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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 36
Schwingt freudig euch empor
Cantata BWV 36a
Steigt freudig in die Luft
Cantata BWV 36b
Die Freude reget sich
Cantata BWV 36c
Schwingt freudig euch empor
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of January 18, 2009

Chris Kern wrote (January 20, 2009):
BWV 36 intro

Discussion for the week of January 18, 2009

Cantata BWV 36 - Schwingt freudig euch empor

Date of first performance: December 2, 1731

Information about recordings, biblical readings, translations, etc: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV36.htm

Music example (Leusink [11]): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Stream/BWV36-Leusink.ram

BWV 36 is the third cantata of our Advent discussion. It has a relation to several secular cantatas, and the cantata itself has no recitatives, instead having arias and chorales interspersed (added to an opening choral movement). This is one of my favorite cantatas; every movement is strong. In particular, the two movements based on Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (Mvt. 2 and Mvt. 6) are standout movements and provide yet another occurrence of the recurring chorale theme in the Advent cantatas.

Mvt. 1
The first movement is a choral opening, exhorting believers to sing joyfully of Christ's imminent coming. I especially like the way that Rilling [5] introduced a solo violin to play one of the violin lines in this movement -- perhaps inspired by the seeming solo nature of the florid Violin 1 line.

Mvt. 2
This is my favorite movement of the cantata. It consists of a lengthy soprano and alto duet based on the first verse of NKDHH. This sort of movement shows the endless variations which were possible on the basic chorale tunes that Bach expected (probably?) his listeners to be familiar with. As often, I really like Leusink's version [11] of this -- Buwalda and Holton's voices blend together very well.

Mvt. 3
A tenor aria with obbligato oboe d'amore. The lyrics once again develop the theme of the approaching birth of Jesus compared with the entry of Jesus into the personal life of a believer.

Mvt. 4
This is a 4-part chorale of stanza 6 of Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern. This is an interesting chorale because it also showed up in BWV 61, the first Advent cantata of our cycle. However, BWV 1, the chorale cantata based on this chorale, was written for the Annunciation. Of course the Annunciation is connected to the birth of Jesus. The lyrics themselves are not particularly tied to either holiday, but it must have held some connection to Jesus' birth either to Bach, or to the Leipzig church as a whole.

Mvt. 5
A sprightly bass aria with string accompaniment -- once again, Rilling [5] makes Violin 1 a solo violin, which creates a nice effect. The bass sings about accepting Jesus into his heart, a theme that was seen in both the BWV 62 and BWV 61 cantatas.

Mvt. 6
This movement is the tenor singing the chorale (NKDHH) unadorned, with accompaniment from two oboes d'amore. This is one of my favorite types of cantata movement, and there are relatively few of them in Bach's oeuvre. Whittaker says that "Bach is merciless towards the oboes d'amore, they are allowed scarcely any time for breathing." The movement is marked "allegro molto" in the score, perhaps to avoid the chorale line becoming too slow and the tune hard to interpret.

Mvt. 7
This is a soprano aria with violin obbligato. The Harnoncourt recording [4] of this is a standout -- the boy soprano is one of the best that Harnoncourt has in any of his recordings, and the slow pace allows the movement to blossom. Whittaker, after showing examples of the "dramatic" effect in the B section: "Yet the present writer has been pilloried in the press for making Bach's church music sound dramatic!"

Mvt. 8
The normal closing chorale (NKDHH again).

William Hoffman wrote (January 21, 2009):
BWV 36: Art of Parody

Cantata BWV 36 exists in as many as four variant versions, composed and compiled between 1725 and 1734. They represent Bach's compositional endeavors at arrangement and adaptation as well as parody or new text underlay. The cantatas are essentially celebratory works with parodied lyric, madrigalesque core music which Bach adapted to church usage through the insertion of chorales in place of the traditional free-verse recitatives containing biblical paraphrases related to the scriptural readings for the appointed service in the church year.

The original version or template is BWV 36c: "Schwingt frudig euch empor" (Soar up in Jubilation); April 5, 1725; congratulatory cantata for the birthday of Leipzig teacher Johann Matthias Gesner; text probably by Picander; nine movement (lyric opening and closing choruses and three arias interspersed with four recitatives; original score survives; parts utilized for subsequent versions.

