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When were the Cantatas performed?

When are Cantatas played?

Donna Alfonso wrote (June 9, 2001):
My question is when our Bach's Cantatas played during a church service currently? When were they played during Bach's time?

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 9, 2001):
(To Donna Alfonso) Before and after the sermon (sometimes split with half before and half after the sermon) and also during communion.

Scott M. Hyslop wrote (June 9, 2001):
According to Stiller (and others), the placement of the cantata had its established place between the reading of the Gospel and the creedal hymn (Wir glauben al an einen Gott). Stiller also writes . . . "Not infrequently the cantata was constructed in two parts, of which the second part was presented after the pulpit service (sermon". . .". It seems that roughly 10% of the cantatas are written in two parts, but there are still questions being raised as to whether or not some of the cantata that are not divided into two parts were not in fact performed in two parts. The organist was expected to introduce the cantata with a free improvisation.

It is also interesting to note that when a cantata was performed in the morning at either St. Nicholas or St. Thomas (never both on the same morning) it would then be presented in the evening during vespers at the other church.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 9, 2001):
Alfred Dürr (1971) indicates that the cantata in Bach's time and city, Leipzig, had a fixed position in the main morning church service called the "Amt" ("the main service"). There it was placed after the Gospel reading and directly before the singing of the Lutheran Creed hymn, "Wir glauben all an einen Gott" ("We all believe in one God"). If the cantata consisted of two parts, then the second part would be sung right after the sermon hymn (which obviously followed the sermon directly) or else it was performed during the communion. Sometimes, if there was no second part, a different cantata might be performed here. On special holidays, the same cantata would be repeated in the afternoon at one of the other two main churches in Leipzig.

I have no idea how these cantatas are performed currently. In an on-going series of Bach cantatas in my area (Midwest of USA), the cantatas are given a special service on a Sunday afternoon with a homily presented by a visiting pastor, this homily bringing out the connection to the cantata.

Rick Roe wrote (June 9, 2001):
Helmuth Rilling still performs Bach Cantatas at the church, where he has been Kantor since 1957, the Gedaechtniskirche in Stuttgart. They are known as "Kantategottesdienste". I have sung many of these personally. They now happen during the course of what is known in Stuttgart as a "Bach-Wochenende," which is a series of weekend events throughout the year dedicated to Bach experiences. There is usually a "Gespraechs-Konzert" with Rilling and the GKS/BCS, often in the Liederhalle but more often in the Stiftskirche in downtown Stuttgart. Lectures on the historical and theological aspects of the weekend's cantata are held at the Bach Akademie. Alfred Dürr often gave such lectures. A conducting masterclass, along with vocal and sometimes instrumental masterclasses are held, with BachAkademie artists as teachers. A piano rehearsal for the Kantate on Sunday morning is held on Saturday evening. Anyone who sings and can read music is invited to be in this "Kantatenchor". Then Sunday morning, the orchestra rehearses, first the continuo group, then the vocal soloists, and finally the tutti movements. The church service is usually around 10:00 am.

Once, for "O Ewiges Feuer, O Ursprung der Liebe" we had over 300 singers in that church. Rilling justifies the huge numbers on account of the performance, which is not an ordinary concert experience, but rather a ritual part of the liturgy of the church. Of course for concerts and recordings, the Gächinger Kantorei is set up for the famous "historically informed" sound to which we are accustomed.

They (the cantatas) come in the morning service exactly as Duerr (via Tom Braatz) has described.

There is a longstanding Leipzig tradition to repeat the opening chorus at the conclusion of the service...this is often observed in Stuttgart at the Gedaechtniskirche.

I was a singer in the Gächinger Kantorei, and a conducting student of Helmuth Rilling for three years, during the 1980’s (including the Bach year). I have remained friends with this remarkable man since. If anyone ever has any questions on the order of "why does Rilling do this, that or the other?" I might be able to answer them.

