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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

Mass in B minor BWV 232
General Discussions - Part 18

Continue from Part 17

Discussions in the Week of November 6, 2016 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (November 13, 2016):
B-Minor Mass Contrafactions From Lost Music (text only): 1725-27

Bach’s “Great” Missa tota (complete) Mass in B Minor, BWV 232, today stands as a unique masterpiece, the profound product of twenty five years of genesis to fulfill his calling for a “well-ordered church music to the glory of God.” It was the expression of a life’s work, a summary through contrafaction (new text underlay) of his finest music in varied styles, particularly polyphonic form in stile antico, in the manner of the Renaissance masters, as well as progressive music in the style of love duets and dances savored by the Saxon Court on Dresden.

Bach’s process of transformation may have begun between 1725 and 1727 when he composed a series of secular congratulatory serenades whose music is lost but the poetic texts survive, according to recent research Composed for Leipzig civic officials with connections to the Saxon Court, these musical celebrations have certain arias and choruses that appear to have similar Affekt in their phrasing and progressive musical styles favored by the court.

Spiritually and musically, the B-Minor Mass was the central expression of Bach’s extended Christological Cycle of major works related to the life of and teachings of Jesus Christ. This great musical mosaic began in 1725 with the Easter Oratorio as Bach presented his second cycle of church-year cantatas, based on Lutheran hymns. This concept continued with three Oratorio Passions set to the Gospels of John, Matthew and Mark, as well as the Christmas and Ascension Oratorios in the mid-1730s, and a possibly-lost Pentecost Oratorio. Following were collections of organ chorale preludes on Lutheran teachings and the church year, most notably the Clavierübung III, German Organ Mass, and the so-called “Great 18 (Leipzig) Chorale Preludes.” Meanwhile, in 1733, Bach composed his liturgical litany and Greater Doxology setting, Missa: Kyrie-Gloria, BWV 232a, and added four more settings, BWV 233-36 in the late 1730s. Finally, in the late 1740s, Bach completed the Mass Ordinary setting with the central Christian Credo, the Sanctus-Benedictus-Osanna in Excelsis and the Agnus Dei. The “Latin Mass as music transcending confessional and national boundaries offered Bach the unique opportunity of reaching a broader audience,” observes Christoph Wolff in “Past, present and future perspectives on Bach’s B-Minor Mass.”1

The great Bach works, the B-Minor Mass and the St. Matthew Passion, would not exist without Luther’s appreciation of liturgical music,” observes Marcus Rathey in “Reinterpreting Luther: Lutheran Chorales in Bach’s Chorales Cantatas and Organ Works.”2 Probably referring to his favorite composer, Josquin des Prez, Luther affirmed: “But when (musical) learning is added to all this and artistic music which corrects, develops and refines the natural music, then at last it is possible to taste with wonder (yet not to comprehend) God’s absolute and perfect wisdom in his wondrous work of music. Here it is most remarkable that one single voice continues to sing the tenor [Luther was a tenor], while at the same time many other voices play around it, exulting and adorning it in exuberant strains and, as it were, leading forth in a divine roundelay, so that those who are the least bit moved know nothing more amazing in this world.”

Bach’s B-Minor Mass was part of his emergence as a great composer in the early 19th century in Germany when his studied chorales, Latin church music, and motets were first published and performed. “Carl Friedrich Zelter -- a key figure in the 19th-century Bach revival -- led the Berlin Singakademie in read-throughs of the "Great Mass" in 1811, covering the Kyrie; in 1813 he led read-throughs of the entire work” (see The first public performance in the century -- of just the Credo section -- took place in Frankfurt in March, 1828.”

In the second half of the 19th century, when Bach’s works were published by the Bach Gesellschaft, it became apparent that many of the movements, particularly the choruses, were derived as contrafactions from earlier, mostly sacred cantatas. Despite the Romantic era’s prejudice against self-plagiarism while championing originality, the spell of the music already had been cast. Bach scholars realized that certain movements were derived from celebratory works for Town Council Installation and New Year’s as well as mid-Trinity Time cantatas and weddings in addition to two works fit for the Passion Crucifixus in the Gloria section and the closing Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) litany plea.

Bach’s first initiatives towards a “well-ordered church music,” stated in his resignation letter to the Mülhausen Town Council, 25 June 1708 (Bach Dokumente BD 1), began soon after when he became the court organist and a chamber musician at the ducal court in Weimar. Responsible for performing appropriate music at all services, Bach began “the systematic building of a repertory of church music,” observes Peter Wollny in the Preface to the publication of Marco Gioseppe Perada’s concerted Kyrie in C from his Missa.3 Bach began collecting and presenting Latin church music, particularly liturgical settings of the Missa: Kyrie Gloria, as well as the beginnings of Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book) collection of chorale preludes for the church year (BWV 599-644). Gradually, Bach was building the pillars of his grand design.

From Johann Gottfried Walther, a Bach cousin and organist at the Stadtkirchke in Weimar, Sebastian acquired a copy of a performing parts set of Peranda’s Kyrie in C for five voices (SATTB), strings and continuo, copied about 1709. Peranda (1625-1675), court kapellmeister of Saxony, was still held in high esteem and his music circulated widely, including the courts at Weimar, Weißenfels, and Zeitz. In particular, Johann Philipp Krieger, Kapellmeister at Weißenfels (1680-1725) and another Bach colleague, performed Peranda’s works, notably the Missa: Kyrie-Gloria in C Major, as well as the Missa in A Minor (6 voices , 6 instruments), also in Bach’s possession. Bach had access to the extensive Weißenfels court library in 1713 when he presented his first significant “modern” cantata BWV 208, “Was mir behagt ist nur die muntre Jagd!” What pleases me / is above all the lively hunt!” for the birthday of Duke Christian of Sachsen-Weißenfels.

