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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

Geistliche Lieder und Arien/Schemelli Gesangbuch BWV 439-507
General Discussions

Schemelli/Bach Gesangbuch

Jim Morrison wrote (August 2, 2001):
Just found a review of the Schemelli/Bach disc I mentioned a little while ago.

Anyone ever heard the music? Can make a recommendation?
-----------
Bach Musicalisches Gesang-Buch G. C. Schemelli, BWV439-507 (excerpts). Barbara Schlick (sop); Klaus Mertens (bar); Wouter Moller (vc); Bob van Asperen (hpd/org).

CPO (Full price) (CD) CPO999 407-2 (two discs: 153 minutes: DDD). Texts and translations included.

To what extent Bach was involved in the composition and publication of the so-called Schemelli's Songbook is hard to know for certain. A collection of 950 selected sacred Lieder and arias advertised in fair catalogues from Frankfurt and Leipzig in 1736 - a comprehensive panoply of tunes, from old Lutheran pot-boiling chorales to effusive a la mode pietist 'arias' - represented a cradle-to-grave project administered from Zeitz Castle and edited by Georg Christian Schemelli, the Music Director at the castle. Bach' s involvement centres around 69 chorales (published in recent times as an appendix to Riemenschneider's 371 harmonized chorales) with figured bass, though how many he merely revised and how many he actually composed is still open to some debate. What can be ascertained, however, is that Bach's stamp is often marked indelibly on the most simple line. Even in pieces where his authorship is uncertain, the sentiment of the text is quietly irradiated by an unobtrusive and effortless poise: gracious bass-lines (largely instrumental, as in the rolling Gott lebet noch and Ich freue mich in dir) provide the individual assurance of the texts, joined by apt motivic and harmonic inflexions and well-timed suspensions.

Bach or not, the selected 57 songs here are designed for private domestic use, devotions within the most trusted and solid of musical vernaculars. Keenly aware of the distinctive contemplative temperature of these strophic songs and chorales, Barbara Schlick and Klaus Mertens wend a careful stylistic and theological path between the elevated, and yet never detached worlds, exquisitely demonstrated in pieces such as the famous O Jesulein suss ("O sweet little Jesus"). Mertens's soft-grained baritone, with its gentle and refined timbre, is ideally suited to these songs, as indeed is his peerless diction. He and Schlick interchange delightfully in Wo ist mein Schlaflein. Yet Mertens is the singer with the greater capacity to colour those innocuous songs with a less-than-obvious 'complaint'. Schlick, on the other hand, can leave one unsure of whether her control of pitch is expressively manipulated or out of her hands. In Der Tag mit seinem Lichte, I rather suspect it is the latter as she seems uncomfortably under the note. She does, however, exhibit moments of touching commitment and good taste, as in Ich steh' an deiner Krippen, a six-verse Christmas carol which maintains interest through its unselfconscious simplicity and a subtle variation of rhythmic character, dynamic and ornamentation. There are many beautiful vignettes here (some akin to those in Anna Magdalena's Notebook) which both these singers, and the sensitive keyboard realizations of Bob van Asperen, imbue with a comforting and cathartic spirit. Not for a single sitting but one to dip into with pleasure. JF-A

Johan van Veen wrote (August 2, 2001):
[To Jim Morrison] Yes, it's one of my favourite Bach recordings! Unfortunately, it isn't complete: some of the songs had to be left out because of the space on the two CDs. But these two are excellent. The music is fine, and both singers are in good shape. Go for it!

Kirk McElhearn wrote (August 2, 2001):
[To Jim Morrison] The other day I mentioned the 7 disc set of Motets, Chorales and Sacred songs on Teldec, part of the Bach 2000 set. This includes the above. I would again recommend the Teldec set (if it is still available), because its quality is fine and the price was pretty low.

 

Komm, süßer Tod

Thomas Radleff wrote (October 9, 2002):
Last night I was lucky to hear a wonderful concert in Vienna´s oldest church, Ruprechtskirche - the viol consort Ensemble Tientos playing many non-vocal variations on John Dowlands famous "Flow my teares", a tune that must have been quite popular at its time. Surprising versions (at least of the first two bars) by William Brade, John Ward, William Lawes, Johann Hermann Schein, and Dowland himself.

Has anyone ever noticed that the beginning of J.S.Bach's choral "Komm Süßer Tod" BWV 478 also is a quotation of Dowlands air?
Could it be that Bach knew the tune?
Did he ever see, or hear, Dowland´s songs ? (Schein was Thomaskantor in Leipzig where he died in 1630. Brade, in his most restless life, came across Berlin, Halle, Bückeburg; he also died in 1630, in Hamburg.)

Or "mere chance" - a handful of notes, descending, giving way to a mournful mood, welcomming the inevitable sadness...

Does anybody of or list members know something about it ?

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 9, 2002):
[To Thomas Radleff] I hadn't noticed that connection before, but you're right: the first two phrases are the same (discounting rhythm, and transposed)!

This chorale is #59 among the 69 figured-bass chorales in Riemenschneider's edition. I played through it; the last two phrases remind me of "Bist du bei mir" (BWV 508) as well.

It's possible that Bach knew Dowland's tune, since it was one of the greatest hits making its way around Europe a century before Bach. There are "Lachrimae" variations for keyboard by Sweelinck, Byrd, Farnaby, and Morley (among others; those just popped first into mind).

I have two Stokowski recordings of BWV 478, playing his own lavish orchestration in an exquisitely slow tempo: 1950 in mono, and 1957/8 remake in stereo. Yum. (And he makes it sound sort of like Elgar's "Sospiri" and "Elegy".)

A sample of his stereo recording is here: http://shopping.yahoo.com/shop?d=product&id=1921528687

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 9, 2002):
...And it's #868 in Schemelli.

Hildegard Rössel-Majdan sang it in the 4-LP Westminster set, alternating with Hugues Cuenod in some of the others. A nice feature is that the complete scores of all these songs are printed (microscopically) on the back of the record jackets! The CD reissue is this one: http://shopping.yahoo.com/shop?d=product&id=1921576946

Pete Blue wrote (October 9, 2001):
[To Bradley Lehman] For me, the pinnacle of Stokowski's recorded Bach is with the Philadelphia Orchestra in the 1930's and 1940's, miraculously restored by Mark Obert-Thorn on Pearl (an indispensable 2-CD set). IMO this is Stoky's best BWV 478. (Note that he started out as an organist and consequent;ly built his uniquely rich orchestral sound from the pedals up, so t speak.)

Oh, and don't forget Virgil Fox, the great organist/showman. "Come, Sweet Death" was one of his specialties, and I treasure my LP of his inimitable version thereof (it may not be available on CD at present). Or then again, maybe it IS imitable: Frederick Swann played Fox's version as the finale of a Viirgil Fox Memorial Concert (recorded and available on Gothic) with funeral bells at the end. Hokey and moving.

Thomas Radleff wrote (October 9, 2002):
[To Bradley Lehman] Though I still like listening to Barbara Harbach´s Goldberg Variations (as I am doing just now) you´re perfectly right with your remarks on her ornamentations. Even my, I often find them rather additions than arabesques; for example in Var. VII and X; that´s where I hear more Harbach than Bach. Nevertheless - it´s lively; she keeps my attention. (The recording quality is superb! The harpsichord lute register beautiful...)

Sure her version is not the only one I like, but from time to time it is good to clean out my ears, and she does it in a witty way. And yet I´m not getting tired of it, as it often might happen when we are attracted by some firework tricking. (Your tale about the scaffold in Roslyn Chapel gives a good image: attraction by too many details might keep us from percieving the entity. That´s why I love Rosen´s AoF - "neutral", quasi un-personal recording, but with his respectful devotion for the whole work he helps to make it clear for us.)

There are two more Goldberg V.´s interpretations - both of them rather extreme, though on opposite poles - which have not yet been discussed on the list, AFAIK:

Vladimir Feltsman on piano, MusicMasters 1992; a live recording from Moscow. He is switching voices by crossing hands, to "achieve variety" in the repeats, which seems to be his greatest interest. And more of these "tricks". Startling. Irritating. Fascinating.

The other recording is the extreme opposite:
Sergio Vartolo on harpsichord, Tactus 1990. The longest Goldberg Variations ever: 101´41´´. But not necessarily always slow... a lecture on searching for a new view, and on patience. Molto rubato; like loosing the way from time to time, looking back here and there, stopping for a while...I don´t know whether there is another word for his style but "manierism". A surprise at the end: he sings! - not like G.G. does, but Vartolo sings the beginnings of the original german song lines that form the themes of the Quodlibet. Anyone ever heard it?

