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Cantata BWV 173
Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut
Cantata BWV 173a
Durchlauchtster Leopold
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of May 15, 2016 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (May 18, 2016):
Pentecost Monday Cantata 173, 'Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut,'Intro

Cantata 173 “Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut, / Das Gott selbst an sich nimmt” (Exalted flesh and blood / which God himself accepts), is a virtual parody of a Cöthen celebratory serenade (BWV 173a) that Bach was able to utilize in the same movement structure as the original birthday tribute to Prince Leopold. Reset to an anonymous text, possibly by Picander, Bach’s principal Leipzig parodist, is Cantata 173 is a joyous, intimate celebration of Pentecost Monday 1724, with an unusual sacred form of opening recitative, three successive arias in dance style, and a closing dance-style chorus.1

Cantata 173, “Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut,” was premiered on Pentecost Monday, May 29, 1724, at the Thomas Church early main service after the gospel sermon (John 3:16, God so loved the world) of Archdeacon Urban Gottfried Sieber (1669-1741), says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Commentary, Vol. 2, Advent to Trinityfest.2 It was repeated at the afternoon festival vesper service at St. Nikolaus following the epistle sermon (Acts 10:42, Descent of Holy Spirit) of Deacon Friedrich Werner (1659-1741), says Petzoldt.

The Gospel in Bach’s time for the 1st Day of Pentecost (Monday) was John 3:16-21, Meeting of Jesus and Nicodemus: “God so loved the world . . .” ; and Epistle: Acts 10:42-48 (Peter’s sermon while Holy Spirit’s Descent Upon Cornelius and Company). The German text of Luther’s 1545 translation and the English Authorised (King James) Version 1611 is found at BCW, The introit psalm set to a polyphonic motet was Psalm 116, Dilexi, qunoiam (I love the Lord, KJV), which Petzoldt (Ibid.: 1001) calls “How one should trust and act by the cross.” It also was the introit psalm for the 25th Sunday after Trinity. The full text is found at

Cöthen Serenade Parody Series

Cantata 173 is part of an initial series of Easter Season serenade parodies (new-text underlay’s) that Bach was able to skillfully adapt in his first church cantata cycle from worldly to sacred festivals that culminated in his Great Catholic Mass in B Minor, BWV 232, near the end of his life in 1750. Cantata 173 is still controversial among some scholars as convenient self-plagiarism but now is increasingly seen as part of a significant method of transformation, preserving occasional music as a musical sermon (see three commentaries below: John Eliot Gardner’s ‘Worldly to Divine Glory,’ Klaus Hofmann’s ‘Parody Process for Church Use,’ and Tatiana Shablania’s article on the ‘Unique Collaboration With Copyists.’

Cantata 173 is a virtual parody (six of eight movements, same order) with text substitution (new text underlay) from the Cöthen serenade, BWV173a, “Durchlauchtster Leopold” (Most Serene Highness Leopold). The unpublished text, possibly by Hunold-Menantes or Johann Friedrich Helbig, was for Prince Leopold’s birthday, December 12, between 1717 and 1722). Sacred Cantata BWV 173 was repeated in 1727, 1731, and 1735. For Pentecost Tuesday, May 30, 1724, Bach presumably parodied a sister-work for Prince Leopold’s birthday between 1717 and 1722, Cantata 184, “Erwünschtes Freudenlicht” (Longed-for light of joy). Unlike Cantata 173a manuscript that is extant, no trace exists of the original Cantata 184a, title unknown, no original serenade text or music, or dating. It is assumed that Bach did a similar parody.

Cantata 173 Text

The unknown poet of Leipzig Pentecost Monday Cantata 173, possibly Picander, wrote parodies for six of the eight movements of the congratulatory cantata, including two recitatives in movements 1 and 5. Bach did not use movements 6 and 7 in this church cantata, but 7 later in Cantata 175, “Er rufet seinen Schafen mit Namen,” (He calls his own sheep by name, Gospel John 10:1, Good Shepherd and his sheep), tenor aria (no. 4), “ Es dünket mich, ich seh dich kommen” (It seems to me, I see you coming), for Pentecost Tuesday 1725, also to a text of Ziegler.

