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Bach’s Pupils
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

BBC Early Music Show

Neil Mason wrote (May 13, 2008):
I am a regular listener to this show via the wonders of the internet.

Last Saturday's programme was "Bach at Cothen" and last Sunday's "Bach at Leipzig". They are available for listening on the BBC's website for seven days after broadcast. The URL is: www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/earlymusicshow.

Although I haven't yet listened to these particular programmes, I recommend them with confidence.

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 13, 2008):
[To Neil Mason] At about 19'30" into the "Bach at Leipzig" show from May 11, the announcer asserts that Bach occasionally had some of his students compose an aria or a recit for the weekly cantata. Then, the show goes into the opening chorus of cantata BWV 192...without making any explicit connection that Bach's students composed any of this one, or any other documented example. Interesting!

Neil Mason wrote (May 14, 2008):
[To Bradley Lehman] Yes, this is curious. Do you know of any evidence that any part of any of Bach's cantatas was composed by his students?

Julian Mincham wrote (May 14, 2008):
[To Neil Mason] You might like to contact Prof Martin Jarvis? from Darwin University. I have met him a couple of time and heard him lecture, most recently in Jan of this year---I have mentioned him before on list. His speciality is bringing modern forensic computer methods to bear on the ananlysis of handwriting in Bach's scores and parts and he has made some oddly bizarre sugesstions particularly about the composition of the unaccomp cello sonatas.

However his work could indicate that certain parts of certain movements were written by others although the examples he gave arose from the pedagogical works in the main--suites, inventions WTC etc. This could indicate that Bach may have tasked a student to, say 'complete this to the double bar line' or modulate now to the relative minor' afterwards revising and correcting student efforts.

If Bach did, indeed, do this he?followed a well established .master craftsman, renaissance tradition particularly of painters and scupltors. Apparently Lully also worked this way.

However I noted that none of Prof Jarvis's examples came from the cantatas or the large scale religious works from which i deduced that if indeed he did work this way it was a part of his teaching procedures with?pedagogical materials and perhaps he did not invite students to participate in his canon of 'well regulated' church music.

It is possible i suppose that somehow the idea that Bach may have operated thus?has been passed down through the years with the possibly erroneous assumption that he did it in works other than those produced for teaching.

If you do want to contact Martin (who is a very approachable chap) let me know and I will send you his email address off list.

William Hoffman wrote (May 14, 2008):
NT: Pegadogy & Collaboration

We know from the Bach Obituary and Forkel that Bach was quite a teacher of keyboard, harmony, and compositional techniques. Further, the cantatas are sermons, the great vocal works are models, the keyboard collections are studies, and the late theory works are demonstrations of his learning.

Christoph Wolff has amply shown that Bach was a learner. Teaching & learning are inextricably bound. In Music & Music-making, Bruno Walter cited the old Greek concept: "I seek counsel as I give counsel." It could be added that Bach was a collaborator and transformer.

At the same time, we've come a long-way from the 19th Century, when many Romantics intensely "venerated" Bach but with all their baggage and blind spots. Too often, the composer image, best exemplified by Beethoven, was that The Composer erupted fully-developed from the womb, with virtually no prior influences, and that only though supreme struggle and revision could perfection be achieved. We could also talk about the influences of the German nation-building movement. As for Bach blind spots, I find these to include little interest in Stile antico and specific influences, literary background, theology and religion, colaboration, and parody.

While Bach's transformation of the work of others has only recently been thoroughly examined, the reverse is still a taboo subject in some quarters. So, I would offer three examples: the Anna Magdalena Book with the family tunes and studies, including the work of other composers; the Bach family annual gatherings making up those quodlibets; and the keyboard works which are mostly in his students's hands (except for the publications), subject to all manner of changes, like the organ piece, BWV 131a, "Aus der Tiefe."

Lastly, I would simply mention Bach's legacy and all the later music influenced by him. We are all Bach students, and, hopefully, teachers and practicioners.

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 14, 2008):
[To Neil Mason] I haven't seen enough evidence either for OR against it with respect to the cantatas. ("It" = the hypothesis that Bach entrusted some of the basic compositional ideas, or elaboration from his own ideas, to students completing the compositions: perhaps as far as composing arias or recitatives.) It wouldn't surprise me if he did. But, there needs to be evidence of it happening in vocal pieces.

What we do know:

- Bach copied and performed other people's music, sometimes just as a straightforward copy, sometimes elaborating or recomposing it. (And if the original non-Bach source is gone, and the Bach copy doesn't say it's
a copy or an arrangement, how would we know it's not original Bach?)

- Bach did assign students the exercise of completing or elaborating compositions. The C major flute sonata BWV 1033 is an example where someone (probably Bach) composed the flute part by itself, and then a student (probably CPE Bach) added all the accompaniment.

- Basso continuo practice expects the player to complete the composition appropriately every time the piece is performed.

- IF students composed an aria or a recitative, it would have been on separate pieces of paper, not directly in the master copy of the score (if that still exists). Bach could have kept correcting or improving such a composition on the way to copying it into his score...or he could have made a direct copy. How would this look different from a completely original Bach composition?

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 14, 2008):
Brad Lehman wrote:
>I haven't seen enough evidence either for OR against it with respect to the cantatas. ("It" = the hypothesis that Bach entrusted some of the basic compositional ideas, or elaboration from his own ideas, to students completing the compositions: perhaps as far as composing arias or recitatives.)<
I agree with just about everything in the post, and find the alternatives concisely stated. One proviso, there is not likely to be any evidence against it, simply the absence of evidence in support.

This is reminiscent of the classic logical trap, often encountered in many fields (including BCML): speculation (or hypothesis) is conflated with theory, and then the suggestion is made that theory stands until disproven.

Just about all good ideas begin as speculation or hypothesis. So do all not so good ideas. Without evidence, speculation, no matter how attractive, remains just that. If anyone finds the word <speculation> offensive, you can simply omit it and use hypothesis without significantly changing my intent. However, I do think there is a subtle distinction, perhaps along the lines of:
(1) Hypothesis - Bach incorporated ideas from his students in the cantatas
(2) Speculation - Bachs students composed parts of the cantatas

There is no evidence in support of either, but one is intuitively more likely or logical.

I find it a bit of a stretch to equate the work of CPE or Anna Magdalena with general student efforts. I would suggest that for this hypothesis, family and students should be separate categories, so that:
<CPE worked on compositions, therefore students worked on compositions>
is pretty thin evidence.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 14, 2008):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< - Bach copied and performed other people's music, sometimes just as a straightforward copy, sometimes elaborating or recomposing it. (And if the original non-Bach source is gone, and the Bach copy doesn't
say it's a copy or an arrangement, how would we know it's not original Bach?) >
That's what happened with a couple of the cantatas and motets, isn't it? It fooled the editors of the first Bach Edition. One of greatest Bach's tunes "Bist du bei mir" wasn't by him at all, but in fact by one of the most talented German baroque composers: Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel.

< - IF students composed an aria or a recitative, it would have been on separate pieces of paper, not directly in the master copy of the score (if that still exists). Bach could have kept correcting or improving such a composition on the way to copying it into his score...or he could have made a direct copy. How would this look different from a completely original Bach composition? >
It wouldn't. There are several well known instances of a composer allowing a student to do the more boring aspects of their jobs when a deadline was pressing: e.g. Franz Anton Süssmayr doing the recitatives for Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 14, 2008):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>I haven't seen enough evidence either for OR against it with respect to the cantatas. ("It" = the hypothesis that Bach entrusted some of the basic compositional ideas, or elaboration from his own ideas, to students completing the compositions: perhaps as far as composing arias or recitatives.)<
I find the alternatives concisely stated, and agree with the entire post, with one proviso: there is not likely to be conclusive evidence against, simply lack of evidence in favor.

