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Bach’s Time
Part 2

Continue from part 1

The 'mixed' or 'high baroque' German musical style

Jack Botelho wrote (December 7, 2003):
"The political disunity of the 17th-century German-speaking lands caused music, like all other forms of art, to be particularly susceptible to foreign influence. Our understanding of German music of this period is constantly illuminated by the examination of its foreign elements, not least the music of J.S. Bach, where different national styles are sometimes treated separately and at other times skillfully combined. In France, Francois Couperin ad others had attempted to marry the French and Italian styles to create a higher form of musical art, but Johann Quantz claimed for the Germans a pre-eminent role in the ideal of the union of national styles:

'If one has the necessary discernment to choose the best from the styles of different countries, a mixed style (ein vermischter Geschmack) results that, without overstepping the bounds of modesty, could well be called the German style, not only because the Germans came upon it first, but because it has already been established at different places in Germany for many years, flourishes still, and displeases in neither Italy, nor France, nor in other lands.'"

Webber, Geoffrey: "German Courts and Cities" in
Sadie, Julie Anne: Companion to Baroque Music
London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1990.
p.157-158

 

Posts

Jack Botelho wrote (December 7, 2003):
Apologies for the several posts, but this is due to limitations I have with delivery of text material. The posts on opera, politics/economics, the new rationalism, religion, and the 'high baroque style' make for very basic reading into the background historical context of Bach's life and work, and will be helpful to the beginner in understanding "where" Bach fits in into the baroque phenomenon. These posts complete the article by Geoffrey Webber titled "German Courts and Cities" in J.A. Sadie's handbook titled Companion to Baroque Music with the small exception of a short excerpt regarding Frederick the Great's activities after 1740.

Webber's article (which is of an overview nature) generates many, many issues and topics of discussion which I would like to pursue in the future on this list and will be sure to be of much interest to the general enthusiast.

Sato Fumitaka wrote (December 7, 2003):
[To Jack Botelho] I am very impressed your study of the literature about the aspects of German history as background knowledge for understanding Bach, J.S. I would try following your posts. Thak you very much.

Anne (Nessie Russell) wrote (December 7, 2003):
[To Jack Botelho] When I taught music history I had the students read about the econmics, religion, politics etc. of the era. It is vital to an understanding of how the composer thought and why he wrote the kind of music he wrote.

Jack Botelho wrote (December 7, 2003):
[To Nessie Russell] Thanks Anne and SF for the positive feedback.

I look forward to learning more about matters of history in further discussions with you Anne.

I ran across another abbreviation yesterday - HAL or "Historically Aware Listener" which functions with HIP/historically informed performance. General knowledge of historical context can really open many doors to "de-mystifying" the subject of baroque music.

[To Satofumi] I was very excited to read of your experience listening to Gardiner's XO - and I look forward to further discussion of it.

 

Bach's background, etc

Jack Botelho wrote (December 23, 2003):
Eric A. Kantchev wrote:
< I see that my "dream" of having a german baroque music group has become a reality. Well done! >
Great to hear from you Eric!

I know that elsewhere you have provided some very interesting discussions of Bach recordings as well as expressing interest and appreciation for north German composers - and it is also a treat to have another pipe organ music lover here!

Next year I will provide posts of basic background information to the German baroque which helps to put J.S. Bach's achievements into a wider perspective. I will not be able to take the lead with regard to discussiong recordings - I'll leave that up to
other members such as yourself if you wish to contribute. Very much look forward your input Eric!

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 23, 2003):
Jack Botelho wrote:
< Next year I will provide posts of basic background information to the German baroque which helps to put J.S. Bach's achievements into a wider perspective. >
Sounds good. One hopes there will be some distinction preserved between:

- straight historiography (people, places, dates, influences, extant instruments, source transmissions, etc etc), copied by any enthusiast from a book, and...

- listeners' personal preferences today, and...

- issues of performance practice and assertions of good taste...how musicians now supposedly "ought to" do such and such, and refrain from such and such: to accord with selective quotes about practice and taste, dug up out of context by people who don't directly have background in performance (instrumental/vocal/improvisational techniques), composition, musicological research, aesthetics, or reception history.

As has been seen on other lists, it gets ugly when people combine the first two points with zero serious background in the third area; believe they know everything there is to know (by owning a few books); and start preaching value judgments as criticism of others' work. We don't want to go there...so it might be best to stick to the first two.

Even that first one, by itself, gets into serious jeopardy and chaos when it's done by people who can't keep clearly-documented facts straight...as has also been seen on the other lists, regularly. And for that first one, that's why music history courses exist in schools, and good books in libraries, right?

So, perhaps it might be best to stick with discussing preferences?

Just a suggestion, for helping to preserve the peace.

Jack Botelho wrote (December 25, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] The discussion of personal preferences by listeners was the initial reason for this list, keeping in mind the idea that we should be free to express enthusiasm for recordings we like. If member "A" expresses a love for recording "B" and member "C" thinks or reasons that recording "B" "sucks", member "C" should keep this opinion to themselves, or alternatively, offer a very gentle suggestion otherwise. It does not take much intelligence to understand that listener preferences may be completely subjective, and if a particular member loves a certain recording, it is most wise to leave such bliss alone.

My contributions will regard the first point: mainly quoting standard, basic source information. You have expressed even some discomfort with this point I understand Brad, but for my part I am interested in the history of music not further building up the mythology of J.S. Bach, so if you find basic writings on history uneasy to read, simply press the delete button. I understand there is a centuries-old tradition of fine scholarship and research into J.S. Bach, initially a product of German efforts arising from 19th century nationalism. It does not take much imagination to understand the consequences of applying this same painstaking care of research to other composers. I also understand there is also an entire world-wide musicological establishment built on studying Bach, and that this establishment may become distinctly uneasy with approaching music history from a "genre", rather than a "composer" point of view. We must remember that it was only in 1947 that the first full-length genre study approach to baroque music was published (Bukofzer) which before that time were only "great" composer studies.

As for the third point you raise, I will leave that up to you if you wish to contribute expertise in this area. Thanks for the suggestions.