Michael Grover wrote (June 11, 2001):
< Thomas Braatz wrote: [snip] I have no idea how these cantatas are performed currently. In an on-going series of Bach cantatas in my area (Midwest of USA), the cantatas are given a special service on a Sunday afternoon with a homily presented by a visiting pastor, this homily bringing out the connection to the cantata. >
Where in the USA's midwest are these cantatas performed? I'm in southeast Missouri and would love to come for a listen if it wasn't too far of a drive... Of course, the midwest is awfully big...

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 11, 2001):
(To Michael Grover) The location is Grace Lutheran Church on West Division Avenue in River Forest, Illinois. This is a western suburb of Chicago. The cantatas are announced (time and place given) on WFMT FM which you might be able to listen to on the internet, since it is available there. Also other Bach events are given in other suburbs (Evanston), for instance, where cantatas are performed.

Thomas Gebhardt wrote (June 11, 2001):
< Of course for concerts and recordings, the Gächinger Kantorei is set up for the famous "historically informed" sound to which we are accustomed. >
???
In fact, I believe Rilling is notorious in ignoring the so called "historically informed" performance practice!? I never heard, that he cares for that.

< They (the cantatas) come in the morning service exactly as Duerr (via Tom Braatz) has described. There is a longstanding Leipzig tradition to repeat the opening chorus at the conclusion of the service...this is often observed in Stuttgart at the Gedaechtniskirche. >
Does "longstanding" mean, dating back to Bach's own times or close to that? Or merely some time after 1950?

< I was a singer in the Gächinger Kantorei, and a conducting student of Helmuth Rilling for three years, during the 1980’s (including the Bach year). I have remained friends with this remarkable man since. If anyone ever has any questions on the order of "why does Rilling do this, that or the other?" I might be able to answer them. >
I think, there are so many questions... but I cannot ask in detail, as I usually shun Rilling's Bach recordings and performances, as when I tried sometimes to listen to them, I just couldn't bear it.

Donna Alfonso wrote (June 13, 2001):
A quick thank you to everyone who answered my query, "when are Bach's canatas performed within the church service?" I've been looking high and low for this info. and was happy to find my answer (albeit rather non-definitive!) here.

 

Cantatas as part of liturgy

Christian E. Rideout wrote (August 7, 2001):
I am interested the relation of the cantatas to liturgy. All the cantatas I know start out with the biggest bang in the first movement. What place did this have in the liturgy? Were the movements interspersed between various portions of it or were the cantatas performed in whole at some point?

Did the first movement start out the service?

Sorry if this has been answered already, but I tried various searches and found nothing.

Michael Grover wrote
[To Christian E. Rideout] Try http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/When.htm for previous postings on this subject.

 

Bach’s KdF

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 10, 2001):
Francine, don't go too far with this careless statement:

< And his cantatas? I don't think Bach ever thought that his cantatas were to be performed except once. >
Bach set up his cantata cycles so that they could be reused. We have evidence that he had repeated some cantatas three or four times in his lifetime (often changing thescoring to fit the availability of instruments.) There was also the tradition of exchanging cantatas with other conductors in different places (sometimes members of his extended family). Bach performed the cantatas composed by others as well, while he knew that his were being performed elsewhere. He also assumed that his sons would inherit these cantatas and perform them (which they did!)

Francine Renee Hall wrote (November 10, 2001):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thanks for the information. I will be more careful (have to stop reading CD guides!)!!! I've printed much of the KdF postings because they are so interesting. Please forgive my rash statement about the cantatas!!!! Ever willing to learn!!!

 

Question for the historical buffs

Dan Date wrote (March 16, 2006):
Were Bach's cantatas given a few performances or just one?

Aryeh Oron wrote (March 16, 2006):
[To Dan Date] Please take a look at the page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Date.htm
You will be able to see which cantatas were performed by J.S. Bach only once and which couple of times.

