Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Lutheran Church Year: Main Page and Explanation | LCY - Event Table | LCY 2000-2005 | LCY 2006-2010 | LCY 2011-2015
Sundays & Holidays in the Lifetime of J.S. Bach | Performance Dates of Bach’s Vocal Works
Readings from the Epistles and the Gospels for each Event | Motets & Chorales for Events in the LCY
Discussions: Events in the Lutheran Church Year: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Readings from the Bible

Events in the Church Yea
Part 1

Lutheran Church Year

Dick Wursten wrote (December 1, 2001):
Because of the beginning of the New Church Year, next sunday, I looked through the page about the Lutheran church year... And I was pleasantly surprised. Clear, short and very understandable and informative. I want to pay my respects to the creator of this page (I understand it is Marie Jensen). The way she introduces and explains the intricacies of the church-year. Really excellent. Out of my own experience I know how difficult it is, esp. to explain the period before Easter (because of the moon-calendar etc..).

After these compliments... a few remarks, really details (section: Cantatas composed for events with fixed date)

1. About Feb2: Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

In the Lutheran tradition this is not a Maria-feast anymore (as it is in the RC-tradition) but it is one of the "Herren-feste"... Feast of the Lord. Its official Lutheran name - AFAIK - is not: The Feast of Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but "Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the temple", also known as.. (purificatio.. or Candlemass)
.
By the way this was also the original name and content of this feast... Egeria (from Southern France) already celebrated it in Jerusalem during her pilgrimage to Jerusalem end of the 4th century. Justinian introduced it in Constantinople in the sixth century. Its earliest name was Hypapante (Greek for "Meeting"), and the reference was to the meeting of the Lord with Simeon. (= theme of Bach's famous cantatas for this day). The most popular name though is Candemass. To enter into the history and menaing of this Feast would lead to far.. so I stop here.

2. In a list of the official names for Lutheran Feasts in a Church-order (Kirchenordnung) from Wolfenbüttel 1569 I also found that even the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (25-3) becomes a 'Herren-fest'... and is named: conceptionis Christi.

Luther by the way prescribes in his first Kirchenordnung that one may allow the people to celebrate even the Assumptio Mariae (15/8) and the birthof Mary (8/12), because forbidding would only cause lots of trouble. But clever as he was - he suggests already to replace Assumptio Mariae, the 'autumn Feast', (Thanksgiving?) by Michaelis-Tag.

3. Liturgically 2002 is an interesting year because Easter is so early. The Feast of the presentation of Jesus in the temple (Feb 2) is normally considered to be the end of the Christmas-periode (40 days after Christ was born, he is presented to the priest, according to the law of Moses)... This year the pre-Easter-period (Septuagesima and Sexagesima) starts already when the Christmas-circle is not concluded yet. I wonder which liturgical colour should be used then... But since I'm not a Lutheran, but a calvinist...

 

Town Council Elections

Charles Francis wrote (December 18, 2001):
Margaret Mikulska" wrote:
< BWV 120a, "Herr Gott, Beherrscher aller Dinge" is un unfinished wedding cantata, with an instrumental Sinfonia in D major (beginning of Part II of the cantata) being an arrangement of the Prelude from the E major Partita. BVW 120 is an arrangement of BWV 120a, a cantata for the election of the town council in Leipzig in 1728. The Sinfonia was also used in > the cantata BWV 29 "Wir danken dir Gott, wir danken wir" (a cantata for the election of the town council in Leipzig, 1731). Here the Sinfonia, also in D major, is at the beginning of the whole cantata.>
Some of Bach's greatest music was apparently written for the "election of the town council". Did these people pay his salary or something?

David McKay wrote (December 18, 2001):
I think Bach was a bit like Cole Porter: if anyone wanted to pay for his work, he needed no other inspiration.

Sybrand Bakker wrote (December 18, 2001):
[To Charles Francis] He was employed by the city, wasn't he? So he was indeed payed by the town council.

Tom Hens wrote (December 19, 2001):
[To David McKay] Or in other words, he was like any other composer before the nineteenth century romantic invention of the idea of the Divinely Inspired Artist-with-a-capital-A (retroactively applied to long-dead people), and in Bach's case in particular the invention of the whole "Fifth Evangelist" devotional fiction, which never had anything to do with music and everything with religious propaganda.

 

Lenten season arrives

Boyd Pehrson wrote (February 14, 2002):
Ash Wednesday begins one of two lenten seasons in the Christian Church. The season of Lent begins 40 days before Easter Sunday, commemorating the 40 days fasting Jesus spent in the Wilderness. The Old Testament story of the Children of Israel wandering in the Wilderness for 40 years, and the 40 days and nights of the Flood sent to judge the earth, but from which Noah and family were kept safe, have great significance to the church with regard to Jesus' temptation and fasting for 40 days.

Thus, this is a period of fasting and mourning for Christians, as is Advent, and possibly no where on Earth during the 18th C. were these lenten seasons as strictly followed as in Bach's own town of Leipzig. No instrumental or counterpoint music was allowed in Leipzig during Lent, (or Advent) and not allowed in the homes. Instrumental music was viewed as a luxury, something to be forsaken as the church prepared in penitence to receive the ultimate sacrifice on their behalf, the passion of Christ. Also, the 18th Century debate against the primacy of vocal music had not penetrated the liturgy to the point where Lent was affected. Thus Bach was not performing his Cantatas during Lent. We see Bach's production of Cantatas drop off completely during Lent, and in the "little lenten season" during Advent from November 11th to Christmas, which is sometimes still referred to as St Martin's Lent. (Bach was allowed to perform Cantatas in Weimar during Advent and Lent.)