This initial version was composed during Bach's watershed six-week period of Lent Season 1725. Bach had no responsibilities to present any of his second cycle of chorale cantatas for the four Sundays in Lent and Passion or Palm Sunday. Instead, he took a composer's holiday. On February 12, he produced a sacred wedding cantata, BWV Anh. 14 (text only), which had four arias which may have been parodied in his Great Mass in B-minor (BWV 232). On February 23, he premiered a lengthy shepherd's serenade, BWV 249a, for the birthday of the Duke of Weißenfels. He presented his final chorale cantata in the original cycle, BWV 1, for the Annunciation Festival, on March 25. He repeated, revised and expanded, his St. John Passion, BWV 245, adding several chorale-derived arias and a chorus from the remnants of his Gotha-Weinar Passion of 1717, for Good Friday, March 30. He parodied BWV 249a, as an Easter Oratorio, BWV 249(c), reusing the core lyric choruses and arias, for Easter Sunday, April 1, 1725.

Like Cantata BWV 36c, which had two sacred and secular versions, BWV 249(c) was adapted in its final sacred oratorio version in the mid-1730s while it's original secular version was revised as a dramma per musica with new recitatives, BWV 249b, presented as a congratulatory cantata for the birthday of a Leipzig notable, Count von Flemming, on August 25, 1726; both secular texts were published by Picander in his poetry collections.

Cantata BWV 36c underwent metamorphosis in its subsequent guises. To open the church year for the Advent Festival of 1725 or 1726, four core lyric numbers (opening chorus and three arias) were parodied and interspersed with new biblically-related recitatives, as BWV 36(d), also entitled "Schwingt freudig euch empor" (Raise yourself up joyfully), to a new next probably by Picander, with a closing four-part chorale, Verse 7, of Luther's popular Advent hymn, "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland." The next secular version, BWV 36a, "Steigt freudig in die Luft" (Soar gladly through the air) wfor the birthday of the Princess of Köthen, on Noveber 30, 1726, two days before the Advent festival. Its final secular version, BWV 36b, "Die Freude reget sich" (Joy is stirring), another congratulatory cantata, was probably presented in 1735 for the Rivinius family and this score survives.

All of this shows Bach's mastery as a borrower or recycler, a popular, prevalent practice during the Baroque. Bach's general practice usually involved new text underlay for the lyric choruses and arias, with new text recitatives having event-specific references; although some 20% of Bach's parodied vocal moveents do involve some form of text substitution in the recitatives.

Prior to Lent season 1725, Bach had parodied four Köthen serenades for the Monday and Tuesday services in the three-day Easter and Pentecost Festival (BWV 66, BWV 134, BWV 173, and BWV 184) with simple new-text underlay, some revision of the pertinent recitatives, and new closing chorales. Bach's 1725 church service hiatus gave him the opportunity to establish a new "modus operandi" for parodies. He composed secular music conceived for one special occasion and adapted it for use as sacred cantatas such as BWV 36, for sacred oratorios such as BWV 249, and for sacred Latin contrafactions such as the Mass in B-Minor, BWV 232, and the four Kyrie-Gloria liturgy, BWV 233-36.

Another form of recycling or reusing existing works involved no text changes but musical revisions and additions. These involved some 20 church cantatas composed previously in Weimar and usually expanded for the same church-year event in Leipzig with closing chorales. In the case of three Weimar Advent and two Lent cantatas banned during the Leipzig tempus clausum (BWV 70a, BWV 186a, and BWV 147a; and BWV 54 and BWV 80a), Bach added new recitatives and chorales for other appropriate church-year services. All these cantatas were utilized during Bach's first Leipzig church cantata cycle, 1723-24, when he presented some 60 original works. The lone Weimar cantata exception is BWV 132, for the Fourth Sunday in Advent in Weimar, which Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel inherited.

