evidence has essentially been in place since 1988, but how many Bach experts and others writing program notes or attempting to impart information about BWV 80 BWV 80a, and BWV 80b, since 1988 have actually bothered to check out what the NBA KB has had to say about all of the nitty-gritty details. The list of casualties grows (Ed will probably provide an even more complete list of those scholars and editors, who, without bothering to update the out-of-date information that they have, nevertheless cause confusion among those listeners who might want to get a better handle on this material. >
Oh, stop the better-than-everybody posturing. (The "list of casualties" and everybody else whose work allegedly dies at your hand!) Just because you purchased the entire NBA for yourself is no sufficient reason to kick everybody's tocks about what you believe to be "the nitty-gritty details"...those tiresome minutiae that you apparently believe are make-or-break for performances and for serious research.

Obviously it's a fine resource, and worth looking at. Everybody serious in the Bach field knows that. We don't need you to harp on the fact that not everybody is as much an NBA-fundamentalist as you are. University libraries, and even some public libraries in large cities, have the whole NBA; it's not as if the thing is unavailable! Plus, it's simple enough (though time-consuming) to get individual volumes by interlibrary loan.

You personally don't know that such-and-such writers, and such-and-such performers, DIDN'T look at it. You're just making that up, and thwacking everybody over the head with it, to justify your superiority and your purchase.

At least, so it seems to me. Myself, I consult the NBA every chance I get, which isn't every day like you. I also perform from some of its volumes. Other intelligent people do, too. So?

Let's also not forget: the NBA isn't always the most recent piece of scholarship in town, on any given piece. Some of those volumes were closed a long, long time ago already.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 3, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>And of course it's possible that there could have been other performances of "some" version of this, at any other appropriate time(s) between 1715 and the 1730s. We don't have a complete record of every time any particular vocal piece by Bach was performed.<<
This is generally true of any cantata once its first performance date has been established (or estimated as closely as possible on available evidence).

BL: >>That is, we'd be on just as thin ice to assert that it "wasn't" performed, as to assert that it "was"; the evidence is lacking, either way.<<
This is where the weighing of available evidence comes in as far as BWV 80b is concerned. The date (the year) is established post quem (after which date BWV 80b was composed and performed for the first time). This means saying 'anytime between 1715 and 1730s is the equivalent to crashing through the thin ice unless the span of years is reduced to between 1728 and 1731. You are simply perpetuating the outdated scholarship of the past by making statements such as these.

BL: >>We also don't know for sure that JSB himself didn't come up with the trumpets/drums idea, at some time after those particular movements were added to what we know as BWV 80. What's to stop anybody else from having sketched out now-lost parts for trumpets/drums, without changing the score?<<
But W.F. Bach did have the score and did change it in other ways as well: he changed, for instance, wherever necessary, the vocal parts to make them fit the Latin text, etc. Of course, how would you know this if you had not studied the NBA KB which explains all of this? Again, the likelihood that Papa told Son "Go ahead and do this" is like walking on ice that is already breaking up. If you had read any of the NBA research which I relayed to the BCML the past few days, you would not have to engage in speculations of this sort.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 3, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>....about what you believe to be "the nitty-gritty details"...those tiresome minutiae that you apparently believe are make-or-break for performances and for serious research.<<
Why accuse me of believing that "those tiresome minutiae" contained in the NBA "are make-or-break for performances and for serious research"? I am only a messenger offering whatever I can to this list and ultimately to the BCW because I love Bach's music. I am truly concerned about such individuals such as you who claim to be a part of serious Bach scholarship, but who take every opportunity to belittle whenever possible the information emanating from the NBA and other important sources whenever it does not suit their prevailing point of view or whatever they happened to have learned in the 'hallowed of ivy' in academia.

Any individual seriously studying or performing Bach, whether for academic work, for public performance, or for purposes of increasing one's knowledge and appreciation of Bach cannot simply overlook this source and claim to be truly knowledgeable about the many details that surround each composition by Bach.

BL: "We don't need you to harp on the fact that not everybody is as much an NBA-fundamentalist as you
are.<<

I only mention it as a source for proper documentation, a procedure which you do not seem to hold in such high regard on these lists, and because I do not want anyone to believe that I am making all this information up as I go along.

