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Cantata BWV 12
Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of February 27, 2005

Neil Halliday wrote (February 26, 2005):
BWV 12: Introduction

The cantata for discussion this week (Feb.27-March 5) is:

BWV 12 "Weinem, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen".

Event in the Lutheran Church Calendar: 3rd Sunday after Easter (Jubilate).

Composed for 22 April 1714.

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Link to texts, vocal score, commentary, music examples, and list of known recordings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV12.htm

Notice a twenty-year gap, from 1974 to 1994, between the earlier, and more recent recordings.

Link to contributions by list members during previous discussions: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV12-D.htm

There are several accounts of personal impressions of the recordings, including more recent recordings. (My own comment about "anaemic staccato string strokes" in Junghänel's [15] opening chorus (Mvt. 2) might be due for revision, or restatement; I will listen again).

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From the Rilling booklet [5]: (This cantata) "is probably the second written under the obligation to compose one cantata per month for the Weimar court." I note that, like BWV 182 (the 1st of the series), this cantata has an unusual structure, with three arias in succession in the middle, for the same voices (BAT in BWV 182, ABT in BWV 12). Did Bach lack a capable soprano at the time?

A meditative sinfonia (Mvt. 1) featuring solo oboe is followed by the chorus (Mvt. 2), which is well known for its later adaptation in the `Crucifixus' of the B minor Mass (BWV 232). In BWV 12 the orchestral writing is simpler - minims in the continuo instead of crotchets, and violin strokes only, instead of the alternating strokes on violins and flutes in the Mass - but the music is very effective in this cantata setting. The intensely sorrowful nature of this chorus, relieved momentarily by a quicker section in the middle, has me wondering if some personal experience of grief lay behind its composition, eg, the death of an offspring with Barbara, perhaps. In any case, it's easy to understand why Bach drew upon this chorus (Mvt. 2) many years later to represent the musical imagery of the crucifixion.

The sorrow continues in the heartfelt accompanied recitative (for alto and strings) (Mvt. 3), an intriguing aspect of which is the fact that the 1st violin plays a complete, ascending C major scale over the entire 7 bars, despite the C minor tonality, and chromaticism, of the movement.

In the alto aria (Mvt. 4), (quote): "Bach translates the consolation through Christ's wounds into an intertwined alto-solo oboe duet" (Rilling booklet [5]). This is a poignant movement; Robertson's remark that it is "not an outstanding movement" has me thinking that he had not heard Rossl-Majdan with Wöldike [4], for example, or the lovely version from the Bach Aria Group (way back in 1952) with Robert Bloom playing the oboe, Carol Smith (alto), cello and piano continuo.

(Rilling booklet again): "Christ's succession is then reflected in a canon performed by continuo, violins and solo bass". Robertson is more positive this time: "A rather attractive aria with Bach's familiar `step' motif prominent and a feeling of joy in the music".

(Rilling): "In the following (tenor) aria (Mvt. 6), Bach introduces a surprise trumpet playing the chorale melody `Jesu, meine Freude'"; and we have a return to the minor key for another wistful movement.

In the last movement (Mvt. 7), "... the trumpet soars above the four-part closing chorale", but presumably only if a trumpet is used, and not an oboe, an option Bach has allowed in the score.

I hope to see many of you participating in the discussions.

Neil Halliday wrote (February 28, 2005):
Richter's BWV 12 Tenor aria [7]

Owners of Richter's BWV 12 will not want to miss the tenor aria (Mvt. 6). It has a lovely, subtle continuo realistation, with a sparkling organ registration that adds real interest to the aria, forming a colourful backdrop to Shreier's strong singing and the soaring trumpet chorale tune. Magnificent. This represents Richter's artistry at its finest, IMO.

Neil Halliday wrote (February 28, 2005):
BWV 12. Impressions of recordings

Having listened again to Junghaenel's recording, on a good sound system, I feel I need to withdraw the comment I made about "anaemic' strings, in the opening chorus (Mvt. 2) of BWV 12. Overall, in the context of an OPPP performance, this is a commendable effort by all concerned, with the light `brush-strokes' on the strings being a legitimate part of Junghänel's intimate approach to this chorus [15].

However, I do take issue with the opening of the Sinfonia (Mvt. 1), where the violins over-emphasize the first (of pairs) of notes, at the expense of the second; a similar effect can be heard with the Heinrich Schütz Ensemble (example at the BCW).

The remaining movements are all taken at a brisk tempo, apart from the tenor aria (Mvt. 6); they are all nice, but I tend to like this style more as background music, rather than something to listen to with total commitment.
(As is often the case, the continuo chamber organ realisation, in the tenor aria (Mvt. 6), sounds under-developed, in contrast to the Richter/Schreier example [7] in which I have no trouble imagining that Bach himself is playing the organ part).

After reading Aryeh's glowing account of Suzuki's recording [11] and listening to internet samples, I placed my order; examples of all the movements can be heard at amazon.com (type in Suzuki Vol. 3). (By coincidence, last night on the radio, I heard Suzuki's BWV 54, which is also on this disk; I liked the acoustic and room `echo' captured in stereo, as well as the fine performances by the musicians). It's possible that Suzuki's is the most satisfying recording of the chorus (Mvt. 2).

In the 1960 Wöldike [4] opening chorus (Mvt. 2) (see the BCW for details), I notice that the vocal vibrato begins to intrude as the movement progresses; otherwise this is a moving performance. The alto (Mvt. 4) and bass (Mvt. 5) arias are excellent, but the tenor aria (Mvt. 6), with its staccato continuo and raspy little chamber organ is not satisfactory, despite the wonderful singing from Dermota, and fine trumpet playing.

I have already mentioned Richter's [7] fine tenor aria (Mvt. 6); in the alto aria (Mvt. 4) Reynolds uses too much vibrato, something I did not expect. Aryeh has pointed to some of the faults with Richter's chorus (Mvt. 2), but the infinite gentleness of the violins in the final ritornello is notable.

Personally, I like Rilling's [5] (early in his series, 1972) distinctive approach to the chorus (Mvt. 2), in whihe begins quietly, slowly builds up with a continuous crescendo to a powerful statement by both instruments and choir, and then relaxes into quietness again, repeating this in the `da capo' section. The strings really do `weep and wail' piteously in the forte sections. The image is of a great royal funeral procession, approaching and then receding into the distance, on its way to the cathedral.

I like the bassoon and harpsichord in the continuo of the alto aria (Mvt. 4), but Watt's vibrato is a problem. Schöne is magnificent in the bass aria (Mvt. 5), and Kraus gives one of his finer performances in the tenor aria (Mvt. 6), with minimal vibrato on the melismas. The trumpet has clearly articulated trills, and great expression. (The thick, 'sempre legato'
continuo is a minor problem).

As usual, Rilling [5] gives us a fine performance in the final chorale (Mvt. 7), enhanced in this case with fine playing of the `soaring' trumpet.

My ranking.

Sinfonia (Mvt. 1): all, except Junghänel [15]
Chorus (Mvt. 2): Rilling [5] (or maybe Suzuki [11], when I get it). For those who like an OPPP approach, Junghänel [15] will please.
Recitative (Mvt. 3): all.
Alto aria (Mvt. 4): Wöldike [4].
Bass aria (Mvt. 5): Rilling [5] and Woldike.
Tenor aria (Mvt. 6): Richter [7].
Final Chorale (Mvt. 7): Rilling [5].

Peter Bloemendaal wrote (February 28, 2005):
BWV 12 - Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen

"Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, Angst und Not." Who wants to be a Christian if this is your daily bread? Unfortunately, grief and sorrow have never been the exclusive fate of Christians. They are universal. So is the fascination for human suffering, even today with worldwide multi media coverage of catastrophes, wars and terrorists' assaults. In 1715 Thuringia, Christians also knew the solution to this misery. Since Christ himself had gone through all human pains and had risen triumphantly from the grave, a faithful Christian's future was bright. It was not a practical solution to improve living conditions, but it has given numerous people comfort and hope throughout the ages.