Zev Bechler wrote (December 25, 2003):
Jack wrote that: "The discussion of personal preferences by listeners was the initial
reason for this list, keeping in mind the idea that we should be free to express enthusiasm for recordings we like. If member "A" expresses a love frecording "B" and member "C" thinks or reasons that recording "B" "sucks", member "C" should keep this opinion to themselves, or alternatively, offer a very gentle suggestion otherwise. It does not take much intelligence to understand that listener preferences may be completely subjective, and if a particular member loves a certain recording, it is most wise to leave such bliss alone."
Why discriminate against those who happen to dislike something ??? Why should they "keep it to themselves" or be at all less enthusiastic in their expression than any others ( "offer a very gentle suggestion otherwise")??? Next thing you know we'll have to pass some positiveness-meter test.

Barry Murray wrote (December 26, 2003):
I'm very much looking forward to Jack's posts on this subject. Jack has posted a considerable quantity of useful historical material to other lists, so I was very excited to read that he intends doing the same here.

 

Dresden - music at court

Jack Botelho wrote (January 9, 2004):
Dresden: music at court (1694-1763)

"The most glittering period in the history of music in Dresden began in 1694 with the accession of Elector Friedrich August I of Saxony (1670-1733), a member of the Wettin dynasty who converted to the Catholic faith in 1697 in order to acquire the Polish crown. As King August II (known as 'der Starke') of Poland, he became ruler of two domains, a situation that was to end abruptly in 1763 with Saxony's defeat in the Seven Years War and the deaths of his successors, the electors Friedrich August II (1696-1763, King August III of Poland) and Friedrich Christian (1722-63). However, during a period of some 70 years architecture, art and music were cultivated at the court of Dresden with a unique magnificence that cannot be accounted for solely by an absolute monarch's need for display. The phenomenon must also be seen as an expression of the personal artistic inclinations and interests of the princes, their wives and other members of their families.

Soon after converting to Catholicism, Friedrich August I dissolved the Hofkapelle and reorganized it into the Evangelische Hofkirchenmusik (which received relatively little royal support) and the main ensemble, the Churfurstlich Sachsische Capell- und Cammer-Musique, one of whose tasks was to participate in Catholic court services. The records of the Dresden Hofkapelle show that the Capell- und Cammer-Musique grew steadily, and around 1710 already had an orchestra equipped with the most up-to-date instruments of the time. The instrumentalists were highly qualified musicians who for the most part - in contrast to the usual practice of other Hofkapellen - specialized in a single instrument, so that the quality of performance was exceptionally high. Among the standard instruments available in the Kapelle were the 'modern' string instruments - violin, viola, cello and double bass - wind instruments including the transverse flute, oboe, bassoon and horn, and continuo instruments including lutes, pantaloon (an instrument resembling a dulcimer), harpsichord and organ. The continuo players, who included such masters as L.S. Weiss and Pantaleon Hebestreit, were usually also chamber or church composers and responsible for providing the musical repertory. The court trumpeters and drummers formed an ensemble of their own, the highest-ranking of its kind in the Holy Roman Empire, but also played in the Hofkapelle when required. The standard instruments were on occasion supplemented by the recorder, chalumeau, oboe d'amore, viol and viola d'amore.

The instrumental Kapelle was an international ensemble. Many wind players, for instance, were of the French school, while the Flemish-born J.B. Volumier (Woulmyer), who was leader of the orchestra from 1709, was also trained in France and brought his young orchestra to a remarkable level of technical accuracy, especially after the introduction of uniform bowing. The violin virtuoso J.G. Pisendel, who had been trained in the Italian style by Torelli in Ansbach, joined the Kapelle in 1712 and succeeded Volumier as leader in 1728, a post he held until his death in 1755. He had studied with Vivaldi in Venice in 1716-17, while accompanying the crown prince on his Grand Tour, an encounter that was to have a profound effect on the musical landscape of central and northern Germany in the following decades. Pisendel made Dresden and its Hofkapelle the major centre outside Italy for promoting the works, and above all the concertos, of the famous Venetian composer. The cultivation of Vivaldi's music in Dresden had a crucial influence on many native composers, including Bach, Fasch, Pisendel himself, Quantz and the Graun and Benda brothers.

During his stay in Venice in 1716-17 the crown prince, himself an ardent admirer of Italian music, engaged a number of famous instrumentalists and singers to form an Italian opera company in Dresden - a decision finally ratified by his father, although the elector's taste inclined much more towards French drama and music. Because of hostility from Volumier and the old Kapellmeister, J.C. Schmidt, it was not easy to integrate the Kapelle ensemble with the musicians engaged in Italy to perform in Dresden from September 1717. The newly recruited company, assembled by the composer Antonio Lotti (engaged up until 1719), included famous women singers such as the sopranos S.S. Lotti, M.C. Zani, known as Marucini, and Livia Constantini, known as La Polacchina, and the contralto Lucia Gaggi, known as Bavarini; and male singers including the castratos Francesco Bernardi, known as Senesino, Cajetano Berenstadt and Matteo Berselli; and the tenor Francesco Guicciardi; and the basses Lucrezio Borsari and G.M. Boschi, as well as the violin virtuoso F.M. Veracini and several violone players. The only German musician among them was J.D. Heinichen (1683-1729), who was also the only one of the musicians recruited in Italy to stay in Dresden for the rest of his life. Heinichen had originally been appointed as Lotti's deputy Kapellmeister with the opera, but his duties soon included the provision of serenatas and cantatas for court festivities. However, although he remained a Protestant, his principal task was to supervise and direct the Catholic Hofkirchenmusik, to which he devoted himself as energetically as his poor health allowed. Outstanding among the many non-German musicians was the Bohemian J.D. Zelenka (1679-1745), who significantly enriched the repertories of the Dresden Kapelle and the court church. He was appointed to the Kapelle as a double bass player in about 1711, and after a few years spent studying composition (with Fux in Vienna, among others) he began writing sacred music of great originality. During the 1720s Zelenka had frequent opportunities to deputize for the ailing Heinichen in composing for the court church. However, neither the elector nor the crown prince cared particularly for his sacred compositions; and as a result Zelenka, an introverted and devout Catholic, never rose to the position of Kapellmeister, although he was acting Kapellmeister from Heinichen's death in 1729 until 1734. The title of Kirchen-Compositeur bestowed on him in 1735, without any rise in his salary, did nothing to mitigate his disappointment.