During his Weimar period, Bach "had need of compositions with Latin words, as shown by the Masses of other composers (Baal, Peranda, Pez) he had copied," says Dr. Andreas Bomba in his liner notes to "Kyrie eleison - - Christe, du Lamm Gottes, BWV 233a, "Sacred Latin Music 1, Hänssler, Rilling, Bachakademie, Vol.71 (1999; English translation Dr. Miguel Carazo & Associates).

Bach in his later Weimar period between 1713 and 1717 performed the Johann Baal Missa in A Major, Peranda's Missa à 6 in A Minor, and Johann Christoph Pez's Missa San Lamberti in A minor, with Kyrie arranged by J.S. Bach, BWV Anh 24/1, as well as the anonymous Missa (Kyrie, Christe, Gloria) in C minor, BWV Anh 29 [see BCW, "Works of Other Composers performed by J.S. Bach,"]. At this time, Bach was primarily interested in studying the Kyrie form in Baal, Pez, and Peranda, says Christoph Wolff (Stile antico: 165).

Motet Kyrie eleison, BWV 233a

Bach at this time began his first effort at setting Latin church music as part of the Lutheran service, with the innovative, bilingual Kyrie eleison in F Major, BWV 233a, in old-fashion, stile antico 2/2 alle breve style as a concise tri-partite, through-composed motet fugue (score, BCW; recording, A chant parahrase of the Latin “Kyrie eleison” (Lord, have mercy) begins in the four voices while the first soprano fifth voice enters at measure 8 with the cantus firmus bi-lingual trope of the German Agnus Dei (Lamb of God), “Christus, du Lamm Gottes” (Christ, Thou Lamb of God), Luther’s setting of the Latin Mass-closing “Lamb of God.” It has the tri-partite plea, “Der du trägst die Sünd der Welt, / Erbarm dich unser!” (you, who take away the sins of the world / have mercy on us!). The third and final Kyrie eleison litany refrain is replaced by “Gib uns dein' Frieden. Amen” (grant us your peace. Amen), the Mass closing refrain, Dona nobis pacem. The last line of the bass, which quotes a two-fold Amen from Luther’s German Litany, is reworded to the repeat Kyrie eleison.

Besides representing the beginning of the Mass Ordinary, Bach’s unique setting fittingly embraces both the Christian litany plea, Kyrie eleison, and the concluding litany of the Agnus Dei. Bach’s motive for composing the Kyrie eleison setting, BWV 233a, is unknown but it was appropriate to open the main service in Bach’s time and in the late 1730s he used it as the first movement of his Missa: Kyrie-Gloria, BWV 233, in F Major. Historically, this setting of the first two sections of the Mass Ordinary was used liturgically in the Lutheran main service on feast days. In this later version, BWV 233, the chorale melody or cantus firmus is sounded by the horns instead of a trope sung by the first soprano, a technique Bach explored in various chorale settings in his vocal music such as his chorale cantatas and Oratorio Passions.

Further, Bach in the B-Minor Mass uses diverse treatment of the old chant (cantus): paraphrased in the “Kyrie,” straightforward in the “Credo”, and both straightforward and canonic in the “Confiteor,” observes Peter Williams in in his new Bach: A Musical Biography.4 “Significantly, all three of the ‘unborrowed’ examples use or allude to plainchant phrases, and the last, one of the most complex pieces of five-part counterpoint, seems to be more than a passing allusion to some of Palestrina’s settings, such as his Missae ad cenam agni,” observes Williams (Ibid.: 447).

The three original movements, all expansive choruses, are the opening “Kyrie,” except for the opening four bars (paraphrasing Luther’s Deutesche Messe 1526); the Credo first movement (No. 10) in 2/2 alla breve, “integrating into a while three distinct musical ideas: a chant (medieval), a fugue (in stile entico), and a walking bass (baroque)” (Williams: Ibid.: 451); and the complex “Confiteor” (No. 17a), also alla breve.

Sanctus in D
: Christmas 1724

After Bach in 1723 began his tenure in Leipzig as music director and church cantor, initiating his first cycle of church year cantatas as part of his duties and his calling, he made his second liturgical use of a musical setting of the Mass Ordinary with a performance of the six-voice (SSAATB) Sanctus in D Major, BWV 232III, at Christmas 1724. This early version “was apparently a repertory piece receiving repeat performances,” says Wolff (Ibid.: 6) [music,; Recording, “It was customary to perform a polyphonic Sanctus at the principal churches on high holy days.”

Soon after, Bach sent his Sanctus parts set to Franz Anton Count von Sporck in Bohemia, who apparently had heard the work on his visit to Leipzig. Sporck, a progressive Catholic with ties to the Saxon Court in Dresden, also may have encouraged Bach to compose the four settings of the Missa: Kyrie Gloria, BWV 233-36 (see When Bach presented the Sanctus again, probably at Easter 1727, he had a full set of parts copied, and a continuo part survives from a late performance, c. 1742-48, says Uwe Wolf in Early Versions of the Mass in B Minor.5

Lent 1725, Parodies, Secular Music6

The initial impetus for the creation of the B-Minor Mass may have begun in early 1725 when Bach began a major shift in his compositional interests while beginning to make connections to the Saxon Court through Count Sporck visiting during his visit to Leipzig in the Christmas holidays and the Winter Fair beginning on the Feast of Epiphany, January 6, and through local Leipzig officials, particularly Count Joachim Friedrich von Flemming, the Saxon Court military Governor in Leipzig. This dramatic shift in Bach’s compositional activities, related to his positions as Cantor at the Thomas School/Church and director of music in Leipzig, came at Lenten Time 1725 when Bach was nearing the end of his second consecutive church year cantata cycle of musical sermons, involving his unique chorale cantatas. During the Lenten six-week hiatus which began on Ash Wednesday, February 14, when Bach could not compose cantatas every Sunday and usually turned to composing a required annual Passion oratorio for Good Friday vespers. Bach instead scheduled a reperformance of the 1724 St. John Passion, BWV 245, with additional chorale-laden movements.