BL: >>You personally don't know that such-and-such writers, and such-and-such performers, DIDN'T look at it.<<
It is obvious that they did not consider it important enough to look at and investigate. If they did or did not look at it [NBA and NBA KBs], then they should have in order to maintain their integrity as a Bach expert and not simply rely upon outdated research that had been presented at one time and quoted from over and over again. Pointing this out as a fact is simply necessary in order to gain the best possible understanding at this point in time. Why allow erroneous, outdated information to continue to circulate and cause more confusion and misinformation? Is this done only to save the faces of those who did not live up to the highest standards of scholarship?

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 3, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Why not just write up the question in a nice and thorough way, and then ask Dr Wolff in e-mail or a phone call? Maybe he knows some further info about the piece since 2001, or maybe he'd have some other comments that wouldn't fit into print in his book.
Better yet, since you're in Boston anyway, why not just prepare your materials and questions (in the well-organized way you apparently have done already) and then go meet the man on campus, to ask him about it? >
=====
I haven't met
Wolff myself yet, but I did get some cordial and supportive help from him when I asked him a question about something else by e-mail, a couple of years ago. >
Thanks for the suggestion, and for noticing that I can organize materials and questions. I will try the eMail route first, and ask your help if necessary for contact.

I am writing because you may be interested that I did have the opportunity to meet Dr. Wolff about 2000 for a hello and handshake at a pre-publication lecture and music recital for Bach: The Learned Musician. Very effective, I bought the book as soon as it came out. My impression was comparable to yours, he struck me as a genuine educator, as well as scholar. Also successful book promoter. No harm in that.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 3, 2006):
I have just noticed that in previous references on this thread to Christoph Wolff's Bach: The Learned Musician, I carelessly used the date of the paperback reprint to abbreviate it as Wolff (2001) and to place it in the publication chronology.. I expect we will have reason to add to this thread to clarify some of the remaining questions, at which time I will correct the reference to Wolff (2000), and repeat this advisory. Note that my error has no effect on the chronologic reasoning, only the identity of this particular book, which in any case I expect is familiar to people participating or interested in the discussion.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 11, 2006):
I have recently sent an eMail inquiry to Christoph Wolff, without response. However, I have also realized that his notes for Koopman's Vol. 22 (including BWV 80) are recently released and available online at: www.antoinemarchand.nl/vol22.pdf

Interested people should consult this source, but my conclusions are:

The earliest Leipzig version of BWV 80 is Oct. 31, 1724, Reformation Day, within the Chorale Cantata cycle, Jahrgang II. The score is not extant.

The earliest surviving score (BWV 80b) is represented by manuscript fragments dated to 1727-31. Watermark evidence detailed in NBA (1988) was included in an earlier post by Thomas Braatz..

Note that this represents minor differences, and a logical update, to Wolff's two major works previously cited by me: Bach: Essays on His Life and Music (1991, including Postscript to original 1982 article) and Bach: The Learned Musician (2000). I am repeating my earlier correction that all my previous references to Wolff (2001) should have been (2000).

Thomas Braatz kindly provided additional information to me off-list. The two most important references are consistent with Wolff and are cited below. In particular, note the question mark after 1724 in Küster. I expect that Wolff might do the same in an academic publication, as the 1724 date is unsupported by manuscript evidence, as I read the statements. I will keep it on my active list to confirm these points via personal communication with Prof. Wolff. However, this may reasonably take as long as until next March when he will be guest speaker at a Cantata Singers concert. I am providing this interim summary as I expect some of you may have a more immediate interest in the current thinking re a 1724 performance of a version of BWV 80.

To me, it remains a very satisfying explanation for Reformation Day music 1724. Lack of an extant manuscript is consistent with the extended and complex revisions and repeat performances.

From Thomas Braatz:
"Bach Handbuch" Konrad Küster, Kassel, 1999, pp. 272-274:
"BWV 80b on October 31, 1724?"
Information based upon the earlier Wolff essay with the speculation that since Oct. 31, 1723 was a Sunday, the next possible date might be the following year Oct. 31, 1724(?)[sic]

"Die Bach-Kantaten" Hans-Joachim Schulze, Carus, 2006, pp.553-554:
Translation:
"Bach may have placed a simple 4-pt. chorale harmonization of "Ein feste Burg" in front of the solo mvts. from the Weimar cantata, BWV 80a and created a version of this cantata that might possibly have been performed as late as circa 1730 or perhaps ("vielleicht") even as early as 1724.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 13, 2006):
BWV 80