Bach (or his unknown librettist) deletes mention of Prince Leopold in the original Cantata BWV 173a, “weaving in references to the Epistle (Acts 10:42-48), the descent of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles and the gratitude this implies (in Nos 2, 3 & 6),” says John Eliot Gardiner in his Cantata 173 liner notes (see ‘Divine, Worldly Glory’ below). The bass Vox Domini introduction to the God-Soul duet (no. 5) is a close paraphrase of the beginning of John’s Gospel (3:16): “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This verse became the opening chorus of Cantata BWV 68, “Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt,” for Petencost Monday year later in 1725 to a text of Christiane Mariane voin Ziegler.

A comparison of the two texts of Cantatas 173a and 173 is found at Francis Browne’s English translation, BCW,, with “Note on the texts: The secular cantata BWV 173a was composed for the birthday of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen (10 December) probably in 1720 or 1722. The author of the text is unknown. Perhaps as early as 1723 the text and the original music were parodied as a Whit Monday cantata BWV 173. Movement 7 was used in BWV 175. Again the author of the revised text is unknown. To allow the changes involved in the parody to be followed easily the original text and its parody have been translated together.”

Cantata 173 Textual Changes

Textual changes in Cantata 173 are discussed in Julian Mincham’s commentary introduction, BCW <<Two versions of this cantata reveal something of its history about which, as always, Alfred Dürr [Bach Cantatas] provides valuable information (see p 358 and 816). In short, it emerged originally as a birthday cantata for Prince Leopold and it exists in that form as C 173a. It was recalled for Bach′s first cantata cycle and again in the late 1720s, the form in which it is performed today. Bach dropped two of the movements from the original template but made few other changes. Further comments, particularly on the ′missing′ movements, may be found later in this volume in the section dealing with secular works.

The reader′s attention is drawn once more to the fact that a new text would have been set for its ecclesiastical presentation and consequently one has to be careful about making deductions about the congruencies of words and music. Nevertheless, as noted elsewhere in these essays, Bach seldom took less than considerable pains to ensure the fitness of his music for new words. Thus, there are some connections even though the re-written texts cannot have inspired the musical ideas.>>

BWV 173a & Serenades -- Good Reading. In addition to Julian Mincham’s exemplary studies of Cantatas BWV 173(a) BCW (Ibid.), there are four accessible BCW articles on the Serenade BWV 173a and Bach’s Köthen and Leipzig Serenades: A. <Bach’s Dramatic Music: Serenades, Drammi per Musica, Oratorios> Author: William Hoffman (August 2008); “Royal Court at Köthen: Serenades” and “Leipzig: More Serenades”; BCW: B. <The Historical Figures of the Birthday Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach> [PDF thesis] Marva J. Watson, May 2010: CHAPTER 3 – Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen, p. 27; The Birthday Cantata for Prince Leopold (BWV 173a), p. 32; BCW: C. Thomas Braatz wrote (July 19, 2003): BWV 173a & BWV 173a - Provenance:; and Alfred Dürr’s Commentaries, BCW:

