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Cantatas & Arias for Wedding

Wedding Music

Tobias Nilsson wrote (November 1, 2001):
One of my best friends have asked me to sing at his wedding. He (they) want something by Bach or at least some baroque music.
Does anyone have any suggestions?
I'm a countertenor so I was thinking of the second aria, "Gott hat alles wohl gemacht" from cantata BWV 35 "Geist und Seele..."
I don't think it has to sacred music but they're both believers so...

Bob Sherman wrote (November 1, 2001):
[To Tobias Nilsson] What voice do you sing?

Richard Grant wrote (November 1, 2001):
[To Tobias Nilsson] Are all the "Wedding Cantatas" secular in character? I'm rarther new at this and thought that if you were not required to do music sacred in character that perhaps you regarded the wedding connection too obvious?

Marie Jensen wrote (November 3, 2001):
Tobias wrote:
< I'm a countertenor so I was thinking of the second aria, "Gott hat alles wohl gemacht" from cantata BWV 35 "Geist und Seele..." I don't think it has to sacred music but they're both believers so... >
A fine choice…

You could also choose the alto aria from cantata BWV 29 (mvt 7): Halleluja, Stärk und Macht Sei des Allerhöchsten Namen! An allegro aria too.

< Richard asked: Are all the "Wedding Cantatas" secular in character? >
No. The cantatas BWV 202 "Weichet nur betrübte Schatten"and BWV 210 "O holder Tag, erwünschte Zeit" are secular soprano cantatas.

The cantatas BWV 195 "Dem Gerechten muss das Licht" BWV 196 "Der Herr denket an uns" and BWV 197 "Gott ist unsre Zuversicht" are sacred. In cantata BWV 197 is another alto aria "Schläfert allen Sorgenkummer" a beautiful slow one, but it lasts more than seven minutes, so perhaps it is too long.


Soprano arias for a Wedding

Aryeh Oron wrote (May 9, 2002):
I received the following message from a person who prefers to remain unidentified. I think that this is a nice topic. So, please send your answers to the list and not to my personal address.
Greetings everyone. At a friend's request, I'm looking for soprano arias (not warhorses, not terribly virtuosic) that might be suitable to sing at a wedding. Any ideas?

I've looked carefully at the fabulous websites of Drs. Oron and Bischof, but there doesn't seem to be any easy way to narrow down the 100+ candidates by theme or text (apart from the wedding cantatas themselves).

I have a dim recollection of once coming across somewhere online a text page listing Bach arias grouped by voice type (S/A/T/B solo, duet, trio, etc.), which would at least let me skim movement titles rather than cantata titles, but have Googled diligently to no avail. Does that ring any bell with anyone? I understand there are useful indices in a handbook by Werner Neuman(n?) but I was hoping not to have to brave the university library.

Thanks in advance for any suggestion. :)

Klaus Langrock wrote (May 9, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] If it does not nessecarily have to be an aria by Bach, we can offer something special:
a wedding cantata by Joh. Theodore Reomhildt for soprano, flute, 2 violins and continuo, which has not yet been performed for the last two centuries.

If You are interested, please check: 130a.
It is possible to send the sheet music within 14 days.
For more information please contact me privately:

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 9, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] If I were to choose a cantata or mvt. thereof for a wedding and if I knew that only first-class performers (singer and instrumentalists) would be involved, I personally would choose the wedding cantata BWV 202 ("Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten") or at least the 1st mvt. thereof. Although this is not the equivalent of BWV 51 (Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen) which is truly virtuosic in every respect and not really for a wedding, BWV 202 is not a cantata for amateurs to perform. So perhaps BWV 202 would also be too difficult for the individuals hired by the wedding party.

On the other side of the scale, warhorses, there is that lovely air by Stöltzel, "Bist du bei mir" (used to be BWV 508) that I feel represented a very special token of love between Bach and his wife, Anna Magdalena -- she copied it into her notebook and he added the figured bass. The key message of love contained in this fairly simple music is "until death do us part." What could be more fitting for a wedding than this, even if it is considered to be a 'warhorse?' Even a good amateur singer could give a reasonable performance of this short piece of music, and the accompaniment is easily adaptable to any keyboard instrument.

Michael Grover wrote (May 9, 2002):
[To Thomas Braatz] This reply brought a question to mind: why do we hear so little about Bach's songs? I am referring to the nearly one hundred BWV numbers between BWV 439 and BWV 524. I don't recall seeing many discussions or recommendations of these works. I looked on Aryeh's pages and there have been a few very short discussions and not many recommendations. I think we tend to think of Bach as the composer of either the big, massive, vocal works (masses, passions, oratorios, cantatas) or of the organ music or of the cerebral instrumental works... but (I, at least) tend to forget about these intimate little pieces, which may provide a nice glimpse into Bach's heart and family life.