Bach during Lent focused his creativity for the first time since coming to Leipzig in May 1723 to the secular realm, more in keeping with the Leipzig music director’s post. He produced three unique, remarkable celebratory works which contained all the earmarks of music for special events that could be transformed through parody or new-text underlay into major sacred works as part of a “well-ordered church music to the glory of God.” At that time, Bach began to be a prodigious borrower of his own music, both instrumental and vocal, sometimes involving both forms and multiple recycling of the same music, whether called adaptations, transcriptions, or transfers.

Bach produced his first sacred wedding Cantata BWV Anh. 14, “Sein Segen fließt daher wie ein Strom” (His blessing flows like a stream, Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 39:22), 12 February 1725, which possibly involved four arias as contrafactions for the Mass in B Minor, BWV 232; the extended Shepherds Cantata, “Entflieht, verschwindet, entweichet, ihr Sorgen” (O flee now and vanish, O yield now, ye sorrows), BWV 249a, 23 February 1725, parodied as a cantata on Easter Sunday, 1 April 1725, and later as an oratorio c.1736; and the sprightly congratulatory for a teacher, Johann Mathias Gesner, BWV 36c, “Schwingt freudig euch empor” (Soar in your joy), 5 April 1725, which became a cantata for the First Sunday in Advent, probably opening the third cycle liturgical year, 2 December 1725 (see BCML Discussion Part 4, November 27). The composition of the Shepherds Cantata was Bach’s first active collaboration with the poet Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici, 1700-64), who also provided the text for Cantata BWV 36c.

BWV Anh. 14 Sacred Wedding, B-Minor Mass

Bach's first Leipzig wedding cantata was BWV Anh. 14, “Sein Segen fließt daher wie ein Strom,” presented on Monday, February 12, church location unknown, possibly the Nikolaikirche where prominent Leipzig families had boxes. The groom, Friedrich Christoph “Lösner had by appointment of the King [Saxon Prince Augustus] oversight over the flow of the rivers through Leipzig and the transport of lumber upon them,” says Z. Philip Ambrose.7 The four arias in the cantata are based, “upon Biblical [Old Testament] passages which deal with waters and timber,” with text by an unknown librettist.

Recent findings of Bach scholar William Scheide,8 suggest that as many as all four arias from the lost sacred wedding Cantata BWV Anh. 14 of Feb. 12, 1725, may survive, adapted in the Great Mass in B Minor, BWV 232. They are opening aria, "His blessings flow" (Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 39:22), as No. 5, "Laudamus Te" for soprano and violin; BWV Anh. 14/3, aria "Happy are you" (Ezekiel 47:1,4), as No. 10, "Quoniam," for bass and horn; Arioso No. 4, "Bitterness withdraws from you" (Exodus 18:25) as No. 22, Benedictus qui venit," for soprano and flute; and Aria No. 6, "So step into paradise" (Genesis 2:11),as No. 18, "Et in Spiritum Sanctum" for bass and oboe d'amore.

While all the original music of BWV Anh. 14 is lost, Bach set the text directly from the Bible, as he had done often in his cantatas from the beginning, particularly in choruses. The four suggested arias as found in the B Minor Mass all have progressive associations with the Saxon Court through dance rhythm: “Laudamus Te” in 4/4 common time has Lombard short-long, syncopated notes, “Quoniam” in ¾ time is a polonaise, popular at the Saxon Court since Augustus also was King of Poland, “Benedictus qui venit” in ¾ time has generic dance elements, and “Et in Spiritu Sanctum ” in 6/8 time is a pastorale profane love song.

Saxon Court Count Flemming Connection

Wedding Cantata BWV 14 was Bach’s first composition for a Leipzig civic official with direct connections to the Saxon Court. Soon after Bach would make the acquaintance of Count Joachim Friedrich von Flemming, the Saxon Court-appointed Governor of Leipzig, for whom Bach composed at least three congratulatory birthday serenades, beginning on 25 August 1726 with BWV 249b, “Die Feyer des Genius: Verjaget, zerstreuet, zerrüttet, ihr Sterne” (The Festival of Genius: Dispel them, disperse them, destroy them, ye heavens), also a Picander parody text.

Recent, evolving scholarship suggests that Picander took the initiative when Fleming came to Leipzig on 7 May 1724, the week after the beginning of the Spring Fair, as the ruling Governor and took residence at the Pleissenburg Castle not far from the Thomaskirchke. On July 31 a dramma per musica was presented at his official installation ceremonies, the first of three works for Flemming set to Picander published texts (composer unknown), followed by a birthday ode (August 25), and a traditional New Year’s Abendmusik on 1 January 1725, says Szymon Paczkowski.9

This 1725 New Year’s evening serenade was a dramatic monlogue suggesting a solo piece, including an “Aria di Tempo Polonaise,” popular at the Saxon Court. There “is a growing belief in Bach’s authorship” of the music, says Paczkowski (Ibid. 70, 68). Although it was attributed to Johann Gottlieb Görner, organist at the progressive St. Paul University Church, Bach scholars have developed a still-unsubstantiated hypothesis that Bach was the composer.

