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Chorales in Bach's Vocal Works
Discussions - Part 7

Continue from Part 6

Very OT: Help - Chorales

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (April 25, 2009):
Could anyone please provide me with the full texts to the following hymns:
1.) Jesu Kreuz, Leiden und Pein
2.) Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod
3.) An Wasserfluessen Babylon
4.) Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt (full English translation)
5.) Ermuentre dich, meih schwacher Geist (full English translation)

More later...

Thank you,

William Hoffman wrote (May 6, 2009):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] William Hoffman replies: I assume you want both the German (in B&H chorale collection) and in English, i.e.all 16 verses of JLP&T, in Charles S. Terry's Bach's Chorales in one large but now dated volume, not the three-volume chorale collection of major works, cantatas, and organ preludes(without the full texts). Drinker also translated all the Bach chorales but most of his publications have been OOP for half a century. Sibley didn't keep them because we have so many fine, different translations of the cantatas.

Which brings up one of my pet peeves: Why is it that we have major studies of Bach's cantatas from the perspectives of texts, handbuchs, biblical illusions, theological meanings, symbolism, compositional process and the collective cantatas themselves but little comparable for the major works BWV 225-249?

As to the search for published Picander poetry, at Sibley Library I found only the Spitta German edition of the 1725 Picander Passion as an appendix with Froher Tag, Anh. 3.

I found no published collection of the some eight editions of the Brockes Passion, only a major study (Henning Frederichs' 1975 <Das Verhaeltniss...." ) of the differences involving the Keiser, Handel, Telemann, and Mattheson Brockes settings (1712-18) and the Mattheson ominbus pasticcio of the four in 1722 in which, surprisingly, he utilizes only 5 of his movements in contrast to 60 from Telemann, 36 from Keiser, and 15 from Handel. By that time, Mattheson had gone deaf and Telemann had assumed the directorship from Keiser of the Hamburg Opera.

The best for now is to get the scores or the recording booklets of those Brockes four settings.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (May 6, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< William Hoffman replies: I assume you want both the German (in B&H chorale collection) and in English, i.e.all 16 verses of JLP&T, in Charles S. Terry's Bach's Chorales in one large but now dated volume, not the three-volume chorale collection of major works, cantatas, and organ preludes(without the full texts). Drinker also translated all the Bach chorales but most of his publications have been OOP for half a century. Sibley didn't keep them because we have so many fine, different translations of the cantatas. >
Actually, Will, I am not referring to any specific Chorale collection, but the actual Chorale texts. And your example is not a good one for your case. The Chorale "Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod" has at least 33 verses, not 16.

< Which brings up one of my pet peeves: Why is it that we have major studies of Bach's cantatas from the perspectives of texts, handbuchs, biblical illusions, theological meanings, symbolism, compositional process and the collective cantatas themselves but little comparable for the major works BWV 225-249?
As to the search for published Picander poetry, at Sibley Library I found only the Spitta German edition of the 1725 Picander Passion as an appendix with Froher Tag, Anh. 3. >
Could you tell me what the catalogue # is, please?

< I found no published collection of the some eight editions of the Brockes Passion, only a major study (Henning Frederichs' 1975 <Das Verhaeltniss...." ) of the differences involving the Keiser, Handel, Telemann, and Mattheson Brockes settings (1712-18) and the Mattheson ominbus pasticcio of the four in 1722 in which, surprisingly, he utilizes only 5 of his movements in contrast to 60 from Telemann, 36 from Keiser, and 15 from Handel. By that time, Mattheson had gone deaf and Telemann had assumed the directorship from Keiser of the Hamburg Opera. >
Unfortunately, these won't help much, as the composers themselves may have (like Bach did) change and adapt the wording of the text.

I have contacted the Bach-Archiv Leipzig, but still no word from them yet.

< The best for now is to get the scores or the recording booklets of those Brockes four settings. >

William Hoffman wrote (May 6, 2009):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] I have a scanner-copier-printer at home and can try to send you relevant pages as attachment.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (May 7, 2009):
[To William Hoffman] OK. Thanks.

While at it, you could try the Wackernagel and Fischer-Tumpfell(?) editions that D. Philip Ambrose used for the translations of the Chorales for his Bach site. I would try at least the Wackernagel edition myself, but have no money and am restricted as to where I can go with my car.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (May 7, 2009):
[To William Hoffman] You wrote (in response to question I asked):

ML 410 B 11 S76J.2 (German edition), pp. 871-883 (Appendix X)

I reply thusly:

I found online the volumes you were talking about. Unfortunately, I live and am in Mesa, Arizona, and am not an Eastman School of Music student or faculty member, nor am I in close proximity to it. Are you? If so, do you think you could copy the pages in question for me and send them here, please?