Other ensembles at the Saxon court included the court and hunt fifers, who were required to play for dramatic productions at mealtimes and at balls, and the so-called Kleine oder Pohlnische Cammer-Musique, who also performed music for King August II when he was in Poland and for the performances of the Comici Italiani, an Italian operatic company independent of the court opera. King August III, however, dismissed this 'troupe of travelling musicians' when he came to the throne, and in 1733 re-founded the royal Kapelle in Warsaw, which had been dissolby his father.

Among the most famous instrumentalists in the Dresden Kapelle during the period 1694 to 1763 were F.M. Cattaneo and J.G. Lehneiss (violin); Johann Adam (viola); J.P. de Tilloy and A.A. de Rossi (cello); C.F. Abel (viol); Girolamo Persone (double bass); the flautists Buffardin, Quantz and F.J. Gotzel; the oboists Francois le Riche, J.C. Richter and Antonio Besozzi; and the horn players J.A. Fischer, F.A. Samm, the Schindler brothers and A.J. Hampel. Outstanding singers, in addition to those mentioned above, included the sopranos Margherita Durastanti, Vittoria Tesi, Faustina Bordoni (Hasse's wife), Regina Mingotti, and Teresa Albuzzi-Todeschini; the castratos Andrea Ruota, Nicola Pozzi, Giovanni Bindi, A.M. Monticelli and Felice Salimbeni; and the tenors and basses J.J. Gotzel, Angelo Amorevoli and Joseph Schuster.

Until 1763 the large Hofkapelle comprised not only instrumental players but also the singers of the Italian opera and the Catholic Hofkirche (with the exception of the pupils in the boys' school of the Kapelle, founded in 1708). In effect, the Hofkapelle was divided into its three distinct components after 1717. The Italian opera, while
involved in court festivities in the autumn and during the carnival season, attracted the most public attention, since anyone 'suitably dressed' could have free entry to its
performances. At first the great majority of the Protestant population showed little interest in the music of the Hofkirche. However, it grew in reputation in the second half of the century, after the dedication of Chiaveri's new church in 1751, and eventually became a notable musical attraction in the city. The third element of the Hofkapelle, the court chamber or 'concert' music, comprising music for instrumental ensembles of various sizes and vocal music ranging from solo cantatas to serenatas for large numbers of singers, was exclusively for court society, and it was a great honour for foreign visitors to be allowed to listen to performances from a neighbouring room. The scale of its musical activity ensured the Hofkapelle a dominant position in the musical life of Dresden in the 18th century, and it is not surprising that it tended to eclipse other musical activities in the city.

The cosmopolitan nature of the Kapelle was a determining factor in Dresden's becoming a centre of what Quantz described as the 'mixed or German style'. This was not merely a synthesis of the Italian, French and German styles, but also included gallant and folk elements, the latter derived from the popular comic intermezzos performed by French and Italian comedians, and the traditional music of Poland and Bohemia cultivated by musicians from those countries who were active at the Saxon court.

Händel and Telemann both visited Dresden in September 1719 for the festivities to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Friedrich August to Maria Josepha, eldest daughter of Joseph I of Austria. The climax of the festivities was the production of three operas by Lotti, "Giove in Argo, Asciano" and "Teofane". These were given in the newly opened opera house on the Zwinger designed by Poppelmann, which with a capacity of 2000 was one of the largest in Europe. The predominantly Venetian operatic ensemble engaged by the crown prince scored a triumph in these performances. However, soon after the festivities the Italian opera company broke up. Its best singers were recruited by Händel for his London company, and Lotti returned to Venice in accordance with the terms of his contract. In 1726, however, the opera opened again with a new company of younger singers. Hasse and his wife Faustina Bordoni were brought from Venice in 1731. He achieved a great success with his opera "Cleofide", which had its premiere on 13 September, but returned with Faustina to Italy shortly afterwards. However, in 1734, after the accession of Friedrich August II, Hasse and his wife were engaged at the Dresden court as Hofkapellmeister and prima donna. Two years later [J.S.]Bach was granted the title of court composer for which he had petitioned in 1733, presenting to the elector the Kyrie and Gloria of what was to become the B minor Mass (BWV 232).

Hasse had immense influence both as composer and Kapellmeister, and was notably adept at gauging and, in turn, forming the tastes of his court audiences. The productions of his opera serie [serious opera] increasingly became sophisticated syntheses of the arts, equally remarkable for the quality of singing and orchestral playing and for the lavish scenery created by such leading stage designers as Andrea Zucchi, Giuseppe Galli-Bibiena and G.N. Servandoni. The elector's birthday on 7 October was always celebrated by the premiere of a new opera by Hasse in the wooden theatre (destroyed in 1763) at the castle of Hubertsburg, near Wermsdorf.

After 1751, when Chiaveri's new Hofkirche was consecrated, church music increasingly came to rival opera in importance. Hasse composed his Mass in D minor, "Te Deum" and "Regina coeli" especially for the Hofkirche, and before leaving Dresden after the Seven Years War composed his Requiem for August III and Crown Prince Friedrich Christian. After 1764, when Hasse was discharged and moved to Vienna and later to Venice, he still retained the title of Oberkapellmeister of the Electorate of Saxony and maintained contact with Dresden; his last three masses (1779, 1780 and 1783) were all written for the city.

Saxony's defeat in the Seven Years war in 1763, and the deaths soon afterwards of two of its electors, brought to an end the political and economic dominance of the electorate. Dresden's brilliant Augustan Age was over, and the government's preoccupation with economic recovery and the rebuilding of the capital after the Prussian bombardment inevitably restricted interest in the arts for the next few years."

Fechner, Manfred: "Dresden. 1694-1763. Music at court."
in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
Stanley Sadie, general editor
2001 edition.

