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Bach Cantatas Mailing List (BCML)
Year 2006

Moderator and participants

Elias (saidennunez) wrote (March 17, 2006):
I have been subscribed to this list for several weeks, and have been priviledged to learn about this area of Bach's work from the informed discussion threads of many of its participants. Being such a neophyte to this field, I have abstained - naturally - from lecturing with my own 'scholarly naive' personal views -- especially to people who know more about these things than I ever shall! I wish others who are in a similar position could do the same. Unfortunately, these <> or whomever) cannot resist this urge, and are thus corrupting this list's quality and good faith. I thus ask, to those whom this might concern, that something is done about this.

 

700 members!

Aryeh Oron wrote (April 3, 2006):
Today the 700th member joined the BCML.

Thomas Shepherd wrote (April 3, 2006):
<>
Its fantastic news from Aryeh about the membership. Its always good to hear from Bach lovers across the world - and such a great number of topics stimulated by the cantata of the week.
<>

Julian Mincham wrote (April 3, 2006):
[To Aryeh Oron] Dear Aryeh Well done! And again many congratualtions for enabling it and making it work.

May I also use this opportunity to remind members how much of real interest istucked away on the site and to encourage them to explore it when they have some spare time. I was reading through the exchanges from about 2 1/2 years ago under the heading Bach's Secrets, the other day and it struck me then what a wide range of people have become members--Christians, Jews, aetheists, agnostics etc. and how Bach's music brings them all together in a civilised (well, mostly!) exchanges of views, opinions and information. That is such a healthy thing.

Do we have people of Eastern persuasions (Hindu or Buddhist for example) on the list and willing to declare themselves? It would be interesting to know just how far the fascination with the cantatas reaches, culturally speaking.

One exchange was about serial murderers not being classical music lovers (!!) Well I don't know about them but it reminded me of a comment Yehudi Menuhin made some years ago. He said that he had never known a young person who had had a good musical training to go around defacing walls and telephone boxes.

So maybe there's something in it!

Aryeh Oron wrote (April 4, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Do we have people of Eastern persuasions (Hindu or Buddhist for example) on the list and willing to declare themselves? It would be interesting to know just how far the fascination with the cantatas reaches, culturally speaking. >
The BCML has members from China, Japan, India, Korea, Indonesia, and maybe other Far-East countries.

I do not know about religion, but I do not think that it is that important. The greatness of Bach's music is embodied in its ability to speak to every human heart directly disregarding apparent borders as nationality, religion or
language.

Nevertheless, in order to make Bach's vocal music even more approachable world-wide, I would like to expand the Texts & Translations section of the BCW to include translations to as many languages as possible. Any volunteers?

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (April 4, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Do we have people of Eastern persuasions (Hindu or Buddhist for example) on the list and willing to declare themselves? It would be interesting to know just how far the fascination with the cantatas reaches, culturally speaking. >
With deep respect, Julian, the fascination of many persons with the music, either "religious text" music or the instrumental music or the "secular vocal" music of Bach has NOTHING to do with their faith beliefs. There was a good interview last night on Charlie Rose (in his absence) with Tufts Univ. Phil. Daniel Dennett (whom I had not heard of before). He spoke deeply of the "religious" music of Bach and of others (Brahms of course), while he asserted the profound invalidity of all these religions and how they cause humans not to think or consider moral and ontological questions for themselves but to bow to an authority.

< One exchange was about serial murderers not being classical music lovers (!!) Well I don't know about them but it reminded me of a comment Yehudi Menuhin made some years ago. He said that he had never known a young person who had had a good musical training to go around defacing walls and telephone boxes.
So maybe there's something in it! >

This is non-sense. Most of the Nazi leadership had great love for much classical music and we all know that.

Julian Mincham wrote (April 4, 2006):
Aryeh Oron writes:
< The BCML has members from China, Japan, India, Korea, Indonesia, and maybe other Far-East countries. >
Brilliant!

< I do not know about religion, but I do not think that it is that important. The greatness of Bach's music is embodied in its ability to speak to every human heart directly disregarding apparent borders as nationality, religion or language. >
Absolutely. Which was the point which came across from reading the earlier exchange under 'Bach Secrets' It doesn't matter where people come from--but views which emanate from very different cultural or religious perspectives can be extremely stimulating.

PS Sorry I don't have the skills to assist with the further translations project).

Julian Mincham wrote (April 4, 2006):
Yoël L. Arbeitman writes:
< With deep respect, Julian, the fascination of many persons with the music, either "religious text" music or the instrumental music or the "secular vocal" music of Bach has NOTHING to do with their faith beliefs. >
Actually Yoel this was precisely the point and I apologise if it was not well expressed. I think it interesting, noteworthy and impressive that so many people from so many cultures and religions are so touched by this music. My references to the Bach Secret correspondence was intended to highlight this very point.

