Musical Context of Bach Cantatas
Motets & Chorales for 15th Sunday after Trinity
Readings: Epistle: Galatians 5: 25 - 6: 10; Gospel: Matthew 6: 23-34
Dates in the lifetime of J.S. Bach, including works composed for the event
Motets and Chorales for the 15th Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 15)
Douglas Cowling wrote (February 20, 2012):
THE MUSICAL CONTEXT OF BACH'S CANTATAS:
MOTETS AND CHORALES FOR THE FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
* BACH'S HYMN BOOK:
Jürgen Grimm, "Das neu [?] Leipziger Gesangbuch des Gottfried Vopelius
Berlin: Merseburger, 1969.
ML 3168 G75
* BACH'S MOTET COLLECTION:
Otto Riemer, "Erhard Bodenschatz und sein Florilegium Portense"
ML 410 B67R4
Partial Index of Motets in ³Florilegium Portense² with links to online
scores and biographies:
Dissertation on Bodenschatz Collection (downloadable):
* Calvisius was Bach¹s predecessor as Cantor (1594-1615)
1) MOTETS for Introit, Before Sermon at mass and vespers for Choir II, and
i) ³Quaerite Primum² (8 voices) - Sethus Calvisius (1556-1615)
Text: Matthew 6:33
Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as.
ii) ³Quaerite Primum² (6 voices) Nicolas Zangius (1570-1619)
Score: Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich
er+Tonkunst+in+O%CC%88sterreich%22> , Bd. 87.
2) HYMN OF DAY (de tempore)
³Vater Unser im Himmelreich²
3) CHORALES for Pulpit and Communion Hymns:
"Warum betrübst du²
³Der Herr ist mein Hirt²
³Verzage nicht O frommer Christen²
William Hoffman wrote (February 22, 2012):
Bach made use in his music of three of the four chorales assigned for the 15th Sunday after Trinity in <Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) des Gottfried Vopelius> 1682. Two are for various Trinity Time Sundays: the "Cross Hymn," "Warum betrübst du meinen Herz" (Why troublest thou thyself, my heart?), found in hybrid chorale Cantata BWV 138, same title, for the same Sunday (Trinity 15), and the "Lord's Prayer" hymn-setting, "Vater unser im Himmelreich," the Martin Luther text set to various melodies in Bach's cantatas and organ chorale preludes, mostly for <omnes tempore> Trinity Time. The third hymn is based on the chorale settings of Psalm 23, "Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt (The Lord is my trusting Shepherd) in three Easter Season cantatas (BWV 85, 104, 112).
The fourth designated chorale, "Verzage nicht o frommer Christen, der du von Gott" (Fear not, O devout Christian, you who from God), is also a "Cross Hymn" on the theme of "Persecution and Tribulation," and closely related in sentiment to various other hymns in that category, especially to the next one in the NLGB (No. 283), "Frisch auf, mein Seel, verzage nicht" (Cheer up, my soul, fear not), the tune of which Bach planned to set in his <Orgelbüchlein> (Little Organ Book).
A. HYMN OF DAY (de tempore)
"Vater unser im Himmelreich" (Our Father in the Heavenly Kingdom, Lord's Prayer), NLGB No. 175, is a Catechism hymn and is the most designated <omnes tempore> chorale in the NLGB for Epiphany 3, Septuagesima, and Trinity 5, 7, 11, and 22. For details, see: BCW,
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/M&C-Trinity10.htm, Luther's Lord's Prayer.
B. CHORALES for Pulpit and Communion Hymns:
1. "Warum betrübst du meinen Herz" (Why troublest thou thyself, my heart?); NLGB No. 275, is an <omnes tempore> hymn under the thematic category "Of the Cross: Persecution and Tribulation," for Trinity 7, 9, and 15. For details, see Yahoo Group (Need Password): http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/36170 , Bach's Trinity 15 Calendar 15; and BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/M&C-Trinity7.htm,
Chorales from Bach Cantatas for 7th Sunday after Trinity, 4. BWV Anh. 209/5.
2. Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt (The Lord is my trusting Shepherd, Psalm 23:1) is one of two NLGB settings Bach used in cantatas for the Second Sunday after Easter (<Misericordias Domini>) but are found in the Trinity Time <omne tempore section>. Both use the German Mass Gloria melody, "Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr'" (To God alone on high be glory), of Nickolaus Decius (1522). Neither communion hymn is designated in the NLGB for a particular service in the church year but often are sung during <omnes tempore> services, such as the Third Sunday in Trinity where the Gospel lesson relates to lost sheep. NLGB No. 252, "Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt, hält mir," (The Lord is my faithful shepherd, he holds me) Wolfgang Meusel, (1530), 5 stanzas, Chorale Cantata BWV 112; text translation Francis Browne, BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale094-Eng3.htm. The other, NLGB No. 251,
"Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt, dem ich" (The Lord is my faithful shepherd, in whom I) Stanza 1 only, Cornelius Becker (1598), opening chorale fantasia, BWV104/6 (S.1), and soprano aria, BWV 85/3 (S.1).
3. "Verzage nicht o frommer Christ, der du von Gott" (Fear not, O devout Christian, you who from God) is first found "Included as one of Drey schöne geistliche Lieder, Constanz, 1607, in 22 stanzas of 5 lines, and thence in Mützell, No. 584; Wackernagel, v. p. 427; and the Unverfälschter Liedersegen , 1851, No. 581. Sometimes erroneously ascribed to Nicolaus Herman;" source: http://www.hymnary.org/text/verzage_nicht_o_frommer_christ_der_du_vo. Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630), set the hymn as an SATB motet in Cantional oder Gesangbuch Augspurgischer Confession (4, 5 or 6 voices), Verlag des Autors; Leipzig 1627. Dédicacé au maire et au Conseil de Leipzig. Augmenté en 1645 : « mit 27 schönen Gsgn. vermehr », J. Schuste, Leipzig 1645. It is listed in the as NLGB No. 282, <omnes tempore> "Of the Cross: Persecution and Tribulation" (Trust in God), reference Matthew 16:21-28 (Jesus speaks about his suffering and death), Zahn melody 1712. The next hymn in NLGB, No. 283, "Frisch auf, mein Seel, verzage nicht" (Cheer up, my soul, fear not), is listed in the Weimar <Orgelbüchlein> as No. 103 (Christian Life and Conduct) but not set. The NLGB describes this as another sacred song from the spoken word, "Who God trusts has built well," using the J. H. Schein eight stanza version for SATB, with Zahn melody 7578. No texts could be found.
Thus Bach's Leipzig hymn book, the NLGB, continues in the later Trinity Time to repeat familiar topical hymns, as well as introduce pPsalm hymns for their first and only designated use, as well as lesser-known hymns with important teachings.
Chorales & Sacred Texts for 15th Sunday After Trinity
William Hoffman wrote (February 16, 2012):
The cantatas Bach performed in Leipzig for the 15th Sunday after Trinity suggest a most well-ordered plan fostering the later Trinity Time repetition of popular chorales blended with didactic poetry that emphasize triumph through struggle in the most varied musical forms and structures.
The music ranges from the 1723 inaugural, experimental hybrid chorale Cantata BWV 138 with its early Reformation hymn; to the iconic Trinity Time newer hymn, "Was Gott tut, das its wohlgetan" (What God does, that is well done) in Cantatas BWV 99 and 100; on to the popular, Handelian gallant soprano tour de force - and utilitarian - Cantata BWV 51, "Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen" (Praise God in all the lands); and finally - when all is well-done and well-sung, a cantor's holiday with two very palatable cantatas of Bach's popular colleague from Gotha, Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, in the mid-1730s.
Along the way, Bach may have relied on a collaboration to provide varied poetic perspectives on the Sunday's Gospel of the Sermon on the Mount teaching of "God and Possession" (Matthew 6:23-45) and its theological underpinning, the Christian core teaching, "Care not for worldly goods." There are traces of the technique, style, language, and interests of Thomas Church pastor Christian Weiss Sr., the utilitarian poet Picander, and the still unknown author of the third group of original chorale cantatas whose work began with the 13th Sunday After Trinity and dominated from Christmas 1724 to Lent 1725 when Bach ceased to compose chorale cantatas set to paraphrased texts. Meanwhile Bach found respite and renewal through repetition and variation of hymns and a serendipitous convergence of the Feast of St. Michael on the 15th Sunday After Trinity, Sept. 29, 1726, indicative of Bach the Recycler.
