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Vocal: Cantatas BWV 1-224 | Motets BWV 225-231 | Latin Church BWV 232-243 | Passions & Oratorios BWV 244-249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Lieder BWV 439-524
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Bach Books
The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: Sacred & Secular
by William Gillies Whittaker

1

The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: Sacred & Secular

-

Author: William Gillies Whittaker

Language: English | ASIN: B0007JX8NU

Oxford University Press

1959

 

Buy this book at: Amazon.com

Anecdotal evidence unmasked as a complete fraud

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 5, 2007):
W. Gillies Whittaker "The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: Sacred & Secular" Volume 1, Oxford University
Press, 1959.

p. 2: "The writer of this book [W. Gillies Whittaker] makes no pretence to scholarship."

p. 8: "Engrossed in his life-work of composition he [J. S. Bach] would have little patience with the detailed duties of a producer. The reply made to Joachim, who, on meeting a grandson of Johan Sebastian who had been in the choir, asked what the cantatas were like under the composer's direction, "Oh, he cuffed us a lot and they sounded awful', was not surprising."

Let us assume for a moment that Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) may reasonably have had a conversation sometime after 1850 and that J. S. Bach's grandson actually was a Thomaner during J. S. Bach's tenure in Leipzig, then this centenarian grandson must have been breaking all records in longevity at that time and perhaps his memory was even failing him. But the evidence against the statement related by Whittaker can be easily refuted by even stronger, well-established facts.

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach's first (and only) marriage took place in 1751.

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was married to Johanna Maria Dannemann in 1744.
Their first child, a son, was named Johann August Bach, who was born November 30, 1745. "This was Johann
Sebastian Bach's first grandchild." [This information is obtained from the MGG1]

The rest is easy to figure out. This myth can now be laid to rest as a complete fabrication, an anecdote unworthy to be referred to and brought up repeatedly on these Bach lists, much less to be offered as evidence about the quality of J. S. Bach's primary ensemble, the Thomaner + instrumentalists who regularly performed Bach's cantatas in the churches of Leipzig during Bach's

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 6, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< W. Gillies Whittaker "The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: Sacred & Secular" Volume 1, Oxford University Press, 1959.
p. 2: "The writer of this book [W. Gillies Whittaker] makes no pretence to scholarship."
p. 8: "Engrossed in his life-work of composition he [J. S. Bach] would have little patience with the detailed duties of a producer. The reply made to Joachim, who, on meeting a grandson of Johan Sebastian who had been in the choir, asked what the cantatas were like under the composer's direction, "Oh, he cuffed us a lot and they sounded awful', was not surprising." >

Immediately following, in Whittaker :

<Works hurriedly prepared just in time for performance, parts speedily copied out by Bach himself, his wife, his family (some of them just learning to write and so prone to error), and his pupils, devoid of expression marks . . .

Enough. The curious reader will find the origin of the Saturday night scramble in this very paragraph. Alas, not resulting in exquisite music, but rather the unrehearsed noise suggested in these pages, as the predictable result.

 

Bach-Whittaker: William Gillies Whittaker | Works | Recordings
Books:
The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: Sacred & Secular | Fugitive Notes on Certain Cantatas and the Motets of J.S. Bach

Bach Books: Main Page / Reviews & Discussions | Index by Title | Index by Author | Index by Number
General: Biographies | Essay Collections | Performance Practice | Children
Vocal: Cantatas BWV 1-224 | Motets BWV 225-231 | Latin Church BWV 232-243 | Passions & Oratorios BWV 244-249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Lieder BWV 439-524
Instrumental: Organ BWV 525-771 | Keyboard BWV 772-994 | Solo Instrumental BWV 995-1013 | Chamber & Orchestral BWV 1014-1080


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