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Bach and Politics

Bach and Politics

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 23, 2000):
Like most of us I live in several worlds, with some connection between them - family, work, music (mostly Bach nowadays), writing, etc., and the Real World. I rest from one world by immersing myself into the other. Most of the time I succeed in separating the music I love from the Real World. But last week the two worlds became confused. Since I started my re-listening to Bach's music, especially the cantatas, in October last year, I have not had the opportunity to hear his music performed live. I have heard it only in recorded form. Well, this way of listening has many benefits, as I hope that my weekly writings to the Bach Cantatas Mailing List have proved. But I eagered to hear a Bach cantata performed live. I even considered make a short trip to Eisenach in Germany, to hear some cantatas performed by Gardiner in April. But I had to cancel this plan due to reasons that were beyond my control. In Israel the sacred music of Bach is performed very rarely. But once a year we have the 'Abu Gosh Festival for Vocal Music'. Abu Gosh is a big Arabic village near Jerusalem. Most of its inhabitants are Muslims, but near this village there is a Church, built in 1924, in which the music is performed. In the programme for this year, which was published about two months ago, I saw that one of the concerts included a Bach cantata. It was the solo cantata for alto BWV 170 - 'Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust', which was discussed in our group during the week of July 30, this year. The planned singer was Bracha Kol, a gifted young Israeli alto singer (and also a recorder player), whom I know personally from her childhood. In the last two months I prepared myself for the concert and I even recommended Ehud Shiloni of our group to go also. The concert was planned for last Friday, October 20. I think that everybody knows by now what is the existing political situation in Israel. I was strongly advised to avoid going to the concert. I hesitated for a while, but at the end I was convinced to cancel my plans. I was so disappointed that I even refrained myself from being interested if the planned concert actually took place or not. I am a little bit ashamed, because my problem is very minor in comparison to the sufferings of both the Israelis and the Palestinians these days. But the lesson is simple. You cannot live in idealistic world, even if it is Bach's music world, and avoid the Real World enter it. When there is war in your country, all the worlds become confused.

Jane Newble wrote (October 23, 2000):
(To Aryeh Oron) I do feel for you. Anyone who wishes a Prime Minister in hell isn't exactly minded towards peace, so it doesn't look as if this is going to end soon. But amidst it all I hope you can still enjoy Bach.

Marie Jensen wrote (October 23, 2000):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< You cannot live in idealistic world, even if it is Bach's music world, and avoid the Real World enter it. When there is war in your country, all the worlds become confused. >
Hi Aryeh, I hope and pray for peace in the Israel/ Palestine conflict. I have often admired that you can go on and on week after week writing your great, encyclopaedic cantata reviews under these circumstances. You haven't even skipped one single week. Strange that religion can make a man compose wonderful cantatas, and that religion can make men go mad in hatred and war.

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Take care

Kirk McElhearn wrote (October 23, 2000);
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< You cannot live in idealistic world, even if it is Bach's music world, and avoid the Real World enter it. When there is war in your country, all the worlds become confused. >
Thank you for your poignant thoughts, Aryeh. My heart goes out to all those in your country and its surrounding area, both Israelis and Palestinians, who are suffering in this difficult time...

Jill Gunsell wrote (October 23, 2000):
(To Aryeh Oron) You message breaks my heart, Aryeh. I am so sorry for the situation in which you and your neighbours find yourselves. Bach would weep. I count my own problems as very small indeed. Love.

Piotr Jaworski wrote (October 23, 2000):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< Like most of us I live in several worlds, with some connection between them - family, work, music (mostly Bach nowadays), writing, etc., and the Real World.
(Snip)
< I am a little bit ashamed, because my problem is very minor in comparison to the sufferings of both the Israelis and the Palestinians these days. But the lesson is simple. You cannot live in idealistic world, even if it is Bach's music world, and avoid the Real World enter it. When there is war in your country, all the worlds become confused. >
What one should say??? I'm not the only one that is watching the situation in your country with great interest and compassion. My best wishes and thoughts are with you. All the best,

Harry J. Steinman wrote (October 24, 2000):
(To Aryeh Oron) And let me add my wishes for your lands to have Peace.