<< One exchange was about serial murderers not being classical music lovers (!!) Well I don't know about them but it reminded me of a comment Yehudi Menuhin made some years ago. He said that he had never known a young person who had had a good musical training to go around defacing walls and telephone boxes.
So maybe there's something in it! >>
< This is non-sense. Most of the Nazi leadership had great love for much classical music and we all know that. >

Actually, Yoel, if you go back to the Bach Secret correspondence you will find the view expressed that they may or may not have had a great 'love' of the music; we can't actually be sure either way. It may well be that it was what the music respresented that appealed to them so much. As has already been mentioned on list, music is, of all the arts the one which attracts to itself sets of emotions which are little or nothing to do with the quality or character of the music itself. It's what I call the ;Darling, it's our tune' syndrome. Two people get dewy eyed and emotional over an ordinary pop tune simply because 'that's what was playing when we got it together'!

I am less willing to reject the idea as 'nonsense' on the (possibly spurious) idea that the Nazis loved classical music.

Richard wrote (April 4, 2006):
Yoël L. Arbeitman" wrote:
<< Most of the Nazi leadership had great love for much classical music and we all know that. >>
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Anthony Burgess had great fun with this, bitterly ironic, in "Clockwork Orange", if this is not too far OT. >
Is it possible to love Bach's Music if you are a bastard ?

Teddy Kaufman wrote (April 5, 2006):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
"... The greatness of Bach's music is embodied in its ability to speak to every human heart directly disregarding apparent borders as nationality, religion or language...".
"To strip human nature until its divine attributes are made clear, to inform ordinary activities with spiritual fervor, to give wings of eternity to that which is most ephemeral; to make divine things human and human things divine; such is Bach, the greatest and purest moment in music of all time" -- Pablo Casals
This statement applies to all worldwide Bach lovers , regardless their nationality oreligion.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (April 6, 2006):
Richard wrote:
< Is it possible to love Bach's Music if you are a bastard ? >
Ça va sans dire.

Yoël L. Arbeitman" wrote:
<< Most of the Nazi leadership had great love for much classical music and we all know that. >>
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Anthony Burgess had great fun with this, bitterly ironic, in "Clockwork Orange", if this is not too far OT. >
I don't remember the movie but no need to expatiate.

Teddy Kaufman wrote:
"To strip human nature until its divine attributes are made clear, to inform ordinary activities with spiritual fervor, to give wings of eternity to that which is most ephemeral; to make divine things human and human things divine; such is Bach, the greatest and purest moment in music of all time" -- Pablo Casals
This statement applies to all worldwide Bach lovers , regardless their nationality or religion.

-------------------
I'll drink to that and include the hippies and the anti-hippies.

Eric Bergerud wrote (April 6, 2006):
[To Teddy Kaufman] I remember years ago seeing Casals interviewed on television. He claimed he played a Bach chacone prior to sleep every night. A fan I guess.

Richard wrote (April 6, 2006):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Of course I know all those things... It could be the definition of HELL...

Teddy Kaufman wrote (April 6, 2006):
It has been claimed that:
"Most of the Nazi leadership had great love for much classical music and we all know that".
------------------------------------------------------
Just to remind you that their "love" for classical music led to a demonic abuse of music in such a way that "Amidst the horrors of Auschwitz, music was a part of daily life. There were several orchestras and bands in the two camps, made up entirely of inmates. Marches were played at the camp gates as the labour gangs were led out to work each morning and musicians were called upon at all times of the day and night to perform for the SS and Nazi officers".(BBC - ClassicalTV - Holocaust.htm).

Moreover, please recall the so called "The Degenerate music" which was "a label applied by the Nazi government in Germany to certain forms of music that it considered to be harmful or decadent. The Nazi government's concern for degenerate music was a part of its larger and more well-known interest in degenerate art. In both cases, the government attempted to isolate, discredit, discourage, or ban the works.

The Nazi government considered several types of music to be degenerate, for several different reasons. Any music that was opposed to the Nazi regime by virtue of its contents or the political views of its composers and performers was considered degenerate. This included works by Jewish and Jewish-origin composers (such as Felix Mendelssohn, Arnold Schoenberg, Gustav Mahler, and Berthold Goldschmidt); works that featured Jewish or African characters (such as those by Ernst Krenek); or works by artists that had shown sympathy for opponents of the Nazi Regime (such as Anton Webern, who had been a moderate supporter of Adolf Hitler but had maintained a friendship with the Jewish composer Schoenberg during his exile from Germany). Modernist music, such as works by Paul Hindemith, Alban Berg, Schoenberg, and Webern, was also considered degenerate. Modernist music was judged to be inferior to previous classical music, and it therefore offended the Nazis' sense of progress and civilization in general - and in particular their loyalty to Germany's many great classical composers. In addition, one might speculate that Modernist music's abandonment of structure and form presented a threat, albeit immaterial, to the culture of order and control that fascist regimes such as the Nazi party both developed and relied on. Finally, Jazz music was considered degenerate because of its roots in and association with the African-American culture.