Ed Myskowski wrote:
>>The earliest Leipzig version of BWV 80 is Oct. 31, 1724, Reformation Day, within the Chorale Cantata cycle, Jahrgang II. The score is not extant.<<
With BWV 80, BWV 80a, and BWV 80b as distinct versions that need to be distinguishable one from the other, it is misleading to state that BWV 80 originates from the Oct. 31, 1724 date and that the score is not extant. The facts are presently that the score for the early Leipzig version of BWV 80 [BWV 80b is this version] does exist in autograph but fragmentary form and the watermark analysis prevents it from having been composed and performed any earlier than Oct. 31, 1728.

Here is a more detailed and accurate description from the NBA KB:

1. BWV 80a, the cantata composed in Weimar for Oculi Sunday, probable date: March 24, 1715. None of the music has survived whether in autograph or copy form. The same is true of any set of parts whether original or not. Only the text survives. From this it is possible to reconstruct a fairly accurate representation of the musical score. Was this Oculi cantata, because of its references to "Ein feste Burg" performed on Oct. 31, 1724? Any reasonable speculation of this sort is possible and has the same value as saying the same about any early Bach cantata from the pre-Leipzig period that might havehad a repeat performance on one of the Sundays or Feast Days for which no direct evidence is available that a cantata had been performed. If there is an existing record (even without the text and music having survived) that a pre Leipzig cantata with a specific title had been performed, the title might reveal it as belonging to a specific Sunday or Feast Day of the liturgical year, hence anyone might speculate that it could have been adapted and performed during the early Leipzig years on a specific Sunday and date (simply look it up in a calendar and find out if no cantata has as yet been recorded as being performed on that date). Let us assume that all traces of such a cantata thereafter were lost (no score or parts survived, otherwise a dating might have been possible). Would Bach have performed BWV 80a in Leipzig without making substantial changes (transposing to a different key, changing instrumentation, etc.)? The answer is in all probability 'no'. We have nothing in the way of parts, let alone an autograph score, for such a changed version. This makes a re-performance of BWV 80a in Leipzig much less likely or nearly impossible.

2. BWV 80b, the cantata based substantially upon BWV 80a, but at least having an autograph fragment of the score which can be dated by watermark to have been composed on paper which Bach used from October 17, 1727 to December 2, 1731: Since there was a period of mourning from September 7, 1727 to Epiphany (early January) 1728, meaning that no figural music in the churches of Leipzig could be performed, the first date for a performance from this autograph score (with two new compositions that had been added to BWV 80a) is from October 31, 1728 to Oct 31, 1731. An analysis of Bach's handwriting does not allow a closer determination to be made. The original parts from this version must be assumed to have been lost early on or they were incorporated with existing parts from BWV 80a to become the original parts used for the early Leipzig version of BWV 80 (all of these original parts have also been lost).

3. BWV 80, the early form of the later version: This is based upon the Altnickol copy, a copy made at the earliest during the last 4 or 5 years of Bach's life while Altnickol was in Leipzig. It may have been intended as a replacement for the worn-out and often revised original score or it may have been copied during the decade following Bach's death. The details of which movements were new and which were revised were all given previously in an earlier report. The text of the cantata was now in its final state and an accommodation for pitch change for all movements might also have taken place at this point. A longer first movement was added along with other major changes. The cantata now had been expanded to 8 movements. The earliest date for these substantial revisions and additions is not before 1729 to 1731. A later revision dated around 1740 or during the 1740s involved changes to the woodwind orchestration and fundamental changes to the 1st movement. Both the autograph score and the original parts are missing and were lost soon after Bach's death.