As to a connection with the B-Minor Mass, the “characteristic polonaise rhythms” are found in the bass aria with horn, “Quoniam to solus sanctus” (no 11 in the Gloria, and the chorus “Et resurrexit” (no. 14 in the Credo, observes Paczkowski.10 A comparison of the B-Minor Mass with selected Dresden masses from the first half of 18th century, particularly capellmeisters Johann David Heinichen and Jan Dismas Zalenka, says Paczkowski, shows Bach’s use of the polonaise “was one of Bach’s ways of alluding to the Dresden model of Mass composition” (which dominates Bach’s Mass), and helps gain a better understanding of his “intentions and aims” in his Mass.

Meanwhile, during his Trinity Time half-year hiatus of 1725, Bach took a composers holiday as cantor, intentionally and selectively composing music for church services. Bach composed Cantata BWV Anh. 4, “Wünschet Jeusalem Glück” (Wished-for Jerusalem Fortune, Psalm 122:6-7), for the Town Council, August, 28 and Cantata 79 for the Reformationfest, October 31, and honored his recently-deceased Weimar colleague, Salomo Franck, with two solo Cantatas BWV 168 on the Ninth Sunday after Trinity (July 29) and BWV 164 on the 13th Sunday after Trinity (August 26), as well as a reperformance of solo Cantata BWV 161 on the 16th Sunday after Trinity (September 16).

Trinity Time 1725; Wedding Serenade

At the same time, Bach began composing secular congratulatory cantatas, initially for Leipzig University officials, such as BWV 205 (August 3), that could be parodied, and instrumental music, particularly keyboard Partitas as the beginning of his published Clavierübung (keyboard studies) and first found in the new Anna Magdalena Notebook, a family affair with shared arias and keyboard pieces. In the fall of 1725, Bach visited Dresden and performed on the new Silbermann organ in the Liebfrauenkirche, and probably studied Latin church music, particularly Mass settings of Zalenka and Heinichen.

On Tuesday, November 27, Bach produced his first secular serenade for Leipzig notables, BWV Anh. 196, “Auf! süß-entzückende Gewalt” (Up! Sweet charming authority) was composed for the wedding of Peter Hohmann and Christian Sibylla Mencke. Hohmann in 1736 was raised to the nobility under the name von Hohenthal by the Saxon Court. The 14-movement work with allegorical characters was Bach’s first collaboration with noted Leipzig poet and teacher, Johann Christoph Gottsched. the original bass Nature aria, No. 3, “Entfernet euch, ihr kalten Hertzen” (Remove yourselves, ye frigid spirits, was parodied in the Ascension Oratorio, “Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen” Praise God in his kingdoms), BWV 11 in 1735 as the alto aria, Ach, bleibe doch, mein liebstes Leben, Ah, stay yet, my dearest life). eventually was adapted by Bach in the late 1740s as the three-fold alto litany aria with unison strings and continuo, Agnus Dei, qui tollois pecca mundi, Miserere nobis (Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us). Although the original music is lost, it has the same “poetic structure, the rhyme scheme, and the general Affekt,” says George B. Strauffer in Bach: The Mass in B Minor.11 (164). The other two Gottsched collaborations are the 1727 Funeral Ode, Cantata BWV 198, and Cantata BWV Anh. 13, Willkommen! Ihr herrschenden Götter der Erden! (Welcome, you ruling royalty of earth) for the Saxon Elector August III visit and betrothal of Princes Amalia on April 27, 1738 (only the text survives).

“Not long before the wedding, Gottsched had arrived in Leipzig and meet with a warm welcome and encouragement from the highly reputed father of the bride [Johann Burkhardt Mencke]; and he may have welcomed the opportunity to show both his gratitude and his skill as a poet,” says Alfred Dürr in the Cantatas of J. S. Bach.12 Mencke (1674-1732), an established University of Leipzig professor and poet, Saxon Court Historian, and Gottsched mentor, “was no doubt soon introduced to (Marianne von) Ziegler’s salon,” says Katherine R. Goodman in “From Salon to Kaffeekranz: Gender Wars and the Coffee Cantata in Bach’s Leipzig.”13

1727: Bach’s Great Compositional Shift14

Several major events in 1727 caused Bach to shift permanently and reduce his creative emphasis as Leipzig cantor from sacred service cantatas after three cycles to composing special music involving both his Christological cycle of major works as well as music composed for the Saxon Court as Leipzig Director Musices or Director Chori Musici. This would reach fruition with his secular drammi per musica in the 1730s as nominal Leipzig Kapellmeister and an official Saxon Court Composer, and culminate in his “Great Catholic Mass” in B Minor, BWV 232, for the court in Dresden near the end of his life in 1750. Major findings in Bach scholarship in the past decade, particulalry the Bach Jahrbuch annual essays and the new English-language Bach Network UK (, sometimes with joint publications, have revived and revived and redirected interest to new source-critical materials, libretto text books, previously unexplored repertory, as well as historic-biographical links offering considerable collateral and circumstantial evidence.

The first event was the premier of his St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244, with text by Picander on Good Friday, April 11, 1727, taking two years to complete, as well as his third and probably last substantial annual church service cantata cycle, which also took two years to compile. On Easter Sunday, Bach revived his 1724 Sanctus, BWV 232III (1724 version, Recording, festive music that eventually would become part of his B Minor Mass. Bach’s interest in Latin liturgical music coincided with a rare opportunity in new directions would involve special secular celebratory music to be recycled as parody or contrafaction into special sacred music, as well as civic occasions involving sacred music of praise and thanksgiving. All this through the technique of borrowing and transcription eventually would produce Bach’s B-Minor Mass.