Thanks, Brad, for your remarks about Dowland´s hit and the possible connex to Komm, süßer Tod.

BTW, it is Barbara Harbach who takes the Orgelchoral version of "Komm, süßer Tod" as a final piece of her AoF recording, instead of the doubtful deathbed chorale.

I know both of Stokowski´s recordings, and I like the mono even more – due to his courage, his long breath and the incredibly slow tempo, here the emotions still sound authentically (before they pass the gate to Disneyworld, as they do in some of his orchestrations); in this case, tears from a weeping heart instead of glycerine drops. Even Kitsch can creep down to the depths of our souls. Yum ! Almost as moving as Mozart´s "Maurerische Trauermusik", or some Mahler.

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 9, 2001):
Thomas Radleff asked: <Could it be that Bach knew the tune? >
According to the NBA III/2.1 KB, this melody may not even be Bach's:

"BWV 478 = Schemelli Nr. 868 Melodie vermutlich [supposedly, possibly (but just guessing without any hard evidence)] von J. S. Bach 1736. Text anonym 1725."

Juozas Rimas wrote (October 10, 2001):
[To Thomas Braatz] I wonder how the editors decide a work is really by JSB as, on the one hand, hand-handwriting doesn't prove authority and, on the other hand, I bet many scores not written in JSB's hand are regarded to be undoubtedly composed by him. Who passes the final verdict?

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 10, 2001):
[To Juozas Rimas] The NBA is, for the most part (barring any important, new scholarship that may turn up since its publication date, in this case 1991), the last word, because it is required to investigate all available documents and research before arriving at a conclusion. An autograph score would be a primary document, in the absence of which secondary sources such as copies by other individuals or printed versions under Bach's personal direction become important. Secondary printed sources that indicate the time and place of a performance of a specific composition are extremely helpful as well.

Here, in Georg Christian Schemelli's (circa 1676-1762) "Musicalisches Gesangbuch," a hymnbook that was intended to be in competition with the very popular "Geistreiches Gesangbuch" by Freylinghausen, we have J. S. Bach playing some kind of editorial role in the selection of music and in providing the figured bass for the melodies. The preface by Friedrich Schultze claims that "Bach added some melodies of his own, improved the figured bass of some of the others." The fact is, however, that he may not have provided all the figured bass for all of them and that only BWV 505 ("Vergiß mein nicht, mein allerliebster Gott") has the special indication "Di S. Bach D. M. Lips." Of course, there is no autograph score or other handwritten copies of it from the same period; only the printed version exists.

Only 21 of the 69 melodies contained in this hymnbook appear to be entirely original and theoretically might be by Bach. These are nos. 7, 10, 11, 14, 19, 21, 30, 31, 42, 44 [This is BWV 505, the only one designated as being entirely by Bach], 46, 47 52, 53, 56, 59 [This is 'Komm, süßer Tod' BWV 478], 62, 66, 67, and 68.

It is not possible to determine which of the remaining 20 melodies with figured bass are entirely by Bach. Historically, Phillip Spitta claimed that he had determined that 29 of the melodies were entirely by Bach. By the time the BGA got around to publishing these, Franz Wüllner, the editor, had reduced this number to 24. Arnold Schering managed to reduce this number even more radically to only 3 melodies: nos. 32, 44, 59 (BWV 452, BWV 505, and BWV 478 - here we are again!), but nevertheless thought that Bach had done the figured bass for the remaining 66 melodies. The NBA provides evidence from earlier existing sources that Bach can not be claimed as the author of the figured bass in all of these, which leads one to suspect that there may be more situations than those already discovered. It would appear that Bach most likely functioned more as an editor than a composer in Schemelli's "Musicalisches Gesangbuch."

Comment: As is evident from the history of claims made for Bach's authorship, the tendency is toward attributing less of the melodies and their figured bass to Bach rather than more. "Komm, süßer Tod" received a special emphasis by Arnold Schering by the uniqueness of his selection. These choices, just as those by Spitta, are based on 'a gut feeling' that may sometimes be right, but perhaps just as often wrong as well. Finding additional sources with the figured bass not by Bach, is a discovery the continues to shake the foundation of the sometimes 'guesswork' type of scholarship that has made claims based on instinct and stylistic comparison alone. Good guesses are 'working theories' until more evidence, direct or indirect, surfaces, as it did fairly recently, and calls into question the original assumptions.

Jim Morrison wrote (October 10, 2001):
[To Juozas Rimas] I kind of side discussion to this topic seems to me could revolve around 'what if some editor has mistakenly attributed a Bach composition to a composer other than Bach?' Could it be the case that some questionable work that really is by Bach has been unfortunately attributed to another composer? There may be more Bach compositions extant, but we mistakenly think they were written by other composers. Just a thought. Something to consider the next time you're listening to an anonymous composition. ;-)

 

Discussions in the Week of December 5, 2004

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 9, 2004):
The Schemelli song

Apropos of: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV439-507.htm and this week's scheduled discussion:

I have the ancient set of LPs in which these little strophic songs are sung by Cuenod and R-M. The highlight there, for me, is that the complete music is printed (in microscopic type!) on the back of all the album jackets! The performances are OK but I'd welcome more of a sense of joy and grace, not so much unrelensolemnity.

In the Schreier/Koopman recording I enjoy hearing the ten small manualiter settings of Clavierübung book 3 (organ chorales) interspersed among 22 selections from the Schemelli. Effective programming. Koopman uses harpsichord for some of the songs, organ for others. A novelty is the continuo registration Koopman picked for track 22 ("Dir, dir, Jehova" BWV 452): a regal stop on the organ (no pun intended here by me; that's simply what that stop is called). Most of the rest of the time he sticks with 8-foot flute. In BWV 685 ("Christ, unser Herr") he plays on 4-foot flute alone, which is charming.

Schreier sings with his customary clarity of the words, and bright (highly placed) vowels. I'm a fan of hearing Peter Schreier sing anything, when opportunity presents itself; likewise for the stylish continuo-playing by Koopman and ter Linden. This week's scheduled discussion has been a good excuse to get this disc off the shelf and listen to it again. The soundstage doesn't quite match from the two venues (Utrecht and Amsterdam) where the chorale preludes and songs were recorded a month apart, but so what? Recommended.

A couple of years ago a friend made me a cassette tape from the CPO disc of Schlick and Mertens et al. For the past two months I've been running that in the car, sheerly for enjoyment. It's beautiful. The songs have such well-written melodies and bass lines, and the musicians present them with simplicity and grace. If I'm looking for a CD set of these pieces, this is the one I'll go buy.

I haven't heard any of the other recordings displayed on that page.

Neil Halliday wrote (December 10, 2004):
Schemelli's Gesangbuch

The first contact I had with this (I think) was through a Stokowski transcription for orchestra of #43 "Komm, susser Tod", which I heard on the radio.

He transformed the simple two part writing (for voice and a figured bass) into a most expressive piece for strings - so expressive, I looked it up in the BGA CD-ROM, and found it there. It's a wonderfully moving, if simple, tune.

Johan van Veen wrote (December 10, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] I fully share your enthusiasm for these sacred songs. The first recording with some of them was an old LP with Theo Altmeyer and Fritz Neumeyer, if I remember correctly. I have looked in my collection, but I can't find it right now. I have searched on the site, but that recording seems not to be mentioned.

Anyway, from what I remember it was pretty good (I have always had a soft spot for Altmeyer, a very sensitive and tasteful performer).

And the recording with Schlick and Mertens is great indeed. It's a shame that not all songs have been recorded, but I am grateful that at least all strophes (I think) are sung. I always hate it when strophes are left out.

And yes, Schreier and Koopman are good as well, although I have never really warmed to Schreier's singing. Just a matter of taste, I suppose.

Luke Hubbard wrote (December 10, 2004):
I've recently borrowed a recording of Schemelli's Gesangbuch, with:
- Klaus Mertens (basso)
- Christoph Pregardien (tenor)
- Ton Koopman (harpsichord)
- Jaap ter Linden (cello)

The performances are, as expected with such soloists, no less than excellent. I became immediately suspicious on issues of authenticity once I've noticed how little variation exists in these works. I mean, most of them are very dull, by nothing superior to the usual crowd of Baroque composers, always in search of superficial catchy tunes. They are like movements from Händel operas: forgettable and always two dimensional. Only a handful of these melodies sound like Bach, yet man may not be sure even on that.

Now I learnt "most" of them have melodies by other composers and only the basso continuo by Bach. Which ones, according to most sources, are in minority (being actually by Bach)?