Jack Botelho wrote (January 9, 2004):
Please note the article taken from the Grove Dictionary on the subject of music at the Dresden court during the time of J.S. Bach. Although perhaps not as easy to digest as the Webber article posted previously, this basic information is well-worth knowing for Bach fans. Perhaps most of you are well aware of this subject, but I provide it for those who may have difficulty accessing this information. A following post on church and municipal music-making at Dresden will follow later.

Once again, there are many themes/topics of discussion that may be generated from this and other articles on the musical activity at Dresden during the first half of the 18th century.

More on this topic later.

 

About Bach, but still OT
Bach and horses

Anne Smith wrote (January 10, 2004):
Jack, you know a lot about the history of Bach's time. Perhaps you, or someone else, knows the answer to this question.

Someone on another list used Bach's horse's harness as an example about something. It occurred to me that Bach was not in a high enough social class to own a horse. Does anyone know for sure? Owning a horse was not allowed to lower classes. Doubtful Bach could have afforded one.

I read that Mozart and Haydn. being merely musicians, were not high enough in the social structure to own horses but were allowed the use of them by their employers. I think they were afraid of horses.

Jack Botelho wrote (January 10, 2004):
[To Anne Smith] Nice to hear from you! With regard to history in Bach's time, I'm learning! I don't know anything yet about the relation of horsemanship to social status in the early 18th century yet, but I remember someone used a horse analogy in a vlong and rambling exposition on another list that I found far too convoluted and eccentric to be of any interest. With regard to this topic of horsemanship in Bach's time and place, if you find out anything more about this, please let me know!

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 10, 2004):
[To Jack Botelho] As I recall, from writing that long and eccentric exposition, that piece doesn't stand or fall on Bach's ownership of a horse (or not). It was about starting from a relic, any relic (or collection of relics), and the impossibility of extrapolating from it complete knowledge of anyone's practices or intentions.

And then, especially: the impropriety of using those impossibly extrapolated "intentions" to criticize or "correct" specialists in the way they do their jobs.

Anne Smith wrote (January 10, 2004):
Bach and horses

Bradley Lehman wrote:
"As I recall, from writing that long and eccentric exposition, that piece doesn't stand or fall on Bach's ownership of a horse (or not). "
Yes, I realise this. I am always interested in anything about horses. I am certain Bach did not have one.

Since I went on and on about electricity on the other list, it will come as a surprise to learn that I am not very modern. My preferred method of transportation is horse.

Jack Botelho wrote (January 11, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Thanks for the clarification! I think we can safely say there will be no obtuse criticisms of performance practice here by non-specialists (thankfully!).

 

18th century connoisseurs at Bach's churches

Continue of discussion from: Systematic Discussions - Motet BWV 225

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 13, 2001):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
Brad Lehman raised the following questions:
>>How many listeners in Bach's time, at Sunday morning church or any other public occasion, sat there with scores, following along and castigating performers whenever individual notes were not audible enough to their satisfaction? That's right, the answer is zero. How did they discern high quality? By what moved them, with no score to look at. How difficult is that to understand, as an aesthetic criterion? <<
< You must remember that the congregation included some very musically astute listeners who knew how to listen for fugal structure as well as to the quality of Bach’s other compositional techniques which revealed the subtle ways in which he made the music fit the words (usually.) Bach knew that his audience (in the congregation) consisted of many who would ‘simply’ listen with their hearts, but he also included some rather complicated musical structures which others might recognize and appreciate as the work of a genius. These others would have been visiting dignitaries and even some famous musicians who happened to ‘be in town,’ as well as the educated elite at the university that may also have included some students who listened and perhaps even participated in the performances. But since Bach composed and performed his music for the glory of God, he may have set yet a higher standard of performing and listening, a standard which did not have to heed specifically the various levels of understanding present within the congregation/audience. This idealistic, even more perfect, audience was the one which Bach strove to ‘satisfy’ to the best of his abilities. Providing imitation thunderstorms or earthquakes (so that members of the congregation might return the next Sunday to see ‘what Bach would do to top this,’) was not Bach’s main objective, but rather fulfilling the human need for perfect structure and harmony as only he could envision it. The writing out of non-essential notes (or rests, for that matter) has no place in Bach’s scores. The structure of the composition (as pointed out by Marcus Song and Arjen Gijsell) must become apparent to the listener and should not display weakness or insufficiency, otherwise the sense of powerful, sustained joy which this composition should project is undermined entirely. These are reasonable expectations for any public performance or recording of this motet. >
Tom, you regularly cite this cabal of 18th century connoisseurs for us (the "idealistic, perfect audience"), as if they existed for sure outside your imagination. Why don't you give us some names, so we can look up their testimony about Sunday morning church (the way they allegedly sat there analyzing counterpoint as it went by on first hearing) and decide if it has any credibility?

I mean, that's the way you treat other people's sources, so turnabout really should be fair play. Let's see those names, and the written documentation of their listening experiences where they picked up on one hearing all those secret messages and genius structures encoded by Bach into the music. Surely you must have some evidence for these claims, so let's see it!

Thanks,

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 13, 2004):
Brad Lehman stated:
>> Let's see those names, and the written documentation of their listening experiences where they picked up on one hearing all those secret messages and genius structures encoded by Bach into the music. Surely you must have some evidence for these claims, so let's see it!<<
On your page http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/recits.htm you still quote Daube as giving credible evidence on Bach’s 3rd style: >> Daube noted that J. S. Bach excelled at the third style.<<

So Daube ‘picked up on one [fictitious] hearing evidence’ of J. S. Bach’s performance style, evidence which Williams & Ledbetter rely upon as 1st-hand evidence and which you quote despite the fact that everything seems to point to the fact that Daube never actually heard Bach play in person at all.

See the discussion regarding Daube at the bottom of page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/Recitatives-8.htm

and at the top of page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/Recitatives-10.htm

Daube personally never really heard Bach perform his cantatas in Leipzig, and yet Brad still relies upon experts (Williams & Ledbetter,) who are mistaken here by accepting Daube as a viable source, and he refuses to remove Daube from his personal exposition on playing basso continuo.

Continuing to quote sources that are, at the very least, extremely dubious is not a characteristic of a self-respecting musicological researcher who should be honest with himself and the world.