Salomo Franck's words are hard to translate if you want to preserve their emotional charge. Producing a generally approved translation into any language of all these grievous German verbs will prove an impossibility. They have a rhythm of their own and the characteristic sound of the stressed vowels. The four trochees and those sad sounding [ai], [a:] and [o]'s create a melancholy and mournful atmosphere which Bach manages to reflect so successfully in this cantata. Especially the word "zagen" is a problem when translating. It immediately reminds us of SMP (BWV 244), "und fing an zu trauern und zu zagen" (Matthew 26:37). The King James Bible translates "to be very heavy", the Revised Standard Version gives "to be sorrowful and troubled" and the New English Bible has "anguish and dismay came over him". There you are, Bible translators are by definition very conscious and inspired writers, yet they find it hard to agree on the ideal rendition in their mother tongue.

"Wailing, weeping, fretting, fearing, need and dread, are the Christians' daily bread." will do for me in English. The inner rhyme is preserved by switching the first two verbs as well as "dread" and "need", while "fearing" also provides a nice alliteration with "fretting", although "dreading' comes closer to the original "zagen".

The cantata was composed for the third Sunday after Easter (Jubilate), April 22, 1714 as Bach's second Weimar monthly contribution, and was revived on April 30, 1724 at Leipzig. Most scholars agree that the libretto was written by the Weimar Court poet Salomo Franck, except for the third movement, which is a text from Acts 14:22, and the final chorale (Mvt. 7) which is by Samuel Rodigast. David Schulenberg (OCC) remarks about it: "Although less ambitious than the adjacent works, BWV 182 and BWV 172, Cantata BWV 12 evinces a similar enthusiasm for inventing original musical forms that closely reflect the meaning and affect of the text. For example, the last vocal entrance in the alto aria (Mvt. 4) combines lines from the A and B sections of the text - a departure from convention, reflecting the composer's apparent interest in achieving maximal rhetorical effect."

Its design shows a strong likeness to the preceding and the following cantata:

BWV 182 "Himmelskönig sei willkommen" - 8 movements:

Sonata - coro - rec.B - aria B - aria A - aria T - chorale - coro

BWV 12 "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen" - 7 movements (final coro missing):

Sinfonia - coro - rec. A - aria A - aria B - aria T - chorale - X

BWV 172 "Erschallet, ihr Lieder" - 7 movements (initial instrumental piece missing):

X - coro - rec.B - aria B - aria T - aria SA - chorale - coro

The structure is typical for the early Weimar cantatas as is the relative briefness of the arias, lacking a da capo, except for the first chorus (Mvt. 2). David Schulenberg (OCC): "Although scored for four-part vocal ensemble, the first vocal movement is textually and formally a da capo aria. It's A-section is a passacaglia built on twelve statements of a descending chromatic bass line, a traditional lamenting figure." Dürr, among others call its form a chaconne. Why and with what consequences I would like to know. Thematically these three cantatas also show strong similarities. After an instrumental introduction (missing in BWV 172) we hear an impressive chorus expressing the theme of the cantata (Welcome to the King of Heaven, The temporal suffering of Christians, The Soul being the dwelling of God's Holy Spirit). Then follows a recitative, in which we hear the bass sing the "vox Christi" (BWV 182 and BWV 172) or the alto as the "vox animae", the voice of the faithful, the church (BWV 12). The three consecutive arias in each of the three deal with theological and dogmatic ideas and their ethical consequences for Christians. In "Himmelskönig sei willkommen" the themes are: Christ's incarnation as an act of divine love, dedication to Jesus, and the "imitatio Christi"; the arias in "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen" deal with: Christ's cross is the Christians'crown, again the "imitatio Christi" and the temporal aspect of our suffering. The "Erschallet, ihr Lieder" arias are: prayer for the presence of the Holy Trinity in our hearts, prayer for the coming of the Holy Spirit in our souls, and the responsory declaration of love between the soul and the Holy Spirit.

Why Bach did not write for soprano solo in cantatas BWV 182 and BWV 18 must have been due to the nature of the recitatives and arias, as we have seen already in the recitatives. The soprano we will meet again in the BWV 172 love duet in May of that same year, the highest voice expressing the deepest love. The idea that both of Bach's professional sopranos from the coucapella were inadequate or temporarily ill-disposed is therefore refuted by the employment of a soprano in the just-mentioned duet of "Erschallet", and moreover the next cantata for August 1714, BWV 199 - "Mein Herze schwimmt in Blut", is for soprano altogether.

For the musicological aspects of BWV 12, I am happy to return to David Schulenberg, who observes that Vivaldi's alto aria "Piango, gemo, sospiro e peno" (RV 675:1), although being named as a possible model, has little in common with the opening chorus (Mvt. 2), apart from the text. Besides, Bach had already written a "Lamento" in the keyboard Capriccio BWV 992. Personally, I find this one of Bach's most moving movements with the piercing, plaintive voices imitating, sometimes tenderly, the cruelly harmonizing and reinforcing each other,, the violins and the continuo accompanying and the oboe in a freer role.

The recitative for alto (Mvt. 3), a setting of Acts 14:22, counterpoints tortured harmonies and melodic writing with a straight C major scale in the first violin. The meaning of the latter is spelt out when the alto likewise sings a rising scale to the words "in the Kingdom of God".

In the subsequent aria (Mvt. 4), the tortuous character of both alto and hobo lines reflects the "Kreuz" element of the text: "cross and crown are united". The ritornello is combined with the voice through "Vokaleinbau". Schulenberg observes that the oboe's arpeggio playing must reflect the organist Bach's keyboard improvisations of expressively embellished Italianate melodies.

The next aria, for bass (Mvt. 5), represents the "Comfort" ("Trost") of the text in its major mode and the diatonic principal thematic idea, again a rising scale figure. This is treated imitatively to represent the words "Ich folge Christo nach" ("I imitate Christ"). It returns briefly at the end in another reference to da capo form (not da capo proper).

The third aria, for tenor (Mvt. 6), is combined with a wordless chorale cantus firmus ("Jesus, meine Freude"), assigned to the tromba and accompanied by a quasi-ostinato bass.

The concluding chorale (Mvt. 7) is a four-part setting of the last stanza of Samuel Rodigast's 1674 chorale "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan", to which Bach adds a fifth descant part, probably intended for the first violin (the designation of this part for "oboe o tromba", as in BG or BC, or with trumpet doubling, as in the NBA, is an editorial guess.) - D.S.

Review of recordings

The recordings in my possession are those by The American Bach Soloists [8], Holland Boys Choir with Bach Collegium Holland [14] and Thomanerchor Leipzig with the Gewandhausorchester in the historical digitally remastered mono recording from 1965 under Günther Ramin [2]. The latter needs listeners with affectionate ears, who must be able to travel back in time and identify themselves with oratorio music making from a not so distant past. Then, there is a lot to enjoy because their rendition is full of passion and dedication, a lot of famous names being involved as well. It is a pity though that we do not know the boy alto who sings the recitative (Mvt. 3) and aria (Mvt. 4) so convincingly. One may argue about a boy's lack of maturity, depth of emotion or experience in life, fact is that I find his singing very appealing and refreshing. It even moves me to hear an "innocent" soul sing about human tribulations. As one who is involved in present day performances of Bach's music, I prefer the other two recordings in my possession. I would love to hear Herreweghe [18], Suzuki [11], Gardiner and Rifkin [10], but I can live with Leusink [14] and Thomas [8]. The orchestras play very well, both oboists are outstanding and I have come to like Drew Minter a lot through the recitative and especially the alto-oboe duet of the first aria (Mvt. 4).