Some works which were later enthusiastically adopted by the Nazi regime, such as the hugely popular Carmina Burana by Carl Orff (1937), were initially described as degenerate by local music critics.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degenerate_music)

Julian Mincham wrote (April 7, 2006):
Teddy Kaufman writes:
< Moreover, please recall the so called "The Degenerate music" which was "a label applied by the Nazi government in Germany to certain forms of music that it considered to be harmful or decadent. The Nazi government's concern for degenerate music was a part of its larger and more well-known interest in degenerate art. In both cases, the government attempted to isolate, discredit, discourage, or ban the works. >
Very good point which reinforces the view that the nazi's reaction to music was for what they believed it stood for rather than a natural and spontaneous response to what it expressed.

 

Order of Discussion - Update

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 8, 2006):
As you most probably know, this 2nd round, which started in January 2005, we discuss the cantatas chronologically, in the order J.S. Bach initially performed them. The chronological order allows us following Bach's development as a cantata composer. The discussion can cover every aspect relating to the cantata of the week: the music, the text, the recordings, a certain movement, etc.

In the 1st round of cantata discussions (1999-2003) the discussions were usually led by me. In order to make this 2nd round of cantata discussions successful, we have agreed that this responsibility would be shared among the members. Each person, who has agreed to take responsibility, is in charge for a period of 5 to 10 weeks, as he/she wishes. At the beginning of each week, this person sends a short notice to the BCML, reminding the members of the cantata for discussion that week. He/she has the option of adding some background, personal opinion, etc.

IMO, this concept has worked fine, and the cantata discussions are live and kicking. The leaders so far were: Neil Halliday, Thomas Shepherd, Peter Bright, Santu de Silva and, Thomas Braatz, John Pike, Douglas Cowling and Eric Bergerud. I am sincerely grateful to them all, as well as to the contributors to the discussions.

The schedule of discussion leaders is covered until the end of 2006. See:
Year 2005: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order-2005.htm
Year 2006: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order-2006.htm

I have recently added Order of Discussions pages for 2007 and 2008; in other words, up to the end of the 2nd cycle of Cantata Discussions. See:
Year 2007: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order-2007.htm
Year 2008: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order-2008.htm

[Remark: since we started the 2nd cycle discussions, the page of Performance Dates of Bach's Vocal Works has been revised: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Date.htm
The consequence of this revision is that some works changed their places in the chronology. The few cantatas which we have skipped (BWV 143, BWV 202, BWV 158, BWV 37) are placed at the beginning of 2007 Order of Discussion page. After these 4, the order is as chronologically as possible.]

For 2007 and 2008 we do not have cantata discussions' leaders yet. More volunteers to lead the cantata discussions are needed. With more than 710 members of the BCML, many of them are experts in this field, I am hoping that more members would step forward and take upon themselves the responsibility of leading the cantata discussions. This is not a very difficult task and it helps putting the discussions into the right track.

Every member willing to lead the discussions for a certain period of time (5/10 weeks), is invited to write to me, either through the BCML or off-list.

 

Question about list procedure

Chris Kern wrote (August 5, 2006):
Do the list moderators generally like to keep the comments mostly limited to the cantata of tweek, or should we feel free to post about any cantata? I've recently started listening to the cantatas in liturgical year order (basically following the NBA) and I've been writing little capsule reviews of them for myself, but I don't know if people would want them posted on the list or whether I should wait for the particular cantatas to come up in the weekly discussion.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 5, 2006):
[To Chris Kern] I have to agree with you Chris. I know we're committed to a chronological discussion of the cantatas, but we really don't discover much continuity or connections between the works this way. On the other hand, a discussion by Sunday or festival would show us all kinds of connections (e.g theological variations on the same readings, traditional orchestrattion,) and also raise significant questions.

For instance, why did Bach write "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" as an austere, solemn work when in another year he wrote the brassy block-buster "Die Himmel Lacht"? Or why for the Second Day of Christmas one year does he focus on the Christmas narrative in "Dazu ist erschienen" and in another year uses the texts for St. Stephen in "Selig ist der Mann"?

The contrasts are striking, but we never address what was conventional or experimental in Bach's approach.

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 5, 2006):
[To Chris Kern] Please feel free to post about any cantata whenever you want.
If possible, please send your review of each cantata in a separate message. The subject line should start with BWV NNN (where NNN is the number of the Cantata). See more detailed instructions at:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/How.htm

Of course, most probably you would get the biggest number of responses when the cantata is still under discussion. The reason is that most members (so I tend to believe) prepare themselves for the discussion of the weekly cantata by learning the score, reading background material, listening to recordings, etc. My recommendation is that if the cantata is planned for discussion in the near future (let's say up to 3 months ahead), you should better wait for the turn of the cantata to be discussed. But if the cantatas has already been discussed in the 2nd round of cantata discussions, or if the planned week for discussion is too far ahead, you should better not wait.

