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Anti-semitism in Bach’s Vocal Works

Part 1

Anti-semitism in Bach

Johan van Veen wrote (February 5, 2002):
You are absolutely right in pointing out the difference between anti-semitism and anti-judaism. But I still fail to understand, why this is always discussed in relation to the St John Passion. Firstly, I don't think Bach has written any part of the text of the SJP himself, therefore he can't be taken responsible for any of it.

Secondly, which parts of the "free" text - other than the text of the gospel - could be considered "anti-semitic"? I can't see any. And as far as I can see there is no reason to state that Bach was as anti-semitic as most of his contemporaries. There is no evidence of that, and I don't think that kind of generalising statements are justified. And this matter is too serious to make generalising statements like that.

Dick Wursten wrote (February 5, 2002):
[To Johan van Veen] I think the discussion of anti-semitism by Bach is focussed on SJP, because in the gospel of John 'Die Juden' (the Jews) are portrayed as a prominent and very active anti-Jesusgroup, more than in the other gospel-passion-narratives. In the theological discussion about anti-judaism in the NT it also always St.John who is attacked most vehemently. And indeed: he writes the most agressive anti-judaistic sentences of the NT... I could write a lot more about this, but this (BCML) is not the right place to discuss this subject in depth and detail, I think.

For Bach... I understand your reaction to my generalization, but I maintain it. It is the invisibility and almost un/subconsciousness of the anti-judaism (which was in those days the undisputed basis of a general anti-semitism) of the church in Bachs days (RC, Lutheran and calvinistic) that makes it so shameful...

What I mean is what generally is called the substitution-theology: The CHURCH is the new ISRAEL. The daugthers of SION are the CHRISTIAN believers, the PEOPLE of God are the CHRISTIANS. IN short: the old covenant with the conrete and real people of Israel/the jews has been totally replaced by the the new covenant of God with the church and the christians... THEY ARE THE TRUE ISRAEL, and Israel is now quantite negligeable. Even worse: The old covenant has been broken.. and that is the fault of the Jews themselves. Didnot they crucify their Messiah ?? etc.. etc..etc..

The books of Moses, the psalms of David, the prophecies... they were not considered as jewish books, songs and prophecies concerning them... but they were applicated immediatley to the christian life and world. This substitution-theology was the kernel of christian theology, piety and liturgy of Bach’s days.

Just read the cantatatexts and passion texts (f.i. the structure of St.Matthews Passion with the prominent role of the daughters of Sion, a symbol in which any link with real Sion, and real Jews is comletely wiped out): plenty of illustrations of this substitutiontheology can be found. And in this sense Bach was as anti-judaistic as his contemporaries and. The result of many centuries of anti-judaistic theology, preaching, believing, singing, praying etc.. was a general atmosphere in which anti-semitism could flourish easily. As a latent anti-semitism is was present in almost every christian in Europe, and.. I suppose also in Bach.

Whether one should hold a indiviual person responsable for these general views, is another discussion.

By the way: in BWV 18 the Turk and Pope appear in a similar stereotyped way...

Rev. Robert A. Lawson wrote (February 5, 2002):
[To Dick Wursten] All of what you say is true, of course, but it is necessary also to point out that the anti-judahism of the New Testament is a matter of theology not race. This was true in Luther as well. Luther spoke as harshly about those who tried to defend Roman Catholicism (and even more so of the so-call sacramentarians) as he ever did about the Jews. Look at what he said about King Henery VIII. The fact is, Luther would have condemed his mother if she were "teaching another gospel which is not the gospel" (Gal. 1) The anti-semitism of modern times has nothing to do with religion. Most Jews themselves, in fact, care nothing about religion--at least not in the sense of the temple worship of the Old Testament. Therefore you are quite right to point out that the anti-judahism of the New Testament and of Bach's theology, and modern anti-semitism simply cannot be equated (though I have no doubt that there was plenty of anit-semitism too by his time). It also is necessary, it seems to me, if one is to be true to the passion texts (all of them), to point out that while it certainly was the Jews who rejected and then crucified the Christ, His crucifixion in fact came as a result of the sin of Adam and therefore all human beings, both Jews and Gentiles, are ultimately responsible for it.