Thomas Shepherd wrote (December 10, 2004):
I've never knowingly heard any of these sacred songs before. As I've recently been lucky to get the Hänssler box set of Bach's works, I've been able to explore a bit, although BWV 439-507 are mixed up with a lot of other stuff. So with iTunes and the Mac, I've now a fair selection as a "Playlist" and they are simply lovely. Just the tonic for dark December days and a sense of quite reflection during Advent.

I give as an example BWV 464 "Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist." We hear this chorale melody as "Brich an, o schones Morgenlicht" in the 2nd Cantata of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) (regularly heard at Carol Services here in England). In the context of the Christmas Oratorio it is a grand affair. As BWV 464 it is a lovely free flowing modest setting using a high and low voices for alternate verses with a running bass line. It makes for a very gentle and contemplative piece. On the Hänssler recording it almost reminds me of an Elizabethan song - Campion or Dowland perhaps!

I was pleased to read the note of 2001 by Tom Braatz about this set of "songs" where he warned about the true authorship of these miniatures."As is evident from the history of claims made for Bach's authorship, the tendency is toward attributing less of the melodies and their figured bass to Bach rather than more. "Komm, süßer Tod" received a special emphasis by Arnold Schering by the uniqueness of his selection. These choices, just as those by Spitta, are based on 'a gut feeling' that may sometimes be right, but perhaps just as often wrong as well. Finding additional sources with the figured bass not by Bach, is a discovery the continues to shake the foundation of the sometimes 'guesswork' type of scholarship that has made claims based on instinct and stylistic comparison alone. Good guesses are 'working theories' until more evidence, direct or indirect, surfaces, as it did fairly recently, and calls into question the original assumptions."

Of course he is right to be wary, but authenticity does not mean they should never be heard. IMHO it isn't such a hardship for a while to lay the cantatas aside for these exquisite gems.

My question to those who know these things is how were they used? As a practical musician, I cannot think that Bach intended his contribution to the Schemelli project simply as studies on the chorales, for education purposes. Wolf implies their pedagogical use, p.329 "The Learned Musician". Or were they only for domestic use, to encourage music making for private devotion alone. This is the implication of the first review: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV439-507-Gen.htm
Could they have ever been used on days when a cantata was not performed. They would make highly satisfying musical reflections in a liturgical context. So my question simple put is were they ever heard in church during the services?

For my part, I would dearly like to introduce many of the "Songs" into our church services if singers from our choir would be prepared to have a go. They would be exactly the sort of music suited to the end of the Communion as the altar is are cleared away, before the final prayers and blessing.

For now I will be content with "burning" a compilation CD for the car!

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 10, 2004):
The Schemelli songs & Theo Altmeye

[To Johan van Veen] I hope you will be able to find that LP. When you find it, please send me the details off-list and I shall update the BCW accordingly.

Talking about Theo Altmeyer, by mere coincidence couple of days ago I received a personal message from him, saying how much he likes the collection of cantata reviews in the Bach Cantatas Website and that Bach's music has always been his life and centre of his artistic work.

Ehud Shiloni wrote (December 10, 2004):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
<> Talking about Theo Altmeyer, by mere coincidence couple of days ago I received a personal message from him, saying how much he likes the collection of cantata rein the Bach Cantatas Website and that Bach's music has always been his life and centre of his artistic work. <>
Upon reading this splendid story, I immediately put on cantata BWV 92 from the Fritz Werner re-issue, 3rd movement, and listened to Altmeyer's regal performance of this heroic aria - "Seht, seht! wie reisst, wie bricht, wie fallt". What a great artist!

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 10, 2004):
Johan van Veen wrote: < I fully share your enthusiasm for these sacred songs >
It is interesting that the only song in the collection to achieve popularity is "Bist du bei mir" which is regularly requested at weddings. I've given up trying to explain that it's not one spouse talking to another but rather the Soul speaking to Christ about approaching death!

But then people still want the Lohengrin Bridal Chorus (although that marriage was invalid because of the hero's refusal to divulge his name) and the Mendelssohn March which open's with Bottom's discordant bray as a donkey (that marriage was invalid as well as the bride was neither human nor 'compos menti's at the time of the vows!)

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 10, 2004):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< is "Bist du bei mir" which is regularly requested at weddings. >
Isn't that one (BWV 508) only in the Anna Magdalena book, not the Schemelli?

Has there been a recording that gives all dozen of the four-part settings from the Schemelli, discovered by Wiemer in 1984? Which if any of the Rilling sets, at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV439-507.htm
? It looks piecemeal in the recordings listed at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Rilling-Rec8.htm
The existence of that dozen is mentioned in Malcolm Boyd's booklet note of the Schreier/Koopman disc, but they don't perform them in that recording.

What do the Hänssler booklet annotators say about those "BWV deest/Wiemer" pieces?

The BWV editors (Dürr, Kobayashi, Beißwenger) give the BWV 1126 "Lobet Gott, unseren Herren" chorale its own entry, as it's not Schemelli overlap. But there's no entry for the other Wiemer discoveries yet. At the end of Anhang 2 (pieces of questionable authenticity) there's a paragraph about the discovery, and citation of Wiemer's 1987 Bach-Jahrbuch article. But then they explain that the discussion is not settled yet enough to their satisfaction, to give those pieces any numbering. The reference is over to this printed edition: http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/store/smp_detail.html?sku=BA.BA6839

=====

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

The WTC C major got me in trouble at a rehearsal once. I was running through it to check out the harpsichord, and the bride's mother came storming up. She thought it was the Gounod "Ave Maria", not Bach. "This is a Jewish wedding, and you will NOT play that Christian piece!!!!" I explained that it's just a keyboard piece by Bach, showed her the score...and ended up not playing it. Why court disaster when the bride's mother is going to take it the wrong way?

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 11, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Isn't that one (BWV 508) only in the Anna Magdalena book, not the
Schemelli? >
You're right. Got my books mixed up.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 11, 2004):
Why are the Schemelli song settings so unlike what one would expect of Bach?

The Schemelli songs stand very much apart from Bach's usual, powerful 4-pt settings of the chorales, and although traces of his handiwork can be found in some of the bass lines that probably originated from his pen, and in a few of the melodies that can definitely be considered to be by him, these Schemelli songs represent a musically stylistic convention that was primarily unable to maintain itself as part of an orthodox hymnal used in congregational singing for which it was it was essentially ill-suited. These songs (some of them more like simple arias) were much more appropriate for intimate, private devotions in the home and not for use in the church as congregational hymns. There are two major currents of influence at work in Schemelli's hymnal: 1. The Pietistic emphasis upon simple (non-concerted) music in the church and 2. the rationalism of the Enlightenment that demanded simplicity in the structure of the hymns - the latter being a manifestation of the 'galant' style where the emphasis is upon a single melody line over a bass line. When Robin A Leaver, in the longer passage quoted below, states quite forcefully: "After its climax in the works of Bach [Leaver is, of course, referring to the main body of Bach's sacred music and not to the extremely divergent evidence offered by the Schemelli songs], Lutheran church music thus declined. ['thus' here refers to Lutheran church music as influenced by Pietism, Enlightenment, and the 'galant' style.]"

Here is the longer passage by Robin A. Leaver from the Grove Music Online [Oxford University Press, 2004, acc. 12/10/04]:

>> Arndt, Gerhardt, Müller and others have to be regarded as pre-Pietists, since the movement cannot be said to have begun until the 1680s, following the publication of P.J. Spener's 'Pia desideria,' originally written as an introduction to Arndt's 'Wahres Christenthum' in 1675. Spener promoted a programme of spiritual reform based on private devotional meetings for prayer and bible study (collegia pietatis). Spener's booklet was widely circulated and became the manifesto of Lutheran Pietism. Spener's successor as the leader of the movement, A.H. Francke, was more radical than his mentor and maintained that Luther had not gone far enough in his Reformation. The primary difference between Orthodoxy and Pietism within Lutheranism was essentially ecclesiological rather than a question of the nature and content of devotional life. Pietists did not have a monopoly on piety; many of the Orthodox, such as Erdmann Neumeister, could express warm devotional sentiments in their sermons, hymns and other poetry, very similar to the imagery favoured by the Pietists. But the Pietists deviated from Orthodoxy on the nature and function of the Church. They argued that the real Church was to be found in the 'collegia pietatis' and that public worship should become more like the informal worship of these private gatherings. Elaborate liturgical forms, therefore, should be greatly simplified and church music confined to hymns in a freer, more intimate style, with modest organ accompaniment. In the early 18th-century there was much Pietist criticism of concerted church music, especially the reform cantata promoted by Neumeister, which incorporated secco recitative and da capo aria, both self-consciously borrowed from opera, a practice that Pietists dismissed as inappropriate 'theatralische Kirchen-Musik' (see Heidrich, 1995).

