Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
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Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

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

Chorales BWV 250-438
General Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Fermata in Bach Chorales

Jim Copland wrote (March 30, 2002):
I recently had a colleague try to convince me that the traditional holds that we put on the end of each phrase of a Bach Chorale should not be there. Because the fermata sign did not mean to Bach what it means to us.

Can someone shed some light on this for me?

Thanks

June wrote (March 30, 2002):
A fermata sign means the end of a phrase and not a hold in Bach chorales.

Dean Ekberg wrote (March 30, 2002):
[To Jim Copeland] Those fermatas really indicate phrase endings and may or may not indicate an actual elongation of the note on which you find the fermata. Let the punctuation be a guide and make your decision about "holding" or not be determined by the text. (Keep in mind that if you are using a translation that you should make that text the guiding principle.)

Nemesio Valle, III [University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University] wrote (March 30, 2002):
[To Jim Copeland] This issue of the fermata has become the source of some debate in academic circles. Dr Don Franklin has pioneered the debate by suggesting that the fermata suggested different things in Bach's time before it was "normalized" afterwards. If you look at the treatment of Bach's fermatas, you will notice that they occur under several different sorts of conditions. The majority of those situations include:
1) In the middle of a through-composed piece, as a sort of climax.
2) In the course of phrases during a chorale.
3a) At the very end of a piece, on top of the last note.
3b) At the very end of a piece, on top of the double bar.

There is little debate about the significance of 1; obviously there is an augmentation of note value here.

For 2, the fairly broadly accepted practice amongst those in early music performance, but by no means universal, is that the fermata simply indicates the end of a poetic phrase and is not to be held but for a fraction of a second longer than the preceding notes. It is more of an opportunity to catch a breath than anything else. It is extremely difficult to explain the subtlety, but generally, if you train choirs to ignore the fermata, they usually hold it long anyway and it works out perfectly.

That having been said, it has been my experience that most groups do not perform with an awareness of early music performance practice. They see a fermata and treat it as the 19th-century version of it. This propagates what many early music scholars to be errant practice.

For 3, there is a whole can of worms which I will open briefly regarding these fermatas, but the theory is not widely accepted, although I believe very credible; in essence, the terminal fermatas indicate a break in proportional tempo relationship between two adjoining movements, whereas the absence of the fermata suggests that one exists. The argument for this is Bach's careful and consistent use or lack of fermatas between specific movements across successive generations of his most important pieces (Goldberg variations, WTC II) as well as in cantatas between movements in score and parts.

The basic thrust of the argument is: Bach didn't do things willy-nilly-there has to be a reason. The reason is then supplied by Phillip Kirnberger, a student of Bach, who wrote about the proportional relationship of time signatures.

The argument is much more developed and supported than that. This is a brief summary, at best.

The problem with the argument for most scholars is that it appears to apply exclusively to Bach; that is, Bach devised it, tried to pass it down but it didn't catch on. Kirnberger reported it in an obscure music treatise. We either don't have enough information from Bach's compositional forebears (say Buxtehude and Pachelbel) to see if it was practiced before hand and his students (save Kirnberger, who, like Bach, remained firmly entrenched in the compositional practices of the past) moved onward in the world of compositional evolution (to simplify matters greatly). So, the "tradition" ends there. Even C.P.E. and Wilhelm F., both more "up-to-date" in musical fashion abandon such a practice and uses the more common usage.

I hope this helps somewhat. If you think this is hairy, wait until you read the debate about the so-called "staccato" mark in Bach's time; you will REALLY think scholars are nuts when you read that one.

John Howel [Virginia Tech Department of Music, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA] wrote (April 1, 2002):
[To Jim Copeland] You've had some excellent answers. To put it into historical perspective, the sign we know as a fermata was one of several signs used as "signum congruentiae" or signs of coming together. I know they were used in 15th century manuscripts, and possibly quite a bit earlier, and they are common in 16th century sources. (A variety of these signs was used in at least one of the 13th or 14th century trouvere manuscripts that contains instrumental dance pieces.) This was especially helpful in music copied in choirbook format or in partbook format, since no barlines were used and it would be very difficult to find a place for everyone to start together in rehearsal, so think of them as rehearsal marks.

Post-Bach, a fermata was used to indicate the location of a candenza to be inserted by the soloist. This was true in concertos in general, and is also found in both opera arias and arias in sacred music. You know, the I 6/4 chord with the fermata on it followed by an improvised cadenza and then the coda.

It may have been from this usage that the idea of its being an unmetrical holding of the note developed. Many modern musicians, soloists and conductors among them, aren't aware of these performance practices in different time periods. Current thinking about Bach's chorales agrees with other answers you've gotten, making them more likely signum congruentiae rather than unmetric holds. (Now, if we just knew whether Bach expected the congregation to sing along on the chorales!)

Jim Copland wrote (April 2, 2002):
Just a note to thank all who contributed to elucidating the subject.

Nemesio Valle, III [University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University] wrote (March 30, 2002):
[To John Howell] Actually, the fermata had, as one of its definitions, an augmentation of note value from as early as the 15th century, as we find in the "Elevation Motets" of Milan, written by Weerbecke, Gaffurius and Compere. In the majority of those cases, the fermata is placed over each note (almost always a breve) to indicate that there was no concrete length to hold each note. Presumably, this was because the motet needed to cover the liturgical motions involved in the Elevation part of Roman Catholic Mass rites (then basically the only church in the west). The important thing to know is: you need to be able to read the context of the fermata. The context is plain when it comes to reading late 18th century music and beyond because it was codified in treatises or writings. Before then, "you just knew" what to do from experience and from being told. And, what composer A meant might be different than composer B, depending on where/when they lived and, maybe, who they were.

 

Listening to the chorales?

Juozas Rimas wrote (September 23, 2002):
So far I'm having the impression that chorales serve as auxiliary music in Bach's works. Chorales seem to adhere to very strict rules and not only rules of form, like fugues, but melodical rules as well. Fugues sound very different although they're constructed similarly yet just about all chorales I've heard so far sounded very similar melodically.

I don't want to think chorales are only "ballast" in JSB's oeuvre, therefore I'd appreciate your guidelines as to what chorales you have found interesting, original, different.

I do enjoy the tenor chorale from BWV140 cantata, but it's more of an aria than a chorale, actually, and I currently prefer the single voice version sung by Equiluz. I also liked the chorale repeated many times in SMP - it's really beatiful. (BTW, isn't it written by another composer and only arranged by JSB?)

Other than these two examples, I can't remember any chorale from any cantata that I have listened to as a musical work, not just the necessary ending of almost every cantata.

