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Cantata BWV 58
Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid [II]

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 26, 2003):
BWV 58 - Provenance:

Autograph Score:

The autograph score, as with all other cantatas from the yearly cycle of the chorale cantatas went to W. F. Bach at the time of his father’s death. Somehow, he also inherited 3 of the original parts: a 1st and 2nd violin part and also a continuo part. The main set of parts went as usual to Anna Magdalena Bach who then presented them to the St. Thomas School (They are now in the Leipzig Bach Archiv.) The autograph score and the 3 original parts, although they possibly took different paths to get there, are all now located in the BB.

It is no longer possible to trace what happened to the score after W. F. Bach’s death. In the 1830s Franz Hauser acquired the document, probably the same way that he acquired many other important Bach documents, through Cantor J. G. Schuster, the nephew of C. F. Penzel. Franz Hauser’s son, Josef, presented it along with other items in his collection of original Bach documents to the BB in 1904.

Bach’s own title on the cover:

Dominica post Fest: Circumcisionis | Dialogus | Ach Gott wie manches Hertzeleyd. | Nur Gedult, Gedult mein Hertze | á | Soprano e | Baßo | 2 Violini | Viola | e | Continuo | di | Joh. Seb: Bach

On top of the 1st page of the score Bach wrote:

JJ. Doica post Festum Circumcisionis Xsti.

At the end of mvt. 1 : DC
after which Bach wrote: NB Diese Aria muß im Baß gesetzet werden.
right after the final lines of mvt. 1: Recit.
at the end of mvt. 2 announcing the next mvt.: Aria.
Above the 4th mvt.: Recit.
Above the 5th mvt.: Aira
At the very end of the last mvt.: Fine | SDG

The original parts are as follows:

1. Soprano autograph

2. Baßo Copyist 1 with some corrections and additions by Bach

3. Hautbois 1. autograph

4. Hautbois 2 autograph

5. Taille autograph

6. Violino 1 Copyist 2: mvts. 1 & 5; the rest is autograph

Violino 1 (separated part – a doublet) Copyist 5; a few revisions are autograph

7. Violino 2 Copyist 1 (some corrections by Bach)

Violino 2 (separated part – a doublet) autograph all of mvt. 5, otherwise Copyist 6)

8. Viola Copyist 1

9. Continuo (original key) Copyist 1: mvt. 4 ms. 7 to end; all of 5; Copyist 3: mvt. 1 & 2 and 1st ms. of 3; the rest is autograph

10. Continuo (transposed and figured) Copyist 4 (mvts. 1 and 2 + 1st ms. of 3, rest is autograph
Continuo (separated part – not a doublet! contains two separate versions of mvt. 3) Copyist 1 with corrections by Bach. Nr. 9 & 10 – Continuo parts were copied from this part. This was the original, main continuo part.

Mvt. 4 Recitative:

In all of the continuo parts, the word ‘arioso’ appears above ms. 5 to indicate clearly the shift from secco to arioso. Both the original score and the original continuo part (not numbered above) have 3 ms. of whole notes, but Parts 9 & 10 above have the whole notes changes to quarter notes with rests to fill in the rest of each ms. (Part 6: Violino 1; Part 1: Soprano.) Only the original continuo part still contains the bc for the original aria. All we can gather about this aria is the it was in essence a trio consisting of 1st violin, soprano, and bc.

The 2nd, revised version of this work involved new sheets of paper for the soprano (nr. 1) and violino nr. 6 parts which replaced the original soprano aria parts. This now lost aria was 63 ms. long, in D minor and with a 12/8 time signature.

The Schering/Mendel/Dreyfus theory on the shortened accompaniment in secco recitatives:

In Laurence Dreyfus’ book, “Bach’s Continuo Group,” in his chapter on “The Accompaniment of Recitatives” (p. 95), there is a reference to the soprano recitative (mvt. 4 of BWV 58): “…when secco passages were very brief [only 4 ms. in this instance from BWV 58] and led directly into an arioso, players may have failed to note that they should invoke the convention [the esoteric convention regarding the shortening of the long bass notes that usually appear as whole- or half-notes in Bach’s scores.] …Bach assisted his players by notating secco passages adjoining accompagnato or arioso sections in the short fashion.”

(p. 242) : “Cantatas BWV 58, BWV 30, and BWV 197 also contain 1 mvt. that begins in secco style and moves after a few measures to arioso. Bach again seems to have notated these secco passages in short notation in order to ensure that the players would not be confused. In Cantata 58, Bach placed the quarter notes into the 2 continuo parts he copied while the continuo part written by the copyist retained the long notation. Why the conflict between the parts? While the copyist merely copied directly from the score, Bach took the opportunity to clarify a mildly ambiguous situation.”

Comments on the statements above:

“players may have failed to note that they should invoke the convention”

[The designation ‘arioso’ appears above ms. 5 in all 3 continuo pts. Also the bc line now suddenly consists almost exclusively of moving 8th-notes.]

Dreyfus also states: “Bach took the opportunity to clarify a mildly ambiguous situation.”

[There is absolutely nothing even slightly ambiguous about Bach’s directions.]