It is important to recognize the confusion presently caused by scholarly references to the outdated [in this regard pertaining only to the actual dating of BWV 80b for which some scholars still point to 1723 or 1724 as a possible 1st performance of BWV 80b] Wolff essay on BWV 80 including all its earlier versions. Wolff's research and results were used as the basis for information included in the Bach Compendium. In his essay from 1982 and in the Bach Compendium, published in the two volumes that included information regarding BWV 80 (with all of its versions) in 1985 and 1987 before all the research presented by the NBA KB I/31 was published in 1988, Wolff still refers to BWV 80 as defined by his important essay from 1982. However, later in his Bach biography (both English and German versions dating from 2000) and also in his "Die Welt der Bach Kantaten" (1999), Wolff has corrected his chronology concerning BWV 80b and BWV 80 in light of the newer chronology provided by the NBA. Wolff now even gives the Bach Compendium item numbers A 183a and A 183b [for the different versions of BWV 80] which have been updated to exclude the reference to either 1723 or 1724 as possible 1st performance dates. It may well be that other Bach scholars [not Christoph Wolff] are still quoting the outdated BC volumes from 1985 and 1987 where such speculation still had existed. Robin A Leaver, in his article on this cantata in the "Oxford Composer Companions: J.S. Bach" (Boyd, Oxford University Press, 1999), still states that BWV 80b [Bach Compendium: A 183b] was first performed October 31, 1723 and even insists that "watermark evidence established that this version was composed in 1723." This is in direct contradiction to the careful research done by the NBA editors (research results reaffirmed by the BWV Verzeichnis (1998) and by more recent references by Christoph Wolff in his cantata book (1999) and his biography (2000).

Barring the possibility that Christoph Wolff will change his opinion again based on more recent substantial research with supporting evidence which Robin A Leaver will need to supply to support his contention, I cannot see any credible evidence for thinking that BWV 80b was performed by Bach in either 1723 or 1724 (Leaver did not explain how the interpretation of the watermarks for BWV 80b could change so substantially between 1988 and 1999). Certainly the BWV Verzeichnis editors (1998 - including Alfred Dürr as one of its editors) were unaware of such an important change. Other Bach biographers and musicologists who still consult the Bach Compendium for chronology of this cantata will likewise have forgotten to check the important research included in the NBA KB volume mentioned above.

This is why there is still so much confusion and unwarranted speculation on the 1724 date for BWV 80b.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 13, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
>>The earliest Leipzig version of BWV 80 is Oct. 31, 1724, Reformation Day, within the Chorale Cantata cycle, Jahrgang II. The score is not extant.<<
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< With BWV 80, BWV80a, and BWV80b as distinct versions that need to be distinguishable one from the other, it is misleading to state that BWV 80 originates from the Oct. 31, 1724 date and that the score is not extant. >
My brief summary appears misleading, because the statement by Christoph Wolff which I referenced is based on his interpretation and opinion (highly qualified) of uncertain data. I was striving for brevity, in order to make the summary more useful to the typical BCML participant. Here is the relevant paragraph from the notes to Koopman , Vol. 22 (2006), by Wolff. This material is copyright protected, and intended to promote the Koopman CD series, so I was reluctant to cite it at length. On the other hand, maybe someone will see it and buy something:

< The cantata "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott", BWV 80, has a complicated gestation history stretching back to Bach's Weimar period. However, it was only in Leipzig that it assumed its function as a cantata for the Reformation Festival (31 October). In 1724 Bach inserted into his Weimar cantata "Alles, was von Gott geboren", BWV 80a, several strophes of the Lied ìEin feste Burgî by Martin Luther (1524). The text, by Salomo Franck, was originally intended for ìOculiî Sunday, the Third Sunday in Lent, during which by tradition no concerted music was performed in Leipzig. Bach therefore had to find another use for this Weimar cantata. Since Franck's text already concluded with a strophe of Luther's Lied and Bach had composed the first aria citing the chorale melody in the instrumental parts, he hit upon the idea of taking over additional strophes, thereby extending the work (which does not survive in its original form) into a chorale cantata for the Reformation Festival. Over time this Reformation Festival cantata assumed several forms, of which two survive. The earlier version of 1727-31 opens with a simple four-voice chorale <end quote>

Note especially, Wolff clearly states that a 1724 version is not equivalent to BWV 80b. It is an as yet yet unknown (i.e. speculative) version between BWV 80a and 80b. The <earlier version of 1727-31> is in fact what is formally referenced as BWV 80b.

I interpreted Wolff's careful avoidance of using BWV 80b to refer to the 1727-31 version, in conjunction with his clear statement of a likely 1724 version, as a statement of his current position. I also clearly stated that all my information was hurried to meet special interests, and subject to confirmation by personal communications with Prof. Wolff, pending.