This is reminiscent of the logic trap that conflates speculation (or hypothesis) with theory, then suggests that the theory stands until disproven.

Just about all good ideas begin as speculation or hypothesis. So do all not so good ideas. Speculation, no matter how attractive, remains just that, in the absence of evidence. If anyone takes offense at the word <speculation>, you can simply ignore it and use hypothesis only, without significantly altering my intent. I do not find either word disapproving, however I do think there is a subtle distinction, perhaps along the lines:
(1) Hypothesis - Bach incorporated ideas from his students in the cantatas
(2) Specualtion - Bachs students composed parts of the cantatas
There is not substantial evidence in support of either, but one is intuitively a bit more attractive or logical.

I find it a bit of a stretch to equate the work of CPE or Anna Magdalena with general student efforts. For the present hypothesis, I think it would be a mistake to suggest, for example:
<CPE worked on compositions, therefore students might have worked on compositions>.

Neil Mason wrote (May 14, 2008):
Thanks Brad and others for your replies.

Of course we are not talking here about realising the continuo part, which would be a matter of course for the player in every cantata.

We are instead talking about the actual composition of part of a cantata. Even handwriting analysis is insufficient to prove this, as the manuscript could merely be transcribed by someone else after JSB composed it (although I don't know any examples of this either!).

I expect the comment on the Early Music Show was yet another example of a "romantic" notion of how Bach must have been a great teacher because he was a great composer and great performer. There are plenty of examples in the present-day world to demonstrate that this does not necessarily follow.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (May 15, 2008):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< There are several well known instances of a composer allowing a student to do the more boring aspects of their jobs when a deadline was pressing: e.g. Franz Anton Süssmayr doing the recitatives for Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito. >

This still goes on (and I don't see it as a bad thing). For example rumour has it that Thomas Adès had the help of several composers in orchestrating his opera "The Tempest" when he was facing a deadline. Of course he may well have revised their orchestrations at a later point when he had the leisure.

Presumably in the days before Sibelius and finale this was even more common.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 15, 2008):
James Atkins Pritchard wrote:
< This still goes on (and I don't see it as a bad thing). For example rumour has it that Thomas Adès had the help of several composers in orchestrating his opera "The Tempest" when he was facing a deadline. Of course he may well have revised their orchestrations at a later point when he had the leisure. >
Exactly! This happened with the other arts, including the great painters, dramatists (i.e. some Shakespeare worked in conjunction with others on a few plays), and this definitely happened in music.

< Presumably in the days before Sibelius and finale this was even more common. >
I wonder would Baroque composers have been even more prolific with a modern computer and Sibelius software ;)

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 15, 2008):
James Atkins Pritchard wrote:
< This still goes on (and I don't see it as a bad thing). For example rumour has it that Thomas Adès had the help of several composers in orchestrating his opera "The Tempest" when he was facing a deadline. Of course he may well have revised their orchestrations at a later point when he had the leisure. >
At the premiere of "Parsifal", the famous Transformation Music in Act I turned out to be too short to cover the stage scene changing to the Grail Temple. Engelbert Humperdinck offered to write some extra bars and Wagner astonishingly agreed to allow him. Much idle enjoyment can be had trying to identify the student composer's faux-Wagneriam insertion.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (May 15, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Yes they would have. One wonders how in the world JS Bach wrote as much as he did or Joseph Haydn both of whom were very prolific---Haydn more than Bach. As a composer myself, with a computer I can turn out a Symphony of Mahlerian porportions ready for performance within 2 weeks or less depending on if I am disturbed or not.

Bach as we know had 20 kids, two wives, a bunch of brats to teach, worked as an Organist and Kapellmeister, Organ Consultant and prover, he taught his own kids music and played music with his wives, one wonders what kind of father he was since he was so busy trying to support them etc. We know that there is much undiscovered material and unknown things that as yet are undiscovered or did not survive until today.

William Rowland, composer ASCAP (aka lvb---Please do not confuse with another person of same name who is also a composer and Musician which is the reason for the lvb pseudonym.)

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 15, 2008):
Perhaps someone should start keeping score? So far, the evidence proposed in support of the speculation that Bachs students participated in the composition process:

(1) There are several well known instances of a composer allowing a student to do the more boring aspects of their jobs when a deadline was pressing: e.g. Franz Anton Süssmayr doing the recitatives for Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito.

(2) Thomas Adès had the help of several composers in orchestrating his opera "The Tempest".

(3) Shakespeare worked in conjunction with others on a few plays.

(4) At the premiere of "Parsifal", the famous Transformation Music in Act I turned out to be too short to cover the stage scene changing to the Grail Temple. Engelbert Humperdinck offered to write some extra bars and Wagner astonishingly agreed to ahim.

(5) One wonders how in the world JSBach wrote as much as he did or Joseph Haydn both of whom were very prolific---Haydn more than Bach.

I am getting nostalgic for the <Saturday Night Scramble> hypothesis. BTW, if the students participated in the cantata compositions, would that not facilitate their sight reading?

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 15, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I am getting nostalgic for the <Saturday Night Scramble> hypothesis. >
Be good, Ed!

Jean Laaninen wrote (May 15, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I am getting nostalgic for the <Saturday Night Scramble> hypothesis. BTW, if the students participated in the cantata compositions, would that not facilitate their sight reading? >
Ed, you are absolutely priceless.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 15, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Perhaps someone should start keeping score? So far, the evidence proposed in support of the speculation that Bach's students participated in the composition process....
(snip) >
Ah, but you cleverly left out some important points:

Bradley Lehman wrote:
"- Bach copied and performed other people's music, sometimes just as a straightforward copy, sometimes elaborating or recomposing it. (And if the original non-Bach source is gone, and the Bach copy doesn't say it's a copy or an arrangement, how would we know it's not original Bach?)"
VERY true, and this point is easily demonstrated by the inclusion of VOCAL pieces not written by Bach (most of them by Georg Philip Telemann) and were included in the 19th century edition of the Bach edition. Dr. Steven Zohn has done a lot of research into Bach's instrumental "borrowings" from Telemann; and it's fascinating to read, because there are quite a few surprises. How would we know this if it weren't for the fact the other pieces have been discovered or identified by researchers.

Brad also provided a precise example of someone else finishing a Bach piece:

"Bach did assign students the exercise of completing or elaborating compositions. The C major flute sonata BWV 1033 is an example where someone (probably Bach) composed the flute part by itself, and then a student (probably CPE Bach) added all the accompaniment."

There are many accepted other facts about Bach's cantata production and performances, for which not much evidence exists (or none), which is to be expected. One of my favorites is the supposed recycling performance of the five year cantata cycles.

There is A LOT of missing music to be explained for Bach's tenure at St. Thomas, the theory is offered he would have recycled and played the five year cycle over and over. Bach would have needed music for about 1000 regular Sunday performances: yet what has survived is under 200. What was performed? Some suggest the music was performed again every five years. But we really don't know if that's truly the case. Sure, some of the cantatas survive in multiple revisions, but that doesn't really tell us every cantata was recycled? Some of the surviving cantatas wouldn't have been repeated anyways-- not in the form they survive in.

The mystery is compounded further when you take note that surviving parts show very little evidence of use (remember the forensic examination of the materials by John Eliot Gardiner in his efforts to "debunk" the one voice per part theory?).

