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Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127

Systematic Discussions of Bach’s Other Vocal Works
Magnificat in E flat major BWV 243a

Discussions in the Week of May 30, 2004 (1st round)

Sw Anandgyan wrote (May 31, 2004):
About BWV 243a

In one of those second-hand record stores in Montreal was available a recording of the Magnificat in E flat major conducted by Roland Büchner on the Glissando label at less than half the regular price.

The only review I've read was from the Goldberg magazine and there was a mention of what was considered like an over-sized choir ...

I was inquiring for owners' comments. Thanks.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (May 31, 2004):
Sw Anandgyan wrote:
"The only review I've read was from the Goldberg magazine and there was a mention of what was considered like an over-sized choir ..."
That's interesting - International Record Review complained about the same thing.

Sw Anandgyan wrote (June 1, 2004):
First Attempt At Participating

This is the week for discussing the Magnificat BWV 243a.

I have two recordings of this oeuvre; Hengelbrock and Herreweghe.

The first one mentioned on the label DHM is more energetic, crisper and may I use the word 'pungent' ? The tender moments are indeed quite affecting ( as the Quia Respexit, the Et Misericordia Eius and the Suscepit Israel ).

The second one on HM is more elegant, as if the playing and singing was more contained, or subdued, in the name of beauty but is not without exuberance when this is required ( as in the very first section ).

I resonate more to the Herreweghe recording and prefer it to the Hengelbrock though this latter one is quite close quality-wise.

I realize my first attempt in the weekly discussion is quite weak. May this post be used as a contrast to enlighten the smart and substantial ones ...

Happy listening


Discussions in the Week of July 3, 2016 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote wrote (July 3, 2016):
Visitation of Mary Feast: Magnificat, BWV 243a: Intro.

Scarcely one-month into his new tenure as Leipzig church cantor and city music director, Bach found that the benchmark 6th Sunday after Trinity and the Feast of the Visitation of Mary fell on the same day, July 2, 1723. Since cantors/music directors were required to present festival music and since this feast was of particular importance to the Leipzig churches, Bach literally pulled out all the stops, presenting two celebratory works: expanded Weimar two-part Cantata BWV 247, “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben” (Heart and mouth and deed and life), also known by its chorale name, “Jesu, joy of man’s desiring,” and this Latin setting of Mary’s canticle, Magnificat anima mea Dominum (My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, Luke 1:46), in the initial E-flat Major setting, BWV 243a, minus the four Christmas song interpolations found six months later in the Christmas Day vesper service at the Nikolaikirche.

Details of the 1723 Visitation feast performance of the Magnificat -- which alternates concerted choruses and intimate arias and was Bach’s first Latin music and major vocal work composed in Leipzig -- are only now coming to full light. It was a truly festive occasion, with Bach directing his Thomas Choir and a full orchestra of trumpets and drums, four woodwind instruments and strings. For this Magnificat production, Bach expanded his choir to five voices with two soprano parts, a practice he relished but employed only on special occasions.1 Cantata 147 would have been most appropriate during communion while the Magnificat, BWV 243a, using the Marian feast day’s Gospel text, Luke 1:46-55, Mary’s Canticle, would have been appropriate before the sermon on the gospel at the early main service. Later, at the other main Leipzig church, the vesper service would include the cantata before the sermon and the Magnificat after the sermon.2

This nearly half-hour balanced work in 12 concise movements has five choruses strategically and traditionally placed: “Magnificat anima mea,” Mvt. 4. “Omnes gerenationes” (every generation), Mvt. 7, “Fecit potentiam in brachio suo” (He has made known the power of his arm); and Mvts. 10-12), “Suscepit Israel” (He has taken under his protection Israel), “Sicut locutus est” (in accordance with what he said).3 Four are scored for SSATB (Mvt. 10 is for SSA), and the opening, closing (Mvt. 12) and central (Mvt. 7) are score for tutti ensemble. Observing tradition, Bach sets each verse as a separate movement, while varying the scoring so that the tutti choruses “form pillars that surround pairs of solo movements” (Nos. 2-3, 5-6, 8-9) while the final three choruses (Mvt. 10-12) “show a progressive buildup of required forces,” observes Richard D. P. Jones in The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach, Volume II: 1717-1750.4

Another Bach trademark is the use of instrumental cantus firmus intonation found in the Magnificat motet-like chorus, “Suscepit Israel” (Mvt. 10, SSA, 2 oboes [or trumpet], cello, continuo). Bach began the chorale trope as early as 1708 in the Mühlhausen town council chorus Cantata BWV 71, “Gott ist mein König” (God is my king, Psalm 74:12), which Bach labeled “Mottetto” in stile antico, says Daniel Melamed.5 In the Magnificat Bach uses imitative voices with a bassetto accompaniment technique (see Melamed Ibid.: 137, and Jones Ibid.: 135).