I also noticed there are as many as 185 (!!) chorales as separate works (from BWV 253 to BWV 438) - what about these?

Alpha Walker wrote (September 23, 2002):
I am new to the list and have been lurking for several weeks, but feel the need to respond to the Chorale topic. I LOVE the chorales, and in fact I extracted all the chorales from the Koopman recordings and put them together in a set (easy with iTunes!). I find them so beautiful and varied and, on the Koopman recordings, performed so expressively. I know Bach did not write many of the tunes himself, but who cares, it's the harmonizations which are so awesome. And often much of a cantata is based on the chorale.

I am really enjoying this list and learning a lot. I have been a Bach cantata freak for many years and I find everyone's comments interesting and often illuminating.

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 23, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] Aryeh posted information from various contributors on his site at:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/index.htm#BWV250

>>Chorales serve as auxiliary music in Bach's works.<< and >>just the necessary ending of almost every cantata<<
The chorales (here I am referring to the usually 4-pt. chorales that conclude a cantata) are an essential part of a Bach cantata. The final chorale is the high point toward which the cantata strives. (Read Eric Chafe's commentary on BWV 27 in the most recent cantata discussion on the BCML to get a true sense of what is involved here.) Bach expended extra personal effort in getting these 4-pt chorales to represent exactly what he wanted. While his copyists were responsible for copying out almost all the parts from the autograph score, Bach, in addition to an occasional single instrumental part, would copy out the 4-pt. chorale to all the parts (vocal and instrumental) himself. We have no way of knowing whether he did this because of time constraints (the last thing that still had to be completed), or because he felt that he had to be involved with this very important part of the cantata (a little bit like a 'ribbon'-cutting ceremony.) I prefer to believe that it was more of the latter than the former. Sometimes there is even a hint or slight connection with motifs that had been presented earlier in the cantata.

>>just about all chorales I've heard so far sounded very similar melodically<<
During Bach's lifetime there was a general movement toward 'standardization' (a type of modernization) of the chorales that had been around for almost two centuries. This standardization involved the removal of interesting meters and reducing everything to 4/4 time with mainly quarter notes following one after the other. It was not until the middle of the 20th century that Lutheran churches began reverting in many cases to the original meters. In BWV 27 the final chorale (even the setting is not by Bach!) demonstrates the variety of meter available before Bach's time.

The amazing feature in Bach's settings is that there is such a great variety, even among those that are set to the same melody. The more you listen to and compare with the others, the more remarkable they become. Here is another instance (similar to canon and fugue) where Bach readily accepts the challenge to compose within a strict framework (the melodic lines are already spelled out in advance) and gives the listener an astounding variety of possibilities. If you were to listen back to back to the various settings of the chorale that Bach used in the 1st mvt. of BWV 27 (I listed them recently on the BCML) you would also be surprised at how different each treatment is and what ingenuity was necessary to come up with these remarkable harmonizations. Yet, on the surface, they might appear to be "very similar melodically."

One of the first publications that achieved prominence soon after Bach's death is a collection of 4-pt. chorales (without the words!) that were copied from the cantatas. Imagine people buying this very successful volume (and it must have cost a pretty penny back then) and thinking (based on this volume and not much else that may still have been available for sale at that time (no cantatas appeared until the early part of the 19th century)) "this is truly a great composer!"

>>I also liked the chorale repeated many times in SMP - it's really beautiful. (BTW, isn't it originally written by another composer and only arranged by JSB?)<<
Almost all 4-pt chorales that Bach composed are based on a chorale that comes from known or unknown sources. These are definitely not original melodies composed by Bach. But listen to the settings in the SMP carefully and you will hear how each one represents the words that are sung. This is where Bach's mastery really comes through. What do you mean by 'only arranged by Bach'? It is his setting of the chorale that makes the entire chorale take on a special meaning or a special mood. Bach expresses this in the way the bass line moves, in the use of passing notes, and sometimes very unusual harmonies. In every instance, the text is the prime mover that inspires Bach as he assumes absolute control of this very restricted form.

>>I also noticed there are as many as 185 (!!) chorales as separate works (from BWV 253 to BWV 438) - what about these?<<
These are of the same excellent quality as the ones included in the cantatas. It is very likely that all of these are the sole remnants of the missing cantatas that are referred to in most Bach biographies. Unfortunately, the specific words (the verse in question) were not notated, only the name of the chorale melody. Thus part of the complete picture is missing (not to mention the entire cantata to which each setting belonged.)

You will find out much more if you go to the link that I listed above.

Kirk McElhearen wrote (September 23, 2002):
[To Alpha Walker] Volume 7 of the Teldec Bach 2000 set contains all the chorales on 4 CDs, in addition to another disc of sacred songs, a disc with some uncollected chorales, and another with the motets.

I, too, very much like these works, which I find very restful...

Philip Walsh wrote (September 23, 2002):
Juozas Rimas wrote:
< I also noticed there are as many as 185 (!!) chorales as separate works (from BWV 253 to BWV 438) - what about these? >
And Thomas Braatz responded: < These are of the same excellent quality as the ones included in the cantatas. It is very likely that all of these are the sole remnants of the missing cantatas that are referred to in most Bach biographies. Unfortunately, the specific words (the verse in question) were not notated, only the name of the chorale melody. Thus part of the complete picture is missing (not to mention the entire cantata to which each setting belonged.) >
Are we talking about BWV 253-438? If so, I thought those were just harmonized versions of hymn tunes, with several different versions of some melodies. (E.g., there are at least three versions of "Christ lag in Todesbanden", BWV 277-279.) If they're the ones I'm thinking of, the lot have been published in two volumes by Philips. (My local public library has the first, but not the second.) If these are the same, they seem to be fairly easy two-stave settings which can be played by any vaguely competent player or organ, piano, harpsichord, etc. (Certainly I was able to sight-read the whole Philips volume.)

I have a note (and I don't know where I got the information) to the effect that BWV 253-438 were "published between 1784 and 1787". Another note, seemingly from the same source, says that BWV 439-507, which are listed in one book I have as "Chorales" are "hymns for voice and continuo with figured bases by Bach".

Or have I got something wrong here?

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 23, 2002):
[To Philip Walsh] The chorales are all excerpted from other works. The history of their separate publication appears to have begun in 1764. This all detailed in the preface of the Riemenschneider edition (Schirmer). When I get some time maybe I'll scan that preface for reference, unless somebody already knows of a copy of it somewhere on the web. Is the preface still under copyright? My copy here says 1941....

