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Members of the Bach Cantatas Mailing List
Part 5: Year 2003

New Year’s Greetings from new member

wrote (January 1, 2003):
I am a new member of the group, having just joined this morning. A good way to start the New Year.

In fact the first music I listened to this morning was Janet Baker's wonderful recording of Cantata BWV 170, which I have always loved.

Happy New Year to all of you, and I look forward to reading the postings this year.

Christian Leblé [Les Cantates] wrote (February 25, 2003):
I am new in the list, but I would like to introduce our project: a group of (fairly) young period instrument players have set a regular Bach cantatas performance series in Paris, since March 2000.

Every 1st sunday of the month, between October and June, we perform a Bach cantata, keeping fairly close to the Lutherian calender. The musicians, instrumentalists and singers, perform for the fun and the concert is free. On March 2nd, we will have our third anniversary.

For the last three years, I have prepared concert notes, including French translation and comments. I would be interested to get in touch with Jean-Pierre Grivois to discuss some aspects of translation including "technical" vocabulary but mostly good taste in French cantatas texts. I don't know if you "store" the past discussions and if it is possible to have access to them still. In March we will perform Trauer-Ode (BWV 198) and in April BWV 96, "In allen meinen Taten", a cantata among these without establisched destination which we use for these months when there was no cantata composed.

Thanks for your incredibly huge work on the cantatas.


S.W. Anandgyan wrote (March 14, 2003):
I've been "studying" the Bach Cantatas Website with added reading to some well-known classical music magazines as to manage to make decent purchases if not brilliant ...

So today I have subscribed to those lists that I hope will allow me to read fresh posts from connaiseurs met in cyber-space.

Thanks to the regulars and others who bothered express their preference.

I came back today with the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) by Paul McCreesh and the Bach Sacred Masterpieces with Karl Richter and I'm listening to my favourite Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) at once.


Welcome New Members

Aryeh Oron wrote (March 18, 2003):
The BCML has already passed the amazing number of 330 members, and it is still growing. When it all started, more than three years ago, there were about 20 members; after a year we had about 120, after two years more than 200, and after three years about 300. The number of actual contributors to the discussions is much smaller, but this is only natural.

I warmly welcome all the new members who have joined the BCML recently. May I ask the new members to introduce themselves to the other members of the list?

I suggest that the first message you send to the BCML will be titled 'Introducing Myself' and in which you will tell the group something about your background and your acquaintance with Bach's music, especially the Bach Cantatas.

Members who joined the BCML in previous years used to write such an introduction. You can read their messages in the following pages of the Bach Cantatas Website (BCW):
Year 1999:
Year 2000:
Year 2001:
Year 2002:
My First Cantata:

Some of the members in the BCML have personal websites. Some of these websites are dedicated to Bach, some are not. There is a page in the BCW dedicated to these labours of love:
If I have personal Website not listed there, please let me know.


Introducing Myself

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 18, 2003):
Howdy everybody, I've been on the BachRecordings list for years, and more recently started paying attention to BachCantatas also...but evidently I've never posted an introduction. So, here goes:

I'm a professional performer on the "early keyboards" - harpsichord, organ, clavichord, and fortepiano; also a composer and conductor. My music resume is at
and my more general home page is at
(essays, photos, productions, solo CDs for sale, etc.).

I had 12 years of piano lessons, and then as a freshman in college I decided to switch to harpsichord (and secondarily to study organ and church music). Bach's keyboard music quickly became a core of my repertoire, for performances on and off campus: the Goldberg Variations, Brandenburg 5, suites, partitas, preludes, fugues, other concertos; and of course accompanying all my friends' vocal and instrumental recitals, whenever anybody needed a harpsichordist, or a piano accompanist for voice lessons. My undergraduate degree was a double emphasis in music and mathematics.

In the next 20 years since that switch (I'm now almost 40) I've had sort of an "all-around" career as a professional performer: as freelance concert soloist and ensemble player, occasional conductor, masterclass accompanist, choral accompanist, composer, arranger, producer of recordings, and ten years as a regular church organist, having to prepare or improvise music every week (as Bach had to do in some of his jobs). That was a great way to get to know the repertoire of 17th and 18th century chorale-based works: chorale preludes, motets, little cantatas, practical stuff for use in church (its original function) by Bach, his contemporaries, and his predecessors.

Along the way I also picked up masters' degrees in musicology and early keyboard instruments, and a doctoral degree in harpsichord performance (with a strong emphasis on research). My primary professor there in the keyboard study, and my committee chairman, was Edward Parmentier. He is a wonderful teacher, knowing how to challenge each individual student, and demanding very high standards of thought and analysis and playing, and synthesis across disciplines. (He was also in the fields of English and classics himself, so he demanded perfect writing and careful revision on all the papers we had to write....) He brought a broad base of music history and research techniques to every project we worked on, and encouraged (encourages) his students to do the same. Brilliant!

So, I come to all this music from a very practical standpoint, knowing from experience what works in different acoustic situations, with different types of ensembles (some skilled, some less so), etc., etc., but also from academia, with its emphasis on skepticism and care with the sources. I think it's a good blend. When pushed, I will always choose to err on the side of making a performance communicative and creative, with an improvisatory freshness and immediacy, rather than on following "rules" or objective historical guidelines; I abhor boring performances that are merely "correct," or generic-sounding, whether they are by myself or anyone else. Music is an art! Every occasion is different! Every piece is different! Every performance of every piece is different! Good musical performance (to me) is about making every piece, and every moment of every piece, particular (strongly communicative for the occasion) rather than generic.

My exposure to the Bach cantatas (and related work: masses, passions, motets) has been mostly as a performer: as keyboard continuo player, choral singer, rehearsal accompanist, and occasionally conductor. In the years before grad school I was the kid who would help out every friend who had a church choir or community chorus, and I got to know at least a dozen of the cantatas that way, helping with all aspects of the production.

Then, during grad school, I got to know some of these works more closely. I sang for five years in Parmentier's early music ensemble chorus (including some of the motets), and took courses in performance practice, improvisation, and basso continuo. There, for class assignments, we analyzed the SMP very closely, performed parts of it in class, studied all sorts of vocal and instrumental treatises from 1500-1800, and also worked on cantatas 165, 106, 70, 134A, 208, 202, 201, 61, 181, 107, 21, 76, and 37. In each case we had to research the work's background and instrumentation, learn the text (and any word-painting), complete any missing harmony figures, sing through the vocal parts ourselves, and from all that prepare an improvised interpretation of the continuo part. Fun!

On the side, I had all the other core curriculum of music history, theory, and counterpoint with the regular academic faculty, and organ and fortepiano lessons with other fine teachers from the school, and got in as much freelance concert work as I could, with anybody in town. I was part of an semi-formal "academy" there that brought in Paul Hillier, Jaap Schröder, Lyle Nordstrom, the Consort of Musicke, and other big stars of the "early music" world, so we could have workshops and get concert experience playing with them. Wonderful experiences, all.