Doug Cowling mentioned Wolff's suggestion Bach copied music in Dresden with Zelenka. Yet not a **single** shred of evidence supports that assertion. Is it completely out of hand? Absolutely not. There's plenty of evidence for musical trading going on in Saxony; and there is evidence of Bach having performances of Telemann and Stölzel's music in Leipzig, so it's not outlandish at all to make such an assertion Bach would have contacted Zelenka and established some sort of relationship with him, which would have included the studying of scores and performance materials from the Dresden court.

Like Shakespeare, I believe most of the body of works attributed to Bach are in fact by Bach, but there are pieces of evidence already in existence that show the suggestion isn't completely out of hand to suggest that Bach student's may have helped in some of the composing.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (May 15, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] And Richard Rogers, aka Broadway Plays, Oklahoma, South Pacific et al, did not write the most of the music---Bennett did most of the music with only about 4 pieces in these and particularly Victory at Sea.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (May 15, 2008):
Jim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Like Shakespeare, I believe most of the body of works attributed to Bach are in fact by Bach, but there are pieces of evidence already in existence that show the suggestion isn't completely out of hand to suggest that Bach student's may have helped in some of the composing. >
There are many works that are attributed to JS Bach that are not. Example BWV 15 which was written by his grandfather or great grandfather who had the same name. This is a wonderul Cantata which is the only one that calls for Bells. I believe some years ago we discussed this on this list.

Julian Mincham wrote (May 15, 2008):
collaborative composition

One of the best known examples is that of Duke Ellington and Billy Strahorn. They collaborated in arrangemenrs for the band dovetailing so well that it was impossible to tell who wrote what. Even further ,a number of songs penned by Strayhorn were published under Ellington's name, a fact that Strayhorn, rather oddly, did not seem to resent.

Neil Mason wrote (May 15, 2008):
You wrote:
>I am getting nostalgic for the <Saturday Night Scramble> hypothesis. <
Ye Gods, what have I done?!!!

Russell Telfer wrote (May 15, 2008):
BBC Early Music Show - OT BWV 1033 flute sonata

Bradley Lehman wrote:
< - Bach did assign students the exercise of completing or elaborating compositions. The C major flute sonata BWV 1033 is an example where someone (probably Bach) composed the flute part by itself, and then a student (probably CPE Bach) added all the accompaniment.
- Basso continuo practice expects the player to complete the composition appropriately every time the piece is performed. >
I'm very interested in what happens here. Different editions of the sonatas end up with quite different accompaniment, bass and solo part excepted. In the case of BWV 1033, a library swallowed the early Peters edition I had, and now I have a 2004 Peters edition. Both accompaniments are lovely and fairly easy to play. I'm not clear on who has written these realisations.

Another mystery to me, in the case of the Eb sonata BWV 1031, is that the accompaniment alternates between standard and light type, indicating a distinction between the sections for whatever reason.

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 15, 2008):
Ludwig wrote:
< This is a wonderul Cantata which is the only one that calls for Bells. I believe some years ago we discussed this on this list. >
Sigh ...

"Schlage Doch, Gewunschte Stunde" MUST be by Bach because it makes me cry and I want it at my funeral.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 15, 2008):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
>Doug Cowling mentioned Wolff's suggestion Bach copied music in Dresden with Zelenka. Yet not a **single** shred of evidence supports that assertion. Is it completely out of hand? Absolutely not. There's plenty of evidence for musical trading going on in Saxony; and there is evidence of Bach having performances of Telemann and Stölzel's music in Leipzig, so it's not outlandish at all to make such an assertion Bach would have contacted Zelenka and established some sort of relationship with him, which would have included the studying of scores and performance materials from the Dresden court.<
I never suggested that the speculation (or hypothesis) that others participated in the composition of Bachs cantatas was <out of hand>, or <outlandish>. I did suggest:

(1) It is speculation, and should not be mislabeled theory. That is a conflation which has been endemic on this list.

(2) The evidence cited, which I repeated, is totally irrelevent to the specific hypothesis, and some of it does not rise to the level of <evidence>. I was not attempting to be comprehensive, although I repeat the suggestion that perhaps someone should, if you are serious about the idea. So far, I have yet to see any real evidence cited, except for the example of CPE Bach.

(3) It is a stretch to generalize the specific evidence re CPE (and other family) to represent students in general.

I find it misleading to use the logic:
Bach copied from other composers,
Bach had relations with Zelenka,
Therefore Bach could have copied from Zelenka
(all true, but unsupported)

as logical support for the hypothesis that students participated in the cantata composition.

I have the greatest respect for Wolffs work and credentials, but that does not make his speculation any less speculative, a general point I made in another post.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 15, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< (3) It is a stretch to generalize the specific evidence re CPE (and other family) to represent students in general. >
Well sure, I know how this was going to go-- you discount evidence that's pretty compelling and supported Brad's thoughts on "how would we really have evidence of Bach's students participating," and here is a piece (someone else pointed out another example), where exactly this happened.

You also completely discount the evidence of Brad' suggestiong about this happening with Bach's works that were discovered to be either completely other composers' efforts or his use of material by other composers.

All I suggested is that when we get down to it, there's very little documentary evidence for anything about Bach, his cantata performances and composition other than the sources themselves and there's very little other documentary evidence about him: e.g. how many parishioners attended performances of Bach's music in St. Thomas, and as John Eliot Gardiner noted: not a SINGLE reference has survived about any of their impressions of the music.

< I find it misleading to use the logic:
Bach copied from other composers,
Bach had relations with
Zelenka,
Therefore Bach could have copied from
Zelenka
(all true, but unsupported)
as logical support for the hypothesis that students participated in the cantata composition.
I have the greatest respect for
Wolffs work and credentials, but that does not make his speculation any less speculative, a general point I made in another post. >
Well, that's a closed loop argument, just like your citing "there's no evidence." This is almost like having a debate about global warming with right wingers ;)

Adieu and salut....

Alain Bruguieres wrote (May 15, 2008):
[To Neil Mason] I've been away from the list for some time and rejoice that it has been so active (I must have thousands of unread BCML messages in the ad hoc directory). Last time I checked Jean Laarinen was writing the weekly introduction and doing a wonderful job of it, for which I thank her (if admittedly a bit late).

Neil's point is interesting and so are the various replies. One or two things I would add at this stage:
I'm not sure I would agree to qualify the 'Bach great teacher' as romantic. I don't really think what's so romantic about it.This adjective seems a wee bit subjective and uselessly dismissive.

There are factual data that indicate that Bach was very much in demand as a teacher. People came to visit him and lived in his home for a long stretch of time to lean the art of music. This is amply documented.

The hypothesis that students might have played a role in the composition process isn't documented, as far as I know. However, it was common practice for a master to be helped by his apprentices, and the apprentice contributed according to his current level of competence.So if it were averred that Bach's best students weren't allowed to participate in the composition process (which was their job) it would be rather unusual and surprising to me.

While Ed is entirely right to make distinctions between hypothesis and theory, I wonder, of the two following unproved statements,

- Bach's most gifted students sometimes took active part in the compositional process;

- Bach's most gifted students never did so.

which one enjoys the status of hypothesis, and which one, of theory (if any)...

Being a mathematician by trade, I feel confindet that I can at least claim this much:

one, and only one, of those two statements is true.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 15, 2008):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote (in response to my previous post):
>> (3) It is a stretch to generalize the specific evidence re CPE (and other family) to represent students in general.<<
>Well sure, I know how this was going to go-- you discount evidence that's pretty compelling and supported Brad's thoughts on "how would we really have evidence of Bach's students participating," and here is a piece (someone else pointed out another example), where exactly this happened.<

The original speculation was that Bachs students participated in cantata composition, I believe. I do not discount the evidence of CPE working on a flute sonata. I do stand by my point that CPE is not representative of Bachs students in general, and I would now also add that a flute sonata is a long way from a cantata.