Robert Sherman wrote (February 5, 2002):
Religious bigotry was the norm in Bach's time. He probably wasn't as virulent about it as was Richard Wagner, but obviously he felt no need to skip over it in the SJP. Likewise, Shakespeare did the blatantly antisemitic "Merchant of Venice", etc. We've come a long way since then (e.g. the Jews and Arabs making alliance and respecting Jesus in the movie "Ben Hur", and religious intolerance isn't acceptable in most of North Atlantic society. But it still goes on in Ireland, Mideast, etc.).

For my part, I'm willing to accept that Bach, Wagner, et al were imperfect human beings in a very imperfect society, and enjoy their music nevertheless. Still, it would be good if someone could do a version of the SJP that would be non-authentic but free of religious hatred.

Rev. Robert A. Lawson wrote (February 5, 2002):
[To Robert Sherman] I hope that you are not saying that people have no right to disagree about religious truth. Certainly no one has the right to assult others (for any reason, must less for religious ones), as has too often been the case in the sorted history of the church, but to insist that no one has the right to proclaim what they believe to be the truth is nothing less than religious bigotry in reverse. Christians who take the Scriptures seriously are compelled, as were the apostles, to proclaim that there is no salvation apart from Christ (Jn 14:6). That applies to Jews and Gentiles alike. You are free to disagree. We'll find out in the parousia who is right.

Donald Satz wrote (February 5, 2002):
[To Rev. Robert A. Lawson] I would very much appreciate if list members would refrain from carrying their religious beliefs on to their postings.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 5, 2002):
[To Donald Satz] Don beat me to it. Please keep this off the list. I think questions of religion cannot be ignored when talking about Bach, but when it goes beyond
the music it is best taken elsewhere.

Richard Grant wrote (February 6, 2002):
[To Dick Wursten] Re: Van Veen's question: Is there any evidence to show that Bach was any LESS "anti-Semitic" than his contemporaries? And why should we at this remove care what his social and political views were? One thing he certainly shares with all of us then and now and before then and in the future is that he was more or less a man of his times. I don't believe any of us however much we differ from our contemporaries can ever be anything other than "more or less" a person of the era in time and space in which we find ourselves. Though, apart from being a very minor point of historical speculation of what possible interest could this be to people engaged in discussing a 21st century appreciation of Bach's music .

Richard Grant wrote (February 6, 2002):
[To Rev. Robert A. Lawson] Or we won't. Even according to Christian theology those who have persecuted their fellow men, shown no charity, and have otherwise offended God and not sought His forgiveness are not likely to participate in the "Parousia". As a practicing Christian I feel that whatever Man's inspired writing says, salvation is with God and God alone, probably using a standard we could not possibly even begin to understand because we do not possess the mind of God.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 6, 2002):
I asked you to take this off the list. Please consider this a warning...

Richard Grant wrote (February 7, 2002):
[To Kirk McElhearn] WHY?

Anthony Olszowy wrote (February 7, 2002):
[To Richard Grant] BECAUSE.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 6, 2002):
[To Richard Grant] Why? Because this is a list about music, not religion. If you want to talk about religion, go elsewhere. There have already been disagreeable debates on the question in the past that ended up in flames.

Richard Grant wrote (February 7, 2002):
[To Kirk McElhearn] Glad to see that there was no defensible reason for your position that I was missing., though I rather suspected that.

I thought this was about Bach, to whom religion was important both as a personal guide and an inspiration. Perhaps those who see music as a discussion of notes, measures, tempi and favored performances rather than a reflection of and on the human condition would be happier elsewhere. And the fact that some people are too immature to hear contrary religious views without going "up in flames" should be no reason for keeping the adults from doing so.

Anthony Olszowy wrote (February 7, 2002):
[To Richard Grant] No, it's just self evident.

Richard Grant wrote (February 7, 2002):
[Anthony Olszowy] If a thing is truly self evident it inspires no questions. I asked a question did I not? And "because" is a child's answer.

Anthony Olszowy wrote (February 7, 2002):
[To Richard Grant] Precisely.

Donald Satz wrote (February 7, 2002):
[To Richard Grant] Yes, religion was important to Bach and permeates many of his works; the impact of his religion on his music is certainly fair game. But, the discussion was starting to go off on a religious theme while only using Bach's religious beliefs as a springboard. When a listmember states that his religious views should be proclaimed to others, I think the topic has switched from Bach's music to missionary themes.