This Riemenschneider edition was one of the standard textbooks for a beginning music theory course in university, long ago...all sophomores in the music program were required to take this. It's a great volume to have, not only to learn part-writing and harmony, but also to learn how to play four independent parts on keyboard.
Essential.

Jim Morrison wrote (September 23, 2002):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< The chorales are all excerpted from other works. The history of their separate publication appears to have begun in 1764. This is all detailed in the preface of the Riemenschneider edition (Schirmer). When I get some time maybe I'll scan that preface for reference, unless somebody already knows of a copy of it somewhere on the web. Is the preface still under copyright? My copy here says 1941.... >
I've read that some people think the existence of chorales that cannot be traced back to cantatas or passions that we have actually once belonged to Bach works now lost to us. Now there's a graduate student assignment: trace the history of each chorale!

By the way, if I'm not mistaken the Brilliant Classics Chorale set does not include all the chorales. Been a while since I looked, but I remember not being able to find some I wanted to hear on that set.

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 23, 2002):
Here is the scan of the Riemenschneider preface, explaining the history of the chorales as a collection:
http://www.vaix.net/~bpl/riemenschneider.htm

My web space is limited and I can't promise that those pages will be out there more than a few days. Someone want to volunteer to clean them up and host them? (Trim the margins, maybe even OCR them?)

Juozas Rimas wrote (September 24, 2002):
< I've read that some people think the existence of chorales that cannot be traced back to cantatas or passions that we have actually once belonged to Bach works now lost to us. Now there's a graduate student assignment: trace the history of each chorale! >
Is there any information of how many cantatas have been lost in total? Can we assume that at least 200 have been lost as we have about 200 of separate chorales? (I also heard the legend JSB wrote a cantata every Sunday, so the number is perhaps bigger :)

How come the chorales survived and were published in one volume after JSB's death and the remaining content was lost? If someone saved the chorales, it's hard to believe he discarded the remaining content. In other words, how did those chorales get separated from the whole cantatas?

Philip Walsh wrote (September 24, 2002):
[To Bradley Lehman] Thanks for making this very informative material available.

By the way, here's a helpful hint for anyone else looking at these files on a Windows-based system. After viewing this material, use the "Find" function on your computer to look for files named "riem*.jpeg". If your system works like mine, you'll find six such files in your "Temporary Internet Files" folder (Riem1(1).jpeg, Riem2(1).jpeg, etc). Highlight all six; click the right mouse button and from the menu that appears choose "Copy". Then go into your "Bach" folder in Windows Explorer (of course you have a "Bach" folder, haven't you?) and right-click again. Select "Paste". Brad's six pages from this book will then be on your hard drive in a much larger (and, for me, at least) more readable format.

Thanks again, Brad.

Oops. A day or so back, I spoke of sight-reading the Bach chorales. The edition I borrowed from the library was issued by the music publisher Peters. (In my earlier post, I said "Philips", due to having a Philips CD lying on the desk in front of me.) Sorry about the confusion.

Bach on!

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 24, 2002):
[To Philip Walsh] I'm wondering how many different printed editions of the chorales are out there in day-to-day circulation. The two I have are:

- Riemenschneider, 1941, G. Schirmer #1679 (NY/London): includes the preface that I posted, plus another 52 pages of notes about each chorale, plus some further indexing and remarks...an invaluable resource. As I mentioned earlier, I got it when it was the required text for a university course in music theory.

- Breitkopf #10, n.d., reprinted by Associated Music Publishers Inc (NY): just the 371, not the additional 69 of figured bass; no commentary other than simple cross-referencing of the duplicates. Evidently they used the same printing plates as the Schirmer edition except for adding the cross-references. Not so great as a research tool, but nice to play from because the print is bigger and the pages stay open better on the music desk! I picked this one up somewhere from a yard-sale box of somebody's old organ music.

If everybody got up and started each day by playing through a couple of Bach chorales, we'd all be better people...myself included...there is some beautiful music in there. (Pablo Casals got up and played some of the Well-Tempered Clavier each day, and look where that took him.)

Juozas Rimas wrote (September 25, 2002):
< If everybody got up and started each day by playing through a couple of Bach chorales, we'd all be better people...myself included...there is some beautiful music in there. (Pablo Casals got up and played some of the Well-Tempered Clavier each day, and look where that took him.) >
I still prefer chorales that are purposely different than the standard cliche - I'm looking for them now, sifting through all chorales I can get access to. I have to admit there are really "straightforward" chorales there - this word is used to describe just about every chorale in Classical.net's cantatas listening guide (I don't think it's fair to generalize like that though).

Philip Walsh wrote (September 25, 2002):
Says Brad:
< If everybody got up and started each day by playing through a couple of Bach chorales, we'd all be better people...myself included...there is some beautiful music in there. (Pablo Casals got up and played some of the Well-Tempered Clavier each day, and look where that took him.) >
Well, I think it takes a bit more than that! In fact I do play some of the WTC most days, or a Goldberg Variation or three or maybe a French or English Suite. But I'm unlikely, sad to say, to turn into anything even close to a Casals.

But I play them just the same and am I think a better person for doing so.

 

Bach chorales

Ryan wrote (November 13, 2002):
Anyone here who can tell me anything about the Bach BWV 645 "Watchet Auf, ruft uns die Stimme" please email me or something PLEASE!

William Dowling wrote (November 26, 2002):
[To Ryan] What do you want to know? It's a beautiful piece of music. It's a traditional Advent piece. As a hymn in English, it's known as "Wake, Awake, the Night is Flying."

 

371 vierstimmige Choralgesänge für Orgel Klavier, Harmonium)

Charles Francis wrote (April 12, 2004):
CPE Bach published in 1784-1787 a collection of 371 J.S. Bach chorales arranged for keyboard. A Breitkopf edition is still available today along with an "Urtext" from Bärenreiter. Can anyone recommend a recording of the complete set (either keyboard or choral transcription)?

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 12, 2004):
[To Charles Francis] I've never heard of a recording. As the chorales are all from cantatas and oratorios, they will be found in recordings of the parent works. Although a number are from lost works such as the St. Mark Passion.

You can hear them horribly synthesized at: http://www.kt.rim.or.jp/~moclin/chorale-e.html

This site has PDF files of many of the chorales: http://www.jsbchorales.net/pdf.html

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 13, 2004):
[To Charles Francis] It's not a keyboard arrangement, per se. It's a collection of four-part vocal settings printed on two staves, occasionally with some extra notes either a third staff or within the same staves showing other instrumental contributions. Much of this is of course playable on, or easily arrangeable for, keyboard with or without pedal.