Special attention to two points:

T.B.
< Was this Oculi cantata, because of its references to "Ein feste Burg" performed on Oct. 31, 1724? Any reasonable speculation of this sort is possible and has the same value as saying the same about any early Bach cantata from the pre-Leipzig period that might have had a repeat performance on one of the Sundays or Feast Days for which no direct evidence is available that a cantata had been performed. <end quote>

(1) Although this is presented as data from NBA, I interpret it as your (T.B.) language. In either case, it has a fundamental flaw. It indicates that all speculations are equal, and implies that they are of little value. I have strongly supported the right to publish speculations on BCML, as long as they are not misrepresented as fact. Neither Wolff's nor yours are misrepresented. The value of a speculation is in the eye of the beholder, but clearly, some are more attractive than others.

(2) The possibility of a 1724 version of BWV 80, whether intermediate between BWV 80a and 80b, or an earlier lost score of 80b, is clearly supported (with question mark) by the references you kindly provided and which I cited in my previous post: Küster (1999) and Schultze (2006).

That a 1724 performance would satisfy a number of questions predates Wolff (1982), and gives me an opportunity to clear up a bit of very old business. Peter Smaill and I exchanged some comments at the outset of BCML Jahrgang II discussions. Peter had cited Daw (citing Dürr) with regard to the relations among the first four cantatas (BWV 20, BWV 2, BWV 7, BWV 135). The reference is Peter Daw; The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach: The Choral Music (1981). It is not listed in the BCW archives, but should be, when a bibliography is completed. Although not scholarly in detail, it is very readable and provides interesting ideas about relations among the works, and about mini-groups (the four just cited, for example).

In his list of chorale cantatas for 1724 -25, Daw includes BWV 80(?).

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 13, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
>> My brief summary appears misleading, because the statement by Christoph Wolff which I referenced is based on his interpretation and opinion (highly qualified) of uncertain data. I was striving for brevity, in order to make the summary more useful to the typical BCML participant.<<
I very much appreciate all of your efforts to obtain clarity in this matter and support your making this information useful to the typical BCML participant. Ultimately the results of all of this research should become part of the Chronology of Bach's Works on the BCW. As of now, I see no convincing evidence to insert a performance date of Oct. 31, 1724 for BWV 80 in any of its variant forms due to different versions.

Barring some clear reliable evidence for this early, as yet completely undocumented performance, it remains entirely in the realm of speculation, a realm that will perhaps quickly be filled with numerous unsubstantiated suppositions/conjectures that likewise lack any clear-cut evidence.

Based upon what we know with some fair amount of certainty from the wealth of detail supplied by the research done by the editors of the NBA, the statement from Wolff's notes to the Koopman Bach Cantata series: "In 1724 Bach inserted into his Weimar cantata "Alles, was von Gott geboren", BWV 80a, several strophes of the Lied "Ein feste Burg" by Martin Luther (1524)" is definitely much too strong as it authoritatively asserts a fact not corroborated by the NBA and BWV Verzeichnis. These 'several strophes' which Bach inserted into his Weimar cantata (which already had one strophe as the writer indicates later in the paragraph) are the ones which can be documented as first appearing in 1728 (or thereafter until 1731) on the autograph score fragment that is the only genuine original source to have survived from any of the versions of this cantata. Unless another autograph score of a yet earlier version of BWV 80b has been found (or some original parts from this alleged 1724 performance of this cantata), or a document which states that a cantata "Ein feste Burg" was performed by Bach on Oct. 31, 1724, the assertion made by the writer of the Koopman notes must be considered pure speculation with little or no basis in fact.

EM: >>Note especially, Wolff clearly states that a 1724 version is not equivalent to BWV 80b. It is an as yet unknown (i.e. speculative) version between BWV 80a and 80b. The <earlier version of 1727-31 is in fact what is formally referenced as BWV 80b.<<
I cannot find BWV 80b specifically mentioned as BWV 80b in the section from the notes which you quoted. This is perhaps an inference which you have made or else it is in another section of the notes which was not quoted.

In any case, the Leipzig version from 1728 - 1731 (BWV 80b) contains the only original autograph composing score which also includes the 'several strophes of the Lied "Ein feste Burg"' which were not in the original Weimar cantata, BWV 80a. The writer, unaware of the dating of this Bach manuscript conflates BWV 80b with the imaginary 1724 version, a version not yet existing in any form that can be examined and studied.