Richard Grant wrote (February 7, 2002):
[To Donald Satz] If I told you I was a believer in the principles of Democratic Socialism or Fascism, and told you only just that, would you assume that I was trying to recruit you to either way of thinking? If I told you I was a homosexual and said no more than that would you immediately accuse me of acting as a "missionary" for my sexual lifestyle? When did we arrive at the point in intellectual victimhood where merely stating a position that is antithetical or even just different from that of someone else is regarded as an attack or an effort to recruit. Who is so without personal resources of intellect that merely to hear another person's ideas is a threat? Now if on the other hand what you really mean is "I'm not interested in what you're talking about so talk about something that interests me" or "I'm uncomfortable hearing such things discussed." then I suggest you not listen. I'm not in the habit of being told what I can and cannot discuss and I have no intention whatsoever of dev!
eloping the habit of listening to such intellectual bullying.

Donald Satz wrote (February 7, 2002):
I do wish that Mr. Grant would relax about this. The statements I referred to did not come from him but from another listmember. Those statements did not just involve the stating of a view; they represented a proclamation of spreading the word. I don't want to hear it, and it has nothing to do with music.

Richard Grant wrote (February 7, 2002):
[To Donald Satz] Then why not simply refuse to listen? Use your "delete" key. (And I wasn't responding because I thought you were speaking about or responding to me. I am questioning the way you seem to think on this subject.)

Rev. Robert A. Lawson wrote (February 5, 2002):
[To Donald Satz] The fact is Mr. Satz, you singled out one member of this list (I am talking about Rev. Lawson since he was the one your first vehement post on 2/5 was directed against. If this is not the case then I sincerely apologize) and accused him of proselytizing. First of all, he was merely responding to Bob S' post on 2/5 with the opposing point of view. There was no "proclaiming" going on Second, you didn't rebuke Bob S for his remarks on religious bigotry which sparked the Reverand's comments in the first place. So, I guess in your mind only certain Religious "views" are tolerated on this forum. Other "views" fall under the category of proclaiming and don't belong. Maybe you're the one who needs to relax. Or, like Mr. Grant suggested, simply hit your delete key if you don't like the discussion. Just short of that, since there hasn't been any formal rebuke or prohibition from the webmaster why don't you keep your chastisments to yourself.

Robert Sherman wrote (February 8, 2002):
[To Richard Grant] I subscribe to this list precisely because I want to hear people's informed views about different performances, based on notes, tempi, and many other aspects of the music. There are very few lists that do this, so there is nowhere else for me to go.

But there are more lists than dealing with "the human condition" than one can count.

Harry J. Steinman wrote (February 8, 2002):
[To Rev. Robert A. Lawson] Ever wonder why there are so many lurkers on this list?

From a formerly active participant, Happy listening (to music)

Donald Satz wrote (February 8, 2002):
[To Rev. Robert A. Lawson & Richard Grant]. Am I dealing with three individuals here or just one or two? I considered my "vehement" request quite polite and good-natured. If you want "vehement" you'll have to wait until I go through a melt-down exactly five hours from now.

Rev. Robert A. Lawson wrote (February 8, 2002):
[To Donald Satz] If you are talking about me, because I happen to be a Lutheran pastor, I want you know for whatever it's worth that I did not have evangelizing in mind at all. I was simply pointing out that there is a difference between racism (anit-semitism), i.e., hating someone or a group of people because of their ethnicity, and disagreeing with their religious convictions. I also believe, as some others have pointed out, that it's not fair to judge people like Bach or Luther and declare them to be anti-semites on the basis of 20th or 21th century standards.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 8, 2002):
< Rev. Robert A. Lawson wrote: Thank you. Frankly I don't see how any discussion of Bach's Cantatas could be complete without a through discussion of the texts that inspired this wonderful music. >
It is very possible to discuss the texts without going any further into religious issues.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 8, 2002):
< Rev. Robert A. Lawson wrote: Just short of that, since there hasn't been any formal rebuke or prohibition from the webmaster why don't you keep your chastisments to yourself. >

There has been a formal rebuke. I run this list, and I said I don't want this kind of discussion on-list. We have had this before, and things tend to degenerate among well-intentioned people who think they have the only answer. This is the last warning. I will start unsubbing people if this continues.