Dominating the cantatas for the 15th Sunday after Trinity, the popular <omnes tempore> hymn, "Was Gott tut, das its wohlgetan," is an affirmation of trust in God as just and supportive, upholding and affirmative, caring and healing, the light and the way, comforting and consoling, and steadfast and assuring. Bach's use of the hymn is significant in several respects. He used it the most (in six cantatas), including three with the same opening polyphonic chorale chorus dictum, BWV 98, 99 (text paraphrase) and 100 (full hymn text). In the other three cantatas presented in the first annual cycle he employed the hymn in homophonic chorales closing BWV 14, 69a, and 133. The sacred song also was utilized in Bach's first Leipzig Cantata, BWV 75, "Die Elenden sollen essen" (The wretched shall eat) as a plain chorale to close Parts 1 and 2 and the melody is found in the instrumental sinfonia opening Part 2, as well as for one of his last cantatas, BWV 100, in 1734.
The Middle Trinity Time Gospel lessons emphasize "Thematic Patterns of Paired Parables or Teachings & Miracles," according to Douglas Cowling in the Bach Cantata Website (BCW). The current pairs are:
* Trinity 15: Matthew 6: 23-34 Teaching: Avoid worldly cares
if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore
the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
* Trinity 16: Luke 7: 11-17 Miracle of the raising of the son of the widow of Nain,
And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he
said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise
The Gospel and Bach's treatment through chorales and poetic text in the cantata as a musical sermon shows that the 15th Sunday after Trinity is the culmination of the third Trinity Time mini-cycle of New Testament teachings on the "Works of Faith and Love," that is, the meaning of being a Christian, says Paul Zeller Strodach, <The Church Year> (United Lutheran Publication House, Philadelphia PA, 1924: 216). During this time from the 12th to the 18th Sunday after Trinity, the lectionary presents affirmative teachings of parable and miracles, and the Lutheran hymnbook prescribes thematic <omnes tempore> timely hymns first introduced in the early Trinity Time and repeated once or twice in cyclic fashion for particular Sundays that occur primarily between mid August and late September. The Gospel reading from the Sermon on the Mount about Christian Life and Conduct emphasizes contentment through abundance harmonized with action through service (Strodach: 228). This third cycle is a progression of Trinity Time quarterly Sundays of six each from the cycle of the Kingdom of Grace and the Call, to the cycle of the New Life of Righteousness, to the current cycle of the Life of Action defining the Christian.
Bach's Trinity 15 Calendar
For the record in Leipzig, Bach was particularly active on this 15th Sunday after Trinity. Here are the cantatas Bach probably presented and their chorales:
A. Introduced on Sept. 5, 1723 as part of Cantata Cycle 1, Cantata BWV 138, "Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz?" (Why troublest thou thyself, my heart?) has a hymn text with free-verse additions. It dates from Nuremberg in 1561 and was originally attributed to Hans Sachs. It has 14 stanzas of five lines each (AABCC). Bach uses the first three stanzas in two interpolated, elaborated chorales (Movements Nos. 1 & 2/3), and the closing four-part chorale (No. 6/7)
1. Chorale chorus (S.1) with SATB recitative;
2/3. Chorale chorus (S.2) with SATB recitative, "Er kann und will dich lassen nicht" (He can and will not leave thee); and
6/7. Plain chorale (S.3) "Weil du mein Gott und Vater bist" (Because Thou my God and Father art)
This is Bach's most extensive use of the popular chorale, "Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz?" No. 275, <omnes tempore> theme "Of the Cross: Persecution and Tribulation," found in the NLGB (<Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch des Gottfried Vopelius> 1682. It is a designated hymn in the NLGB for Trinity 15 and also for Trinity 7 as a pulpit hymn and Trinity 9 as a communion hymn. For details, see BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/M&C-Trinity7.htm .