Homage Cantata BWV Anh. 9

Three weeks later, Augustus II, “the Strong,” King of Poland and Prince of Saxony, visited Leipzig at the beginning of the Easter Fair, on Jubilate Sunday, May 4, 1727, to celebrate his 57th birthday. As Town Music Director, Sebastian turned to create special music for the Dresden Court in lieu of church music. Students at another major Leipzig institution, the University, commissioned Bach to compose the first of a series of evening serenade music. “Bach had the opportunity to impress King Augustus II who visited Leipzig and listened to a performance from the window of [merchant Dietrich] Apel's house [official Saxony residence] on the Marktplatz of a cantata composed and directed by Bach in celebration of the King's birthday on May 12th 1727.” 15 “The king was presented with a copy of the libretto, 'Entfernet euch, ihr heitern Sterne' [Disperse yourselves, ye stars serenely] by [the librettist] C[hristian] F[riederich] Haupt, the music is unfortunately lost, or associated with another text.” The work is Cantata BWV Anh. 9, a dramma per musica, and only the librettos survives. It was Bach’s first recognized work for the Dresden Court the four mythological characters are Philuris, Apollo, Mars, and Harmonia.16

The impetus for the King’s visit and Bach’s music probably came from Count Flemming, the court-appointed Leipzig governor and a leader of the progressive, Saxon-Court allied Town Council faction that has chosen Bach in 1723. In 1727, the Leipzig spring fair began on May 4, the Third Sunday after Easter (Jubilate), and the festivities were held on Monday, May 12. Special note was made in the Christian Friedrich Haupt libretto of Cantata BWV Anh. 9/5, citing Flemming as the court’s “most trusted” who had been present at this “mighty feast one year ago” in 1726. Flemming would serve as his host to festivities that would engage Bach to provide appropriate music. In 1726 the Elector’s birthday had fallen exactly on Jubilate, May 12, when Bach probably had presented festive church Cantata BWV 146 with its opening two movements a sinfonia and chorus, ostensibly borrowed from the Clavier Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, BWV 1052.

In 1727, it was possible that Cantata BWV Anh. 9 was part of a sacred-profane double bill for the Augustus II visit. Before the evening’s festivities, a Service of Allegiance possibly was held at the Nikolaus Church, and may have began with the introit psalm Bach’s joyous eight-voice motet BWV 225, “Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied” (Sing unto the Lord a new song, Psalm 149:1), which originally may have been presented on New Year’s Day, 1727 (coming BCML Discussion, November 20). Cantata BWV Anh. 9 (music lost, text survives) may have provided the impetus for as many as three movements in the Missa: Kyrie Gloria, BWV 2332a, composed mostly through contrafaction from German to Italian in 1733 for the Saxon Court.

Chorus, Duet, Aria: Possible Missa Contrafaction

The ambitious Cantata BWV Anh. 9 has 14 movements, seven that are recitatives/arioso usually unsuitable for parody, with opening and closing choruses, four arias and a duet. Bach scholar Klaus Häfner has done source-critical study of Bach secular homage music that may survive as contrafaction in the Mass in B Minor.17 Using the Christian Friedrich Haupt text, he has done a construction of Cantata BWV Anh. 9 from what he thinks may have been the original version of the chorus “Et Resurrexit,” the “Christe eleison” love duet, and the alto aria, “Qui sedes.” The three original movements and the Latin texts movements are:

1. Cantata BWV Anh. 9/1. [Chorus] da capo: Disperse yourselves, ye stars, serenely! / The nation's sun doth rise for us, / The flames of heaven's purest ardor, / Which from Augustus' eyes are springing, / Now darken you and slow you in your course.” Missa, BWV 232/17 Latin text: “ Et resurrexit tertia die / secundum scripturas, / et ascendit in coelum, / sedet ad dextram Dei Patris, / et iterum venturus est / cum gloria judicare vivos et mortuos, / cuius regni non erit finis.” (Recording,

The Credo section chorus in the B-Minor Mass, BWV 232/17, “Et resurrexit,” may be traced to the opening chorus of Cantata BWV Anh. 9, “Entfernet euch, ihr heitern Sterne!” (Disperse yourselves, ye stars, serenely!). As Paczkowski observes (above, “Saxon Court Count Flemming Connection”), the music is a ¾ time polonaise favored by the court. “The unambiguous da capo form of the movement,” says Stauffer (Ibid.: 128), “points more strongly to vocal music and a cantata model,” citing Klaus Häfner, “Über die Herkunft.”18 “Häfner ‘s main arguments are convincing,” says George Stauffer (Ibid.: 81). In the first phrase, the triplet figure of “Et resurrexit” “reflects the imagery of the word ‘Stern’ (star).” The “rising melodic figures of the music reflect the rise of August described metaphorically in the cantata”: “Entfernet euch, ihr heitern Sterne! / Des Landes Sonne geht uns auf,” (Disperse yourselves, ye stars, serenely! / The nation's sun doth rise for us). The English translation of the “Et resurrexit” contrafaction is, “And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures.”

The “Et resurrexit” “in its key [D Major], scoring [winds, trumpets and drums], complex upbeat, rhythms, reiterated quavers and Affekt has much in common with the rejouissance (festive dance) of an orchestral suite” like the opening of No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1069,” observes Peter Williams (Ibid.: 451). “The rejoicing is palpable, complete with breath-saving orchestral episodes, as if it were a writ-large version of such movements found in some earlier ceremonial cantatas” in this movement that is the centerpiece of the long Credo section.