[To Dougls Cowling] 201 of them are in the 4-CD set co-produced by Bayer Records and Brilliant Classics, recorded June 1999. Nicol Matt conducted the Nordic Chamber Choir and a continuo group drawn from the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra. The Brilliant Classics catalogue number is 99575.

My own clavichord recording of one of them from the "371", #345, is at: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/files/
as "BWV248-5_Lehman_clavichord.mp3".
That's a four-part vocal version also found in Bach's Christmas Oratorio, followed by an organ prelude by Johann Pachelbel, and an organ harmonization from Samuel Scheidt's Görlitzer Tabulaturbuch (1650), all on that same familiar chorale (Herzlich tut mich verlangen). Basically it's a little three-variation set I put together, for the practical reason that I like them. The fact that they're all by different composers is of no consequence, if the musical juxtaposition is enjoyable to listen to. I didn't include Paul Simon's version, or any of Bach's other 14 extant settings of this tune, or several other options that I considered briefly.

Charles Francis wrote (April 13, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< 201 of them are in the 4-CD set co-produced by Bayer Records and Brilliant Classics, recorded June 1999. Nicol Matt conducted the Nordic Chamber Choir and a continuo group drawn from the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra. The Brilliant Classics catalogue number is 99575. >
Thanks, I ordered them online from 2001.

< My own clavichord recording of one of them from the "371", #345, is at: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/files/
as "BWV248-5_Lehman_clavichord.mp3".
That's a four-part vocal version also found in Bach's Christmas Oratorio, followed by an organ prelude by
Johann Pachelbel, and an organ harmonization from Samuel Scheidt's Görlitzer Tabulaturbuch (1650), all on that same familiar chorale (Herzlich tut mich verlangen). Basically it's a little three-variation set I put together, for the practical reason that I like them. The fact that they're all by different composers is of no consequence, if the musical juxtaposition is enjoyable to listen to. I didn't include Paul Simon's version, or any of Bach's other 14 extant settings of this tune, or several other options that I considered briefly. >
A very nice performance and remarkably theorbe-like! I customised it with a little sonic-processing (try with headphones): http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/files/

Charles Francis wrote (April 13, 2004):
[To Douglas Cowling] Thank you for the links. The PDFs look good and I imagine the MIDI-files will sound better with different instrumentation.

 

Chorales

John Pike wrote (April 28, 2004):
Uri asked someone to compare the Brilliant Classics and Haenssler Bachakademie (Rilling) recordings of these. I have not heard the Brilliant Classics one so am unable to comment on it, and Charles has compared the two recordings. i did, however, manage to pick up a box set in Germany at very reasonable price of Vols. 78-85 in the Bachakademie recording with Helmut Rilling. here are my comments. The CDs are nicely packaged with the usual excellent liner notes one would expect from this edition. The Cds are divided into times of the Church Year and the works Bach wrote for those times, eg Vol. 78 is Christmas, CD 79 passion and Vol 80 easter, Ascensio, Pentecost and Trinity. The CDs include Chorale Preludes (as Charles remarked), Chorales and Geistliche Lieder (Sacred Songs), accompanied variously on Harpsichord or Organ. All this makes for plenty of variety and I was not at all bored listening through to a lot of CDs with some fine music with variety in type of piece and style of performance. The performances are generally of the high order I have recently come to expect of Rilling (since I bought my first recording of his only a few weeks ago), although I would sometimes prefer a greater dynamic range. That said, the instruments and soloists all make a very pleasing sound, and phrasing and intonation are generally excellent.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (April 29, 2004):
[To John Pike] It is interesting, however, that in the Passion CD (Vol. 79), they do not at all include either BWV 1084, 1089, 500a, or the arrangements of the Händel Arien borrowed and reworked by Bach for his 3rd Passionspasticcio on the Keiser/Bruhns Markuspassion.
Therefore, it is slightly incomplete.

Uri Golomb wrote (April 29, 2004):
Thanks to Charles (http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/8037) and John (http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/8152) for their comments on Rilling's chorales -- and also to Peter Bright, for his review on MusicWeb: (http://www.musicweb.uk.net/classrev/2003/Jun03/jsbach_ein_chorsuch_pbright.htm;
as I mentioned, there is also a Don Satz review on Aryeh's website). Just two follow-up questions (to anyone who feels qualified to answer). First of all, Charles referred to "more breathing space" in the Rilling chorales. Is this only a reference to Rilling's slower tempo (compared to Matt), or does it also mean something about phrasing? For instance, does Rilling pause longer over fermatas -- holding them and/or allowing more noticeable breaths after them?

Secondly, is Rilling's treatment of the chorales in these late-1990s recordings significantly different from his treatment of chorales in his sacred cantatas cycle (c. 1970-1985)? I know that a great deal else has changed in his performance style between then and now, but the later recordings I'm most familiar with are of the secular cantatas and the B minor Mass -- which do not feature chorales.

I hope to hear some of these chorale recordings myself, at which point I'll be able to give my own answers to these questions. In the meantime, some description from others will not go amiss.

 

Scores for Bach Chorales

Dale Gedcke wrote (April 28, 2004):
Those of you wanting to perform Bach Chorales may find the following source of scores useful. The set covers various types of ensembles, i.e.:

* Military Band
* Woodwind Ensemble
* Saxophone Ensemble
* Brass Ensemble
* String Ensemble
* Ensemble of Various Instruments
* Any one of these instrumental groups may serve as an accompaniment to "Four-Part Chorus of Mixed Voices (HL50299350)"

Reading from my trumpet part, the instrumental score is known as:

Sixteen Chorales by J.S. Bach (HL50351790); Compiled and Arranged by Mayhew Lake; G. Schirmer, Inc; Distributed by Hal Leonard Corporation, 7777 Bluemound Road, P.O. Box 13819, Milwaukee, WI 53213, USA"

It includes:

1) Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern
2) Gieb, dass ich thru' mit Fleiss
3) Ach wie flüchtig
4) Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid
5) Jesu, nimm dich deiner Glieder
6) All' solch' dein' Güt' wir preisen
7) Es is genug; so nimm, Herr, meinen Geist
8) Es ist das Heil uns kommen her
9) Auf meinen lieben Gott
10) Mache dich, mein Geist, bereit
11) Jesu, der du meine Seele
12) Du Lebensfürst, Herr Jesu Christ
13) Alleluia, dess soll'n wir Alle froh sein
14) Erhalt uns in der Wahrheit
15) Ei nun, mein Gott, so fall' ich dir
16) Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme

These are gently-moving tone-poems. We use them in the East Tennessee Concert Band at the beginning of every rehearsal to train our ears for optimum tone quality and homogenizing our pitch. These chorales sound absolutely beautiful! I highly recommend them.