My address is as follows:

David Glenn Lebut Jr.
9431 E. Onza Avenue
Mesa, AZ 85212-1432
USA

 

Orchestral doubling of chorales

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 20, 2010):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< We are now in the territory of chorale instrumental support. >
This may be a sidebar to the cantata discussion, but is there any evidence that Bach's orchestra accompanied the chorales throughout the service or was their participation limited to 20-odd minutes in a 3 to 4 hour service, before and after which they were silent? There's at least one engraving from the period (not of Leipzig) which shows instrumentalists in an organ loft playing while a congregation is singing.

They certainly played when there was a concerted setting of the Missa (Kyrie & Gloria) and Sanctus, but those large-scale movements may have only been performed on principal festivals (i.e. the three-day celebrations of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost)

It would have been easy enough for the instrumentalists to have hymn books with music before them and play the appropriate soprano, alto, tenor or bass line. The doubling in the cantatas shows a consistent pattern of voice allocation which might reflect traditional doubling.

That tradition certainly goes back to Praetorius at the beginning of the 17th century who wrote an elaborate treatise about how to double chorales with varying instrumental colours (winds on verse 1, strings on verse 2, and so on). Did Bach signal to his instrumentalists who was to play on a particular verse in a 12 stanza hymn?

And were the municipal waits on call every Sunday to accompchorales and perhaps play canzone during communion? Given the well-regulated gradation in Bach's forces, were other student instrumentalists present who didn't play the cantata but gained experience by observing its performance? In a period when rote learning and apprenticeship were pedagogical norms, did the up-and-coming instrumentalists hone their public skills on the chorales?

Peter Smaill wrote (December 20, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling] The illustration of the choir singing while the orchestra plays cuts across what has been thought to date. Firstly, it is not now generally thought that the congregation sang in the final Chorales of the Cantatas in Leipzig (Hamburg may have been different).

As regards hymn singing of Chorales by the congregation, the impression I've taken from Stiller is that this would be organ accompanied:

"A report of 1717 is more explicit. "...in the two main chuches, where both concerted and chorale music depend on the direction of the cantor of St Thomas, there is on ordinary Sundays alternately counterpoint music in one church, while in the other only German hymns are sung and the organ is played"."

However even this reference does not rule out the possibility that the orchestra in the first choir, not the organ, played with the congregational chorales. But I have not so far found any positive evidence that this was then case.

Evan Cortens wrote (December 20, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< This may be a sidebar to the cantata discussion, but is there any evidence that Bach's orchestra accompanied the chorales throughout the service or was their participation limited to 20-odd minutes in a 3 to 4 hour service, before and after which they were silent? There's at least one engraving from the period (not of Leipzig) which shows instrumentalists in an organ loft playing while a congregation is singing. >

I wonder if Tanya Kevorkian's book _Baroque Piety_ has anything to say on this topic? I know it does discuss congregation participation in chorale singing (concluding, iirc, that they didn't sing in the cantata chorales, but of course sang the others), but I can't recall if instrumental participation in non-cantata chorales in the Hauptgottesdienst is discussed.

I'm afraid I don't have the book handy now, but here's a link: http://worldcat.org/oclc/72988138

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 20, 2010):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< I wonder if Tanya Kevorkian's book Baroque Piety has anything to say on this topic? I know it does discuss congregation participation in chorale singing (concluding, iirc, that they didn't sing in the cantata chorales, but of course sang the others), but I can't recall f instrumental participation in non-cantata chorales in the Hauptgottesdienst is discussed.

I'd have to go back and check: I don't think she did.

By the way, a good chunk of this important book is online at:
Baroque piety: religion, society, and music in Leipzig, 1650-1750 By Tanya Kevorkian (Google Books)

It gives a LOT of insight into the reception of the cantata by the average Joe-in-the-pew, including some of the Pythonesque antics of Bach's congregations ... Teenaged boys sitting in the gallery so they could leer at uptown girls in the boxes below.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 20, 2010):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< I wonder if Tanya Kevorkian's book Baroque Piety has anything to say on this topic? [...] >
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< By the way, a good chunk of this important book is online at:
Baroque piety: religion, society, and music in Leipzig, 1650-1750 By Tanya Kevorkian (Google Books) >
Despite the intimidating appearance of that link, it works pretty well on my archaic laptop. I was unable to access anything comparable with a general google search.

I did notice a statement, early on, to the effect that chants were in Latin, because of the presence of the Latin school in Leipzig. What chants, exactly? I am under the impression that part of Luthers (and Bachs?) intent was to make the liturgy as accessible as possibler to the general populace.

DC:
< Teenaged boys sitting in the gallery so they could leer at uptown girls in the boxes below. >
EM:
I was a teenaged boy, just the other year. I am guessing those boys were not very intent on the Latin chants?