Cantata 173 Movements, Scoring, Text Incipits, Key, Meter3

1. Recitative secco [Tenor; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: “Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut, / Das Gott selbst an sich nimmt” (Exalted flesh and blood / which God himself accepts); D Major; 4/4.
2. Aria two-part with ritornelli [T; Flauto traverso I/II e Violino I all' unisono, Violino II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Ein geheiligtes Gemüte / Sieht und schmecket Gottes Güte” (A sanctified nature / sees and tastes God’s goodness); B. “Rühmet, singet, stimmt die Saiten / Gottes Treue auszubreiten!” (Praise sing, tune the strings / to spread abroad God’s faithfulness!); D Major; 4/4 gavotte style.
3. Aria free da-capo with ritornelli [Alto; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Gott will, o ihr Menschenkinder, / An euch große Dinge tun.” God wants, o you children of mankind, / to do great things for you.); B. “Mund und Herze, Ohr und Blicke / Können nicht bei diesem Glücke / Und so heilger Freude ruhn.” (Mouth and heart, ear and eyesight, / cannot be still before this good fortune / and joy so holy.); b minor; 4/4 generic dance-style.
4. Aria (Duet) in 3 strophes [Bass (Vox Domini), Soprano (Soul]; Flauto traverso I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: 1. Bass G Major: “So hat Gott die Welt geliebt, / Sein Erbarmen / Hilft uns Armen” (God has so loved the world, / his compassion / helps us in our poverty); 2. Soprano D Major: “Sein verneuter Gnadenbund / Ist geschäftig” (His renewed covenant of mercy / is active); 3. Both A Major: “Nun wir lassen unsre Pflicht / Opfer bringen” (Now we let our duty / bring offerings); ¾ menuette style.
5. Recitative-Arioso in imitation (Duet) [Soprano, Tenor; Continuo]: “Unendlichster, den man doch Vater nennt, / Wir wollen dann das Herz zum Opfer bringen” (Infinite God, who is called father, / we want to bring our hearts as an offering); f-sharp minor to b minor; 4/4.
6. Chorus in two parts with opening and bridge ritornelli [SATB; Flauto traverso I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Rühre, Höchster, unsern Geist, / Dass des höchsten Geistes Gaben / Ihre Würkung in uns haben.” (Stir up, highest God, our spirit / so that the gifts of the highest spirit, / may be active in us.); B. “Da dein Sohn uns beten heißt, /Wird es durch die Wolken dringen / Und Erhörung auf uns bringen.” (Since your son bids us pray, / This will pierce through the clouds / and achieve a hearing for us.); D Major; ¾ polonaise or menuette style.

Other cantatas for Pentecost Monday

In 1725 (Cycle 2), Cantata 68, “<Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt>” (God so loved the world --John 3:16), has a text by Mariane von Ziegler. Both free da-capo arias, Nos. 2 and 4, are expansions of dance-style arias Nos. 13 (pastorale) and 7 (gigue), respectively, from the Weißenfels Hunting Cantata BWV 208, “Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd!” (The merry hunt is all that I love!), with text by Salomo Franck. Surprisingly, one of Bach’s most famous arias, BWV 208/9, “Sheep Safely Graze” (Schafe können sicher weiden) was never parodied, while the closing gigue-style chorus, No. 15, later opened Cantata BWV 149, “Man singet mit freuden vom Sieg” (Songs are sung with joy of victory) for St. Michael’s Day in the Picander cycle, 1728 or 1729. Pentecost Monday Cantata BWV 68 was repeated 1736-39.

There is no documentation of a Pentecost Monday cantata performance in 1726. There is a slight possibility of the use of a Johann Ludwig Bach Cantata (1726 Rudolstadt text, music lost), or Telemann Cantata TVWV 1:634=BWV 218, “<Gott der Hoffnung erfulle euch>” (May the God of Hope fill you); or a repeat of Cantata BWV 173.

In 1729 (Cycle 4), Cantata 174, <“Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte”>(I love God most high with all my heart – translation Francis Browne) has an opening sinfonia with six woodwinds added, from Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, BWV 1048, composed in Cöthen. Bach reused instrumental materials as cantata opening sinfonias in some 15 Leipzig cantatas, mostly between 1725 and 1729.

Pentecost Monday Chorales, Motets

Musical Context (Douglas Cowling): Introit: “Cibavit eos” (Liber Usualis 758, 790; not in NLGB) -- Psalm 81:16 – “Cibávit éos ex ádipe fruménti, allelúia: et de pétra, mélle saturávit éos, allelúia, allelúia, alleluia” [He fed them with the fat of wheat (alleluia); and filled them with honey out of the rock (alleluia, alleluia, alleluia)]; orig. Introit, Feast of Corpus Christi (Thursday or Sunday After Trinity Sunday); Pentecost Motet: “Spiritus sancti gratia” (NLGB 125), “Des Heiligen Geistes reichte Gnad” (NLGB 126); Hymn de Tempore: “Komm Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott” (NLGB 123); Pulpit Hymn: “Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist” (NLGB 130); Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing: “Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt” (God so loved the world), S. Liscow hymn 1685 (68/1) (NLGB 233, Catechism Justification). For “Motets and Chorales for the Pentecost Festival,” see BCW

Pentecost Monday cantatas use the following chorales: Cantata 173, “Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut” (1724 ?); no chorale=173a, “Durchlauchtster Leopold,” Birthday (1717-1722); Cantata 68, “Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt” (1725); Chorale: Chorus 68/1, “Also hat Gott . . . “; 1726: no text (??repeat BWV 173); Cantata 174, “Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte” (1729), No. 5, chorale “Herzlich lieb hab' ich dich, o Herr” (From my heart I hold you dear, O Lord), M. Schalling 1569, 3 stanzas; melody, anonymous 1577 (NLGB 836, St. Michael, Death & Dying); BWV 149/1 (S.3), Michael; 19/5, Michael, tenor aria, melody only; 245/40 (S.2).