Another highlight for me was an independent-study course with Parmentier, spending a whole term researching the Art of Fugue and preparing a complete concert performance of it (on solo harpsichord). That piece, more than any other (IMO), gives a wonderful window into Bach's working methods; I'd recommend such study to anyone, patiently working through all those contrapuncti, hands-on. What amazing music it is!

Back to the cantatas, etc.: I listen to them on recordings, of course, but am more interested in actually participating in them. I have about 100 CDs of the Bach vocal works, and another (at least) 50 LPs: part of a broader collection of about 10,000 items. As I mentioned a few days ago, I don't yet have one recording of every cantata (nor do I consider that a very high priority), but I'm slowly getting there by piecing together a series.

Meanwhile, since music doesn't really pay much, I also have a full-time career as a computer programmer, writing business software. It really is a lot like composing and performing, but in a different medium. One must find out the client's wishes and then interpret the specification in detail, but also with plenty of creativity, to cover anything that was not completely spelled out, and to anticipate any hidden problems in advance. Then one must test it all in practical use, and train colleagues to support it, and train the clients to use it correctly, and be available for a period of troubleshooting. There are also plenty of smaller commissioned tasks of customizing and recycling other people's work (like Bach making a parody of earlier compositions), updating it to serve new needs. Recycling is good, and (as with music) the result can often be better than a work starting entirely from scratch, since one can reuse solutions that have already been proven to work well. Value, to me, is not in a work's originality (whether music or otherwise) so much as its practical effectiveness in a situation that is given.

(Dr.) Bradley Lehman

Francine Renee Hall wrote (March 18, 2003):
The first two Bach works I heard was when I was about 12 years old. They were RCA's LP of Julian Bream playing Baroque Guitar; and Mauersberger Cantatas BWV 80 and BWV 140. As Aryeh already knows, he made me very happy when he put his great detective skills to work in order to help me remember who the conductor was. Formerly on Archiv it is now a 5-CD boxed set from Leipzig Classics. I still hold these popular cantatas to heart, perhaps because I heard these cantatas when a child while the imprinting was quite strong.

I have an MA degree in English Literature from the University of Illinois, consequently teaching there as well as other colleges. I've given classes in composition, literature, and poetry. Besides my love for physics, I was an intense student of music, taking various courses such as music history. I'm an avid CD collector. I've lost count long ago but I would say I own about 2500 CDs or so. I own CDs from all musical periods, from monk chanting to Kronos Quartet's latest venture into new and unknown territory.

Bach would be a desert island composer for me. His genius for powerful counterpoint cannot be surpassed. Just think! No matter how vast the universe is, there would never be a JS Bach to be duplicated. Bach's strong spirituality moves me very intensely.

PS. Has anyone read the latest Discovery article about that young physicist from Portugal who has a strong case that at the beginning of the universe, the speed of light was faster than Einstein's theory called for? Amazing stuff!

Kirk McElhearn wrote (March 18, 2003):
< Bradley Lehman wrote: Howdy everybody, I've been on the BachRecordings list for years, and more recently started paying attention to BachCantatas also...but evidently I've never posted an introduction. >
Welcome Brad!

Sw Anandgyan wrote (March 19, 2003):
My very first Bach CD was a gift from a British friend who offered Cantata BWV 140 & BWV 147 with John Elliot Gardiner almost (or only ...) five years ago as a X-Mas gift.

I don't really like excerpts album and I'm slightly ashamed to admit that the very first Bach purchase I made was the Bach 2000 sample CD from Teldec for a very cheap price. It's a compact disc, freely given with a French magazine, about Sacred Chants - Women Voices, particularly the aria from BWV 115 sung by Barbara Schlick and L'Ensemble Baroque de Limoges and Christophe Coin, that really seduced me. It was another budget reissue that became a my first decent acquisition, the BWV 21 & BWV 42 with Philippe Herreweghe who remains well reprensented in my ever-growing discotheque.

I do take in account words from other aficionados and yet at times it is hearing a particular version somwhere that will convince me; I do like Frans Brüggen conducting the B Minor Mass (BWV 232) because it moved me.

I don't listen exclusively to classical music but more and more ... and that is why I manage my very first live performance of the SJP (BWV 245) in Montreal only this past Sunday; I' m still a neophyte.

I grew up with progressive rock and Peter Hammill was the one who made me aware of John Downland's existence for the very first time. Oh well.

Much gratitude for Bach Cantatas Website.


Joining the group

Tom Brannigan wrote (May 23, 2003):
You'll have to excuse me if this intitial post shows up twice. Still trying to figure things out........

Greetings One & All,

I stumbled upon your group while researching several books on J S Bach's Cantatas. I was delighted that I already have a few of the recommended texts.........the 3 volume Dover edition of the Spitta bio, one of Wolff's books, and the 2 volume Schweitzer opus.

After stalling for as long as I could, I've also decided to start learning to read, write, & speak German.............oh yes, theory too!!

I should declare to one and all.........I'm one of those certified nuts that has a multi -thousand dollar Turntable and the vinyl that comes with it. I have quite a few of the Harnoncourt/ Leonhardt Telefunken box sets of the Cantatas ( a couple of the sets has Herreweghe as choidirector). Another GREAT resource for the Cantatas is my local county library system. I've been able to "dupe" Volume 1-5 of Ton Koopman's latest venture.

I also have a fondness for historical recordings. I have the St. Matt's Passion (BWV 244) conducted by Mengelberg on Palm Sunday 1939 on the orignial 1952 Philips pressing and my 1st copy of the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) is on vinyl featuring Otto Klemperer and his Philharmonia guys singing their hearts out in Kingsway Hall.

That's enough for now.........Ciao, Tom

Bart O’Brien wrote (May 23, 2003):
[To Tom Brannigan] Welcome Tom.

Looking at your site is vastly more fun than reading most of the stuff that has been posted here the last few weeks. Why not do a study of the aesthetics of sleeve design? You've certainly got the material for it.

Tom Brannigan wrote (May 23, 2003):
[To Bart O’Brien] Thank's Bart. I does appear that I introduced myself right in the middle of a "Flame War", but no matter.......I'm looking forward to learning more about the Composer that has changed my life! There's a great deal to research and this list seems to have a number of very knowlegable people who might just teach me a thing or two......or three.....or etc etc etc

Who knows......maybe I'll have the chance to try out my German!


To be Dutch and fond of HIP

Charles Francis wrote (June 18, 2003):
[To Arjen ban Gijssel] [snip]
By the way, why are so many Dutch people fond of HIP? Is it the legacy of Leonhardt or Calvin?

Leo Ditvoorst wrote (June 18, 2003):
[To Charles Francis] That's a Key Question!