Richard Grant wrote (February 12, 2002):
[To Donald Satz] My earlier response addressed neither the politeness nor good-nature of your remarks, but rather their blatant attempt to suppress discussions on this list which you find personally unappealing or inappropriate. Are you really confused as to whether "R Lawson," "Rev. Lawson," and "Richard Grant" refer to one or three people? If so, perhaps I've expected too much of your abilities of analysis and discernment. If not, then I find the ruse neither polite nor good-natured

Richard Grant wrote (February 12, 2002):
[To Kirk McElhearn] I clearly misunderstood when I subscribed that this was a list whose discussions were limited to those sanctioned and legitimized by a single individual who could by fiat decree what was appropriate and inappropriate speech on the list. I have enjoyed the musical discussions and learned much in the short period of time in which I have subscribed, and I have added many superb recordings to my collection based on the recommendations of fellow subscribers. But I guess there is something in my American heritage as well as my personal upbringing that brooksno interference whatsoever in the free, civil expression of my thoughts and ideas and bridles at the threat of disenfranchisement as a punishment for speaking my mind. Since I have no intention of doing otherwise, you might save yourself, and others of like opinion, the further irritation of my observations by "unsub"-ing me immediately.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 12, 2002):
[To Richard Grant] Thank you.

Richard Grant wrote (February 12, 2002):
[To Robert Sherman] The right and proper response for your position.


Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (February 5, 2002):
In my view Dick's "got" it. Christianity is a supersessionistic religion to Judaism. It views Judaism as the thing it is the logical and only reasonable continuation of. Therefore there is no place for Jews except as potential Christians. The Rev. with all due respect to his person and his beliefs also has "got" it in his own way. His belief system tells him ineluctably that the rest of us are going to hell. I do not believe that that can contribute to decent human relations. Again I respect his belief and know many of that belief. But what if I were to tell such a believer that his Mother and Grandmother are in eternal fire of hell? You see that is where it leads to.

Happily and this is the happy part: Bach's music is such that non-believers can be as affected by it as believers. And I certainly would never compare Bach, as a member of his world, country, culture, and religion, of being the kind of Jew-Hater which Richard the Mad was. BTW, I greatly love much of the work of Richard the Mad. But even when it comes to Bach, alertness that the Judenhass is alway with you and you cannot escape it unless you intentionally block it out is warranted. To me these are libretti for the greatest vocal works ever written and I have no need to hate anyone. I do not believe that term "anti-Semitism" is a good one. Babylonians and Assyrians, Aramaeans, Phoenicians, South Arabians, Arabs, and the Ethio-Semitic peoples are/were all Semites. The only suitable term is Judenhass. And between Judentumhass and Judenhass there certainly is a nexus. If a people killed Christ and Christ was God, ...... Vorsicht,

Peter Tanzer wrote (February 6, 2002):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] I would like to make a simple request to the effect that we refrain from giving voice to personal invective concerning religious beliefs in the postings. Inevitably, in a discussion of Bach's music (or in a discussion of almost any cultural activity), religious matters will come up: let us try discuss these beliefs without personal offense please.

Richard Grant wrote (February 6, 2002):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] If someone were to tell me that my mother and grandmother were in hell I should first want to know how he was so sure; and upon hearing the explanation you suggest he might give, I should smile blandly and change the subject. It would not impair my relations with him because that is clearly his belief and has nothing to do with me. His assessments of the condition of my ancestors' souls would be utterly irrelevant to me because I should find him and his belief system incompetent to make such an assessment. I have good friends in other Christian sects who feel that my salvation is imperiled because I don't worship as they do. That is their right, perhaps even their duty under the tenets of their faith, so be it. It effectively touches me at no point so long as physical coercion is not involved. You are aware, perhaps, that from the beginning of Christianity the question of who will be saved has been subject to vigorous debate and is resolved only for those for whom it is resolved. Not all Christians believe that the formal acceptance of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior is necessary for "salvation" or that that formal declaration alone will suffice without "good works". For still others and for various reasons the whole debate is irrelevant. After all, for many of us Man proposes, God disposes.

Bach and anti-semiticism

Ludwig wrote (February 18, 2002):
Someone on the list (whose message I can not find) equated Bach with anti-semiticism.

There is nothing that I have read or researched that even remotely states this. I think this is unfair to the name of Bach to accuse him thus by association.

However, there is not a Christian Church or those that came in existence during the Reformation and Counter Reformation that is not guilty of some form of Anti-semiticsm but many members of these Churches did not go along with the Church dogma. The Pope recently apologized for this (at least for the Romans). If I am also recalling correctly; the Lutheran world body of their CHurches also has apologized for this.