Worldly to Divine Glory

Bach’s musical homage to prince recycled as homage to God bridges “the divide between worldly and divine glory,” suggests John Eliot Gardiner in his 2006 liner notes to his Bach Cantata Pilgrimage 2000.4 << It puzzles me why scholars get so hot under the collar about Bach’s self-borrowings, as though there were something innately shoddy about the practice. You’d have thought that Handel, with his habit of plagiarising other men’s themes as starter fuel when the muse refused to co-operate, would have presented a far juicier target. It so happens that all three of Bach’s surviving Leipzig cantatas for Whit Monday originated to a greater or lesser extent in secular music he had composed a few years earlier for the Weimar and Cöthen courts – and are none the worse for that! For although he is alert to the theological emphasis on the basic disparity between God and humankind, especially at this time of year, which refers back to the miracle of God’s choice of the human heart as His dwelling place, Bach could express homage to a prince and homage to God in essentially the same way. Music – his music – was there to bridge the divide between worldly and divine glory. Each ruler exerted unquestioned authority in his own sphere. That was a basic tenet of Lutheranism and one that Bach, whose nomination as Thomaskantor in Leipzig was primarily due to the intervention of the Absolutist party in the town council, readily endorsed.

So, a birthday encomium written in 1717 for his musically-minded prince, Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen, came to be performed in Leipzig asa church cantata, in all probability on 29 May 1724, with a minimum of fuss and readjustment. Unfortunately no [original] score or parts have survived for BWV 173, “Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut,” but one wonders whether, like yesterday’s BWV 59, it wasn’t assembled ahead of Bach’s arrival in Leipzig in the expectation of performance at Pentecost in 1723, its solo writing restricted to soprano and bass – as with its secular model (BWV 173a), and indeed BWV 59. The version we performed follows the fair copy Bach commissioned for a revival c.1728. Here the two solo voices become four and the final duet is expanded as a chorus (No.6).

It is easy to empathise with Bach in valuing occasional music of this quality that was far too good to be jettisoned, especially when the pressure was on and a new cantata required for three consecutive days during the Whit festival. As with much of Bach’s Cöthen music, four of this cantata’s six movements are dance-inspired and dance-derived, while the other two (the recitatives Nos 1& 5) are adapted, perhaps by Bach himself, from regular verse structures that cannot have been penned with recitative setting in mind. Taking his cue from St John’s Gospel for the day (3:16-21), which begins with the words ‘God so loved the world’, Bach alters ‘most illustrious Leopold’ (‘Durchlauchtster Leopold’) to ‘Exalted flesh and blood’ (‘Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut’), retaining the metre but substantially changing the melodic line and entering these modifications into his old score. For the rest his task was a lot easier: deleting mention of Leopold and weaving in references to the Epistle (Acts 10:42-48), the descent of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles and the gratitude this implies (in Nos 2, 3 & 6). His cleverest and most radical change comes in the duet (No.4) where the reference to Leopold’s ‘purple cloak’, in the shelter of which his citizens find ‘joy after pain’, is changed to ‘God so loved the world’, both texts culminating with the equally apt words ‘that we might enjoy his gifts of grace / which flow like abundant streams’. This is the cantata’s most original number, an innocent-sounding minuet in G for strings in crotchet movement providing a theme for bass (strophe 1), then moving into quavers and modulating upwards through a circle of fifths to D, picking up a pair of flutes and on its way switching to soprano (strophe 2), then blossoming into a semiquaver moto perpetuo for the first violins and notching up into A major for a final duet. The closing chorus is also a minuet, though of a very different character, its vocal parts increased from two to four.>>