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 20, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I did notice a statement, early on, to the effect that chants were in Latin, because of the >presence of the Latin school in Leipzig. What chants, exactly? >
More accurate questions would be: The Gospels and Epistles would not be chanted in Latin? The Introit would (or not?), given the Latin name for the Sundays after Easter? And the unvarying skeleton of the Mass, including Dominus vobiscum, would be?

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 21, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I did notice a statement, early on, to the effect that chants were in Latin, because of the presence of the Latin school in Leipzig. What chants, exactly? I am under the impression that part of Luthers (and Bachs?) intent was to make the liturgy as accessible as possibler to the general populace. >
Here's a note I wrote for the Tallis Choir of Toronto's recreation of a Bach Christmas mass:

When Martin Luther formulated the new German mass in 1526, he provided two orders. The "German Mass" was intended for smaller parishes and replaced ritual items such as the Kyrie and Gloria with vernacular hymns or chorales. This was the order which came to be used almost universally in Europe and which was brought to North America by Lutheran immigrants. However, Luther also provided a second order, the "Formula Missae" (Order of Mass), which retained Latin and was intended for large urban and collegiate churches that had choir schools. Luther was an accomplished musician ­ his favorite composer was Josquin ­ and he wanted the tradition of daily choral services with polyphony maintained. When Bach came as Cantor to St. Thomas, Leipzig, in 1723, he came as the latest star in a two hundred year history of superb music-making.

Outline of Festival Mass in Bach's Time:

Organ Prelude
Introit Motet or Chant (Latin)
Kyrie (Greek)
Gloria (Latin)
Collect with polyphonic Responses (Latin)
Chanted Epistle (German)
Organ Prelude
Hymn de Tempore (German)
Responses before Gospel (Latin)
Chanted Gospel (German)
Organ Prelude
Cantata (German)
Credo (Latin)
Organ Prelude
Metrical Creed (German)
Organ Prelude
Hymn before Sermon (German)
Lord's Prayer (German)
Sermon (German)
Organ Prelude
Hymn (German)
Preface (Latin)
Sanctus (Latin)
Verba (German)
Organ Prelude
Cantata II
Organ Preludes
Hymns (German) & Motets (Latin)
Closing Prayers (German)
Organ Prelude
Hymn (German)

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 21, 2010):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< As regards hymn singing of Chorales by the congregation, the impression I've taken from Stiller is that this would be organ accompanied: >
In the notes to McCreesh's recreation of Bach's "Epiphany Mass", Leaver points out that Bach's congregations sang chorales in three ways:

1) A chorale prelude on the melody on the organ followed by the hymn sung unaccompanied. Hard to imagine Bach sitting on the organ bench listening to 800 people singing in unison!

2) The hymn in unison with harmonies by the organ. The organist improvised interludes after each line. Bach frequently wrote orchestral versions of this tradition in the cantatas. "Vom HimHoch" closes Parts One and Two of the Christmas Oratorio: in the first, the brass interpose noble fanfares; the second interpolates the shepherd music of the sinfonia.

3) The hymn sung in four part harmony and accompanied by the organ. This is the modern notion of hymn singing. It would have been easy to ask the instruments present for the cantata to double the four parts of the hymn.

Peter Smaill wrote (December 21, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling & Evan Cortens] Kevorkian certainly does discuss the long-standing question of the congregation singing along with the final Chorale (ipso facto with the instruments):

".....the majority of scholars argue that they did not. (p43). ff72 "Charles Terry (1933) posited that they did; Robin A Leaver (1982) argued that they did not....much further study is needed to clarify the issue."

She then goes on to quote Gottfried Ephraim Schiebel, who had studied theology in Leipzig in 1715: " Chorales there are so that the congregation can sing along, and correspondingly their melody is set without ornamentation". Schiebel also referred to a passion performance that he had attended, apparently of a simpler type of "chorale" passion than the style used by Bach . He noted " I was amazed at how attentively people listened and how devoutly they sang along"..." gradually (after the 1680's) the Passion story, which had previously been sung simply and piously, began to be performed most elaborately with instruments, with an occasional verse from a passion hymn, to which the entire congregation sings, after which all the instruments would again start in".