Dale Gedcke
Amateur Trumpeter

Bradley Lehman wrote (April28, 2004):
From: http://www.jsbchorales.net/books.html
see a list of chorale editions below. I have the old Riemenschneider/Schirmer and a Peters (out of print?). Anybody here seen and used the Rempp yet?

Brad Lehman

Bach: Choräle der Sammlung C. P. E. Bach/ Chorales from the C. P. E. Bach Collection (according to the printed edition of 1784-7) for clavier ed. Frieder Rempp, Bärenreiter, Basel. 2002 ISMN M-006-52115-9. BA 5237.
This is the New Bach Edition of the chorales of the 37l. Written on grand staff for piano, much more readable than the Riemenschneider edition.

Johann Sebastian Bach, 389 Chorales
Kalmus, Belwin, Inc., 15800 N.W. 48th Ave., Miami, FL 33041, K 06002.

J.S. Bach: Neue Ausgabe Samtlicher Werke (Neue Bach-Ausgabe)
ed. Johann Sebastian Bach Institut, Gottingen, and Bach-Archiv, Leipzig, 1954-(2050).

371 Harmonized Chorales by Johann Sebastian Bach
ed. Albert Riemenschneider, G. Schirmer, Inc., New York, New York, 1941. Ed. 1679.

Chorales by Johann Sebastian Bach
ed. Charles N. Boyd & Albert Riemenschneider, G. Schirmer, Inc., 1939. Ed. 1628.

101 Chorales Harmonized by Johann Sebastian Bach
ed. Walter E. Buszin, Schmitt, Hall & McCreary, Belwin-Mills Publishing Corp., 1952, SCHBK 9065.

Figured Harmony at the Keyboard, Part 2
R. O. Morris, Oxford University Press, 1933. ISBN 0 19 321472 5.

 

Chorales in England

Continue of discussion from: Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 - General Discussions Part 10 [Other Vocal Works]

Doug Cowling wrote (March 21, 2005):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< BTW: picked up a little religious trivia. I've been reading Peter Ackroyd's interesting biography of Sir Thomas Moore. (They skipped the part about Moore burning Lutherans when they made Man for All Seasons.) Anyway, in Revelations (I'll take Ackroy'd word for this) it suggests that the anti-Christ would be born to a priest and nun. Moore thought Luther and Katharine von Bora fit the bill. Funny, had I been Moore, I think I would have guessed Henry XIII, one of history's genuine barbarians. >
All things Lutheran were long held suspect in the Anglican (Episcopal) Church. Lutheran chorales were specifically prohibited in the English Church, and it was only in the last half of the 19th century that the ban was lifted. Scholars credit the growing popularity of the Bach revival as the force which changed opinion. However, even after a century and a half, less than a dozen Lutheran chorales are in popular use in the Anglican Church. Handel was playing with fire when he quoted "Christus Ist Erstanden" in one of the Chandos Anthems. Some scholars say that Handel quoted the middle of "Wachet Auf" at "The Kingdoms of this world" in the Hallelujah Chorus.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 21, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] The interesting part, I think, is that, although Evangelical ideas, etc., were prohibited in the Anglican Church, the leading progenitors of that Churcch were Evangelicals or Evangelical sympathizers (Tynsdale had actually studied at Wittenberg with Luther; Cranmer had long correspondence and associations with Melancthon; etc.).

John Pike wrote (March 21, 2005):
Doug Cowling wrote:
< Funny, had I been Moore, I think I would have guessed Henry XIII, one of history's genuine barbarians. >
Good job we haven't got to Henry XIII yet. The last one (Henry VIII) was bad enough!

 

Discussions in the Week of July 12, 2009

Evan Cortens wrote (July 13, 2009):
Week of July 12, 2009: Chorales BWV 250-438

Week of July 12, 2009: Chorales BWV 250-438

As of course we all know, Bach's chorales are too vast to cover in all their detail in but one week. Furthermore, I cannot hope to even provide an overview of every aspect of them in one short introduction. As such, I've decided to focus on one particular aspect of them that has long fascinated me: the first volume in which they were collected, a manuscript in the hand of Bach's pupil Johann Ludwig Dietel.

The Dietel manuscript, housed today in the Leipzig Municipal Library (D-LEb Ms. R 18) contains 149 chorales, collected from Bach's various cantatas. (I include for you a facsimile of the first page of the manuscript, containing the first two chorales: http://evancortens.com/dietel/facs.jpg ) The latest chorales in it come from the Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, which dates from 1734-1735, therefore the manuscript cannot have been prepared before then. Handwriting and watermark analysis would seem to confirm this, though Dietel's hand is found only in twelve works by Bach, all from the period 1729 to 1735. The literature on this source is fairly sparse, and all in German. The first significant study is in the Bach-Jahrbuch of 1981 by Andreas Gloeckner, and the next, also in the Bach-Jahrbuch, by Hans-Joachim Schulze in 1983.

Perhaps most interesting, for me at least, is the contents of the manuscript. Though, as I said, the majority of the chorales are drawn from the final movements of Bach's Leipzig cantatas, there are a number of chorales for which this is the earliest (and sometimes only) source. Thinking back to our discussion of a few weeks ago, this leads one to contemplate the state of the sources. The Dietel collection may well argue for a large number of missing cantatas, composed in the years 1726 to 1735, or thereabouts. Certainly this aspect of the source requires further study.

Finally, it's interesting to consider this source in light of the reception of Bach's music. Though it's initial function is unknown, and likely will remain so barring the discovery of further sources, it was likely commissioned by Bach himself. I believe this principally on the basis of the music itself: how else would Dietel have obtained the cantatas which formed the basis for this collection if not from Bach? However, why would Bach have had this collection made? It seems to have stayed within the Bach circle until after Bach's death, when it eventually made it into the hands of the publishing house Breitkopf, who used it, in part, as the basis for their 1784-87 publication of the chorales (along with the more famous collection of chorales prepared by C. P. E. Bach). This would be the only publication of any portion of the vast majority of the cantatas until the Bach Gesellschaft Ausgabe in the second half of the nineteenth century. No wonder then that the chorales form the basis for so much of our understanding of Bach.

As I said above, I've chosen to focus on this aspect of the chorales as it's long been an interest of mine. Of course I hope that we will have a fruitful and interesting discussion on any and all aspects of this excellent music.