For Advent 1731, Bach produced the final eight-movement form of Cantata BWV 36. He divided it into two parts, before and after the sermon, replaced the interspersed recitatives with three new chorales and the four-part chorale. Technically, BWV 36 is not considered one of Bach's 53 chorale cantatas. It lacks an opening choral fantasia, based on the chorale melody, as well as the use of consecutive chorale stanzas in the subsequent movements, either as written (per omnes versus) or paraphrased. Instead, Cantata BWV 36 has a literal chorale duet for soprano and alto, a literal tenor chorale aria set as a polonaise, and two four-part chorales closing Part 1 and Part 2. Bach uses the text of three verses of Luther's hymn, "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland," and closes Part 1 with a verse from Nicolai's "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern."

In the three secular versions of BWV 36, Bach substituted new recitatives for the special occasions, retained all three arias, and parodied the closing gavotte-style chorus which was replaced with four-part chorales in the two Advent Festival versions, BWV 36(d) of 1725/26, and BWV 36 of 1731.

Cantata BWV 36 was presented on December 2, 1731. It is considered part of Bach's third, incomplete cantata cycle of 1725-27, since C.P.E. Bach inherited both its score and parts set. It came at the end of what may have been Bach's last period of presenting his church cantatas on a regular basis. Bach apparently revived cantatas from his first and third cycles throughout 1731, composing Cantata BWV 140 for the final, rare 27th Sunday after Trinity, November 25, one week prior to Advent Sunday.

Bach left three complete, exemplary cantatas for the Leipzig Advent Festival, the 1st Sunday in Advent: his popular Weimar cantata, BWV 61, "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland I"; his chorale cantata, BWV 62, "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland II"; and his festive secular parody with four chorales, BWV 36, "Schwingt freudig euch empor." Bach presented only one documented revival of his Advent cantatas. Sometime after 1732, he reprised chorale cantata, BWV 62.

Bach considered setting a fourth Advent cantata in Leipzig. Picander in his published libretto cycle for 1728-29, left a text, beginning with the chorus "Machet die Tore weit" (Psalm 24:7-10) for November 28, 1728. The only possible surviving remnant is the closing chorale, "Gottes Sohn ist kommen," which may survive as Bach's four-part setting, BWV 317, also known as "Gott, durch deine Güte." Bach wasn't finished with Advent. On November 28, 1734, he presented Telemann's cantata to the same opening text, "Fling the doors wide open," TVWV 1:1074, followed by the Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, for the six services of the Christmas Season.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 21, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
>To open the church year for the Advent Festival of 1725 or 1726, four core lyric numbers (opening chorus and three arias) were parodied and interspersed with new biblically-related recitatives, as BWV 36(d), also entitled "Schwingt freudig euch empor" (Raise yourself up joyfully), to a new next probably by Picander, with a closing four-part chorale, Verse 7, of Luther's popular Advent hymn, "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland." The next secular version, BWV 36a, "Steigt freudig in die Luft" (Soar gladly through the air) was for the birthday of the Princess of Köthen, on Noveber 30, 1726, two days before the Advent festival.<
Thanks for the very detailed and informative post, like so much of your work (even of the Fugitive variety)!

If I read this correctly a secular version was performed in 1726, either a year after, or virtually simuoltaneously with, a sacred version. This would seem to contradict one bit of evidence cited on these pages for Bachs sacred inspiration: that a work never reverted to secular use once a sacred parody was created, nor was a sacred work ever parodied for secular use. Comments?

Neil Halliday wrote (January 21, 2009):
Mallon BWV 36 (was: Suzuki Vol. 41)

Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
>I love the hall Suzuki records in, which has a wonderful resonance<
Similar to the resonance heard in Mallon's recording [10] of BWV 36c? Amazon.com

I like the effect of the resonance here too. Gardiner [7] also has one of the better recordings of BWV 36, though the soprano aria in both of them suffers from exaggerated strong-note/weak-note articulation by the singer.

(I note the comment from one reviewer of the Mallon [10]: "The ensemble (Mallon's) is led with a healthy vitality, and the recording mercifully spares us the very tiresome sforzando, sighing attacks and straight-tone fussiness that ruin so many well-intentioned Bach releases", something I have complained of in relation to many HIP examples).

Rilling's 36c version [BWV 36c - 4] gets my vote, for the soprano aria (proving the text is not as important as the music).

I like multiple voices on the S,A chorale lines in 36/2, but have not found the ideal version of this elaborate music; the vocal lines in Rotzsch come close but the continuo has problems.

The enlivening violin triplets in 36/1 are weak/inaudible in Koopman [14] and Herreweghe [8].