Parody Process for Church Use

The change from secular to sacred text, the so-called process of parody, is discussed in Klaus Hofmann’s 2001 liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki BIS complete cantata recordings.5 << For the church services on the second and third days of Whitsun 1724, Bach returned to two secular congratulatory cantatas that he had composed during his time as court conductor in Köthen (1717-1723). Their reworking was based on the so-called process of parody: the secular text was replaced by a religious one in which the rhyme scheme, metre and strophic structure of the original cantata text are copied in detail so that the existing music can be used without further ado. Parody was the domain of a poet, and Bach evidently had a skilled poet to hand (probably the same one who had already provided parody texts for the Easter cantatas BWV 66 and 134). Bach himself could confine himself to making small musical adjustments at the places where the new text did not ideally suit the existing music. In addition, however, he took it upon himself to extend the instrumentation of both works [Cantatas 173 and 184) - which in their original form had been more on the scale of chamber music to accord with the format that was expected of a Leipzig church cantata.

The process of revision can be observed especially well in the cantata “Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut” ('Elevated flesh and blood'), as in this case the original version is preserved as well. It was a cantata 'Durchlauchtster Leopold' ('to the most serene Leopold'), BWV 173a, a birthday 'serenade' for Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen, Bach's employer in Köthen. In the cantata text, by an unknown author the populace of Anhalt and Köthen pays tribute to the Prince in a most devoted manner, and praises him with the obsequious baroque zeal for which we nowadays feel so little empathy. It is somewhat disarming, however, to see how soberly Bach's poet proceeded when transforming the cantata for church use. There are long passages where the heavenly ruler is simply substituted for the earthly one. Where originally there were the words 'großer Fürst' ('great Prince'), we now find 'Höichster' ('almighty'; sixth movement); 'Leopold' becomes 'God' (third movement); the princely salutation 'Durchlauchtigster' ('most serene', becomes 'Unendlichster' ('eternal': fifth movement). Instead of the people of Anhalt and Köithen we find the people of God; the 'wir' ('we') of Anhalt-Köthen becomes the 'wir' of Christians. Correspondingly, in the second movement, 'Leopolds Vofrrefflichkeiten ('Leopold's excellent qualities'), which apparently bring such joy to his people, become the 'großen Dinge' ('great things) that God does to us; and, where previously the People of Anhalt-Köthen spread Leopold's 'Nachruhm' ('fame'), the Christians should now do the same with 'Gottes Treue' ('the faith of God'). In this manner, some lines of verse could remain almost or exactly the same as in the earlier version.

The vocal parts of the cantata which originally required just two vocal soloists, a soprano and a bass - were redistributed by Bach among a quartet of soloists. The finale, originally a duet, was expanded into a four-part choral setting. The instrumentation of two flutes, strings and continuo remained unchanged, although the orchestra in Leipzig was probably larger in size.

In later years Bach hardly ever resorted to the reworking of recitatives or of entire cantatas. The parody of recitatives proved to be impractical and often musically unsatisfactory, and moreover imposed considerable restrictions upon the poet. In the present case the very close association between the parody text and its original apparently also led to the poet being unable to develop his ideas and to the almost complete lack of contact between the text and the Whit Monday gospel text. Only one occasion is there a clear allusion to the first verse of the reading, John 3:16, 'Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt, daß er seinen eingeborenen Sohn gab...' ('For Cod so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son') in the opening lines of the fourth movement, " ('For God so loved the world').

Bach's music cannot and indeed does not try to - conceal its origins, and its secular tone will have surprised the Leipzig congregation, many of whom must have been delighted by what they heard. The courtly background emerges with especial clarity in the above-mentioned duet (fourth movement) and in the final movement [chorus]. Both of these are minuet movements with a pronounced dance-like character; it would be possible to imagine them in the guise of purely instrumental pieces. It remains slightly surprising, however, that Bach did not try to compensate for the overall 'secular' impression that the work creates, for instance by introducing a closing chorale. © Klaus Hofmann 2001

Unique Collaboration With Copyists

A key activity in the so-called parody process, or new-text underlay, that Bach utilized extensively in Leipzig was the unique collaboration with his copyists. Bach students Christian Gottlob Meißner and Johann Heinrich Bach served as his main copyists for the essential parts sets for performance, working directly and under Bach’s supervision from the score manuscript in Sebastian’s handwriting, observes Shabalina in “Activities around the Composer’s Desk: The Roles of Bach and his Copyists in Parody Production,” Journal Understanding Bach 11 (2016),