In the Dutch speaking parts of the Low Lands at the Sea we not only have Leonhardt but also Koopman, Leusink and Herreweghe and an uncountable number of Bach performers who did not male it to the world-stages. I am Dutch, I am fond of HIP, I am raised as a Roman Catholic. This calls for a deep meditation.

Cesare Colletta wrote (June 18, 2003):
[To Leo Ditvoorst] I am Italian and a Roman Catholic, I am fond of HIP and a large part of my Bach CDs collection contains performances by Dutch musicians (Leonhardt, Koopman, Leusink, Herreweghe).

I do love McCreesh's Bach, is it 'cause as an Italian I have to enjoy "operatic performances"?

By the way, am I the only Italian on this (great and to me most useful) mailing list?

Anyone noticed the French translation of the "terrible" line in BWV 18:
"Und uns für des Türken und des Papsts / Grausamem Mord und Lästerungen, / Wüten und Toben väterlich behüten"
"Et garde-nous tel un père du meurtre cruel des Turcs, / Des blasphèmes contre le Pape, / De la rage et de la fureur" (!!)

Riccardo Nughes wrote (June 18, 2003):
Cesare Colletta wrote:
< By the way, am I the only Italian on this (great and to me most useful) mailing list? >
No :) Greetings from Milan!

< Anyone noticed the French translation of the "terrible" line in BWV 18:
"Und uns für des Türken und des Papsts / Grausamem Mord und Lästerungen, / Wüten und Toben väterlich behüten"
"Et garde-nous tel un père du meurtre cruel des Turcs, / Des blasphèmes contre le Pape, / De la rage et de la fureur" (!!) >
There is also BWV 126:
"Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort/Und steur des Papsts und Turken Mord/die
Jesum Christum, deinen Sohn,/Sturzen wollen von seinem Thron
This Cantata has been recently performed here in Milan in a Catholic church!

In the past Pope Pio X was "against" Bach. See an interesting discussion

Thomas Gebhardt wrote (June 18, 2003):
Cesare Colletta wrote:
< Anyone noticed the French translation of the "terrible" line in BWV 18:
"Und uns für des Türken und des Papsts / Grausamem Mord und Lästerungen, / Wüten und Toben väterlich behüten"
"Et garde-nous tel un père du meurtre cruel des Turcs, / Des blasphèmes contre le Pape, / De la rage et de la fureur" (!!) >
This French translation seems wrong to me (as far as I understand French)!
I think it should be:
"Et garde-nous tel un père du meurtre cruel, des blasphèmes et de la rage et de la fureur des Turcs et du Pape" (!!)

C'est une différence, n'est-ce pas?

Dick Wursten wrote (June 18, 2003):
[To Cesare Colletta] Herreweghe is not Dutch. He is from Belgium, Flanders to be precize, but with an impressive French Connection.

The 'Netherlands' (plural) used to be the Northern part of the Burgundian empire (Dijon, Beaune) In the 15th/16th century it was a cradle of culture (polyphonic music, painting > Flandres > I Fiamminghi they were called in Italy).

Roughly these Unites Provinces (or States) of the Netherlands geographically coincides with Holland and Belgium, when you add parts of northern France and the North-West of Germany to it. The epi-centre of these 'Netherlands' was in Flandres (Gent, Brugge).

In a somewhat mysterious way it is almost the same part of Western-Europe which has become one of the places where the re-orientation of the musical practice of Early Music - Baroque towards a more historically informed performance-practice has taken its origin (amongst others) and is still flourishing today...

In Antwerp I met several people from the first generation (now old), who build period instruments from books & museum examples with their own hands and then tried to produce some sound... (esp. interesting is the mix with the old Folk music of this region)... But now I'm going off topic...

Jean-Pierre Grivois wrote (June 18, 2003):
[To Thomas Gebhardt] Ma traduction Note à Note figurant dans ce site, même si la phrase en Français est un peu distordue, au moins ne prête pas à confusion. D'où l'utilité d'être proche du texte, même si c'est au détriment de l'élégance de la langue dans laquelle on traduit.


Hans-Joachim Reh wrote (August 21, 2003):

Sorry I didn´t introduce myself to the members of this site.

My name is Hans-Joachim Reh. I was born 1951 in the middle of Germany, close to Giessen and Frankfurt. My personal story with BACH is almost as old as I am. I´ve been playing (on trumpet, piano, organ and harpsichord), singing (cantatas, masses, motets), listening (from Cello-Suites to the B-Minor-Mass, from "Classical BACH to Switched on Bach - Swingle Singers - Exception etc.) and conducting BACH (several cantatas). Before I start writing what Bach meens to me - I will describe it through a situation that hit me the other night. I stood on the balcony of our house and looked - together with two of my daughters - at that unbelievable universe above me. Bach and me – that’s like myself and the universe. He is the universe of music - everything else is like a part of it (although I really admire Beethoven and I love Mendelssohn, for example). Maybe bigger or smaller, more important than other parts or less important, anyway, just a part of it.

We (at least I) will never even get close to really understand this genius. And then to know that this person dedicated his music to the creator of us all. That´s just simply great.

Dr John Pike [Bishopston, Bristol, England] wrote (August 23, 2003):
I have just joined this list today. I am an amateur musician (violinist) with a great love of Bach's music, in particular. [snip]

Debbie McGee wrote (August 25, 2003):
Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a relative newbie to classical music, but am trying to make up for this omission in my education. [snip]

Profile picture

Peter Bloemendaal wrote (September 9, 2003):
Ehud, what a surprise to see you in the Profiles! Love your picture. Who's next? It's a pleasure to look at all my Bach friends face to face.


David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (September 14, 2003):
Here is my personal profile:

I am 30 years old and live in the USA.

I am a Keyboardist (Piano, Harpsichord, Clavichord, Organ, Synthesizer).

I aalso a connoiseur and student of both sacred and secular instrumental and vocal music up to the 1920s.

I am an Intellectual with knowledge, interest, and experience in History, Philosophy, Cultures (especially European and Asian), Politics, Foreign Relations, Literature (especially Drama, Mystery, and Gothic Horror), the Classics, Languages (especially Northern European, Near-Eastern, and Greek and Latin), Death and Dying, Religion, Earth and Life Sciences, and the Arts.

I am currently an off-again-and-on-again Senior in College majoring in History.

I have a diverse background. I have English-Irish-Scottish Presbyterians on my paternal Grandmother's side, Italian Roman Catholic Immigrants on my maternal side (both my maternal Grandparents were among the first generations of their respective families born in the USA), and on my paternal Grandfather's side I am a 3rd generation descendant of German Evangelical Immigrants.

My family's main claims to fame are that one of the Scottish parts in my paternal Grandmother's background (the Clan Montgomery) had been the Royal Protectors of the Kings and Queens of Scotland and that my father's eldest aunt married a man whose uncle was President Warren Gameliel Harding.

