Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Biographies of Poets & Composers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | Bach & Other Composers

Bach Family
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

The old wig

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 27, 2007):
>>Let's not forget that one of JS Bach's sons referred to him as "the old wig".<<
< My questions: >>Documentation? Which son? Under which circumstances? When? To whom?<<
BL:: >>
Johann Christian Bach, the London dude. References:<<
[NBR ("New Bach Reader") Norton, 1945/rev.1966/rev.1998, p. 378-379:]
"Bach's sons, with the possible exception of Johann Christian (who is rumored to have referred to Johann Sebastian as "the old wig"), held his father's work in high esteem...."
I guess that a reference in the NBR to an undocumented rumor will have answered my questions about this thing on the top of Bach's head: "Spitzname" (Spitz = top, peak, etc.). >
The corresponding passage was on page 270 in the 1966 edition: this is the introduction to a section of the book about the posthumous publications of Bach's collected chorales.

Looking at the two of these side by side, The Bach Reader vs The New Bach Reader, I see that Wolff has altered several other things in this same paragraph, but he left the above-quoted bit about JC Bach unchanged.

I guess he considered it OK enough to leave it as it was, instead of removing it or altering it; and the other alterations show that Wolff did have this paragraph open for alteration. Some of the alterations are even in the same sentence as this.

Any who don't like it (for citing/perpetuating an insufficiently documented rumor instead of rigid tumid evidence) can apparently blame either David/Mendel or Wolff, by choice. Or whatever else is handy and open to speculation.

But the Bach family members probably said lots of things about one another to lots of people, information existing now (if at all) only as rumors. Take for example the rumor/legend--duly included in both the NBR and Bach-Dokumente--about JSB finding a couple of coins in discarded fish heads. That's from a document written by a Bach enthusiast in 1786, outside the family. The incident being reported had happened more than 80 years earlier, if at all. Fishy.

If John C Bach ever called his dad "the old wig", his buddy Abel probably knew about it. They were very well acquainted, collaborating in a series of jobs. Additionally, John C did some other things his dad wouldn't necessarily have approved of, such as changing religions to get a job. It's also possible that John C really said, or that somebody mis-heard, the homophone "the old Whig" (i.e. misunderstanding or misrepresenting his late father's political tendencies); or that John C's alleged remark was simply some clever bit of rhyming slang. Those Bachs and the way they played around with stuff. And homophonic music, the new-wig style, as opposed to polyphonic.

I'm wondering which language John C said the thing in.

Somewhere in PDQ Bach's biography (I've misplaced my copy) there's an explanation of his composition "Peruckenstuck" (hair piece). But, the Bach Reader was there ahead of it with the "old wig" quip.

Eric Bergerud wrote (January 28, 2007):
[To Bradley Lehman] I haven't the foggiest concerning relationship between JSB and his kids: one has been a chore for yours truly and find double digit figures hard to imagine in that regard. I have two copies of Mozart's "Great" Mass (McCreesh and Nicoll Matt). This work is one Mozart's that musical scholars believe shows clear influence on Mozart on the part of JSB. According to the liner notes on both CDs (Both are very good: Matt's is excellent SACD and is paired with a lovely series of JSB chorales rather than other works by Mozart) Mozart wrote the work soon after being loaned several JSB works (maybe including the Mass in B via CPE Bach) by his patron Baron van Swieten. I bring this up because young Mozart created a close friendship with JC Bach in London and many musicologists have found substantial influence on the part of JC Bach on Mozart's work. However, it does not appear that Mozart came to JSB through JC which might say something. (It may also say nothing and it is very possible that JC did peak Mozart's interest in things Bach and we just don't know about it.)

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 30, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< But the Bach family members probably said lots of things about one another to lots of people, information existing now (if at all) only as rumors. >
Funny. I always considered the wig comment to be a term of affection about a towering musician who was decidely old-fashioned to his 'galant' children.

Charles Burney remembered Handel's wig:

"Handel wore an enormous white wig, and when things went wella t the Oratorio, it had a certain nod, or vibration, which manifested his pleasure and satisfaction. Without it, nice observers were certain that he was out of humour".

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 30, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>Funny. I always considered the wig comment to be a term of affection about a towering musician who was decidely old-fashioned to his 'galant' children.<<
This must be due to a difference between the Anglo-American and German cultures.

The OED shows no similar, pejorative use for 'wig' so that "the old wig" translated literally from the German does not carry the same meaning in English as it does in German.

I sincerely hope that neither Wolff nor anyone else would ever consider translating literally "the old wig" from the English used in the NBR rumor report into German without coming up with a better equivalent!


