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Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: 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

Cantata BWV 196
Der Herr denket an uns
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of June 23, 2013

Paul Beckman wrote (June 23, 2013):
This Week's Cantata

I am tasked with introducing the next five weeks' cantatas, beginning with BWV 196, "Der Herr denket an uns." Before I launch into this week's discussion, however, I am supposed to say a bit about myself, which goes something like this:

My name is Paul Beckman. I live in Ann Arbor Michigan with my wife and two teenaged children (one daughter, one son). Condolences for the teen part are not necessary - they are great kids. I am an currently an attorney, but became so only after a long time of serving as a pastor in a couple of non-denominational churches.

I grew up in a house that was full of all kinds of music, especially jazz and classical. My father was an excellent pianist who was willing to listen even to my 1960s rock music (he bought me my first Beatles album); I reciprocated by listening to everything he suggested, with the exception of opera. During my otherwise misspent youth, I learned to play most of the brass instruments and guitar; this does not qualify me to make any learned comments on music, but I do know what I like, as the saying goes.

My initiation to Bach's cantatas came many years later, when I chanced to hear a performance of #45 on some now unremembered NPR program. I became an instant addict.

Now, on to the assigned cantata:

Der Herr denket an uns has already experienced two rounds of conversation (http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV196-D.htm), so there may not be much to add to previous comments. The cantata is described as "charming," "fresh," and so on. To me, it's a pleasant work, with some occasional bursts of real Bachian oomph. The fact that it is quite early is constantly evident, especially in the Corelli-like opening sinfonia, which, with its little ritardandi and simple "walking" continuo, sounds like it could fit nicely into one of the Concerti Grossi. At another point in the work, the rather abrupt ending of Mvt. 4 (tenor and bass duet), you can almost hear a natural transition into the final chorus of BWV 71, Gott ist mein Konig, another very early work.

On the other hand, there are hints at Bach's future ability to take advantage of word/music coloring. For example, in the duet, the massing of the two voices on "mehr und mehr" gives way to the unison singing of "you and your children."

What about some of the recordings? Again, much of this has been covered in earlier discussions, but I had not been familiar with many of these before taking on this task. Some of my impressions are as follows:

One general thought is that there is, of course, some variation in timing (the whole work consumes somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes, depending on the pace), and my conclusion is that the piece can suffer greatly from an overly-slow tempo. For example, Diego Fasolis' version [8] (coro della Radio Swizzera) feels almost retrograde, and would add a tool to modern methods of torture.

Some other versions:

On the slow end, I find Rilling [1] rather muddy and hard to listen to (his is from 1984 and remastered some years later). It is almost Romantic in approach, and not, to my mind, particularly successful. Leonhardt is also slower, but he manages to make it work. For some reason, his typical rhythmic eccentricities don't obscure the simplicity and richness of Bach's sonorities; he seems to have found a good balance between soloists and choir, and his boy soprano is quite good (and I say that as someone who is not a big fan of boy sopranos).

Koopman [4]: I will only say that I hear too much lightness; although BWV 196 is a "positive" piece in a major key, it should have a bit of weight to it, especially in the middle parts.

My favorites are Suzuki [5] and Junghanel [7], both of which are clean, lively, and carry the right level of substance. They are sure-handed, with good instrumental playing and fine singing (OK, now I sound like I'm at a wine tasting). At any rate, I don't see any other versions approaching their overall accomplishment.

As far as discussion topics, I confess to being a bit stumped? Was it for a wedding? Well, many seem to think so, but none of us, including Spitta, were there. As far as I can tell, it could just as well have been for a christening; for the turning of a new year; or for any other happy occasion. I suppose one of the topics that I like to consider in these early works has to do with what we hear of the genius-to-come: What is uniquely JSB and points to his future greatness?

As always, the links for best discussion are, as above, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV196-D.htm and Julian Mincham's at http://www.jsbachcantatas.com/documents/chapter-78-bwv-196.htm

With regards and blessed listening to all,

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 23, 2013):
This Week's Cantata BWV 196 – Recordings

[To Paul Beckman] Thanks for the intro.
This week I have added an option to watch/listen to some recordings directly from the main page of Cantata BWV 196: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV196.htm
[2] Nikolaus Harnoncourt
[12] Michio O'Hara
[13] Giacomo Carniti
Simply click on the small TV photo below the recording details.
[12] & [13] are newly added recordings.