If I have overlooked some <compelling> evidence, remind me of what it is. Better yet, follow my original thought that someone should be keeping score, i.e, sorting and organizing the evidence. Right now, it looks like anecdote and opinion about what Bach could possibly have done, not about what he actually did.

>You also completely discount the evidence of Brad' suggestiong about this happening with Bach's works that were discovered to be either completely other composers' efforts or his use of material by other composers.<
Two different issues involved here:
(1) None of <Bachs works> were discovered to be by other composers. Works were incorrectly attributed to Bach, and the attributions subsequently changed, all the work of posthumous editors and scholars.
(2) I acknowledged that Bach incorporated other composers efforts, indeed, complete works, in his ouevre. I continue to point out that this is a completely different proposition from having his students <help> with cantata composition.

>All I suggested is that when we get down to it, there's very little documentary evidence for anything about Bach, his cantata performances and composition other than the sources themselves and there's very little other documentary evidence about him:<
That leaves plenty of room for speculation which cannot be disproved. Nothing wrong with that, but it a long way from a proven (even supported) hypothesis. All I suggest is that the speculation be identified as such, and that relevant evidence be clearly presented, if it exists. As you can see, and as I tried to point out with a bit of humor, there will pleof irrrelevant evidence coming to the fore on an open, unreviewed forum. My post was directed to the thread, not to any specific individual. Indeed, I carefully omitted all names in an attempt to avoid the possibility of anyone taking it personally. Because BCML is such an open forum, I will continue to have a jab, when appropriate, at the relevance and/or reliability of proposed evidence, not necessarily at the person proposing it.

EM:
>> I find it misleading to use the logic:
Bach copied from other composers,
Bach had relations with
Zelenka,
Therefore Bach could have copied from
Zelenka
(all true, but unsupported)
as logical support for the hypothesis that students participated in the cantata composition.
I have the greatest respect for
Wolffs work and credentials, but that does not make his speculation any less speculative, a general point I made in another post.<<
KPC:
>Well, that's a closed loop argument, just like your citing "there's no evidence." This is almost like having a debate about global warming with right wingers ;)<
Well, if I were the type to take offense quickly, I could certainly do so from that remark. I will accept the [wink? does not a wink go ;-) or was that last year?] as evidence of good intentions. Talk about loops, however. Throwing in <global warming> and <right wingers> to discredit my logic is, well, loopy.

Not a closed loop argument at all. A simple example of how logic can be used:
(1) To <prove> a hypothesis, by analogy, when it is in fact unsupported by direct evidence (Bach copied from Zelenka). Incidentally, speculation plus credentials does not equal proof.
(2) To use a proven hypothesis (Bach copied the work of other composers) to <prove> a second hypothesis (Bachs students worked on the compositions), when in fact the two hypotheses are very loosely related, at best.

>Adieu and salut....<
Likewise. BTW, you have hit a strong suit of mine with the global warming analogy. Although <Bach & GW> is way OT, permit me a couple brief points, which are not totally irrelevant to the discussion, because of the logic involved:
(1) Global warming is scientifically demonstrable, a natural climate change, in fact part of an ongoing series of warming and cooling cycles (the <Ice Ages>) with period of about 40,000 years (with apologies to Creationists, et al). This hypothesis will be accepted as proven within my lifetime, although it is still widely resisted, even by some researchers in the field.
(2) Human activities, especially greenhouse gas emissions, are accentuating the present natural warming cycle. The evidence is far less certain, but still compelling to many, for this hypothesis. The ongoing discussion is obscured by the introduction of much incorrect and/or irrelevant <evidence> from both sides. This hypothesis will not be considered proven, and will likely still be widely resisted, even if NYC finds itself below sea level (World ends soon?)

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 15, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
> Well, if I were the type to take offense quickly, I could certainly do so from that remark. I will accept the [wink? does not a wink go ;-) or was that last year?] as evidence of good intentions. Talk about loops, however. Throwing in <global warming> and <right wingers> to discredit my logic is, well, loopy. <
Oh that's not meant to discredit your logic; **all** I was saying is that this discussion reminds me of the global warming debate. You can cite evidence all day to a disbeliever about global warming (or for that matter, to a person that doesn't believe in evolution)-- the evidence or logic is just dismissed in a variety of ways.

You do the same thing with the Trio Sonata where CPE Bach "helped," by claiming a distinction because it's not a vocal work (who cares, it's an example of someone else contributing to a Bach piece); and then making a distinction between Bach's students and his son.

My other points are that there is very little documentary evidence about anything about Bach (i.e. the claim "Bach recycled his 'five cantata' cycles for performances"-- actually there's very little EVIDENCE he did that- we just assume he did this) so your claiming "there's just no evidence" is basically just stating the obvious and framing your case in such a way that no one can really challenge it ;)

Fascinating thread though. Most enjoyable!

Jean Laaninen wrote (May 15, 2008):
Alain Bruguières wrote:
< I've been away from the list for some time and rejoice that it has been so active (I must have thousands of unread BCML messages in the ad hoc directory). Last time I checked Jean Laaninen was writing the weekly introduction and doing a wonderful job of it, for which I thank her (if admittedly a bit late). >
Thanks, Alain. I enjoyed taking a turn. Francis is now in charge and doing a great job of leading us forward. Good to have you back.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 15, 2008):
Alain Bruguieres wrote:
>While Ed is entirely right to make distinctions between hypothesis and theory, I wonder, of the two following unproved statements,
[1] - Bach's most gifted students sometimes took active part in the compositional process;
[2] - Bach's most gifted students never did so.
which one enjoys the status of hypothesis, and which one, of theory (if any)<
Bonjour, mon ami Alain! You are risking some heated responses by suggesting that I am entirely right about anything, but thanks nonetheless.

If we allow that CPE Bach qualifies as a gifted student, then [1] goes as a proven theory (a hypothesis with irrefutable support), which leaves [2] as a disproved hypothesis.

If we disqualify CPE (and other family) as students, as I have suggested, the situation is less clear. How do we define active?
(1) Putting pen to paper on an autograph score. I believe (but am not certain) that this is disproved (or at least unsupported) by work on the surviving scores for NBA.
(2) Putting pen to paper on scores which have subsequently been lost.
(3) Putting pen to paper, which Bach then incorporated in a score.
(4) Putting pen to paper, which Bach then modified and incorporated in a score.
(5) Discussing ideas with Bach.

I think we all (or me, anyway) agree that Bach most likely had discussions with his most gifted students (the flautist Wild comes to mind as a possibility), which influenced his composition process. If this qualifies as active participation in the composition process, then your proposition [2] is highly unlikely, though difficult to disprove definitively. Unless <active participation> demands a work on an autograph score, in which case [2] is supported as theory and [1] disproved as hypothesis by surviving evidence.

Otherwise (my points (2) to (4)), I think both your propositions remain tenable hypotheses, although as you point out, only one of them can ultimately be true. I believe this is the status of the available evidence. I do not think either of them has enough support to rise to the level of a theory, at this stage, at least as I understand and use the word <theory>.

Note that my (2) is a rather special case, student work directly only on scores which have been lost. OTOH, this would be the most spectacular and conclusive evidence, in the unlikely event that even one such score is discovered.