I am very much in personality, dress, and manner a Victorian. As such, I tend very much to be anachronistic in view, interests, and preferences.

Listening to Bach’s Music

Carol wrote (October 18, 2003):
I'm wondering if only experts on music theory enter these discussions – or can someone who simply believes Bach contributed more beauty to this world in his choral works, than any one person on earth - talk to you, too?

I spend days on end listening to maybe four cantatas at a time. I give my children gifts of cantatas, the Passions and B Minor Mass (since I discovered Gardiner and Herrewaughe) for Christmas and birthdays, because I love them so much; and by "them", I mean my children, and those works. I feel sorry for everyone who has lived and died without ever having heard any of it. I give cantatas as gifts to my other relatives and to my friends. Although I really can't afford it, it's a good thing to spend mony on.

I am continually amazed when I hear yet another melody so original, wonderful and complex, in each new composition I hear. And when I play something I haven't heard for awhile, I kind of rejoice inside in the miricle of its purity . I feel so fortunate not to have heard all of his work; and to have time still, I hope, before I die, to hear all that has survived.

I've been reading your comments for awhile, and have wanted to join this group because I don't know anyone as totally devoted to JSB as I am. Somehow, though, the fear that I will be ridiculed, like some of the members do with the musicians, has made me put off doing so.

However, even if this does happen, I am logical enough to know, intellictually, that Bach wonld want everyone to love his music, no matter how musically illiterate they might be, and would consider those who deride others simply soulless, and therefore, unable to fully experience the beauty of his work; at least until they decided to grow up. Be that as it may, no one wants to be rejected. I merely want to communicate with like minded people, what to me is one of the most important elements in my life.

I never learned to read notes very well, and time signatures - forget it. But I played violin and sang, and have listened to Classical music from the time I was about three years of age, when I played the same things over and over. My memory doesn't go back much farther.

I have a copy of one recording strictly for the purpose of lending to people I know who have never heard Bach's vocal music. One friend, a very talented rock musician who grew up with classical music in his home said, "I haven't heard any of the vocal music. I really don't understand Bach." And I said, "You don't need to. When I first heard it, I had no idea what I was listening to either; I just loved it."

I'm only now reading so that I know a little about it and Bach's life, and follow the words in English as the musicians sing. Some of the lyrics are not exactly poetic, and very repitituous, but that doesn't matter, either.

It certainly doesn't keep me from being sorry that it's 8:30 AM on Monday, and I have to leave my home for eight hours, with only the melody of some exquisite chorus in my head, until I can play it again when I return in the evening.

Thanks to anyone who read this. I hope some nice person responds.

Zev Bechler wrote (October 18, 2003):
[To Carol] I, for one, loved your letter.

Nessie Russell wrote (October 18, 2003):
[To Carol] We need more people like Carol in the world.

Olle Hedström wrote (October 18, 2003):
[To Carol] Thanks for your interesting reflections on JSBach. I feel much the same as you do. The music of Bach got me "hooked" many years ago, and there's nothing indicating that my interest in,(obsession with) his music is fading. On the contrary. I live with his vocal works on a daily basis like you do. It's like a lust in my body, and also a deep recreation of the mind/soul. No music affects me in the way his cantatas and other vocal works do. Even though I listen to a lot of other classical music, I always come back to Bach. Contrary to you, I have everything Bach left behind available on records, and I have heard all of it. Most of it numerous times. Still I feel like I'm only at the beginning of exploring his wondeful legacy.Constantly I find myself captured and intrigued by new discoveries in the cantatas I thought I already knew. Bach's music isn't merely good it's special, overwhelming, captivating, deeply spiritual, even for people who have no religious beliefs at all. It's strange, isn't it ?

Last Easter I made the journey of my life, a trip in the footsteps of Bach. If you and others are interested I will give you my report. Let me know.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Bach Tour

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 18, 2003):
[To Carol] What a nice posting!

I hope you are also a member of the BCML.

Paul Dirmeikis wrote (October 18, 2003):
[To Carol] Thank you, Carol, for your moving post. It's oxygen for those who, as you (and me), "simply" get their main spiritual nourishment from Bach's music, and want to share their experience and their almost physical need for it. I feel as addicted as you say you are.

This group leaves space to all : experts who like to discuss very specialized, technical, - but sometimes boring and pointless, topics (this is undisputably part of Bach), and "secular" Bach lovers who heartly share, with less dehydrated words, what listening to Bach can mean for them (and this also part of Bach). Don't fear to be ridiculed. Please, share again.

Johan van Veen wrote (October 18, 2003):
[To Carol] I fail to see your problem. Why would a discussion like the one you refer to, discourage you to participate in discussions on this list?

This list is a broad group of people with different interests, backgrounds and credentials. That is one of its strengths. Some of the participants have a deep musicological knowledge, others have not. So what?

Instead of being discouraged by the contributions of professional musicians and musicologists, you could read them and try to learn from them. That is what I do. There are also plenty discussions by non-professionals who just love Bach's music. That is nice too.

If you feel the need to participate, just do, and don't be afraid of how other members may react.

Carol wrote (October 18, 2003):
Thank you, everyone who responded to my posting. It made me feel great. I'm looking forward to a rewarding experience.

Bob Henderson wrote (October 18, 2003):
[To Carol] I suspect there are many who subscribe to the site who are not professional musicians, music teachers or music students. As one of these I too sometimes find the discussions technical with use of a vocabulary with which I am unfamiliar. The culture wars too can be intimidating.

But those of us who simply enjoy the ineffable beauty of the music should also participate. I grew up on Bach in recordings only in a small Penntown. My first loves were the Richter BMM and the first Gould Goldbergs. As I have continued to collect and listen I have lived through all the changes in performance practice and today I too love the Gardner Mass. And the peerless (to me) Suzuki series. And I must agree with Brad regarding the Brookshire French Suites. I am awaiting delivery of my WTC by Kirkpatrick on clavecord (sp?). Maybe today.

I too give presents of Bach to my bemused (grown) children and friends. We can't really explain to them what they are missing. And about twice a year we journey leagues to hear the real thing

Have you heard the new McCreesh SMP? What do you think?

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (October 18, 2003):
[To Nessie Russell] I believe also that he gave the world some of its most beautiful music. However, for me, to really appreciate it and its contents one should look at the score and compare the recordings to the "source". I find that there is too much infusion into interpretations of the personality of the interpreter nowadays that the music gets stifled.

If there is too much music theory going on in this forum, it is because there is a lot of it goingon in the music itself. Another reason is education. As this is a somewhat public forum, thereare many that might join it that have absolutely no clue at all about music and that gleem all they know of Bach and music in general from recordings. At first (that is from infancy to ca. age 3) I was like that. Then I began to show aptitude towards music performance and theory. Since then, I think that theory has helped my appreciation of this art form a thousandfold. In fact, it did more than that. I was born with Mild Cerebral Palsy and multiple associated Learning Disabilities. Music Theory helped me with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It helped me improve my already vast memory and helped me work on my analytical skills. Honestly, without it, I think I would have been like most of the Severe cases of CP-wheelchair bound and unable to speak or read/write or even comprehend what is going on.