Francis Browne wrote (June 23, 2013):
BWV 196 Note on the text

Note on the text BWV 196 is almost certainly one of Bach's earliest vocal compositions and probably dates from his time in Mühlhausen (1707/8). The original score has not survived, but there is a copy made in the early 1730s by Bach's pupil Johann Ludwig Dietel. This does not specify an occasion and the text chosen - Psalm 115 :12-15 - is not linked with any particular liturgical or non-liturgical use. The brevity of the text and the absence of recitative and chorale are typical of cantatas from the very early years of the eighteenth century and so also suggest an early date. According to Dürr, Wilhelm Rüst, editor of the Bach Gesellschaft edition(1864), and Philipp Spitta, Bach 's biographer, both reached the conclusion that the cantata was written for a wedding. Spitta suggested that that the mention in the text of the House of Aaron could mean that the bridegroom was a clergyman and the mention of children implied he may be a widower with children who was making a second marriage .On such evidence he speculated that the cantata was written for the wedding on 5th June of Johann
Lorenz Stauber, who had officated a few months earlier at Bach's own wedding and who married Regina
Wiedemann , an aunt of Bach's wife. The conjecture evokes a pleasing image of the young Bach and his wife returning on a bright summer's day to the small village church where they were married with this delightful cantata as their wedding gift.As often happens what was originally speculation is repeated by later commentators and gradually changes into accepted fact.Certainty is impossible .As Dürr argues it seems unlikely that such a biblical text taken from a single source should coincide in all details with a particular occasion.Konrad Küster casts doubt whether BWV 196 should be regarded as a wedding cantata at all since the text is equally suitable for any other occasion for praise and thanksgiving.But Psalm 115 is not an obvious text to which to turn for a celebratory text. Most of the psalm is concerned with pointing out God's superiority to false idols. Perhaps someone who knew their bible very well - Pfarrer Staubeor Bach himself - noticed that these verses in the middle of a psalm concerned with other topics could be applied to the situation of Stauber , a clergyman with children making a second marriage. The repetition of segnen(bless) in all four verses also offered musical possibibliteis which Bach exploited. It remains at least possible that Spitta's reconstruction of the origin of this cantata may contain some truth.

William Hoffman wrote (June 27, 2013):
BWV 196: Sacred Cantatas for Various Occasions

MUSIC FOR VARIOUS OCCASIONS

One of the most popular but obscure groups of Bach cantatas is the sacred music for various special occasions, without designation of purpose with their titles. They are found in two basic categories: early works composed in Arnstadt and Mühlhausen in 1706-08 in the old style (BWV 150, BWV 131, BWV 196) and pure-hymn chorales composed in Leipzig between 1728 and 1734 (BWV 192, BWV 117, BWV 97, BWV 100) that often have progressive elements.

While used in sacred Lutheran services they were not distributed to Bach's heirs as part of the annual church cantata cycles yet they form a major element of Bach's calling to create a "well-ordered church music to the glory of God." Their bedrock texts are drawn from biblical psalms and chorales of penitence or praise and thanksgiving. Thus, they probably were either presented during sacred memorial/funeral services and confessional services or during weddings as well as other special sacred celebrations for Reformation Day and the Town Council annual installation and possibly festive church-year services of New Year's Day and Trinity Sunday.

In the current discussion of the Bach Cantata Website (BCW), the music involves - - with added Bach Compendium (BC) catalog numbers for "Cantatas for Sundays and feast days of the liturgical year," "Unspecified Occasions" (Work Group A) or "Sacred works for special occasions" (Work Group B) and the pages for "Various occasions" from Alfred Dürr's <Cantata of JSB> (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2005) - - the following:

Cantatas for Various Occasions

Date; BWV No., Title; usage (date); BC and Dürr pages

Jun 9, 2013; BWV 150, Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich; Penitential Service ? (1704-1707); BC B 24, pp. 773-776
Jun 16, 2013; BWV 131, Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir; Penitential Service ? (1707-1708); BC B 25, 776-779
Jun 23, 2013; BWV 196, Der Herr denkt an uns; Wedding ? (1708?); BC B 11; 779-780
Jun 30, 2013; BWV 192, Nun danket alle Gott [incomplete]; Reform. / Wedding ? (1729-1731); A188; 780-783
Jul 7, 2013; BWV 117, Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut; unspecified / Wedding ? (1728-1731); A 187, 783-787
Jul 14, 2013; BWV 97, In allen meinen Taten; Occasion unspecified / Wedding ? (1734); A 189; 787-790
Jul 21, 2013; BWV 100, Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan [III]; 15th Sun. after Trin. / Wedding ? (c1734); A 191 790-793