In the chorus “Suscepit Israel puerum suum” (He has taken under his protection Israel his boy), the distinctive Magnificat Gregorian chant Aeolian psalm tone nine (tonus peregrinus) is sounded in long notes on the two oboes (BWV 243) or trumpet (BWV 243a). The bassetto use “refers to the divine quality of mercy (‘misericordia’) alluded to in the second part of the verse, suggests Jones (Ibid.), “recordatus misericordiae suae” (and remembered his mercy). The theme of mercy (Erbarmen), or compassion, is central to Mary’s canticle, expressed in the middle (no. 6) alto-tenor duet, “Et misericordia a progenie in progenies timentibus eum” (and his mercy [continues ] from generation to generation for those who fear him).

The use of no basso continuo also is found in the Motet “Jesu, meine Freude” (Jesus, my joy), BWV 227, Mvt. 4 SSA chorus, “Denn das Gesetz des Geistes” (For the law of the spirit, Romans 8:2). The Magnificat succeeding movement (no. 11), “Sicut locutus est,” is a five-voice motet strict fugue recalling the Spruch or biblical-text motet (Melamed, Ibid.) in old-fashion alle breve 2/2 tempo.

Bach composed terse, focused music (there are no da-capo repeat movements) that “highlights the female voice” yet “employs gender typologies to convey the message of the biblical canticle,” observes Markus Rathey in Bach’s Major Vocal Works.6 Beyond the “large ensemble, massive concerto movements” are the “intimate arias [of the four voices), and a sweet, almost amorous duet [no. 6]” Rathey finds (Ibid.: 14). Essentially, Bach emphasizes the “dramatic potential” of the Magnficat text: “praise, the dichotomy between glory and humility, the scattering of the proud, the elevation of the lowly, and the expression of God’s mercy.”

Meanwhile, Bach employed a tradition found in Latin music, the repetition of music to a different text (called contrafaction) in the same mood in the choruses. The music of the opening “Magificat anima mea” is resounded in the closing, traditional vesper ending Lesser Doxology (no. 12), “Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper / et in saecula saeculorum. Amen” (As it was in the beginning and [is] now and always / and throughout ages of ages. Amen). Best known is Vivaldi’s opening and closing repeat of the same music in his Magnificat, RV 610, as well as in his Gloria,” RV 589 (1713), Greater Doxology Mass Ordinary setting. In his “Great Catholic” B-Minor Mass, BWV 232, Bach repeats the music of the “Gratias agimus tibi” (We give thee thanks) in the “Gloria” with the closing “Dona nobis Pacem” (Grant us peace). Also, Bach set the Lesser Doxology in contrafaction transcription in his late (mid-1740s) Latin Christmas Cantata BWV 191, “Gloria in excelsis Deo”: borrowing two movements from the B-Minor Mass, “Domine Deus” becoming “Gloria patri,” and “Cum sancto spiritu” becoming “Secut erat.”

Here is summary Rathey’s discussion of each (Ibid.: 15-25): 1. Chorus tutti, “Magnificat anima mea,” the “representation of a magnificent ruler” in magnificent music; 2. Soprano aria, “Et exsultavit spiritus” (and my spirit has exulted,” Mary’s song praising God; 3. Soprano aria, “Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae” (because he has regarded the [my] lowly state), a contrasting personal song of humility; 4. Chorus tutti, “Omnes generationes” (every generation), collective humanity, joins in to conclude her praise; 5., Bass aria, “Quia fecit mihi magna” (because he who is mighty), another gender stereotype of the mighty in domination; 6. Alto-tenor duet, “Et misericordia a progenie in progenies” (and his mercy [continues ] from generation to generation), divine mercy as an expression of divine 12/8 love dance; 7. Chorus tutti, “Fecit potentiam” (He has made known the power), the five tutti voices join in a song of power; 8. Tenor aria, “Deposuit potentes” (He has put down the mighty); contrasting in music the mighty put down and the lowly elevated; 9. Alto aria, “Esurientes implevit” (The hungry he has filled), another spatial contrast of full and empty’ 10. Chorus SSA, “Suscepit Israel” (He has taken under his protection Israel), motet like collective prayer with the theme (psalm tone); 11. Chorus tutti, “Sicut locutus est” (in accordance with what he said), subject, and counter subject, “Abraham et semini eius in saecula”