The use of the melody in BCW is listed in hymn books in the `Category of Text: Wider aller Welt Sorge ["Against All the Cares of the World"] and Vom christlichen Leben und Wandel ["About the Christian Way of Life and Its Changes"]'. (Francis Browne's translation of 10 stanzas (S.1-9, 11) is found at BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale037-Eng3.htm. )
Bach also used this hymn in two other cantatas and a motet. Stanza 11 close Cantata 47, "Wer sich selbst erhohet" (Who exhalts himself) for the 17th Sunday After Trinity in 1726 in the Johann Friedrich Helbig 1720 text published in 1720 in Eisenach in a plain chorale (Movement No. 5) for coming BCW Discussion in week of April 22. In addition, Bach's collected four-part chorales include two settings found in Bach works: BWV 420 in A Minor-Major found in the Georg Christian Lehms text published in Darmstadt in 1711 (designated for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity) appears in the lost Cantata BWV Anh. 209/5, "Liebster Gott, vergißt du mich" (Loving God, forget me not) for a funeral on Feb.6, 1727, and simple setting BWV 422 in A Major-Minor with variant setting is found in the 1713 memorial motet, "Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn" (I will not let go of you, you then will bless me), using Stanzas 8 and 9 (listed as Stanzas 13 and 14 in the Hänssler Bach Edition, V. 69, Motets, CD 92.069.
B. First performed on Sept. 17, 1724 (Cycle 2); Chorale Cantata BWV 99, "Was Gott tut, das its wohlgetan II" (What God does, that is well done) was written by Samuel Rodigast in 1675, melody by Severus Gastorius in the 1690 Nürnberg hymnbook. It has six stanzas of eight lines each. (ABABCCDD). A newer hymn, it is not found in the 1682 NLGB but is found in the Dresden hymn schedules in Bach's time for the 21st Sunday after Trinity, says Günther Stiller in <JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig> (St. Louis, Concordia, 1984: 246). It is still found in the current <Evangelical Lutheran Worship> hymnbook as No. 776, "What God Ordains Is Good Indeed" (8787877 syllables per line) under the heading "Trust, Guidance." It is listed under "Cross and Comfort" as No. 521, "What God Ordains Is Always Good," in the 1941 Concordia <Luthern Hymnal> (Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod). The dictum, "Was Gott tut, das its wohlgetan," opens each stanza.
1. Chorale chorus (S.1) concerto; . . . "Es bleint gerecht sine Wille" (His will remains just), reused as Cantata BWV 100/1.
6. Plain chorale (S.6) . . . "Dabei will ich verbleiben" (I will abide by that).
C. On Sept. 9, 1725 for Cycle 2a, it is possible that Bach reperformed Cantata BWV 99, opening with the plain chorale setting using Stanza 1.
D. On Sept. 29, 1726 for Cycle 3, the Feast of St. Michael fell on Trinity 15, when Bach presented Cantata BWV 19, "Es erhub sich sein Streit" (There arose a strife), text after Picander (1724/25). The original score source critical evidence for Cantata BWV 51 (c. 1730) suggests an interesting genesis: Bach planned a soprano solo cantata for the third cycle, perhaps for the 15th Sunday after Trinity in 1726, then set aside his sketches to compose Cantata BWV 19, then he took it up and crafted it for another birthday cantata
for the Duke of Weißenfels (23 February ?1729; see Alfred Dürr's <Cantatas of JSB> (Oxford Univ. Press 2005: 540), perhaps with Anna Magdalena; finally, under the spell of the gallant stylistic trend, especially in Dresden, about 1730, Bach parodied the text (?using Picander) with allusions to the 15th Sunday after Trinity) and added the closing acrobatic "Allelujah," preceded by the soprano chorale aria.
E. On Sept. 21, 1727, there was no performance during the mourning period of Sept. 7, 1727, to Jan. 8, 1728, for deceased Saxon Queen Christiane Eberhardine.
F. On Sept. 5, 1728 in the published Picander so-called Cycle 4, the Cantata text P-58 is entitled "Arm und dennoch frölich sein" (Poor yet be joyous). It closes with No. 6, plain chorale (S.12), "Ich leb' indes in Gott vergnüget" (Meanwhile I live content in God) from "Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende" (Who knows how near is my end), text by Ämilie Juliane von Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt in 1688, set to the associated chorale melody, "Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten" (Who only dear God lets reign), of Georg Neumark in 1657. It appears as a plain chorale, BWV 434 A Minor/Major, and opens Cantata BWV 27 for Trinity 16 in 1726, as another polyphonic chorale chorus with interpolated recitative, and will be in the coming BCW Discussion for the week of March 25. A contemporary hymn, it does not appear in the 1682 NLGB.