Instead, the church music in Leipzig at these seasons was generally in the form of Gregorian chant. Bach was certainly busy with his choirs during Lent season, for the choir had to be prepared to sing or chant those parts of the service that were normally spoken, such as the collects (prayers that represent the "collective" thoughts of the congregation, given on behalf of the congregation). Litanies (sung prayers) were also chanted by the choir as were the Versicles (passages from the Psalms) during lenten seasons. Advent had a similar pious and mournful tone during Bach's time, and the two seasons were once actually one long season before Gregory the Great in the 7th Century fixed one season four weeks before Christmas for Advent, and 40 days preceding Easter for Lent. The connection between the two seasons is seen by the church as the coming of Christ as an infant in order to die for the sins of the World.

At the high points of both seasons, Bach opens a phalanx of glorious contrapuntal music. Good Friday begins with one of Bach's incomparable Sacred Passions, and Easter Sunday includes the Easter Oratorio or Easter Cantatas. Similarly, Advent has its high points and the Christmas Oratorio. Looking forward to the Passions of Bach, and reverting to the historical lenten hymns, and increased activity of the choir in the service of Word and Sacrament makes Lent one of my favourite church music seasons.

Takashi Tsushima wrote (Februay 14, 2002):
[To Boyd Pehrson] As usual, I went to an English-speaking Lutheran congregation (due to the non-Chrristian background in this country, there are not so many churches where the Ash Wednesday communion service is celebrated, to my regret) and received the imposition of the holy sign. Bach's organ chorals were beautiful although there was no choir unfortunately.

By the way, Thomanerchor comes to Japan every second or third Lentern season and performs St. Matthew's passion. When they camhere two years ago they gave three
concerts. Tne first concert was entitled 'The evening of Motetten und Lieder' consisted of mainly motets and Schemelli geistliche Lieder und Arien. I noticed that there was a theme in this first concert, which was 'Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour,' very simple though very meaningful at the same time. (After the concert I had a chance to talk to Herr Biller, and he told me that I was right.) The other two concerts were St. Matthew's Passion (BWV 244) based on Bach's second edition. Unlike what is familiar to us today, Part I ended with a short choral 'Meinem Jesum lass ich nicht,' which I thought was perfectly fitting the scene of Gethemane. The familiar choral 'O, Mensch, bewein dein Sunde gross' was originally written for St. John's Passion (BWV 245) as you know. (I can't tell which is better.) The Evangelist was of course Master Peter Schreier and tenor Mr. Petzort (spelled correctly?). If my memory is correct, Mr. Petzort is the pastor of Thomas Kirche. Please correct me if I'm wrong. (I was wearing Luther's rose lapel pin, so the choir members recognized me as a Lutheran and gave me their autograghs and have been sending me their periodicals since then. Unfortunately I understand only a little because of my poor German.) They're coming back next Lent.

Besides Bach, I've been fascinated with Stainer's 'Crucifixion' recently listening to perofmances by several choirs (St. John's, St. Paul's, Guildford Cathedral), and this piece is now one of my favorites.

Cross of Jesus, Cross of Sorrow,
Where the blood of Christ was shed,
Perfect man on thee was tortured,
Perfect God on thee has bled.

Here the King of all the ages,
Throned in light ere worlds could be,
Robed in mortal flesh is dying,
Crucified by sin for me.

From the "Holy, Holy, Holy,
we adore Thee, O most High,"
Down to earth's blaspheming voices
And the shout of "Crucify."

Cross of Jesus, Corss of Sorrow,
Where the Blood of Christ was shed,
Perfect man on thee was tortured,
Perfect God on thee has bled!

Soli Deo Gloria,

 

Bach Cantatas: Why no Epiphany 5-6?

Kelly Dean Hansen [Graduate Assistant, Department of Musicology, College of Music, University of Colorado at Boulder] wrote (April 11, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] I greatly enjoy the Bach cantatas website. Although I do not have time to actually join or contribute to the BCML list, I regularly read the discussions of the list members and I listen to the cantatas at the liturgically appropriate times of the year, using your site as a guide.

I don't know if you know the answer to this question or if it has been discussed, but perhaps it has come up. I notice that next year there will be a 5th Sunday after Epiphany. I wonder why there are no extant Bach cantatas for this Sunday or for the 6th after Epiphany. Other than the Sundays in Advent and Lent (and we luckily have the wonderful BWV 132 for the fourth after Advent), these are the only two Sundays for which we have no Bach cantata. I find this strange, as it is almost certain that these Sundays would have come up during Bach's tenure at Leipzig. It is not that rare for Easter to come late enough to allow this. I do know that in the big "cantata years," 1724 and 1725, there were four and three Sundays respectively. But if these Sundays cropped up in succeeding years, wouldn't he have reasonably composed one for the sake of completeness? Or > perhaps he used cantatas by contemporaries. At any rate, it is a big loss that we don't have any cantatas for these Sundays. If you or any BCML members have ever speculated as to why there are none, please let me know.
Thank you in advance.

Dick Wursten wrote (April 11, 2002):
Just an intuitive reaction (was not able to verify, must be possible by counting back from the ultimate calendar date for Easter..).

Would not be the 5th, 6th (even 7th?) of epiphany in roman-catholic tradition be the same as septuagesima or sexagesima in Lutheran tradition ?

Michael Grover wrote (April 11, 2002):
My guess for the answer to this question is that Bach most likely DID write cantatas for these Sundays, but that they are lost. Bach's obituary stated that he wrote "five full annual cycles of church pieces, for all the Sundays and holidays." It's been estimated that Bach wrote over 300 cantatas, which means we only have about two-thirds of what he actually wrote, maybe less. Blame it on Wilhelm Friedemann selling them off piecemeal. [snip]

Mark DeGermeaux wrote (April 18, 2002):
Another consideration concerning why there are no cantatas for Epiphany 5 and 6 is that those Sundays do not occur every year, but only when Easter is late, after April 14. There are 5 Epiphany Sundays when Easter is from April 15 through 20. Epiphany 6 only occurs in years when Easter is April 22-25.