Julian Mincham wrote (July 13, 2009):
[To Evan Cortens] Hi Evan thanks for the interesting intro on the chorales collection.

Some fascinating questions come to mind upon which you, or others, may be able to throw some light.

1 Are all the chorales in the Dietel collection known to be harmonised by Bach? I understand that there is the odd occasion of ones used in the cantatas which are believed not to have been. I think than for BWV8 was altered but not completely reharmonised and I have come across at least one other (which i shall have to look up) in which Dürr (I think) suggested that the original harmonisation was retained as a tribute to the chorale's composer.

2 Is there any firm evidence to suggest that the main source for the collection was the cantatas? If so that would tcertainly hrow some light on possible missing ones. If not, what else might have been the source? Do you know how many of the collection are known NOT to have been used in the extant cantatas?

Evan Cortens wrote (July 13, 2009):
[To Julian Mincham] Thanks for your questions! I confess, I'm running around right now to get ready to head out of town, so I don't have access to some of the reference material I might otherwise. Nevertheless, I'll try to answer both questions together as best I can. 'm relying principally on BWV numbers here. The first chorale in the Dietel collection is given as "Sey Lob und Ehr dem hoechsten Guth", BWV 117/4. I myself have not done a note by note comparison with that particular chorale, but I assume that for the most part, it corresponds. As well, in the Bach Compendium, the Dietel manuscript is given as a further score copy for these cantatas.

Good question regarding the author of the chorale. As I mentioned, there are a few chorales for which this manuscript is the only extant source, and this may well be because they are not derived from Bach's works. Nevertheless, the degree of correspondence between this manuscript and, say, C. P. E. Bach's collection is high enough to suggest that they likely have similar origins, namely J. S. Bach.

Agreed, we'll never quite know for sure.

Julian Mincham wrote (July 13, 2009):
[To Evan Cortens] Thanks Evan If you have any more info on this at a later time I would certainly be interested

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 13, 2009):
[To Evan Cortens & Julian Mincham] If it might help, the following resources are available on the BCW:
An article by Thomas Braatz about the history of the Breitkopf Collection: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Breitkopf-History.htm
A list of the 4-Part Chorales in the Breitkopf Collection: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/IndexCM-Breitkopf.htm

Julian Mincham wrote (July 13, 2009):
[To Aryeh Oron] Many thanks for this.

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 13, 2009):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< 2 Is there any firm evidence to suggest that the main source for the collection was the cantatas? If so that would tcertainly hrow some light on possible missing ones. If not, what else might have been the source? Do you know how many of the collection are known NOT to have been used in the extant cantatas? >
There are a number of free-standing chorales which have interesting possibilities.

WEDDING CHORALES:

Bach wrote three Wedding Chorales (BWV 250-252) which are the hymns mandated for all weddings:

Vor der Trauung (before the vows): Was Gott Thut Das ist Wohlgetan
Nach der Trauung (after the vows) Sei Lob und Ehr'
Nach dem Segen (after the blessing): Nun Danket Alle Gott


They are fully scored for:
Oboe
Oboe d'amore
2 horns
Strings
Continuo

The settings are full of the usual rich passagework in the inner voices and the second horn has Bach's typical obligato flourishes such as we saw recently in Cantata 91,"Gelobet seist du". The writing is similar to the elaborate Wedding Cantata 195,"Dem Gerechtem" in which the horns interestingly only play in the chorale.

These three chorales do not appear to be orphans from lost cantatas, but rather a set written for a specific wedding. The question remains whether the choir sang one verse as written or whether this was the opening flourish for a congregational performance of successive verses. The chorales are not transposed upwards to prevent congregational singing (as is the case at the closes of "Wachet Auf" and the St.John Passion) but adding a congregation singing at two octaves would make rather a mess of Bach's elegant part-writing. I'm not sure repetitions of Bach's harmonies would be satisfactory, but perhaps choir and congregation sang alternate verses (as Praetorius proposed). Perhaps these three chorales were intended to complement a grand cantata like BWV 195.

WEEKDAY MASS & OFFICE CHORALES:

The other chorales which interest me are those which could be assembled to provide a chorale-based setting of the mass which might have been used by Bach for weekday celebrations:

Kyrie: Kyrie Gott Vater, BWV 371
Gloria: Allein Gott, BWV 263
Creed: Wir Glauben All, BWV 437
Sanctus: Heilig, Heilig, Heilig (subtitled Sanctus, Sanctus Sanctus), BWV 325
Agnus Dei: O Lamm Gottes, BWV 401

The Kyrie and Creed in particular are in extended motet-style settings reaching 40 and 32 bars respectively.

Also in this category of "liturgical" chorales is the large setting of "Herr Gott Wir Loben", BWV 328, the German version of the Te Deum which was sung at weekday matins.

These rather demanding settings may indeed be part of Bach's total plan for the regulation of the Leipzig music. We tend to concentrate on the Sunday music because of the cantatas, but these movements may give us some idea of the musical standard which Bach imposed on the weekday cycle of masses and offices. I suspect that there may be a full cycle of weekday chorales in these collections.

William Hoffman wrote (July 13, 2009):
Chorales BWV 250-438: Sources

William Hoffman replies: There are a variety of resources on chorales available through BCW, including: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/IndexRef-NBA.htm (See below, NBA Sources)

Aryeh Oron wrote:
< If it might help, the following resources are available on the BCW:
An article by Thomas Braatz about the history of the Breitkopf Collection:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Breitkopf-History.htm
A list of the 4-Part Chorales in the Breitkopf Collection: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/IndexCM-Breitkopf.htm>
NBA Sources:

III, 2.1 (1990): Choräle und Geistliche Lieder, Teil 1, Repertoires der Zeit vor 1750:
Drei Trauungschoräle, BWV 250-252 (3 weddings chorales written some time between 1734 and 1738)
Choralsätze der Sammlung Dietel - 149 chorales with non-sequential BWV nos.published by Johann Ludwig Dietel (who apparently was an early Bach scholar and a Kantor in Falkenhain). These are harmonizations only, with no words except for the titles. 104 are chorale melodies from the cantatas, the motets, the passions, and the Christmas Oratorio and are designated, e.g., 60/5, meaning no. 5 in Cantata BWV 60.
Geistliche Lieder und Arien aus Schemellis Gesangbuch (69 pieces with non-sequential BWV nos.) - Some of these may be original Bach, but most, like the chorales, are reworkings by Bach of older compositions.
[The BWV nos. for all the categories range from 2/6 - 248/64 for chorales used in cantatas and other larger works, 250 - 252 for the wedding chorales, and 257 - 507 (plus four without BWV nos.) for the remainder of the chorales and the Schemelli Gesangbuch. There are, of course, many gaps in numbering, e.g.., after the cantata chorales, the run begins 257, 260, 267, 270, 271, 278, .]