Please take a look at:
Order of discussion for 2005 (already discussed):
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order-2005.htm
Order of Discussion for 2006:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order-2006.htm

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 5, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I know we're committed to a chronological discussion of the cantatas, but we really don't discover much continuity or connections between the works this way. >
We do indeed discover connections, certainly not all of them. A few without even thinking:
(1) The chorale variations of Jahrgang II
(2) The flute thread, waiting for the right commentator to make more of it
(3) Evolving architecture and variations on chiastic structure

< On the other hand, a discussion by Sunday or festival would show us all kinds of connections (e.g theological variations on the same readings, traditional orchestrattion,) and also raise significant questions. >
In a burst of premature enthusiasm, I believe I suggested this for Round 3 of discussions, in my second week on the list. Round 3 will be starting in about 2009? But the cantatas in relation to the liturgical year are like a matrix, or spreadsheet. Whichever way you slice it will be omitting something.

There is a lot of music here to absorb in detail. For those who already know it well, cross references to comparable points in the liturgical year would not seem to be out of place in the discussion guidelines, and would be most welcome by this listener. I intended to try to follow Jarhgang I & II simultaneously on my own, to catch up, but quickly abandoned the idea as beyond my available time and abilities to attempt systematically. Some occasional comparisons are always enjoyable, from whatever the source: weekly radio, live performance, or BCML posts.

I agree with your general point, but not the specific critique of the chronological discussion, especially as it applies to the chorale set of Jahrgang II.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 5, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The contrasts are striking, but we never address what was conventional or experimental in Bach's approach. >
It's simply not true to say that we 'never' do this.A lot of comparisons have been made of Bach's different approaches over ths last few months. Ed has listed some but there are many more e.g. comparisons of the first cantatas from the 1st and second cycles, experiments with tonal schemes, different approaches to harmonisation of the chorales, experiments with 'mixed form' principles, contrasting portrayals of the same images (e'g' rising smoke, the christian battling towards the shore), different approaches and uses of the chorale's original stanzas, portrayals of the devil, use of similar themes in adjoining cantatas, beginning and ending on a chord other than the tonic, experiments with settings of resit-cum-arioso-cum-chorale-cum-ritornello movements. And of the 10 cantatas of this cycle so far presented, a lot has been said on the particular characteristics and experimental aspects of the chorale fantasias.

I could go on. It may be that these discussions are not comprehensive enough but that is probably inevitable if we are not to lose sight of the weekly work under discussion. I know that on many ocasions I have resisted the temptation to make additional comparisons across the canon for this reason and also to ensure that postings do not get too long.. But to say that these things are never' discussed?? Where have you been?

Julian Mincham wrote (August 5, 2006):
Chris Kern wrote:
< Do the list moderators generally like to keep the comments mostly limited to the cantata of the week, or should we feel free to post about any cantata? >
My own approach has been to focus upon the cantata of the week but to bring in aspects of comparison or contrast with other works when they are illuminating of, or tend to make some greater sense of the work under discussion.

My problem is that sometimes the discussions, fascinating though they might be, become so discursive that the focus on the cantata of the week is lost. For that reason I would urge a little caution about spreading the focus even more widely. It is, after all a "Bach Cantata" discussion group.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 5, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I know that on many ocasions I have resisted the temptation to make additional comparisons across the canon for this reason and also to ensure that postings do not get too long.. But to say that these things are never' discussed?? Where have you been? >
You're right. My wife also says I exaggerate to make a point!

I would welcome your "across-the-canon" comments at any time! My personal preference is always for musical and historical insights into the cantatas over subjective impressions about various recorded performances.

I still however would like to see the discussions proceed by occasion in the liturgical year. This would mean that we would have approx 3-4 weeks for each thematic Sunday. I would love to tackle the five cantatas for St.
Michael's Day as a group.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 5, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I still however would like to see the discussions proceed by occasion in the liturgical year. This would mean that we would have approx 3-4 weeks for each thematic Sunday. I would love to tackle the five cantatas for St. Michael's Day as a group. >
Yes here we find ourselves in full agreement. I suggested something less radical on list some months ago--my idea was to group together certain cantatas of the cycle which had clear common characteristics--yours would be to look across the cycles to groups with liturgical connections, but with a similar objective.

However my suggestion got no support from olist members at the time--they preferred to stick to the one cantata a week presentations.

However I am doing the intros for cantatas 1-176 next year (the last 13 of the cycle). I would like to introduce a themed element here--for example taking together the two which begin with sinfonia, then the two beginning with a recit and then the three with a bass aria etc etc. Obviously Ayreh would have to be in agreement.

My looking at works across the groups is less from a liturgical and more from a musicological point of view--both are valid and illuminating approaches.

Eric Bergerud wrote (August 5, 2006):
[To Julian Mincham] One cantata per week does have the advantage of simplicity. The type of approach suggested by Doug and yourself would be more than a little bit over my head. Perhaps I wouldn't be alone.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 6, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< my idea was to group together certain cantatas of the cycle which had clear common characteristics.
However my suggestion got no support from other list members at the time--they preferred to stick to the one cantata a week presentations. >

For my part, it was not so much lack of support for the idea as reluctance to suggest interrupting the chronologic discussion. The weekly participation has been generally strong and on-topic, no need to tinker with that, even if much of the strength has come from your contributions.