The Grimm brothers' DWB gives two main meanings for "Perücke" ("wig") in German:

1). the actual wig as we know it often attached to scholars, lawyers, and governmental figures and representatives (the German has a strong sense here that the use of Latin language and terminology by these individuals is implied)

2). the wig as a pars pro toto making a mocking, sneering, derisive comment about the wearer (most frequently applied pejoratively to governmental figures or scholars as above)

Although the following example uses the word 'gelehrt' instead of 'alt' before 'Perücke', the situation in which it is used is very similar. Here is a selection from a biographical entry in the MGG1 by Eric Werner (Bärenreiter, 1986):

>> Nach gründlichem Studium dieses Werkes und einiger Kantaten, die sich im Besitz Zelters oder Felix' Großtante Levy befanden, begann er, mit einem kleinen Chor von 16 Stimmen bei sich zu Hause die Passion zu probieren. Das war sowohl aus technischen wie aus Geschmacksgründen kein leichtes Unternehmen. Denn J. S. Bach war vom Publikum vergessen, von den meisten Musikern als »gelehrte Perücke« verschrieen.<<

("After having thoroughly studied this work (SMP (BWV 244)) and several cantatas, which were found in Zelter's or Felix's great aunt Levy's possession, he [Felix Mendelssohn] began rehearsing the Passion at home with a small choir of 16 voices. This was not a simple undertaking for technical reasons as well as those having to do with matters of musical taste. For the public had forgotten J. S. Bach who was denounced/trashed/slammed by most musicians as the "scholarly wig" ["gelehrt" = in a figurative sense can be both positive or negative depending upon the context; here, however, the context is "Perücke" which clinches the notion that only the negative sense prevails in this pars-pro-toto epithet.]")

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 30, 2007):
>>Funny. I always considered the wig comment to be a term of affection about a towering musician who was decidely old-fashioned to his 'galant' children.<<
< This must be due to a difference between the Anglo-American and German cultures.
The OED shows no similar, pejorative use for ‘wig’ so tha“the old wig” translated literally from the German does not carry the same meaning in English as it does in German.
I sincerely hope that neither
Wolff nor anyone else would ever consider translating literally "the old wig" from the English used in the NBR rumor report into German without coming up with a better equivalent! >
1. It still hasn't been ascertained here that JC Bach (of London) said the thing in German in the first place! However wigged out he may have been about Poppy, or not, he still could have said the thing in English.
Or perhaps French or Italian!

2. In lieu of beating up The New Bach Reader or Wolff or Mendel/David or anybody else: have you checked every single entry referencing JC Bach in the Bach-Dokumente, to make sure this isn't already covered clearly in there?

3. Whether JC Bach actually said the thing: does this in any material way lessen the stature of JS Bach or his achievements? Or, JC Bach's own? (i.e. "Why bother?!")

Julian Mincham wrote (January 30, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< 3. Whether JC Bach actually said the thing: does this in any material way lessen the stature of JS Bach or his achievements? >
Definitely! If he said that, I'm not listening to any more cantatas!

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 30, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Definitely! If he said that, I'm not listening to any more cantatas! >
Dude, don't flip your wig. (Anybody ever say that to Handel? In English?)

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 30, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< The OED shows no similar, pejorative use for Owig¹ so that ³the old wig² translated literally from the German does not carry the same meaning in English as it does in German.
I sincerely hope that neither
Wolff nor anyone else would ever consider translating literally "the old wig" from the English used in the NBR rumor report into German without coming up with a better equivalent! >
That makes sense as the officials of court and government continued to wear wigs long after they had ceased to be fashionable. Wig-makers were particular targets of violence in the French Revolution because they were linked with the Ancien Regime. The TV mini-series about the life of Wagner showed Richard Burton as the young composer chafing under the restrictions of court and wearing a wig. I wonder if Beethoven was the first composer to toss aside his wig and go au naturel as a declaration of independence that he wore no aristocrat's livery. Schubert was certainly idolized for his curly locks.

The tradition of bureaucratic wigs continued in England -- and even in Canada! -- until quite recently. Judges and lawyers still wear them in England. I remember reading a late 19th century letter which made fun of a new bishop who appeared for the first time in church wearing his parliamentary wig.

Hierarchy and social position seems to have dictated the style and use of wigs. I wonder if Bach wore a style of wig which announced his profession as a Cantor. The next generation of independent, freelance composers would certainly have considered him an "old wig".

"Gimme head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming,
Streaming,
flaxen, waxen

Give me down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy

Hair, hair, hair, hair,
hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair"

Julian Mincham wrote (January 30, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Dude, don't flip your wig. >
Man my wig is waxed and wicked---but never flipped. Flipping (or tossing) is what we do with pancakes. But only on Pancake day or the special celebration of St Sedgwicke's Plenitarentiary./

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 30, 2007):
< Hierarchy and social position seems to have dictated the style and use of wigs. I wonder if Bach wore a style of wig which announced his profession as a Cantor. The next generation of independent, freelance composers would certainly have considered him an "old wig". >
Well, the booklet notes of this fine album: Amazon.com
start off with "Bach Rid of His Wig -- Notes on The Art of Fugue". And the cover art is this painting of dewigged Bach, by Pascal Mohlmann: http://www.bach-net.org/inventions.html

Excerpt from the notes:
"When we consider Bach himself, we notice at second glance that he has finally taken off his wig -- 250 years after the Hausmann portrait. We see a human being! A somewhat corpulent man with a stubbly beard who outdid most of his genial colleagues as a musicians. The human quality revealed to us for a moment in this portrait increased our desire not to continue to spin Bach into his own mystical web. We simply want to play his music, and, if necessary, to adapt his music to the instruments available to us, just as he adapted his music to the instruments available to him. Respect need not mean keeping one's distance. What one wants to view respectfully from close up is something that one can take one's time to absorb into oneself. What one regards with tender esteem brings with it an invitation to pleasure. After all, the best baker in town has a practical goal in mind, namely that people eat his bread."