III, 2.2 (1996): Choräle und geistliche Lieder, Teil 2:
Choräle der Sammlung C. P. E. Bach nach dem Druck von 1784-1787. The so-called Breitfkopf 371 chorales (also without tests)

III, 3 (2002): Nachträge/Werke zweifelhafter Echtheit:&#8232; Anh. 159, 160 (motets)&#8232;Anh. 164/2 (after BWV 386)
30 Choral- und Liedsaetze aus der Sammlung von Christian Friedrich Penzel, some of which have BWV nos.:443, 445, 449, 464, 471,479, 480, 487, 488, 498, 500, 503;
11 Choraele und geistlich Lieder nach der Ausgabe von Carl Ferdinand Becker, Leipzig 1841-1843: BWV 452-454, 463-464, 476, 485, 496, aus 245/32 in A, Variante zu 8/6, nach 225/2
Chorale Anh. 31.
Zwei Lieder aus Sperontes' Sammlung "Singende Muse and der Pleisse" – BWV Anh. 40, 41
Also several works with no BWV or Anh numbers

Compiled by David O. Berger [Concordia Seminary Library, St. Louis, MO, USA] & Aryeh Oron (May 2002 - June 2002) -- http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/IndexCM-Breitkopf.htm

Hoffman Fugitive Notes to come, including selective, "annotated" bibliographical sources.

I have much on-going research re. the chorales. It is based mainly on the seasons of the church year, including the Trinity themes, and involves all types of settings, beginning with the Neumeister Chorales (NC). Much of the early research was done by Terry and Drinker. Now, of course we have the recent 3 NBA volumes, the Bach Compendium as well as Stinson's studies of the Orgelbuechlein, Great 18 Leipzig Organ Chorales, as well as Wolff's Commentary on the ClavuerUebung (Duetsche Messe and Schubler Chorales). I find the best overall survey of the chorales in context is found in Williams' <Organ Music of JSB>, and Thomas Braatz BCW article on the CPEB 371 is very helpful on genesis and provenance. I find the Drinker and Terry translations to be a bit poetic; I prefer Francis Browne's literal translations.

Much research remains, including Chafe's call for dating the early works like the NC, and Wolff's desire for a chronology of the 4-part chorales, from BWV ?18/5 onwards. Most challenging for me is the variants in the music complied by Dietel, Penzel, Rinck, the NC, etc. Also, those so-called some 180 unattached, "orphan" hymns, BWV 250-429, were set mostly in the 1730s when Bach no longer was composing church cantatas on a regular basis and had turned to settings for devotional, not necessarily liturgical, purposes including work on the unrealized Schemelli 2nd volume. Robin Leaver says that these devotional books are his major interest.

William Hoffman wrote (July 13, 2009):
Chorales BWV 250-438: Fugitive Notes 2

Fugitive Notes 2

Best summary of topic is Christoph Wolff, "On the Recognition of Bach and `the Bach Chorale': Eighteenth-Century Perspectives," <Bach Essays on his Life and Music> p 387f, 1985/89. Beginning with the earliest Weimar cantatas, "Bach steadily refined his [four-voice] chorale settings, how he worked on perfecting the compositional process, the individuality of part-writing and text expression." "The setting in quarter notes has a different, `inner motivation (a consistently polyphonic design of texture) whose quality emerge. . .especially in the embellished chorales of the Orgel-Büchlein."

The importance of chorales and the significance of Bach's treatment are emphasized in Daniel Melamed's "Chorales" (pp. 162-69), in Wolff's <The World of the Bach Cantatas (WBC): Early Sacred Cantatas (Vol. 1), 1995. "Chorale poetry served several essential functions. . .inspirational, devotional, and catechistic." Chorales in Bach's cantatas show their "close relation" to scripture and "serve as a vehicle for direct congregational participation in worship." In his cantatas, Bach used two basic compositional techniques: "Cantional settings," four-voice harmonizations with melody (canto) in the soprano), and "cantus firmus" with vocal and instrumental elaborative support. The earliest harmonizations conclude Weimar cantatas BWV 18, 72, 165, 185, 162, and 155. The earliest cantus firmus settings are in Mühhausen Cantatas BWV 4, 106 (2b, 3b, 4), 131 (2, 4), and 71/2). I do not have access to Wolff's essay, "Choräle," in WBC, vol. 3, Leipzig sacred cantatas, 1999 (German only) but assume that it contains information similar to the Bach Essays article cited above.

The program notes to the Bach Edition recorded Hänssler and Teldec chorale collections summarize their importance. Elisabeth Graf's Hänssler notes suggest: "It is likely that some of the no-longer attributable chorale arrangements derive from lost works by Bach. Others may have been intended for parts of the St. Thomas congregation `who have no feeling for music and can just barely sing a chorale' (J.S. Bach in his famous <Brief . Description of a Well-Appointed Church Music>, 1730); and for weddings, funerals, etc., and not least, as already mentioned, Bach's compositional studies." The Teldec notes account for some 185 free-standing chorales of 348 total authentic settings without duplication.

To come: Fugitive Notes 3: organ chorales and devotional songs.

 

SIMPLY HARMONIZED CHORALES AS KEY AND INTRODUCTION TO THE WORLD OF THE CANTATAS (ORGELBUCHLEIN)

David Jones wrote (April 6, 2010):
Hello all. I have been listening to a recording of Bach's cherished Orgel-Buchlein by Kevin Bowyer and Der Fenske Kammerchor (NIMBUS RECORDS) that pairs Bach's exquisite little chorale preludes with simple, haunting four-part harmonizations of the chorales themselves. In practice, the chorale would be played first to, as I read somewhere, "inform the congregation of the tune and key, and to delight them with pious thoughts", after which the chorale would be sung by the congregation; in this recording, that order is reversed and the hymn-tunes become easily recognizable sounding above the fabric of the chorale preludes. I am not raised Lutheran and so I don't have in my repertoire the many chorales that might be familiar to a congregant of that faith; even if there are some of us who were raised Lutheran, there are many chorales that have fallen into disuse and so perhaps the modern Lutheran is not familiar with the chorale melodies that would have been familiar in Bach's time. Bach often super imposes a chorale melody above a rich contrapunctal fabric to make a rhetorical, philosophical or theological point (as in his haunting Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlosen, in which a trumpet intones the melody of ich drei zu dir, a chrorale rich in associations of comfort, as a wordless "answer" to Paul's heartbreaking question "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?") so being familiar with the hymn-tunes themselves can deeply enrich our listening experience on a conscious, and even sub-conscious, subliminal level. I think this particular recording is a wonderful way to familiarize yourself, Luheran or not, with the hymn tunes Bach used.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 6, 2010):
David Jones wrote:
< even if there are some of us who were raised Lutheran, there are many chorales that have fallen into disuse and so perhaps the modern Lutheran is not familiar with the chorale melodies that would have been familiar in Bach's time. I think this particular recording is a wonderful way to familiarize yourself, Luheran or not, with the hymn tunes Bach used. >
It's interesting to compare Lutheran hymn books and see how many chorales are slowly slipping out of use as hymns from other traditions grow in popularity.