Thomas Radleff wrote (October 18, 2003):
[To Carol] Welcome, and many thanks for your warmhearted words. Actually , I think this is the list´s principal quality: the variety of members, professional musicians as well as passionate listeners, and everything in between. A great diversity of opinions and experience, and mostly a deep respect for each other.

As Anna Magdalena, or Barbara might have expressed it: "Thank you, Hans."

Robert Sherman wrote (October 20, 2003):
Nessie Russell wrote:
< We need more people like Carol in the world. >

John Pike wrote (October 21, 2003):
[To Carol] I, too, identify with everything in your e mail, Carol.


Introducing Bach in Indonesia

Jimmy Setiawan wrote (October 25, 2003):
I feel very fortunate to be a member of these groups. I gained so much information and insights about Bach's music through every discussions. Especially since there are a very limited resources in my country. I just want to sincerely thank to everybody for your enriching inputs. The more I ponder into his life and music, I feel more thankful that his music is a kind of "grace" to this world, and for me of course. From my Christian faith, I believe his music is "signature" from God.

I myself not a professional musician. Once, I trained to play violine. Now I am a choir instructor and pianist in my church. But my enthusiasm upon Bach's music always increased.

As a devotee (incorrect term?...=)) of Bach's, I feel self-obligated to introduce Bach's to my Indonesian fellow. Sometimes, I dreamed that someday Indonesia would have a kind of institute of Bach's study. Hope not an utopia.... =) Is there any Indonesian fellow join to this groups? =)

Sorry for my English =)

God bless us... =)

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (October 26, 2003):
[To Jimmy Setiawan] After all, for him (as for myself) the true aim of music is to the honor and glory of God and to the refreshment and improvement of one's fellow human beings.

Soli Deo gloria

E. Douglas Jensen wrote (October 26, 2003):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] My enjoyment of Bach is not the least related to mystic beliefs by Bach or myself.

Richard Mix [California, USA] wrote (October 27, 2003):
Selamet datang mas Jim!

I missed your original post, and only saw a reply with your email address abreviated as below. I spent a year in Solo and a longer time since introducing Gending Gambirsawit to my American compatriots. Where are you in Indonesia, and do you have access to other keyboard instruments? Does your choir sing JSB, and which works?


Welcome New Members

Aryeh Oron wrote (November 8, 2003):
The BCML has already passed the amazing number of 380 members, and it is still growing. When it all started, about four years ago, there were about 20 members; after a year we had about 120, after two years more than 200, and after three years (beginning of 2003) about 300. The number of actual contributors to the discussions is much smaller, but this is only natural.

I warmly welcome all the new members who have joined the BCML recently. May I ask the new members to introduce themselves to the other members of the list?

Each new member is invited to send to the BCML a message titled 'Introducing Myself', in which he/she will tell the group something about his/her background and how he/she got acquaintanted with Bach's music, especially the Bach Cantatas.

Members who joined the BCML in previous years used to write such an introduction. You can read their messages in the following pages of the Bach Cantatas Website (BCW):
Year 1999:
Year 2000:
Year 2001:
Year 2002:
Year 2003:
My First Cantata:

Some of the members in the BCML have personal websites. Some of these websites are dedicated to Bach, others are not. There is a page in the BCW dedicated to these labours of love:
If I have personal Website not listed there, please let me know.

All members, both new and veteran, contributors and lurkers alike, are invited to add their personal profile to the Member Profiles page:
The needed details are: photo (jpg/jpeg format, 180x235 pixels), name, occupation, city/country, when you joined the Bach List, personal website (if you have any). If you do not want your photo to appear, it is also acceptable. Simply write 'No photo'. Please send the details and the photo to my personal e-mail address: and not to the Bach Lists.


Intoducing Myself

John Pike wrote (November 9, 2003):
I am a GP in Bristol, UK. I am married to a German called Steffie and we have a daughter, Hannah, 14 weeks.

I started to learn the violin at the age of 4 and was brought up with music in the house from a very early age. My father was a keen amateur singer and loves music. He had many old records, especially of music by Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. I particularly remember a recording of the St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) (on Archiv) which we listened to every Good Friday. I loved it and virtually wore the record out a few years later by listening to it obsessively. I have come to adore all Bach's music and, as a violinist, havparticular affection for the Solo Violin works, which I have spent a large chunk of my life learning. I bought John Eliot Gardiner's recordings of the Passions, Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) and B minor mass (BWV 232), all of which are excellent, while a young doctor, although I had known all these works for a long time before that. I got to know some of the cantatas early in life, especially BWV 21 "Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis", which is astonishing. I also discovered many of the famous cantatas early on. A few years ago, I bought the 12 John Eliot Gardiner cantata recordings, most of which are excellent.

Last Christmas, I donated some money to the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek in Berlin for the restoration of the Bach manuscripts there (80% of all the Bach manuscripts which survive). I was rewarded with a facsimile of Cantata BWV 190. I had difficulty trying to find a recording of it and it was then that I came across the excellent Bach cantatas web site. In a few days, I will, at long last, receive a recording of BWV 190. In the meantime I have been busy building a library of all the cantatas recorded by Harnoncourt/Leonhardt and my collection is now about half complete. I would dearly love to get the Suzuki, Rilling and Koopman recordings as well some time and, if John Eliot Gardiner's complete recordings do become available, I would love to get those as well.

I am a very keen amateur violinist. We perform a lot of Bach with our baroque group at our church, including cantata movements and the violin concerti. I also love Mozart and Beethoven, as well as many other composers, and I also play in a string quartet and a piano ensemble (quintets, quartets and trios).

I have enjoyed many of the e mails I receive on the BCML and BRML and find it very good to hear from people with the same great love as myself.

Mercedes Storch de Gracia wrote (November 9, 2003):
I am managing some associations of companies (about industrial safety). I live in Madrid, Spain. I think I joined the BCML from 1999

I love very much the Bach music. I studied the violin at the age of 16 and after I am singing Bach cantates in the Bach Choir in Madrid (Bach Society in Spain).