< My looking at works across the groups is less from a liturgical and more from a musicological point of view--both are valid and illuminating approaches. >
Once you start grouping works, you are outside the basic structure of BCW, with discussion and recordings filed by BWV number. This means that there will be considerable cross-referencing or duplication required, in any case. Couldn't a group just as well be a subject of an Article, as you have already done with BWV 1 and BWV 4, referenced from the relevant individual discussion sites? This would not preclude such a group being the subject for consecutive weeks of discussion in the next round, and it would give you, Doug, and anyone else who wants to give it a try an opportunity to get a head start, both on getting your ideas down, and in proposing groups for discussion. Which proposals will not be without their own need for discussion, I expect.

BTW, I have been vocal in the past in support of keeping musicologic contributions as an integral part of the weekly discussions, and I still am. But there is already a lot of material available in excellent references. One can quickly accumulate a small library from BCW recommendations. What is really unique to BCW, even if subjective, is the comparison of recordings, not available elsewhere.

Chris Kern wrote (August 6, 2006):
Well, I wasn't meaning to suggest scrapping the current order of discussion or anything radical like that, I just wondered if it would be OK to post some thoughts on other cantatas. I don't want to disrupt the flow of the group. Following off what Aryeh Oron said, perhaps I will just post on the cantatas that have already been discussed in the second round (and maybe on some of the stuff past the second Jahrgang.)

Rick Canyon wrote (August 6, 2006):
I think I would hope that parameters do not get TOO defined. The guidelines do include the words "mostly" and "& Bach's other vocal works".

And, technically--and I am certainly willing to stand corrected on this--from what I've read, Bach called what we are referring to here as "cantatas" as "Kirchenstücken" (or is it just 'cke'?)--church pieces. What Bach called "cantatas" were performed outside the church; presumably, then, such as the "Hunt", "Peasant", etc.

Raymond Joly wrote (August 6, 2006):
Terminology: Cantata (was: Question about list procedure)

[To Canyon Rick]
1) Yes, it is "-stücke".
2) Other members of the list are much more competent than I am. I hope they will answer your query and instruct me. According to Ferdinand Zander's doctoral dissertation (Bonn, 1967), Bach used "cantata" just six times, referring to works entirely or almost entirely for solo voice (this usage has been observed in other places as well); it is not a matter of sacred vs profane. He more frequently wrote "Concerto", sometimes "Motetto".

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 6, 2006):
Canyon Rick wrote:
>>And, technically--and I am certainly willing to stand corrected on this--from what I've read, Bach called what we are referring to here as "cantatas" as "Kirchenstücken" (or is it just 'cke'?)--church pieces. What Bach called "cantatas" were performed outside the church; presumably, then, such as the "Hunt", "Peasant", etc.<<
Raymond Joly wrote:
>>1) Yes, it is "-stücke".
>>2) Other members of the list are much more competent than I am. I hope they will answer your query and instruct me. According to Ferdinand Zander's doctoral dissertation (Bonn, 1967), Bach used "cantata" just six times, referring to works entirely or almost entirely for solo voice (this usage has been observed in other places as well); it is not a matter of sacred vs profane. He more frequently wrote "Concerto", sometimes "Motetto".<<

Raymond Joly's response is essentially correct: Bach used the word 'cantata' in his sacred music to refer mainly to solo cantatas, but he also wrote "Cantata a S. è Baßo con stromenti diversi" [the 'S.' looks at first as if Bach simply abbreviated 'Soprano', but more likely 'S.' stands for 'Soli'] over his 'Coffee Cantata', BWV 211, however, in reality it is scored for Soprano, Tenor and Bass voice. For BWV Anh. 18 "Froher Tag, verlangte Stunden" [music missing] there is definite evidence that it was performed on June 5, 1732, probably in St. Thomas School which had been recently renovated. The name of the librettist is known. This cantata is referred to everywhere as a "Cantata" although it includes 4 arias and 4 recitatives and 2 'tutti' choruses [there is, of course, no indication as to which solo vocalists were used in addition.

The autograph designation on the 'Hunt Cantata' "Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd" BWV 208, reads:
"Cantata a [cirumflex] 4 Voci. 2 Corni da Caccia, 2 Violini una Viola e [circumflex] Cont." [for 2 Sopranos, Tenor and Bass voice]

At the top of the score of the 'Peasant Cantata' "Mer han en neue Oberkeet" BWV 212, Bach wrote "Cantate burlesque". [for Soprano and Bass voice]

A typical sacred solo cantata, BWV 56, "Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen" for Bass voice has the following description in Bach's own handwriting: "J. J. Doica 19 post Trinitatis. Cantata à Voce Solo. è Stromenti."

Further discussion of the cantata terminology can be found on the BCW at:
http://www..bach-cantatas.com/Topics/What-Cantata.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV152-D.htm
[in the last instance, go about half-way down the page]

Chris Rowson wrote (August 6, 2006):
The final "n" is added when the word is in the dative case, for example in the phrase "...in Kirchenstücken"..