This is again tantalizingly ambiguous and could be argued either way! She covers also the usual arguments about Bach's variations to the melody, complex harmonies and high soprano pitch all of which tend to argue against singing of the chorales during the Cantata by the congregation. Nevertheless, the absence of evidence of any formal church ordinance against singing along has to be noted as well.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 21, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< In the notes to McCreesh's recreation of Bach's "Epiphany Mass", Leaver points out that Bach's congregations sang chorales in three ways:
1) A chorale prelude on the melody on the organ followed by the hymn sung unaccompanied. Hard to imagine Bach sitting on the organ bench listening to 800 people singing in unison! >
Spoken like an organist! Congregation unison, or not so?
>
< 3) The hymn sung in four part harmony and accompanied by the organ. This is the modern notion of hymn singing. It would have been easy to ask the instruments present for the cantata to double the four parts of the hymn. >
Since Bach wrote this out on at least a few occasions, it is certainly credible that he may have performed it more routinely, as well.

Note the comments by Peter Samill, to the effect that when written out, the occasion was special (doubling obligatory!?). That does not necessarily infer the contrary, i.e., when not written, not played.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 23, 2010):
Doubling of the voice

In response to the question re doubling of the vocal part in arias, have a look at BWV 29 (the one that begins with the violin partita arrangement). In the soprano aria the oboe doubles the strings in the instrumental ritornelli sections and the voice otherwise---except at the end of the middle section where it used as a counterpoint against
the voice (from bar 56). I know of no other such use of an obbligato instrument by Bach.

The reason cannot be simply to support a weak solist or it would have done so throughout. I am much more inclined to the view that it is symbolic---the text is about leading and governing---those who lead and those who follow----the oboe follows where it can (strings and voice) with just a brief moment of its own independence. . My feeling is that on the rare occasions that Bach doubled the voice in this way the reason was not a weak soloist but symbolic.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 23, 2010):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< The reason cannot be simply to support a weak solist or it would have done so throughout. I am much more inclined to the view that it is symbolic---the text is about leading and governing---those who lead and those who follow----the oboe follows where it can (strings and voice) with just a brief moment of its own independence. My feeling is that on the rare occasions that Bach doubled the voice in this way the reason was not a weak soloist but symbolic. >
As I take a few moments to prepare for two weeks of discussing motets, I see that the prevalent (but not quite exclusive) use of instruments in Bach’s modern (early 18th C.) version of motets is in fact doubling of vocal lines (colla parte seems to be the musical term). I think this leans toward a symbolic interpretation, perhaps with traditional intent as well, as Julian suggests.

 

Psalms in Bach's Hymn Book

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 15, 2011):
I recently noticed that the Vopelius hymnbook lists a number of psalms for use at Communion: "Bey der Communion oder Gebrauch d. H. Abendmahls"

Psalms 8, 15, 20, 23, 30, 42, 67, 84, 92, 103, 111, 117, 121, 146

It would be interesting to go through the list and see if anything corresponds to works of Bach. I can't ascertain if they are metrical versions.

The one that jumped out at me was Psalm 117 which is "Lobet den Herrn", the shortest of psalms at two verses and which Bach (?) used entirely for his motet of the same name.

Was Bach's motet written specifically as a Communion motet? It's liturgical context is otherwise unknown.

William Hoffman wrote (May 29, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] Edition Bachakademie Vol. 82
A Book of Chorale-Settings for Incidental Festivities, Psalms
Chorale from BWV 80b
Chorales: BWV 258, 267, 280, 286, 303, 305, 308, 309, 311, 312, 323, 324, 326, 337, 338, 372, 374, 376, 382, 390, 411, 438, BWV 1123, 1126
Choral Preludes: BWV 616, 653a, 677, 685, 720, 721, 732, 733

Of 24 tracks of free-standing chorales and organ preludes, eight are for omne tempore lesser festivals, Marian, John and Michael, the rest are psalm hymns, including those used in chorale cantatas. Psalms play a major role in the omne tempore cantatas for Trinity and Epiphany times, related to the Introits and Lessons teachings. I'm just working on the liturgy and music for the First Sunday After Trinity, as found in Bach's music and the Vopelius hymnbook.

 

Cantata 75: Trinity Time Chorales

William Hoffman wrote (June 9, 2011):
See: Motets & Chorales for 1st Sunday after Trinity [LCY]

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 9, 2011):
The Week in Chorales

See: Motets & Chorales for 1st Sunday after Trinity [LCY]

William Hoffman wrote (June 10, 2011):
Trinity Time Chorales for Various Services

See: Motets & Chorales for 1st Sunday after Trinity [LCY]

 

Cantata 76: Chorales for the Second Sunday After Trinity

William Hoffman wrote (June 15, 2011):
See: Motets & Chorales for 2nd Sunday after Trinity [LCY]

 

Cantata 21: Trinity +3 & 4 Chorales

William Hoffman wrote (June 22, 2011):
See: Motets & Chorales for 3rd Sunday after Trinity / Motets & Chorales for 4th Sunday after Trinity [LCY]

William Hoffman wrote (June 22, 2011):
Codes for chorales:

See: Motets & Chorales for 3rd Sunday after Trinity / Motets & Chorales for 4th Sunday after Trinity [LCY]

 

19th Century Chorale Tempos

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 7, 2011):
A colleague asked me to arrange a reduced scoring for Mendelssohn's "Wachet Auf" from his oratorio, "St. Paul." It is sung right after the dramatic chorus depicting the conversion of St. Paul.