I enjoy and learn very much with the BCML. Many thanks to all contributors!
(specially to you)

René de Cocq wrote (November 10, 2003):
New member of Bach Cantatas Group: René de Cocq. Born in Zuilen (The Netherlands), 1941, husband of Yvonne, father of Marjolijn (36) and Sander (33). Musical hands-on experience: not very excessive (four weeks of piano study at 10 years of age, in vain hoping to achieve immediate boogiewoogie playing skills; member of school choir; in later years singing in several choral societies, among which, for the last decade, Bachkoor Apeldoorn, in the great repertoire: SMP (BWV 244), SJP (BWV 245), Weihnachtsoratorium (BWV 248), Messiah, Requiem Verdi, Gloria Poulenc, Jahreszeiten Haydn, Elias & Paulus Mendelssohn, Saint Nicholas Cantata Britten, Die Passion by Herzogenberg, Le Roi David by Honegger, Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln by Schmidt, to name a few). Until my retirement last year I worked in the newspaper business, first as a proofreader, later as a journalist; my last assignment was arts editor, for five years. In that capacity, and also by way of hobby, I reviewed records, CD's, concerts, performances and art. Also, apart from my daily job, I reviewed (and still do) jazz CD's for a monthly magazine for audio freaks (motto: you can buy the most advanced state-of-the-art sound reproducing equipment, but what is the musical quality of recordings that you may play on it?). I was first attracted to Bach cantatas in the seventies by my mother, who taped the weekly radio broadcasts of the Harnoncourt edition. In recent years I became an addicted audience member for the famous Ton Koopman cantata project: four concerts per season, in different venues in different Dutch cities, followed by CD releases. When you subscribe to all of these concerts, you become a 'Friend' an get invitations for extra activities: workshops, interviews, open rehearsals, and we even got invited to join in a 'Friends' Choir' to sing along in several parts of cantatas during rehearsals by the Amsterdam Baroque Choir. So I can boast to having sung under Ton Koopman himself, albeit in a way that he would not describe as fit for concert or recording.

Arno Klomp wrote (November 10, 2003):
When I was a teenager I heard some organ works by Bach for the first time. It was a LP, the organ was played by Marie-Claire Alain. My favorite was the g minor fugue BWV 578. Later when I studied applied mathematics at the university I heard the cantatas BWV 73 and BWV 94 on the LP, the Harnoncourt version. I was really struck by BWV 94 ('Was frag ich nach der Welt'), the way it was sung, made me feel that this was not just making music, but the words really made sense for the performers.

At 18 I started learning myself playing guitar. At 30 I started playing violin and later viola. I am a member of an amateur orchestra. I play with the violas. The orchestra is focusing on music from then end of the 18th century (e.g. Haydn) and later. I am a member since 1996 and since then we played three baroque compositions. A concerto by Vivaldi and a suite by Telemann and some music by Corelli.

I was reading the summaries of the discussions at the web site for some years. Last August I sent Aryeh some details about a SMP (BWV 244) which was missing from the list. He suggested that I should join the list and so I did. The postings are of mixed value for me. E.g. I like the postings of Brad Lehmann about different tuning systems. Interessting, but it is not an issue with both a violin or a viola. If they are tuned well, you will have three pure intervals. G-D-A-E at the violin and C-G-D-A at the viola. All other intervals are realised but putting your finger at the proper position. (That's the hard part of playing violin/viola). Sometimes the discussion is more aimed at the messengers and that's something I don't like. It is not a reason to quit, but to sift a message for good information and ignoring the mud which is thrown up.

Some personal details. I live in Holland. I am married and we have three children. I have Harnoncourt/Leonhardt and Leusink and Koopman as far as the cantatas are available. Due to my busy schedule (full time job + active amateur musician) I don't have time to be an active particpator.

I like the way Aryeh ends his messages. Enjoy, and that's what I want to do: enjoy being a member of the BCML.

Jason Marmaras wrote (November 12, 2003):
(Sorry about this everybody)

I intend to "compose" such an introductory statement in the near future, but right now I cannot.

[I just wanted to make it known that I'm not ignoring polite requests from polite people (did I mention a name;-)? ) ]

Christoph Krall wrote (November 13, 2003):
I´m Christoph Krall, a biologist currently finishing his doctoral thesis at the University of Vienna on a population genetical subject (details may be of minor interest to the majority of the list members, if you´re interested do contact me).

My own musical accomplishments are rather modest but the efforts were serious enough to leave me full of respect for those who proceeded farther (and be it with a demi voix...).

I also gave myself a trial as a comedian, my first programme was an attempt to describe current Austrian internal politics in terms of baroque allegories. For some unknown reason the concept did not attract the masses, so I returned to my population genetical thesis.

Many thanks to Aryeh for this list!

Wang Xiao-yun wrote (November 18, 2003):
Though I've always been lurking since I joined BCML in this May, it would be guilty for me to ignore Aryeh's invitation of introducing myself. So here it goes.

I live in Shanghai, People's Republic of China and work as an electronic hardware engineer. Therefore I'm a little curious wether there are other Chinese people in this forum.

Music pieces from High Renaissance to Classical period are my major interest and Johann Sebastian Bach always stands unequalled as my favorite composer for the past several years.

However, it is not until about 1.5 years ago did I start to pay attention to Bach's vocal works. I guess there are several reasons: first, as you may be aware that the influence of Christian or other religous tradition is quite weak in China; second, though I'm able to express myself in English, German language is beyond my current knowledge; third, though a little naive, I often found (even the most famous) vocal pieces since the Romanticism period not so appealing to my taste (Please forgive my ignorance) and hence it delayed my treasure-hunting in the vocal music by composers like Händel, Vivaldi, Mozart, and of course Bach.

The first sacred work by Bach I heard is the great Mass in B minor, although I have to confess at that time it only seemed to me as a series of good vocal music. However, it is good enough to provoke my interest to dive into the great vocal music by Bach. In order to comprehend the content, I have to resort to English translation for the German and Latin text. It is always a great feeling when I heard a cantata at the first time and wondering what a great genius Bach is! Now MBM becomes one of my favorite piece and I always find new gems every time I hear it.

It is a bit frustrating that there is no sacred works performed in China as far as I know. Therefore my experience of Bach's sacred music complete came from recordings and I really envy you people who can enjoy live concert. However, I'm already grateful indeed to have known Bach whose music have brought me so much joy.

At last I would like to thank Aryeh for his Bach Canata Website which is an indispensible knowledge source for me and all contributors of BCML and BRML who provided insightful comments that gave me much much knowledge I would never get elsewhere.

Sorry for this a-little-lengthy post.

Bob Henderson wrote (November 18, 2003):
I have been a member of both lists since March 2003 but have never written a bio. Now at Aryeh's request and because I contribute occasionally I will introduce myself.

Age 62, married, grown children. Living in Tallahassee FL USA. I am a retired Licensed Clinical Psychologist. In past years I have also taught high school and been a school Head.

I grew up in a steel producing city in central Pennsylvania. Musical culture was rough at best. As I grew up Lutheran I was, however, exposed to Bach and other church music. Quickly rejecting the church as an adult, however, I joined and am active in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). As many of you know Friends eschew music in their worship. The world works in strange ways. (I would like to hear from other Friends on the list, should there be same)

My musical education comes largely from recordings although I was influenced by concerts of the Bach Chior of Bethlehem (PA) as an undergraduate. I am neither a musician, performer nor music student in the formal sense. The first Gould GV simply blew me away and I was hooked. The Richter Mass and his first SMP were also formative. About 25% of my record collection has always been Bach. I am currently collecting the Suzuki cantata series which I find beyond praise. I am also developing a keen interest in music of the century before Bach.