Dürr begins the chapter on sacred cantatas of "Various occasions" (Ibid.: 773f) with an accounting of works that are not extant (but often involve parody):

Celebratory cantata "Lobet den Herren, alle seine Heerscharen" (Praise ye the Lord, all ye of his great armies), BWV Anh. I 5, (BC B 30)with the sacred dictum, Psalm 119:175, is the only surviving sacred cantata for the annual birthday celebration of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen, on December 10, 1718, with the text of Christian ent 1713and Z. Philip Ambrose translation are found online at http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/XIII.html.

Friedrich Smend in his study, <Bach at Köthen>, believes that Bach produced two each annual sacred cantatas and profane serenades respectively for the Prince's Birthday festival in December and the New Year's celebration. The sacred works may have been performed at the Cöthen St. Agnes Reform Calvinist Church since Hunold's published poetry lists the occasion as "the Divine Service." The church was where Leopold's memorial services were held in March 1729, using Bach's parody, Funeral Cantata BWV 244a, from the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) and the Funeral Ode, BWV 198.

Other early Bach sacred cantatas may have involved proto-works for special occasions such as Bach's probe-pieces for positions at Mühlhausen, chorale cantata, "Christ lag in Todesbanden," BWV 4, Easter Sunday 1708; the Weimar chorus cantata, "Christen, ätzet diesen Tag," Advent 1713; and the festive (Pentecost) Weimar festive two-part Cantata BWV 194, "Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest" (BC B31) for the Störmthal church and organ consecration, late Trinity Time 1723, covered in Dürr between the Reformation and Council Election cantatas, Chapter 7, pp. 715-720.

As to a special Thanksgiving service, Bach had presented other works for similar special celebrations of either Lutheran observance or the Saxon Court. There was the three-day festival for Observance of the 200th Anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, June 26-28, 1730, with parodies of Town-Council cantatas BWV 190a, 120a, and Anh. 4a [BC B 27-29; Dürr, Ibid: 772]. Later, was the Festive Service of Allegiance to August III, April 21, 1733, at the Leipzig Thomas Church, possibly with BWV 232I, <Kyrie-Gloria>; and a Thanksgiving Service for the War of Polish Succession, July 6, 1734, at the Leipzig Nikolas Church, possibly with BWV 248a (BC A 190), later parodied as BWV 248VI for Epiphany 1735. Christmas Cantata BWV 191 was his last documented Thanksgiving Service, in the mid-1740s.

Dürr also lists a sacred Graduation cantata (date unknown), "Siehe der Hüter Israel, BWV Anh. I 15 (NBA KB I/34, BC: B 32; see BCW Details, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWVAnh15.htm). The poet is unknown and the only source is the festive incipit in the 1761 Leizig Breitkopf publisher's catalog (see Z. Philip Ambrose's entry, http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/XXI.html. The other lost sacred work cited in Dürr is "Meine Seele soll Gott loben," BWV 223 (Spitta I: 343f, BC A 186), Mühlhausen, unknown occasion 1707-08 (See BCW Details, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV223.htm). Dürr also lists two sacred cantatas for specific church year occasions that Bach also designated "in ogni tempo" (at any time) during the church year, Cantatas BWV 21 (BC A 99) and BWV 51 (BC A 134).

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 28, 2013):
Calvinists vs. Lutherans

William Hoffman wrote:
< The sacred works may have been performed at the Cöthen St. Agnes Reform Calvinist Church since Hunold's published poetry lists the occasion as "the Divine Service." >
Did the Calvinists permit concerted cantatas? I thought they even prohibited Lutheran chorales.