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 30, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Well, the booklet notes of this fine album: Amazon.com
start off with "Bach Rid of His Wig -- Notes on The Art of Fugue". And the cover art is this painting of dewigged Bach, by Pascal Mohlmann: http://www.bach-net.org/inventions.html >
What a great imaginary portrait!

The private Handel looks very different as well: http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/handel_5.jpg

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 30, 2007):
< The private Handel looks very different as well: http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/handel_5.jpg >
Those oddly-spaced black keys on the dude's clavier would give my fingers a headache. And that one arched eyebrow, what's up with that? Nice chair! And the coat buttons almost suitable for staving off swordplay from polemicists.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 31, 2007):
Source: http://www.mdr.de/geschichte/personen/108204-hintergrund-122049.html

From MDR, TV-Guide for Middle Germany

History of Middle Germany

Subject: Bach's Heirs

Author: unlisted (This TV-Guide has a disclaimer stating that they are not responsible for the articles on their web-site.)

[This report is somewhat like what you would expect to read in a report written by a grade-school student when told to write a short summary on the Bach family with emphasis those who became beneficiaries of Bach's wealth and goods after his death. This then appears as a humorous (not deliberately written this way) concatenation of facts, rumors and incorrect information which the writer then pastes together using a vivid imagination.

The reason I am sharing this is that the writer is German and obviously still has a good sense for what "die alte Perücke" ("the old wig") means in German even today.

>>. Sein Testament begünstigt allerdings auffällig den Jüngsten, Christian (1735-1782), der den Vater respektlos "alte Perücke" nannte.<<

"Bach's will, however, conspicuously favored his youngest son, Christian (1735-1782) who disrespectfully called his father ,an old wig'."

[I do not understand, after looking at tactual distribution of money and goods, how the claim can be made that J. C. Bach 'was conspicuously favored' by this father. Did Bach even have a will? The distribution went according to the then existing laws. The distribution of the scores and parts, however, must have been agreed upon prior to Bach's death.]

Chris Rowson wrote (January 31, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Source:
.Author: unlisted (This TV-Guide has a disclaimer stating that they are not responsible for the articles on their web-site.)
.The reason I am sharing this is that the writer is German and obviously still has a good sense for what "die alte Perücke" ("the old wig") means in German even today. >
I´m not sure that an MDR TV guide is authoritative for the interpretation of the alleged "old wig" remark. The writer´s "good sense" for its meaning is a modern interpretation.

I suspect the remark is affectionate. Let´s not forget that JC Bach himself regularly wore a wig, so I don´t think the connotation of being old-fashioned is that strong. I also remember Burney´s anecdote of JC being asked to play in the style of his earlier days and replying that he no longer had the hand for it. I think he knew what a fine training he had had.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 31, 2007):
[To Chris Rowson] Let's also not forget (see Wolff's bio, page 402) that it could run both ways. JSB allegedly said about JC Bach: "The boy progresses surely by his stupidity!" (borrowing his words from verse by Gellert)....but that JSB went ahead and gave JCB three keyboard instruments anyway.

=====

< http://www.mdr.de/geschichte/personen/108204-hintergrund-122049.html From MDR, TV-Guide for Middle Germany >
...readily available by googling "alte Perücke Bach", hit #3...

< [This report is somewhat like what you would expect to read in a report written by a grade-school student when told to write a short summary on the Bach family with emphasis those who became beneficiaries of Bach’s wealth and goods after his death. This then appears as a humorous (not deliberately written this way) concatenation of facts, rumors and incorrect information which the writer then pastes together using a vivid imagination. >
While fantasy writing for television viewers is being criticized in that way, let's also not forget scenarios like the following, largely inspired by the BCML/BCW:

Pregnant young Anna Magdalena has finished her kitchen duties, and put at least the youngest children to bed. Relieved, she settles down to a table by firelight to start the evening work. Her task is to prepare handwritten copies of violin parts, which will be used in ensemble sight-reading at tomorrow morning's worship service. She glances gratefully and admiringly at her husband, who managed to finish the music on time yet again this week, and who is supervising the several other copyists at the table...while also making copied parts himself. What a genius!

So as not to disturb the sleeping children or the concentration of the music-copying team, young Emanuel works his own music lessons quietly on the equal-tempered clavichord in the next room. He could have used the more brilliant and equal-tempered harpsichord, but it's just too dang loud, so he makes do with the clavichord. Setting to work, he opens his stepmother's music book and proudly composes his own new march into it, with sure strokes of the pen. Papi and Maggie will be so pleased! And if he shows enough talent, maybe Emanuel too will be allowed to sight-read the church music someday with the big boys. Or grow up to write some himself, for pay. Or at least to tune the church harpsichord, in equal temperament, since that's easy enough for Papi to do in way under 15 minutes. How hard could it be?