Most of my adult life was spent in Center City Philadelphia with its rich musical life. Today I am marooned in Tallahassee, a musical wasteland. So I listen to my records, much as I did as a youth. Its OK.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (November 19, 2003):
[To Wang Xiao-yun] I myself am interested in Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Chinese and other Oriental cultures as well. Maybe you and I could get together and/or chat (on and/or off-list). I am somewhat knowledgeable in German, so maybe I could help you better in your understanding of one of the most beautiful languages and cultures in the world.

John Pike wrote (November 19, 2003):
[To Wang Xiao-yun] What a nice introduction.


Where to next?

Paul England wrote (November 29, 2003):
Having just joined this forum at, seemingly, a particularly turbulent time I would like to know where I should go next in my Bach journey and what recordings members would recommend. I am a keyboard player and have enjoyed GG's performances of the 48. I also have some organ music and the Brandenburg's. I am not a fan of the harpsichord for extended periods, my ears need dynamic variation so I favour the piano for keyboard works. Also, which biography of Bach could members recommend?

Riccardo Nughes wrote (November 29, 2003):
< Also, which biography of Bach could members recommend? >
C.Wolff, J.S.Bach the learned musician: Preview

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 29, 2003):
[To Riccardo Nughes][
Yes, a good book. But be sure to read also John Butt's review of that book, in The New Republic July 10, 2000. Overall his review is favorable. But, he also points out a one-sidedness in Wolff's writing (the tendency to read current American entrepreneurial ideals back into Bach's character), and raises serious objections to Wolff's patterns of speculation. He especially takes Wolff to task for the construction of arguments based on a lack of evidence; and for Wolff's refusal to take a critical stance toward the music (simply assuming, instead, that it is all indiscriminately great)....

[READ Butt's review; don't just rely on my summary of it!]

Stephen Benson wrote (November 29, 2003):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Yes, a good book. But . . . >
Despite Butt's criticism, is there a better one-volume introduction that YOU would recommend? Clearly, there is a vast amount of literature on Bach that must all be taken into account to get as complete a picture as one can, but for a basic introduction is there anything more suitable?

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 29, 2003):
The New Bach Reader (the original was by David & Mendel; and now revised and enlarged by Wolff).

Stephen Benson wrote (November 29, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] Having recently finished The New Bach Reader as a followup to the Wolff biography, I found your recommendation particularly intriguing. For myself, I found that, as a pair, they complemented each other nicely. The primary materials included in the Reader provide a wonderful foundation against which to measure the narrative of Wolff, which, in turn, provides a framework for much of the detail of the Reader. I suspect, however, that a newcomer to Bach might find the Reader by itself somewhat daunting, if only in the variability of the availability of primary source material. In addition to those two sources, I think it would be helpful for a reader to find something devoted to the music itself, something along the lines of Laurence Dreyfus's Bach and the Patterns of Invention, a book which despite its relative complexity is remarkably accessible, and really gives some insights into Bach's compositional processes. A reader embarking on the great Bach adventure could do far worse. I know this is getting away from the original discussion of a single-volume introduction, but this package of three books accomplishes what one book doesn't. Again, as a relative newcomer to Bach, but one who has read a fair amount of Bach literature, this sequence worked for me. Does it make sense to you? Would you suggest anything different?

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 30, 2003):
[To Stephen Benson] Steve, those three taken together (NBR, Wolff's Learned Musician, and D' Patterns of Invention) make the best recommendation of all. Good suggestion. (And I hope to finish reading Patterns of Invention soon; started it a few weeks ago.)

Something I especially like about the New Bach Reader is that it is up to date and comprehensive. It has things that the NBA's Bach-Dokumente does not: material that came to light in the past 20 years, plus (most crucially) the reception history of the 19th century. Bach-Dokumente has the fatal flaw of its arbitrary cutoff date, 1800: omitting (for example) the letters of Forkel about the first publication of Bach's keyboard works (the ones Bach had not published himself).

New Bach Reader also has reliable translations by professional musicologists (not generalists making misleading connections or biased "translations", reading their own foregone conclusions into the material). Most of the translations were done by Arthur Mendel, Alfred Mann, and Christoph Wolff, all of whom were/are eminently qualified to do so. With this book in hand, one need not read anything on the Internet.

I also have the two other books Uri mentioned: the Cambridge Companion and the Oxford Companion. Very fine as well. My primary reason for NBR as single first choice is that we can see the Bach materials first-hand that way, as Bach and his contemporaries and early fans saw him and his music. That piecemeal narrative appeals to me, in ways that sweeping unified (and somewhat fictitious filling in the necessarily sketchy bits, as Wolff's) narrative does not. A biographer has to make things interesting and have a forward sweep: a performance of a life. NBR's presentation lets us draw our own conclusions more readily. (Lets us do our own thinking from the source material, instead of telling us what to think.)

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 1, 2003):
[To Stephen Benson] With The New Bach Reader in hand, it's also worthwhile to keep the older edition (1966) of The Bach Reader around, for comparison (even though my copy of it has almost fallen apart...). It does have some illustrations that the new one does not. And most notably, from NBR Wolff omitted the "Precepts and principles for playing a thorough bass" musical examples, and some canon resolutions, since those are now readily available separately. (He says in the preface where to get them.)

And Wolff the whitewasher-of-the-hero's-character is in evidence (Wolff's tendency, as Butt pointed out in his review of The Learned Musician), here in this book as well. For example, on p26 of the old one, where David and Mendel wrote about Bach's wig, they interjected the perhaps flippant question "(did it cover a bald head?)"; but Wolff has removed that question from that same passage on page 9 of the new one.

But, of course, the greatest value of this new one is the way it includes newest findings (as I pointed out) not available in 1966, and not available to the NBA's compilers of Bach-Dokumente. And, of the materials that are in BD, NBR tells us exactly where to find them in BD so anyone interested in the original German can find them readily. It also points to everything in the NBA, the BWV (Schmieder's catalog), and Bach-Jahrbuch; so, this book really is a first-stop-shopping entry for a reader who wishes to dig further into the materials.

Two of the most important (in my opinion) completely new bits are #263 and 264, from Bach's last years in Leipzig. They are his professional recommendations of Johann Nathanael Bammler, who had been Bach's choir trainer for several years, and his deputy conductor of the cantatas (as Bach called them, "motets"...this is explained elsewhere). Bammler directed all of the church music when Bach was absent. Bach had known him for ten years already, as a trusted colleague. These letters came to light barely in time for inclusion here in NBR: published in Bach-Jahrbuch 1997.