We can't over-estimate the antipathy in strands of Protestantantism. The Calvinists would not allow the Lutherans to build a church building in Ge. They were allowed only if it did not look like a church. The
Lutheran parish in Geneva still looks like a French "hotel": http://tinyurl.com/omodw7m

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 28, 2013):
Symbolum Nicenum

William Hoffman wrote:
< Dürr also lists a sacred Graduation cantata (date unknown), "Siehe der Hüter Israel, BWV Anh. I 15 (NBA KB I/34, BC: B 32; see BCW Details, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWVAnh15.htm). >
Speaking of the Thomasschule academic year, what is the status of the opinion that the Credo (Symbolum Nicenum) of the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) was originally created for an academic event?

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 28, 2013):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The Lutheran parish in Geneva still looks like a French "hotel": http://tinyurl.com/omodw7m >
Indeed! Thanks for the link.

William Hoffman wrote (June 28, 2013):
[To Douglas Cowling, regarding Calvinists vs. Lutherans]
Bach's major funeral cantata, BWV 244a, was presented at Leopold's memorial service in the church in March 1729 with various musicians from the Weimar-Saxony area, possibly including Anna Magdalena singing the soprano part.

William Hoffman wrote (June 28, 2013):
[To Douglas Cowling, regarding Symbolum Nicenum] I cannot recall any reference to an academic occasion in the recent literature, particularly the Baerenreiter edition of the original Symbolum Nicenum, or the Belfast (Tomita/Leahy) conference on the B-Minor Mass (BWV 232) publication of numerous essays. C.P.E. Bach performed his version in a Hamburg concert hall at Lent 1786, with his "Heilig" and selections from Handel's "Messiah." I think the original may have been performed in the 1740s during the Trinity Sunday Festival service, as (I think) Bassani's "Credo" was. I'll have to check my sources next weekend when I get home from my 70th birthday grand tour of the Great Lakes.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 28, 2013):
William Hoffman wrote, regarding Symbolum Nicenum:
< I think the original may have been performed in the 1740s during the Trinity Sunday Festival service, as (I think) Bassani's "Credo" was. I'll have to check my sources next weekend when I get home from my 70th birthday grand tour of the Great Lakes. >
Was the performance of a concerted "Credo" such as that of Bassani part of Bach's increased use of concerted mass movements in the 1740's. If so, the B Minor "Symbolum Nicenum" might be part of a "new" tradition in Bach's last decade.

While you are touring the Great Lakes, keep an eye out for the lost manuscript of the lost Birthday Cantata attributed to Bach:

"Die Grosse Seen jubilieren und singen,
Die Namen unsres Wilhelm zu erklingen" (BWV Anh. 70)

George Bromley wrote (June 28, 2013):
[To William Hoffman] Happy birthday.

William Hoffman wrote (June 29, 2013):
BWV 196: Sacred Cantatas for Various Occasions

MUSIC FOR VARIOUS OCCASIONS

One of the most popular but obscure groups of Bach cantatas is the sacred music for various special occasions, without designation of purpose with their titles. They are found in two basic categories: early works composed in Arnstadt and Mühlhausen in 1706-08 in the old style (BWV 150, BWV 131, BWV 196) and pure-hymn chorales composed in Leipzig between 1728 and 1734 (BWV 192, BWV 117, BWV 97, BWV 100) that often have progressive elements.

While used in sacred Lutheran services they were not distributed to Bach's heirs as part of the annual church cantata cycles yet they form a major element of Bach's calling to create a "well-ordered church music to the glory of God." Their bedrock texts are drawn from biblical psalms and chorales of penitence or praise and thanksgiving. Thus, they probably were either presented during sacred memorial/funeral services and confessional services or during weddings as well as other special sacred celebrations for Reformation Day and the Town Council annual installation and possibly festive church-year services of New Year's Day and Trinity Sunday.

In the current discussion of the Bach Cantata Website (BCW), the music involves - - with added Bach Compendium (BC) catalog numbers for "Cantatas for Sundays and feast days of the liturgical year," "Unspecified Occasions" (Work Group A) or "Sacred works for special occasions" (Work Group B) and the pages for "Various occasions" from Alfred Dürr's <Cantata of JSB> (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2005) - - the following:

Cantatas for Various Occasions

Date; BWV No., Title; usage (date); BC and Dürr pages

Jun 9, 2013; BWV 150, Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich; Penitential Service ? (1704-1707); BC B 24, pp. 773-776
Jun 16, 2013; BWV 131, Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir; Penitential Service ? (1707-1708); BC B 25, 776-779
Jun 23, 2013; BWV 196, Der Herr denkt an uns; Wedding ? (1708?); BC B 11; 779-780
Jun 30, 2013; BWV 192, Nun danket alle Gott [incomplete]; Reform. / Wedding ? (1729-1731); A188; 780-783
Jul 7, 2013; BWV 117, Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut; unspecified / Wedding ? (1728-1731); A 187, 783-787
Jul 14, 2013; BWV 97, In allen meinen Taten; Occasion unspecified / Wedding ? (1734); A 189; 787-790
Jul 21, 2013; BWV 100, Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan [III]; 15th Sun. after Trin. / Wedding ? (c1734); A 191 790-793

Dürr begins the chapter on sacred cantatas of "Various occasions" (Ibid.: 773f) with an accounting of works that are not extant (but often involve parody):

Celebratory cantata "Lobet den Herren, alle seine Heerscharen" (Praise ye the Lord, all ye of his great armies), BWV Anh. I 5, (BC B 30)with the sacred dictum, Psalm 119:175, is the only surviving sacred cantata for the annual birthday celebration of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen, on December 10, 1718, with the text of Christian ent 1713and Z. Philip Ambrose translation are found online at http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/XIII.html.

Friedrich Smend in his study, <Bach at Köthen>, believes that Bach produced two each annual sacred cantatas and profane serenades respectively for the Prince's Birthday festival in December and the New Year's celebration. The sacred works may have been performed at the Cöthen St. Agnes Reform Calvinist Church since Hunold's published poetry lists the occasion as "the Divine Service." The church was where Leopold's memorial services were held in March 1729, using Bach's parody, Funeral Cantata BWV 244a, from the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) and the Funeral Ode, BWV 198.

Other early Bach sacred cantatas may have involved proto-works for special occasions such as Bach's probe-pieces for positions at Mühlhausen, chorale cantata, "Christ lag in Todesbanden," BWV 4, Easter Sunday 1708; the Weimar chorus cantata, "Christen, ätzet diesen Tag," Advent 1713; and the festive (Pentecost) Weimar festive two-part Cantata BWV 194, "Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest" (BC B31) for the Störmthal church and organ consecration, late Trinity Time 1723, covered in Dürr between the Reformation and Council Election cantatas, Chapter 7, pp. 715-720.

As to a special Thanksgiving service, Bach had presented other works for similar special celebrations of either Lutheran observance or the Saxon Court. There was the three-day festival for Observance of the 200th Anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, June 26-28, 1730, with parodies of Town-Council cantatas BWV 190a, 120a, and Anh. 4a [BC B 27-29; Dürr, Ibid: 772]. Later, was the Festive Service of Allegiance to August III, April 21, 1733, at the Leipzig Thomas Church, possibly with BWV 232I, <Kyrie-Gloria>; and a Thanksgiving Service for the War of Polish Succession, July 6, 1734, at the Leipzig Nikolas Church, possibly with BWV 248a (BC A 190), later parodied as BWV 248VI for Epiphany 1735. Christmas Cantata BWV 191 was his last documented Thanksgiving Service, in the mid-1740s.

Dürr also lists a sacred Graduation cantata (date unknown), "Siehe der Hüter Israel, BWV Anh. I 15 (NBA KB I/34, BC: B 32; see BCW Details, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWVAnh15.htm). The poet is unknown and the only source is the festive incipit in the 1761 Leizig Breitkopf publisher's catalog (see Z. Philip Ambrose's entry, http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/XXI.html. The other lost sacred work cited in Dürr is "Meine Seele soll Gott loben," BWV 223 (Spitta I: 343f, BC A 186), Mühlhausen, unknown occasion 1707-08 (See BCW Details, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV223.htm). Dürr also lists two sacred cantatas for specific church year occasions that Bach also designated "in ogni tempo" (at any time) during the church year, Cantatas BWV 21 (BC A 99) and BWV 51 (BC A 134).