Canyon Rick wrote: ... Bach called what we are referring to here as "cantatas" as "Kirchenstücken" (or is it just 'cke'?)--church pieces. ...

 

Messages to BCML / BRML / BMML

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 6, 2006):
I would like to remind you all of the 1st Guideline of all 3 Bach Mailing Lists (ML), managed by me:
- The Bach Cantatas Mailing List (BCML)
- Bach Recordings Mailing List (BRML)
- Bach Musicology Mailing List (BMML).

Guideline A.
The subject should relate to J.S. Bach:
- BCML is mostly dedicated to discussions of Bach Cantatas & Bach's other vocal works.
- BRML is mostly dedicated to discussions of Bach's non-vocal works.
- BMML is mostly dedicated to discussions of music theory and musicological issues related to J.S. Bach.
- General topics can be discussed in all 3 ML.

It seems that in the last couple of months almost all messages go to the BCML while the other 2 rather silent.
For example, this morning I saw a query about the AOF. If I am not mistaken this is a non-vocal work, although there are rumours that it was recorded by a vocal quartet (-:

As I see it we have 2 options:
- Sending each message to the relevant ML according to Guideline A.
- Combining all 3 ML's into one.

 

The BCML Pub [was Bach's theological training]

Continue of discussion from: Bach's Education - Part 3 [General Topics]

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 30, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>For theological and musicological "practical purposes", this list right here (the BCML) is analogous to a pub, and not often more reliable than that.<<
I would not consider Eric Bergerud's analysis to be analogous to commentaries given in a pub, nor would I consider the BCML similar to a pub except that a few rants such as this one given by Brad Lehman tend to pop up now and then.

The accusation that the material presented on the BCML is rarely more reliable than that found expressed in a pub is an example of the type of unfounded hyperbole that is expressed by an 'expert' who fails to assess properly what is of important value and what constitutes banter frequently lacking any foundation based upon research and fact.

BL: >>When it's pointed out that the recklessly creative stuff they're saying makes less sense than bar peanut salt, it goes right on anyways.<<
This is certainly a 'cute' way to say that, when short sarcastic comments are supplied as criticism without having read the previous explanations provided, this then constitutes contrary evidence and proof that the material criticized "makes less sense than a bar peanut salt".

BL: >>Uncalled-for personal insults sometimes ensue, instead of supporting the faulty material with really sound reasoning (or gracefully withdrawing it); but hey, it's just a pub anyway, not to be mistaken for a forum with any responsibilities for reason or truths.<<
What is sometimes misunderstood by a hyper-sensitive individual to be deliberate personal insults is often simply the result of not understanding the difference between legitimate criticism which seeks to ascertain, as far as this is possible, the truth of a matter and unfounded criticism which lacks a basis in what may be considered reasonable. Eric Bergerud has just given the list a good example of how this process of criticism can contribute to a discussion on a higher level than simply stating: "I'm putting on the recent Kuijken disc of cantatas BWV 98/BWV 180/BWV 56/BWV 55 again, to enjoy and learn from its terrific playing and singing." Actually, the latter is an example of fallacious logic (reasoning from authority), but it is tolerated and encouraged on this list which is devoted to the discussion (personal opinions, views) of existing recorded performances. There is, however, another concomitant aspect of discussion which has always focused upon musicological aspects of the cantata in question. Here the discussion shifts into higher gear and exists on a higher plane than one in a pub where primarily personal opinions are voiced.

Why denigrate the efforts of others on this list when your own insights that might lead to a possible better understanding of each week's cantata are quite rare compared to all the numerous, and often unfounded, complaints that you continue to register through your messages? Why not set an example for all of us to follow and emulate rather than adopting a peevish attitude towards others and the material which is presented on this list by others?

BL:>>As Bach, Calov, and presumably also Luther emphasized therein: if the insults emanating from self-important dilettantes and bean-counters are merely personal slights, it's right to let them bounce right off as trifles, being merely personal steam. But, if the perpetrators are dishing out total nonsense or disrespect about the material of one's vocation, saying insulting things against one's own professional responsibilities, it's right to step up to the plate and point out that their argument is professionally offensive.<<
What is truly offensive here is the implication that you are comparing yourself with Bach and also seeking to gird yourself with Calov and perhaps even Luther's authority to justify the general argument that any critics expressing contrary views to your own must be 'dishing out total nonsense or disrespect about the material" being presented and discussed on this list.

Brad Lehman speaking with himself:
>>Stick up for the hard-earned rights of real experts to be experts, in public. Don't let oneself get run over by unsupportable foolishness. ..even in a pub.<<
How do we determine who is a 'real expert'? Is it a university degree or diploma that determine this? Bach did not have either. He was an autodidact. Is it someone who can compose like Bach? I have yet to see or hear any chorale cantata composed by Brad Lehman that could fool me into believing that it might have been Bach's. Is it the peer-review process? This process has not prevented certain theories from being propounded that were later entirely or partially refuted.