G. About Sept. 17, 1730 in the undesignated, miscellaneous Cycle 5, solo Cantata BWV 51, "Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen" (Praise God in all the lands) was first performed. A variant text revision, Cantata BWV 51a, may have been performed between 1732 and 1735. The chorale usage is in No. 4 soprano canto aria (S. 5), "Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren" (Be honor and praise with glory) from "Nun lob nein Seel" (Now praise my soul), by Johann Graumann 1548. The author of the cantata text is unknown, possibly a collaboration of Thomas church pastor Christian Weiss Sr. and Bach.
H. On Oct. 3, 1734 (year according to John Elliot Gardiner) pure-hymn (<per omnes versus) Cantata BWV 100, "Was Gott tut, das its wohl getan III" (What God does, that is well done), was inaugurated. It was repeated about 1737 and about 1742. The hymn has been variously designated for Trinity 6, 15, and 21 as well as <per ogni tempo> for anytime, and for weddings. Cantata 100 is listed for the 15th Sunday after Trinity (after 1732) in the Karl Richter Archiv 1978 recordings of "Bach's Cantatas for the middle Sundays after Trinity" (Sixth to the 17th Sunday). "We do not know for which Sunday Bach intended the work, but like BWV 98 it is perfectly suited for the fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, whose Gospel contains the passage "Sorget nicht" [care not] (Matthew VI, 24-34) from the sermon on the Mount," says Martin Cooper's translation of Walter Blankenburg's recording notes.
I. On Sept. 18, 1735, Bach performed Stözel's two-part cantata "Sorgen sind die Steine" (Cares are the stones); from cycle "Saitenspiele des Hertzens" (String Music of the Heart), text by Benjamin Schmolck, with two chorale settings:
4. Plain chorale "Laß 0 Hertze dein Betrüben" (Let O heart thy concerns), poet unknown (?Schmolck, who wrote choral texts), with the melody, "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele" (Rejoice greatly, O my soul), Psalm 42 chorale, NLGB No. 358; and
8. Plain chorale "Verlieh das ich stehts nach deinem Reiche dringe" (Grant that I stand petitioning in thy kingdom), S.5, Herzallerleiebster Gott, der du mir dieses Leben " (All beloved God, you who me this life) 1661, with the melody, "O Gott, du frommer Gott" (O God, Thou very God), <omnes tempore> "Morning Song," NLGB 202/
J. About Sept. 9, 1736; Bach may have performed Stözel's two-part cantata "Ich bin arm und elend, der Herr aber sorget für mir" (I am poor and wretched, the Lord yet cares for me), from cycle "Das Namenbuch Christi," (Book of Names of Christ), Schmolck text, No. 57. No chorales are listed in the sources.
Two of these cantatas, BWV 51 and 99, were presented later by others. Perhaps before 1750, Friedemann Bach presented "Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen" at the Halle Marienkirche for an unspecified feast day, as part of being Halle director of music. He added parts for a second trumpet and timpani, similar to the scoring in Cantata BWV 80, "Ein feste Burg ist under Gott" (A Mghty Fortress Is Our God) for a Reformation Festival in 1761-63. With advocacy from his father, Friedemann assumed the post in May 1746 and presented at least 20 cantatas of his father, most of which he inherited in 1750 (Peter Wollny, "W.F.B.'s Halle performances of cantatas of his father, <Bach Studies 2, ed. Daniel Melamed, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1995: 202-230). On Sept. 21, 1755, Cantata BWV 99, "Was Got tut II," was performed by Bach student and St. Thomas Choir Prefect Christian Friedrich Penzel, who copied the score from the original performing parts set on August 25, 1755, according to Penzel's notes.
"Was Gott tut": More Notes
Background for this chorale is found in BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV100-D2.htm
Bach had systematically employed homophonic harmonizations of the "Was Gott tut" hymn in church cantatas. According to the notes of Marianne Helms and Artur Hirsch in Helmut Rilling's recording of BWV100 (Hänssler Complete Bach, Vol. 7), Bach began in Weimar in Cantata BWV 12, "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen" (Weeping, crying, Caring, Sighing) for the Third Sunday after Easter (repeated in Leipzig in 1724) in the closing chorale (No. 7). He reused the hymn in Cantata BWV 69a/6, "Lobe den Herren, meine Selle" (Praise the Lord, my Soul) for the 12th Sunday after Trinity in 1723, with obbligato oboe or trumpet. He also used it in Cantata BWV 144, "Nimm, was dein ist, und gehe hin," (Take what Is Thine and Go Away) for Setuagesima Sunday in the Epiphany season of 1724 in his first cantata cycle.