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 29, 2013):
Three Strikes

William Hoffman wrote:
< There was the three-day festival for Observance of the 200th Anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, June 26-28, 1730, with parodies of Town-Council cantatas BWV 190a, 120a, and Anh. 4a [BC B 27-29; Dürr, Ibid: 772]. >
I'm still curious about the Three Day celebration of major feasts, particularly as it relates to Bach's obligation to provide three cantatas. During the year, the principal feast days of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost were marked with three days, each of which had a cantata and probably concerted settings of the Missae and Sanctus at mass and the Magnificat at Vespers (Bach clearly stripped out the Christmas tropes of the E flat Magnificat so he could use it again in D major at Easter or Pentecost)

I've asked several Lutheran liturgists about the significance of the Three Day festival (Stiller doesn't discuss it), but the only suggestion they offered is the "Short Octave", a truncated celebration of the full "Octave" of eight days in the Catholic calendar. The German short octave is probably a pre-Reformation practice, as the 16th century Prayer Books of the Anglican Church also retain it.

It's interesting that the 1730 bicentennial appears to have been given the honorary status of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, and thus perhaps the most important "occasional" event in Bach's lifetime.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (June 29, 2013):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< **
It's interesting that the 1730 bicentennial appears to have been given the honorary status of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, and thus perhaps the most important "occasional" event in Bach's lifetime. >
Interesting that this topic came up, I know Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel's did the same thing for this important day in Gotha as did Georg P. Telemann did in Hamburg.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 29, 2013):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Interesting that this topic came up, I know Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel's did the same thing for this important day in Gotha as did Georg P. Telemann did in Hamburg. >
Does anyone have a connection with Robin Leaver? He knows the liturgical context inside out.

I know it seems like a small point, but the Three Day Festival does have a large impact on Lutheran composers and choirs' compositional and performance workloads. Think of the demands of the first three parts of the Christmas Oratorio.

It just occurred to me that the oratorio's first three parts actually form a sub-set within the whole work with tonal relationships in D major, scoring and framing chorusses in 3/8.

Are there any discernible relationships in Bach's "Reformation Oratorio" (!) for 1730?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (June 29, 2013):
[To Douglas Cowling] It was a BIG holiday for Germany in 1730.

Special coins were minted for the event and put into circulation.

Here is one example (gold coin):

On the front Luther and Melanchton: http://i.imgur.com/zM8pOPt.jpg
And the rear: http://i.imgur.com/p3h08D2.jpg

Julian Mincham wrote (June 29, 2013):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Does anyone have a connection with Robin Leaver? He knows the liturgical context inside out. >
Doug he is often at the BNUK Bach conferences. I will be attending the one next week at Warsaw. If I get the opportunity, what is the specific question you want asked?

Incidentally, is anyone else on list attending this conference? The programme is available from the following link http://www.bach-dialogue-meeting.uw.edu.pl/index.htm

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 29, 2013):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< If I get the opportunity, what is the specific question you want asked? >
I'm curious about the development of the Three-Day Festival and the heavy musical demands it places on composers and musicians even in the mid-18th century. Is it a pre-Reformation truncation of the traditional eight days of an Octave? The Tudor Anglican calendars also observed it.

And was a three-day celebration such a fixed convention that they would extend the custom to occasional events such as the Reformation bicentennial? Were there other occasions which merited a three-day festival?

William Hoffman wrote (June 30, 2013):
[To Douglas Cowling] Heinrich Schütz set an Easter Oratorio for three days (Bach only Easter Sunday). Jesus' Death and Resurrection also are celebrated in music. Also, I think Bach's Leipzig probe compeititors -- Telemann, Fasch, and Grauptner -- composed cantata cycles for all three days of the three festivals. Meanwhile, I am trying to recall if Neumeister, Lehms or Rudolstadt included three-day festivals. I don't think Salomo Franck at Weimar did.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 30, 2013):
Dresden, Schütz, Bach & Wagner

William Hoffman wrote:
< Heinrich Schütz set an Easter Oratorio for three days (Bach only Easter Sunday). >
I can't find a score or text online: do you have a link?

A three-part Easter Oratorio suggests that the tradition of the Three-Day/Short Octave was probably a pre-Reformation custom that persisted in the Lutheran tradition. Bach's Christmas Oratorio may well be an extension of this tradition.

I've always thought that Bach's Easter Oratorio has an Italian shape which Bach may well have encountered in Dresden. The similarlities are quite striking between the work and Handel's "La Resurresione" written in 1708 in Rome.

All roads lead to Dresden ...

Which reminds us of a later Kapellmeister in Dresden, Richard Wagner.