In spite of the acrimonious debates between Orthodox and Pietist proponents over theology, ecclesiology, worship practice and the nature of church music, the spirituality of both was nevertheless expressed in similar terms. For exam, the music of Buxtehude shows traces of Pietist influence, and the important and widely used Pietist hymnal edited by J.A. Freylinghausen, 'Geistreiches Gesang-Buch' (1704; censured by the Orthodox Wittenberg theological faculty in 1716), included some hymn texts written by the Orthodox Neumeister. Similarly, many of the melodies that J.S. Bach edited (BWV 439-507) for G.C. Schewmelli's 'Musicalisches Gesangbuch' (1736) - essentially an Orthodox hymnal - were either taken from the Freylinghausen 'Gesang-Buch' or composed in a similar style.

The rationalism of the Enlightenment paralleled Pietism in its effect on Lutheran worship life and its music. Elaborate music and highly developed liturgical ceremonial were considered to be remnants of an earlier unenlightened period and should therefore be substantially simplified, if not abolished. During the second half of the 18th century worship was reduced to a simple structure of hymns, readings, prayers and moralistic preaching; the sacraments were undervalued; and the music of worship was reduced to the singing of rationalized hymn texts to melodies composed in or revised to conform to a galant style. After its climax in the works of Bach, Lutheran church music thus declined, and its more significant compositions were mostly the extra-liturgical oratorio with its Italian operatic influences. The generation of C.H. Graun, Johann Friedrich Doles, C.P.E. Bach and J.A. Hiller produced religious music reflecting polite church-going society in contrast to the specifically liturgical and confessional music of previous generations.<<

Walter Blankenburg and Dorothea Schröder wrote the article on Freylinghausen which is also contained in the Grove Music Online (as indicated above) in which the criticism of this style of music as also exemplified in the Schemelli song book is directly expressed by the orthodox Lutheran church as 'not in the slightest compatible with the gravity of the elevated mysteries which ought to be contained therein.' Without having a direct statement by Bach regarding his opinion on whether these hymns were more suitable or not for congregational singing, we can still rely on the preponderance of evidence supplied by his sacred music scores where the number of Schemelli- type songs/hymns is almost insignificant compared to the major focus of his works which was centered upon the more standard, orthodox hymns for which he will always be remembered.

>> Freylinghausen was editor of the most influential of the Pietist songbooks, 'Geistreiches Gesang-Buch: den Kern Alter und Neuer, wie auch die Noten der unbekannten Melodeyen . in sich haltend' (Halle, 1704), and its second part, 'Neues geistreiches Gesang-Buch' (Halle, 1714). Both parts appeared in numerous, constantly expanded editions, the first in 19 up to 1759, the second in four up to 1733. An edition comprising both parts, containing 1581 songs with 609 tunes, was prepared by G.A. Francke in 1741; this appeared in several further editions up to 1778. Behind these numerous publications it is possible to discern the importance that A.H. Francke attributed to singing both in Pietist congregations and in his education system. In addition to its wide circulation, Freylinghausen's songbook was used in many subsequent publications, including the songbooks of the established church in the 18th century, notably the Schemelli Hymnbook (Leipzig, 1736), in which J.S. Bach played a part. The sources for the new treasury of songs in Freylinghausen's work, which contains hitherto unknown tunes and gives them with notated figured bass, are only partially indicated; for example, 37 texts with their melodies originate in H.G. Neuss's 'Hebopfer zum Bau der Hütten Gottes' (Lüneburg, 1692, and Wernigerode, 1703), while the origins of others remain obscure. The 'Geistreiches Gesang-Buch' makes comprehensive use of the aria manner of early evangelical Pietism, both in its strictly isometric style and, more characteristically, in its dactylic melodies in triple time set to suitable poems (for example the song 'Eins ist not! Ach, Herr, dies eine' with a melody borrowed from Adam Krieger's 'O Rosidore, edele Flore,' 1657). Although the songs of Freylinghausen's songbook owe much of their popularity to this style, it was just this which militated against the critical approval of the Wittenberg Theological Faculty in 1716, because the tunes were 'not in the slightest compatible with the gravity of the elevated mysteries which ought to be contained therein'. This style did however endear the songs to the Brethren who took many of them over for their first hymnbook (1720).<<

Thomas Shepherd wrote (December 11, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thank you very much indeed for pulling such a lot of information together about the spiritual songs. Bach or whoever was involved in these and like compositions, would not have written them as manuscript exercises alone - they surely were composed to be heard.

Have I read the arguments correctly? The style of writing that Bach and others employs in the Schemelli songs was never intended for use litugically and would have been for domestic purposes only? I can understand that congregational participation in the songs would never happen, but is it at all conceavable , or is there any evidence, for three or so musicians performing a song on Sunday in the gallery before, during or after the service especially on weeks where there was no cantata performed? Or were they simply used in a domestic setting to teach the rudiments of practical singing and continuo playing. Presumably in a social setting where secular texts set to music was frowned upon, these songs would serve the same sort of purpose as songs of love and romance! So could you explain a little more about their likely use either through evidence or best guess!

Doug Cowling wrote (December 11, 2004):
Thomas Shepherd wrote: < I can understand that congregational participation in the songs would never happen, but is it at all conceavable , or is there any evidence, for three or so musicians performing a song on Sunday in the gallery before, during or after the service especially on weeks where there was no cantata performed? Or were they simply used in a domestic setting to teach the rudiments of practical singing and continuo playing. Presumably in a social setting where secular texts set to music was frowned upon, these songs would serve the same sort of purpose as songs of love and romance! So could you explain a little more about their likely use either through evidence or best guess! >
There is a long tradition of devotional songs outside of the liturgy which goes back to the Renaissance. In fact, there are many "anthems" sung by English choirs today which were probably intended for personal "chamber" devotion. It's not hard to imagine a group of amateur (or indeed professional) musicians singing madrigals on Saturday night and devotional part-songs on Sunday.

Indeed, domestic performance was one of the only ways women could sing sacred music. Just as my grandmother gathered family around the pibefore Sunday dinner to sing hymns, it is likely that the women of the Bach family expressed their piety in a similar domestic gatherings.

Does anyone else see general similarities in style between these songs and some of the movements in the "Peasant" (BWV 211) and "Coffee" (BWV 212) cantatas?

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 11, 2004):
Doug Cowling wrote: < There is a long tradition of devotional songs outside of the liturgy which goes back to the Renaissance. In fact, there are many "anthems" sung by English choirs today which were probably intended for personal "chamber" devotion. It's not hard to imagine a group of amateur (or indeed professional) musicians singing madrigals on Saturday night and devotional part-songs on Sunday. >
Byrd's music, for example: part-songs for private worship sessions, some in secret.

< Indeed, domestic performance was one of the only ways women could sing sacred music. Just as my grandmother gathered family around the piano before Sunday dinner to sing hymns, it is likely that the women of the Bach family expressed their piety in a similar domestic gatherings. >
I agree: home and pedagogical use would be the most likely purposes for these Schemelli songs. Good way to teach/learn singing, and basic thoroughbass.

And Magdalena's book, likewise. Enjoyable songs for the home. Next week's topic.

< Does anyone else see general similarities in style between these songs and some of the movements in the "Peasant" and "Coffee" cantatas? >
As to simpler phrase structures, and the directness of melody/accompaniment? Possibly.

Johan van Veen wrote (December 11, 2004):
Doug Cowling wrote: < There is a long tradition of devotional songs outside of the liturgy which goes back to the Renaissance. In fact, there are many "anthems" sung by English choirs today which were probably intended for personal "chamber" devotion. It's not hard to imagine a group of amateur (or indeed professional) musicians singing madrigals on Saturday night and devotional part-songs on Sunday. >
Yes, that's right. There is a pretty large repertoire of solo songs with only basso continuo accompaniment by German composers of the 17th century. Very often the texts are such that they would never fit into any liturgy. Some of them are rather pietistic in character. And Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach also wrote a pretty large number of songs for voice and keyboard which were aimed at the personal spiritual education.

< Indeed, domestic performance was one of the only ways women could sing sacred music. Just as my grandmother gathered family around the piano before Sunday dinner to sing hymns, it is likely that the women of the Bach family expressed their piety in a similar domestic gatherings. >
It is interesting that Telemann's cantatas as collected in the 'Harmonischer Gottesdienst' are scored for one voice, one instrument and b.c. which made them useful for both church and home. And one may assume that in a domestic setting these cantatas have indeed been sung by women.

