Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

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
Discussions of General Topics: Cantatas & Other Vocal Works | Performance Practice | Radio, Concerts, Festivals, Recordings

Cantata BWV 205
Zerreißet, zersprenget, zertrümmert die Gruft
Cantata BWV 205a
Blast Lärmen, ihr Feinde!
Discussions - Part 3

Continue on Part 2

Discussions in the Week of October 27, 2013 (3rd round)

William Hoffman wrote (October 27, 2013):
Cantata 205 Intro. & Leipzig University Cantatas

Three of Bach’s first four major surviving profane cantatas – BWV 36c, 205 and 207 -- were composed between 1725 and 1726 for celebrations associated with the University of Leipzig. It was the beginning of a reorientation in his creative direction and launched a transition from church year cantata cycles to the worldly domain. There were three primary reasons: to acquire and display new compositional techniques that could be applied to instrumental music such as suites as well as larger vocal works such as sacred oratorios, to explore and reflect on this wider world, and to gain more interaction and influence upon that world of enlightenment and pragmatism. As an example, two of the three cantatas, BWV 205 and 207, were parodied with few changes almost a decade later, for the coronation and name day, respectively, of Augustus III, Saxon Court elector.

Bach’s repertory of more than 50 secular cantatas, being utility music for special events, was driven by motive, method and opportunity, usually with little warning or preparation. Opportunity was the determining factor and most of Bach’s profane works created in Leipzig were related to his municipal employment as Leipzig music director of Leipzig. As such, Bach from his first days living in Leipzig in early May 1723 sought out opportunities in the civic realm before he assumed his demanding cantor’s position to create music for weekly sacred church services

He is believed to have made his initial contact with members of the Collegium musicum group of university musicians based at the progressive New Church with ties to the Leipzig University St. Paul Church, as well as university faculty and patrons. As an employee technically of the Leipzig City Council, Bach signed his contract and made the acquaintance of its leaders, particularly members of the so-called absolutist party, favoring his appointment, with their connections to the governing Saxon Court in Dresden, and their support of the university and progressive cultural pursuits. Of secondary concern at this time, was Bach’s responsibilities in the academic interests of the Thomas School where he and his family were housed and where he spent most of his time as cantor teaching, administering, and creating music.

For the first year-and-a-half, Bach focused his creative endeavors on church music, only nominally addressed his civic concerns and responsibilities with an occasional celebratory piece, probably often fashioned from existing ceremonial music he had brought from Weimar and Köthen. The struggles Bach had to claim the title of university music director and his resulting selectivity is described in Alfred Dürr’s introduction to “Festive Music for Leipzig University Celebrations,” in The Cantatas of JSB (Oxford Univ. Press, 2005: 849):

“Johann Gottlieb Görner, organist of the Nikolaikirche, had already discovered how to claim for himself the post of university music director left vacant by the death of Johann Kuhnau. The pugnacious Bach did in fact succeed in bringing about a division of duties which assured him the supervision of music for the ‘old service’ (at Christmas, Easter, Whit, and the Reformation festival, together with the so-called ‘Quartalsorationen’ (quarterly orations). Yet perhaps due to the preferential personal position that Görner enjoyed within the university, Bach gradually lost interest in these duties after 1725. The festive music composed by Bach is thus largely peripheral to the official academic life of Leipzig, either because it was written for non-academic personage (BWV Anh. I 20, BWV 198) or because it was performed outside academic celebrations (BWV 205, 207, 37b” and BWV Anh. I 195).

First University Cantatas

Bach’s documented first effort is probably BWV Anh. 195, Murmelt nur ihr heitern Bäche (Murmur on, ye merry waters), a homage serenade for the June 9 evening trchlight installation tribute of Leipzig University professor Johann Florens Rivinius, doctor of jurisprudence and member of a prominent learned Leipzig family (BCW, ).The music probably was presented in front of the family home. The music, performed by the Collegium musicum on a student commission with students attending, is lost and all that survives is the text by an unknown poet, probably a university colleague. The text contains five arias (four in popular da-capo form) alternating with four recitatives in florid and elevated learned and naturalistic style (on-line, © Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose). Twelves years later Bach presented a parody, Cantata BWV 36b, “Die Freude reget sich,” a congratulatory cantata for the Leipzig learned Rivinius family in 1735.