In the spirit of tightening up jargon, no matter how painful the process,

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 15, 2008):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
>My other points are that there is very little documentary evidence about anything about Bach (i.e. the claim "Bach recycled his 'five cantata' cycles for performances"-- actually there's very little EVIDENCE he did that- we just assume he did this) so your claiming "there's just no evidence" is basically just stating the obvious and framing your case in such a way that no one can really challenge it ;)<
No major disagreements, but a bit of clarification odetails, from my perspective.

Although it is tempting to focus on the <missing> documnetary evidence re Bach, there is in fact enough actual material to create a significant academic industry (which includes some BCML members). As to details of <five cantata cycles>, and their cycling, I believe this is an area of ongoing and active research within the Bach industry. I do not think <we> necessarily assume anything about this at all. I certainly do not, either the five complete cycles, or their regular repetition. It is an interesting bit of speculation (or a hypothesis, for those who insist), subject to support (or not) from ongoing research. I am not at all up to date on that research, but I would like to be. Expert contributions specifically invited.

As to <theres just no evidence>, there is in fact a way to challenge that. Find and present the evidence. Otherwise, no evidence is exactly that, which leaves the door open for speculation. Lack of evidence certainly does not disprove anything, but even more certainly, it does not provide support for speculation, only the opportunity.

KPC
>Fascinating thread though. Most enjoyable!<
I quite agree, and perhaps setting a new BCML standard of civility for folks expressing somewhat differing opinions. In fact, I do not think we disagree much, more a matter of refining the language of discussion. Never an easy process, always worth the effort.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (May 15, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] He also recycled the Magnificat. IF you want to hear all of the Cantata and other works rolled up into one work of JS Bach----then go to the Mass in B minor---you will find things you latter find in the Passions, in the Cantatas even in the Brandenburgs. The Bminor Mass is the germ for all of Bach's works.

Tom Dent wrote (May 16, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
<< My other points are that there is very little documentary evidence about anything about Bach (i.e. the claim "Bach recycled his 'five cantata' cycles for performances"-- actually there's very little EVIDENCE he did that- we just assume he did this) so your claiming "there's just no evidence" is basically just stating the obvious and framing your case in such a way that no one can really challenge it ;) >>
Well, what *could* be (non-circumstantial) evidence of incorporating student compositions into Bach's compositional-musical duties? Do we expect to find such evidence at all? Could there be *musical* evidence?

I ask this not only for Bach, but - perhaps more so - for other famously prolific 18th century composers, whom one might a-priori suspect with even more vigour of incorporating other people's compositions into their own. And which they did often with great enthusiasm - but what are the cases where a student's compositional
work was written up and presented to the public as part of the master's? Only the case of the Suessmayr recitatives seems to fit this.

Of course, students were expected to participate in a 'compositional process'. How else would they learn... The question is whether this 'process' then formed any part of the compositions that the master was effectively contracted to produce.

In particular, did it reach what we may think of as the inventive core of composition - the invention and elaboration of melody and counterpoint. Is there any clear case in the 18th century of students doing such work for the master?

I do wonder what the BBC was up to here. Not the first time that they have erased any distinction between speculation and information in presenting things to the public.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 16, 2008):
Tom Dent wrote:
>I do wonder what the BBC was up to here. Not the first time that they have erased any distinction between speculation and information in presenting things to the public.<
Some even more sobering thoughts:

(1) Perhaps they have not erased, simply been unaware of the distinction?

(2) Has anyone confirmed the original report by Brad Lehman, of the comment on BBC? I certainly did not, I simply responded, and then stuff hit the fan. Full disclosure - I believe my software is not adequate to access the original broadcast, so I did not even bother to try.

BPL wrote (May 13, 2008):
>At about 19'30" into the "Bach at Leipzig" show from May 11, the announcer asserts that Bach occasionally had some of his students compose an aria or a recit for the weekly cantata.<
That is the specific, original hypothesis, which has quickly expanded, and flown, rather like a toy balloon on Helium.

Posting it as a spoof would be pretty deep humor, even for Brad, but not out of the question. At this point, I would feel better if someone would confirm the BBC broadcast comment. If we can indentify the announcer, all the better.

Although there is well-intentioned humor involved on the thread, there is also a serious assertion regarding Bachs working methods, which is likely to get archived on BCW. Worth getting it right, or as close as possible, IMO. H intentionally omitted from IMHO, unless it represents <Humorous>. My humility goes without saying, no need for emphasis. I believe that qualifies as humor, irony, paradox (HIP?), perhaps more.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (May 16, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] I think that some of us were simply pointing out that it's not especially unusual for a composer who is pressed for time to accept help from student or friends. The point is not I think that it is imagined that this constitutes any kind of evidence about Bach's compositional methods; all we're really saying as far as I can see is that if evidence ever *were* to emerge that Bach had relied at any point in his career as a composer on the help of others it would not be particularly surprising (or--at least as far as I'm concerned--upsetting).

Mark Sealy wrote (May 16, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
Tom Dent wrote:
< I do wonder what the BBC was up to here. >
If anyone is interested in wider issues of BBC R3 generally 'dumbing down', please take a minute to look at the work of the Friends of Radio 3: http://www.for3.org/index.html

Completely non-partisan - and non-profit.

Thanks!

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 16, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< (2) Has anyone confirmed the original report by Brad Lehman, of the comment on BBC? I certainly did not, I simply responded, and then stuff hit the fan. Full disclosure - I believe my software is not adequate to access the original broadcast, so I did not even bother to try.
BPL wrote (May 13, 2008):
>>At about 19'30" into the "Bach at Leipzig" show from May 11, the announcer asserts that Bach occasionally had some of his students compose an aria or a recit for the weekly cantata.<<
< That is the specific, original hypothesis, which has quickly expanded, and flown, rather like a toy balloon on Helium.
Posting it as a spoof would be pretty deep humor, even for Brad, but not out of the question. At this point, I would feel better if someone would confirm the BBC broadcast comment. If we can indentify the announcer, all the better. <
My quote continued: "Then, the show goes into the opening chorus of cantata BWV 192...without making any explicit connection that Bach's students composed any of this one, or any other documented example. Interesting!"

It's not any spoof by me. It's straightforward serious reportage of what I heard. I went to that show's page: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/earlymusicshow/pip/iregp/
and clicked on "Listen to this episode for up to 7 days after broadcast". The playlist for the show is there on the page. As I mentioned, the announcement happens right before the excerpt from cantata 192. The announcer is Lucie Skeaping, one of the regular hosts of the show.

It's possible that it's later in the show than the timing point of 19'30". That was the timing it gave me onscreen when I'd listened to an earlier part first, had to go do something else, and then continued into this part of the show in a second session. I suspethat 19'30" is indeed wrong (and I apologize for that error), since the whole 4-harpsichord concerto and four other vocal pieces happened before that announcement. My second listening session started somewhere in that concerto. But anyway, jump through the stream 15 minutes at a time with their button for it, let it play out the end of the B minor Mass's Kyrie, and you'll hear it.

Ed, doesn't the free Firefox 2.0.0 browser work for you? That's what I'm using here.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 16, 2008):
Brad Lehman wrote:
>It's not any spoof by me.<
Somehow, thats just a bit of a disappointment, because it would have been a great one!

BPL
>It's straightforward serious reportage of what I heard. I went to that show's page: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/earlymusicshow/pip/iregp/
and clicked on "Listen to this episode for up to 7 days after broadcast". The playlist for the show is there on the page. As I mentioned, the announcement happens right before the excerpt from cantata 192. The announcer is Lucie Skeaping, one of the regular hosts of the show.<
Thanks for taking the trouble to document the details, given the additional BCML discussion. I expect you agree it is worth doing for the record, or you would not have bothered.