Learn to think on your own, Brad, and use some commonsense in approaching these matters!

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 14, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/7026
< Learn to think on your own, Brad, and use some commonsense in approaching these matters! >
But the thing is, as I explain patiently: I do think on my own, plenty, and the results happen to disagree with the results of your thinking; and that difference seems to give you no end of trouble.

It seems you will never be satisfied until you've coerced me into your own illogical conclusions, and your own extreme cynicism where nothing is knowably true except that which you (personally) feel intuitively is true. (And your Goethian quotes about the inappropriateness of logic, an anti-academic stance by you and Goethe, show that you're not even interested in other ways of knowing.) If you're really encouraging people to think freely and use commonsense, as you say in chiding me here, then you also have to accept that they will frequently come out with something entirely different from you.

Plus, if you have read my page: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/recits.htm carefully, you will see that some of the conclusions I have written there are more bold and free-thinking (firmer decisions for performance) than the more positivistic musicological sources on which they are based; as a performer I take more chances with that than the scholars themselves to do. I have explained that difference: that a performer must not walk onstage with things less than confidently decided. The performance must come across with conviction, and that web page lays out my convictions.

Of course, to read that page of mine carefully to see how different my opinion is from theirs (i.e. the "thinking on my own" I have done as a synthesis of that learning) one also has to have read the two articles by Williams and Mendel--and also the Tagliavini--that you've regularly refused to read. Instead, you simply assume you know what they say, from any clues I've offered or simply from your own imagination about them.

That is, you currently have no basis at all to know how independent my own thinking on this practical matter really is, to criticize my thought processes and commonsense! You're still (apparently) in your bizarre mode where you believe higher education is equivalent to indoctrination, that an educator tells the student to "stop thinking and simply believe this" which is completely the opposite of the way things are.

It's a gross insult, both to me and to the schools that granted me my degrees, that you say I'm a puppet of anybody, and unable to think on my own. What do you think those schools' accreditation (by state and national standards, ensuring that they really educate their students using acceptable methods) means? Zero? Have you ever been a participant where a university department goes through a curriculum review and accreditation review, to be sure they're doing their jobs adequately? (My wife's
department is going through one right now.) Do you have any idea of university standards?

Again, there's no reasonable discussion that can be had here until you've read those articles, and until you understand what the process of university education is and what its certifications actually measure, beyond attendance.

=====

As for the question about providing some names of your 18th century connoisseurs, you didn't answer it. You simply dodged it by saying that I rely too much on Daube whom you've (in your own mind) discredited. You haven't provided any names of your own of people whom we should believe; you've merely done a tu quoque dodge, trying to show that somebody else other than yourself (in this case, me) is using weak evidence. That's sort of funny: isn't weak evidence better than zero evidence, which you have?

To paraphrase your advice, since we're handing out free advice here: Learn to think on your own, Tom, and learn to admit graciously when your bluff has been called and you have bupkus, and use some commonsense in approaching these matters!

 

Dresden - church and municipal music

Jack Botelho wrote (January 29, 2001):
Dresden 1694-1763: Church and municipal music

"Throughout the Augustan Age, only the music of the city's three main Lutheran churches provided any counterweight to the dominance of music at court. The pupils of the Kreuzschule provided the sacred vocal music in the new Frauenkirche building designed by George Bahr, begun in 1726 and consecrated in 1734 (it was destroyed in 1945; work began on a new building in 1992). Since 1672 the Kreuzschule pupils performed figural music in the older building, the dilapidated medieval church dedicated to the Virgin, founded some time after 1142 and eventually demolished. (The old Frauenkirche had also been a favourite burial site; Schütz was laid to rest there in 1672.) The Kantor of the Kreuzkirche, T.C. Reinhold (1682-1755), who held office from 1720 until his death, composed festive cantatas (now lost) for the laying of the foundation stone in 1726, the consecration of the church in 1734, and the dedication of the great organ designed by Gottfried Silbermann and built in the years 1732 to 1736. On 1 December 1736 Bach gave a two-hour concert before representatives of the court and 'a great many other personages and artists, upon the new [Silbermann] organ' (Bach-Dokumente, II, no.389).

The Kreuzschule pupils performed mainly in the Kreuzkirche, formerly the Nikolaikirche but renamed in 1388 in honour of its relic, a splinter from the Cross of Christ. The school attached to the church maintained several choirs whose members, particularly the paupers, earned money for their keep and education by singing for alms in the streets.

The choirs had performed polyphonic music even before the Reformation. During the first two thirds of the 18th century they performed both the older repertory (J.Z. Grundig, Kantor of the Kreuzkirche from 1713 to 1720, left manuscript versions of Schütz's three Passions and Peranda's "Markuspassion") and cantatas and motets by T.C. Reinhold, Kantor of the Kreuzkirche, and his successor in that post, Gottfried August Homilius (1714-85). While none of Reinhold's musical works has survived, Homilius wrote a wealth of impressive cantatas and motets which he regularly performed from 1755 onwards with the Kreuzchor and the Dresden municipal musicians. After the Kreuzkirche and its organ (built by Tobias Weller, 1642-4) were destroyed by fire in 1760, the Frauenkirche became the temporary home of the Kreuzchor and its new Kantor, Homilius, until the construction of the new Kreuzkirche.

The Sophienkirche (destroyed in 1945 and later demolished), a Gothic building with a double nave dating from 1351, was used for civic services after 1599, and after the closing of the Lutheran castle chapel in 1737 it also became the Lutheran court church. The Sophienkirche's own organists were employed by the city as early as 1695; among the most important organists here in the 18th century were Christian Pezold (1677-1733, also chamber organist and harpsichordist of the Hofkapelle) and his immediate successor W.F. Bach, who held the post until 1747 and was employed by the city alone. In 1720 the Gothic church acquired a fine organ built by Gottfried Silbermann.