Little is known of a Latin ode for the birthday of Duke Friedrich II of the Saxe-Gotha, no title, BWV Anh. 20 (BC G33), that Bach is supposed to have presented in connection with a Leipzig University academic ceremony within the university on August 9, 1723, found in the newspaper, Leipzig Post-Zeitung (August 10). Further information is found in NBA KB I/38, Festive Music for Leipzig University Celebrations, ed. Werner Neumann (BWV 36b, 198, 205, 207, 1960: 10). The ode in Bach’s day was a strophic poem with the same form in repeated stanzas, in contrast to madrigalian verse with different forms for each stanza suitable for arias and recitatives). The other Bach work classified as an oration for university related events is Funeral Ode, Cantata BWV 198, to a Johann Christoph Gottshed text BCW Weekly Discussion, November 3. In addition is the recently discovered Weimar sacred song, “Alles mit Gott,” BWV 1127 (BCW, , Discussion Week of August 25, 2013). For the 200th Anniversary Ceremony of the Reformation Jubilee in Leipzig, Görner presented a Latin ode at the St. Paul University Church ( ).

Bach had strong connections with the Saxe-Gotha duchy, having presented his now-lost “Weimar Passion” oratorio, BC D-1, on March 26, 1717. Bach also may have presented the “Keiser” Mark Passion there in 1712 /13, where there was an extensive and progressive music library. Further, it is possible that Bach while at Köthen presented a birthday homage cantata for Friedrich II on August 2, 1721, two years prior to the Latin birthday ode in Leipzig. Duke Friedrich’s connection to the University of Leipzig is unknown. It may have been a case of serendipity that Friedrich, who held his Saxe-Gotha duchy through the auspices of the Saxon Court, granted by the Hapsburgs, may have been honored by Leipzig University.

Circumstantial and collateral evidence suggests that Bach may have composed music for a “Day of Glory” Leipzig University graduation ceremony presumably at the St. Paul Church on April 27, 1724, BWV Anh. 15 (BC B 32) Siehe, der Hüter Israel (Lo now, the guard of Israel, Psalm 121:4). Only the text incipit survives, first cited in the Breitkopf fall 1761 Catalog under No. 8, Occasional Cantatas, C. Promotions. The festival scoring for this sacred work is listed: SATB, 3 trumpets, timpani, 2 oboes, strings, and cembalo (on-line, .

During Lent 1725, Bach took a break from his second church cantata annual cycle and the composition of a new Passion, to create and present two major repertory secular cantatas, Shepherd’s serenade, BWV 249a, and homage cantata, BWV 36c, through parody (new-text underlay) were used twice more for profane celebrations as well as the church year, probably in collaboration with his librettist Picander. Cantata BWV 36c, Schwingt freudig euch empor (Swing yourselves joyfully on high), probably presented about April 5, two days after Easter Sunday, celebrated the birthday of a teacher. Previously that teacher was believed to be Johann Matthis Gessner, rector of St. Thomas, who actually took that position in 1730. The Bach Compendium (1989) catalogs the work as G 35, for university-related events while Dürr, Cantatas of JSB (Idid.: 873-876) discusses it under the heading “Leipzig Music of Homage for Nobles and Burgers,” where it will be part of the BCW November 10 weekly Discussion for such works, featuring Cantata 212.

Cantata 205: Dramma per Musica

That summer of 1725, having taken a semester break before starting a third church-year cycle, Bach composed his first so-called “dramma-per musica,” or in his case, a static opera, Cantata BWV 205, Der zufriedengestellte Aeolus: Zerreißet, zersprenget, zertrümmert die Gruft (The Appeased Aolus, tear in pieces, explode, shatter the vault). For Details, see BCW . It was ahoage cantata for the name day of Augustus Friedrich Müller, a distinguished law professor at Leipzig University. Müller also was a philosophy lecturer and had presumed connections to the Saxon Court.