The chorale is notated in alla breve half-notes and the orchestral accompaniment is filled with brass fanfares in sixteenth notes. The tempo can therefore onlbe very slow and majestic.

It's interesting to speculate if the movement reflects the tempos of chorales in contemporary 19th century Lutheran churches. Scholars have pointed out that the tempo of hymn-singing slowed down considerably in the last half of the 18th century. It was only the early music movement that proposed faster tempos. Today, chorales are taken at a clip which is almost double what it was 50 years ago.

 

Wie bin ich doch so herzlich froh

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (October 21, 2012):
Is the composer / author of the chorale "Wie bin ich doch so herzlich froh" known (it's used by Bach in that wonderful cantata BWV in with a obbligato horn part).

I did check around before I bothered the list.

Have a great Sunday!

Ralf Steen wrote (October 21, 2012):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] I suppose you mean BWV 1 (at least there it has the obligato horn)?

In that case, it is the 7th stanza of Philipp Nicolai's "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" of 1597.

Ralf (rather new to the list. so hello!)

Julian Mincham wrote (October 21, 2012):
[To Ralf Steen] BWV 1 is not the only cantata with a chorale boasting a horn obbligato

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (October 21, 2012):
[To Ralf Steen] Thanks I meant BWV 1, and welcome to the list Ralf ;)

Ralf Steen wrote (October 21, 2012):
[To Julian Mincham] Of course not – and I never said so.

But BWV 1 is the only one I that came to mind (and I might just as well be mistaken) where Bach uses the obligato horn within the chorale “Wie bin ich doch so herzlich froh”.

Julian Mincham wrote (October 21, 2012):
[To Ralf Steen] Indeed--just clarifying

Henner Schwerk wrote (October 22, 2012):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Its Philipp Nicolai, this Choral is also in the cantata BWV 49, "Ich geh und suche mit verlangen" which we performed yesterday (20th Sunday after Trinity) during the Service. Solosoprano sings the Choral, Bass the aria and the orchestra has Oboe d'amore, strings and a nice organ obligato. Very beautiful Duett in this cantata about Love!

Julian Mincham wrote (October 22, 2012):
[To Henner Schwerk] Versions of this chorale are also to be found in one version of BWV 36 and in BWV 172.

It is interesting to note that of the four uses of the chorale, only one i.e. the five movement version of BWV 36 (see Barenreiter Urtext volume 1), is presented in the conventional manner, harmonised in four parts with instruments doubling at the end of the work. In BWV 172 Bach contrives a florid obbligato for flute and violin and, of course, there is the added horn part in BWV 1 played, presumably for reasons of tessitura, by the second not the first horn.

The last movement of BWV 49 is the most radical, an experiment which Bach toyed with occasionally by combining the closing chorale with the last aria, in this case a charming duet.

 

Bach's hymnbook - cammerton or cornet-ton?

Charles Francis wrote (October 29, 2012):
Not all questions can necessarily be answered: What time is it on Mars? What's the meaning of life? etc., and perhaps asking such a question about Bach's hymnbook is mute. Weren't the congregational chorals unaccompanied, after all? There are, moreover, two conflated issues: the absolute pitch at which chorals were sung and their intonation. With regard to the latter, we may assume that unaccompanied singers would naturally tend towards harmonic intervals and whenever a piece modulated would effortlessly switch to a new collection of harmonic relations. Where the organ was involved, however, the pitch and intonation would necessarily be fixed. An organ cannot accommodate its tuning to singers or orchestra, so must be the tuning reference. As we know from CPE Bach's letters, his father was a stickler for keeping everything in tune, so one imagines a procedure like the following would be his norm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LETOARKBkX0

With regard to this week's cantata, the chorale melody for the text "Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin" appears in the 1715 Gotha Hymnal with derivations used in the BWV 83 closing chorale, in BWV 382 and in BWV 616: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Mit-Fried-und-Freud.htm

BWV 382 is the 49th chorale in the 1784 CPE Bach collection, while BWV 616 is a chorale prelude from the Orgelbüchlein: http://tinyurl.com/92aztds