Peter Smaill wrote (February 28, 2005):
"Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen" - Peter Blomendaal rightly points out the highly poetic rythmn of the text as well as the nigh impossibility of translating to English. Not to be missed, either, is the splendid alliteration of the first recitative :

Kreuz und Krone sind verbunden
Kampf und Kleinod sind vereint

My query on this cantata is as to the final chorale (Mvt. 7), "Was Gott tut, das is wohlgetan", which occurs may times in Bach's output (BWV 12, BWV 69, BWV 75, BWV 98, BWV 99, BWV 100, BWV 144). It is unparalleled in being the incipit of three cantatas, BWV 98, BWV 99 and BWV 100 (the new Gardiner recordings on SDG of the latter two can be highly recommended)

Do we know the source of the melody, obviously a Bach favourite? Carrell mentions an attribution to Pachelbel, who set it as a motet. In BWV 75 it is given a purely orchestral treatment, also I think unique in the Cantatas. In BWV 12 the effect of its soaring lines is to give assurance to the faithful after the baleful litany of tribulation that precedes.

Rifkin utilises the violin to give the beatiful counter-melody; but alas one yearns for the oboe or trumpet ( speculative though they may be) in order to discern the descant more easily against the chorale ensemble.

Doug Cowling wrote (February 28, 2005):
For those of you who search the Bach catalogue looking for cantatas with matching scoring for the same concert, "Weinen Klagen" pairs nicely with "Wachet Betet" (BWV 70).

The Vivaldi "Gloria" and the Händel "Utrecht Te Deum & Jubilate" also have the same scoring.

Peter Bloemendaal wrote (February 28, 2005):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Do we know the source of the melody, obviously a Bach favourite? >
Neither Alfred Dürr, nor Christoph Wolff knows the composer and also the renowned Nicholas Anderson in the OCC states that the composer is unknown. To my surprise my old Dutch hymnal (1938) gives for "Gezang 186 - Wat God doet, dat is welgedaan" Samuel Rodigast (1649-1708) as poet, Petronella Moens (1762-1843) as translator into Dutch and Severus Gastorius (about 1675) as the melody maker. You will find him through Google on the internet. He lived from 1646-82 and was afriend of Rodigast's. In 1670 he became assistant cantor to his father-in-law in Jena and succeeded him after his death in 1677.

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 28, 2005):
[To Peter Bloemendaal] All I can add to this is to confirm that the melody is by Severus Gastorius (as stated above) who was a student friend of Samuel Rodigast. The melody was first published in 1674 in a collection of songs entitled "Geistliche Lieder und Psalmen" (editor: Johann Jakob Rebenlein) [Hamburg, 1674.]

Also, add BWV 250 and BWV 1116 to Peter Smaill's list.

Fiume wrote (March 1, 2005):
I observe it is that the texts of Bach, being protestant and in the specific case of the funeral cantatas, they are not as sad as those of the catolicos Christians. They are until contentments because when dying they will be next to God. In this work I have specially noticed it in the Aryan of Low.

Mis excellent and the words go along with music.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 1, 2005):
Konrad Küster ["Bach Handbuch"] calls attention to a musico-rhetorical figure, the 'passus duriusculus' ["a difficult path"] used by Bach in BWV 12/2 (Mvt. 2) as the repeated, chromatically-descending 'lamento' theme throughout the movement.

In the DWB I have found the sequence of the two words "Weinen, Klagen" traceable to Luther's writings (elsewhere these two words appear together in the opposite sequence.) The same is true also for "Angst, Not" appearing in a fixed sequence in Luther's works:

>>nu hat mich gedachte Else mit weinen und klagen angelangt. LUTHERS br. 4, 273;<<

>>darumb ist besser weinen, klagen, seufzen, denn lachen und frölich sein, singen, ruge, friede und gemach haben. LUTHER 1, 21a;<<

and

>>in diser angst und not wolt ich den teufel von mir weisen, ergreif den alten harnisch, so ich im bapstum hatte lernen anziehen und füren. LUTHER 6, 84b.<<

>>wozu dients, das wir sein wort hören und an in gläuben? was sind wirs (wir dadurch) gebessert, so wir in angst und not zu im seufzen ei. LUTHERS tischr. 2,
87
<<

What follows is an excerpt from Eric Chafe's book on tonal allegory in Bach's cantatas. The main emphasis in his book is determining wherever possible the anabasis (ascent) and catabasis (descent) of the tonal centers/keys and their significance for understanding another aspect of Bach's cantatas.

Chafe's commentaries generally make for difficult reading, but they are valuable in obtaining new insights not found elsewhere. If you are willing to have your mind stretched a bit and have the time to spend reading his material carefully, I am certain that you find something of interest. Theological aspects play an important role throughout. Here is what Chafe has to say about BWV 12:

>>"Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich," although not among Bach's better compositions from this time, features an allegorical design that relates it conceptually to many of Bach's other works. In particular, the differentiation between the nature of human existence on the one hand, and the life toward which faith and hope arc directed on the other, runs through much of Bach's work and, beginning with the Weimar cantatas of 1714, is represented quite often by tonal planning. In relation to "Nach dir, Herr" these Weimar compositions exhibit a more dramatic, even extravagant, dimension of tonal allegory. Three cantatas from the 1714 cycle open with feelings of fear, guilt, and torment and become more positive as they proceed, eventually ending with the original affective sphere transforming into faith and joy: Cantata 12, "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen," Cantata BWV 21, "Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis," and Cantata BWV 199, "Mein Herz schwimmt in Blut." Tonal anabasis is most prominent in the first two of these. Compared to the "Actus Tragicus" (BWV 106) these cantatas can be said to begin at the point where the individual has already been brought by consciousness of sin to extreme torment.

Cantata 12 particularly emphasizes the Passion as the ultimate source of comfort for the Christian, especially in the first two arias, with expressions such as "Kreuz und Krone sind verbunden," "Doch ihr Trost sind Christi Wunden," and "Ich will sein Kreuz umfassen." The work as a whole centers around the "theologia cruces" (Bach took over the first movement of this cantata as the "Crucifixus" of the 'B minor Mass' (BWV 232)). The opening key, as in "O Schmerz" of the 'St. Matthew Passion,' (BWV 244) is F minor, the emotional and tonal nadir of the work. The gradual inner change from torment to joy is made through the following sequence of keys, always rising a third and turning from minor to (relative) major:

F minor 1. Sinfonia (Mvt. 1)
F minor 2. Chorus: "Weinen, Klagen." (Mvt. 2)
A flat Middle Section: "die das Zeichen Jesu tragen"
F minor da capo: "Weinen, Klagen."
C minor 3. Recitative: "Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal"
C minor 4. Aria: "Kreuz und Krone sind verbunden"
E flat 5. Aria: "Ich folge Christo nach"
G minor 6. Aria: "Sei getreu," with instrumental chorale, "Jesu, meine Freude"
B flat 7. Chorale: "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" (Mvt. 7)

Such an arrangement allows Bach to show that even a turn from major to minor (from the fifth to the sixth movements), although it may express the immediate reference to pain and hence appear to be a step backward, belongs to a series of ever more positive affections. The text-"Sei getreu, alle Pein wird doch nur ein kleines sein. Nach dem Regen blüht der Segen, alles Wetter geht vorbei, Sei getreu"-reveals the real direction to lie unswervingly toward faith and comfort, affirmed by the ascent of the tonal plan through successive key signature levels.

The meditative stages of Cantata 12 correspond (for the most part) to the key-signature levels; these are, in fact, very close to the three basic stages outlined by Luther in his "A Meditation on Christ's Passion" (1519). [Luther's sermon is presented in the form of fifteen numbered paragraphs; but the three stages are easily identified in the sermon. Stages 1 and 2 appear in paragraph No. 12, at "After man has thus become aware of his sin," and stage 3 appears in paragraph, no. 15, "After your heart has thus become firm in Christ." Elke Axmacher shows how this threefold use ('Nutz') of the Passion-recognition of sin, comforting the conscience, and model for Christian life-remains the central focus of Passion meditation throughout the seventeenth century.] Although we have no incontrovertible evidence of Bach's ever having used this essay, he surely knew it; the dynamic sequence of its meditative program finds parallels throughout his work, in particular in the 'St. Matthew Passion.' (BWV 244) The contents of the essay are important enough for our understanding of "Weinen, Klagen" that we will summarize them here.