It is possible that Bach wrote some cantatas for these Sundays and that they are lost. But he would not have written as many for these Sundays as for others because these Sundays do not occur every year.

According to one website [www.southernskies.com.au/easter.htm], Easter falls on or after April 15 in these years of Bach's cantata writing (dates of Easter are listed):
16-Apr 1724
21-Apr 1726
17-Apr 1729
25-Apr 1734
21-Apr 1737
17-Apr 1740
18-Apr 1745.

So there would have been 5 Sundays in Epiphany in 1724, 1726, 1729, 1737, 1740, and 1745. There would have been 6 Sundays in Epiphany only in 1734. So at most Bach would have writeen 8 cantatas for these Sundays in these years.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but that's how I understand it.

 

Bach Cantatas for Beginners / Church Year

Lee Schwartz wrote (April 25, 2002):
Does anyone have resources he or ahe is willing to share about JSB's cantatas in reference to the (Lutheran) Church Year or Church Calendar? Are complete sets structured in this way, for example?

Bernard Nys wrote (April 25, 2002):
[To Pete Blue] Thanks Pete for your support, even if you don't share JSB's faith. (A young member of the Gardiner team in the Pilgrimage tells the same like you, and finds it "a shame" for him).

Somebody asked the Church Calendar for Bach Cantatas : Christoph Wolff's book "Johann Sebastian Bach, the learned musician" (W.W. Norton & Co, New York).

Somebody asked a few time ago the easiest Cantatas to start with. For me, it's definitely the "Glorious Bach" DVD by Harnoncourt, because it contains BWV 147 with the only "smash hit" of the Cantatas : "Jesus bleibet meine Freude".
Let me quote the text to prove my point about JSB's faith :
"Well is it for me that I have Jesus,
O how fast I hold him,
that he may refresh my heart
when I'm sick and sorrowful.
I have Jesus, who loves me
and gives himself to me for my own ;
ah, therefore I will not leave Jesus
even if my heart should break."
"Jesus remains my joy,
my heart's comfort and sap.
Jesus curbs all sorrow,
he's my life's strength,
my eyes' delight and sun,
my soul's treasure and bliss ;
therefore I will not let Jesus
from my heart and sight."

I would say : "Amen".
This Chorale has not become a universal hit for nothing. As a Dutch (atheistic) writer said : "It's hard to believe that something so beautiful could be made on earth".

Aryeh Oron wrote (April 25, 2002):
[To Lee Schwartz] The Bach Cantatas are discussud in the Bach Cantatas Mailing List (BCML) more or less according to the Lutheran Church Year. The Lutheran Church Year, with list of cantatas for each event, appears in the following page of the Bach Cantatas Website: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/index.htm

And Order of Discussion in the BCML in the page:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order.htm

If you like the Bach Cantatas, I warmly reommend to you joining the BCML, if you have not already done so.

Lee Schwartz wrote (April 25, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron & Bernard Nys] Thanks to each of you for your help in lining up the JSB cantatas with the Lutheran Church Year. I have ordered the Wolff volume cited and become familiar with the BCML (what a great Web Site with so many resources!)

Thanks also to those of you who, with no prompting from me, are discussing good cantatas for beginners. Happily, my collection includes some of the recordings suggested but, unhappily or not, what I do not have will probably soak up whatever surplus income I can generate from unearned income.

 

Logic behind grouping cantatas on CDs?

Peter Wennersten wrote (January 11, 2003):
Comparing for instance Richter's cantata boxes on Archiv Produktion with Harnoncourt's boxes on Teldec, one can see that whereas on the latter boxes the cantatas are placed on the discs in ascending BWV order, each box in the Richter series has been grouped around a theme ('After Trinity' etc). In Harnoncourt's case, this is no doubt due to the fact that the whole (almost) series of cantatas are released in that same series and it is logical to put them in order. In Richter's case, it could simply be that since the box release does not cover the full amount of cantatas, it is wise from a marketing point of view to group selections according to themes.

But is there also something to be gained musically by grouping cantatas in non BWV-order?

To take an example: The Richter box vol 5 'Sundays after Trinity II', looks like this:
CD-1: Cantatas BWV 96, BWV 5, BWV 56
CD-2: Cantatas BWV 180, BWV 38, BWV 55
CD-3: Cantatas BWV 115, BWV 139, BWV 60, BWV 26
CD-4: Cantatas BWV 116, BWV 70, BWV 140
CD-5: Cantatas BWV 130, BWV 80, BWV 106

What might be the logic behind this order of the cantatas? Is it random or according to the length of the cantatas so they fit on a disc? Might it be that they are grouped together mainly because they deal with similar bible texts and thus would yield primarily a religious coherency? Or is there a musical aspect to these groupings as well?

Grateful for comments,

Hugo Saldias wrote (January 11, 2003):
[To Peter Wennersten] The ARCHIV recordings with KR are in the order of the
Liturgical Year:
Advent
Christmas
Epiphany
Lent
Easter
Pentecost
Sundays after Pentecost

That is why box 1 has the Advent and Christmas cantatas only.

The BWV order given by Wolfgang Schmieder does not follow that order and does not follow a chronological order (according to dates of composition).

Bach wrote each cantata to be sung in the church for a determined sunday.So it is logic to recordem in thesame order BAch played them. I live in Denver now, but during the 80s we had a church in New york City that will play each Sunday a different cantata, and they sung the cantata that was written for that Sunday. On the other habd Gardiner i think made a world tour with the cantatas ending in New York but following the BWV number. There is no correct or incorrect order to play or record them it is a matter of taster and marketing. Freedom is whay Bach did not had, and that is what we americans are so proud of.