It's of interest to note that all three settings appear at first glance to share the same key signature as the Gotha Hymnal of 1715. There's a subtlety, however, of the kind often missed by musicologists who ignore the pitch standards in use at Bach's time: while BWV 382 and BWV 616 certainly do share the same tonality as the 1715 Gotha Hymnal melody, that is not the case for BWV 83. Delving deeper, we know that the existent organ performance part for BWV 83 is notated in two flats and is one tone lower than the other parts. So from the fixed tonal organ reference, the performance was in two flats with all singers and instrumentalists in cammerton transposition – the organ, in God-like manner, providing the absolute Church Pitch in a world of relatives. Thomas Braatz has mentioned that Johann Kuhnau introduced cammerton pitch to Leipzig during his tenure, but what exactly happened from the congregation's perspective? Was it purely a notational change for the organist that had no effect on them, i.e., Kuhnau's chorale harmonisations continued in their usual cornet-ton tonality? Or were the chorals transposed and re-pitched in the manner of BWV 83?

Below are two links to organ realisations with archaic tunings that optimise the harmonic relations for natural key tonalities:

BWV 382: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mkgcc55cfgQ

BWV 616: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVVgtS81g2I

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 31, 2012):
Charles Francis wrote:
< Not all questions can necessarily be answered: >
??? (as my hero, The Riddler, might say)

< What time is it on Mars? >
The same time as everywhere else in the universe!

< What’s the meaning of life? >
Self-evident.

< and perhaps asking such a question about Bach’s hymnbook is mute. >
Do you mean moot? Interesting near-homonym, in any case.

William Zeitler wrote (October 31, 2012):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
<< and perhaps asking such a question about Bach's hymnbook is mute. >>
< Do you mean moot? Interesting near-homonym, in any case. >
Or maybe 'mu'! (The zen word for 'nothingness')

 

Contemporary hymn texts for Jesu Bleibet meine freude

David McKay wrote (June 29, 2013):
Does anyone have access to a contemporary hymn text for Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring?

Toying with asking if I can get this going at church for 28th July.

Thanks

Paul Farseth wrote (July 9, 2013):
David McKay wrote on June 28:
< Does anyone have access to a contemporary hymn text for Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring? >
I don't have a modern hymn to that meter, but here's a translation of the relevant German text from Bach's cantata in singable verse:

Well for me that I have Jesus!
Oh how tight I cling to him,
So that he my heart refreshes
When my health or spirit's dim.
I have Jesus, who so loves me
That his very self he gives me.
So from him I'll not depart,
No matter what might break my heart.

Jesus stays my source of gladness.
He's my courage and life's blood.
He wards off despair and sadness:
He's my strength, my staff and rod.
My eyes' sunshine, light and pleasure,
He's my heart's delight and treasure.
So I'll let no thing erase
Him from what I love and face.

(This fairly literal and reasonably vivid, though certainly not brilliant. Hope I got the syllabification right.)

 

New Bach Chorale Tune Index

Luke Dahn wrote (December 8, 2013):
I've created an index of all the Bach chorales organized by hymn tune (using scale–degree numbers). Both Schmieder numbers and Riemenschneider numbers are included (so the nearly 60 chorales missing from the "371" are included here as well).
So if you are ever trying to find a harmonization of a particular chorale tune but you cannot remember the chorale's title, number or source, this table will be helpful. It's also useful for comparing different Bach chorale settings of the same tune.: http://www.lukedahn.net/ChoraleTuneIndex.htm

I'm still working on filling in missing tune title and composer information, which is naturally not a straightforward process. But the BWV and Riemenschneider columns are complete. If any of you have suggestions for the table, find errors, or can provide missing information, please do let me know.

Thought this might be useful to some of you.

Norma Stevlingson wrote (December 8, 2013):
[To Luke Dahn] My goodness, what a wonderful work! Thank you for sharing it.

 

Freue Sich & Goudimel: Psauime 42

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 13, 2014):
It's always worth listening to the original forms of the melodies which are transformed by Bach.

Here's the French original. It's an amateur performance but they sing it authentically first in unison and then harmonized. I suspect it was probably originally sung with greater point and élan, but the isorhythms, which are generally smoothed out by the time Bach receives them, are delightful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r25wsROFarc

 

A Modern Chorale-Prelude and Congregational Hymn

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 20, 2014):
The link shows Dutch organist, Marco Den Toom, in the Lutheran Church in The Hague, improvising a prelude on a chorale which leads into the congregation singing the hymn (note the assistant "pulling stops" for the

organist): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXVbWufS8LA#t=14

A tad on the Nino Rota-esque side for my taste, but the effect is probably not dissimilar to Bach improvising a substantive prelude before the Hymn of the Day.

 

Chorale tunes / texts in the 1682 NLGB

Luke Dahn wrote (February 2010, 2015):
Here is a new sortable table indexing the texts and tunes from Bach's chorales by their location (page number) in the 1682 NLGB (Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch) edited by Gottfried Vopelius.: http://www.lukedahn.net/ChoralesInVopelius.htm

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 2010, 2015):
[To Luke Dahn] Thank you

Terrific resource!