After a few remarks concerning faulty types of meditation on the Passion (such as anger at Judas, lamentation over Jesus' innocent sufferings without perceiving ourselves as the cause), Luther presents his fifteen-point set of instructions in three stages, which can effect a change in man's being, and "like baptism, give him a new birth," "'strangle the old Adam," and "make him conformable to Christ.'' [These and following quotations are from Martin Luther's "A Meditation on Christ's Passion."] In the first stage the Christian must view the Passion with a "terror-stricken heart and despairing conscience," recognizing that it is his sins that torture Christ and that he himself must ultimately suffer, "tremble and quake and feel all that Christ felt on the cross." This is, of course, the state of mind represented in the opening chorus (Mvt. 2), "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, Angst und Not ist der Christen Tränenbrot, die das Zeichen Jesu tragen," which we would easily recognize even without the connection to the "Crucifixus."

Luther's second stage considers the Passion from the perspective of the resurrection. Its objective is to remove sin from the conscience. In addition to entreating God for faith, we can "spur ourselves on to believe" through recognition that Christ has paid for man's sins out of love; this arouses love of Christ in the heart, and the confidence of faith is strengthened.'' The first recitative, "Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen," joins the present life of tribulation to the kingdom to com, and the aria "Kreuz und Krone sind verbunden" is explicitly connected to the Passion in its description of Christ's wounds as the individual's "trust." Then, in "Ich folge Christo nach," the first movement that is entirely in a major key, love prompts the individual to follow Christ and "embrace" the cross ("Ich küsse Christi Schmach, ich will sein Kreuz umfassen") as the individual grows in faith. Finally, the melody of "Jesu, meine Freude," entering as cantus firmus to the third aria, completes this idea of faith with one of the best-known expressions of Jesus-love from the period of Lutheran orthodoxy.

In the third and final stage of Luther's sermon, the individual has, through the foregoing meditative process, received faith; now the Passion must be seen as the center of Christian life. "After your heart has thus become firm in Christ, and love, not fear of pain, has made you a foe of sin, then Christ's passion must from that day on become a pattern for your entire life." Now the individual actively weighs the adverse events of his life against the suffering of Christ; in so doing he can "draw strength and encouragement from Christ against every vice and failing." This idea is developed in the aria "Sei getreu," which urges retaining one's faith through the adversities of life: "Sei getreu, alle Pein wird doch nur ein kleines sein. Nach dem Regen blüht der Segen, alles Wetter geht vorbei, Sei getreu." The final chorale (Mvt. 7), "Was mein Gott will," corresponds to the goal of Luther's meditative sequence: through faith the individual can "rise beyond Christ's heart to God's heart," can "grasp him not in his might or wisdom (for then he proves terrifying), but in his kindness and love. Then faith and confidence are able to exist, and the man is truly born anew in God." Starting from the wrathful God who "seeks the death of the sinner," Cantata 12 progresses through Christ to the merciful God who "seeks the redemption of the sinner. [from Martin Luther, "The Bondage of the Will."]

Cantata 12 is the result of much thought and planning both by Bach and his librettist (probably Salomo Franck). By virtue of its descending chromatic tetrachord, its conspicuous use of velar consonants (see below), its emphasis on descent/ascent and minor/major patterns, and its subject matter-the theology of the cross-the cantata is conceptually related not only to the "Crucifixus" but to the "Christus Coronabit Crucigeros" canon. These common devices underscore the extent to which Cantata 12 employs antithesis to suggest the joining of two worlds through the cross of Christ-the present one of suffering and death and the future life of transcendence and fulfillment; this union is expressed in the canon by the three C's of the 'Symbolum' and in the cantata by the aria "Kreuz und Krone sind verbunden, Kampf und Kleinod sind vereint." This idea of joining the present and future life, based on the sound of the consonants, has a strong visual correlative in Bach's work. As Friedrich Smend has shown, Bach uses the Greek letter Chi in the score of the 'St. Matthew Passion' (BWV 244) as the abbreviation for both Christus and 'Kreuz.' A third association of the Chi is that of the sharp sign (Kreuz in German), well known from the "Kreuzstab" cantata (BWV 56), in which the visual cross of Bach's title page ('X-stab') is translated into the musical motto of a particularly conspicuous C sharp within a G minor context. Like the sharpened note, the cross is a dissonant presence; yet, the direction of transcendence is a sharpward (the "Christus Coronabit Crucigeros" canon notates only sharps), upward progression through the circle of keys, the same direction as the plan of Cantata 12. In the recitative "Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen" the antithetical nature of the theology of the cross is represented ingeniously in a dualism of C's. The basso continuo moves from its initial c down an octave to close on low C, while the first violin ascends from its first note-c"-up an octave of the C major scale, even though the recitative is in C minor. The registral and tonal conflict expresses the dualism of worlds that are united in the cross, the world of 'Trübsal' versus the kingdom of God. Dürr ("Die Kantaten," p. 263) sees the dualism of chromatic descending melodic motion in the first movement of Cantata 12 and prominent diatonic ascent in several of the remaining movements as a key to the structure of the work. This is undoubtedly correct; not only "Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich" but several Bach works featuring chromaticism utilize the same idea. In fact, the idea of chromatic descent is itself reversed already at the A flat major close of the middle section of the opening choral complex of Cantata 12. That an almost identical passage appears in the "Actus Tragicus," on the words "in ihm sterben wir," leads us to conclude that Bach meant to indicate in both places the presence of hope (ascent) within a basic context of tribulation, the same association of the 'Ruffet, .Ach,/Hoff auf Leben' antithesis on the Bach goblet.

In a number of other works Bach treats C minor and major as keys that represent the fundamental dualism of Christ (the human versus the divine) and the cross (the emblem of suffering and death of this world versus the sign of transcendence). C minor is the burial key of Christ in the 'Passions' and the preferred key of the "sleep of death" of Lutheran eschatology; a dualism of two C's must have held compelling associations of Christ for Bach. In the ''Christus Coronabit Crucigeros" canon the given notes (those that are notated) constitute a descent pattern of the following harmonies: F sharp major/ minor, E major/minor, D major. The descent represents the cross of suffering and death as in the "Crucifixus" and the opening chorus (Mvt. 2) of ''Weinen, Klagen.'' The 'Symbolum,' however, reverses the pattern on the tone C of the ground bass, thereby generating the ascending harmonic progression C minor/major, 1) minor/major, G major. The harmonic content of the canon, represented in the extremes of its first and central chords, outlines a tritone, from F sharp major to C minor, while the key of G major is reserved for the end alone. The three C's of the 'Symbolum' signify the union of Christ (Chi), the cross (C minor in conflict with the sharps of 'cantus durus'), and the crown (the turn to major and the upward modulatory direction). As in the 'Passions' the dualism of sharps and flats represents the opposition of worlds, the present apparent one of suffering and death and the hidden transcendent one to come; passage from the one to the other is through death in Christ.

The first aria of Cantata 12, "Kreuz und Krone sind verbunden," makes this dualism clear. Throughout this movement, just as in the canon, the identity of the velar consonants-Kreuz/Krone, Kampf /Kleinod, Clristen/Qual-points up the antithesis that pervades the work at all levels; this is the one complete movement of the cantata whose melodic line cannot be said to reduce to the idea of either descent or ascent. Rather, it utilizes both directions simultaneously-descending sequential patterns of ascending motives, and the like. In all the other movements, how-ever, one or the other direction dominates: in addition to the movements already mentioned, "Ich folge Christo nach" emphasizes ascent; "Jesu, meine Freude" descends conspicuously on its first and last lines; and "Was Gott thut, das ist wohlgethan" ascends at the beginning in a manner recalling "Ich folge Christo nach." One also senses that minor- and major-key movements are paired: two choral movements in F minor and A flat (ending only); two arias in C minor and E flat (the latter of which continues both the idea of textual antithesis and the emphasis on velar consonants from "Kreuz und Krone"); and, finally, two chorales in G minor and B flat. The three key-signature levels point out that the six basic keys of the cantata-despite the seeming disparity between the initial F minor and closing B flat-can be considered to belong to a single ambitus, that of E flat or C minor. Viewed in this light, the three movements in those keys constitute a center presenting Christ as the point of unity (the tonic area) for the cross of the preceding movement (the subdominant region) and the crown of the final chorales (the dominant region). The plan of Cantata 12 can be called chiastic or cruciform in a sense that goes even deeper-perhaps more hidden or symbolic would be the better expression-than that produced by mere symmetry alone.