Doug Cowling wrote (December 11, 2004):
Baroque voice types


Johan van Veen wrote: < It is interesting that Telemann's cantatas as collected in the 'Harmonischer Gottesdienst' are scored for one voice, one instrument and b.c. which made them useful for both church and home. And one may assume that in a domestic setting these cantatas have indeed been sung by women. >
One of the important aspects of Baroque music that we have utterly lost is the variety of voice types which sang the treble line: boys, women and castrati. Now we are content to think that a one-type-fits-all Emma Kirkby type satisfies all requirements. We forget that the 18th century was obssessed with exotic voices. There's a good case to be made that the tenor and bass parts in Vivaldi's sacred music for the Pieta were in fact sung by girls who had those ranges. I have encountered women many times who could hit the A at the bottom of the bass clef. And there's a world of difference between a boy alto and the English countertenors or French contretenors who now appear normative in recordings of Bach's music.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 12, 2004):
Thomas Shepherd wrote:
>>Bach or whoever was involved in these and like compositions, would not have written them as manuscript exercises alone - they surely were composed to be heard. Have I read the arguments correctly? The style of writing that Bach and others employs in the
Schemelli songs was never intended for use liturgically and would have been for domestic purposes only?<<
Primarily, but not exclusively for domestic purposes. As I read between the lines of Robin A. Leaver's comments, attempts were certainly made to introduce the Schemelli "Gesangbuch" [songbook or hymnal] into the churches, but the actual use (counting the number of churches using it) might have been quite limited nevertheless since each city and/or principality chose its own hymnals of which there were quite a number of different ones being printed. Hence the actual outreach of this particular hymnal into the Lutheran churches in Bach's time may have been rather small and we can suspect that its use for private devotions was more extensive than that for liturgical use.

Christoph Wolff ["Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician" Norton, 2000, p. 258] relates an indication as to how difficult it would have been during Bach's tenure to introduce any new hymns into the church services in Leipzig: a memorandum from the city council to Superintendent Salomon Deyling stated "that in the churches of this town.new hymns hitherto not customary, shall not be used in public divine services."

>>I can understand that congregational participation in the songs would never happen, but is it at all conceivable , or is there any evidence, for three or so musicians performing a song on Sunday in the gallery before, during or after the service especially on weeks where there was no cantata performed?<<
In the so-called quiet periods, no 'figural' music of this sort was performed. In regard to the other times of the liturgical year, I have not yet read about Bach using any special group of singers before or after the service. According to a note left by Bach, the service in Leipzig began with an organ prelude leading into a motet. With Bach's difficulties assembling good singers for a performance of one of his cantatas, it is difficult to imagine that such 'solo' singers would migrate to and be performing at one of the other churches where no cantata was performed (there were other 2nd- and 3rd-string choirs which would be performing in those venues under one of Bach's
prefects.)

>>Or were they simply used in a domestic setting to teach the rudiments of practical singing and continuo playing.<<
This is where the AMB (1725) Notenbüchlein comes in.

Here is where you can find BWV 299 "Dir, dir, Jehova, will ich singen" which Bach later included in the Schemelli songbook with only minor changes in the bass line.

Similar types of songs are also found in the AMB Notenbüchlein, but BWV 299 is one of the extremely few Schemelli hymns where the melody and bass are definitely by Bach.

>>Presumably in a social setting where secular texts set to music was frowned upon, these songs would serve the same sort of purpose as songs of love and romance!<<
This brings up the question whether 'Bist du bei mir' BWV 508 (not by Bach, but by Stölzel - it is even questionable whether the bass line was Bach's) is sacred or secular. It has been described by some scholars as a 'love song' and as such, although there are some definitely sacred songs/hymns included in the AMB Notebook, there is also BWV 518 "Willst du dein Herz mir schenken" which is clearly secular in nature. Also, the songby Stölzel included in a collection of them, in which the former was found, are likewise rather ambiguous, i. e., they can be considered as belonging to that very unusual, pietistic attitude where heavenly and earthly love seem to flow together in a rather shady realm of Pietism. (cf. some of the cantata texts that Bach set to music, BWV 49, etc.)

Thomas Shepherd wrote (December 12, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thank you for you most detailed and informative note.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 12, 2004):
Schemelli - BWV 478 Komm, süßer Tod

Under the files section of BCML I have posted for study purposes a facsimile of "Komm, süßer Tod" as it first appeared in Schemelli's Songbook. Take a look, if you are interested.
See: BWV 478 - Facsimile

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

MY COMMENTS:

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

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

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Cantatas & Arias for Wedding [General Topics]

 

New Brilliant Classics

Eric Bergerud wrote (July 25, 2005):
<>
BTW: just picked up a collection of Bach's hymns that appeared in the George Schemellis "Gesang Buch." Barbara Schlick and Klaus Mertens do the heavy lifting. Delightful. I'm sure it's on our web page, but I wasn't acquainted with at all.

 

BWV 439-507 (Schemelli's "Gesangbuch" or "Songbook")

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 1, 2006):
Schemelli's "Gesangbuch", or sometimes referred to as "Songbook"

BWV 439-507

Major Points (for those who do not wish to read all of the following, more detailed description of the results of research given below):

1. Precisely how many compositions in this group (assigned as BWV 439-507, the NBA counts a total of 69 melodies in the Schemelli "Gesangbuch" that are under consideration) are really Bach's original compositions is still an open question today.

2. Only three compositions, for various reasons, can reliably be counted among J. S. Bach's own compositions:

BWV 452 "Dir, dir, Jehova, will ich singen"
BWV 478 "Komm, süßer Tod"
BWV 505 "Vergiß mein nicht, mein allerliebster Gott"

3. From the group of the remaining 66, it is probable that Bach composed only a portion of the bass lines (with figured bass) while he culled and copied a number of these (melodies and bass lines) from various hymnals to which he had access (the latter procedure has been documented).

4. In other instances, Bach, acting more as a music editor, modified only small portions of the melody and bass lines and made very slight corrections and/or additions here and there.

[The following is a summary translation of material that appears on pp. 103-148 of the NBA KB III/2.1]

Extant Sources:

There are 20 copies of the Schemelli "Gesangbuch" still in existence and all are identical (no corrections made during the printing of this edition).

The complete title is:

>Musicalisches | Gesang=Buch, | Darinnen | 954 geistreiche, sowohl alte als neue | Lieder und Arien, mit wohlgesetzten | Melodien, in Discant und Baß, | befindlich sind; | Vornemlich denen Evangelischen Gemeinen | im Stifte Naumburg=Zeitz gewidmet, | und | mit einer Vorrede Sr. Hochehrw. | Herrn Friedrich Schulzens, | Schloßpredigers, Stifts=Superint. und des | Stifts=Consistorii Assessors zu Zeitz, | herausgegeben von | George Christian Schemelli, | Schloß=Cantore daselbst. | Mit Allergnädigster Freyheit, | weder mit, noch ohne Noten nachzudrucken. | Leipzig, 1736. | Verlegts Bernhard Christoph Breitkopf, Buchdr.<<

Essentially this title states that it is a hymnal with 954 sacred songs/chorales, old ones as well as new, with melodies properly set to music having a soprano and a bass line. It is dedicated primarily to the Evangelical congregations attached to the convent/monastery of the Naumburg-Zeitz region and with a preface by the Honorable Friedrich Schulz, the court preacher and superintendent of the region designated above and edited by Georg Christian Schemelli, Cantor at the same court of Zeitz. Copyright graciously granted allowing no one to pirate this edition with or without the music. Leipzig, 1736. Issued and printed by Bernard Christoph Breitkopf, publisher.

There is another title-page copper engraving created by C. F. Boetius sc. depicting the city of Zeitz
surrounded by angels performing music and a king playing a harp. In the middle of the engraving is a
shortened title:

>>Evangelisch | Stifft. Naumb. Zeitz | MUSICALISCHES | Gesang=Buch | mit 952 [sic] Geistlichen | Liedern.<<

("The Evangelical convent/monastery region of Naumburg-Zeitz Hymnal with MUSICAL NOTATION containing 952 [sic] sacred songs"]

Following the title page is a preface of 18 pages dated: Zeitz, April 24, 1736 and undersigned by Friedrich Schulz, court preacher, superintendent of the monastic region and member of the highest echelon of the church hierarchy of this Evangelical region.