(I'm looking forward to the release of Suzuki's BWV 36).

John Pike wrote (January 21, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< If I read this correctly a secular version was performed in 1726, either a year after, or virtually simuoltaneously with, a sacred version. This would seem to contradict one bit of evidence cited on these pages for Bachs sacred inspiration: that a work never reverted to secular use once a sacred parody was created, nor was a sacred work ever parodied for secular use. Comments? >
Ed at his on-topic, thoughtful best.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 21, 2009):
John Pike wrote
>Ed at his on-topic, thoughtful best. <
Thank you for noticing, and bringing to the attention of the whiners. Wit, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. As is that pesky log, in the words of Jesus.

Neil Halliday wrote (January 22, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
>This would seem to contradict one bit of evidence cited on these pages for Bachs sacred inspiration: that a work never reverted to secular use once a sacred parody was created, nor was a sacred work ever parodied for secular use.<
The OCC article on BWV 36 confirms this observation.

The history of the soprano aria is interesting.

The first version - secular (1725) - has obbligato viola d'amore; the final sacred version (1731) has obbligato muted violin ("con sordino"); the final secular version (1735) has obbligato flute.

Conclusion: Bach's parodies can be in either direction - secular to sacred, or sacred to secular.

Interesting side-bar: the booklet with Rilling's recording of BWV 36c (secular) [BWV 36c - 4], discussing parody, notes Spitta's views in 1880: "Bach later used most of the music in the secular cantatas in church music without making substantial changes....from this it follows that the music cannot have been entirely well-suited to its purpose in the original form".

William Hoffman wrote (January 22, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< If I read this correctly a secular version was performed in 1726, either a year after, or virtually simultaneously with, a sacred version. This would seem to contradict one bit of evidence cited on these pages for Bachs sacred inspiration: that a work never reverted to secular use once a sacred parody was created, nor was a sacred work ever parodied for secular use. Comments? >
William Hoffman replies: You are correct in your observation. BWV 36 appears to be the only cantata originating as a secular work to be parodied as a sacred work and then, some five years later revert to a parodied secular work. Virtually all Bach's parodies are secular to sacred because as originally occasional secular works, their use was fulfilled and Bach was able to reuse them as sacred works available for further sacred use, usually repeats in the church year.

We also have many secular works which were repeated with a name change or parodied for further, usually different types of secular occassions: BWV 36, 201, 204-208, 210, and 212. These are all considered repertory secular pieces for multiple use, by Hans Joachim Schulze. Interestingly, for the Kyrie-Gloria parodies, BWV 233-236, virtually all are parodies from church-year cantatas, which could have been repeated. These individual contrafactions (arias and choruses) serve dual purpose in the well-ordered sacred repertory.

We also have curious cases of piecemeal parodies of individual numbers, often from secular cantatas where the original is "lost" for works such as the Ascension Oratorio and possibly the lost Pentecost Oratorio. These "originals," all BWV Anh. with only surviving texts, were probably proto cantatas for specific birthdays, weddings, and other special celebrations and then mined or "cannibalized" by Bach for special, usually sacred uses. Some of these individual pieces went through multiple use.

Neumann's Cantata Handbuch (last edition, 1984) has an extensive Appendix 15, Parodies and Parallels, pp. 294-302. The most intriguing lost Appendices (Anhang) cantatas are those "proto" works which have one parody aria from an existing secular work, where the text layout (line length, syllable stress, rhyme schemes) fits.

We also have the texts of two "lost" important secular works which are quite intriguing in that none of the movements is an apparent parody from or to an established Bach movement. There are BWV Anh. 9, "Entfernet euch, ihr heitern Sterne," 5.12.1727, for August the Great's Birthday; and BWV Anh. 13, "Willkommen! Ihr herrschenden Goetter der Erden!," 4.28.17.38, the serenade for Saxon royalty, Gottshed text, with Bach's most progressive music. That's a lot of lost music -- or maybe someone else actually set the text or it was never set.

Finally, there is the intriguing sacred cantata, BWV Anh. 14, "Sein Segen fliesst dahger wie ein Storm," 2.12.1725. William Scheide in a recent article in <About Bach,> essays for the Christoph Wolff festschrift, suggests that as many as all four arias may have been parodied in the B-Minor Mass.