Bach as well employed the chorale twice in chorale choruses: closing Part 1 of his 1723 inaugural Leipzig Cantata BWV 75, Die Elenden sollen essen," beginning the Trinity Season, and as an opening chorale chorus in Cantata BWV 98, "Was Gott tut" [I], for the 21st Sunday after Trinity in 1726 in his third cantata cycle, librettist unknown, perhaps Picander.
Walter Blankenburg in his notes to the Karl Richter recording of BWV 100  says: "We do not know for which Sunday Bach intended the work, but like BWV 99, it is perfectly suited to the fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, whose Gospel contains the passage "Sorget nicht" [Care or worry not] (Matthew 6: 25) from the Sermon on the Mount." In Cantata 100 Bach borrows its opening chorale fantasia chorus from Cantata 99 and its closing chorale chorus (Movement No. 6) from Cantata 75/7, with additional instrumentation.
Bach also used the hymn in his collection of elawedding chorales for a church service about 1731, BWV 250-52, before the wedding sermon. In addition, Bach set the melody in the early (c.1700) Neumeister Collection free-paraphrase chorale setting, BWV 1116, and listed it in the Weimar <Orgelbüchlein> (Little Organ Book) of chorale preludes as No. 112 in the <omnes tempore> section for "Christian Life and Conduct."
"The commentary below, quoted from the liner notes to the Beringer's recording on Rondeau Production , was written by Dr. Theodor Glaser, Member of the High Consistory (retired). The author used to be suffragan to the Lutheran Bishop of Bavaria. In his clerical capacity, Glaser is in particular demand in the leading of sung services, above all in the performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's cantatas.
"Was Gott tut, das ist wohl getan ("What God doth, that is rightly done") - the text of this chorale is by Samuel Rodigast (1649-1708), rector of the Gymnasium des Grauen Klosters (Grey Cloister Grammar School) in Berlin. He wrote just the one hymn text, dedicating it to his seriously-ill friend, cantor Severus Gastorius. The invalid was so moved by the comforting words, that he at once composed an accompanying melody. The chorale, full of hope and faith, quickly became a firm favourite in religious circles."
Finally, attention is called to John Elliott Gardiner's essay on the cantatas for the 15th Sunday after Trinity, BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Rec-BIG/Gardiner-P08c[sdg104_gb].pdf. IMHO it is the most informative and stimulating, followed by Suzuki's BIS series. The Koopman-Christoph Wolf and Leusik on Brilliant Classics are skimpy and perfunctory. Still unavailable are the Rilling Haenssler with various fine scholars (it's on CD ROM), the Harnoncourt-Leonhardt on Warner (not "complete") and the selective Richter series (mostly one cantata per service) with Walter Blankenburg
Ed Myskowsky wrote (February 17, 2012):
William Hoffman wrote:
< The cantatas Bach performed in Leipzig for the 15th Sunday after Trinity suggest a most well-ordered plan fostering the later Trinity Time repetition of popular chorales blended with didactic poetry that emphasize triumph through struggle in the most varied musical forms and structures. >
I agree in particular with the evidence for a well-ordered musical plan, incorporating chorales, but I suggest that Bachs influence (not to say control) on the *didactic poetry* (oxymoron?) remains an open question.
< Along the way, Bach may have relied on a collaboration to provide varied poetic perspectives on the Sunday's Gospel of the Sermon on the Mount teaching of "God and Possession" (Matthew 6:23-45) and its theological underpinning, the Christian core teaching, "Care not for worldly goods." There are traces of the technique, style, language, and interests of Thomas Church pastor Christian Weiss Sr., the utilitarian poet Picander, and the still unknown author of the third group of original chorale cantatas whose work began with the 13th Sunday After Trinity and dominated from Christmas 1724 to Lent 1725 when Bach ceased to compose chorale cantatas set to paraphrased texts. >
See above, it is not at all clear to what extent Bach participated in text selection/preparation. To say that he relied on collaboration is something of a leap of faith, as to his own input.
It strikes me as a bit unfair to call Picander *utilitarian*. Is he any more so than many other of Bachs rhymed texts?