Incidentally, I read that the Anna Magdalena notebook includes songs for soprano and baritone/bass - no alto or tenor. Do we know what Bach's mature singing voice was like? Are the selections in this notebook our clue that he was at the lower end of the scale?

I have the Hänssler complete Bach edition sampler disc, and there is one song on that CD although I can't remember right now which one. But that simple combination of harpsichord and soprano was enchanting to me. Does anyone have some good recommendations of these works? Particularly single discs? I know Kirk reviewed a Hänssler 7-disc set that included these but I am looking for something smaller.

Juozas Rimas wrote (May 9, 2002):
[To Michael Grover] Well, the recordings of those works are scarce! shows only 2 CDs dated 1974 and 1994 with the songs from from Schmellis Gesangbuch (the songs are in the Bach 2000 complete edition too but not many afford them). I haven't heard ANY of the songs yet - what a gap.

Rev. Thomas Shepherd wrote (Maay 10, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] Two numbers that Manchester Cathedral choir choristers had in their recent repertoire and sung together with great effect at showcase concerts and events such as weddings were:-
1. Mein Glaubiges Herze (My heart ever faithful/My heart that believest) from Cantata “Also hat Gott die Welt gelibt” BWV 68 and
2. "Bist du bei mir" from Anna Magdalena Notebook no.25. Which is so charmingly simple as to ensure all the wedding guests will hum the melody for days to come!

Please do define “warhorse” to a novice. Something popular? Something over familiar? Something that needs virtuoso and bravura performance or simply that which has been tried and tested by thousands for years and seen for what it is - something that speaks directly and intimately to the heart and soul?

Pablo Fagoaga wrote (May 10, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] My musical training is poor enough to prevent me from judging technically an aria, but if alto parts are affordable for soprano singers, my choice would be BWV 34's "Wohl euch, ihr auserwählten Seelen"

By the way, in fact I may pose this as a question to the group: ¿Is relatively easy to exercise this kind of "transposing" when singing?

Robert Killingsworth wrote (May 31, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] If you're still looking for ideas...

The obvious suggestions ("Weichet nur", "Bist du bei mir") have already been made. Anything from BWV 202 would be great, but you'd need an accomplished oboist as well as a singer.

There's a surpassingly beautiful aria in BWV 149, "Gottes Engel weichen nie", with only strings and continuo for accompaniment. The text ("God's own angels never yield / They are present all about me") is not particularly germane, but not unsuitable either. Disadvantage: runs long, about seven minutes.

There's a wonderfully joyful aria in BWV 84, "Ich esse mit Freuden". It's quick and brief, but you'd need an oboist AND a violinist for the obbligato parts.

I have a copy of that Handbuch by Werner Neumann. It has an index listing about 125 soprano arias by first line, alphabetically. I could e-mail you a scanned image file of the two pages in question, if you'd like.


Wedding with Bach music

Charles Francis wrote (May 3, 2004):
Arjen van Gijssel wrote:
< As for the wedding link. It is still there on: You should then click on: "Bekijk de uitzending". You will see the couple entering the church on the tunes of BWV 137, and at the end of the service they are leaving the church on BWV 34. Unfortunately, Brad and Neil were not able to receive the streaming video. Let's see if you manage to get something. >
It worked fine for me; a 96 K feed for the most part. The Bach sounded great (I always like your choir's performances). "He" seemed to show some recognition and approval at BWV 34, "she" tried to look politely interested. Off-topic, he looked like he'd rather not be in the public spotlight having his every move scrutinised; she looked like she was born for the role. The "parents" didn't look at all amused when laughter broke out during the ring exchange.


Bach playable by string quartet, for use at wedding

Alan Melvin wrote (December 1, 2004):
Please help me. I'm about to be married in a church with no pipe organ. The horror of this for a Bach fanatic is mitigated by the circumstances (cute bride), but now I have to find pieces for string quartet.

So far, the bride agrees to "Air", which isn't much of a start.

I'd appreciate any piece suggestions you all might have- even if a quartet score doesn't exist. (I am comfortable with transposing and scoring electronically and could produce a simple arrangement from, say, an organ chorale or even a cantata aria. Nothing super-virtuosic, though, because the quartet are playing for free as friends of the family.)

Thanks in advance,

Doug Cowling wrote (December 1, 2004):
[To Alan Melvin] If I recall, one of the Bach wedding cantatas (196?) is for strings only and opens with a lovely Sinfonia.