Other musicians working in Dresden in the late 17th and the 18th centuries included the instrumentalists of the Stadtmusik, several military bands and a large number of freelance musicians. From 1679 to 1698 Daniel Weber, who described himself as a master musician able to play all the wind and string instruments, was Stadtmusicus, i.e. leader and teacher of the Stadtpfeifer journeymen. Until about 1740 this post was still linked to that of Turmer, watchman of the Kreuzkirche tower. Weber was succeeded (until 1735) by Gottfried Heyne, who had studied in the imperial Kapelle in Vienna. Under the Stadtmusicus J.P. Weiss, active from 1735 to 1751, there was particularly close cooperation between the instrumentalists of the Stadtmusik and the Kreuzchor, whose Kantor Reinhold was appointed "director musices". Weiss was succeeded as Stadtmusicus by G.H. Schnaucke, who was in turn succeeded in 1766 by J.F. Lange, the first in a line of retired military bandsmen who were to hold the post of Dresden Stadtmusicus in the future.

Theatrical and operatic companies were welcomed in Dresden, supplementing performances by the court opera, although their activities were always dependent on permission from court. The Mingotti brothers' famous opera company was particularly popular, and performed in Dresden in 1747-8 in its own wooden theatre on the Zwinger. The first opera buffa [comic opera] seen in Dresden, Galuppi's "Il mondo alla roversa", was given in 1754 by G.B. Locatelli in the theatre on the Bruhlsche Terrasse. Locatelli had a great success with this production, and returned in 1755-6 with further opere buffe by Galuppi and Domenico Fischietti. In 1755 Pietro Moretti built a small new theatre on the Zwinger, the Komodienhaus, where he staged plays and comic operas; he later held concerts there, and performed Italian intermezzos in 1762-3.

Little is known about musical life in the noblemen's houses and embassies of Dresden during the AuAge, since few archival records survive. Some great houses maintained their own private Kapelle, of which most famous was the ensemble maintained by the prime minister Bruhl from 1735 to 1763."

Fechner, Manfred: "Dresden (1694-1763): Church and municipal music" in
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
Stanley Sadie, general editor
2001 edition.

 

Music in the Lutheran Church

Jack Botelho wrote (April 12, 2004):
Music in the Lutheran Church

"The duties of a Lutheran church musician during Bach's lifetime were particularly demanding. The liturgy was simple compared with that of the Catholic Church. But congregational participation by way of hymn singing complicated the organist's task, and preparing the long piece of concerted music customary in the Sunday morning service was a major weekly project during most of the year.

"In his 'German Mass and Order of Divine Service' of 1562, Luther reduced the number of services to three: the 'Fruhgottesdienst', or morning service, which combined Matins, Lauds, and Prime; the 'Hauptgottesdienst', or principal service, which united Terce, Sext, and None; and the 'Nachmittagsgottesdienst', or afternoon service, which took the place of Vespers and Compline. Local practices varied. Most churches preserved only a skeleton of Luther's order of service, but Leipzig's churches were extreme in hewing to it quite strictly. When Bach visited Leipzig in 1714, its order of service so impressed or confused him that he jotted down the one for the First Sunday of Advent on the reverse of the title page of the cantata he performed there, 'Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland', BWV 61.

"According to this outline, the organist began with a prelude. Then motets were sung by the choir. The organist played a prelude on the Kyrie, which was sung with instruments. After an intonation at the altar (Collects), the Epistle was read and the Litany was sung. The organist then played a prelude on the chorale, prior to its being sung (by the congregation). The Gospel was then read. After another prelude, the principal music (usually a cantata) was performed. The Creed was sung, after which came the sermon. After the sermon (about an hour long), several verses of a hymn were sung and the words of institution pronounced. Once again the organist made a prelude to the music that was to follow (what this music was is unclear, since only a few cantatas had a second part). Finally the organist alternated preludes with congregational chorales until the end of the Communion. This service - and the list given here is not complete - lasted from about 7:00 to 11:00."

Palisca, Claude V: Baroque Music, third edition
Prentice-Hall Publishing, 1991.
p.320

The above is some basic information on the structure of a typical Lutheran Church service in Bach's time. This information is well-known by most Bach enthusiasts but well-worth reviewing here. It seems that Leipzig was a very consevative enclave of Lutheranism in the early eighteenth century. It is also interesting to note how German critics by the mid-eighteenth century were commenting on Bach's style of sacred music outside of the context of the church service. This 'secularization' of music criticism seems to have been a novel development of the time and is easily overlooked today.

 

Bach Cantata in Lutheran Churches

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 23, 2006):
The following comments about Bach cantatas sung within Lutheran services were offered on another list by Dr. Frank Senn, the pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and a leading liturgical authority.

List members in the Chicago area will interested in the three churches below which regularly present Bach cantatas.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

You may be interested to know that three churches in the Chicago area include Bach cantatas within liturgical worship. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Luke in Chicago and Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest have a Bach cantata series within Sunday Vespers. Immanuel Lutheran Church in Evanston occasionally has a Cantata (as we've also done contemporary church cantatas) within the Sunday morning Service of Holy Communion.

In our setting (Immanuel, Evanston), the cantata is placed after the Gospel reading and frames the sermon. Thus, some movements are placed before the sermon and other movements are placed after the sermon, where Lutherans would usually sing the hymn of the day. In other words, the cantata is part of the proclamation of the word. Of course, it also depends on the cantata. Christ lag in Todesbanden on Easter Day was broken up so that four movements were sung between the Gospel and the Sermon, and the remaining four movements were sung during Communion ("Then let us feast this Easter Day on Christ the bread of heaven"). I believe that at St. Luke's and Grace, but especially St. Luke's, the full order of Vespers is sung.

Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Luke, Chicago, Illinois: http://www.stlukechicago.org/church/music_bach.shtml

Grace Lutheran Church River Forest, IL: http://www.graceriverforest.org/church/info/music/cantata.html

Immanuel Lutheran Church: http://www.ilcevanston.org/choir.php

 

Appreciation of Bach

Chris Kern wrote (May 26, 2006):
This is a question I've wondered about for a while. Is there any evidence that any of the Leipzig churchgoers (or at his other churches) realized that what they were hearing in the Sunday cantata was something magnificent, and not just the usual church music? It almost boggles the mind that these people got to go to church every
week and hear a cantata, plus the passions (although I guess they couldn't listen to them every day on CD). I just wonder if anyone at the time recognized the genius of the compositions.