Meißner and Heinrich Bach were the parts copyists involving Pentecost Sunday Cantata BWV 34, “O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe,” (O eternal fire, o source of love), first performed on June 1, 1727, according to Shabalina. In the recently-discovered church service libretto handbook, new Cantata 34 began Bach’s first systematic reperformance of church year cantatas involving succeeding parodied Cantatas BWV 173 and 184 for Pentecost Monday and Tuesday (June 2-3), as well as the Trinity Sunday festival premiere of pure-hymn chorale Cantata BWV 129, “Gelobet sei der Herr, mein Gott,” (Praise be to the Lord, my God, Luke 1:68), on June 8, completing the de tempore first half of the church year and the St. Thomas School annual session.

Cantata 34 now appears to be either the original version of a parodied wedding cantata, BWV 34a, same incipit, or the two works, with similar spiritual texts, “had a common source, now lost,” says Shabalina (Ibid.: 14). In fact, the texts of both cantatas in the opening, dance-style ¾ menuette, da-capo chorus have the same words or phrases in what can be called a “semi-parody.”

Meißner as Bach’s lead copyist also at that time made a manuscript new score copy of Cantata 173 for this performance (June 2, 1727), working from the previous materials of the 1724 first performance. “In the second half of the 1720s, the copyists worked more independently on the parodies, so much so that in some manuscripts Bach’s hand is not evident at all,” says Shabalina (Ibid.: 16). The “copyists were not responsible only for the mechanical procedures. In the second half of the 1720s, J. S. Bach felt able to entrust some of them with more independent and creative tasks” (Ibid.: 25). These involve actual parodies from Bach’s exemplars entrusted, particularly to Meißner, who, working with new texts Bach furnished, would fulfill Bach’s intentions, occasionally changing the music to avoid faulty text declamation, as Bach scholars have noted when suggesting that certain music was a parody.

It is also possible that the copyists-transcribers initiated textual changes and in selective situations such as with Meißner, Bach entrusted them to furnish new texts, possibly in the case of lost secular town council Cantata BWV 216a, "Erwählte Pleißenstadt" (Chosen Leipzig), with characters Apollo and Mercurius, dates to about 1729 and may have been performed by Bach Collegium musicum members at Zimmerman's Coffeehouse. Only the written text survives as a Picander text adaptation of Bach student Christian Gottlob Meissner, with Bach’s handwritten corrections. It is catalogued as Bach Compendium BC G 47, BWV 216(a), BGA XXXIV Forward (Paul Graf Waldersee, 1887), and NBA KB I/39 (Leipzig secular music, Werner Neumann 1977). Its four arias were parodied from a secular wedding cantata, BWV 216, "Vergnügte Pleißenstadt" (Pleasant Pleisse-Town), February 5, 1728.

The importance of parody as a practice of borrowing and transforming all facets of Bach’s musical sermons – madrigalian choruses and arias, free-verse recitatives and chorale strophic harmonizations -- into a new application is beginning to be explored in depth with both source-critical studies of the circumstances involved and the application of different texts which, beyond their poetic qualities, enabled Bach to do more than simply self-plagiarize his music and save time by recycling/borrowing existing works. This practice also enabled Bach to encourage his students to learn the art of composition through active participation with the teacher, similar to artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, who challenged students to help produce the final outcome in a creative working environment. The complexity of both the form and content of the composition (or creation) through applied re-creation, transformation, and realization enabled both the scholar and the performing musician the opportunity to more fully understand and appreciate the creative process and the significance of collaboration.