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (January 11, 2003):
[To Peter Wennersten] IMO, its a better idea to group them according to occasion, but to make sure my opinion is actually based on something, I need to know: was the same scripture used on that specific day each year? for example, say Gospel scripture "a" was the Gospel for the 5th Sunday after Trinity (just an example) in the year 1732. Does this mean that scripture "a" would be the scripture for 5 after Trinity in 1733, 1734 and so on?

If this is the case, then I definitely think that grouping them based on Sunday after Trinity is much better, simply for the fact that the listener can understand Bach's reations to the scripture and its implications, or if and how these reactions changed over the course of time. We can then examine events in Bach's life at or around the time he wrote the cantata, and together with quotes and observations by and about Bach at, around or between the times of composition, we may be able to understand why he may have changed his reactions toward certain scriptures/implications

While Bach narrowly predated the widespread Enlightenment, I've read about Mozart that the single best way to know the man is by the music. I think, with a much more openly emotional ethic that the baroque had as opposed to the classical, this statement rings much truer for Baroque and Romantic artists than for anyone else.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 11, 2003):
Peter Wennersten asks:
<But is there also something to be gained musically by grouping cantatas in non BWV-order?

To take an example: The Richter box vol 5 'Sundays after Trinity II', looks like this:

CD-1: Cantatas BWV 96, BWV 5, BWV 56
CD-2: Cantatas BWV 180, BWV 38, BWV 55
CD-3: Cantatas BWV 115, BWV 139, BWV 60, BWV 26
CD-4: Cantatas BWV 116, BWV 70,
BWV 140
CD-5: Cantatas BWV 130, BWV 80, BWV 106

What might be the logic behind this order of the cantatas? Is it random or according to the length of the cantatas so they fit on a disc? Might it be that they are grouped together mainly because they deal with similar bible texts and thus would yield primarily a religious coherency? Or is there a musical aspect to these groupings as well? >
This is a fairly logical grouping based upon the biblical texts involved. Before I began following the order of discussion of the BCML, I always listened to as many cantatas as were available for a given Sunday or Feast/Holiday of the liturgical year this way because understanding the Epistle and Gospel for a given Sunday or Feast Day would apply to all of the cantatas in a group. Since some of the special holidays of the liturgical year are fixed and not moveable, these present a special problem when trying to relate them to the moveable Sundays that depend upon when the full moon falls after the beginning of Spring. The Richter series simply fits them in very approximately wherever they can find room for them at the end of a CD or puts them at the end of the series.

The BWV numbers are not logical it all, although there are some groupings that can be noted. These were due mainly to the manuscript groupings that became available to the BG which was the first to publish the entire series of cantatas. Otherwise there is little rhyme or reason to the sequence of the cantatas which were accepted in the same order by the BWV (Schmieder Verzeichnis) which is also the same one used by the NBA. There have been attempts to arrange the cantatas by chronological order of composition, but these, as helpful as they may be at times, are still fraught with problems that have yet to be resolved. Where, for instance, would you place a parody cantata based on an earlier work (the parody may include some mvts. directly, but add new ones and revise the old ones as well)? Technically speaking such a cantata belongs to an earlier date, but new things have been added and revised at the later time of the parody.

Alex Riedlmayer wrote (January 11, 2003):
< What might be the logic behind this order of the cantatas? Is it random or according to the length of the cantatas so they fit on a disc? Might it be that they are grouped together mainly because they deal with similar bible texts and thus would yield primarily a religious coherency? Or is there a musical aspect to these groupings as well? >
The Archiv boxes are organized around the church year; like the Teldec box, the order on the discs correlates to the order in which the recordings were produced. There were a number of earlier Richter recordings folded into the set; like Herreweghe's efforts, these were produced in no particular order.

Alex Riedlmayer wrote (January 11, 2003):
< Hugo Saldias wrote: Bach wrote each cantata to be sung in the church for a determined sunday.So it is logic to recordem in the same order BAch played them. >
Even ignoring the spurious and secular works (which do not deserve to be ignored) and non-Sunday liturgical occasions (not to mention non-liturgical Church events), many of the cantatas have little association with the scriptural readings, much less the Latin names for the various Sundays (e.g. Jubilate = 3rd Sunday after Easter: "Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal..."), and some of them are desig"per ogni tempo" or the occasion is a matter of scholarly conjecture (e.g. BWV 100, BWV 158).

Peter Wennersten wrote (January 11, 2003):
Thanks everyone for your feedback on my question!

Pablo Fagoaga wrote (January 14, 2003):
[To Thomas Braatz] I'm thinking that, in the case of the Richter set, grouping the Cantatas according to liturgical year is not a casual choice of criteria. If you look closely, the sacred cantatas Richter recorded are not randomly picked. He "covered" the Lutheran liturgical year conciously. This has an explanation, that comes in the booklets in Archive's fantastic boxes. I quote:
"During the 1960s Richter made several more Bach cantata recordings as well as a Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248), a Mass in B minor (BWV 232) and a St. John Passion (BWV 245). But it was in the early 1970s that Archiv provided him with an opportunity of recording a cantata for every Sunday and Feast Day of the Lutheran church year. The project, embracing 64 cantatas, most of them newly recorded for the Archiv cycle, was one which gave Richter particular pride and deep satisfaction..."

So, in this case, the order in the edition is just a logical "consolidation" of the esential premise of the whole project.

 

New Church Year

Thomas Shepherd wrote (December 2, 2004):
Belated wishes to all - a happy new church year!

I've once again decided to listen to the cantatas week by week in accordance with the liturgical cycle of the year. The constant companion in this is Alec Robinson and now a wealth of information cantata by cantata on the BachCantata site.