Richard wrote (May 26, 2006):
[To Chris Kern] Yes it is a very puzzling matter and I have no answer, only more questions.... Does anybody know if any Cantata was performed in other places than Weimar or Leipzig during Bach's lifetime ?

Rick Canyon wrote (May 26, 2006):
[To Chris Kern] There are others who could answer this question in better detail than myself. However, I gather that the cantatas were not necessarily looked upon as complete pieces of music. If I understand correctly, the cantatas were generally broken up in halves surrounding the sermon. Their purpose appears, in Bach's time, more to have been augmentation of the religious theme for the week rather than as a stand-alone composition. They seem almost a sort of a 'ruffles and florishes' for the Rector's sermons.

Otto Bettman ("JSB: As His World Knew Him") also offers this about the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244):

When the St. Matthew Passion was first performed in the Leipzig Thomaskirche on Good Friday, 1729, its impact was extraordinarily powerful. Many members of the congregation--which was said to have included numerous clergymen and noblewomen--seem to have reacted with a sense of shock, if not dismay. A report about this premier, which appeared three years after the event, stated: "When this theatrical music began...people were thrown into the greatest bewilderment...and said: 'What will come of this?' An old widow of the nobility said: 'God save us, my children! It's just as if one were at an opera-comedy.'"

Even Bach's children and students may or may not have been impressed. The sons seemed to have looked upon the music as outmoded. Did I read somewhere that they referred to JSB as 'the old hat'? When one of the sons, CPE, I think, performed the Symbolum from the B-minor Mass in the mid-1780s, he apparently "modernized" the score, first. And one fo his successors to the post of Thomas, Friederich Doles, tho one of Bach's students, apparently looked upon Bach as just another of the composing Thomasskantors. (tho Doles apparently kept "Singet dem Herrn..." in the Thomaners' repertoire as the famous performance of this motet for Mozart in 1789 would indicate)

Chris Kern wrote (May 26, 2006):
< A report about this premier, which appeared three years after the event, stated: "When this theatrical music began...people were thrown into the greatest bewilderment...and said: 'What will come of this?' An old widow of the nobility said: 'God save us, my children! It's just as if one were at an opera-comedy.'" >
I read part of a recent book on Bach (I don't remember the name) that said we don't actually know for sure if that report was about the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) (or even any passion by Bach), but I don't know the details.

Eric Bergerud wrote (May 27, 2006):
[To Chris Kern] Wolff mentions some anecdotes (a note on applause at one of the Leipzig services for instance) and argues that he probably was pretty popular with church goers. Wolff also notes that "musical criticism" didn't really exist in the early 18th century and that not only is it unlikely that the parishioners at Leipzig realized they were listening to astounding art, there is little reason to think that Bach thought of his own cantatas in this way. It was the service, not the music, that counted. It's true that Bach tinkered with some of his cantatas, but had he thought they were a cornerstone of his musical reputation, I can't imagine why he would have written so few of them after his first four years at Leipzig.

Chris Rowson wrote (May 27, 2006):
[To Eric Bergerud] Wolff also tells us that the Dresden court musicians were frequent visitors to Leipzig and the Bachs, including Hasse and Faustina from 1735. They presumably appreciated the music as well as the hospitality.

I think there are also indications that some at least of the leading citizens enjoyed the music, with at least one commissioning regular cantatas for himself, not to mention the royal family´s reported delight in BWV 215 in 1734, although they were not in a position to hear the church cantatas. And then there is Gesner´s enthusiastic description of Bach as a modern Orpheus, so I think it is clear that there was some appreciation.

 

Streetsinging

Rick Canyon wrote (July 13, 2006):
In my books, I have found two interesting engravings of streetsinging (one is in Parrot's book). It seems to resemble caroling, but apparently took place around New Year's rather than Christmas. It also appears that instrumentalists accompanied the choir. The reason appears to be that streetsinging generated "charitable contributions".

So, I'm assuming that the students would wander thruout Leipzig, gather around a house and, for a period, sing for the entertainment of the residents. Someone would then collect a monetary gift from the house, and then the choir would move on. I'm not sure if the contributions would then be divided among those who participated, or if the money went into a sort of "general treasury" at the school.

My basic questions are: what sort of music was performed? Were there German folksongs? Did Bach or anyone else compose specifically for this activity? Was he required to supervise?

Streetsinging itself seems to have been something of a bane for the choir. One book (Hans Conrad Fischer) states, "The singing in the alleys and streets of Leipzig--a profitable affair for both teachers and pupils--ruined their voices." As a wintertime activity, this is understandable. Leipzig is not Bavaria, but the winters still seem formidable enough. Why, then, streetsinging at New Year's and not at Midsummer's Day? It also appears, however, that some alumni (perhaps First Choir) were excused from this activity "on account of the [concerted] church music" (Parrot quoting from a document); and that Bach would then receive some kind of stipend for those who were excused "as a reward"(Parrot again quoting).

Additionally, streetsinging provided a scam for street urchins who would pass themselves off as Thomasschule students.(Parrot)

Finally, streetsinging appears to be an area where externi and (what are?) inquilini were allowed to take part as substitutes for alumni.

Thanks!

Thomas Braatz wrote (July 13, 2006):
Canyon Rick wrote:
>>Streetsinging<<
In German the boys who were part of such a group involved in 'streetsinging' were called "die Kurrende".

According to Friedrich Blume in his article on J. S. Bach in the MGG1, Bärenreiter, 1986), Bach himself was a "Kurrende" ("street singer") under the direction of A. C. Dedekind and associated with the Lutheran Latin School, the same school Luther attended as a boy. Martin Luther as a Kurrende (from 1498-1501) sang in the same organization that Bach did when he attended this school in Eisenach from 1692-1695.

In Ohrdruf both J.S. Bach and his lifelong friend Georg Erdmann were Kurrende under the direction of Cantor Elias Herda. They earned sufficient money this way to pay for part of their "Lebensunterhalt" ("what they needed to earn a living").