(to Abraham and to his seed for ever); 12. Chorus tutti, “Gloria Patri, gloria Filio, / gloria et Spiritui Sancto!” (Glory to the Father, glory to the Son / glory also to the Holy Spirit!); alternating imitative “Gloria” with homophonic “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” in 4/4; Chorus repeat of opening music in ¾, “Sicut erat in principio” (As it was in the beginning).

Marian Visitation Feast, Bach performances7

<<Beyond the Christmas Festival, Bach’s most active time presenting music in the church year in Leipzig may have been the Feast of the Visitation of Mary on July 2. Falling in mid-summer eight days after the Feast of John the Baptist in the midst of the austere omnes tempore early Trinity Time, these two de tempore events observing the life of Christ formed a sort-of festive “half-Christmas” when no other major civic events, such as seasonal fairs, were held. The Marian Visitation festival in particular had a wealthy Lutheran history and practice as a festival main service and the weekend vesper service. Musical settings of Mary’s Magnificat canticle or “Song of Praise” also were performed in Leipzig in Bach’s time during 15 de tempore feast days of the three-day Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost major feasts, the three Marian fests (Purification, Annunciation, and Visitation) and the lesser feasts of New Year’s Day, Epiphany, Ascension, Trinity, John the Baptist, and St. Michael, says Günther Stiller in Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig.8

Bach responded with major Latin and German Italianate cantata versions of Mary’s Magnificat canticle, respectively the Latin Magnificat in E-Flat, BWV 243a, for the Visitation Feast, July 2, 1723, and for Christmas Day 1723 with four “laudes” interpolated songs; Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243, probably premiered on the Feast of the Visitation, July 2, 1733, and the German Lutheran Magnificat chorale Cantata BWV 10, “Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn” (My Soul magnifies the Lord), in his second Leipzig Visitation service of July 2, 1724. In addition, various other German settings of the Magnificat in Leipzig were presented or linked to Bach (Johann Kuhnau, Johann Mathesson, Georg Melchior Hofmann, Johann Ludwig Bach, Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, Antonio Caldara) while later his sons – Friedemann, Emmanual and Johann Christian -- carried on his Magnificat musical tradition with his and their works.>>

<<The Canticles or Sacred Songs of Scripture as the basis for the Magnificat was established in Luther’s introductory preface to the section of biblical canticles that first appeared in the 1529 Gesangbuch, says Robin A. Leaver in Luther’s Liturgical Music: Principles and Implications.9 “The choice of the specific tone for each canticle was important because both text and tone undergirded the basic hermeneutic that Luther wanted the people who sang them to understand.”

Luther’s 1532 setting of “Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn”, as well as a 1532 setting of Luther’s melody to the German paraphrase of Benediction Psalm 67, “Gott sei uns gnädig und barmherzig” (May God be merciful and compassionate), fostered a tradition of vocal settings. The next major publication following the Klug Wittenberg hymnal of 1533, with a wide variety of canticles from both the Old and New Testaments which inspired Bach, was Johann Walther’s Magnificat octo tonorum of 1540 in Walther’s Sämtliche Werke SW 4. This collection of the first cantor of the Lutheran Church (1496-1570) consisted of eight settings for four voices (one for five voices) on the even numbered verses of the canticle in simple homophonic fa-bourdon style. Later in 1557 the settings were completed with the publication of Magnificat octo tonorum, SW 5, containing four, five, and sax-voice settings faa the even-numbered verses in Latin. Settings in the 5th, 7th, and 8th modes have complete settings of the Gloria Patri Lesser Doxology.>>

<<The development of the German Magnificat, “Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn,” is found in the extensive BCW article, “Chorales used in Bach’s Vocal Works.”