2. Cantata BWV Anh. 9/8, Duetto da capo (Philyris, Apollo): “ For a thousand times be welcome, / Fairest hours, with our kiss, / For Aurora’s purple light / Must to you cede all advantage / And, if this doth not occur, / At the last grow pale before you!” The B-Minor Mass soprano-alto duet with winds and strings in 4/4, Christe eleison (Christ have mercy upon us), is a Neopolitan opera style love duet with ritornelli. Various scholars have suggested its origins as a lost aria but disagree on the actual source. One possibility is the Apollo-Philuris duet, “Seyd zu tausend mahl willkommen, /Schönste Stunden! Seyd geküßt” (For a thousand times be welcome, / Fairest hours, with our kiss), says Häfner in Aspekte des Parodieverfahrens (Ibid.: 245f). The secular “text begins as a dialogue, with the voices entering separately” and the da-capo form “would have required considerable reworking to produce the ‘Christe’,” observes Stauffer (Ibid.: 61). (Recording,

3. Cantata BWV Ang. 9/12, Aria (Harmony): “If the land's good luck shall increase, / Must its king within it be. / Ah, then were achieved in Sax'ny / Our most fervent hope and plea!” The alto aria with oboe d’amore and strings, “Qui sedes,” in the Gloria of B-Minor Mass may have its origins in the Harmony aria (no. 12) of Cantata BWV Anh. 9, “Soll des Landes Seegen wachsen” (If the land's good luck shall increase), says Häfner in Aspekte des Parodieverfahrens (Ibid.: 282). In contemporary ritornello 6/8 gigue style, the “Qui sedes” Latin and English text is: Qui sedes ad dextram Patris, miserere nobis (Thou that sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy upon us).

While the general character and form of this aria resembles the proposed secular model, and the last line, “Our most fervent hope and plea!,” is similar in mood or affect, the cantata poetry does not line up with the ‘Qui sedes’ music as well as it might, and it offers no reason for the echo eff” in the oboe d’amore, says Stauffer (Ibid.: 88f). Recording, The repetition of phrases in this aria, also found in the first “resurrexit” repetition, suggest that these “less-than convincing settings of certain phrases,” especially the extensive repetition of the words “Qui sedes” and the long run at measures 75-78 in the adagio, following the “misereri nobis” litany plea, like the succeeding “Quoniam tu solus sanctus,” betray its “rewordings of earlier arias,” says Peter Williams in Bach: A Musical Biography (Ibid.: 447).

Homage Cantata BWV 193a

Three months later, Cantata BWV 193a, "Ihr Häuser des Himmels, ihr scheinenden Lichter" (Ye houses of heaven, ye radiant torches,) was presented as a serenade for the name day of August II, on August 3, 1727, text probably by Picander. It was Bach’s second music for the Saxon Court and showed a complex compositional history through the process of parody or new-text underlay involving Picander. The core music of Cantata 193a probably involved parody of the opening chorus, the duet, and the soprano and alto arias, based on celebratory music composed for the Cöthen Court. The Fame-Fortune love duet (no. 5) could have yielded two additional uses, as the soprano-tenor aria, Domine Deus, Rex coelestis (Lord, God, Heavenly King), in the Gloria of the Mass in B Minor in 1733, with notated, progressive Lombard rhythm, and a year later in a tribute to the departing Thomas School Rector, “Wo sind meine Wunderwerke?,” BWV Anh. 210.

"While the text only of the work [BWV 193a] survives, the words of the duet match both the structure and the character of the `Domine Deus' very closely," says Stauffer (Ibid.: 81). He cites Bach scholar Klaus Häfner, “Über die Herkunft” (Ibid.). A comparison of the texts of BWV 193a/3 (Picander) and 232/8 shows: BWV 193a/3. Aria (Providence), “Call, then, this thine August god! / Boast, then, Rome, in games and feasting, / Saxon August is the greatest, / For this his own laurels bloom; / Saxon August is unequaled, / For kindness and love have immortalized him”;19 translation of the Latin in the Missa BWV 232/8, 4/4 duet in G Major, Domine Deus, Rex coelestis: “O Lord God, heavenly King, / God the Father Almighty, / O Lord, the only-begotten Son, / Jesus Christ, the Most High, / O Lord God, / Lamb of God, Son of the Father” (music,

“Domine Deus,” as “a kind of ecstatic love-duet familiar in the court’s operas or homage cantatas, is elevated, one might say ‘purified,’ to express the partnership of God the Father and God the Son,” says Williams (Ibid.: 452). This is achieved “in a most delicate, exquisite scoring, and with a consciously beautiful Affekt (two voices, muted strings, flute, pizzacato bass). This duet with flute obbligato could have originated in Cöthen where Bach often composed duets with mythological characters for his serenades. When music from Cantata 193a was performed three weeks later on 25 August 1727 for the Town Council installation as BWV 193, “Ihr Pforten/Tore zu Zion” (You gates/doors to Zion), the duet was omitted, which is customary practice in Bach’s Town Council sacred cantatas (BWV 119, 120, 29, 69 and Anh. 4 and Anh. 193). It should be noted that the choruses in Cantata 120 and 29 later were used as contrafactions in the B-Minor Mass, respectively, as “Et expecto” in the Credo and the “Gratias agmius tibi” in the Gloria and the closing Dona nobis pacem. Further, Cantata 120, originally composed in 1728 or 1729 for the Town Council, was multiple-parodied for a sacred wedding about 1729, and the Ausburg Confession special services in 1730.