Still, Emanuel already entertains the nagging suspicion that Papi would always like Friedemann best. Had he known English at the time, the rhyme "smother brother" would have crossed his fertile young mind, but fortunately he didn't, so he doesn't think that after all. We can be absolutely certain that he didn't think that, or consider slipping a taste of Papi's brandy secretly into Friedemann's cup to get him on the path to alcoholism. Such things are surely far from innocent young Emanuel's mind. Instead, he admires the yet-lovely shade of Prussian blue in big sister's already fading dress, and he dreams of royalty. Maybe I'll get a job with lousy pay working for the king, and then I'll show everybody. As he loses himself in improvisatory thought, his fingers roaming the keyboard, beads of perspiration gather on his countenance. So much better than a stupid trained bird, he thinks: birds can't sweat like this. Or play this quietly, lost in a world of pondering his genius father's music lessons.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 31, 2007):
Chris Rowson wrote:
< I suspect the remark is affectionate. Let´s not forget that JC Bach himself regularly wore a wig, so I don´t think the connotation of being old-fashioned is that strong. >
My grandchildren call me the old Dude when they think I am not listening. They haven't yet figured out that old dudes hear everything.

I am grateful that they recognize that I am a dude, and not just some guy. I think they are being affectionate.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 31, 2007):
[To Ed Myskowski] My wife and daughter had the following conversation last year:

"A 'dude'? Is Daddy a dude?"
"Yes!"
"And is Grandpa a dude too?"
"Yes."
"Is Mama a dude?"
"No way!"
"What makes Daddy a dude?"
"God did!"

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 31, 2007):
Flights of Fantasy [was: the old wig]

Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>While fantasy writing for television viewers is being criticized in that way, let's also not forget scenarios like the following, largely inspired by the BCML/BCW:
...Still, Emanuel already entertains the nagging suspicion that Papi would always like Friedemann best. Had he known English at the time, the rhyme "smother brother" would have crossed his fertile young mind, but fortunately he didn't, so he doesn't think that after all. We can be absolutely certain that he didn't think that, or consider slipping a taste of Papi's brandy secretly into Friedemann's cup to get him on the path to alcoholism. Such things are surely far from innocent young Emanuel's mind.Instead, he admires the yet-lovely shade of Prussian blue in big sister's already fading dress, and he dreams of royalty. Maybe I'll get a job with lousy pay working for the king, and then I'll show everybody. As he loses himself in improvisatory thought, his fingers roaming the keyboard, beads of perspiration gather on his countenance. So much better than a stupid trained bird, he thinks: birds can't sweat like this. Or play this quietly, lost in a world of pondering his genius father's music lessons.<<
How about following this with another flight of fantasy and hyperbole masquerading as fact intended to confuse the casual reader as documented in Ross W. Duffin's "How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony", Norton, 2007, p. 148:

>>They [those who claim that Bach's 'Well-Tempered Clavier' sounds best in EQ = Equal Temperament] could even ascribe to Bach the ultimate justification for ET with his famous 'Well-Tempered Clavier', whose forty-eight preludes and fugues explore each of the twelve major and minor keys. Whatever temperament you use for, say, Telemann as a choice for historical performance, Bach could always be an exception and validate the triumph of ET. Those days ended for good in early 2005 when keyboard scholar and performer Bradley Lehman deciphered and published Bach's encoding of the temperament he intended for his famous collection. There is no question that Lehman convincingly solved Bach's puzzle, and the bad news for defenders of ET in Bach is that Bach's temperament is not ET. It is unique but nonetheless one of the family of circulating temperaments -- with similar kinds of tempered intervals to those of Bach's contemporary Johann Georg Neidhardt, for example -- usable in all keys but shaded to favor some keys over others. In fact, the "sample irregular temperament given back in figure 7 is Bach's own "well temperament" as deciphered by Lehman. This was Bach's ideal for keyboard music, not ET. So, in spite of his highly chromatic writing in all keys, ET defenders can no longer claim Bach as their secret champion, as the man who was such a great musician that he anticipated and justified the ultimate victory of ET in the modern era.<<

Will Bradley Lehman now find anything at all to criticize in this above statement which has now, with one keen stroke by Ross Duffin, lifted Lehman's reading of Bach's squiggles from theoretical guesswork to the level of established fact which will force musicians playing Bach to change the ways their instruments should be tuned? Will Bradley Lehman now confirm that everything stated above is logical and reasonable considering all the musicological studies that have been done in this area and the serious criticisms expressed by experts in the field of temperaments regarding Lehman's so-called 'Bach' Temperament (a misnomer, if there ever was one)?

 

Baroque royality: Living descendents?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (March 22, 2007):
I'm curious-- are there any direct living descendents of Johann Sebastian Bach alive; and by direct I mean from him-- not his cousins or brothers.

Also curious about Telemann-- he had several children and one grandson (Georg Michael) that was an organist in Riga, but when G. Michael died, apparently G.P.'s manuscripts were either parceled off or thrown out-- which makes me think there weren't any direct heirs left.

Handel and Vivaldi didn't have any children (well that we know of), but I'm curious about brothers or sisters or cousins carrying on the family name.

Thanks for any leads on this.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (March 22, 2007):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] IF we are examining the parternal line there are no direct legitimate heirs (no offense intended but Bach could have some illegitimate grand children which would have in those days be considered scandalous and hence secreted)living that we know of. However, Bach had some 20 children by two wives and there is bound to be some of his genes floating around somewhere out there.

On the maternal line ---there probally are some direce Bach direct descendents but to find them we are going to have to have a sample of Bach's DNA (that is if who is resting in his burial space is really him) and a sample from one of the women. There are many Bachs in the world today probally related in the distant past to JS. such as Barbara Bach the actress etc.