Let's hope that Christoph Wolff will shed some light on this matter. If he knows of concrete evidence pointing to the 1724 performance, he will need to give a detailed description this evidence and perhaps indicate what made him change his mind this time around.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 14, 2006):
BWV 80

Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Based upon what we know with some fair amount of certainty from the wealth of detail supplied by the research done by the editors of the NBA, the statement from Wolffís notes to the Koopman Bach Cantata series: in 1724 Bach inserted into his Weimar cantata Alles, was von Gott geborenî, BWV 80a, several strophes of the Lied ìEin feste Burgî by Martin Luther (1524) is definitely much too strong as it authoritatively asserts a fact not corroborated by the NBA and BWV Verzeichnis. >
We are in 100% agreement on this point. In my first post referring to Wolff's notes to the Koopman CD, I suggested that he would have put a question mark on his statement if it were in an academic publication. I was being generous. He did not put a question mark on it, and that is what is misleading. I further complicated the issue by not directly quoting Wolff extensively, but instead providing the website where his notes can be accessed.

EM: >>Note especially,Wolff clearly states that a 1724 version is not equivalent to BWV 80b. It is an as yet unknown (i.e. speculative) version between BWV 80a and 80b. The <earlier version of 1727-31 is in fact what is formally referenced as BWV 80b.<<
T.B.
< I cannot find BWV 80b specifically mentioned as BWV 80b in the section from the notes which you quoted. This is perhaps an inference which you have made or else it is in another section of the notes which was not quoted. >
You are correct, Wolff never refers to BWV 80b, only to <the earlier version of 1727-31>. What I was trying to point out is that is the same version referenced in the literature as BWV 80b, based on the extant manuscript fragments, and that Wolff acknowledges that as the earliest version supported by documentary evidence.

If we connect all those dots, it provides the question mark for the proposed 1724 performance, but it would have been much less misleading if Wolff had labeled it as possible, speculative, or just put in the question mark for us.

To be continued.

 

BWV 80 Ein Feste Burg Instrumentation Question

Edwin Foster [Morris Conservatory - Mountain Lakes, NJ] wrote (April 11, 2007):
We shall be doing BWV 80 "Ein Feste Burg" in June.
The instrumentation includes an English Horn only in Mvt. 5 choral.
Has anyone substituted a bassoon for this"taille" part.
We are using modern instruments.
Top end is D fourth line G clef which is at the top end of the bassoon' range.
The tessitura is A below middle C to B above middle C.
We are trying to avoid the expense of an extra player for just several minutes of music.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 11, 2007):
[To Edwin Foster] A bassoon playing in its upper register is not very similar to a tenor oboe -- it's going to sound like the "Rite of Spring". I would err on the side of caution and ask a viola to play the part.

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 11, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] One might also try playing it on bassoon an octave lower...especially since a bassoon's tone is so rich in overtones anyway (midrange), and sort of sounds like it's playing an octave higher than it really is.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (April 12, 2007):
[To Bradley Lehman] Yeah, I see (or rather hear) what you mean. The bassoon does indeed have a lot of high overtones there. The problem, on the other hand, with a viola is that the tone quality is completely different from any of the double-reed instruments. So I think on balance that the bassoon will give a closer rendition of the intended effect ;;)

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 12, 2007):
[To Cara Emily Thornton] Yup. It seems to me, since a real Taille is not being used in there anyway, it's also OK to rewrite/rearrange a new bassoon part (with mild changes of octave for parts of it, etc) -- whatever sounds best with ensemble blend, and watching also that one doesn't invert the harmony by taking the bassoon below the bass line at some of its spots (given *some* octave-lower use).

Some rewriting has to be done anyway, to swap the alto clef over to either the bass or tenor clef -- both of which are normal for bassoon music. So, a judicious bit of Octavknickung is reasonable too.

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 12, 2007):
[To Cara Emily Thornton] I see that the Carus performing edition
http://www.carus-verlag.com/index.php3?BLink=KKArtikel&ArtikelID=7923
in its wind parts simply gives a third oboe part here. That's in the Reinhold Kubik reconstruction.

And in their performing edition of the Wilhelm Friedemann Bach version of this piece, instead of third oboe, they just give an "Instrument" part (for the Taille); click through to "Harmoniestimmen":
http://www.carus-verlag.com/index.php3?BLink=KKArtikel&ArtikelID=2542

 

Continue on Part 5

Cantatas BWV 80, BWV 80a & BWV 80b : Details & Complete Recordings of BWV 80 | Recordings of Individual Movements from BWV 80 | Details of BWV 80a | Details of BWV 80b | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

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

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