I would stay away from the Air unless you have a very good first violinist. It's a difficult piece.

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 1, 2004):
[To Alan Melvin] Congratulauions for your coming wedding.

Over the years there have been some discussions of Bach's music for wedding, which can be found at the page:
Please take a look. You might find there some useful ideas.

John Pike wrote (December 1, 2004):
[To Alan Melvin] There are string quartet arrangements of the 2 and 3 part inventions. There are also string arrangements of parts of the Art of Fugue, and there are some Mozart string quartet arrangements of some Bach fugues. Not having played the latter few recently, I can't remember how suitable they would be for a wedding, but the first option would probably yield some suitable material.

John Pike wrote (December 1, 2004):
[To Alan Melvin] On reflection, the arrangement is probably for string trio of the 3 part inventions only. There is also a very nice sonata in G for violin and basso continuo, eminently suitable for a wedding. Look to see if any of the trio sonatas have been arranged for string quartet, or something from the musical offering, including the trio sonata...........a minor key but quite jolly nevertheless.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 1, 2004):
[To Alan Melvin] Congratulations!

How about the E major fugue of WTC 2, transposed up to G or F?

And "Liebster Jesu" BWV 706, maybe transposed down from A to G? In the last bar, as it splits to five parts, fashion some hybrid viola line.

And flip through the Riemenschneider collection of 371 chorales...plenty of beautiful stuff in there.

Incidentally, as wedding music, the middle movement of Brandenburg 6 works nicely as a duo for two flutes and keyboard, transposed up to Bb. Would also work for two violins that way.

Dale Gedcke wrote (December 1, 2004):
[To Alan Melvin] For string quartet sheet music for a wedding, go to Lynne Latham has a wedding folio for string quartets and another one for a string quartet plus trumpet. I have used the latter at a wedding gig. These portfolios contain several compositions by J. S. Bach. One I recall is Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring (Jesu Bleibet meine Freud). The latham web site will list the pieces and composers in each wedding portfolio, so that you can determine if there is a Bach composition you like. Then you can buy the folio for the string quartet.

By separate e-mail, I'll give you another contact that can lead you to string quartet books for wedding.


Wedding Music

Continue of discussion from: Geistliche Lieder und Arien/Schemelli Gesangbuch BWV 439-507 - General Discussions [Other Vocal Works]

Dale Gedcke wrote (December 12, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
"Wedding music? Most recently I talked a couple out of having most of the traditional stuff, and I ended up playing some of the Goldberg
Variations, some WTC excerpts, and most of the Haydn E-flat variations. The bride walked to Couperin's "Les Moissoneurs" from the 6th Ordre. But they still had to have the
Mendelssohn wedding march as their exit music. One could do a whole lot worse than Mendelssohn."

Last September, for a wedding recessional I played the Mendelssohn Wedding March on a C trumpet along with a string quartet. It was Lynne Latham's arrangement. It sounded great!

For the Bride's processional, I did my own arrangement of Jeremiah Clarke's Trumpet Voluntary with the same string quartet. That's an attention-getting processional. The quartet played a wide selection of the traditional wedding music during the seating of the guests. That included a lot of Bach. A string quartet is an enjoyable alternative to the organ for weddings.

Thomas Shepherd wrote (December 12, 2004):
[To Dale Gedcke] OK. If we've doing wedding-music stories, what about John William's "Star Wars" theme transcribed for organ (a lugubrious and very dull affair) and an organ arrangement of UK popular comedians, Morecambe & Wise theme tune - "Bring me sunshine". Both went down a treat with all present and put a big smile on their faces after their happy, but serious, wedding services. What the Church of England is prepared to do to meet the hopes and expectations of people not brought up on anything more than the thin gruel of "popular" culture. Now THERE'S prejudice for you!!

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 12, 2004):
[To Thomas Shepherd] wrote: I had to do one for a cousin where the bride insisted on having the "Forrest Gump" soundtrack music as part of the prelude. So, they played a recording for that part. She also insisted on having her friend the bagpiper play several selections...inside the church, which was a &#&% loud effect. My cousin the groom insisted ohaving "The Stars and Stripes Forever" as recessional, so they used a recording for that too. I filled in all the rest with normal organ music. What a hodgepodge.

Always an adventure.