In Berlin in 1579 the Kurrende were established and consisted entirely of poor boys who had to sing to pay for most of their living costs. MGG1: Article on Berlin by Dietrich Sasse

In Dessau in 1209 there is mention of Kurrende as well as a group singing figural music in the church. In 1539 pupils went about the streets singing and begging for bread. In 1609 the Kurrende consisted of 18 boys from age 12 to 20. The Kurrende organization was dissolved in 1809. MGG1: Dessau by Arno Werner

In Freiberg (in Bach's region): "Nach der kursächsischen Schulordnung von 1580 sollten die Kurrendaner »ihren Gesang stille, langsam und so verrichten, daß ihnen lieblich zuzuhören, und daß sie bißweilen die deutschen Psalmen, wie sie aufs einfältigste mit vier Stimmen componiert oder andere kurtze geistliche Gesänge mit gleicher und nicht erhöheter Stimme (Falsett!) singen würden«."
(According to the school rules from 1580 in the region belonging to the elector of Saxony, the members of the
Kurrende were supposed to perform their songs calmly, slowly and so that their singing would be perceived by
listeners as pleasant; they should occasionally sing German Psalms composed in the simplest manner for 4 parts and also other short chorales using voices of the same voice quality and not with a falsetto
voice.")

MGG1 article on Freiberg by Ernst Flade

In Jena before 1630 the Kurrende sang only in Latin and only on Sundays, after 1630, because of encouragement by Professor Johann Himmel they also sang songs in German.

MGG1 article on Jena by Fritz Stein

In St. Joachimsthal since 1540 the Kurrende sang for all festivities before the houses and also at burials.

MGG1: article on St. Joachimsthal by Rudolf Quoika

The Kurrende also sang for weddings. Sometimes they sang in unison or with only two parts. They sang in Latin and German particularly on Sundays.

MGG1: article on Kantorei by Richard Schaal

They wore black capes (tradition stemming from the Middle Ages

They received money or vitalls (victuals) for their singing.

They sang in open squares or went from house to house

Sometimes they received special invitations to perform.

A 'Currendarius' (Latin) is most likely not derived from 'currendo canere' ("to run about singing") but rather from 'corradere' ("to beg, to scratch things together").

Sometimes the Kurrende participated in church services (earliest Sunday service), but most often there was a distinction between the figural choir and the Kurrende with the former dedicated primarily to singing figural music in church.

Often theKurrende served as a basic training choir from which some members would eventually be accepted in the figural choir. Often the Cantor controlled both choirs.

In some cities (Nürnberg, 1497) there were imposters who attempted to play a non-sanctioned role as Kurrende. Metal insignas were given to the genuine Kurrende to distinguish them from the imposters.

Another method for weeding out imposters was to have the genuine Kurrende sing in Latin.

In those regions which remained Catholic after the Reformation, the Kurrende organizations were rather quickly dismantled, while nevertheless remaining strong in the Lutheran areas, where some organizations still exist today and can point back to the origins in the Late Middle Ages or early Reformation.

There were also rivalries between various schools in larger cities. Territories for their activities were specifically assigned (they could not sing in the city region specified for another school).

In Nürnberg in 1637, due to shrinking funds in their organization, the Kurrende joined forces with elite figural church choir and sang 4-pt music way into the night during Advent, Christmas and New Years festivities. This ruined the voices of the figural choir for church services. In some places this practice had to be given up or other solutions provided. [pay some of them not to sing - the Leipzig solution].

Pietism was disastrous for Kurrende in some communities where a membership of only two members existed (Windsheim from 1656 until after 1704 when anyone could join and sing along again.

In the middle and late 18th century, there is the first mention of Sternsingen (a group of boy singers following one carrying a star - this took place on Epiphany; and on Laetare these singers in Nürnberg were involved in "das 'Totenaustragen' der Mädchen" ("the carrying out of the dead girls"?). For both of these Sundays the content of their singing was entirely derived from folk music.

In Speyer and Eßlingen, the Kurrende were asked to play instruments which eventually led to the demise of these Kurrende organizations.

The death knell for most Kurrende organizations was sounded by Christian Gottlob Heyne (1729-1812) who severely criticized their existence as inappropriate. In 1810, the Royal Bavarian Government declared the Kurrende to be contrary to the principles of education.

MGG1: article on Kurrende by Franz Krautwurst

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 13, 2006):
Canyon Rick wrote:
< My basic questions are: what sort of music was performed? Were there German folksongs? Did Bach or anyone else compose specifically for this activity? Was he required to supervise? >
It's always been my feeling that the Passion chorale which appears in the winds in the opening chorus of "Es ist Nicht Gesund" is meant to suggest a choir or band passing by in the streets and reminding the choir "inside" of mortality.

Thomas Braatz wrote (July 13, 2006):
Canyon Rick wrote:
>>My basic questions are: what sort of music was performed? Were there German folksongs? Did Bach or anyone else compose specifically for this activity? Was he required to supervise?<<
I never really tried to answer these questions directly as I put together the various sources on Kurrende organizations yesterday. Here is a short summary response to the above questions:

Assuming that the activities in Leipzig during Bach's time were similar to other towns and cities in Germany, a conjectural answer would be:

The music they sang;

in 1 to 4 parts

in Latin (motets) (mainly only on Sundays)

in German (Psalms and chorales, but not folk songs)

not composed specifically for these groups (the choir which sang figural music may have had music composed specifically for performance by that group in smaller towns and cities, the cantor would be responsible for both the Kurrende and the choir which sang the more difficult figural music; however in larger cities like Leipzig, the Kurrende would have practiced and performed under a prefect assigned by the cantor. I have not read anything about Bach having anything directly to do with the Kurrende in Leipzig, but his past personal experience with two separate Kurrende organizations would certainly have inclined Bach to look upon this organization with respect and strong feeling despite the fact that their existence caused problems with the performance of his own music particularly around Christmas/New Years/Epiphany. It would appear that some of his best boy singers could not resist the opportunity to make some money performing for hours and walking about in the cold and darkness of night (thereby ruining their voices) if it were not for a special stipend paid to some of these
singers to keep them from joining the Kurrende on their rounds.

Rick Canyon wrote (July 14, 2006):
Thomas (especially) and Doug: Thank you very much for your detailed responses. It is much appreciated.

 

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