Wagner, who was born in Leipizig, baptised in St. Thomas', and studied with the Cantor, has a fascinating relationship with Bach. Wagner heard the first performance of the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) in Dresden in 1833 under the direction of Friedrich Schneider who also performed Mendelssohn's "Paulus" ("St. Paul", 1836) and his own "Das Weltgericht" ("The Last Judgement" ,1820). Thus, Wagner had close knowledge of the Romantic composers experimenting with Bach's genres.

In 1843, Wagner wrote "Das Leibesmahl des Apostels" for multiple choirs and orchestra - the opening antiphony of the Matthew Passion (BWV 244) and the motets is an influence. Bach and his 19th century imitators helped shaped Wagner's oddest operatic project, a scenario entitled, "Jesus of Nazareth in Five Acts" (1849). (This was at a time when there was considerable interest in staging Handel and Bach oratorios). The libretto was never completed but one small musical sketch survives entitled "Christus im Schiffe" (Christ in the ship) from a scene, "Am See Generasset" (On the Sea of Generasset).

Wagner's attention was diverted to Norse mythology, but the legacy of Bach can still be heard in Meistersinger (the "organ prelude" which opens Act I) and the polychoral choruses of "Parsifal"

And then there's my theory that Wagner's "leitmotif" system of symphonic development is inspired by the counterpoint of Bach. Schweitzer's elaborate "motif" system in Bach's music is discounted today, but I think
he echoes the way Romantic sensibilities heard Bach in the 19th century.

Paul Beckman wrote (June 30, 2013):
[To Douglas Cowling] Would that Bach's influence had extended beyond a few musical ideas. I sometimes cringe to see their names in the same sentence.

William Hoffman wrote (July 2, 2013):
William Hoffman wrote:
<< Heinrich Schütz set an Easter Oratorio for three days (Bach only Easter Sunday). >>
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I can't find a score or text online: do you have a link? >
Will Hoffman replies: The Schütz: "Historia der Auferstehung Jesu" score is available in the omnibus collection of his complete works edited by Spitta: Sämtliche Werke. Hrsg. von Philipp Spitta. Schütz, Heinrich, 1585-1672. 1968 M3 .S385 1885a The text is found in Drinker, Henry S. English Texts to the Vocal Works of Heinrich Schutz. 1952. ML49 S251 D7

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (July 2, 2013):
[To William Hoffman] It's available online @ : Historia der Auferstehung Jesu Chisti (IMSLP) [PDF]

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 2, 2013):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] There don't appear to be any divisions into three parts for successive days.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (July 2, 2013):
[To Douglas Cowling] Maybe because that's because the PDF doesn't include the critical notes, commentary, table of contents. Maybe Will Hoffman can give more details.

William Hoffman wrote (July 3, 2013):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Here are the most relevant notes: http://www.operatoday.com/content/2005/06/schtz_historia_.php
"The "Resurrection History" is based on a conflation of Gospel accounts of the events following Jesus' resurrection: the visit to the tomb by the three Marys, Jesus' appearance on the road to Emmaus, Jesus' eating with the disciples, and so forth. Schütz sets the text for a narrative evangelist accompanied by a consort of viols, with the evangelist singing traditional chant formulas. The music for characters with dialogue is, in the main, duet texture, accompanied by basso continuo. Both the narrative chant style and the polyphonic music for individual characters may imbue the whole with a liturgical aura and keep theatricalism at bay. However, Schütz, in his performance directions shows a degree of flexibility that may nurture dramatic effect, especially in allowing the duets to have one line played, rather than sung, or even having the second line omitted altogether."

The three-day Easter festival gospel is: Easter Sunday, Resurrection; Easter Monday, Walk to Emmaus; and Easter Tuesday, eating with the disciples.

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 7, 2013):
William Hoffman wrote:
< The three-day Easter festival gospel is: Easter Sunday, Resurrection; Easter Monday, Walk to Emmaus; and Easter Tuesday, eating with the disciples. >
Are the opening and closing choruses intended to be sung every day to frame the narrative?

William Hoffman wrote (July 8, 2013):
[To Douglas Cowling] "Schütz's <Historia> was sung at the Vespers of the first day of Easter and performed in the (Dresden) court church, so it would appear, uninterrupted from 1623 to 1675." Liner notes, Capella Augustana, Brilliant Classics 92795.

 

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Last update: żOctober 12, 2013 ż09:08:11