>Ed, doesn't the free Firefox 2.0.0 browser work for you? That's what I'm using here.<
I have no legitimate excuse for my outdated technical resources. It is not finacial, not even really lack of technical competence. Some combination of procrastination and familiarity. I am just an Old Dude who prefers his old clothes, and other software. But when they are truly beyond functional use, they have to go. You can be sure I will impose on my friends, including you, for advice when the time comes, most likely sooner rather than later.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 16, 2008):
Despite my ancient software, I find that I can not only access BBC R3, but send an eMail simutaneously, with minimal interference. I am confident that in about 19 minutes +/-, I will have enjoyed a bit of Bach (and now, I realize, also Kuhnau), and I will also have a personal confirmation of Brads report.

Thanks for the nudge, and for repeating the link, Brad.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 17, 2008):
Just to close the loop on the origin of this thread, I can confirm the comment cited:
<Bach occasionally had some of his students write an aria or recit for the weekly cantatas.>
which occurs about 35 to 40 minutes into the show, after the Kyrie segment of Bachs Bm Mass (as noted by Brad in his most recent citation).

Another interesting detail, from earlier in the show, immediately after the first piece played, the Kuhnau motet, Tristis est anima mea:
<Bach sometimes used Kuhnau's cantatas as models for his own.>

Thanks again to Brad for first noticing and reporting the detail.

If the BBC statements are to be accepted as they are stated, it seems reasonable (in fact, necessary) that we could provide at least one example of each:

(1) A cantata of Bach, with its corresponding model by Kuhnau

(2) An aria or recit composed by a Bach student. A candidate student (perhaps the most likely, if there is one) is Johann Anton Kuhnau, nephew of the composer, student of Bach, and already identified as a copyist for the weekly Bach cantata parts, 1723-28 (all from BCW archives, citing other sources, esp. NBA).

I will wait to see if any examples can be provided, before commenting further. After a quick look for possibilities in the BCW archives, the only item of interest I note is the coupling, on CD by Suzuki, of the Bach Magnificat (BWV 243) with others by Kuhnau and Zelenka. One correspondent suggested this provides the opportunity to hear Bachs work in company with its models. I do not have the CD, can anyone indicate whether or not such a comment is included with the recording?

If specific examples cannot be cited, the BBC statements are not necessarily incorrect (or disproved) thereby, as we have discussed at some length. However, they are badly in need of qualification.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 17, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
> I will wait to see if any examples can be provided, before commenting further. After a quick look for possibilities in the BCW archives, the only item of interest I note is the coupling, on CD by Suzuki, of the Bach Magnificat (BWV 243) with others by Kuhnau and Zelenka. One correspondent suggested this provides the opportunity to hear Bachs work in company with its models. I do not have the CD, can anyone indicate whether or not such a comment is included with the recording? <
I will provide Aryeh with tracks of this CD so as to allow others to listen to the music and make their own conclusions. I'd like to help on this regard, because I think it's vitally important that we know the context Bach worked in; I do feel some thing he was completely on his own with no influences or models that had an impact on his music.

I will say that one of Graupner's audition pieces was a Magnificat and is DEFINITELY based on Kuhnau's earlier work, since Graupner was Kuhnau's student and a fan of his music, it makes complete sense that he would pay homage to that. I can see Bach doing this as well-- it seems rather a big coincidence that Bach writes a Magnificat within the first year of arrival on the scene in Leipzig. Maybe he was trying to make a good impression as well, and be true to his art.

I'm going to edit the Graupner Magnifcat and maybe I can provide mp3s/wavs from my music editing software as well. Unfortunately none of the Leipzig audition pieces by Telemann or Graupner are recorded.

> If specific examples cannot be cited, the BBC statements are not necessarily incorrect (or disproved) thereby, as we have discussed at some length. However, they are badly in need of qualification. <
I suppose since it's only a radio show, and not a scholarly magazine article or report for the annual "Bach Year Book", they have constraints of time to worry about. Maybe they were just attempting to spur discussion (and they certainly were a success in this forum ;)

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 17, 2008):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I'm going to edit the Graupner Magnifcat and maybe I can provide mp3s/wavs from my music editing software as well. Unfortunately none of the Leipzig audition pieces by Telemann or Graupner are recorded. >
Please keep us posted about the Graupner. We know so little about the settings of the Magnificat which Bach used every Sunday. His own Maginifcat is perhaps his most perfect (sic!) work and a microcosm of his entire vocal oeuvre in 25 minutes.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 17, 2008):
Apologies for my previous error in subject line, hereby corrected.

Kim Parrick Clow wrote, in reponse to my post:
>I will provide Aryeh with tracks of this CD [Bach, Kuhnau, Zelenka, by Suzuki] so as to allow others to listen to the music and make their own conclusions. I'd like to help on this regard, because I think it's vitally important that we know the context Bach worked in; I do feel some think he was completely on his own with no influor models that had an impact on his music.<
I quite agree. I trust it has been clear that I am not among the isolationists, if they exist. I also trust that Kim was not necessarily including me in that category, I am just being certain.

EM
>> If specific examples cannot be cited, the BBC statements are not necessarily incorrect (or disproved) thereby, as we have discussed at some length. However, they are badly in need of qualification.<<
KPC
>I suppose since it's only a radio show, and not a scholarly magazine article or report for the annual "Bach Year Book", they have constraints of time to worry about. Maybe they were just attempting to spur discussion (and they certainly were a success in this forum ;)<
There is a world of territory between the BBC statements, and Bach working in isolation (without influences, models, or student participation). I continue to suggest that we explore that territory carefully, with evidence and speculation clearly distinguished. There is plenty of whimsy in the BCW archives; it only serves to dilute and discredit genuine evidence.

The BBC sets the world standard for accurate reporting. On air time constraints are an incentive for careful editing, not for letting the accuracy of reporting slide. I infer from a few other posts that I am not alone in that thought, thanks for the participation.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (May 17, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] I was struck by your observation that Bach used a setting of the Magnificat every Sunday. Any thoughts on why he didn't set this text more often?

Neil Mason wrote (May 17, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< If specific examples cannot be cited, the BBC statements are not >necessarily incorrect (or disproved) thereby, as we have discussed at some >length. However, they are badly in need of qualification. >
Having "confidently recommended" the programme, I was disappointed that such an unsubstantiated statement could be made as if it were gospel.

That we can conceive how it might possibly be true is not the point. If there is no evidence one way or the other, it should not have been stated as a fact.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 17, 2008):
Neil Mason wrote:
>Having "confidently recommended" the programme, I was disappointed that such an unsubstantiated statement could be made as if it were gospel.
That we can conceive how it might possibly be true is not the point. If there is no evidence one way or the other, it should not have been stated as a fact.<

Patience, perhaps substantiation will yet turn up. In any event, thanks for the recommendation. The show was very enjoyable, and as Kim pointed out, it stimulated a lot of discussion on a worthwhile topic: Bachs friends, peers, and influences.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (May 18, 2008):
BBC Early Music Show BWV 53 ascribed

Ludwig wrote:
<< This is a wonderul Cantata which is the only one that calls for Bells. I believe some years ago we discussed this on this list. >>
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Sigh ...
"Schlage Doch, Gewunschte Stunde" MUST be by Bach because it makes me cry and I want it at my funeral. >

It is of course always discussed; it is not that it was once discussed on this list. Nor is it deemed presently to be by a Bach ancestor as ludwig stated nor is it BWV 15. It is BWV 53 and, since it is not by Bach but most likely by Melchior Hoffmann, it only proves that others could write glorious music. But we all knew that.

I have to repeat that, were it not for a mad NYC DJ playing it 3 or 4 times successively many decades ago (with Rössl-Majdan), I might have never become aware of this work.