Peter Smaill wrote (February 2010, 2015):
[To Luke Dahn] Luke, a terrific addition to our resources in terms of identifying chorale deployment in Bach. Thank you very much for sharing it !

Timothy Barndt wrote (February 2010, 2015):
[To Luke Dahn] Luke, great resource. Thanks.

 

Does anyone know of any "hidden instrumental chorales" in Bach cantatas [Bach Cantatas Maniacs ML]

Gregory Huff wrote (January 16, 2015):
Does anyone know of any "hidden instrumental chorales" in Bach cantatas besides the ones in Cantata BWV 19 (Es erhub) movement 5, and the recitative in Cantata BWV 23? My favorite is the one in Cantata 23.

Marco Bucci wrote (January 16, 2015):
[To Gregory Huff] What do you mean with "hidden instrumental chorales"?

Gregory Huff wrote (January 16, 2015):
[To Marco Bucci] Chorales hidden behind the singer, sometimes during a recitative, when you may not be expecting to hear it.

Marco Bucci wrote (January 16, 2015):
[To Gregory Huff] OK. Then I can say there's one on the BWV 76, last chorale.....

Henk Vogel wrote (January 16, 2015):
[To Gregory Huff] Cantata BWV 106 (Gottes Zeit), 'hidden chorale': 'Ich hab mein Sach' Gott heimgestellt' in movement 2d. Es ist der alte Bund.

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 18, 2015):
[To Gregory Huff]
1. There is an article on the BCW with a page of solutions "Hidden Chorale Melody Allusions": http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Hidden-Chorales.htm

2. If you use the BCW utility Search Works/Movements: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/INS-Search.htm
and search the term "Instr Chorale"
you will get a list of all the movements in Bach's vocal works with instrumental chorale.

 

Blessed Jesu, At Thy Word

David McKay wrote (April 16, 2015):
I am intrigued by a wonderful harmonisation of Liebster Jesu which is found in Geoffrey Shaw's Twice 20: choral songs for choirs.

It was used for singing in my Music class in 1968, and I was delighted to find a copy of the book, about fifteen years ago.

The tune is ascribed to J R Ahle, with harmonisation by J S B.

But, try as I might, I can't find it in any of Bach's choral works or chorale preludes or cantatas. There are other harmonisations of this tune, but none close to this delightful one.

I'm wondering where Mr Shaw got it from, and if it is actually a false attribution.

Thanks for any help you can give.

David McKay wrote (April 17, 2015):
I have put up a copy of the harmonisation I am intrigued by at Gontroppo's Blog: Is this harmonisation really by Bach?

I'd love it if someone can enlighten me on its provenance. Thanks!

Julian Mincham wrote (April 17, 2015):
[To David McKay] David I looked at the partial harmonisation you posted. It is not listed in any of the sets I have access to which include the Bach Riemenschneider 371 chorales and the more comprehensive Barenreiter Urtext. My guess is that it is not by Bach but a 19th century attribution to him.

Imaginative though the harmonisation is, there are features which are not typically Bachian--one that leaps out is the repeating of the three C#s in the bass across the cadence. I cannot think of another case where Bach does this--the movement of the bass in his harmonisations is crucial in marking and deliniating the cadence points.

Julian Mincham wrote (April 17, 2015):
Sorry------ omit the word 'partial' from my last posting. The copy I printed off missed a couple of bars but it is all there on the screen.

Luke Dahn wrote (April 17, 2015):
I suspect that it's a misattribution. As already suggested, there is one (and only one) four-part setting of this tune that is firmly attributed to JS Bach, and that is BWV 373, a very different setting from this one.

The three repeated C#s may give slight support against Bachian authorship, but only slight. Repeating the same note this way is not uncommon in Bach chorales, though it is certainly less common for Bach not to displace one of the three notes up or down an octave. (I could provide numerous examples of three repeated notes across a cadence in which at least one note is displaced.) However, there are even times when he repeats three notes in the same octave. See BWV 271 as an example -- the cadence of phrase 3 leading into phrase 4. So this aspect itself does not rule out Bachian authorship.

What I find to be less Bachian in this setting is the rather uninteresting alto line. This may be a bit subjective, but typically, when the alto line is rather uneventful in a phrase or two, it will eventually explode in activity at some point in the chorale. This bland alto line lacks any such sense of overall direction. It's solid in its part-writing and voice-leading, but it's too "textbook" in my opinion.