Wedding (was: Cantata BWV 174)

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 174 - Discussions

William Hoffman wrote (July 8, 2008):
William Hoffman replies to Douglas Cowling comment re. wedding Cantata BWV Anh. 212:

July 26, Vergnuegende Flammen, verdoppelt die Macht," BWV Anh. 212, secular(sic) wedding cantata, text by Picander

Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Must have been Leipzig's hottest couple! >
Hoffman: My source for these lost occasional cantatas written in the summer of 1729 (Tiggerman, Bach Jaurbuch 1994) provides additional information. The groom was Christoph Georg Winckler (1690-1749), member of a prominent Leipzig family. Wolff (JSB:TLM) gives information on three others: Johann Heinrich (1703-1770, see BCW Poets & Composers), librettist of Cantata BWV Anh. 18 (1732); Andreas, theologian, godparent to Christina Dorothea Bach, baptised March 18, 1731; and Gottfried (?pater familias), leading merchant with grand art collection. NBA KB 1/33 lists a full bridal Mass at St. Thomas in 1737 with bridegroom Johann Gottlob Winckler, businessman and banker.

Christoph Georg's Bride: Caroline Wilhelmine Joecher (1710-1749). No further information.

1729 Setting: full bridal mass with Cantata BWV Anh. 212 at St. Thomas. Extant two-part libretto by Picander includes four arias (opening and closing arias da capo), and one chorale, "Sei lob und Ehr dem hoechsten Gut" (after the vows, ?BWV 251), and closing blessing. It is possible that all three Bach wedding chorales, BWV 250-251 were presented, with BWV 250, "Was Gott tut" (opening), and BWV 252, "Nun danket alle Gott" (after Benediction). Duerr dates BWV 250-251 to "perhaps" 1729, based on the 11 extant parts: SATB; with 2 horns,
oboe and 1st violin (with soprano); oboe d'amore and 2nd violin (with alto)' viola (with tenor); and Continuo. Wolff (JSB:TLM, p.411) notes that BWV 250-252 are established chorales in half-wedding Masses (without cantatas). These three chorales plus "In allen meinen Taten" (which also opens the service) constitute the four required in the wedding. These chorales also could have done double duty in full- and half-wedding Masses.

Incidentally, Bach composed chorale cantatas (1728-35, per omnes versus) to all four: BWV 117 (BWV 251), BWV 192 (BWV 252), BWV 100 (BWV 250) and BWV 97 ("In allen meinen Taten"), which we are discussing this year.

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 8, 2008):
William Hoffman wrote:
< These chorales also could have done double duty in full- and half-wedding Masses. >
Are you sure that weddings included a celebration of the mass/eucharist? I was under the impression from Stiller's book on the liturgical life in Bach Leipzig, that the rite only included the wedding proper, cantata and sermon (at least one cantata is divded in two parts before and after the wedding rite).

William Hoffman wrote (July 8, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Are you sure that weddings included a celebration of the mass/eucharist? I was under the impression from Stiller's book on the liturgical life in Bach Leipzig, that the rite only included the wedding proper, cantata and sermon (at least one cantata is divded in two parts before and after the wedding rite). >
According to Stiller, communion (always voluntary) was an integral function in the Leipzig main Sunday service and, of course, enabled Bach time to present a cantata, subject to resources. As to weddings (performed Sunday late afternoons, Mondays and Tuesdays), the liturgy doesn't relate to communion; mostly to prayers, readings, a sermon, vows and benediction, with full wedding music including opening motets, a cantata, and the four chorales. There were only 35 of these at St. Thomas during Bach's tenure and, by custom, the parents foot
the bill.

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 8, 2008):
William Hoffman wrote:
< As to weddings (performed Sunday late afternoons, Mondays and Tuesdays), the liturgy doesn't relate to communion; mostly to prayers, readings, a sermon, vows and benediction, with full wedding music including opening motets, a cantata, and the four chorales. There were only 35 of these at St. Thomas during Bach's tenure and, by custom, the parents foot the bill. >
Sorry, I'm misunderstanding you. Why do you refer to full wedding 'masses' and 'half-masses' if there was no eucharist/mass celebration? The Sunday morning mass was called "Amt" or "Hauptgottesdienst" -- I thought weddings were called "Traung", the 'half' and 'full' designation refered to whether there was a cantata or not.


Wedding Cantatas

David wrote (July 9, 2008):
Has anyone heard Koopman's collection of the "wedding" cantatas of Bach on the Challenge Label? any thoughts?

Vivat205 wrote (July 9, 2008):
[To David] Vital performances, outstandingly played, sung, and recorded. If these were all you had, you'd die happy. But I find that note for note, especially in BWV 202 and BWV 210, Rilling is unsurpassable--maybe not by much, but you finish his recordings with the same sense of exhiliaration you feel when you've attended a really great live concert. Best approach; get all both.

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Last update: ýAugust 3, 2008 ý00:06:47