The Picander German text and Francis Browne English translation is at BCW, . The four mythological characters are: Pallas (Soprano), Pomona (Alto), Zephyrus (Tenor), Aeolus (Bass). The scoring is for 4-part chorus and large orchestra: 3 trumpets, timpani, 2 horns, 2 transverse flutes, 2 oboes, oboe d’amore, viola d’amore, viola da gamba, 2 violas, 8 violins, 2 violoncellos, violone, bassoon, continuo (including cembalo & organ). Its 15 movements take 41 minutes and it is Bach’s only extant work to include trumpets and horns together in the opening and closing da-capo choruses as well as the da-capo bass aria (No. 11),” Zurücke, zurücke, geflügelten Winde” (Back, back, winged winds). The Score BGA [7.68 MB] is found at: . An Introduction and Background with Dürr’s original notes are provided by Aryeh Oron in the initial discussion (October 19, 2003), BCW .

A concise summary of the event and the music is found in Julian Mincham’s Commentary, . Here are two salient paragraphs:

“Even by the standards of a number of the other secular cantatas, this is a work conceived on a very large scale, seven recitatives, six arias and two choruses, totaling fifteen movements in all. Lasting for almost three quarters of an hour, it enjoys an orchestration of almost unparalleled proportions, three trumpets, two horns and drums, flutes, oboes, strings and continuo, all combining with the choir in the outer movements and even supporting the singer in the first recitative. Furthermore this range of instruments, presumably played mostly by the university students, provided Bach with a vast choice of colours for the arias. It would seem that this was the only extant cantata in which Bach brought trumpets and horns together in the same movements.”

“As so often is the case with baroque works of homage the plot, making use of characters from Greek mythology, is slight in the extreme and should not be taken too seriously; it is, after all, just a peg upon which to hang the musical tribute. In a nutshell, Pallas Athene, Goddess of Wisdom, is concerned that Aeolus, God of Winds, may unleash havoc upon her feast of celebration and it seems for a while (shock, horror!) that he might!

But he doesn't; and all ends in a joyful and fully predictable tribute to the eminent Professor Müller.” Dürr (Ibid.: 854) calls Cantata 205 “a model of sumptuously score open-air music,” probably performed as a serenade outside Müller’s house in the Katherinenstraße in the evening by torchlight with students attending.

Bach recycled most of the music, only recomposing three recitatives (Nos. 8, 12, and 14) to change references to Augustus III (and renaming three of the four characters), to celebrate observance of the elector’s coronation. Cantata BWV 205a, Blast Lärmen, ihr Feinde! in Leipzig on February 19, 1734, was performance indoors at Zimmermann’s Coffeehouse. Unlike the other two repertory secular works composed in 1725, BWV 249(a), and BWV 36c with an eye to sacred uses, Bach was content to do one complete borrowing in haste, BWV 205a. Like the Hunting Cantata, BWV 208, he was able to recycle through parody two arias: Pallas’ aria (No. 9) was reused in the 1729 New Year’s Cantata BWV 171, and the Pomona-Zephyrus duet was used in the 1728 profane wedding cantata, BWV 216.

Although there is no recording of the parodied Cantata BWV 205a (the original score is lost), conductor Ton Koopman has composed new recitatives. He explained the process in a 2003 interview with BCW’s Uri Golomb: Like the St. Mark Passion, BWV 247, “where I composed the missing recitatives; and at the moment I am working on a similar project, reconstructing Cantata BWV 205a – my first version is ready. We’re going to perform that in Dresden, it’s not for a recording. There are major problems, nothing is 100% clear. Musicologists have made suggestions on how things should go; but BWV 205a is lost, and I think it is impossible to reconstruct it as Bach performed it.”