Alain Bruguieres wrote (May 18, 2008):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Good gracious!

So Schlage doch is not by Bach?
And I was going to have it played at my funeral to...

No matter. I'll postpone my demise to a later time, until I find some suitable Bach piece. I absolutely insist on it having bells, of course. It would be well if one or two arias were proved to have been written by a student of Bach's, while I'm at it. I'm ready to wait for a century or two if need be.

Yours (for ever?)

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 19, 2008):
Alain wrote:
>I'm ready to wait for a century or two if need be.
Yours (for ever?)<
Be careful what you wish for. But you can count on me to be sitting on the stoop, waiting to share that beer, listening to Bach (or perhaps Messiaen). We can send a quick review to BCML, from the laptop, if my Apple iBook is still crunching along.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 19, 2008):
BBC Early Music Show [was: BWV 117]

Neil wrote:
>On the subject of student involvement in the composition of the cantatas, I wonder if the realisation of the keybourd part may be considered as a type of delegation of duties; in any case this cantata has two movements in which the concluding sections of 'arioso' sound ridiculously bare with just the written bass line as accompaniment.<
Sorry, but I insist on not letting the edges get fuzzy. There is the immediate issue of the BBC statement:
(paraphrase)
<Bach sometimes had students compose arias and recits for his sunday cantatas>

There is an ongoing, related, discussion of how Bachs students related to his compositions. As best I can tell, there is no actual evidence, which leaves you all free to speculate to your hearts content. However, <delegation of duties> is a stretch from <absence of evidence>, to my thinking.

Big bro may be reading. Richter, dudes.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 19, 2008):
Neil wrote:
> On the subject of student involvement in the composition of the cantatas, I wonder if the realisation of the keybourd part may be considered as a type of delegation of duties; in any case this cantata has two movements in which the concluding sections of 'arioso' sound ridiculously bare with just the written bass line as accompaniment.<
Yes, I have to agree, and even the style of the voice part seems inconsistent with other pieces there's no doubt that Bach composed.

Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Sorry, but I insist on not letting the edges get fuzzy. There is the immediate issue of the BBC statement:
There is an ongoing, related, discussion of how Bachs students related to his compositions. As best I can tell, there is no actual evidence, which leaves you all free to speculate to your hearts content. >
As they say, the proof is in the pudding, or should I say the proof is in the hearing; and I trust my ears on this one. Although I don't like fuzzy pudding, or anything fuzzy that's consumed. Nor do I like fuzzy music, but I digress.

I've asked around about this matter though and I hope to hear something shortly. I will return with the feedback once I get that. However, I must return now to my pudding er Bach er Graupner. ;)

John Pike wrote (May 19, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Be careful what you wish for. But you can count on me to be sitting on the stoop, waiting to share that beer, listening to Bach (or perhaps Messiaen). We can send a quick review to BCML, from the laptop, if my Apple iBook is still crunching along. >
A priest friend (and former director of music at my church) once commnented to me: "John, when we get to heaven, I'm sure JS Bach will be director of music there". In a century or two's time, I hope to be sipping Loewenbrau with the great man himself and asking him a few questions, such as:

How many cantatas and passions did you write altogether and do you know what happened to the rest of them? Did you allow students to compose music for cantatas and, if so, how much of it found its way into the final product without amendment? I suspect the answer will be "no", or "yes" to part one and "very little" to part two.

As regards recent comments about some people (myself included) not contributing to the weekly cantata discussions, I must confess I am just so busy these days that i do not get round to listening properly to any recording. There was a time when I listened to all the recordings I had of a particular cantata, but this was, of necessity, as background music. i was never able to come up with anything much more profouthan "I enjoyed all the recordings". This must have been extremely boring for others on the list...it certainly was for me, so please excuse me. I much prefer reading what all you other wonderful people write...it really is extremely fine and erudite stuff...I'm dead impressed!!

John Pike wrote (May 19, 2008):
[To Alain Bruguières] I may go for "Komm du suesse Todesstunde"

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 19, 2008):
BBC Early Music Show [was: BWV 117] Joshua Rikin shares his views....

Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I've asked around about this matter though and I hope to hear something shortly. I will return with the feedback once I get that. However, I must return now to my pudding er Bach er Graupner. ;) >
I asked Joshua Rikfin about the issue that's had all us abuzz recently: his reply:

[quote]

As to Bach and his students ... well, this particular instance, in any event, is just BBC fatuousness (can you find out who it was who said it?). It happens that BWV 117 survives in an autograph score that is, so far as I recollect, clearly a composing manuscript throughout. Nor does one have to rely on me or my memory: the situation would be very well described in the relevant Kritischer Bericht of the Neue Bach-Ausgabe.

There is not a shred of evidence in any surviving Bach manuscript to indicate the intervention of a second (compositional) hand. Strictly speaking, of course, a cantata for which no autograph survives, or for which the autograph is entirely fair copy (indicating dependence on an earlier model) is possible -- but again, there is no reason to assume it, and many reasons (too complicated to go into here) not to.

I hate to sound curmudgeonly about this, but people shouldn't spout off their mouths in public forum on things about which (a) a lot is in fact known, or can be known, and (b) they know absolutely nothing.

[end quote]

I hope this helps some with the discussion.

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 19, 2008):
< So Schlage doch is not by Bach?
And I was going to have it played at my funeral too... >
John Pike wrote
< I may go for "Komm du suesse Todesstunde" >
For a Bach piece I'd pick the opening movement, instrumental only, of cantata BWV 106. But, since it would be unlikely that two viola da gamba players and two good recorder players would all be available, I might have to settle for a decent pianist playing the Brahms intermezzo 117/1.

I suppose maybe I should sometime write an arrangement of that BWV 106 movement boiling it down to keyboard, plus as few other instruments as possible. It could work to do it with, say, organ or piano playing all the string parts, and then give the two recorder parts to clarinet and violin. I enjoy how those two melodic parts are in unison about half the time, and gently bumping into one another the other half the time. Of course, Bach's original orchestration for the two recorders gives that ghostly sound reminiscent of a "sommeil" in a French opera.

Or they could just run a good recording of the Jean Gilles Requiem, perhaps Herreweghe's.

Idea: burn a CD or two of all the best stuff in a usable sequence, and put it into the safe-deposit box with details and instructions. Who better to pick out funeral music than oneself, knowing what family and friends would like and find suitable as remembrance, but maybe not able to find (or find performers for) in a hurry?

I'm still thrilled by the Leinsdorf/Boston performance of the Mozart Requiem from JF Kennedy's funeral, done with all the liturgical interpolations. When the "Dies irae" comes bounding in there, after 10 minutes of quietly chanted stuff...wow.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 19, 2008):
Neil wrote:
>>On the subject of student involvement in the composition of the cantatas, I wonder if the realisation of the keybourd part may be considered as a type of delegation of duties; in any case this cantata has two movements in which the concluding sections of 'arioso' sound ridiculously bare with just the written bass line as accompaniment.<<
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
>Yes, I have to agree, and even the style of the voice part seems inconsistent with other pieces there's no doubt that Bach composed.<
There is no way, and no need, to argue with a statement of the form:
<Such and such does not sound like Bach to me.>

However, and regardless of credentials, or who and how many might agree with the statement, it provides absolutley no substantiation for the BBC proposition:
<Bach occasionally had some of his students compose an aria or recit for the weekly cantatas.>

KPC
>As they say, the proof is in the pudding, or should I say the proof is in the hearing; and I trust my ears on this one.<
EM
Trust your ears to exactly what conclusion? Music not written by Bach? Music written by a Bach student? Other?