On the following 654 pages are the texts of 954 songs. There are two indices covering another 14 pages to complete the hymnal.

Only 69 chorales/songs and arias are given with their melodies and a bass line. For these the text [often only the incipit] is engraved along with the notation rather than being set as normal type. Only in exceptional cases are the melodies accompanied directly with the entire text of the 1st verse and, as a rule, the basso continuo is figured only when the text is missing. Here are the items with notation where the bass is not figured but the text is given (the orthography of the titles is that of the originals):

BWV 451 Die goldne Sonne
BWV 446 Der lieben Sonnen Licht u. Pracht
BWV 447 Der Tag ist hin die Sonne gehet nieder (partially figured)
BWV 448 Der Tag mit seinen Lichte
BWV 507 Wo ist mein Schäffl., das ich liebe
BWV 499 Sey gegrüßet Jesu gütig (both text and
figured bass - an exception)
BWV 459 Es kostet viel ein Christ zu seyn
BWV 505 Vergiß mein nicht

A number of different engravers were involved in creating the plates with the musical notation. Using a method of creating a copper plate from a copy made directly by the composer, a method later employed for the publication of the "Art of the Fugue", it is possible that Bach's own handiwork was involved in as many as 28 out of the 69 of the chorales/arias according to one expert, Gregory C. Butler, in his "J. S. Bach and the Schemelli Gesangbuch Revisted" in Studi musicali 13 (1984). Following Butler's indications regarding Bach's probable involvement in producing the plates, the NBA indicates the following:

J. S. Bach prepared his notation for direct application to the copper plate as follows:

For both parts (soprano and bass):

BWV 443 Beschränckt, ihr weisen
BWV 449 Dich bet ich an
BWV 452 Dir, dir Jehovah, will ich
BWV 454 Ermuntre dich, mein
BWV 478 Komm süser Tod
BWV 479 Komt, Seelen dieser Tag
BWV 480 Komt wieder aus der finstern Gruft
BWV 481 Laßt uns mit Jesu ziehen
BWV 492 O finstre Nacht
BWV 505 Vergiß mein nicht

For the continuo part only:

BWV 455 Erwürgtes Lamm
BWV 458 Es ist vollbracht, vergiß
BWV 472 Jesu meines Glaubens zier
BWV 475 Jesus unser Trost und Leben
BWV 486 Mein Jesu dem die Seraph
BWV 489 Nicht so traurig
BWV 504 Vergiß mein nicht

For revisions only (corrections, additions of only a few notes, key signatures, fermatas, rests):

BWV 444 Brich entzwei, mein
BWV 454 Ermuntre dich, mein
BWV 469 Ich steh an deiner Krippen
BWV 474 Jesus ist das schönste Licht
BWV 476 Ihr Gestirn ihr holen Lüfte
BWV 483 Liebster Gott wenn
BWV 487 Mein Jesu, was
BWV 491 O du Liebe, meiner Liebe
BWV 502 So wünsch ich mir
BWV 506 Was bist du doch

Another 11 instances are recorded where Bach may have made a single change/correction on the pages created by other engravers using this process.

How these compositions came about:

Georg Christian Schemelli (circa 1676-1762), the publisher of this "Musicalisches Gesang=Buch" had been the Court Cantor in Zeitz since 1727. His son, Christian Friedrich (1713-1761) attended the Thomasschule in Leipzig from 1731 until 1734 and after that was a student at the University of Leipzig beginning in 1735. The assumption lies close at hand that Christian Friedrich was instrumental in obtaining Bach's agreement to collaborate in preparing this hymnal.

Whatever it was that moved Georg Christian Schemelli to prepare and publish this hymnal cannot be determined from the available facts, but it is possible to concur with Philipp Spitta's supposition that Schemelli's hymnal was meant to provide some well-needed competition for the extremely popular Freylinghausen hymnal which since 1704 had already gone through 17 editions (the 17th appeared in 1734). The Freylinghausen hymnal, according to Zahn, was the most important hymnal for Pietists. In contrast to Freylinghausen, however, Schemelli attempted to combine both orthodox and pietistic hymns in one book. Apparently Schemelli's hymnal never achieved any similar success for contrary to the hymnal's assertion in its preface, which promised that a 2nd edition would be forthcoming for which allegedly 200 hundred additional melodies had already been prepared for print, the 2nd edition never did appear.

Bach's contribution to the music contained in the Schemelli hymnal is described by Friedrich Schultze in his prefatory remarks as follows: "Die in diesem Musicalischen Gesangbuche befindlichen Melodien, sind von Sr. Hoched. Herrn Johann Sebastian Bach, Hochfürstl. Sachß. Capellmeister and Directore Chor. Musici in Leipzig, theils ganz neu componiret, theils auch von Ihm im General-Baß verbessert, und beym Anfange eines jeden Liedes gleich eingedrucket worden." ("Some of the melodies contained in this hymnal are entirely new compositions while others have had additional figured bass lines added by J. S. Bach - all his official titles and duties are listed.") According to this statement, Bach's contribution amounted to the composition of new melodies with accompanying figured bass and the extensive revision of already existing ones.

Of the 69 melodies, 21 of them appear for the first time in the Schemelli hymnal. These theoretically could be by Bach. The songs/arias in question are:

BWV 439 Ach daß nicht
BWV 440 Auf, auf! die rechte Zeit
BWV 443 Beschränkt, ihr weisen
BWV 452 Dir, dir Jehovah, will ich
BWV 453 Eins ist noth
BWV 462 Gott wie groß ist deine
BWV 466 Ich halte treul. still
BWV 468 Ich liebe Jesum
BWV 469 Ich steh an deiner Krippen
BWV 470 Jesu, Jesu du bist mein
BWV 471 Jesu deine Liebes Wunden
BWV 478 Komm süser Tod
BWV 479 Komt, Seelen dieser Tag
BWV 480 Komt wieder aus der finstern Grufft
BWV 484 Liebster Hr. Jesu
BWV 487 Mein Jesu, was
BWV 494 O liebe Seele zieh
BWV 498 Seelig, wer an Jesu
BWV 502 So wünsch ich mir
BWV 505 Vergiß mein nicht

BWV 505 "Vergiß mein nicht, mein allerliebster Gott" is the only one to give recognition to the composer: "Di S. Bach D. M. Lips." thus announcing that this composition is entirely by Bach. "Welche der übrigen 20 Melodien samt beziffertem Baß von Bach stammen, läßt sich mit Gewißheit nicht sagen." (p. 111, NBA KB III/2.1) ("Which of the remaining 20 melodies together with their figured-bass lines are Bach's own compositions, cannot be determined definitely.") Philipp Spitta still believed that he could attribute 29 of them to Bach, then Franz Wüllner (for the BGA XXXIX) reduced this number to 24, while Arnold Schering in the Bach-Jahrbuch 1924, pp. 105-124, could only find 3 (BWV 452, BWV 478, and BWV 505) that were entirely original compositions by Bach (but he did believe that Bach was responsible for all the bass lines in the remaining 66 songs). The NBA KB has uncovered numerous earlier versions/settings of these songs/chorales with bass lines to demonstrate that even here Bach cannot be considered the composer/originator of the bass lines, but rather that he functioned more as an music editor only changing them a bit here and there. Based upon this evidence, the possibility cannot be excluded that Bach did this for the remaining items for which no materials have yet been found for comparison, thus pointing out Bach's function in preparing the Schemelli "Gesangbuch" to be more that of an editor than that of a contributing composer.

It is difficult to state with any degree of certainty precisely when it was that Bach worked on the Schemelli "Gesangbuch" with the exception that it is an established fact that the hymnal was printed and available for sale as early as the end of April, 1736 for the Leipzig Easter Fair. Another question that must remain open to speculation is whether and just how much Bach may already have worked on preparing the additional 200 melodies which had been promised to appear in the 2nd edition, but which never materialized. Also, we do not have any knowledge precisely when the 88 4-pt. chorales, listed in the estate of CPE Bach and possibly by J.S. Bach and possibly constituted the latter's "Handexemplar", may have been composed and whether they were intended for this future edition.

[Regarding the latter: Rachel W. Wade, "The Catalog of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's Estate", 1981 and the Bach-Jahrbuch 1939, p. 90, report that CPE Bach possessed at the time of his death a "Naumburgisches Gesangbuch mit gedruckten und 88 vollstimmigen geschriebenen Chorälen." ("Naumburg hymnal with printed chorale texts and 88 chorales with musical notation consisting of at least 4 parts.") Were these engraved printings of the music (using the same process as indicated above) or were these manuscript sheets ("Handexemplare") included for eventual, future publication in the 2nd edition of the Schemelli Gesangbuch, an edition whicnever appeared in print? Is it possible that a few of the settings mentioned here (if they were indeed J. S. Bach's own) might have made it into the CPE Bach - Breitkopf collection of 4-pt. chorales, chorales which today we believe may have been derived from cantatas that are no longer
extant?]