As the center of the ambitus, "Kreuz und Krone" embodies the symbolic meaning of the work according to the original association of the word 'Symbolum' the two halves of the divided token are reunited. In "Ich folge Christo nach" the individual becomes "conformable to Christ in His suffering," in a personal mystic union. Bach does not use the word 'Symbolum' in Cantata 12, but the middle section of the opening chorus (Mvt. 2) speaks of those who suffer as bearing the "sign of Jesus" ('Zeichen Jesu'). This chorus completes the text of "Weinen, Klagen" with the turn to major suggesting the outcome of the preceding suffering. The connection between the 'Symbolum' of the chromatic canon, the 'Zeichen Jesu' of the cantata, and the chiastic form of the 'Symbolum Nicenum' is no coincidence. The cross is the primary theological symbol, uniting two opposed worlds-flat/sharp, minor/major, descent/ascent-while stressing their separateness: the suffering and death of the one versus the transcendence of the other.<<

[From p. 134 ff. in Eric Chafe's "Tonal Allegory in the Vocal Music of J. S. Bach" [University of California Press, 1991]

Eric Bergerud wrote (March 1, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thankee Mr. Braatz for the wonderful post. Of course, now I have to listen to BWV 12 again, but that's not a hard sell.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 2, 2005):
BWV 12 image discussions by Haselböck

From Lucia Haselböck's "Bach Textlexikon" [Bärenreiter-Kassel, 2004] here are some pertinent entries for BWV 12. These are often much longer since I have included here only the sections that relate to this cantata.

Angst ['Fear']

1. Human Fear

Those living during the time of the Baroque were confronted with a multitude of fears of various types: long wars, helplessness in regard to illnesses, particularly epidemics, a high death rate, but also religious, metaphysical fears of images that were perceived as reality such as the fear of sin, of God's wrath and of all the devils. Bach's librettists testify to the various fears that human beings had, in particular a fear of hell: "Empfind ich Höllenangst und Pein" ["When I become afraid of going to hell and suffering pain"] BWV 3/3; "es wird sie plagen Kält und Hitz, Angst, Schrecken, Feuer und Blitz" ["they will be plagued by cold and heat, fear, terror, fire and lightning"] BWV 20/7. There is also a fear of God's judgment that worries them very much (BWV 55/1, BWV 179.) It is in this sense that Johann Heermann expresses in his chorale his great fear of the Last Days and the Final Judgment (as used by Bach's librettist in a cantata bearing the same name): "Wo soll ich fliehen hin, / weil ich beschweret bin / mit viel und großen Sünden, / wo soll ich Rettung finden, / wenn alle Welt herkäme, / mein Angst sie nicht wegnähme" ["Where can I flee to since I am burdened with many great sins, where {how} can I be saved if all the people in the world were to come to me and still not be able to take away from me my fear?"] BWV 5/1. "Der Seelen ist von Schrecken angst und bange, ach, du Herr, wie so lange; .denn meine Angst ist mannigfalt" ["My soul is filled with great fear; O Lord, as it has been for a long time {why is it taking so long?}.for my fear is manifold." BWV 135/2,4. "Weinen, Klagen, / Sorgen, Zagen, / Angst und Not / sind der Christen Tränenbrot" ["Crying and worrying and fear and misery are the bread that Christians must eat in tears"] BWV 12/1. "Wenn ich Verdruß und Kummer leide, / so bist du meine Freude, / in Unruh meine Ruh / und in der Angst mein sanftes Bette" ["When I am troubled and have problems, then you are my (only) joy; in my unrest you give me peace of mind and in my fearful state you are my soft bed"] BWV 157/3

Buße ['Penance']

3. The penitent human being follows the cross

The cross-bearer follows Christ unconditionally on His path of suffering all the way to Golgatha. (Matt 10:38 and 16:24; and Luke 14:27.) He [the cross-bearer] is dead to the world and sin (Romans 6:12, Galatians 2:19.) The difficult path of suffering means renunciation and a difficult life. An example of this is found illustrated throughout the libretto of BWV 12 "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen:" "Weinen, Klagen, / Sorgen, Zagen, / Angst und Not / sind der Christen Tränenbrot, / die das Zeichen Jesu tragen..Ich folge Christo nach, / von ihm will ich nicht lassen / im Wohl und Ungemach, / im Leben und Erblassen, / ich küsse Christi Schmach, / ich will sein Kreuz umfassen " BWV 12/1, 5 ["["Crying and worrying and fear and misery are the bread that Christians who bear the mark of Jesus must eat in tears..I am following in the footsteps of Christ, I do not want to leave him whether in good times or bad, whether in life or death, I kiss the humiliation of Christ, I want to embrace His cross."] With the words of this bass aria (BWV 12/5 (Mvt. 5)) a picture is presented of the cross-bearer following after (and succeeding, as in assuming the position of one who has left office) Christ, an image that resembles what mystics of all times saw when they prayed "trahe me post te" ["pull me after you"] [Song of Solomon 1:4.]

Fassen, halten umfangen, umfassen ['to grasp, to take hold, to hold on, to embrace']

These are verbs designating the mystical union ('unio mystica.') What is referred to here are not the comforting words of St. Augustine nor the outstretched arms of Christ the Redeemer (the savior on the cross,) but rather the human being who loves God and who embraces the Lord in an act of faith and grateful love.

2. The unification with Christ in His Passion, in His Death

"Am Kreuz will ich dich noch umfangen, / dich laß ich nicht aus meiner Brust" [BWV 159/2] {"I will embrace You even on the cross, I will never forsake You {allow You to leave my breast}] The cantata "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen" gives us the context for this: "Ich will sein Kreuz umfassen" [BWV 12/5] ["I want to embrace His cross"] as well as the cantata "Komm, du süße Todesstunde" ["Come, sweet hour of death"]: "Mein Verlangen / ist, den Heiland zu umfangen" {BWV 161/3] "My {fervent} desire is to embrace {my} savior."]


Hochzeit ['Wedding']

The 'heavenly' wedding according to Revelations 19:9

"So geh ich auch zum Himmel ein, / wo Gott und seines Lammes Gäste / in Kronen zu der Hochzeit sein" [BWV 157/4] ["Likewise I will also go to heaven, where God and the guests of His Lamb will appear wearing crowns for the wedding"] Other examples: BWV 12/7; BWV 75/4; BWV 92/7; BWV 100/6 and BWV 161/3.

Krone ['Crown']

A symbol for the completion/perfection of the human being in God.

1. The Crown of Joy

The human being who loves God receives the crown of completion/perfection after the battle of life and following the cross - a favorite metaphor used in Bach's libretti for being received in heaven after all the suffering endured here on earth. "Und nach vollbrachtem Lauf / setzt er den Gläubigen die Krone auf..dir bleibet die Krone / aus Gnaden zu Lohne" {BWV 186/9,10] ["And after having completed the course {of life}, he will place the crown upon the heads of believers.the crown will remain yours as a merciful reward {for your efforts}"] "Kreuz und Krone sind verbunden, / Kampf und Kleinod sind vereint" [BWV 12/4] "The cross and the crown are connected, the battle {of life} and the jewel {of eternal life} are unified as one."