The Use of the Chorale Melody by other composers includes: Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612): Meine Seele erhebt den Herren, 4-pt setting (1608); Michael Praetorius (1571-1621): Meine Seele erhebt den Herren, 4-pt. setting (1607); Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672): Meine Seele erhebt den Herren, Score and Parts; Tobias Zeutschner (1621-1675): Cantata: Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn Cantus à 13 ou 19; Werner Fabricius (1633-1679): Meine Seele erhebt for 9 voice parts; and Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706): Meine Seele erhebt den Herren as, 2 Chorale Preludes for Organ. In all, Schütz composed at four different vocal settings of the Song of Mary (SWV 344, 426, 468, 494 Schwanengesang), three in German and one, SWV 468, in Latin as Magnificat anima mea, sacred concerto.>>

Other Magnificats

Three other German Magnificat paraphrase cantatas have been linked to Bach. A setting possibly by Johann Mattheson, "Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn," libretto by Erdmann Neumeister, was performed in Leipzig on July 2, 1725, based on a surviving libretto book. It possibly was lead by Georg Balthasar Schott, music director of the progressive Leipzig New Church and Kuhnau's successor. Bach also was listed as the composer of two other German paraphrase cantatas now attributed to Georg Melchior Hoffmann (Telemann successor as music director at the Leipzig Neue Kirche, 1704-15). These two with unknown librettists and no known Leipzig performance dates are: tenor solo Cantata BWV 189, "Meine Seele rühmt und preist" (My soul extols and praises) with three repeat ABA arias, and BWV Anh. 21, "Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn," known as the "Little German Magnificat. Musical Context of Bach Cantatas, Motets& Chorales for Feast of Visitation of Mary, BCW

In addition, Bach’s predecessor, Johann Kuhnau, composed a Latin Magnificat in C Major. “Although Bach’s work differs radically from Kuhnau’s in every respect, Bach did adopt from Kuhnau’s work the text and style of the Christmas interpolations with which the Magnificat [BWV 243a] is troped,” says Dr. Andreas Bomba in the liner notes to the Helmut Rilling Bachakademie Edition, (see BCW,, scroll down to V-16, No. 73.

Works Bach May Have Performed on the Feast of the Visitation (July 2):10

+Magnificat in E-Flat Major, BWV 243a, 1723; double bill with Chorus Cantata BWV 147 "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben" (Heart and Mouand Deed and Life) (1723, Friday); repeats 1730 (Trinity 4) and 1735-40;

+Chorale Cantata BWV 10, "Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn" (1724, Fourth Sunday after Trinity), repeat 1740-47; double bill possible repeat of Magnificat in E-Flat Major, BWV 243a;
+Anonymous Cantata, "Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn (My soul magnifies the Lord, Neumeister libretto) (1725, Monday), music of Joahnn Mathesson;
+ Johann Ludwig Bach Cantata JLB-13, "Der Herr wird ein Neues im Lande erschaffen Judah" (As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah) (1726, Tuesday);
+Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243, ?July 2, 1733, no documentation of succeeding performance at Visitation;
+Two Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel cantatas from different church cycles, performed in 1736 and possibly 1737. On July 2, 1736, Bach performed Stölzel two-part cantata, "Groß sind die Werke des Herren" (Great are the works of the Lord, Psalm 111:2), with Part 2 beginning, "Ich freue mich in den Herrn" (I delight greatly in the Lord, Isaiah 61:10) from the cantata cycle "Das Namenbuch Christi," (Book of Names of Christ), using a Benjamin Schmolck text with chorales closing both parts.
+Antonio Caldara's< Magnificat> in D Major (Bach added two parts for violins in Movement No. 3, <Suscepit Israel puerum suum> (He protects Israel, his servant), BWV 1082, performed about 1739-42.