Later editions of the Schemelli Songs/Chorales:

In 1832, Breitkopf & Härtel published the first new edition edited by Conrad Ferdinand Becker, organist at
the St. Peter's Church in Leipzig.

In 1847, only 7 songs appeared in print in "Der evangelische Kirchengesang", Vol III, Leipzig

In 1850, 13 songs appeared in the extensive collection of songs by Erk, Vol. 1.

In 1892, the 1st critical edition appeared as BGA XXXIX prepared by Franz Wüllner.

 

Discussions in the Week of July 19, 2009

Evan Cortens wrote (July 20, 2009):
Week of July 19, 2009: Geistliche Lieder und Arien BWV 439-507

Week of July 19, 2009: Geistliche Lieder und Arien BWV 439-507

Background and Discography: http://bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV439-507.htm

Past Discussions: http://bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV439-507-Gen.htm (I draw your attention especially to Thomas Braatz's lengthy contribution, at the bottom of the page.)

First, a note of appreciation to Will Hoffman for his well-researched and insightful posts this past week on the chorales. Also to Doug Cowling, for a great post on the wedding chorales, BWVs 250-252. More generally, a big thank you to all the contributors over the past five weeks; I've very much enjoyed the experience of writing these introductions, and I look forward to the next time I'll be able to do so.

In many ways, these songs might seem to be the opposite of the chorales, especially in how well they are known. Whereas I suggested last week that the chorales are often the starting point for serious Bach study, at least from an analytical perspective, the sacred songs are barely known at all. Why might this be? Perhaps it is because they so contradict our standard picture of Bach as master contrapuntalist, being mostly single melody and bass. (The few exceptions can hardly be called contrapuntal.) Or perhaps it has more to do with their questioned authenticity, as I shall discuss before. The trouble here is that they've never really been well known, even before their attribution to Bach was called into question.

The only source for the geistliche Lieder is a hymnal published Bach's colleague, Georg Christian Schemelli (1678-1762), cantor at Zeitz, in 1736. The collection, intended for use in Lutheran congregations, contained a total of 954 hymns, though only 69 melodies were printed, the balance being given in text alone. Formerly, the entirety of these 69 melodies were attributed to Bach, each having been assigned a BWV number by Schmieder. Since at least the 1980s though, their authenticity has been seriously called into question. Christoph Wolff
notes that three (BWVs 452, 500 and 505) are demonstrably by Bach and a further seven can be "associated" with him. The forward to the publication notes that some of the melodies had only their figured bass edited by Bach, so perhaps this is the case for the remaining 59 songs.

Certainly Bach was not especially prolific in the genre of song, having only written a handful of other pieces, most of these being from the Clavierbuechlein for Anna Magdalena. Interestingly, Wolff draws a connection, if only temporal, between the Dietel collection of chorales I mentioned last week (from c. 1735) and the Schemelli collection.

Though the BCW recordings page lists a total of 15 recordings, I was personally only able to locate three at my university's library, one complete and two partial. The complete recording was number one on the BCW list, and the two incomplete recordings are, interestingly, not listed there. The first dates from 1951 and features James Eby, bass and Nils Groen, harpsichord. The second dates from 1961 and features Margot Guilleaume, soprano and Helmut Tramnitz, organ. I mention this only to note that these works were, as I said, never especially popular, and have only waned since the 1950s and 60s.

Nevertheless, I mean not to cast aspersions upon these works on account of their being by some other, now unknown, composer (perhaps Schemelli himself?). At the very least, they give us insight into the musico-religious life of Leipzig, one probably more in keeping with the average believer's experience, rather different than the cantata-centric one we so often think of as the norm. (I note here in passing that Tanya Kevorkian has convincingly shown that by and large the audience for Bach's church cantatas was wealthy and powerful, poorer citizens attending one of the smaller churches where no, or at the very least less elaborate, music was offered.)

And with that, I conclude my final introduction, for the time being at least, and hand things off to Henri Levinspuhl who takes over next week with BWV 143.

William Hoffman wrote (July 25, 2009):
Geistliche Lieder und Arien BWV 439-507: Fugitive Notes

Fugitive Notes 3: organ chorales and devotional songs.

The Lutheran chorale plays a central role in Bach's creativity. Its melody or canto, often based on ancient chant or popular folk song, establishes character and affect as well as ample opportunity for singing expression. The chorale's text teaches, informs and uplifts. It enabled Bach, through imaginative and sound basso continuo, to produce appropriate harmony for the most effective word-setting or painting as well as to secure the larger tonal context or framework.

The chorale anchors Bach's vocal music, allowing him in the wordless elaborations to achieve stylistic invention and musical transformation. The organ chorale was essential to Bach's pursuit and ultimate achievement as a composer. It enabled Bach to pursue his calling of a well-regulated church music. The organ chorale, often called a prelude, provided Bach with a musical framework or template for all the events and services of the church year, in addition to special events such as services of thanksgiving, learning, and celebration as well as weddings, funerals, and civic event.

The following are the collections of Bach's organ chorale settings, as found in his works catalog:

Orgelbüchlein for the church year (45), BWV 599-644
Schübler Chorales (cantata transcriptions) (6), BWV 645-650
Eighteen Great Leipzig Chorales (18), BWV 651-668
Clavierübung III, Mass & Catechism Chorales (21), BWV 669-689
Kirnberger Collection Chorales (24); BWV 690-713
Miscellaneous Chorales (52), 714-765
Chorale Variations (6), 766-771
Neumeister Collection (31), BWV 1090-1120

Also, various individual plain and organ chorale settings not yet catalogued are listed as BWV deest. They are primarily pieces copied by Bach early scholar Johann Ludwig Dietel and Thomas School perfect and disciple Christian Friedrich Penzel, such as "Wiemer 1-14."

The earliest organ chorales are found in ubiquitous, amorphous student or transcriber assembledges (including many preludes with alternate settings or questionable authenticity) such as the Neumeister, Rinck, and Rudorff manuscripts, thought to originate in Bach's teen years, 1696-1704. During the Weimar years, Bach composed the bulk of his organ works, including the Orgelbüchlein unfinished set, much of the Kirnberger Collection, and the first 15 chorales in the Eighteen Great Leipzig Chorales. Late in his Leipzig tenure Bach produced the omnibus Clavierübung III published keyboard study and the Schübler Chorale published transcriptions from cantatas. The Chorale Variations represent very early pre-Weimar Bach work involving elaborate chorale partitas with variations and tvery late Canonic Variations published in 1747. The Miscellaneous Chorales and the 24 pieces in the Kirnberger Collection, compiled in Leipzig after Bach's death, involve various preludes of varying lengths, dating from Leipzig to Bach's earliest years.

The organ chorale prelude plays a central role in all Lutheran services. Depending on its type and length, it introduces the congregational hymn or a section of the service, provides elaborated accompaniment or interludes to the hymn stanzas, and introduces concerted works, especially the cantata or canticle such as the Magnificat, says John Butt's article (344ff) in the <Oxford Composer Companions: JSB> (1999), ed. Malcolm Boyd. Bach also used the extended organ chorale for special purposes such as improvisation before Reinchen, in variations during recitals, for publications and in teaching.

The types of organ chorale preludes, depending on purpose or usage, involve the basic motet chorale, often four-part, its free-form called the chorale fantasia, its briefer form called chorale fughetta, and the more elaborate free chorale fugue. The second main family is the more elaborate chorale variation, the chorale partitas, and the late canonic variations. The Clavierübung III collection contains the most varied examples of organ chorale types and usages. (The OCC: JSB also has separate articles on six of the collections listed above, omitting "Schubler" and "Miscellaneous.")

The best comprehensive understanding of Bach's organ chorales is Peter Williams 2nd Edition (2003), <The Organ Music of JSB (CUP). Williams systematically discusses all the organ chorales, including many uncatalogued, alternate, or questionable pieces. He has the most detailed listing of all settings of a particular chorale (text and music), including vocal music settings. In addition, Williams presents differing scholarly opinions and, in the organ chorale collections, shows the liturgical purposes as they represent Bach's "well-appointed church music."