So this week its BWV 61, BWV 62 and BWV 36. There is a really good set of notes about the end and beginning of the Lutheran church year by Dick Wursten ( Jane Newble Thomas Braatz and others.) http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV36-D.htm. I'm very pleased to have re-read it in its entirety as it has taught me, as an anglican clegyman, several things about the context in which Bach wrote the cantata cycles as an 18th century Lutheran.

Any suggestions about what to listen to from now (except for 4 Advent BWV 132) till Christmas Day when there will be the Christmas Oratorio and other festive cantatas to enjoy?

Peter Petzling wrote (December 2, 2004):
[To Thomas Shepherd] There is a new release on the CPO label in cooperation with "radio bremen". It is a high quality CD entitled:

Apocryphal Bach Cantatas II.
BWV BWV 142, BWV 141, BWV 15 & BWV 160

[ cpo 999 985-2 ]

recorded by the Alsfelder Vokalensemble - Wolfgang Helbich, Dir.

For this New Church Year, BWV 142 "Uns ist ein kind geboren' is a true delight. I highly recommend it.

Peter Wollny is the author of the liner notes.
That is a guarantee of level-headed commentary.

Hans-Joachim Reh wrote (December 2, 2004):
[To Thomas Shepherd] Why don´t you listen to Telemann Cantatas for a change. For several years now we begin the new church with what we call >cantata-service< So far we had BWV 62, Telemann: Machet die Tore weit, and this year it was Telemann: Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland. Very nice music and very interesting, since Telemann´s cantata is based on the same text as BWV 61. Even the structure is (partly) identical, both cantatas start witha french ouverture etc.

 

OT: Karfreitag and the Feiertag des Mariae Verklaerung

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (January 8, 2005):
Here is an itneresting point to ponder in the Church calendar:

This year, Good Friday (Karfreitag), the day on which the Passion is performed, falls on the same day that the Feast of the Annunciation to Mary falls (25 March).

Does anyone here know how the Thomanerchor Leipzig will solve this predicament? Will they perform the Kantate for the Feast of the Annunciation in the morning and the Passion at Vespers, or what?

Doug Cowling wrote (January 8, 2005):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] When the Annunciation falls in Holy Week, it is transferred to the first free day after the Octave Day of Easter which this year is Monday, April 4.

It should be noted that the number of Sundays after Epiphany and the Sundays after Trinity are dependent on the date of Easter Day which can vary from March 22 to April 25. The Sundays after Trinity can be as few as 22 and as many as 27.

Bach would have noted the church calendar at least a year in advance so that he would know what the sequence of Sundays would be and what readings would affect any cantatas he was planning. He also had to print the libretto booklets.

On a more practical level, if Easter falls early, as it does this year, the number of weeks after the heavy Chritsmas-Epiphany season would reduce substantially the available rehearsal time before Good Friday when the Passion was performed and major works were sung on Easter Day.

It would be fascinating to have copies of Bach's rehearsal schedule which would list the works which needed to be drawn from the library, when the rehearsals for particular works had to begin, who was chosen to perform -- the logistics were enormous. Needless to say, preparations of the score and parts for a Passion must have been completed well before Chritsmas.

The notion that Bach started writing a cantata on Monday morning and concluded with a simple chorale because everyone would be learning it on Saturday night is laughable. A big choral establishment like St. Thomas, Leipzig, required complex long-range planning.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 8, 2005):
Doug Cowling wrote:
>>The notion that Bach started writing a cantata on Monday morning and concluded with a simple chorale because everyone would be learning it on Saturday night is laughable. A big choral establishment like St. Thomas, Leipzig, required complex long-range planning.<<
The evidence as seen in the original parts for a number of Bach's Leipzig cantatas seems to indicate that the composing and copying were done rather hurriedly with copyists copying out parts from the score while Bach still had not composed the final chorale. As a result Bach would have to add the chorale to the vocal and instrumental parts by himself at the last minute when the copyists were no longer available to him. This does not support the notion that 'complex long-range planning' was required as a matter of course.

Doug Cowling wrote (January 8, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] Oh, of course there must have been many times when Bach had to pull a Rossini and compose quickly. It's not hard to imagine him grabbing the Brandenburgs and turning No. 1 into "Auf Schmettende Töne" in a few days.

However, there is also plenty of evidence that he must have had many simultaneous compositional projects on the go over long periods of time. The unfinished Orgelbuchlein shows that he set up the sequence of the collection, leaving blank pages with the titles as he found time to work on it.

It's a Romantic cliché that great composers write in a fever of compositional inspiration disdaining sleep and food. Bach had a HUGE weekly workload and must have had a superb discipline to meet its demands as well a plan ahead to a monumental project such as the Matthew Passion (BWV 244).

Peter Smaill wrote (January 8, 2005):
Doug Cowling touches on the fact that the church calendar, because of the moveable nature of Easter, can produce between 22 and 27 Sundays after Trinity.

And indeed, 1731 was apparently an outlying year, resulting in the miracle of BWV 140, "Wachet auf!", for the 27th Sunday after T.The surprise is that Bach put his highest art into a cantata which can only be used once or twice in a decade.

Easter is the first Sunday after the full moon on or following 21 March. It may entertain Anglicans to know that there was a debate on June 15 1928 in the UK Parliament to set a more fixed Easter sunday, between 9 and 15 April ! Bach, however, had to fit with the Kalendar of the western church.

The other "early Easter " year with a surviving long-Trinity cantata is 1723 (26th Sunday after Trinity, BWV 90. The Five -year cycle of cantatas presumably never had a full complement of cantatas for the outlying long -Trinity dates and the surving population of cantatas taper off accordingly as Trinity stretches out in these unusual years.