As far as Vivaldi is concerned ----since he was a Priest it is not likely ---if he kept his vows---that he had any children.

Handel is a different story---there could be some but as you say we do not know about them.

On the other hand; we do know about Mozarts children and his wife who died in 1860 or there abouts.

Peter Smaill wrote (March 23, 2007):
[To William Rowland (Ludwig)] As previously discussed, orthodox belief pre WW2 was that the Bach line had died out in the late nineteenth century.

However, the Bach scholar William Scheide (the owner of the Haussmann portrait and several original manuscripts) discovered descendants of W F Bach in the U.S. , who had come via Russia. Although I heard this at first hand from him at Princeton I have no further details to hand. Perhaps one of our band has the chapter and verse.

 

Bach family motets, Clare Cambridge conducted by Brown

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 26, 2007):
I have to mention a recently acquired delight: the Regis CD of 11 motets of the Bach family, by members older than Johann Sebastian. Timothy Brown conducts the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge. The recording was made in 1995, and this Regis publication is a reissue (unfortunately without texts or translations): Amazon.com | Amazon.com

It also pops up at amazon.co.uk, et al. Search for "bach motets brown".

The price is near 0. I got mine from here: Berkshire Record Outlet

The music is exquisite. Roster below. Some of these compositions were in JSB's own repertoire as conductor, for his choirs at Leipzig.

The performances by Brown's group are gentle, clear, and lovely: with a small mixed choir singing one-per-part most of the time, and accompanied by theorbo, organ, and "bass violin".

1. Lieber Herr Gott
Composed by Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703)

2. Unser Leben ist ein Schatten
Composed by Johann Bach (1604-73)

3. Herr, du lässest mich erfahren
Composed by Johann Michael Bach (1648-94)

4. Nun hab'ich überwunden
Composed by Johann Michael Bach

5. Es ist nun aus
Composed by Johann Christoph Bach

6. Der Gerechte, ob er gleich
Composed by Johann Christoph Bach

7. Ich lasse dich nicht
Composed by Johann Christoph Bach

8. Fürchte dich nicht
Composed by Johann Christoph Bach

9. Sei lieber Tag willkommen
Composed by Johann Michael Bach

10. Unsere Trübsal
Composed by Johann Ludwig Bach (1677-1731)

11. Das ist meine Freude
Composed by Johann Ludwig Bach.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (April 26, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< I have to mention a recently acquired delight: the Regis CD of 11 motets of the Bach family, by members older than Johann Sebastian. Timothy Brown conducts the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge. The recording was made in 1995, and this Regis publication is a reissue (unfortunately without texts or translations): Amazon.com | Amazon.com >
You have two URLs here: One is for a Brilliant CD. The other for a Regis CD. The Regis at list $12.99 is hardly near 0 in price, as you have stated. I already have both the old Rilling The Bach Family (which still assigns
"Ich lasse dich nicht" to JSB) and the Goebbel Die Familie Bach. Each is a 2CD set with full texts and notes.
I find this ongoing issuance of non-text-, non-notes-bearing CDs for all kinds of vocal music an abomination. One of the reasons that I buy CDs at all is for booklets (texts minimal). There is endless music to download on operashare. It is texts and notes that I expect from CDs. Two of the Bach family works, "Wassers g'nug" and "Im Zorn auf mich" I have endless recordings of, all with texts and notes. This is also a matter that I bitched about last night re the Harnoncourt JP DVD, no cast for all intents and purposes and we thus are relying on what
information seems to have been gleaned from other than the DVD and its stupid, idiotic, and insipid booklet.To return to present matters: The Brilliant is very cheap, as expected. The Regis does not seem cheap for a textless issue.

 

Wq 215/4 "et misericordia" question

Yoël L. Arbeitman (Malvenuto) wrote (January 10, 2008):
A while back, one or two years (tempus fugit) I asked here about any really good recording of the CPE Bach Magnificat since my only recording, that of Prohoska with HRM, remains on LP only and I haven't heard it for over six years.

This last week or so I've gotten two CD couplings of Dad's and Sonny's settings. The one is dreadful and the other is simply wonderful although the soloists and their nature in the resp. magnificats in this wonderful CD are very dissimilar.

The uninteresting CD for both works is that of Ledger. Less said, the better. The terrific CD is that of the Collegium Aureum, Tölzer Knabenchor, Schmidt-Gaden, etc.(super-cheap from sellers).

The JSB has three boy soloists and the whole performance is more than one could ask for. However there are endless recordings of JSB's and anyone may like this or that.

The CPE coupling has Ameling and Lehane (two great females).But here's really my question: On the Ledger, as I likewise recall on the Prohaska, no. 4, the long "Et misericordia" is choral, sung by a chorus. On the Schmidt-Gaden in the six recitations of this one sentence beginning "Et misericordia" it seems to me that in the 2nd recitation the sentence is done by two sopranos and in the fifth recitation by an alto and a soprano. Various of the choral presentations of the same sentence are so subtlety produced by the different parts of the four part chorus that that which in the Ledger is a boring repetition, here seems a really well-crafted and appealing musical section.

Is this all up to the conductor and not clearly notated by CPE?

Other than that I really was deeply impressed by Maureen Lehane.

Oh, finally before I forget: On the Collegium Aureum the JSB is done in German-Latin while the CPE is done in Italian-Latin (on the Ledger both are in Italian-Latin). This is rather strange on the C.A. where the two performances share a tenor at least.