Dan Date wrote (March 17, 2006):
[To Aryeh Oron] Wonderful! Thanks!

 

Recent findings of performance dates of several cantatas by a Russiian expert

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 7, 2011):
I received the message below from Peter Meshcherinov, who had translated for the BCW all Bach's sacred cantatas into Russian.
The list was prepared by Professor of Tatiana Shabalina from the St.-Petersburg Conservatory, a well-known Russian Bach expert, and includes her recent findings regarding the exact performance dates of .several cantatas.

****************
1) BWV 34. 1st performance: on June, 1, 1727 (the work is not a parody BWV 34a as it was considered; dating BWV 34a too varies).
2) BWV 129. 1st performance: on June, 8, 1727.
3) BWV 173. 1st performance: on May, 29, 1724 or June 2, 1727 (though most probably the 1st performance took place in 1727; it is possible to leave for a while "double" dating with the union "or").
4) BWV 184. Repeated performance: on June, 3, 1727
5) BWV 199. The Köthen-version (1720's) was written with soloist violin.
6) BWV Anh. 4. 1st performance: on August, 27, 1725, on re-elections of city council of Leipzig.
7) BWV 200 is an arrangements of the Aria «Dein Kreuz, o Bräutgam meiner Seelen» from the Passion-oratorio «Ein Lämmlein geht und trägt die Schuld» by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690-1749).
***
Here are links to works by Professor Shabalina:
Schabalina T. »Texte zur Music« in Sankt Petersburg. Neue Quellen zur Leipziger Musikgeschichte sowie zur Kompositions- und Aufführungstätigkeit Johann Sebastian Bachs // Bach-Jahrbuch 2008. S. 33-98.
Schabalina T. »Texte zur Music« in Sankt Petersburg - Weitere Funde // Bach-Jahrbuch 2009. S. 11-48.
Schabalina T. Neue Erkenntnisse zur Entstehungsgeschichte der Kantaten BWV 34 und 34a // Bach-Jahrbuch 2010. S. 95-109.
Here the Internet-link (the sixth from above) to her article in English: http://www.bachnetwork.co.uk/ub4-2009.html
****************

The relevant cantata pages and LCY pages on the BCW have been updated accordingly.

Evan Cortens wrote (October 7, 2011):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< 7) BWV 200 is an arrangements of the Aria «Dein Kreuz, o Bräutgam meiner Seelen» from the Passion-oratorio «Ein Lämmlein geht und trägt die Schuld» by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690-1749).
***
Here are links to works by Professor Shabalina
Schabalina T. »Texte zur Music« in Sankt Petersburg. Neue Quellen zur Leipziger Musikgeschichte sowie zur Kompositions- und Aufführungstätigkeit Johann Sebastian Bachs // Bach-Jahrbuch 2008. S. 33-98.
Schabalina T. »Texte zur Music« in Sankt Petersburg - Weitere Funde // Bach-Jahrbuch 2009. S. 11-48.
Schabalina T. Neue Erkenntnisse zur Entstehungsgeschichte der Kantaten BWV 34 und 34a // Bach-Jahrbuch 2010. S. 95-109.
Here the Internet-link (the sixth from above) to her article in English:
http://www.bachnetwork.co.uk/ub4-2009.html >
This is wonderful stuff of course, and thanks to Peter Meshcherinov! A quick point, however, I believe the source for BWV 200 was identified by Peter Wollny, not by Tatiana Shabalina, though in an article in the same issue of the Bach-Jahrbuch (2008) as the first source listed above.

There was a good discussion on this movement back in April 2010, and is online at http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Stolzel-Gen1.htm under "Bach and Stoelzel".

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 7, 2011):
BWV 200 [was: Recent findings of performance dates of several cantatas by a Russiian expert]

[To Evan Cortens] Thanks for the correction.
The page of BWV 200 was amended accordingly.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV200.htm

 

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Last update: ýOctober 16, 2011 ý16:04:56