Bach's Sons and Magnificats

Three of Bach's sons were involved in Visitation/early Trinity Time music of their father or composed their own Magnificat settings:

1. Oldest son Friedemann did a partial parody of the opening chorus, "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben" (Herz und Mund kan sich nun laben), Cantata BWV 147a/1, as the third and concluding movement of a pasticcio Catechism Sermon Cantata, Fk. 77, performed in Halle in 1752 (David Schulenberg, Music of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (New York: University of Rochester Press, 2010: 204). Friedemann apparently copied his father's music from the original version of Cantata 147, composed in Weimar in 1716 for the Fourth Sunday in Advent, since the scoring omits the two oboes added in Leipzig for Visitation 1723 (music printed in NBA KB I/28.2, Kantaten zu Marienfest II, e. Ute Wolf, 1995: 110ff). Friedemann also parodied the opening alto aria (slumber song) of Cantata BWV 170, "Vergnugte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust" (Wie ruhig ist doch meine Seele), originally composed in 1726 for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity. Friedemann composed the music for the second (middle movement) as a recitative. Friedemann presented this music possibly in September 1752 in connection with a Catechism Prayers service, says Peter Wollny.11

2. Youngest son Johann Christian Bach's Magnificat 4 in C major, CW E22, dates to 1760 when he was an organist in Milan composing music for Catholic services following his conversion. His work is published as Hänssler Verlag 38.101 (no date) and is catalogued as T 207/3, the last of three Magnificats in C Major. A YouTube recording is Second-oldest son Carl Philipp Emmanuel conducted in a benefit Lenten concert in late March 1786 in Hamburg his arrangement of the < Credo> from his father's <Mass in B Minor>, and three of his own works after intermission: a symphony, a < Magnificat> and the famous setting of <Heilig> (Sanctus). He also possessed both versions of Sebastian's <Magnficat," BWV 243(a). C.P.E. Bach Magnificat in D Major, Wq 215 (1786); Hänssler Verlag HE 33.215], Recording:


1 The exceptions using SSATB are the Weimar Easter Cantata BWV 31 opening chorus, “Der Himmel lacht! die Erde jubilieret” (The heavens laugh! The earth shouts with joy), the opening St. Matthew Passion chorus, “Komm, ihr Tochter “ Come, ye daughters) with the chorale “O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde gross” (O man, bewail thy great sins), the later chorale motet, “Jesu, meine Freude,” BWV 227, and the B Minor Mass choruses “Kyrie,” “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” “Cum Sancto Spiritu,” and “Credo in unum Deum.”
2 Cited on line in,_BWV_243a. A year later Bach composed for the feast of the Visitation the chorale cantata Meine Seel erhebt den Herren, BWV 10, based on the German Magnificat. The musicologist Alberto Rizzuti compared the two settings which were possibly performed in one service on 2 July 1724” ["One Verse, Two Settings, and Three Strange Youths," 2013, Online sources (PDF).
33 Magnificat, BWV 243a, BCW Details,, and Discography, Score (BGA), References: BGA: XI.1 Magnificats, Wilhelm Rust, 1862), NBA KB II/3 (Magnificats, Alfred Dürr 1955), Latin Church Music (BWV Anh. 21, 30; NBA KB II/9, Kirsten Beisswinger, 2000); Bach Compendium BC E 14. Magnificat, BWV 243, Latin text and Francis Browne English Translation, BCW
4 Jones, The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach, Volume II: 1717-1750, “Music to Delight the Spirit” (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013: 134).
5 See Daniel Melamed, Bach J. S. Bach and the German motet (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995: 15f and 29. Also see his extensive “Bibliography” 214-18. Such tropes may be considered a form of transcription often using text and chorale melody.
6 Rathey, Bach’s Major Vocal Works: Music Drama, Liturgy.(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016: 5).
7 The material below is found in Cantata 10, BCML Discussion Part 5:
8 Stiller, Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical, ed. Robin A, Leaver (St. Louis MO: Concordia Publishing, 1985: 56f).
Leaver, Luther’s Liturgical Music (Grand Rapids MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007: 260ff).
10 BCW, "Dates in Bach's Lifetime, "Mariä Heimsuchung" (Feast of Visitation of Mary),
11 Recent research of Wollny, “Wilhelm Friedemann Bach’s Halle performances of cantatas by his father,” in Bach Studies 2, ed. Daniel R. Melamed (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995: 211).