Aryeh's discography gives 1972 for the JSB Bach. The CD only gives a recording date (1966) for the CPE Bach.

Evan Cortens wrote (January 10, 2008):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] I myself have been searching for a good recording of the CPEB Magnificat as well, so far I've heard the Lewis/Washington Bach Consort (1999) and the Rilling/Stuttgart Bach Collegium ones, and I'm afraid I can't report back favorably on either. I'll have to check out Schmidt-Gaden!

A few comments on CPEB's setting of the Magnificat:

- Source-wise, this is certainly a very tricky piece. While a number of good articles have been written on it (see references below), there is still no critical edition, though one is currently being prepared by Christine Blanken for the CPE Bach Complete Works. I don't know when it will be available, but when it is, it will be quite cheap:
they're selling most volumes for $20, if you can believe it. There is, to my knowledge, one printed edition of the work, but it basically reproduces D-B P341, CPEB's first autograph score, written in 1749 in Berlin and likely performed as a test piece in Leipzig, when he applied for his father's job, an audition that was unsuccessful.

- CPEB wrote two completely different settings of the "Et misericordia", one for the first performance, and one sometime later, perhaps in the 1760s, perhaps as late as 1767, as the parts containing only this movement are in the hand of Michel, CPEB's principal copyist in Hamburg, whereas earlier parts contain the new "Et misericordia" as an insert-leaf, with the old version crossed out. The earlier setting, in E minor and 3/4, begins with all voices together in homorhythm and including a lengthy duet for soprano and alto; this is likely the
version on your recording, as it is the one contained in the printed score mentioned above. The later setting, also in E minor but in 4/4, begins with a measure of soprano alone before the three lower voice parts enter and is quite a bit shorter than the earlier setting. I haven't yet found a recording that uses this version.

- The size of CPEB's Hamburg choir, unlike his father's, is a pretty open and shut case. Hamburg, a city that seemed to enjoy its bureaucracy, kept extensive pay records for musical performances. Often these records only indicate a cost, but many times they include a complete breakdown of how many voices and instruments there were, how much each player/singer was paid, and sometimes even all of their names. This evidence indicates that there were eight singers in this choir. Furthermore, CPEB or his copyists often wrote the names of the
singers on their parts, indicating that the parts weren't shared. Another point of interest is that in his Hamburg passion settings, CPEB would often indicate who he was writing an aria for write in the score, "aria for H. Lüders", and such, making sure that each of his 8 singers got at least one.

- I looked over all of the Berlin parts for the "Et misericordia", and all of the parts contain all of the notes. In other words, if your recording alternates between solo and tutti, that was the conductor's decision and isn't supported by the evidence. One part does include a "solo" marking and "tutti" marking, but I'm not sure what effect this would have, as the part would have been used by one singer (see above, point 2), and there doesn't seem to be a corresponding ripieno part that drops out.

- My thoughts on Latin pronunciation: I think that German Latin pronunciation is probably correct for both CPEB and JSB, however I can't really back this up with hard and fast evidence at this time. Many recordings use Italian latin, as you know... Nevertheless, in my opinion, it's probably best to pick one and stick with it, rather than switch based on the piece. Interestingly, the Reilly/Washington recording, in the "Fecit potentiam" (Tenor aria), the tenor begins in German Latin and switches to Italian half way through... oops!

Hope this helps, and thanks for the recording recommendation,

References:

Blanken, Christine. "Zur Werk- und Uberlieferungsgeschichte des Magnificat." Bach-Jahrbuch (2006): 229-271.

Rifkin, Joshua. " '…wobey aber die Singstimmen hinlänglich besetzt sein müssen…': Zum Credo der h-Moll-Messe in der Aufführung Carl Philipp Emanuel Bachs." Basler Jahrbuch für Historische Musikpraxis 9
(1985): 157-72.

Sanders, Reginald. "Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Liturgical Music at the Hamburg Principal Churches." PhD diss., Yale University (2001).

Wollny, Peter. "Anmerkungen zur Überlieferungs- und Aufführungsgeschichte des Magnificat Wq 215 von Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach." Carl Philipp Emanuel Bachs geistliche Musik. Frankfurt (Oder), 2000: 15-29.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 10, 2008):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< This evidence indicates that there were eight singers in this choir. Furthermore, CPEB or his copyists often wrote the names of the singeron their parts, indicating that the parts weren't shared. Another point of interest is that in his Hamburg passion settings, CPEB would often indicate who he was writing an aria for write in the score, "aria for H. Lüders", and such, making sure that each of his 8 singers got at least one. >
The lack of such personal notes in J.S. Bach's scores and parts is baffling. Handel, Vivaldi and other contemporary composers all occasionally write the names of singers in their scores.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 10, 2008):
Latin Pronunciation

Evan Cortens wrote:
< My thoughts on Latin pronunciation: I think that German Latin pronunciation is probably correct for both CPEB and JSB, however I can't really back this up with hard and fast evidence at this time. Many recordings use Italian latin, as you know... Nevertheless, in my opinion, it's probably best to pick one and stick with it, rather than switch based on the piece. >
Rome did not attempt to impose Italianate pronnciation on the whole church until 1903 and it was resisted even then by German-speaking countries. However, it's unlikely that the Italian singers at the Dresden court adopted German pronunciation. Making fun of regional pronunciations goes back to the early Renaissance. As early as the 15th century, we find singers making fun of the pronunciation of Latin in other countries. An English treatise made the following jingoistic comment:

³The English doe carroll, the French sing, the Spaniards weepe, the Italians caper with their voices, the others barke, but the Germanes doe howle like Wolves.²

Evan Cortens wrote (January 10, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The lack of such personal notes in J.S. Bach's scores and parts is baffling. Handel, Vivaldi and other contemporary composers all occasionally write the names of singers in their scores.>
Yes, very interesting! It's interesting to note as well that the older Handel edition (the HHA) often keeps the names of the singers in the score, rather than writing Soprano/Alto/Tenor/Bass.