Ehud Shiloni wrote (October 24, 2000):
(To Aryeh Oron) Despite Aryeh's urging, I didn't plan on attending that concert, and in any case I was abroad last week. I read in yesterday's local paper that the Festival indeed took place as scheduled [there were a few cancellations, as can be expected], and the prevailing comment was that it was excellent but sad. I am quoting from the article [loose translation...]: "One of the female singers from the Ramat-Gan Chamber Choir said with great emotion: I sang with the fullest honesty and intensity the concluding words from the Dvorak's Mass: 'Dona Nobis Pacem' (Bring us peace). We all felt that way."

Roy Reed wrote (October 31, 2000):
(To Aryeh Oron) Dear Aryeh...I add my voice to those appalled by the terrible times your land is suffering, for both Jews and Arabs. My soul is sick for the pain and the sadness. We appreciate your dedication to this music we are sharing and I pray the blessing of peace will yet descend upon you.

Since you are a jazz fan...my wife is a great jazz enthusiast. We have a wonderful jazz orchestra in Columbus Ohio...excellent. We have season tickets to their concerts. They bring in outstanding talent to share the stage. We just heard them with the Ramsey Lewis Trio. Excellent!! Do you by chance have The Bach Book by the Jacques Loussier Trio? A very fine jazz account of Brandenburg #5, Concerto in D Major for Harpsichord, etc. Telarc CD-83474.

Aryeh Oron wrote (November 11, 2000):
Roy Reed wrote:
< Dear Aryeh.....I add my voice to those appalled by the terrible times your land is suffering, for both Jews and Arabs. My soul is sick for the pain and the sadness. >
I would like to thank you and everybody in the list who wrote, for their comforting words regarding the terrible times and suffering in Israel/Palestine. This is not the place to talk politics, so I shall say no more regarding this issue.

< We appreciate your dedication to this music we are sharing and I pray the the blessing of peace will yet descend upon you. >
Thanks you and all the others for your kind words.

< Since you are a jazz fan......my wife is a great jazz enthusiast. We have a wonderful jazz orchestra in Columbus Ohio.....excellent. We have season tickets to their concerts. They bring in outstanding talent to share the stage. We just heard them with the Ramsey Lewis Trio. Excellent!! Do you by chance have The Bach Book by the Jacques Loussier Trio? A very fine jazz account of Brandenburg #5, Concerto in D Major for Harpsichord, etc. Telarc CD-83474. >
I do not have the above mentioned CD by Jacques Loussier Trio, but I do have all the 4 CD's he made during the 1960's. They were reissued last year in France in CD form with the original beautiful covers. Loussier had an enormous contribution by bringing Jazz fans closer to Bach world (and classical music) and vice-versa. I am collecting all records of Bach music performed by Jazz musicians anintend to write some day about the subject. Do you know that Bach is the most admired and appreciated Classical composer among Jazz musicians? I remember reading one of them saying that Bach was the greatest improvisor who has ever lived!

 

Political context of Bach's 'Entwurff'

Evan Cortens wrote (February 8, 2009):
I don't usually like making posts like this (the so-called "bleg", if you'll accept the transposition of blogging terminology to a mailing list), but I'm afraid I'm stuck! I recall that recently (i.e., within the past few months) someone mentioned an article reconsidering the political context of Bach's 'Entwurff'. I've searched through the website, but I haven't been able to track down this reference. Does anyone perhaps recall the volume in question? (I seem to recall that it might be C. Baron, ed., Bach's Changing World, but I'm not sure.)

Thanks very much in advance!

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 8, 2009):
Evan asked:
>I recall that recently (i.e., within the past few months) someone mentioned an article reconsidering the political context of Bach's 'Entwurff'. I've searched through the website, but I haven't been able to track down this reference. Does anyone perhaps recall the volume in question? (I seem to recall that it might be C. Baron, ed., Bach's Changing World, but I'm not sure.)<
That is the correct volume. I believe the post in question was mine, although the general relevance of the book was first raised by Will Hoffman. I will take a moment tomoroow to check through my own records of posts to recover the article and author, within the general volume, and also to check that my post has been properly archived on BCW. It should be easy to recover with proper search constraints.

Evan Cortens wrote (February 8, 2009):
[To Ed Myskowski] Thanks Ed!