It is true and well documented that Martin Luther was to say the least ant-semitic. Most Lutherans today are very embarrassed by this and apologetic. We must look at this situation (which I agree was wrong) in the times of which it was writen during a period of Religious wars . The average person during this time was illiterate or had very poor reading skills; Newspapers did not come into existence until the 17th Century so rumor was rife, news came by word of mouth or in the CHruches and the common folk believed what they were told because it was usually the clergy whom they greatly respected telling them what the King and the CLergy wanted them to know. THose who questioned were often tried for heresy and often burned at the stake if they survived torture. Bigotry, prejustice and ignorance are an unholy Tininty which feed each other.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 18, 2002):
[To Ludwig] I asked a while ago that this thread be stopped. I also asked you to apologize for your insulting posts last week. You have done neither. I am unsubscribing you.

Johan van Veen wrote (February 2002):
[To Kirk McElhearn] In reaction to recent events on this list I have decided to unsubscribe. The way Ludwig has been treated is unacceptable to me and a violation of the right of free speech. I ackowledge there is a line between free speech and insulting, but I don't think Ludwig has crossed that line - insensitive as his comments may have been. The way the moderator and some list members have reacted to the discussion about Bach and anti-semitism shows a double standard. Someone used the discussion on this topic to attack the Christian faith in general. He didn't get a warning. Someone else replied by defending the Christian faith against those insults and he was warned and accused of missionarism. I have no problems in messages with views contrary to mine. There have been many on this list and other lists I am subscribed to. I am not easily offended or insulted. But I can't accept double standards nor an unjustified limitation of the right of free speech.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 18, 2002):
[To Johan van Veen] Free speech ends when it insults others. I am not going to have this mess on the list. Period. I'm sorry to see you go, but none of us need to deal with this. If Ludwig had apologized, I would not have unsubscribed him.

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 18, 2002):
[To Kirk McElhearn] I usually avoid participating in threads of this kind, prefer to concentrate in the music instead. But when things are turning off to dear members leaving the list, I feel that I have to speak up.

The subject of Bach and anti-semitism is a sensitive issue. But when we are discussing Bach's music, especially the Passions, it is unavoidable that this subject will pop up from time to time. Regarding this subject I found that some of things written by the members of the list were interesting and thoughtfull (including Ludwig's last message). I see no reason to unsubscribe a member only because he (or she) wants to discuss this subject (or any other subject for that matter), or because he (or she) refuses to appologize for things he wrote and which were wrongly understood.

Actually I oppose the idea of unsubsribing somebody against his will. If the subject does not interest anybody, it will 'die' naturally. The 'delete' button is always a useful tool, for those who are not interested. And if the subject does interest the others, lethem speak freely. The only reason I see as justified for unsubscribing somebody is his (or her) insistance to send the list material which is totally alien to the nature of the list (Adult material, commercial, etc.)

Please re-subscribe Ludwig and Johan van Veen.

Armagan Ekici wrote (February 18, 2002):
I agree with Aryeh and Johann van Veen that "Ludwig" did not deserve to be kicked off. If "Ludwig" is guilty of anything it is overblown rhetoric, confusing a simple commercial decision from Warner with the world domination plans of Hitler. We should be able to cope with overblown rhetoric in this forum--you can just say that it is overblown, or better, just ignore it.

To refresh your minds here are his "insensitive remarks about Hitler" that he was forced to apologize about:

"Minorities can become majorities. Such attitudes as Mr. Satz's are the kinds of attitudes that allowed Hitler to not only come to power but to stay in power as long as he did and commit the genocides that he did. The fact is if more had joined up in protest against Hitler it is doubtful that he would stayed in Office as long as he did.

I am asking everyone on this list and the friends of friends to bombarde Warner with protest mail."

Armagan Ekici wrote (February 18, 2002):
Let me add that I will particularly miss Johann van Veen's commentary on this list and I wish that he can be convinced to come back.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (February 18, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] The reason I unsubbed Ludwig was his insensitive comments about Hitler, and the fact that, in spite of my requests, he would not apologize.

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 18, 2002):
[To Kirk McElhearn] I know. And this not a justified reason IMO, because his comment was wrongly understood. You can assume, knowing were I live, that if his comment was really insulting, I would have objected it. Even if it were insulting or insensitive, that would not have been a reason to unsubscibe him. Some of us are more sensitive than others. Some are ready to appologize, when becoming aware that they have insulted somebody; others refuse to appologize when they are forced to do it. Remember that this is not the subject of the list. I oppose the unsbscribing of Ludwig (or any other member). But you are the owner of the list and if you feel that it is your right to unsubscribe somebody, there is nothing I can do except speaking up against it. Do only remember that without members who can speak freely there will be no list.