B-Minor Mass Love Duets

The Lutheran theology of love is portrayed in Bach’s vocal music, particularly the model symbolic duets of the Bride and Bridegroom, the Soul or Believer and Jesus Christ. These are found in his cantatas as well as in his secular congratulatory homage cantatas, and as parody or contrafaction in his Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, and the B-Minor Mass. A pioneering musical-theological exploration of these love duets is found in Marcus Rathey’s new Bach’s Major Vocal Works: Music, Drama, Liturgy.20

As the center of Italian opera with its focus on love in Germany in Bach’s time, the Catholic Saxon Court in Dresden observed the Mass Ordinary as the central expression of Christianity, as did the Lutheran Church, Rathey observes. Neopolitan love songs were selectively found in both opera and Mass settings. As the bridal imagery of the biblical Song of Songs, the “unco mystico was a major influence in the texts Bach set, from the early Magnificat [1723, “Et misericordia” soprano-bass duet], and to the oratorios of the 1730s, says Rathey (Ibid.: 172f). The Mass in B Minor “features no fewer than three love duets,” he points out (Ibid.: 4). “Bach never composed an opera but he did now how to set an effective love scene to music?”

Two of the three love duets are found in the first two parts of the Mass, the soprano-alto “Christe eleison” in the Kyrie and the soprano-tenor “Domine Deus” in the Gloria, which Bach composed for the Dresden court in 1733, while the other, the soprano-alto “Et in unum Dominum,” is found in the Credo, the confession of faith. All refer to Jesus Christ and occur in the Mass Ordinary after reference to God the Father. The soprano-alto duet, Christe eleison (Christ have mercy upon us), is “understood within the emotional Jesus piety” in various major Bach works that fuse love with mercy, Rathey observes (Ibid.: 173). Using Christological text, this soprano-alto duet is not, however, a dramatic personification Jesus and the Soul but represents “the idea of love in general.” This intimate duet is the central contrast in the opening Kyrie to the communal pleas for mercy, “in the same spirit imploring God’s compassion de profundis” (Psalm 130, Out of the depths), says Stauffer (Ibid.: 53).

The soprano-tenor duet, Domine Deus, is a typical love duet, “maybe from the now-lost cantata, "Ihr Häuser des Himmels,” says Rathey (Ibid.: 183ff), citing Häfner, “Über die Herkunft” (Ibid.). Scored for solo flute and strings in concerto-like dialogue, it is similar to Qui sedes with alto and oboe in 6/8 gavotte-style, also probably a contrafaction, and separated by the chorus Qui tollis peccata mundi (that takes away the sins of the world).

The instrumentation of Domine Deus “is theologically intriguing,” says Rathey, expecting the text beginning to be set as a chorus with trumpets and timpani, similar to the preceding Gratias agimus tibi (We give thanks to thee). The text closes with the reference to the sacrificial litany, Agnus Dei (Lamb of God), and “Bach’s compositional decision is probably influenced by Luther’s theologia crucis (Theology of the Cross), citing Luther’s 1518 Heidelberg Disputation. The “use of the love duet was motivated by recent Passion theology “as an expression of divine affection,” says Rathey (Ibid.: 185), the structural centerpiece of Bach’s Gloria.” (Recording,

In the Mass central Credo, Christian affirmation of faith, is the soprano-alto duet with two oboes d’amore and strings, [Credo] Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum (And [I believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ). The “topic of the text is devotion (and that meant, in contemporary theology, love) to Christ, and it is expressed in a style that is close to a love duet,” says Rathey (Ibid.: 192). It is an extended Neopolitan aria in extended, modified, repetitive da-capo style. It’s origins are probably complex and obscured. As Stauffer comments: “Sometimes glimpses of Bach’s creative process can be as unsettling as they are insightful. The genesis and scholarly opposing perspectives of this movement are discussed in detail in “Et incarnatus”: An Afterthought? Against the “Revisionist” View of Bach’s B-Minor Mass,” by Eduard van Hengel and Kees van Houten (Journal of Musicological Research 23: 8-112, 2004). (Recording,