To that end, it is possible that Bach’s first major, systematic parody endeavor to begin assembling a “well-ordered church music to the glory of God,” was the St. Mark Passion, BWV 247 of 1731, while collecting and summarizing his major endeavors, and imparting his knowledge to learning musicians. What culminated in the “Great Catholic” B-Minor Mass at the end of his life, a Latin contrafaction from his German-language cantatas – the “best” of his music -- received its first major impetus in the biblical account of Jesus Christ’s Passion. A parody of choruses and arias of music of mostly mourning and consolation, with new harmonizations of 16 varied chorales with appropriate stanzas, Bach’s third and final oratorio Passion may have involved the parody of the biblical narrative – recitatives and turbae choruses – involving student Meissner, as suggested in my thesis (p.45), “Narrative Parody in Bach’s St. Mark Passion,” found on line at BCW


1 Cantata 173 BCW Details & Discography, Score Vocal & Piano [1.29 MB],, Score BGA [2.36 MB], References: BGA XXXV (Cantata 171-180, Alfred Dörffel, 1888, NBA KB I/14 (Pentecost Monday/Tuesday, Alfred Dürr, 1963), Bach Compendium, BC A85, Zwang K 72.
2 Petzoldt, Bach Kommentar: Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs; Vol. 2, Die Geistlichen Kantaten vom 1. Advent bis zum Trinitatisfest; Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2007: 1010).
3 Original Text and Francis Browne’s English translation and “Note on the Text,” BCW
4 Gardiner notes, BCW[sdg121_gb].pdf; Recording details,
5 Klaus Hofmann Cantata 173 notes, BCW[BIS-CD1271].pdf; Recording details,

Aryeh Oron wrote (May 22, 2016):
Cantatas BWV 173 & BWV 173a - Revised & updated Discographies

Cantata BWV 173a, "Durchlauchtster Leopold" (Most Serene Highness Leopold), a birthday cantata for Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Köthen [Serenada], was composed in Köthen between 1717 and 1722. It is scored for soprano & bass soloists; and orchestra of 2 transverse flutes, bassoon, 2 violins, viola, violone & continuo.
Cantata BWV 173 "Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut" (Exalted flesh and blood), a solo cantata for Whit Monday [2nd Day of Pentecost], was composed in Leipzig in 1727 (or 1724). The music of this cantatas is based on BWV 173a's music (a virtual parody) and it is scored for soprano, alto, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part Chorus; and orchestra of 2 transverse flutes, 2 violins, viola & continuo.

The discography pages of both cantatas on the BCW have been revised and updated. See:
CantatBWV 173a:
Complete Recordings (7):
Recordings of Individual Movements (1)
Cantata BWV 173:
Complete Recordings (14):
Recordings of Individual Movements (1):
The revised discographies include many listening/watching options to recordings directly from the discography pages, just below the recording details.

I also put at the BCW Home Page:
2 audios and 1 video of cantata bwv 173. A short description below the audio/video image is linked to the full details at the discography pages.

I believe these are the most comprehensive discography of these cantatas. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 173/173a missing from these pages, or want to correct/add details of a recording already presented on the BCW, please do not hesitate to inform me.

You can also read on the BCW the current discussion of the cantatas in the BCML (4th round):


Claudio Di Veroli wrote (May 22, 2016):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks Aryeh!

and very obviously (surely mentioned in the bibliography), the use of transverse flutes (hardly ever doubled) and bassoon, which were the very softest instruments in the baroque orchestra, strongly suggests that a small-quarters intimate performance was intended.

Peter Smaill wrote (May 22, 2016):
This secular Cantata (BWV 173a) is highly regarded by Duerr; and rightly so, given its melodic inventiveness.

On 13th August 2011 it was performed at a Dinner at Edinburgh University (organised by Bach Network UK) whose guest speaker was Sir John Eliot Gardiner; the thesis being that it was likely one of the few Cantatas by Bach that Sir John Eliot had not himself conducted. John Butt and Dunedin Consort performed to great effect. We wondered if it had ever been performed before in the UK.

There had indeed been a previous UK performance in Cambridge (more details welcome). Yet it is a rarity and the specialisation of time and place represented by the birthday of Prince Leopold of Coethen restricts the occasions when it will fit the bill. Even transposed, the bassoon part was a challenge. This particular movement, BWV 173a/7 , "Dein Name gleich der Sonnen bei", which disappears from sight in the sacred adaptations, was resurrected for piano by the resourceful Walter Morse Rummel. It is one of the almost completely unsung masterpieces in the Bach canon.

The fact that many from the orchestra at Potsdam, which was dissolved by Frederick the Great's brutish father, then came to Coethen accounts for the exceptional level of artistic accomplishment in the period of Bach's tenure there.


Cantata BWV 173: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Cantata BWV 173a: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion
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Last update: Monday, September 11, 2017 15:21