I also find the third phrase to be quite interesting. The harmonization shifts to the key of F# minor (E# in the bass), but the melody, with its arrival on E-natural, prevents a convincing half cadence to a dominant C# major chord to confirm the key. Instead a C# minor chord appears leaving the key slightly ambiguous. While tonal ambiguity by no means rules out Bachian authorship (tonal ambiguity is very common!), the lack of clarity produced by harmonizing against the melody, so to speak, seems rather unBachian to me.

I, too, am curious about the origin of this setting. Thanks for sharing.

Julian Mincham wrote (April 17, 2015):
[To Luje Dahn] I don't think the two examples are really comparable.In 271 the repeated Ds in the bass (if the words allowed it could have been a dotted minum) spell out a three beat tonic chord embellished by a double suspension. The whole bar is chord 1 and so it makes sense for the bass to remain on the tonic note of D. The bass changes when the harmony changes on the second chord of the new phrase. In the A major chorale the progession is, to my ear much weaker---the bass remains static through chord changes. On reflection the weakness may be not just the repeated bass note but also the jumping of the upper two parts. In 271 Bach takes care, as in most of his cadences of this type, to have all parts move by step. The result in the questionable chorale, possibly exacerbated by the static bass, is rather ungainly and lacks the finesse which Bach demonstrates continuously in his chorale harmonisations.

William Hoffman wrote (April 19, 2015):
I suspect that the harmonization may have originated in a 19th century hymnbook where many of Bach's four-part chorales, especially "O Sacred head now wounded," were streamlined by combining different individual phrases and passages for better voice-leading and to better fit the individual vocal parts.

 

Course on the Chorales

Luke Dahn wrote (September 21, 2015):
Dear friends,
Next semester, I will be teaching a seminar course entitled "The Lutheran Chorale in Bach and Beyond." The course will be structured in such a way that each week will be devoted to a different chorale tune. The class will look at a tune as it appeared in hymnal format, then see what Bach did with the tune, then see what later composers did with the tune. There are some wonderful examples of later composers treating Lutheran chorale tunes, from Reger, to the Mendelssohns (both Felix and Fanny), to Brahms (e.g. motets), to Liszt (including his Variations on a Motive by Bach which features a stunning presentation of "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan"), to Alban Berg (whose violin concerto is based on the chorale "Es ist genug").

I would greatly appreciate any recommendations any of you have regarding course resources, from articles about the chorales, to articles about pieces based on the chorales, to other post-Bach works that use chorales. The course will be primarily focused on analysis, but we'll need the proper historical/cultural context as well, so I'm interested in articles of any kind really. Feel free to send me any ideas on or off the list.

Thanks!

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 22, 2015):
Luke Dahn wrote:
< I would greatly appreciate any recommendations any of you have regarding course resources, from articles about the chorales, to articles about pieces based on the chorales, to other post-Bach works that use chorales. >
I would strongly recommend that your first session should look at chorale singing in the 150 years BEFORE the Reformation. Robin Leaver: "Luther's Liturgical Music" demonstrates that Luther did not "invent" the vernacular chorale, but that German-speaking Catholics were singing hymns during the Latin mass as early as the 14th century. Luther in fact consolidated and expanded what was the liturgical status quo.

You can preview parts of the book at: https://books.google.ca/books/about/Luther_s_Liturgical_Music.html?id=dD3A8cxPfJoC

Linda Gingrich wrote (September 22, 2015):
[To Luke Dahn] Luke, are you familiar with Daniel Melamed's article, "Cantata Choruses and Chorales" in vol I of The World of the Bach Cantatas? It's been some years since I read it so I don't know how helpful it may be to you.

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 22, 2015):
[To Luke Dahn] I believe that the section of Chorale Melodies on the BCW, most of it contributed by Thomas Braatz, might be a useful and handy resource:
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/index.htm
Among other things, each CM page includes a list of compositions by other composers (before and after J.S. Bach) using the CM.
See, for example, the CM used by Alban Berg in his Violin Concerto:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Es-ist-genug.htm
In addition, the Articles section on the BCW includes 3 articles by A. Schweitzer and one by C.S. Terry about this topic.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/index.htm

Luke Dahn wrote (September 23, 2015):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thank you Doug, Linda and Aryeh for these great suggestions. I have the Leaver book on Luther's approach to music, and I love the idea of going back as far as possible. Good thought.

Linda, I know of the book you mention, but I don't recall reading the Melamed chapter. I will definitely check it out. Thanks!

Aryeh, an excellent reminder. I had almost forgotten about the reference to other composers using chorale tunes. The BCW is such a great resource! I plan to use the BCW extensively throughout the course and plan to have the students consult the site as well. If anything, the course will hopefully expand BCW exposure just a little bit. I've also been in contact with Thomas directly about this course, and he will be an invaluable resource as well. Thanks everyone.

 

Continue on Part 8

=bar-chorale=


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