1Christoph Wolff, Exploring Bach’s B-Minor Mass, eds. Yo Tomita, Robin A. Leaver, Jan Smaczny (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013: 7), essays from the 2007 International Symposium: Understanding Bach’s B-Minor Mass; Table of Contents,
2 Marcus Rathey in CrossAccent, Journal of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians (Volume 24, No 2, Summer 2016: 7); source: Martin Luther, Preface to Georg Rhau’s Symphoniae incundae of 1538, from Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, American Edition, vol. 53, Liturgy and Hymns, ed. Ulrich S. Leupold (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1965: 324).
3 Peter Wollny, Peranda Kyrie in C Major, score Forward, CV 35.306 (Stuttgart: Carus-Verlag, 2000).
4 Peter Williams, Bach: A Musical Biography (Cambridge University Press, 2016, 451).
5 Uwe Wolf, Preface, trans. Howard Weiner, in Early Versions of the Mass in B Minor: [. . .] Sanctus BWV 232III (Version 1724), NBA KB II/1a (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2006).
6 Source, “Secular to Sacred Parody, Contrafaction (1725-27),”
7 Z. Philip Ambrose translation with footnotes, BCW, The sacred work is in two parts, before and after the vows, with no chorales listed, Details, BCW
8 William Scheide, "Sein Segen fließt daher wie ein Strom, BWV Anh. I 14: A Source for Parodied Arias in the B-Minior Mass?," About Bach, eds. Gregory G. Butler, George B. Stauffer, Mary Dalton Greer; Christoph Wolff festschrift, American Bach Society (Urbana & Chicago, Univ. of Illinois Press, 2008: 69-77).
9 Szymon Paczkowski, “Bach and the Story of an ‘Aria Tempo di Polonaise’ for Joachim Friedrich von Flemming,” BACH, Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute, Vol. 38 (2007), Berea OH: 67f.
10 Paczkowski, Abstract for 2007 International Symposium: Understanding Bach’s B-Minor Mass; see “The role and significance of the polonaise in the 'Quoniam' of the B-minor Mass,” Exploring Bach’s B-Minor Mass (Ibid.: 54-83).
11 George B. Stauffer, Bach: The Mass in B Minor, (New Haven CN: Yale Univ. Press 2003: 164).
12Alfred Dürr, Cantatas of J. S. Bach, revised and translated by Richard D. P. Jones (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005: 895).
13 Katherine R. Goodman, in Bach’s Changing World: Voices in the Community, ed Karol K. Baron (University of Rochester [NY] Press, 2006: 192).
14 Source material, Cantata BWV Anh. 9 Part 1 and B-Minor Mass Sources (September 11, 2016), BCML
15 David Charlton, “Johann Sebastian Bach, “Music of the Augustan Age: Outside Composers” (1996-2000) The official source of civic events in Leipzig was chronicler Christoph Ernst Sicul, Annales Lipsienses.
16 Cantata BWV Anh. 9, Details & Discography,,,_ihr_heitern_Sterne,_BWV_Anh._9. Cantata BWV Anh. 9 German text, Christian Friedrich Haupt, Das frohlockende Leipzig (Leipzig, 1727), BCW; English text Z. Philipp Ambrose,, Texts for Lost Works, Lost and Fragmentary Works (according to the listing of Neumann T). References: BG 34 Forward (secular cantatas, Paul Graft Waldersee, 1887); NBA I/36 (Dresden nobility, Werner Neumann 1962), Bach Compendium BC G 14 (For Members of Princely Courts, Saxony-Poland).
17 Klaus Häfner, Aspekte des Parodieverfahrens bei Johann Sebastian Bach: Beiträge zur Wiederentdeckung verschollener Vokalwerke (Laaber: Laaber-Verlag, 1987 [Hochschulschrift, Neue Heidelberger Studien zur Musikwissenschaft; 12). original edition 1977; reconstruction recording, BCW
18 Klaus Häfner, “Über die Herkunft von zwei Sätzen der h-Moll-Messe,” Bach-Jahrbuch (Leipzig) Verlag-Anst., Vol. 63 (1977): S. 65-74).
19 German text and Z, Philip Ambrose English translation,
20 Marcus Rathey, Bach’s Major Vocal Works: Music, Drama, Liturgy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016: 171ff).


To Come: Other B-Minor Mass possible contrafactions from lost music (text only survives), actual contrafactions from surviving music and models.


BCW: Mass in B minor BWV 232 - Revised & updated Discography

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 5, 2017):
The discography pages of J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor BWV 232 on the BCW have been revised & updated. The discography is arranged chronologically by recording date. Currently there are 280 different recordings of the complete (or near complete) work and the number is continuing to grow rapidly. In the previous version of this discography from 2011 there were 205 recordings and in 2009 - 142. All the releases of each recording are presented as one entry.

In order to make this discography as comprehensive as possible, I have compiled info from every possible source I could find, including web recording databases, web-stores, YouTube, SoundCloud, IMSLP, other other Mass in B minor discographies, and more.

Because the number of recordings is so big, the discography is split into 8 pages, a page per a decade.
All the Discography pages, Discussions pages and other material are linked from the main page of the Mass in B minor BWV 232 on the BCW:
The discography pages are inter-linked. You can start, for example, in the most recent page (2010-2019):
and go backward to the page of previous decade (2000-2009).
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options as part of the recording details. When you click a link to video/audio, a new window will open above the discography page and the video/audio will start to play.

With 280 recordings, the Mass in B minor is definitely the most recorded vocal work of J.S. Bach.
If you have any correction, addition or completion of missing details, please inform me.



Mass in B minor BWV 232: Details
Complete Recordings: 1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2019 | Recordings of Individual Movements
General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18
Systematic Discussions: Part 1: Kyrie | Part 2: Gloria | Part 3: Credo | Part 4: Sanctus | Part 5: Agnus Dei | Part 6: Early Recordings | Part 7: Summary
Individual Recordings: BWV 232 - C. Abbado | BWV 232 - Anonymous | BWV 232 - G.C. Biller | BWV 232 - F. Brüggen | BWV 232 - J. Butt | BWV 232 - S. Celibidache | BWV 232 - M. Corboz | BWV 232 - A. Eby | BWV 232 - G. Enescu | BWV 232 - E. Ericson | BWV 232 - D. Fasolis | BWV 232 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 232 - C.M. Giulini | BWV 232 - N. Harnoncourt | BWV 232 - T. Hengelbrock | BWV 232 - P. Herreweghe | BWV 232 - R. Hickox | BWV 232 - R. Jacobs | BWV 232 - E. Jochum | BWV 232 - Ifor Jones | BWV 232 - K. Junghänel & Cantus Cölln | BWV 232 - H.v. Karajan | BWV 232 - R. King | BWV 232 - O. Klemperer | BWV 232 - S. Kuijken | BWV 232 - G. Leonhardt | BWV 232 - P. McCreesh | BWV 232 - M. Minkowski | BWV 232 - H. Müller-Bruhl | BWV 232 - S. Ozawa | BWV 232 - M. Pearlman | BWV 232 - K. Richter | BWV 232 - J. Rifkin | BWV 232 - H. Rilling | BWV 232 - H. Scherchen | BWV 232 - P. Schreier | BWV 232 - R. Shaw | BWV 232 - G. Solti | BWV 232 - M. Suzuki | BWV 232 - J. Thomas & ABS | BWV 232 - K. Thomas | BWV 232 - J.v. Veldhoven
Articles: Mass in B Minor, BWV 232 [T. Noel Towe] | Bach’s B minor Mass on Period Instruments [D. Satz] | Like Father, Like Son [B. Pehrson]

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: Sunday, September 24, 2017 14:12