BL:>>Those who actually do Bach's job tend to be better placed to understand this, from a practical sense of handling the materials, than those who rely only on speculation.<<
Being an organist in an American church in 2006 bears little resemblance, except in regard to a few superficial aspects, to Bach's position as composer, conductor and performer in Leipzig. Present-day scholarship still knows very little about the myriad details that Bach encountered in his position as cantor and director of music. It is a great leap of faith indeed to surmise that an analogous situation indeed exists, one that would allow an organist in 2006 to obtain great insight into what Bach was actually doing!

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 30, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Being an organist in an American church in 2006 bears little resemblance, except in regard to a few superficial aspects, to Bach¹s position as composer, conductor and performer in Leipzig. >
So Thomas, tell us about your intimate personal experience as an organist and choirmaster which allows you to make such a statement.

Santu de Silva wrote (October 31, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] At the cost of being condemned as a blind follower of Mr Braatz, I think I can support his claim in certain aspects.

The types of duties that fall to American organists in 2006 are probably so incredibly varied (far more varied than the duties of organists in Bach's time, I would imagine) that if there are a few organists with the same duties as Bach, then it seems reasonable that the vast majority of (modern) organists must have different duties! I make this remark based on simple logic, obviously, not on personal experience.

I appreciate that Mr Braatz's further conclusions from this premise may not be valid, but this premise itself seems a fair one!

(I hereby certify that I am an independent, and that Mr Braatz has not paid for this endorsement.)

Arch, stopping by for a pint.

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 31, 2006):
Santu de Silva wrote:
< The types of duties that fall to American organists in 2006 are probably so incredibly varied (far more varied than the duties of organists in Bach's time, I would imagine) that if there are a few organists with the same duties as Bach, then it seems reasonable that the vast majority of (modern) organists must have different duties! I make this remark based on simple logic, obviously, not on personal experience.
Arch, stopping by for a pint. >
I had to read this twice. Thanks for keeping it brief! Next pint is on Brad.

Julian Mincham wrote (October 31, 2006):
Bach and bars

In some ways I concur with Brad about the generalistic 'pub' nature of this discourse----and not only on the aspects of ignorance, prejudice and lack of open mindwhich all make appearances on list. Certainly I, and many others I am sure, will have had the experience of students, lecturers colleagues and friends coming together for a beer or coffee and having the most interesting, passionate and stimulating exchange of views. Some of my life's valued experiences!

BUT-- there are several very important differences between this list and pub conversation (no, I'm not just referring to the lack of beer, coffee or peanuts!)

1 There are many more people involved on this list than in any pub I have frequented--and there have been quite a few! Not all are active, but the sheer number of members means that quite often someone who really does have
detailed knowledge about a thread comes in and enriches the discussion.

2 facial expressions are obviously absent in list discussion. This makes a huge difference. The odd wry or sarcastic comment cannot be accompanied by a smile or wink which puts it in its proper place. Great offence may be, and indeed has been caused by this circumstance which would be immediately defused in the face-to-face 'pub' context.

3 The written word, even on lists where it may be ultimately deleted by many, has an implication of permanence which the spoken work does not. This has an an effect and often puts a constraint upon what one might want to say or the way one expresses it.

4 Pub views are expressed at the moment. List messages may be interrupted as one refers back to a score, a relevant book, the immense resources of this web site etc etc. I know that I seldom express my views about a cantata without going back to one or more of these sources--generally the score is the first stop. This possibility allows those who wish to do so to offer a more considered view than might be expressed orally in the bar--and these views are to be respected even if one disagrees with them.

A word about the issue of who is 'qualified' to give opinions. In short, my view is 'everyone'--but it depends how it is done. Some music lovers on list have prefaced their views with modest and disarming caveats such as 'I am not a musician but---' or ' others will know more about this than I and---' Fair enough. I have all the time in the world for people who want to know more about music, to understand it more fully and (perhaps) to experience it more deeply. And I don't give a **** whether they know the difference between a German, French or Neapolitan 6th or not because it simply doesn't matter. (Note--no emails about racism please--these are well established technical descriptions of particular chords).

There seems to be a perception amongst some that only practising musicians have anything of value to say about music. Wrong! People come to music in different ways and one respects their views and opinions for different reasons. I have friends who have listened to a wider range of music than I have managed, and read extremely widely on the subject too. Music is a vital part of their lives and one of the reasons they have heard and read so much is that they are NOT performing musicians i.e. they have not spent 4-5-6 or more hours a day practising an instrument but they have spent a great proportion of that time listening Are their views of less value than a professional pianist ------who may have played more romantic or C20 music than Baroque? Their perspectives may be very different---especially from the professional who may have performed many of the cantatas ( I have a number of friends in this catagory) but they each carry their own weight and interest.