Another University Cantata, BWV 207

The academic <dramma per musica> Cantata 207, “Vereinigte Zwietracht der wechselnden Saiten (United discourse of varying strings) was composed for the installation of Leipzig University Roman Law Professor Gottlieb Korte, December 11, 1726. Details of Cantata BWV 207 are found at BCW, . The allegorical figures are: Soprano [Glück = Happiness], Alto [Dankbarkeit = Gratitude], Tenor [Fleiss = Dilgence], Bass [Ehre = Fame].

The German text and Francis Browne’s English translation are found at BCW, . The text originally was attributed as “Anonymous,” possibly by Picander, but “probably written by one of Kortte’s students, Heinrich Gottlieb Schellhafer” (see Miller Theatre Program Notes, Bach and the Baroque: Bach’s Music Theatre; Thursday, February 7, 2008; ,

especially the introduction and “Vereinigte Zwietracht der wechselnden Saiten (United Discord of Alternating Strings), BWV 207,” and “Der zufriedengestellte Aeolus (Aeolus Satisfied), BWV 205,” © Paul Griffiths ( Miller Theatre has commissioned writer and music critic Paul Griffiths to write the program notes for its 2007-2008 season of events.

Schellhafer also is mentioned in the Philipp Spitta’s Bach source notes, Appendix I, in German only, at: Spitta, Philipp: Johann Sebastian Bach: Zweiter Band: Anhang A und B: Anhang A (

Cantata 207 was virtually parodied as Cantata BWV 207a, “Auf, schmetternde Töne der muntern Trompeten” (Up, pealing sounds of lively trumpets) for the Saxon Court Elector’s Nameday, probably August 3, 1735, at Zimmerman’s coffee garden. Common elements of the two cantatas (BWV 207 and BWV 207a) – an introductory March, the surviving materials of both found together, and the dance form – are part of the recent Discussion of Cantata 207a as Festival Music for the House of Saxony, . Both Details pages (BWV 207 and 207a, carry as references, Thomas Braatz’ recent article, “The Marche movement in BWV 207 and BWV 207a,” BCW ,

Both cantatas, BWV 207 and 207a, last about 41 minutes and are scored for virtually the same forces: 4-part Chorus; Orchestra: 3 trumpets, timpani, 2 transverse flutes, 2 oboes d’amore, tenor oboe (taille), bassoon, strings, continuo.

The other Cantata 207 Commentary: Julian Mincham’s extensive anaylsis of all the movements, . Alfred Durr’s entry takes less space than the text, Cantatas of JSB (Ibid: 856-862). No liner notes are available at the seven Recordings.

Recording, Friedemann Parody

Masaaki Suzuki recently performed Cantatas BWV 205 and 207, Bach Collegium Japan (at the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall), July 27, 2013. The soloists are: soprano Joanne Lunn, counter-tenor Robin Blaze, tenor Wolfram Lattke, baritone Roderick Williams, and bass Makoto Sakurada. He has almost completed his recording of the cycle of sacred cantatas, and has released three volumes of secular cantatas.

Friedemann Bach presented a sacred parody of BWV 205a as music director at Halle. Two dated text books document performances at the inaugural sermon of F. E. Rambach; November 21, 1756, and the Thanksgiving Service for Vistory at Lissa, December 18 1757, finds Peter Wollny, “Wilhelm Friedemann Bach’s Halle Performances of Cantatas by His Father,” in Bach Studies 2, ed. Daniel R Melamed (Cambridge University Press, 1995: 202-229.

William Hoffman wrote (November 1, 2013):
Read: "A Polonaise Duet for a Professor, a King
and a Merchant: on Cantatas BWV 205, 205a, 216 and 216a," by Johann Sebastian Bach,"

SZYMON PACZKOWSKI [[PDF] full text - Bach Network UK, Understanding Bach, 2, 19-36; C Bach Network UK 2007; .


Cantatas BWV 205 & BWV 205a: Details & Complete Recordings of BWV 205 | Recordings of Individual Movements from BWV 205 | Details of BWV 205a | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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
Discussions of General Topics: Cantatas & Other Vocal Works | Performance Practice | Radio, Concerts, Festivals, Recordings


Back to the Top

Last update: Sunday, May 28, 2017 07:27