The impact on the Passions of an early Easter, and therefore limited preparation time, is speculative. If the apocryphal, simplistic, St Luke Passion is of performance date 1731, then there is an explanation as to why Bach set aside his complex settings. However, 1730 seems the scholars choice for the St Luke performance over the previous theory (1734); but then, 1730 is also claimed by Paul Steinitz for the SJP (BWV 245). Simon Heighes claims 1731 for the St Mark Passion, which, since it is very likely replete with borrowed musical content, perhaps also confirms the impact of early Easter in prohibiting the preparation of the more demanding SMP (BWV 244) or SJP (BWV 245).

1724, the first St John (BWV 245), was an earlyish Easter with at least 25 Sundays in Trinity, though of course the work was expanded in 1725 and in any case included significant earlier material, such as the beautiful original schlusschoral, "Christe du lamm Gottes". (Terry says 1723 implying composition at Cöthen in the winter preceding the St Thomas appointment)

According to Whitaker's Almanac, the key relevant early Easter dates are ;

1706 24 March
1722, 1733, 1744 25 March
1749 26 March
1724,1725 28 March
1719,1730,1741, 29 March
1746 30 March

All the rest are in April, after 21 April in fact in 1709,1717,1728, 1739 and the latest possible Easter in 1736 on 25 April, which date occurs once a century. Whitaker (almanac, not musicologist) gives Easter on April 18th for 1731, which does not agree to the BWV 140 timing.

The answer may be in the shift in 1752 from the Julian to Gregorian calendar in 1752 (we say that King Charles 1, for example, was executed in 1649 whereas the contemporary account says 1648). Can anyone help resolve these dating problems?

Doug Cowling wrote (January 8, 2005):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< The answer may be in the shift in 1752 from the Julian to Gregorian calendar in 1752 ( we say that King Charles 1, for example, was executed in 1649 whereas the contemporary account says 1648). Can anyone help resolve these dating problems? >
England was the last country to adopt the New Style dating: I think it was some tim ein the first quarter of the 18th century. It required the removal of 10 days from the calendar and there were popular demonstrations by people who thought they were losing 10 days out of their lives.

By the way, I don't want to make the discussion about Bach's work schedule into an argument. My only point is that Bach was not lying Byron-like on a couch waiting for inspiration. The job of Cantor was demanding as both an administrtative and musical position, and St. Thomas was not a small-town parish, but a major artistic and religious centre. Wolff describes both Bach's typical Sunday and the obligations which the church year held for him. They were formidable.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 8, 2005):
Peter Smaill wrote:
>>The answer may be in the shift in 1752 from the Julian to Gregorian calendar in 1752 ( we say that King Charles 1, for example, was executed in 1649 whereas the contemporary account says 1648). Can anyone help resolve these dating problems?<<
Check out the following links, perhaps they will be of some help:
http://www.norbyhus.dk/calendar.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/Life.htm
(near the top of the page)

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 8, 2005):
Calendars

< Whitaker (almanac, not musicologist) gives Easter on April 18th for 1731, which does not agree to the BWV 140 timing.
The answer may be in the shift in 1752 from the Julian to Gregorian calendar in 1752 ( we say that King Charles 1, for example, was executed in 1649 whereas the contemporary account says 1648). Can anyone help resolve these dating problems? >
See the chapter "Ten Days Lost Forever" in the book Calendar by David Ewing Duncan. Most of Protestant Germany made the switch in 1700, catching up with Catholic neighbors on the continent. (For example, according to our current calendar, if we're going by the position of the earth in its orbit around the sun, Bach's birthdate really should be March 31st instead of 21st. It's on the 21st by old calendar that changed to new during his 15th year.) Nevertheless, there was still discrepancy on the calculation of Easter, giving different dates for Catholics and Protestants in 1724 and 1744. Frederick the Great stomped out the Protestant calculation of Easter in 1775.

The September 1752 switchover was for Great Britain and the colonies.

Coincidentally, according to position of earth and sun, I was born at the same point in the orbit at which Bach died.

=====

Any thoughts about the conjecture of a newly known Mozart portrait?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4154043.stm

Doug Cowling wrote (January 8, 2005):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Coincidentally, according to position of earth and sun, I was born at the same point in the orbit at which Bach died >
I was born in the year of the Bach Bicentennial in 1950. I remember as a choirboy thinking how horribly OLD I would be at the 300th anniversary of Bach's birth in 1985!

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (January 8, 2005):
[To Bradley Lehman] This would be true, except that the Russians and the other cultures that make up the former USSR still go by the Julian Calendar.

As to the Gregorian, it was not officially adopted in the latter 18th century, but rather in the 16th and 17th centuries in the West.

As to your comment about BWV 140, it has nothing at all to do with Easter. BWV 140 was written for the last Sunday of Trinity, and hence had nothing to do with when Easter occurred, but rather when the first Sunday of Advent occurred. That was the story behind it. Bach did not realize when he prepared the Kantate that Trinity that year had the standard 27 Sundays in it. Even the Gospel reading for the 27th Sunday after Trinity (which was, of course, the basis of the Kanntate and the Choral it was inspired by and based on)--Which is the thirst part of Matthew 25--deals not with Easter (although it does occur during Holy Week), but rather the end days and the general resurrection of the dead. In particular, it deals with the parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (January 8, 2005):
[To Peter Smaill]
Two things, Peter:

1.) Trinity (at least according to the pastors, etc. that I know of) is not figured from Easter, but rather from Advent. Even in years that do not have the official 27 Sundays in Trinity, they still include the readings for them.

2.) I have found that almanacs are good for figurinh things out agriculturally, but not musically. If one wants to figure out when Easter is musically, look at when the Passion of that particular year is performed and add two days to it.

However, this all is besides the initial point of my post. In Evangelical Germany, they do not move feasts with fixed dates to the nearest Sund(unlike the Anglicans), but rather observe them on their appointed days. Here is a demonstration of what I am talking about.