Kuß ['kiss']

A metaphor for the 'unio mystic.' Bernhard von Clairvaux portrayed a mystic's 'three-fold symbolism of the kiss' which was to symbolize the progress of a mystic's love for Christ. This 'kiss' entailed the kissing of the feet, the arms and the mouth. Bernhard von Clairvaux, in his "Sermones super cantica canticorum", specifically 'Sermo IV,' states: "De triplici profectu animae, qui fit per osculum pedis, manus et oris sui." The penitent human being begins by kissing the feet, then comes the spiritual embrace with the arms after which the 'kissing of the mouth' symbolizes the perfect/complete love of God in a spiritual wedding. For our contemporary sensibilities, these pictures/metaphors may seem quite strange, but for those living in Europe in the Middle Ages they were an expression of their total religious experience. Some of this was carried over into the texts of Bach's choral works.

1. Following the Cross

"Ich küsse Christi Schmach, / ich will sein Kreuz umfassen" [BWV 12/5] ["I am kissing {I want to kiss} Christ's humiliation, I want to embrace His cross."] We should give ourselves over completely into the hands of the Lord, into His discipline: "Des Kreuzes Ungestüm schafft bei den Christen Frucht; / drum laßt uns alle unser Leben / dem weisen Herrscher ganz ergeben, / küßt seines Sohnes Hand, verehrt die treue Zucht" [BWV 92/6] ["The vehemence of the cross will create/bring about 'fruit' {will have an effect, be of use} among Christians, that is why we should dedicate/give up our life and leave everything to the wise Ruler; kiss the hand of His Son and respect the devoted discipline {He imposes upon us.}"]

Leben ["Life"]

3. The death of sin brings new life

The 'old human being' must die, that means that sin in human beings will be 'killed off,' so that a 'new human being' will be able to live. Such a 'new human being' does not live for his own ends, but rather lives for the Lord and will follow him everywhere unconditionally [Romans 14:7; 2 Corinthians 5:15.] The prerequisite for obtaining a new life is carrying the cross and becoming one of the many who follow Christ {who will succeed him}: BWV 12/5, BWV 153/9, BWV 175/6.

Tränen ["Tears"]

3. Tears that appear in the misery/distress of life

[Acts 14:22:] ["Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen" ["We will have to suffer a lot of misery/distress in order to enter {before entering} the Kingdom of God. This passage from the Bible must have had some special significance for Bach since he set it to music twice [in BWV 12/3 as an arioso for alto voice and in BWV 146/2 as a choral mvt.] Accordingly, this theme is found numerous times in Bach's texts: in BWV 101/5 there is a complaint about all the sins and hardships in this world. "Auch die harte Kreuzesreise / und der Tränen bittre Speise / schreckt die Seele nicht [BWV 123/3] ["Your soul is not schocked even by the difficult path of the cross and the bitter-tasting tears."] "Meine Seufzer, meine Tränen / können nicht zu zählen sein..Mein Jammerkrug ist ganz / mit Tränen angefüllt." [BWV 13/1,4] ["My sighs, my tears are innumerable.The jar in which I deposit my misery/my lamenting is filled to the brim with {my} tears." In the text of BWV 21/5, "Bäche von gesalznen Zähren" ["brooks of salty tears"] flow forth. "Das Tränenmaß wird stets voll eingeschenket / der Freudenwein gebricht [BWV 155/1] ["The {My} measure of tears has reached the limit, the wine which brings joy is lacking."] "Weinen Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen sind der Christen Tränenbrot." [BWV 12/1] ["Crying and worrying and fear and misery are the bread that Christians must eat in tears."] and finally "Seufzer, Tränen, Kummer, Not, ängstliches Sehnen, Furcht und Tod / nagen mein beklemmtes Herz, / ich empfinde Jammer, Schmerz, / Seufzer, Tränen, Kummer, Not." [BWV 21/3] ["Sighs, tears, worries and difficulties, anxious yearning, fear and death, are all gnawing away at my suffocating heart, I am experiencing despair, pain, sighs, tears, sorrows and real trouble."]

Peter Bloemendaal wrote (March 3, 2005):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< The intensely sorrowful nature of this chorus (Mvt. 2), relieved momentarily by a quicker section in the middle, has me wondering if some personal experience of grief lay behind its composition, eg, the death of an offspring with Barbara, perhaps. In any case, it's easy to understand why Bach drew upon this chorus many years later to represent the musical imagery of the crucifixion. >
Throughout his life, death has never been a stranger to Johann Sebastian Bach. In the first eighteen years of his life he had already lost eight close relatives: both his parents, one sister, two brothers, and three uncles. Then there was a rather tranquil period, in which he married his second cousin Maria Barbara, with whom he got seven children, three of them dying in infancy. At the time when Bach composed "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen" it was a year ago that he had buried his baby twins, but on the other hand he had just been rejoiced over the birth of his third son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was 25 years old and was inspired with the prospect of being able to write and perform many glorious cantatas, having great expectations of a promising career as court organist and concert master of the Weimar court capella. Though his personal losses must have saddened him, he could live with them, being familiar with death like so many others in those days. The Trübsal-theme, as Thomas Braatz pointed out, was part of the religious images that played an important role in the minds of Bach and his contemporaries. Fear, grief and misery were, inevitably and inherently, incorporated in human life and in the life of Christians in particular. So it is hard to believe that the young Bach was already broken down by sorrow, in spite of having already had more than his (unfair) share. Several scholars, however, have pointed at the period 1726-1730, or rather beginning in 1719, in which he lost his wife, two brothers, his resident sister-in-law and six very young children, besides getting a mentally retarded son. The sum of all these tragic events may have been the cause of the decline in his creative output after 1728. After all, Johann Sebastian was 43 at that time. Today we would say he was in a serious midlife crisis, but it is more plausible to imagine that a life of extremely hard work combined with severe personal blows had tired him out and he lacked the resilience to resume his prolific composing, especially of vocal works, though he would continue to write until a year before his death, when he finished the Mass in B-minor (BWV 232).

1685 Birth of Johann Sebastian Bach
1685 ?Death of his brother Johann Jonas: J.S. was 2 months old
1686 ?Death of his sister Johanna Juditha: J.S. was 1.
1691 ?Death of his brother Johann Balthasar
1693 ?Death of his uncle Johann Christoph
1694 ?Death of his mother Maria Elisabetha: J.S. was only 9.
?Death of his great-uncle Johann Michael, Maria Barbara's father
1695 ?Death of his father Johann Ambrosius: J.S. was 10.
1703 ?Death of his great-uncle Johann Christoph
1707 Marriage to Maria Barbara Bach, his second cousin
1708 Birth of his daughter Catharina Dorothea (?1774)
1710 Birth of his son Wilhelm Friedemann (?1784)
1713 Birth of twin son and daughter Johann Christoph and MariSophia
?Death of twin son and daughter Johann Christoph and Maria Sophia
1714 Birth of his Carl Philipp Emanuel (?1788)
1715 Birth of problem son Johann Gottfried Bernhard
1718 Birth of son Leopold Augustus
1719 ?Death of son Leopold Augustus, 1 year old
1720 ?Death of wife Maria Barbara
1721 ?Death of brother Johann Christoph Marriage to Anna Magdalena Wülcken
1722 ?Death of brother Johann Jacob
1723 Birth of daughter Christiana Sophia Henrietta
1724 Birth of mentally retarded son Gottfried Heinrich (?1763)
1725 Birth of son Christian Gottlieb
1726 Birth of daughter Elisabeth Juliana Frederica (?1781)
?Death of daughter Christiana Sophia Henrietta, 3 years old
1727 Birth of son Ernestus Andreas
?Death of son Ernestus Andreas, 3 days old
1728 ?Death of son Christian Gottlieb, 3 years old
Birth of daughter Regina Johanna
?Death of sister Maria Salome
1729 ?Death of sister-in-law Friedelena Margaretha, who lived in Bach's house
1730 Birth of daughter Christiana Benedicta Louisa
?Death of daughter Christiana Benedicta Louisa, 11 months old
1731 Birth of daughter Christiana Dorothea
1732 Birth of son Johann Christoph Friedrich (?1795)
?Death of daughter Christiana Dorothea, one and a half years old
1733 ?Death of daughter Regina Johanna, four and a half years old
Birth of son Johann August Abraham
? Death of son Johann August Abraham, 2 days old
1735 Birth of son Johann Christian (?1782)
1737 Birth of daughter Johanna Carolina (?1781)
1739 ?Death of son Johann Gottfried Bernhard, age 24
1742 Birth of daughter Regina Susanna (?1809)
?Death of Johann Elias
1745 Birth of grandson Johann August
1747 Birth of granddaughter Anna Carolina Philippina
1748 Birth of grandson Johann Sebastian
1749 Birth of grandson Johann Sebastian Altnickol
1750 ?Death of Johann Sebastian Bach