The new map is also very helpful: showing the places Bach lived, visited, had family connections, or are otherwise referenced in this book.

In my comparisons I was especially interested to see if Wolff kept the David/Mendel description of Bach's personal character, or toned it down. He kept it, word for word. "Our knowledge of Bach's personality in action, apart from music making, is sparse indeed. He seems to have thoroughly enjoyed a good battle of words when he felt that someone was trying to take advantage of him. He was apt to be impatient and quick-tempered with incompetents. His sense of humor was apparently more vigorous than subtle and, in keeping with the temper of the time, somewhat on the coarse side." (p7-8)

[Not surprisingly, that description of Bach has served me well over the years, and especially in discussions here. As I've pointed out before, that's one of my role models; and I react the same way that (I believe) Bach did when dealing with people around him: correcting obvious misinformation, and becoming increasingly agitated and coarse with people who refuse to (or are who unable to) do the work carefully.]

There's also the anecdote #403: "Peaceful, quiet, and even-tempered though Bach was at all unpleasantnesses he encountered at the hands of third persons, so long as they concerned only his own personality, he was, however, quite another man when, no matter in what form, anyone slighted art, which was sacred to him. In such cases it doubtless happened at times that he donned his armor and gave expression to his wrath in the strongest ways. The organist of St Thomas's, who was in general a worthy artist, once so enraged him by a mistake on the organ, during a rehearsal of a cantata, that he tore the wig from his head and, with the thundering exclamation 'You ought to have been a cobbler,' threw it at the organist's head."

In the old edition, p291, the translation was worded slightly differently (and, notably, not quite as strongly/directly as the new one!): "Peaceful, quiet, and even-tempered though Bach was at all unpleasantnesses he encountered at the hands of third persons, so long as they concerned only his own personality, he was yet quite another man when, no matter in what form, anyone slighted Art, which was sacred to him. In such cases it would doubtless happen at times that he would don his armor and give expression to his wrath in the strongest ways. The organist of the Thomas-Kirche, who was in general a worthy artist, once so enraged him by a mistake on the organ, during a rehearsal of a cantata, that he tore the wig from his head and, with the thundering exclamation 'You ought to have been a cobbler, 'threw it at the organist's head."

So, that anecdote is another case where Wolff the editor of NBR tightened things up: to present Bach as an even stronger heroic character than the previous generation of musicologists had done. That's what a biographer does: sharpen the edges of the character to present him as firmly in control of his life and thoughts, and recasting possible weaknesses as strengths. (The same type of thing a good performer of music does: bring out the material's character strongly and definitely, with nothing indecisive or ambiguous about it.) As John Butt pointed out in his review of The Learned Musician: "In Wolff's biography, the unedifying aspects of Bach may as well not exist. It would seem that, for Wolff, the discussion of these unheroic perspectives would distance us from the ideal modern Bach who emerges fully formed and perfect out of the music."

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 1, 2003):
I just got word this morning that has been sold, and is closing, and deleting all its web content tomorrow (December 2nd). Nor can existing CDs, published through them, be purchased anymore. I tried this morning to buy up 100 copies of my own discs, since they are now suddenly (and without warning) all out of print: but no luck. They are not accepting any transactions.

That is: to anybody who wishes to listen to my clavichord recordings, today is the last day to download the ones you want. has always treated its artists in a rather rawand cavalier manner, getting talented musicians to basically give them "their content" and pay a monthly fee for the privilege of doing so. Those of us who have relied on them for serious advancement of our professional careers put up with it anyway, to be published at all. Now, we're out on the street. We also had got a trickle of money whenever people downloaded our music for free...barely enough to pay the monthly hosting fees. But there it goes.

Anybody know of a more reliable publisher that might want some good clavichord recordings? Any serious leads would be appreciated! I had sent out rounds of letters two or three years ago, but nothing panned out at the time; so I let the discs (burned on demand) be the product, and I stopped doing that "legwork" to promote my work. Those days are now over. @#*%&*#@&%*@#&%*#&%@#*%&#@%@!!!!!

I'm listening to my recording of "Tombeau de Mlle Gaultier", and in a very bad mood. It really feels like a funeral.

Brad Lehman
clavichord CD's: or
trumpet and organ:

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (November 29, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman]
"But, he also points out a one-sidedness in Wolff's writing (the > tendency to read current American entrepreneurial ideals back into Bach's character)"
And Bach wasn't an entrepreneur? All that I have read and heard about Sebastian Bach would favor that opinion that he was an entrepreneur. All musicians had to be until the advent of the latter part of Beethoven's career, when the musician and the artist-composer separated.

Keep in mind that Bach (like other musicians of his time), when he was employed, was not only responsible to the organization to which he was attatched (i.e., the Thomaskirche zu Leipzig, the Neukirche zu Arnstadt, the courts of Weimar, etc.), but was also responsible the all the musical life of the city/town in which he was employed. This meant the public concerts, the church music, etc. Therefore he (and other musicians of his time) were expected to print tickets, publish music, lead the orchestras and choirs, etc. Therefore we would have been considered an entrepreneur, not out of choice but rather because of his terms of employment. One could even get the sense of this from his official title at Leipzig: "Cantor of the Church of St. Thomas and Director Musices of Leipzig".

John Pike wrote (May 16, 2004):
[To Paul England] Hello, Paul and welcome! I’m afraid we often have turbulent times on this list, but if you are prepared to persevere, you will find some of the e-mails very interesting, well-informed and fascinating.

I would strongly recommend that you start looking at the choral music. There is a wealth of information on this and all Bach’s music at:

You will also find links there to other Bach mailing lists of interest.

Between them, the nearly 200 sacred cantatas, the St Matthew Passion, The St John Passion, the B minor Mass and the Christmas Oratorio represent one of the most extraordinary achievements in any art form in Western Civilisation. Later on, you will want to discover the Chorales, Geistliche Lieder and lesser known Choral Works. I also highly recommend the Orchestral Suites, the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, the Suites for Cello, Sonatas for Violin and Keyboard, Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord, Sonatas for Flute and Keyboard, Concertos for 1 or 2 violins and String Orchestra, the reconstructed concertos for Violin, Oboe and Orchestra and for Oboe and Orchestra, and, of course, the 7 keyboard concertos, which I am sure you are already familiar with. Also, I suggest you listen to the Musical Offering and the Art of Fugue, the latter of which has been recorded in many different ways….eg keyboard only, string quartet (several recordings) and String Orchestra.

Happy listening!

John Pike wrote (May 16, 2004):
[To Riccardo Nughess] Agreed, this is an excellent and comprehensive biography. I would also recommend the “New Bach Reader”, also edited by Christoph Wolff, which is a collection of all letters/documents etc by, or about, Bach.


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Last update: Tuesday, June 13, 2017 05:00