I have a copy of the 1912 edition of a book called Brasturgers Haus-Predigtbuch (literally Brastburger's House Sermon Book), which contains 110 sermons for all possible occasions. In it, for the period from Estomihi to Karfreitag have two sermons. Some cases would be obvious, like Gruendonnerstag and Karfreitag (Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, in which they have one sermon for morning and one for Vespers), but the others are less obvious. These others are divided in the following ways: The first sermon would deal with the assigned texts for that day, whilst the second would be a sermon on the Passion. This includes the Feast of the Annunciation.

The question I raised is that, at the Thomaskirche (and the Nikolaikirche) they have two main services each Sunday and Feast day, one in the morning and one at Vespers. The question was that since the Feast of the Annunciation falls on Good Friday this year, would they perform the Kantate for that day at the morning service?

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 8, 2005):
< This would be true, except that the Russians and the other cultures that make up the former USSR still go by the Julian Calendar. >
It is true. Did you happen to look at the Duncan book I cited, where all this is explained very well?

< As to the Gregorian, it was not officially adopted in the latter 18th century, but rather in the 16th and 17th centuries in the West. >
Likewise.

< As to your comment about BWV 140, it has nothing at all to do with Easter. >
I made no comment about BWV 140. That was somebody else! Nor did anybody here say it belongs with Easter. Please keep these things straightened out when responding to (or "correcting") them!

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 8, 2005):
<< Coincidentally, according to position of earth and sun, I was born at the same point in the orbit at which Bach died >>
< I was born in the year of the Bach Bicentennial in 1950. I remember as a choirboy thinking how horribly OLD I would be at the 300th anniversary of Bach's birth in 1985! >
My other amusing thing about the orbit is that my entry point is exactly diametrically opposite Mozart's. (Well, it would be a diameter if the orbit weren't elliptical....)

Doug Cowling wrote (January 9, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< As to your comment about BWV 140, it has nothing at all to do with Easter. BWV 140 was written for the last Sunday of Trinity, and hence had nothing to do with when Easter occurred, but rather when the first Sunday of Advent occurred. >
This is not the way that occurrence is handled in the liturgical calendar.Advent is a fixed season consisting of the four Sundays preceding Christmas.The number of Sundays does not vary.

The number of Sundays after Trinity is dependent on when Easter falls. This varies from year to year. If Easter falls on its earliest date, March 22, there are 27 Sundays after Trinity; if Easter falls on its latest date, April 25, there are 22 Sundays after Trinity -- in a year in the latter category, the proper readings for five Sundays are not used and any cantatas written for those propers wouldn't be used.

What is not clear, and what we need a Lutheran liturgist to tell us, is if the appointed readings for the "Last Sunday after Trinity" are always used on the final Sunday whether it is Trinity 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, or 27.

I will post the question on another list which has some Lutheran scholars and see what they say.

Doug Cowling wrote (January 9, 2005):
Calendars POSTSCRIPT

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< As to your comment about BWV 140, it has nothing at all to do with Easter. BWV 140 was written for the last Sunday of Trinity, and hence had nothing to do with when Easter occurred, but rather when the first Sunday of Advent occurred. >
This is not the way that occurrence is handled in the liturgical calendar. Advent is a fixed season consisting of the four Sundays preceding Christmas. The number of Sundays does not vary.

The number of Sundays after Trinity is dependent on when Easter falls. This varies from year to year. If Easter falls on its earliest date, March 22, there are 27 Sundays after Trinity; if Easter falls on its latest date, April 25, there are 22 Sundays after Trinity -- in a year in the latter category, the proper readings for five Sundays are not used and any cantatas written for those propers wouldn't be used.

What is not clear, and what we need a Lutheran liturgist to tell us, is if the appointed readings for the "Last Sunday after Trinity" are always used on the final Sunday whether it is Trinity 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, or 27.

I will post the question on another list which has some Lutheran scholars and see what they say.

POSTSCRIPT ...

I just noticed that on the lists on this site, that Cantata BWV 140 is listed for "Trinity 27" not "The Last Sunday after Trinity". Does anyone know what is on the original score?

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 9, 2005):
< I just noticed that on the lists on this site, that Cantata BWV 140 is listed for "Trinity 27" not "The Last Sunday after Trinity". Does anyone know what is on the original score? >
The BWV gives it as "Kantate zum 27. Sonntag nach Trinitatis". (25.11.1731)

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 9, 2005):
Doug Cowling wrote:
>>I just noticed that on the lists on this site, that Cantata BWV 140 is listed for "Trinity 27" not "The Last Sunday after Trinity". Does anyone know what is on the original score?<<
There is no original score. The folder in which the original parts are preserved is itself not original nor can the handwriting be linked to Bach or any of the copyists for the parts, and, in addition, the watermark is unclear (no exact dating is possible) but it does state "Dominica 27. post Trinit...."

The NBA KB I/27, based upon Alfred Dürr's research, states the following:

"The 27th Sunday after Trinity occurred only twice during Bach's tenure in Leipzig: in 1731 and 1742. Dürr proved that a performance of this cantata took place on the first of these dates, on November 25, 1731. What can not be proven because the original score is missing is whether the cantata was composed for performance on this particular date, but it can be assumed to be so as long as no counter arguments are raised. It can be assumed that a second performance of the cantata took place in 1742 (why should Bach compose another cantata for such a Sunday that occurs so rarely?); however, curiously, none of the original parts have even a trace of any corrections or additions which is what usually occurs when a cantata is repeated at a later date." p. 147

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (January 9, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] Now you are splitting hairs. They are one and the same. Trinity is as Advent is. It is not interchangeable like you and others try to make it. The only thing about it that changes it its date. This is largely dependent on what date the First Sunday of Advent is. Which brings us back to the story of the composition of BWV 140. He (Bach) did not realize that Advent was late that year. And, unlike what people want to make it to be, "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" is an Adventide Choral.