William Hoffman wrote wrote (July 6, 2016):
Visitation of Mary Feast: Magnificat, Part 2

Bach’s composition of the Latin Magnificat, Mary’s canticle of praise and mercy (Luke 1:46-55) and steeped in biblical tradition, was only the beginning of the Leipzig Thomas cantor’s exploration of Catholic music in the so-called stile antico style, culminating in the “Great Catholic” Mass in B-Minor, BWV 232 near the end of his life in 1750. His and other’s settings of the Magnificat anima mea Dominum (My soul doth magnify the Lord) during his Leipzig tenure represented milestones in the development of “well-ordered music to the glory of God” as well as important compositions that reflect past tradition and current utilization of fundamental musical ingredients.

Bach scholars in the past half century have made major discoveries regarding his music and their findings have yielded new vistas and understandings, particularly as realized in recent recorded performances of main and vesper services observing major feast days. Bach’s original version of the Magnificat in E-flat Major, BWV 243a, was premiered at the Feast of the Visitation of Mary (Mariä Heimsuchung) on July 2, 1723,1 and found its way into major feast days at Christmas Day, 1723, with four interpolated Yule laudes songs. Bach’s German version of Martin Luther’s hymn, “Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn,” chorale Cantata BWV 10, was a year later at Visitation 1724.

In the year 1724, the feast fell on a Sunday, the 4th after Trinity Sunday, and Bach may have included a repeat performance of the Magnificat. Since the Visitation Feast fell on a Sunday that year, both works could have been presented at the main services of both the St. Thomas and Nicholas churches and later at vesper services. In 1730, the feast fell on another Sunday, the 4th after Trinity, and Bach repeated Weimar chorus Cantata 147, “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben” (Heart and mouth and deed and life). Later, the feast also fell on other Sundays, the 5th after Trinity, in 1741 and 1747. While there is no record of repeats of the Magnificat, BWV 243, Cantata 10 was repeated between 1740 and 1747.

Bach turned his attention to other Latin works at the Dresden Court wit the possibly performed, 1729-1735, of the Jan Dismas Zalenka Magnificat in D Major, ZWV 108 in stile misto, or “mixed style” ( Ten years after the premiere of the original Magnificat, Bach in 1733 made minor changes in the orchestration and transposed the work a tone lower to the definitive version in D Major, BWV 243, possibly for a special service observing the death of the Catholic Saxon monarch, Augustus the Strong.2

Following the 1733 definitive version of the Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243, Bach turned his attention in the next decade to so-called Missa: Kyrie-Gloria settings of the first part of the Mass Ordinary. Also in 1733, Bach produced the so-called Dresden Missa, BWV 232a as well as later contrafactions from his German-language cantatas, the so-called Missae-Breves, BWV 233-36, suitable for both Lutheran and Catholic services in Leipzig and Dresden. In the early 1740s, Bach turned his attention to scholarly instrumental collections and Latin stile antico vocal music, having completed his secular congratulatory cantatas for the Dresden Court as one of its designated court composers, and completed his tenure as director of the Leipzig Collegium musicum, which began in 1729.

Preparing for his completion of the Mass Ordinary (Credo, Sanctus-Bendictus, agnus Dei) for the Dresden Court as a summation of his work and styles, Bach in the early 1740s initially turned to mostly recent Latin Magnificat compositions in stile misto. He copied Dresden composer Antonio Caldara's Magnificat in C Major, adding violins to its Suscepit Israel movement BWV 1082, for four trumpets and drums, strings and continuo (; BWV 1082, BCW Details, Bach scholar Christoph Wolf, who provided the definitive studies of Bach’s stile antico, published liner notes to his edition (Kassel: Bärenreiter No. 3518, 1969).3

About the same time in the early 1740s, Bach copied an extensive (18 minute), apocryphal Magnificat in C major, BWV Anh. 30 for double choir and orchestra, score and parts set copied by Bach (BCW Details,; Wolfgang Helbich/CPO Recording,, Details, The manuscript score indicates no composer. It’s “stylistic pluralism,” according to Peter Wollny, includes chant, strict polyphony, and “various possibilities of solo and full-voice concertising.” “According to a 2012 study (Wikipedia, Ibid.) it is a 17th-century work, composed by Pietro Torri before his 25th birthday ( An earlier attribution of the work had been to Antonio Lotti (BCW “Latin Church Music 2011,