Perhaps the reason we don't see this in JSB is a result of his functional concept of the music? Whereas a Handel opera or oratorio is an occasional work, written for a specific time and place, JSB cantatas are more generic, intended to be performed on one day of the church year, yes, but also to be reperformed at a later date on that same liturgical occasion. However, if this is true, one could reasonably ask why we don't see singer's names on secular cantatas, works which certainly fit into the same occasional category.

I should mention also that the Magnificat Wq 215 doesn't have parts with singers names, the only place I've observed this is in the passions and the inauguration cantatas.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 10, 2008):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< However, if this is true, one could reasonably ask why we don't see singer's names on secular cantatas, works which certainly fit into the same occasional category. >
Especially works like the "Coffee" (BWV 211) and "Peasant" (BWV 212) Cantatas which have such a strong sense of particular occasion.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 10, 2008):
[To Evan Cortens] Evan, thanks for this especially well-pointed and informative posting about CPE Bach! It identifies so many important issues....

Is there any chance the "solo" and "tutti" markings would be a simply a heads-up for the performer to know (ahead of rehearsals) which sections will require them to blend into ensemble, and which are soloistic? It might not have anything to do one way or another with adding any more singers on the part, but merely an aid to preparation.

My idea on this is that it would rather be like using "piano" and "forte" markings in a solo part (either instrumental or vocal) to give some indication what the accompaniment is going to be like; not so much to inflect the part itself with any sudden dynamic changes, but only to suggest what the whole ensemble will be doing overall.

Apropos of your Rifkin reference listed below, you might also check out Rifkin's new edition of the B minor mass: his attempt to tease apart the CPEB changes from the father's original: http://www.music.qub.ac.uk/tomita/bachbib/bb-review_Rifkin-BMM.html
The preface of the edition, in both German and English: http://www.breitkopf.com/fileDownload.php?fileId=3268

We had some discussions of the edition in May 2007, but (as I recall) none of us had actually seen or used it yet.

The Blanken edition of the CPEB Magnificat will of course show up here in due time: http://www.cpebach.org/cpeb/
I haven't picked up those offprints yet, but I've browsed through the shelved copies of the keyboard volumes at a music library and am eager to play more of that music.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 10, 2008):
Solo/Tutti

Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Is there any chance the "solo" and "tutti" markings would be a simply a heads-up for the performer to know (ahead of rehearsals) which sections will require them to blend into ensemble, and which are soloistic? It might not have anything to do one way or another with adding any more singers on the part, but merely an aid to preparation. >
This is certainly the way the markings are used as early as the "choral" works of Monteverdi.

And speaking of "solo" markings, has anyone worked what Beethoven intended at the "Pleni Sunt Coeli" of the Missa Solemnis where the score is marked "solo" in the voices but the full orchestra comes in -- in Gardiner's recording, the soloist markings are observed and the singers are all but obliterated.

Yoël L. Arbeitman (Malvenuto) wrote (January 10, 2008):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< I myself have been searching for a good recording of the CPEB Magnificat as well, so far I've heard the Lewis/Washington Bach Consort (1999) and the Rilling/Stuttgart Bach Collegium ones, and I'm afraid I can't report back favorably on either. I'll have to check out Schmidt-Gaden! >
Thank you so much, Evan, for this most informative reply.

As I recall, at least at Amazon.com one could not find it by searching Schmidt-Gaden but only by searching "Magnificat Aureum".

Another thought, just a personal response on my part, for the first time the alto aria really made me think more of a Mendelssohn oratorio than of Papa Bach.

Evan Cortens wrote (January 11, 2008):
Hello Brad, thanks for your kind words, I'm glad you found my post enjoyable.

Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Is there any chance the "solo" and "tutti" markings would be a simply a heads-up for the performer to know (ahead of rehearsals) which sections will require them to blend into ensemble, and which are soloistic? It might not have anything to do one way or another with adding any more singers on the part, but merely an aid to preparation. >
While I'm not familiar with CPEB or JSB using "solo" and "tutti" markings in this way, it certainly doesn't rule out the possibility... further study is required!

< My idea on this is that it would rather be like using "piano" and "forte" markings in a solo part (either instrumental or vocal) to give some indication what the accompaniment is going to be like; not so much to inflect the part itself with any sudden dynamic changes, but only to suggest what the whole ensemble will be doing overall. >
These dynamic markings seem almost universal in Jand CPEB though, i.e. a piano is present at virtually every entry of the soloist in an aria, whereas these "solo" and "tutti" markings in the part are comparatively rare. Another possibility is that they are a direction to a copyist, as a solo/tutti marking in a score would be; one sees this use in contemporary prints of Schütz. It was much more practical for them to print a set of parts with directions for how to make more than to print a score, requiring people to copy out a full set of parts. Of course, one must keep in mind the time frame here... the Magnificat part I referred to with these markings is a fair bit later, and not in the hand of one of CPEB's main copyists.