Peter Smaill wrote (March 3, 2005):
[To Peter Bloemendaa] Thank you for compiling a very useful synopsis of key dates of births, deaths and marriages relating to J S Bach. It leads on to the very interesting question, can the themes or affekts of any works (not being specific funeral music ) be definitely attributed to the demise of close family; or are we dealing with a more general spirit of world-weariness in which Bach's response is to favour libretti shunning secular life and reflecting with an unequalled poignancy on the hope of the hereafter ?

We discussed earlier the possible attributions of BWV 106 ; of much interest has been the theory of Prof. Helga Thoene that the Chaconne of the solo Partita in d minor BWV 1004, is in fact an epitaph as it were to Maria Barbara.

Written on paper from a mill near Carlsbad, where Bach fatefully travelled in 1720, Thoene claims that the violin picks out the outlines of chorales appropriate to the hope of resurrection, especially "Christ lag in todesbanden", but also "Den tod niemand zwingen kunnt", "wo soll ich fliehen hin" "Befiehl du deine wege" "Jesu, meine Freude" "Auf meinen liebe gott" and "Gib uns geduld", rounding off with "Jesu deine passion will ich jetzt" " In meine Herzens Grunde" plus the doxology "Dem Hoechsten sei Lob, Ehr und Preis", eventually returning to "Christ lag in Todesbanden".

It would be interesting to know if any other theories or established connections exist between personal (ie not official ) bereavements and specific works by Bach.

John Pike wrote (March 3, 2005):
[To Peter Smaill] Thoene also claimed that there are numerical references (using Gematria) to Maria Barbara, to JS Bach and to their children in the score, as well as many Christian themes.

She has also claimed that the 3 solo violin sonatas include embedded chorale tunes to make up a progression from Christmas to Crucifixion to resurrection, I think. I don't have the notes in front of me.

I seem to remember reading in some liner notes to Gardiner's cantata recordings for DG that Bach's personal circumstances, such as the death of children, had influenced the nature of the music in some of the cantatas but again don't have the notes to hand. I will try to look this up sometime. maybe someone else has some more reliable info on this.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Morimur - performers by Hilliard Ensemble [Performers]

John Reese wrote (March 3, 2005):
Does anyone know how prevalent the use of the chromatic ostinato in the opening chorus (Mvt. 2) was during the Baroque? I know Bach used it again in "Jesu der du meine Seele", and Henry Purcell used it in "Dido and Anaeus" (sp?) I don't know of any other instances, but it would be a remarkable coincidence if Bach and Purcell came up with the same idea independently.

(Purcell's aria, "When I am Laid in Earth", uses very similar harmonies, down to the first-inversion VI chord on the third beat of the first measure.)

Doug Cowling wrote (March 3, 2005):
[To John Reese] Händel uses it in "Joshua" for the lament, "How Soon".

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 3, 2005):
[To John Reese] Here are some excerpts from the Grove Music Online [Oxford University Press, 2004, acc. 3/3/05]:

>>Passacaglias written during the same period for instrumental ensemble more closely followed French models or combined the French and Germanic approaches, as did those conceived primarily for harpsichord. Bach also used the genre in some vocal works, although not indicated as such (BWV 12, later reworked into the 'Crucifixus' of the Mass in B minor (BWV 232); BWV 78). Some might argue that the opening chorus (Mvt. 2) of BWV 12 (like the 'Lamento der Freunde' in the keyboard Capriccio BWV 992) should be classified as a lament rather than as a passacaglia, but there can be no such doubt about the magnificent opening of BWV 78, which has all the musical hallmarks of a French operatic chaconne/passacaglia number; indeed, the passacaglia from Lully's Armide may have been its direct source of inspiration.<< by Alexander Silbiger

>>Composers did not cease imitating each other, but they tended to borrow styles and conventions more often than melodies or polyphonic complexes. Monteverdi's stile concitato, invented for Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (1624), was imitated by Grandi and Schütz, and his Lamento della ninfa (published 1638) helped establish a tradition of laments over a descending tetrachord ostinato, including laments by Cavalli, Cesti, Purcell and Händel. Lully's overtures and concertos by Corelli and Vivaldi likewise set a pattern for later composers. Once such styles and conventions were established, however, any number of works might have served as models, making borrowing from any particular piece difficult to trace.<< by J. Peter Burkholder

Lament or Lamento [both following excerpts by Ellen Rosand]:

>>Usually, a vocal piece based on a mournful text, often built over a descending tetrachord ostinato and common in operas of the Baroque period.

Originating in ancient Greek drama and further developed in Latin poetry, the lament topos enjoyed a privileged status in European literature. Set apart as an exceptional moment of emotional climax of particularly intense expression, it provided an occasion for special formal development and for the display of expressive rhetoric and of affective imagery.

Librettists and composers of early opera acknowledged the special dramatic position and affective responsibility of the lament, distinguishing it from the narrative flow of its context: librettists imposed greater formality through using more strongly metred and rhymed texts in which particularly emotive lines often recurred as refrains; and composers interpreted these texts with greater freedom, repeating or otherwise enhancing specially expressive words or phrases with melodic sequence, dissonance or textural conflicts, often imposing an overall tonal coherence to create structural ssufficiency. One of the most effective and clearly the most influential of early 17th-century laments was Monteverdi's Lamento d'Arianna from his opera to a libretto by Ottavio Rinuccini, performed in Mantua in 1608. Its musical isolation from its context was recognized immediately in contemporary descriptions of the opera's performance and confirmed by the publication of monodic Ariadne laments by other composers, as well as Monteverdi's own arrangement of it as a madrigal. In the Venetian opera repertory of the 1640s an association between lament and tetrachord became explicit. Cavalli's 27 operas, the most comprehensive surviving musical documentation of Venetian opera from 1640 to 1660, confirm this association. Cavalli's earliest laments, like those of Monteverdi's operas, are in continuous recitative style, heightened by dissonance and affective text repetition and structured primarily by refrains. But after Apollo's lament from Gli amori di Apollo e di Dafne (1640), partly in free recitative, partly based on the descending tetrachord, Cavalli began to employ the bass pattern consistently in laments, which initially occupied a specific position at the dramatic climax immediately preceding the resolution of the plot. Characterized by a slow tempo, highly accented triple metre and usually accompanied by strings, they use the tetrachord in a variety of ways, ranging from strict ostinato treatment of the simple pattern to freer treatment of one of its variants, such as a chromatic or inverted version. They all exploit the tetrachord as a source of harmonic, melodic and rhythmic dissonance created by suspensions, syncopation and overlapping phrases between the voice and the bass. The popular success of such arias is indicated by their proliferation - accompanied by a loss of specific dramatic function - during the 1650s and 1660s, to the point where some operas contain as many as four laments spread over their three acts (e.g. Cavalli's Statira, 1655, and Eliogabalo, composed 1668).

Pathetic lament arias, many of them associated with some form of the tetrachord bass, continued to occur in operas of the late 17th and early 18th centuries; indeed, with the development of other aria types, they tended to reassume their former specific dramatic position. Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and The Fairy-Queen both contain a lament based on a chromatically descending tetrachord just before the resolution of the plot, and several Händel operas, such as Orlando (1733), have similarly placed laments in which the tetrachord bass plays a significant role.<<

>>Lamento

(It.: 'lament').