The overall template for understanding the liturgical usage of Bach's chorales is found in the Lutheran hymn books, with their established order of the chorales listed in church year order, still utilized in today's hymn books. This ordering is found in collections containing Bach earliest organ chorale works, the so-called Pre-Weimar "Neumeister" and Weimar "Orgelbüchlein" (Little Organ Book).

Russell Stinson has written extensively on Bach's organ chorale collections, particularly monographs on the Orgelbüchlein (Ob) and "Great 18." He cites Robert L. Marshall's belief that the Ob are the first example of Bach's `well-regulated church music,' the goal that he set for himself in 1708 upon resigning his position as organist in Mühlhausen." Stinson also cites Williams (337) that the "Great 18" is a compliment to the earlier Orgelbüchlein (Ob), citing "their difference from Ob settings makes them complimentary to it."

The Lutheran liturgical year, as found in both the Neumeister and Orgelbüchlein collections has two sections: de tempore (Advent to Trinity, the life of Christ), and omne tempore (anytime) Lutheran themes. The de tempore include the seasons or festivals of Advent, Christmas, New Year, Purification, Passiontide, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity, John the Baptist, Visitation, Michael, Simon & Jude, and Reformation. The themes are Catechism (Commandments, Creed, Lord's Prayer, Baptism, Confession+Penitence & Justification, and Communion [Lord's Supper]), Christian Life and Conduct, Psalm Hymns, Word of God & Christian Church, Death & Dying, Morning, Evening, After Meals, and For Good Weather. The Orgelbüchlein also has an appendix of eight chorales for general usage.

The Neumeister Collection was assembled at the end of the 18th Century from organ chorale prelude books of 100 years previous involving members of the Bach Family (c. 1700). It contains 82 preludes, including 38 attributed to Sebastian Bach (with two from his Orgelbüchlein: BWV 601, 639). Bach's incomplete Orgelbüchlein (Ob) manuscript contains music for 46 organ chorales, of a total of 164 incipits for the church year listed by Bach. Interestingly, the Ob sets 26 of the first 27 chorales, Advent to Passiontide, omits 13 of the next 26 (Nos. 27 to 51) through Pentecost but has none of the nine succeeding Trinity and festival designated chorales. In the omne tempore section, Nos. 61-164, only 10 chorales are set (designated BWV 635-644). It also should be noted that of the 38 Neumeister Bach chorale settings, 22 were listed but not set in the later Ob, and they include several which do not appear elsewhere among Bach's chorale-based works.

Bach's Neumeister Chorales represent only a portion of his early organ chorale settings (also found in the Kirnberger, Miscellaneous, and uncatalogued collections), says Christoph Wolff in "The Neumeister Collection of Chorale Preludes from the Bach Circle" (<JSB: Essays on His Life and Music>, 1991:120). Bach's original, early portfolio was both a typical organist's collection of service chorale settings as well as a learning document on the "art of preluding and to consolidating his compositional craftsmanship," says Wolff.

The "compositional craftsmanship" involving Bach's earliest organ chorale settings and his sacred cantatas is initially most obvious in the Mühlhausen 1707 memorial service Cantata BWV 106, "Gottes Zeit is die allerbeste Zeit." The three Bach chorale motets found in the "Great 18" chorales and dating to Mühlhausen "are very similar in style to church cantatas composed by Bach during his year in Mühlhausen," says Stinson in his article "New Perspectives on Bach's Great Eighteen Chorales" (<Historical Musicology: Sources, Methods, Interpretations,> Eastman Studies in Music, 2004, dedicated to Robert L. Marshall).

Stinson also notes the influence of Italian music in Bach's Weimar settings of ornamental chorales and the introductory sinfonia of Cantata BWV 21, one of Bach's earliest datable Weimar cantatas, c.1713-14. Most of the complex "Great 18" are now thought to have been composed in Weimar, as were the simpler Orgelbüchlein settings earlier in Weimar. Thus, Bach's early years in Weimar, 1708-1712, were spent focusing on composing increasingly complex and mature organ chorale settings for the orthodox ducal court church, instead of sacred cantatas as part of a well-regulated church music. Finally, with the composition of the secular, seminal Cantata BWV 208 in 1713, Bach found both the new style of Italian cantata music (recitative and da capo aria and chorus) and the Neumeister so-called modern church libretto.

Thus, to begin his initial cycle of monthly church cantatas in 1714, Bach only had to add the closing four-part chorale setting, first found in BWV 18, to complete his template for the sacred cantata form he would perfect in Leipzig with three annual church-year cycles.

Peter Williams `s systematic study of the liturgical purposes of organ chorale collections shows the complimentary relationship between the Orgelbüchlein and the "Great 18." In the latter, Bach deliberately choseto provide more complex settings of chorales for the omne tempore second half of the church year, woefully lacking in the Ob. Although there is no "church year, liturgy, or hymnological agenda," says Williams. The series of "Great 18" chorales treats of Pentecost, Communion, and Trinity themes and musically utilizes three sarabande dances and three trio-sonata settings prevalent in Bach's later compositions. Williams says that Bach in Weimar mastered the organ chorale form, with the "sheer length and intricate melodic paraphrase" as well as "musical variety and technical scope" of the "Great 18 (actually 15) Chorales."

At this point in Weimar in Bach's creative career and calling, he set aside further extensive composition of organ works in favor of sacred vocal music. Here he thoroughly explored all manner of chorale compositional technique, including four-part (cantional) chorale settings and cantus firmus settings with elaborative support. This culminated in the Leipzig chorale cantata cycle of 1724-25 and the extensive chorale settings in his Christological cycle of Passions and Oratorios (1724-25, 1729, and 1734-35).

Is it a mere coincidence that in 1735 Bach turned to sacred songs with the Schemelli Song Book and then returned to organ composition with his omnibus Clavierübung III, Mass & Catechism Chorales, published in 1739 and celebrating the Trinity and the Catechism in the omne tempore second-half of the church year?

IMVHO:
I think that Bach in the late 1730s sought to consolidate his work into a "well-regulated" scheme. This would explain the composition of the Clavierübung III to fill out significant chorales in the omne tempore lacking in the Orgelbüchlein and not otherwise addressed in the "Great 18."

Seeming major anomalies in Bach's vocal "songs" include the so-called free-standing 180 chorales in the Breitkopf Collection and the Schemelli Songbook of 1736. I find connections and explanation. In his 1729 Preface to <The Four-Part Chorales of JSB>, Charles S. Terry wrote: "For the first time also an attempt in made (Appendix I) to related the unattached Chorals to a practical purpose. It is shown that almost all their hymns were popular during the years 1730-1750 and were admitted into the Leipzig Hymn-book in that period. It is to be concluded therefore that they were written for the Leipzig churches, in some cases for the projected expansion of Schmelli's Hymn-book.." Thomas Braatz in his exemplary Schemelli notes ("must" reading):
http://bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV439-507-Gen.htm says:
"Another question that must remain open to speculation is whether and just how much Bach may already have worked on preparing the additional 200 melodies which had been promised to appear in the 2nd edition, but which never materialized."

Because the Schemelli devotional songs include Bach's figured bass, they can easily be realized as four-part chorales. Thus we have Bach's realized 180 chorales and the 57 Schemelli "sacred songs," in which Bach composed primarily in the1730s as part of his well-regulated or ordered church music.

Attention also is drawn to the eight Hänssler volumes (78-85) of Bach chorale settings, divided by church year events or topics, which include related organ chorale preludes and a selection of Schemelli songs. Is it a coincidence that the 12 songs omitted in the CPO 2-CD collection, listed in the discography:
http://bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV439-507.htm
are scattered throughout the Hänssler thematic collection?

 

Geistliche lieder by Liturgical Function/Season

Guilherme Almeida [Lecturer, Baylor University, Minister of Music, Central Baptist Church Italy - TX ues] wrote (November 14, 2012):
I'm looking for a guiding source for the "Geistliche lieder" listed by liturgical function or season... If there's nothing out there - I might start one...

Thanks for your help!

William Hoffman wrote (November 15, 2012):
[To Guilherme Almeida] This is an on-going project of the Bach Cantata Website: "Musical Context of Bach Cantatas: Table of Motets & Chorales for Events in the Lutheran Church Year," http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/M&C-Table.htm.

The Trinity Sundays have been completed and the seasons are being consolidated. We still have feasts and special events. There are two challenges:

Many hymns share different melodies and texts. Uses of hymns varied in Bach's time and his uses applied to several occasions.

 

Geistliche Lieder und Arien BWV 439-507: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Songs | General Discussions | Georg Christian Schemelli - Short Biography

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: ýDecember 30, 2012 ý08:26:06