Doug Cowling wrote (January 9, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< Now you are splitting hairs. They are one and the same. Trinity is as Advent is. It is not interchangeable like you and others try to make it. The only thing about it that changes it its date. This is largely dependent on what date the First Sunday of Advent is. Which brings us back to the story of the composition of BWV 140. He (Bach) did not realize that Advent was late that year. And, unlike what people want to make it to be, "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" is an Adventide Choral. >
The variable in this equation is Easter not Advent, and it affects the whole pattern of the year. No professional choirmaster worth his salt would not know the sequence of Sundays in the year. An experienced and disciplined musician such as Bach would never have been tripped up and not know that Trinity 27 was coming up.

A contemporary example ... Church musicians I know have been complaining for at least two years years that the church year beginning on Advent 2004 was coming up. We all dreaded this year because Christmas falls on a Saturday and there are full services with no break on Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- Christmas Eve, Chritsmas Day and the First Sunday after Christmas. And worse, Easter is early this year on March 27, so Lent begins in early February and we have to accelerate our rehearsal schedule to be ready for the heaviest musical program of the year in Holy Week and Easter.

The Bachs must have complained similarly to each other when they gathered at family events. It is unlikely that any of them were unaware of the calendar and how it defined their workload.

Stephen Benson wrote (January 9, 2005):
Doug Cowling wrote:
< When the Annunciation falls in Holy Week, it is transferred to the first free day after the Octave Day of Easter which this year is Monday, April 4. >
The same problem is compounded with performances of the six sections of the Christmas Oratorio. First of all, does ANYBODY arrange performances of the six sections on the designated days? If so, what happens should New Year's occur early in the week, in which case the Feast of the Epiphany would arrive before, or on, the first Sunday after New Year's Day?

Doug Cowling wrote (January 9, 2005):
The 12 Days of Christmas in Leipzig

[To Stephen Benson] If you enjoyed the Trinity 27-Advent 1 debate, you're going to LOVE the 12 Days of Christmas in Leipzig!

The major days are fixed in the calendar:

* December 25 - Christmas Day
* January 1 - Circumcision of Christ or New Year's Day/Naming of Christ (the eighth or Octave Day of Christmas
* January 6 - Epiphany

That's straightforward enough, but those three days can fall on any day of the week and you still have to deal with the Sundays that fall in the Christmas season, the First Sunday after Christmas and the Second Christmas. Thus, in 2004/05, we had:

Dec 25 - Christmas Day
Dec 26 - First Sunday after Christmas
Jan 1 - Circumcision (New Year's)
Jan 2 - Second Sunday after Christmas (Sunday after Circumcision)
Jan 6 - Epiphany

The Christmas Oratorio is designed for performance of the following days

Part 1 - Dec 25 - Christmas Day
Part 2 - Dec 26 - Second Day of Christmas
Part 3 - Dec 27 - Third Day of Christmas
Part 4 - Jan 1 - Circumcision/New Year's Day
Part 5 - Jan 2-5 - Sunday after the Circumcision (Second Sunday after Christmas)
Part 6 - Jan 6 - Epiphany

The odd thing is that Dec 26 is St. Stephen's Day and has different readings than Part 2 of the Christmas Oratorio. Bach wrote Cantatas 40, 121, 57 and 248 for those readings. Similarly, Dec 27 is St. John's Day which also has different readings than Part 3. Bach wrote Cantatas 64, 133 and 151 for those readings.

If Christmas fell on a Friday or Saturday, the Second or Third Days of Christmas would be displaced by the First Sunday after Christmas for which Bach wrote Cantatas 152, 122 & 28.

There is no way the calendar problem can be solved unless it was the tradition to sing the Christmas narrative at afternoon Vespers, leaving the morning mass with the proper readings and a cantata appropriate to the readings.

That would be an incredible workload. Here's a worst-case scenario with the available cantatas listed but no attempt made to work out chronologies or particular years:

* Thursday, December 25 - Christmas Day
Morning - Cantatas 63, 91, 110, 91
Afternoon - Christmas Oratorio, Part 1 ... plus the Magnificat!
[This would make a great service to recreate a la McCreesh]

* Friday, December 26 - St. Stephen's Day/Second Day of Christmas Morning - Cantatas 40, 121, 57, 248
Afternoon - Christmas Oratorio, Part 2

* Saturday, December 27 - St, John's Day/Third Day of Christmas
Morning - Cantatas 64, 133, 151
Afternoon - Christmas Oratorio, Part 3

* Sunday, December 28 - First Sunday after Christmas
Morning - Cantatas 152, 122, 28

* Thursday, January 1 - Circumcision/New Years
Morning - Cantatas 190, 41, 16, 171
Afternoon - Christmas Oratorio, Part 4

* Sunday, January 4 - Sunday after Circumcision (Second Sunday after Christmas)
Morning - Cantatas 153, 58, 248
Afternoon - Christmas Oratorio, Part 5

* Tuesday, January 6 - Epiphany
Morning - Cantatas, 65, 123, 248
Afternoon - Christmas Oratorio, Part 6

No wonder the only artifact to survive from the Bach household is a beer glass. He deserved a pint!

Paul McCain wrote (January 9, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] One thing to keep in mind about the Lutheran church year calendar is that the festival and non-festival half of the church year is distinct from the sanctoral cycle.

The sanctoral cycle falls on fixed days, the main or regular church year festivals move around a bit more.

The main church year festivals take priority over the sanctoral cycle.

John Pike wrote (January 10, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] Indeed. It is extraordinary that he found time to compose so many masterpieces to strict schedules, as well as teach, inspect organs, bring up children and all the other things that would crop up, such as funerals (including many of his own family).

 

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