Usually, a vocal piece based on a mournful text, often built over a descending tetrachord ostinato and common in cantatas and operas of the Baroque period.

Originating in ancient Greek drama and further developed in Latin poetry, the lament topos enjoyed a privileged status in European literature. Set apart as an exceptional moment of emotional climax or particularly intense expression, it provided an occasion for special formal development and for the display of expressive rhetoric and of affective imagery. Laments were most often associated with female characters and the female voice.

Madrigals designated 'lamento' appeared occasionally during the 16th century; Stefano Rossetto's Lamento di Olimpia (1567) and B.S. Nardò's Lamento di Fiordeligi (1571), for example, each set appropriately dramatic stanzas from Ariosto's Orlando furioso. The genre assumed musical importance around the turn of the 17th century as a focus of the theoretical justifications of the new monodic style. Indeed, in defining the cathartic purpose of that style, theorists such as Giacomini, Mei and Vincenzo Galilei singled out the lament; because it expressed a height of emotional intensity, it was the type of text best calculated to move an audience to pity, thereby purging them of strong passions.

Librettists and composers of early opera acknowledged the special dramatic position and affective responsibility of the lamento, distinguishing it from the narrative flow of its context: librettists imposed greater formality through using more strongly metred and rhymed texts in which particularly affective lines often recurred as refrains; and composers interpreted these texts with greater freedom, repeating or otherwise enhancing specially affective words or phrases with melodic sequence, dissonance or textural conflicts, often imposing an overall tonal coherence to create structural self-sufficiency.

One of the most effective and clearly the most influential of early 17th-century lamenti was Monteverdi's Lamento d'Arianna from his opera to a libretto by Ottavio Rinuccini, performed in Mantua in 1608. The musical isolation of this lamento from its context was recognized immediately in contemporary descriptions of the opera's performance and confirmed by the publication of monodic Ariadne laments by Severo Bonini (1613), Possenti (1623) and F.A. Costa (1626) and, most conclusively, by Monteverdi's own reworking of the piece as a madrigal (1614), the publication of the monodic version (1623) and his adaptation of the madrigal to a sacred text (1640). His madrigal publication may well have inspired the madrigal laments of Ariadne published by Claudio Pari and Antonio Il Verso in 1619.

Monteverdi's monodic lamento, though self-contained, is not a closed form. Its organization develops out of the internal exigencies of its text: no superimposed formal structure determines its shape. It is not an aria, for arias, by definition, were fixed, predetermined musical structures and therefore inappropriate to the expression of uncontrolled passion in a lament. Clear distinctions between laments and arias persisted for some time. Claudio Saracini's second and fifth monody books (1620 and 1624) each contain one lengthy dramatic monologue entitled 'lamento', in addition to madrigals and pieces marked 'aria'. Sigismondo D'India's fourth and fifth books of Musiche (1621 and 1623), in addition to a large number of 'arias', characterized by strophic structure and simple rhythmic and melodic style, contain a total of five monodic 'lamenti in stile recitativo', highly expressive, irregular settings of lengthy dramatic texts by the composer himself. In a context in which most lamenting characters were female, portrayed by the soprano voice, three of these are notable for being scored for tenor and expressing the grief of male heroes: Orpheus, Apollo and Jason. The tradition of the extended, dramatic recitative lamento persisted until nearly the middle of the century and is exemplified in such works as Peri's Lamento d'Iole (1628), Abbatini's Pianto di Rodomonte (1633) and Rovetta's Lagrime d'Erminia (1649).

At the same time a new stage in the development of the Baroque lamento was achieved in Monteverdi's Amor, generally known as the Lamento della ninfa, published in his eighth book of madrigals (1638). The central section of a dramatic scene 'in stile recitativo', Amor is constructed over a descending tetrachord ostinato. Although probably anticipated by other tetrachord laments - including the Lamento di Madama Lucia published in 1628 under the name 'Il Fasolo' and almost certainly by Francesco Manelli - its full exploitation of the affective implications of the pattern asserted a relationship between tetrachord and lament that soon became fundamental to the genre.

In the Venetian opera repertory of the 1640s a definitive association between lament and tetrachord became explicit. Cavalli's 27 operas, the most comprehensive surviving musical documentation of Venetian opera from 1640 to 1660, confirm this association. Cavalli's earliest lamenti, like those of Monteverdi's operas, are in continuous recitative style, heightened by dissonance and affective text repetition and structured primarily by refrains. But after Apollo's lamento from Gli amori di Apollo e di Dafne (1640), partly in free recitative, partly based on the descending tetrachord, Cavalli began to employ the bass pattern consistently in lamenti, which initially occupied a specific position at the dramatic climax immediately preceding the resolution othe plot. Characterized by a slow tempo, highly accented triple metre and usually accompanied by strings, they use the tetrachord in a variety of ways, ranging from strict ostinato treatment of the simple pattern to freer treatment of one of its variants, such as a chromatic or inverted version. All these lamenti exploit the tetrachord as a source of harmonic, melodic and rhythmic dissonance created by suspensions, syncopation and overlapping phrases between the voice and the bass.

The popular success of such arias is indicated by their proliferation - accompanied by a loss of specific dramatic function - during the 1650s and 60s, to the point where some operas contain as many as four lamenti spread over their three acts (e.g. Cavalli's Statira, 1655, and Eliogabalo, 1667). Similar lamenti, many either partly or entirely based on the descending tetrachord, occur frequently in aria and cantata collections from the 1640s onwards by such composers as Benedetto Ferrari, Luigi Rossi, Carissimi and Cesti. Although a few were written for specific occasions (e.g. Rossi's Lamento della Regina di Svetia) most are settings of pastoral texts involving the amorous trials of nymphs and shepherds.

Pathetic lament arias, many of them associated with some form of the tetrachord bass, continued to occur in operas, oratorios and cantatas of the late 17th and early 18th centuries; indeed, with the development of other aria types, they tended to reassume their former specific dramatic position. Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and The Fairy Queen each contains a lament based on a chromatically descending tetrachord just before the resolution of the plot, and several Händel operas, such as Orlando (1733), contain similarly placed laments in which the tetrachord bass plays a significant role.

The term 'lamento' also appeared in conjunction with instrumental music of a programmatic nature in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Froberger's Suite in C (1656) bears the title Lamento sopra la dolorosa perdita della Real Maestà di Ferdinando IV; several sets of sonatas including Biber's Mystery (or Rosary) Sonatas (c1676) and Kuhnau's Biblical Sonatas (1700) contain occasional 'lamento' movements; and Bach's Capriccio in B (c1704) 'sopra la lontananza del suo fratello dilettissimo' contains an 'allgemeines Lamento der Freunde'. Although the term generally refers to the expressive musical language and dramatic intentions of these movements, in Bach's capriccio it also refers to the descending tetrachord on which the movement is based.

The persistence of an association between lament and descending tetrachord in the 19th century is attested by Jérôme-Joseph de Momigny (Cours complet d'harmonie, Paris, 1803-5). In his analysis of Mozart's Quartet in D minor K421/417b, which opens with a descending tetrachord in the bass, Momigny applied to the first violin part the text of a lament of Dido.<<

Both of the above articles by Ellen Rosand

John Pike wrote (March 4, 2005):
Written for Jubilate Sunday, 3rd Sunday after Easter, April 22, 1714.

The first Choral section was later reworked into the Crucifixus of the B minor mass (BWV 232). There is much beautiful music in this early cantata.

I listened to Leonhardt [6] and Rilling [5], both enjoyable, but both marred, to my liking, by the rather obtrusive vibrato in the Alto. I also found the Rilling recording quality not as good as others I have heard, and the intonation is not always spot on. Of these 2 recordings, I prefer Leonhardt overall.

 

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