“Bach assisted his players by notating secco passages adjoining accompagnato or arioso sections in the short fashion.”

[The NBA I/4 KB p. 143 indicates that the primary bc part (the separated bc part, not parts 9 & 10 listed above) was copied with long-note notation retained by Copyist 1. Bach then, in the case of the other continuo pts. (9 & 10) personally changed the long notes to simply quarter notes at the beginning of each ms. with rests filling out the space between them. Why would he do this?

There is a different reason for Bach’s changes than the one that Dreyfus surmises. It is the only reliable reference in this regard: the Heinichen rule which indicates specifically for church recitatives at the time when Bach was composing most of his cantatas, passions, and oratorios how the long notes in the bc are played as written unless there are extenuating circumstances. One such case occurs here in BWV 58: Bach composed a new aria for the soprano, replacing the original one. One very likely reason for this was that the original aria was too difficult and had to be ‘scaled back’ for new boy soprano. It is also very likely that such a voice was not as strong and as facile as the original singer that Bach once had. Such a voice would very likely have difficulty singing against all three continuo parts with these notes being held by various instruments. In two of the 3 continuo parts, Bach personally undertook the task to shorten the bass notes so that they would not overwhelm this fragile voice.

In the same cantata, the secco recitative for bass (mvt. 2), no such changes were undertaken by Bach because a strong bass voice was involved. It is known that Bach had a few excellent basses at his disposal (they were not current students from the St. Thomas School) so there was no need for reducing the note values. The Heinichen rule once again is being followed: the performance of this mvt. did not have any extenuating circumstances since the balance between the voice and the continuo group was quite acceptable. This is not always the case with a young boy soprano, particularly one that will need to sing a solo part in almost every mvt. of a cantata.]

Date of Composition and Performances:

Original parts 2, 7-10 and the 2 doublets (1st & 2nd violins) + the original continuo part (unnumbered) have watermarks point toward a 1st performance to be most probable on January 5, 1727. It is no longer possible to reconstruct completely the 1st version, because Bach replaced some of the pages of the score as well as some of the original parts. Involved in this transformation are the soprano, the 3 oboe (Taille included) pts., and the 1st violin pt. The watermarks allow only the years 1733 or 1734 to come into question for the 1st performaof the 2nd revised version of this cantata.

David Humphreys in his article on BWV 58 in the Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach (Boyd, Oxford) summarizes this situation approximately as follows:

After its 1st performance on January 5, 1727, Bach undertook a revision for a later performance in 1733 or 1734 by scrapping the original central aria (mvt. 3- soprano aria) and substituting a new one; only a single continuo part for the original aria of 1727 has survived. In the later revision Bach also added 2 oboes and an oboe da caccia (labeled ‘taille’) to the 1st and last mvts., where they mainly double the upper strings. The autograph score and original parts survive.

The reality of the situation is that only sheets 1 & 3 out of 6 sheets of the autograph score existing today are from the original performance in 1727. This is determined by, among other things, the watermarks of the paper used.

The Text:

No separate printed text exists, nor is the name of the librettist known. Both recitatives make a connection with the Gospel for the Sunday after New Year: Matthew 2:13-23 After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up and flee to Egypt with the child and his mother," the angel said. "Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to try to kill the child." That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod's death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: "I called my Son out of Egypt." Herod was furious when he learned that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, because the wise men had told him the star first appeared to them about two years earlier. Herod's brutal action fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah: "A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah-- weeping and mourning unrestrained. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted-- for they are dead." When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and told him, "Get up and take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead." So Joseph returned immediately to Israel with Jesus and his mother. But when he learned that the new ruler was Herod's son Archelaus, he was afraid. Then, in another dream, he was warned to go to Galilee. So they went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what was spoken by the prophets concerning the Messiah: "He will be called a Nazarene." This is about the flight of Jesus’ family to Egypt and the return to Nazareth.

The final line of the 1st recitative is a quotation from. Hebrews 13:5 >>Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never forsake you."<<

The texts of the arias show a connection to the words of the Epistle for this Sunday: 1 Peter 4:12 -19 >>Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad-- because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory when it is displayed to all the world. Be happy if you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God will come upon you. If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people's affairs. But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his wonderful name! For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin first among God's own children. And if even we Christians must be judged, what terrible fate awaits those who have never believed God's Good News? And "If the righteous are barely saved, what chance will the godless and sinners have?" So if you are suffering according to God's will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for he will never fail you.<<

The 1st and last mvts. use chorale vs. from different hymn texts, but both using the same chorale melody. The vs. “Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid” , a text and melody that Bach also used in BWV 3 and BWV 44, is the beginning of popular chorale by Martin Moller (1587.) The other vs., “Ich hab für mir ein schwere Reis” by Martin Behm (1610) is the 2nd vs. of „O Jesu Christ, meins LebensLicht.“


Cantata BWV 58: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

References: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Other Vocal BWV 225-249 | Chorales BWV 250-300 | Chorales BWV 301-350 | Chorales BWV 351-400 | Chorales BWV 401-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-524 | Vocal Works BWV Anh
BGA | NBA | BC: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | Sources
Discussions of BWV Numbering System: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3


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