KPC, in a subsequent post:
< I asked Joshua Rikfin about the issue that's had all us abuzz recently: his reply:
[quote]
As to Bach and his students ... well, this particular instance, in anyevent, is just BBC fatuousness (can you find out who it was who said it?). >

BPL previously wrote, in response to my request:
>The announcer is Lucie Skeaping, one of the regular hosts of the show.<

[Rifkin quote again]
< There is not a shred of evidence in any surviving Bach manuscript to indicate the intervention of a second (compositional) hand. Strictly speaking, of course, a cantata for which no autograph survives, or for which the autograph is entirely fair copy (indicating dependence on an earlier model) is possible -- but again, there is no reason to assume it, and many reasons (too complicated to go into here) not to. >

EM
In plain language, there is not a shred of evidence in support of the BBC assertion.

[Rifkin again]
< I hate to sound curmudgeonly about this, but people shouldn't spout off their mouths in public forum on things about which (a) a lot is in fact known, or can be known, and (b) they know absolutely nothing.[end quote] >

EM
Is this loosely worded gibe directed to:
(1) the BBC announcer
(2) all BCML participants
(3) some BCML participants
(4) a specific BCML participant
(5) everyone but the speaker, Rifkin

In my own case, I have tried to be careful not to make assertions, simply to request evidence. Thanks for providing the opinion of one qualified expert that there is not a shred of such evidence.

Readers interested in looking further afield for influences on Bach may enjoy the following program, available on WHRB-FM (95.3), Cambridge MA, or: www.whrb.org

Masterpieces of the French Baroque (1600-1750), forty hours of music spread over four days, just begun at noon (EDT) today, 5/19/08

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (May 19, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
> There is no way, and no need, to argue with a statement of the form:
<Such and such does not sound like Bach to me.> <

Good.

KPC
>As they say, the proof is in the pudding, or should I say the proof is in the hearing; and I trust my ears on this one.<
EM
> Trust your ears to exactly what conclusion? Music not written by Bach? Music written by a Bach student? Other? <
The music seems sparse and thin, and I could see someone **suggesting** that it may have been the work of a student.

< BPL previously wrote, in response to my request:
The announcer is Lucie Skeaping, one of the regular hosts of the show.<
Thanks, but it doesn't affect anything Rifkin said in his reply, but I will pass it along to him.

EM
< Is this loosely worded gibe directed to:
(1) the BBC announcer
(2) all BCML participants
(3) some BCML participants
(4) a specific BCML participant
(5) everyone but the speaker, Rifkin >
Um, I'd pick no. 1.

> In my own case, I have tried to be careful not to make assertions, simply to request evidence. Thanks for providing the opinion of one qualified expert that there is not a shred of such evidence. <

No promblemo.

Happy Listening :-)

 

OT: Leipzig Thomasschule ... summer vacation?

Bruce Simonson wrote (April 21, 2011):
Pondering the life of the students at the Thomasschule in Leipzig, I find myself wondering if there is any information out there about how their academic "school year" was laid out.

For example, did they have summers off (or something like July and August)?

Or was it a year-long thing, without any breaks from continuous study?

No breaks?!

No summers off?!!

Keinen Weinachtszeiten (usw) frei??!!!

Anyone know?

William Hoffman wrote (April 21, 2011):
[To Bruce Simonson] As has been mentioned several times, the Thomas School academic year began on the First Sunday After Trinity, when Bach was officially installed as Thomas cantor in 1723. After two years, Bach got his first vacation and left his perfect in charge.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 21, 2011):
[To William Hoffman] Thanks for the reminder. I do not recall noticing this detail before. It does indeed explain a lot, relevant to recent discussion of the church calendar, and to the timing of Bach’s Leipzig debut (BWV 75, for those who enjoy our weekly listening and discussion format).

 

Bach's Pupils

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 3, 2014):
J.S. Bach is most probably the most influential composer in the Western world music and beyond. His influence upon composers and composition began with the musicians who surrounded him. He selected and instructed musicians for orchestras and choirs in Weimar and Leipzig. His work as Thomaskantor included teaching instrumental and vocal lessons to the church musicians and later to the musicians of the court orchestra. J.S. Bach was also a teacher of his own children, four of whom would become important composers (Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel, Johann Christoph Friedrich and Johann Christian), and of his second wife, Anna Magdalena.

J.S. Bach was an influential teacher and certainly a very good one, since under his wings excellent composers in their own right have emerged. Of the Mühlhausen, Weimar and Köthen periods should be mentioned Johann Martin Schubart, Bach's successor in Weimar, was also one of his first pupils, as was Johann Kaspar Vogler. Also Johann Tobias Krebs, Johann Gottfried Ziegler, Johann Schneider, and Bernhard Bach, the son of J.S. Bach's eldest brother. It may be partly accidental that we do not know of a greater number of Bach's pupils from these periods. An interesting case is Bernhard Christian Kayser who followed his teacher from Köthen to Leipzig.

Still, it is certain that it was not until he was in Leipzig that J.S. Bach was busiest as a teacher. He trained there not only pupils at the Thomaschule (Thomaners), but also young men who have come to Leipzig to study with him (private instruction, gaining experience mainly in playing various instruments, but a few also have good adult voices). Among his Leipzig pupils must be mentioned Heinrich Nicolaus Gerber, Johann Ludwig Krebs, son of the above-mentioned musician, Johann Friedrich Agricola, Gottfried August Homilius, Johann Philipp Kirnberger, Christoph Transchel, Johann Theophilus Goldberg, Johann Christoph Altnikol and Johann Christian Kittel. One of his pupils, Johann Friedrich Doles, became later Thomaskantor himself and a leading composer of Protestant church music.

With great assistance from Thomas Braatz I have compiled a list of all known pupils of J.S. Bach from all periods of his activity as a teacher, including Mühlhausen, Weimar and Köthen, and of course, Leipzig. The list contains the names of pupils and students with whom J.S. Bach had musical contact during his Leipzig tenure with special emphasis upon the Thomaner and University of Leipzig students, but with the inclusion as well of some private music students who do not fall into either category.

The list of Bach's pupils presented is presented on the BCW at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Pupil-List.htm

The list is divided into two parts: musicians (85) and non-musicians (61).
For all Bach's pupils who became professional musicians I have created bio pages, linked from their names in the list.

Although 146 seems quite impressive, I believe that the actual number of pupils at the Thomasschule during J.S. Bach's 27-year tenure years as Thomaskantor (1723-1750) is even bigger. And indeed, I have just discovered that in 2012 and 2013, staff at the Leipzig Bach Archive, headed by Dr. Peter Wollny, carried out systematic research into the lives and careers of the 325 Thomaner who had attended the boarding part of the choir school during Bach’s period. One in every four Bach Thomaner worked in later life as a church musician or schoolteacher. Thanks to this detailed research work in East German archives, numerous documents have been found which throw light on the life and teaching principles of the choir school. I hope to get the info from them and complete the list.

Arthur Robinson wrote (July 6, 2014):
[To Aryeh Oron] Also Rudolf Straube(?). Studied at Leipzig Uni. Later in London (publ. there too).

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 6, 2014):
[To Arthur Robinson] Rudolf Straube is already listed at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Pupil-List.htm
He has a bio page on the BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Straube-Rudolf.htm

 

Bach's Pupils: List of Bach's Pupils | Actual and Potential Non-Thomaner Singers and Players who participated in Bach’s Figural Music in Leipzig
Discussions: Bach’s Pupils:
Part 1 | Part 2

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Last update: ýNovember 8, 2014 ý22:40:59