That is the last thing I would like to write about this subject. Let us go back to Bach's music

Pablo Fagoaga wrote (February 19, 2002):
Well, I think it wasn't "insensitive", and probably there's been certain phobic reaction to the mere mention of Hitler's name. May be there's been a relatively common "not-even-mention-him" reaction. nfortunately, I saw this "phenomenon" many, many times. I tend to agree with the members that noticed that there's been a judgement over Ludwig just for mentioning Hitler, but certainly they stoped reading the mail just when they read the word "Hitler", censoring the rest of the message assuming some sordid content that in fact clearly DOESN'T exist.

HOWEVER, supporting Kirk's decision I must say that the key factor here is NOT Ludwig's statements but his attitude towards the moderator. If something like this happened to me, WITHOUT HESSITATION I would do a couple of things:
a) Inmediatly SUSPEND the topic.
b) Address the moderator to state my point. And may be this could mean following his suggestions (in this case apologize). Or may be I would be totally convinced of the fact that I have no reason to apologize, so I would consider Kirk a moron, and I would declare my intention NOT to follow his commands.

Certainly, Ludwig did none of the above, and decided just to ignore the moderator. I don't think this is appropiate because, as true as it is the fact that there is a right for free speech, it is also true that rights must be exercised and claimed in a civilized way, and (like it or not) following rules and respecting a system.

So, in this environment, if the figure of the moderator is not respected, it is like ignoring police, and judges and teachers, parents, and so on depending of the field you are focusing on.

I don't say "obey". I say "respect". You think Kirk is wrong, state it. When you think a judge is wrong you don't walk over his sentence. You appeal.

So I think Ludwig's mistake had nothing to do with his postings. Can you imagine this group (or any other group) if everybody throws mailings ignoring the rest of the members, and the topic, and the moderator??.


Michael Hartney [Ottawa, Canada] wrote (October 2, 2003):
Every edition I've seen of Bach's Christmas Oratorio (#45:"Wo ist der neugeborne König der Juden?"), of the St. Matthew Passion (#62: "Gegrüsset seist du, Judenkönig") and of the St. John Passion (#34: "Sei gegrüsset, lieber Judenkönig") spells "Juden" without an umlaut. All except Bärenreiter, which has "Jüden" (with an umlaut). Does anybody know why, given that (a) the plural of "Jude" is "Juden" (no umlaut) as any German dictionary will attest, and (b) Luther's Bible (which was the one used by Bach) also has "Juden" (no umlaut).

Kevin Sutton wrote (October 2, 2003):
[To Michael Hartney] The umlauted spelling is apparently archaic, and in the performances in which I have used Barenreiter, we have simply ignored the umlaut.From what I have been able to find out, there was a time when it was an
either/or situation.

Christof Briebricher wrote (October 2, 2003):
[To Michael Hartney] ’Jüden' is the older form of Juden, and I think still used in Bach's time. But nowadays that sounds quite unusual and I think it makes sense to modernize. Also `willst du' instead of `wiltu' and similar phrases. However, except for the pronunciation, Luther's text is unchanged, except for a few places which are too historical, e.g., `wollest des Babsts und Türken Mord steuern und wehren' (`may you control the terror of the pope and the Turks') from Luther's litany in one of the cantatas.

Michael Hartney wrote (October 6, 2003):
[To Christof Briebricher] I know that "Jüden" is an older, or alternative, form of "Juden", since there are other words such as "Jüdin" and "jüdisch" have an umlaut, even in modern German. But the question is: Which form did Bach use?

In my Eulenburg miniature score of the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244), which claims to be based on Bach's autograph, the 1961 editor says he has modernized the spelling of the text, except for the words which were pronounced in Bach's time differently than in ours, such as "Hülfe" (today "Hilfe") and "darzu" (today "dazu"). Therefore, if Bach had used "Jüden", that's what we would find in this edition. But we find "Juden" throughout. This suggest to me that Bach's autograph does not have the umlaut form of the word.

Does anyone have access to the Neue Bach-Ausgabe, upon which the Bärenreiter edition is based? Maybe there's some explanation there for the umlaut.

Continue on Part 2

Anti-semitism in Bach’s Vocal Works: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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Last update: ýJanuary 31, 2006 ý08:50:47