For myself I would like to see on list a little more tolerance towards the questing, enquiring and enthusiatic non musicians. They form the musicians' audiences after all. I would like to see more tolerance of others' views and less savage 'putdowns'. On the other hand I would also like to see less of the angry and petulant expression of opinion which occasionally rears its head, usually from a position of ignorance---an example would be the patronising of Schweitzer as just an 'amateur organist' ---this is offensive when it appears to arise from a position of ignorance about just what the man achieved in his time. One does feel tempted to blast out at angry bigotry--best it is not (semi-) publicly expressed in the first place--another difference between list and pub intercourse

From a strictly personal position, my limited knowledge of the cantatas arises from years of listening (to them all), playing them through on the keyboard, examining the scores and discussing aspects of them with friends and colleagues, under- and post- graduate students. I have directed only a very few of them in public performance--perhaps, in the eyes of some, that erodes my credibility. But if anyone is interested in my ideas, such as they are I am always willing to share them.I honestly believe that noone should die without having the opportunity to explore and enjoy as many as possible of these and other great art masterpieces from our world cultures.

I can also state with certainty that I have learnt a great deal from this list and web site that I didn't know previously about this canon and its associated themes (the recent pronunciation thread is a good example) which is the reason why I remain a member. This is why I used the word 'limited' above. There is always more to learn and people to learn from.

Lastly (phew!!) when expressing views I think it is helpful to distinguish between what is statement of observable fact and what is analytical opinion. For example, if one says that the bass aria from 139 has a unique structure in Bach's cantata output, this is a simple observable fact. It obviously has more weight if it is stated by some one who knows all the cantatas than by someone who knows just six---this is where the notion of 'expert' may have relevance. But this single fact does not take us very far. The really interesting questions are the 'why, what and how' ones where interpretation and judgement is required. Why did he choose this structure? What does it tell us about Bach's response to the text? How did he achieve it (e.g. what existing structural principles has he drawn upon to create this particular shape?) Why end with a reprise of the the section he chose? (musical, or textual reasons?) How do the three sections relate to each other? Why give particular emphasis to certain words?

Of course you can love the music without asking any of these questions. But I happen to think they are of great interest.

Well, got that off my chest. Now argue about it!

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 31, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< In some ways I concur with Brad about the generalistic 'pub' nature of this discourse <snip> Well, got that off my chest. Now argue about it! >
Very elegantly stated, for pub talk! Thanks, a helpful elaboration, IMO.

Eric Bergerud wrote (October 19, 2006):
As far as this list goes, despite the occasional bump, "if it aint broke, don't fix it." It really is a nice list. So I don't really have any suggestions on how to improve things that wouldn't make Aryeh work harder. (How about some Bach screen savers? Animated of course, with music: no simple pictures would do. Come to think about it, maybe someone ought to scan some of those nice woodcuts of Leipzig or something like that. My screen saver is for the band Tesla which my son plays for. But I could be persuaded.)

But I just don't quite see the pub angle. If we're going to make the list more pub-friendly we will have to widen the number of subjects encouraged to include English League football, the latest on the Royal Family, "Red Ken" pro & con and either the Battle of Trafalgar or the Battle of Britain.

Harry W. Crosby wrote (November 1, 2006):
I am one of those members of this group, people in the room but farther from the bar described by Julian Mincham -- bless his heart for welcoming us. I, for example, am one of those passionately involved with the music of J. S. Bach without being inherently musical, or even music literate. I've written in to express a few opinions, but I realize I have nothing to offer but opinions, a point reinforcedas I read what the more expert and musical among you express, explain, or argue every day.

Thank you, greater group, for your tolerant acceptance of us distant worshipers, and thank you Julian Mincham for making us feel more part of it all.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 1, 2006):
Harry W. Crosby wrote:
< I am one of those members of this group, people in the room but farther from the bar described by Julian Mincham -- bless his heart for welcoming us. >
Well, Harry, I am elbow to elbow with you at the back of the room, I just like to talk loud from time to time. OK, all the time. Julian has gone out of his way to make me feel welcome joining in with music specialists for discussions. Bless his heart, indeed!

I joined BCML in part because I noticed Aryeh's invitation to participate in the discussions even if it is simply to say "I like (or not) this recording." If you think about it, that could be a useful bit of information to someone deciding whether to spend $10 or $15 on a CD, or $150 or so on the Complete Bach.

My experience has been that I listen more carefully when I know that I will be writing a few words, and then the few words grow. I did not start out with that plan in mind, but now it is just a good habit, like daily exercise. Give it a try. Or just continue to feel quietly welcome.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (November 1, 2006):
Bach and bars Royal Family

Eric Bergerud wrote:
< But I just don't quite see the pub angle. If we're going to make the list more pub-friendly we will have to widen the number of subjects encouraged to include English League football, the latest on the Royal Family, "Red Ken" pro & con and either the Battle of Trafalgar or the Battle of Britain. >
the latest on the would be king's English is that Prince Philip in Pakistan said some about "for my wife and I". Is that now the king's English D:

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (November 1, 2006):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Wait a sec - isn't it Charles who is in Pakistan at the moment rather than Philip (who was in Iraq recently, but AFAIK didn't go any further East than that...)? :D

 

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