For instance, the Christmas chorale "Gelobet seist du," which predates the Reformation, was one of the most popular hymns for Bach who used it numerous times in organ works and cantatas. It was still being sung in a 1978 Lutheran hymn book, albeit surrounded by "Joy to the World" and the like. In a 2006 publication, it's gone: clearly it had lost its currency and passed out of use.

Hymn book compilers are controverted about using Bach harmonizations as congregational hymns. Most late 19th and early 20 century Lutheran books used simple regularized settings from the late 18th century. There are about a dozen Bach settings which appear in all hymn books, Catholic included! But many musicians object that Bach never intended the cantata harmonizations to be used for congregational singing and that playing his settings repeatedly for five or six verses is an assault on the music. Some harmonizations have even been forced into lower transpositions: Wachet Auf is always transposed down a third from Bach's resplendent E Flat to a murky C major.

The "lingua franca" of chorales which was the lifeblood of Bach's compositional method is gone for us modern listeners. The same thing happened for Gregorian chant. Most of us will catch a quotation of the "Dies Irae" -- I heard it the other night in the film music for a vampire flick. But unlike Haydn's listeners, not many of us would recognize the quotation from the chant of the Lamentations in the "Lamentazione" Symphony.

Peter Smaill wrote (April 6, 2010):
[To David Jones] Thank you for letting me know of this way of presenting the Orgelbuchlein; both here and in the Peter Hurford setings which I grew up with it seems that the artistic preference is not to juxtapose Bach's own elaborate settings of the relevant chorales, but simple harmonisations as would have been composed pre Bach and as would have been familiar to the congregation. The contrast is thus more effective, for otherwise there is too much of a good thing!

You mentioned BWV 48, "ich elender Mensch..." which IMO is one of the most dramatic , intense satisfying of all the choruses ; the instrumental/choral funeral march is set against trumpet and oboes in canon, with the wonderful final entry of the trumpet producing light amidst the gloom. I think the orchestral (trumpet/oboe) chorale referred to is usually identified as "O Jesu Christ, du hoechstes gut" and would have been instantly recognisable to the Leipzig congregation. The text of the first verse is just as gloomy (arrows of which oppress the sinner etc. ) as the opening text, which relates to the Gospel story of the healing of the man with palsy. Duerr thinks this makes the connection, but the tune is not exclusively associated with the words.

So... Bach may be referring, in view of the contrast of affekt between the choir's text and the trumpet chorale, to a more upbeat verse of that chorale reflecting the salvation of the sinner (vs7,8,or 9 do this) or perhaps another set of verses entirely. Whatever is the case for the unsung text, the musical writing is of exceptional if sombre beauty.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 6, 2010):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Thank you for letting me know of this way of presenting the Orgelbuchlein; both here and in the Peter Hurford setings which I grew up with it seems that the artistic preference is not to juxtapose Bach's own elaborate settings of the relevant chorales, but simple harmonisations as would have been composed pre Bach and as would have been familiar to the congregation. >
Johann Hermann Schein (Bach's predecessor at St.Thomas, 1616-30) published a chorale book, the "Cantional" in 1628. He provided elegant but simple harmonizations of all the well-known tunes. Although Bach didn't use this hymnbook on a regular basis, it's a nice historical juxtaposition to pair his organ preludes with his great predecessor's chorales. The collection can be found in the standard Schein Complete Works.

 

Contemporary hymn texts for Jesu Bleibet meine freude

David McKay wrote (June 29, 2013):
Does anyone have access to a contemporary hymn text for Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring?

Toying with asking if I can get this going at church for 28th July.

Thanks

Paul Farseth wrote (July 9, 2013):
David McKay wrote on June 28:
< Does anyone have access to a contemporary hymn text for Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring? >
I don't have a modern hymn to that meter, but here's a translation of the relevant German text from Bach's cantata in singable verse:

Well for me that I have Jesus!
Oh how tight I cling to him,
So that he my heart refreshes
When my health or spirit's dim.
I have Jesus, who so loves me
That his very self he gives me.
So from him I'll not depart,
No matter what might break my heart.

Jesus stays my source of gladness.
He's my courage and life's blood.
He wards off despair and sadness:
He's my strength, my staff and rod.
My eyes' sunshine, light and pleasure,
He's my heart's delight and treasure.
So I'll let no thing erase
Him from what I love and face.

(This is fairly literal and reasonably vivid, though certainly not brilliant. Hope I got the syllabification right.)

 

Chorales BWV 250-438
Recordings | General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Chorales in Bach's Vocal Works: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Hidden Chorale Melody Allusions | Passion Chorale
Individual Recordings:
Hilliard - Morimur | Chorales - N. Matt | Chorales - H. Rilling | Preludi ai Corali - Quartetto Italiani di Viola Da Gamba
References:
Chorales BWV 250-300 | Chorales BWV 301-350 | Chorales BWV 351-400 | Chorales BWV 401-438
Texts & English Translations of Chorales:
Sorted by Title
Chorale Melodies:
Sorted by Title | 371 4-Part Chorales sorted by Breitkopf Number | Explanation
MIDI files of the Chorales:
Cantatas BWV 1-197 | Other Vocal Works BWV 225-248 | Chorales BWV 250-438
Articles:
The Origin of the Texts of the Chorales [A. Schweitzer] | The Origin of the Melodies of the Chorales [A. Schweitzer] | The Chorale in the Church Service [A. Schweitzer] | Choral / Chorale [C.S. Terry] | The History of the Breitkopf Collection of J. S. Bach’s Four-Part Chorales [T. Braatz] | Chorale Melody Allusions in Bach's Vocal Works [T. Braatz]
Hymnals used by Bach | Abbreviations used for the Chorales | Links to other Sites on the Chorales

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: ýNovember 3, 2013 ý07:12:47