I imagined that it would be on this page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Books/Bach-Changing-World[Baron].htm but I didn't see it there. My guess is that the article in question is the one by Ulrich Siegele, given that Brad says it's a follow up to his Cambridge Companion article, which provides political context for Bach's hiring in Leipzig.

Jane Newble wrote (February 8, 2009):
[To Evan Cortens] Evan, is this what you are looking for?
From one of William Hoffman's posts:

Suggested Readings:

Baron, Carol K. Bach's Changing World: Voices in the Commuity, University of Rochester Press, 2006; Articles: Baron, "Transitions, Transformations, Reversals: Rethinking Bach's World"; Baron, "Tumultuous Philosophers, etc."; John Van Cleve, Family Values and Dysfunctional Families: Home Life in the Moral Weeklies and Comedies of Bach's Leipzig"; Ulrich Siegele, "Bach's Situation in the Cultural Politics of Contemporary Leipzig; and Katherine R. Goodman, "From Salon to Kaffeekranz: Gender Wars and the Coffee Cantata in Bach's Leipzig."

William Hoffman wrote (February 9, 2009):
I believe these relevant discussions were in the summer and related to Bach's music of 1729-34, BWV 29, 213-215, etc.

The sources, I believe are:
1) Martin Geck, "Director of the Collegium musicum," p. 191ff, in Johann Sebastian Bach: Life and Work (English Ed. 2006, Orlando FL: Harcourt); and
2) Christoph Wolff: JSB: TLM: Ch. 10, Traversing Special Boundaries, At a Crossroads, esp. p. 344. Key dates and events (Appendix I: Chronology, p. 530) include: 1729, Mar. 20, assumes directorship of Collegium musicum; 1730, Aug. 23, Memorandum for a "Well-Appointed Church Music"; also, Oct. 28, 1730, Letter to Georg Erdmann, NBR 151 (BDI: 23).

Geck Summary: Bach assumes Collegium musicum directorship and has access to university students and townspeople as well as Zimmermann concerts and instruments. P. 192, "Initially, it was probably singers for solo parts that he needed most, then increasingly instrumentalists." His drammi per musica needed these additional musicians. "A performance of the St. Matthew Passion would have benefitted from this kind of augmentation as well."

"Fortunately, 1729 happens to be the year in which Lange is in office (as annual Mayor), a burgomaster who is well disposed toward Bach." "Lange helps expand Bach's circle of activity."

Wolff Summary: Bach achieving his goal of capellemeister. June 8, 1730, J. M. Gessner elected new rector of Thomas School and Bach's situation there improves greatly. The statement in the Erdmann letter, about "the authorities are odd and little interested in music," says Wolff, was based on his memorandum sent to the Council two months earlier, which was never addressed by the council directly.

Bach was continually pushing the envelope with the Town Council, which ultimately controlled all the purse-strings. He looked for aid from allies like the Saxon Capellemeister faction, especially Lange, on the Council. No victory was without cost. In 1724, in Lutheran accommodating fashion, he had to present his SJP at the Nikolas Church (and pay the cost of reprinting the program) but he forced the council to appropriate funds to install safe platforms for the performers. In 1730, he addressed his musical resource needs by bypassing the Council directly and assuming the directorship of the Collegium musicum. Eventually he paid the price when he was censured and had musical resources taken away from him and given to the University Church. In some instances, Bach resorted to lengthy explanations and even hyperbole. In the Memorandum, he was putting on record what his needs were: well-appointed (and paid) musicians to present his well-ordered music. I think Bach was not only a learned theologian but also a skillful lawyer, as C.P.E. would become in Frankfurt, but never had the sheepskins!

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 9, 2009):
from my post of 6/28/08 subject New Books (2):

>William Hoffman recently referenced Carol Baron, Bachs Changing World. ...

IMO, the single most important chapter, with respect to recent discussions, is translated from Ulrich Siegle, <Bachs Situation in the Cultural Politics of Contemporary Leipzig>. Although my original thoughts were far from exactly correct, this treatise will challenge illusions that Bach was content with the church, in difficulty with the politicians, or that church and politicians were not intimately connected.<

The detailed interpretation of the motivation for the *Entwurff Document* is here, as well.

 

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Last update: ýFebruary 9, 2009 ý21:26:15