< Apropos of your Rifkin reference listed below, you might also check out Rifkin's new edition of the B minor mass: his attempt to tease apart the CPEB changes from the father's original.
[snip]
We had some discussions of the edition in May 2007, but (as I recall) none of us had actually seen or used it yet. >
Yes, I'm familiar with the edition. As one often sees with Rifkin, his work doesn't just focus on one aspect of something but provides a thorough consideration of all related issues. I've found the preface and critical report (only in German) very helpful, and I haven't even been working with the mass directly. It's certainly a top-notch edition and fixes many of the oversights in the original NBA edition, almost 50 years old at this point.

< The Blanken edition of the CPEB Magnificat will of course show up here in due time: >
I confess, I only have a few volumes of the CPEB edition at this point, but I do plan to purchase many more. They have a generous grant from the Packard Humanities Institute to subsidize the production of volumes, thus allowing them to produce books for $20 and $35. Compare that to the NBA, for instance, where a volume of music plus critical report could easily run you $300. (While on the topic of cost, I should mention that the Rifkin edition above is also quite a steal, $90 for the whole thing, with critical report, again, a fraction of the cost of the NBA edition.) The whole team over at the CPEB edition is excellent and they're doing great work!

Evan Cortens wrote (January 11, 2008):
< Thank you so much, Evan, for this most informative reply. >
Thank you for the kind words, I'm glad you found it helpful.

< As I recall, at least at Amazon.com one could not find it by searching Schmidt-Gaden but only by searching "Magnificat Aureum". >
Thanks for the heads up! I often shop on ArkivMusic.com, and I hadn't bumped into this recording.

< Another thought, just a personal response on my part, for the first time the alto aria really made me think more of a Mendelssohn oratorio than of Papa Bach. >
Too often CPEB is written off as "pre-classical" or something to that effect; his sacred music is often ignored entirely (see the H-G Ottenberg bio, for instance, which barely even mentions the fact that he worked for over 20 years in a position much like his father's, providing over 200 performances of church music per year). He really does have a unique compositional voice!

Yoël L. Arbeitman (Malvenuto) wrote (January 19, 2008):
Evan Cortens wrote:
<< Thank you so much, Evan, for this most informative reply. >>
< Thank you for the kind words, I'm glad you found it helpful. >
<< As I recall, at least at Amazon.com one could not find it by searching Schmidt-Gaden but only by searching "Magnificat Aureum". >>
< Thanks for the heads up! I often shop on ArkivMusic.com, and I hadn't bumped into this recording. >
Although ArkivMusic is a fine reference source indeed, there is one problem with making them your sole shopping place (there are such problems with any one place): Arkiv only lists and stocks VERY MUCH IN PRINT items. Many of the treasures I seek are sort of out of print.

Indeed I guess this item is oop and sellers offer it at amazon. Alas, many items in this same series, the existence of which I have just become aware of, are not to be obtained. One must find such things while they exist and therefore Arkiv is only for quite current things.

<< Another thought, just a personal response on my part, for the first time the alto aria really made me think more of a Mendelssohn oratorio than of Papa Bach. >>
< Too often CPEB is written off as "pre-classical" or something to that effect; his sacred music is often ignored entirely (see the H-G Ottenberg bio, for instance, which barely even mentions the fact that he worked for over 20 years in a position much like his father's, providing over 200 performances of church music per year). He really does have a unique compositional voice! >
I am certainly not prepared to make any sweeping statement about CPhE. I was only offering a personal perception on one aria in a single work.

Evan Cortens wrote (January 19, 2008):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< Although ArkivMusic is a fine reference source indeed, there is one problem with making them your sole shopping place (there are such problems with any one place): Arkiv only lists and stocks VERY MUCH IN PRINT items. Many of the treasures I seek are sort of out of print.
Indeed I guess this item is oop and sellers offer it at amazon. Alas, many items in this same series, the existence of which I have just become aware of, are not to be obtained. One must find such things while they exist and therefore Arkiv is only for quite current things. >
Very true! Amazon is great for used things as well, and I often find their in-print selection is better as well... just that ArkivMusic is better organized...

< I am certainly not prepared to make any sweeping statement about CPhE. I was only offering a personal perception on one aria in a single work. >
My apologies! I certainly didn't mean my comments toward you, rather to the "musicological establishment" (whatever that means). Certainly attitudes are changing now, especially with the rediscovery of the majority of CPEB's sacred compositions in the Sing-Akademie collection. I suppose it's really more a problem with the traditional historical narrative, one that seeks to identify a given genius for each period of time and focus solely on them, hence: Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, etc. I don't think people are teaching music history in this same way anymore. (Note that I certainly don't mean to diminish the greatness of these composers!)

 

Continue on Part 3

Bach Family: Sorted by Name | Sorted by Number | Family Tree | Family History | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Biographies of Poets & Composers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | Bach & Other Composers

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ýAugust 23, 2012 ý11:34:04