Meanwhile two German Magnificat settings originally attributed to Bach probably are the work of Georg Melchior Hofmann (c1679-1715), successor of Telemann as organist at the Leipzig New Church in 1705 and the collegium musicum that Bach later directed. They works are the “Little Magnificat in A Major,” Meine Seele erhebt den Herren” (My Soul magnifies the Lord), BWV Anh. 21,4 and “Meine Seele rühmt und preist” (My soul glorifies and praises), BWV 189. A similar paraphrase of Martin Luther’s chorale setting, Meine Seele erhebt den Herren,” was performed in Leipzig on the Feast of the Visitation in 1725, music attributed to Johann Mathesson, libretto to Maria Aurora von Königsmarck.


Both of Bach‘s versions of the Magnificat, in E-flat Major, BWV 243a (1723), in D Major, BWV 243 (c.1733), were found in the 1790 estate catalogue of C. P. E. Bach, the BWV 243 original score and parts set (p.70) and the BWV 243a original score with Christmas interpolations attached (p.72) with other major works. Bach’s score of BWV 243 is found on line at the Bach Archiv,, Bach Digital.

New Bärenreiter Bach Edition scores with notes for BWV 243a are found at (2014) "Magnificat E-flat,” BWV 243a (with the four interpolations: Vom Himmel hoch / Freut euch und jubilieret / Gloria in excelsis / Virga Jesse floruit). Für Soli (SSATB), Chor (SSATB), Orchester und Orgel (lat). From the original text of the Neuen Bach-Ausgabe II/3 1955, ed. A. Dürr." (PDF) (in German); BWV 243, (2014) "Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243 (with the four interpolations from the Es-Dur-Fassung BWV 243a, transposed) für Soli (SSATB), Chor (SSATB), Orchester und Orgel (lat).


1 The earlier premiere date was established by Bach scholar Andreas Glöckner in 2003 (“A genuine Christmas music?, Bach-Jahrbuch 89: 37–45). This date is supported by later studies of Richard D. P. Jones, The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach, Volume II: 1717-1750, “Music to Delight the Spirit” (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013: 133), and John Butt (2015 liner notes, Magnificat in E-flat, Leipzig 1723 Christmas Vesper reconstruction
2 In 1733, “That year, Visitation fell on a Sunday (fourth Sunday after Trinity) and ended the period of mourning the death of the elector Augustus the Strong,” says Wikipedia (“The Visitation Version(s), This extensive on-line article with graphs, footnotes, and sources includes background, extended settings, “Other Magnificats by Bach?”, “Symmetrical Structure,” graphic comparison of the two versions (BWV 243a and 243) a study of each movement as well as the four Christmas interpolations., and a detailed Reception History, including other composers works, and specific recordings, particularly a spate of E-Flat Major versions which continue to this day.
3 See Wolff, “Bach and the Tradition of the Palestina Style,” in Bach: Essays on His Life and Music (Harvard Univerrsity Press, 1991: especially 96). Another new recording is “Bach and the Stile Antico,” including Credo (Mass in B-Minor) and Bach arrangements of Caldera (BWV 1082), Bassani Credo intonation and Palestrina Missa Sine Nomine (Kyrie, Gloria), see
4 See Glöckner article, "Die Leipziger Neukirchenmusik und das 'Kleine Magnificat' BWV Anh. 21" in Bach-Jahrbuch 1982, pp. 97-102. Another article on Bach’s creation of his Magnificat is found in Robert L. Marshall essay “On the Origin of Bach’s Magnificat: A Lutheran Composer’s Challenge, The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach: The Sources, the Style, the Significance (New York: Schirmer, 1989, 161ff),


Magnificats BWV 243 & BWV 243a: Details
BWV 243: Complete Recordings: 1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2019 | Recordings of Individual Movements
BWV 243a: Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8
Systematic Discussions: BWV 243 | BWV 243a
Individual Recordings: BWV 243 - E. Haïm | BWV 243 - N. Harnoncourt | BWV 243a - T. Hengelbrock | BWV 243 - P. McCreesh | BWV 243 - J. Rifkin | BWV 243 - H. Rilling | BWV 243 - R. Shaw | BWV 243 - M. Suzuki | BWV 243a - P. Herreweghe

Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127


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Last update: Tuesday, September 12, 2017 04:57