< Meanwhile Bach found respite and renewal through repetition and variation of hymns and a serendipitous convergence of the Feast of St. Michael on the 15th Sunday After Trinity, Sept. 29, 1726, indicative of Bach the Recycler. >
I am being picky about some details of Wills post because I agree that appreciation of the relations of text and music adds greatly to listening enjoyment, and to the acccuracy of BCW archives. Note that Gardiners Pilgrimage agenda inserted the works for Micahaelmas between Trinity 14 and 15, although the Trinity season inclusion of that feast is not reflected in our discussion sequence. A thought for the future?
< Finally, attention is called to John Eliot Gardiner's essay on the cantatas for the 15th Sunday after Trinity, BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Rec-BIG/Gardiner-P08c[sdg104_gb].pdf. IMHO it is the most informative and stimulating, followed by Suzuki's BIS series. The Koopman-Christoph Wollf and Leusink on Brilliant Classics are skimpy and perfunctory. Still unavailable are the Rilling Haenssler with various fine scholars (it's on CD ROM), the Harnoncourt-Leonhardt on Warner (not "complete") and the selective Richter series (mostly one cantata per service) with Walter Blankenburg. >
Perfunctory is the appropriate usage here! Nice word. I would only add that Kuijkens notes to his recordings are worth seeking out, for additional thoughts by a performer sensitive to the texts.
Thanks to Will for the specific cross-references among a wide group ofcantatas, which it will take me another discussion cycle to follow completely.
Also note that the relations among chorale and cantata texts and tunes essentially proves Bachs involvement in the process of libretto creation/selection, at least in some instances. It is the details, and extent, which remain an open question.
William Hoffman wrote (February 17, 2012):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
EM. "it is not at all clear to what extent Bach participated in text selection/preparation. To say that he relied on collaboration is something of a leap of faith, as to his own input."
WH. Bach's intentional choice and use of librettists is pervasive, pre-Neumeister Meiningen Rudolsdtadt texts, selective Neumeister, one Salomo Franck cycle, highly selective (Lehms, Helbig, and Menantes-Hunold), and his Leipzig colleagues, the poetess Christiane Mariane von Ziegler and the progressive, learned Johann Christoph Gottsched. Close examination shows that Bach consistently refashioned the poetry of Picander and Ziegler and must have worked closely with them, with the support of pastor Christian Weiss, as the Leipzig Town Council cantor faction periodically passed muster.
EM. "It strikes me as a bit unfair to call Picander *utilitarian*. Is he any more so than many other of Bachs rhymed texts?"
WH. Picander's skill at parody of a great range of vocal music, including the "St. Mark Passion" and the feast-day oratorios, as well as his original work on the "St. Matthew Passion" from 1724 to 1729 and and the secular drammi per musica and the Coffee and Peasant cantatas, speaks volumes.
Ed, thank you so much for your thoughtful responses to my comments. Like Friedrich Blueme challenging Bach's spiritual motivations, IMHO your are a worthy provocateur as your cynicism seems to be mellowing. Remember, it was Gene Lees, the fine jazz writer, who said 50 years ago: "A cynic is an idealist with shattered dreams." Only now, we can forge the shards into a great mosaic, or maybe just create a collage, sail the skies, or play in a serendipitous sandbox.
Ed Myskowsky wrote (February 20, 2012):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Ed, thank you so much for your thoughtful responses to my comments. Like Friedrich Blueme challenging Bach's spiritual motivations, IMHO you are a worthy provocateur as your cynicism seems to be mellowing. Remember, it was Gene Lees, the fine jazz writer, who said 50 years ago: "A cynic is an idealist with shattered dreams." Only now, we can forge the shards into a great mosaic, or maybe just create a collage, sail the skies, or play in a serendipitous sandbox. >
I also like the GBShaw comment: <People with keen powers of observation and analysis are often called cynics by those lacking such powers.> I think, early on, I questioned Wills thesis that Bach was a *contented composer*. I was not so much cynical, as judging from limited information. My opinion has mellowed in response to the evidence Will presents, especially wregard to Bachs early and systematic integration of chorales into his *well regulated* church music. Indeed, he had ample accomplishments to be satisfied with after his first two years in Leipzig. Subsequent complaints and difficulties now strike me as less essential, more petty, than they did a couple years ago.
Musical Context of Bach Cantatas: Table of Motets & Chorales for Events in the Lutheran Church Year