So, Ed, Thanks for letting me open up a box of pandoras.

Neil Halliday wrote (January 22, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
> Cantata BWV 36 exists in as many as four variant versions, composed and compiled between 1725 and 1734.<
In summary, according to the OCC, three secular versions, 1725 (36c), 1726 (36a), 1735 (36b); and two sacred, the first between 1726-1730, and the second in 1731 (BWV 36).

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 22, 2009):
BWV 36 - Art of Parody (Christian texts?)

I wrote in response to Fugitive Will, quickly attaining legendary status WOLGS):
>This would seem to contradict one bit of evidence cited on these pages for Bach's sacred inspiration: that a work never reverted to secular use once a sacred parody was created, nor was a sacred work ever parodied for secular use.<
Neil H. responds, with characteristic aplomb, brevity, and clarity (ABC?)
>The OCC article on BWV 36 confirms this observation.<
Those with very deep appreciation of the bon mot will note that my introductory line is slightly longer than Neil's comment. Who knows how long the chat will be. Guaranteed, it will be on-topic, if occasionally tangential, even axial (google a picture).

I remember like it was yesterday, summer of 2007, there was nobody hanging and talking but Julian and Neil. At the time I had no idea it was two guys from Oz, all I knew was <I dont want these guys to stop>. So every week I would write a little post, along the lines of <Thank you guys for writing, it adds to my listening enjoyment>. Note to students: I did not do a cut and paste, I changed a word here and there, to give it a flavor of originality. At this point, I was thinking of introducing some advice from my absolute maestro, so high in the sky I occasionally forget that I am channeling him: James Aloysius (sp?) Joyce, JJ to his friends. Astute readers will of course note the uncanny similarity to Bach and JJ: Jesus Juva. Life flows. Anyway, the point is: James Joyce is like my God the Father, hithan high. His advice, as I understand it: dont waste time on originality, there is so much out there just rework what you can use. Has Bachsih ring to my ears, JJ to JJ.
Honored to be listening/reading you guys, keep going.

That is a pretty long paragraph, but no time for ed. or Ed now, make the next one (this very one) short for balance, perhaps a little intro (intrada?) to a scherzo:
Behind dinner, I heard Utah Phillips (RIP May 2008 [per student announcer, confrim before formal citation]) describe a communion ceremony for a Unitarian Church, which debates whether or not there was Jesus (or maybe it is only the Christ aspect they debate), and hence, with whom is the communion. The preacher had an inspiration: use some hi-cal bread, instead of those paltry, unleavened, wafers. The response from the communicants: <I canbelieve this is Jesus!>

Mvt. III
That is actually as much stuff as I had in mind, left over from dinner. TBContinued. Or not.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 22, 2009):
William Hoffman replies:
>You are correct in your observation.<
Fugitive to fugitive, thanks, man. Perhaps the whiners will notice that while they were thinking of things to whine about, I was reading your post, responding to it, most important: taking a moment to say thanks for doing the work! Thanks is an alien concept in most other places I have toiled. Including graduate school, as a former WOGS. Here is a deal, you be WOLGS, and I will continue with my old Worlds Oldest Grad Student (WOGS). Just occurred to me: is that how the L got in there to begin with.

Those who did not take Aryehs hint to listen to the Town Council Election cantatas missed a wonderful amplification to an already oveer-the-top event. To those of you who are <bewitched, bothered, and bewildered>, so am I. But I write. I hit send. Give it a try. As best I can read (considerable), no one responded to Aryehs suggestion but me, and no one responded to my responses.

Off-topic? Most of you (especially the one who bitches most about my writing) are Off Planet (and I don't mean on Saturn with Sun Ra)! Although that might not be such a bad place to be. Sun y Ra, saw him many times, always with a smile, more important, always with a crew of devoted musicians. Including Pat Patrick, father of the governor of my state, Deval Patrick, Massachusetts.

To all my old friends, and to more recent friends like Will: BCW, better than a book. You think you will get this kind of interaction working on amanuscript? Not in my experience.

More things I wish I had thought of first: Love you madly! (E. K. Ellington) Honored (as distinct from Pride) to share your name, Duke!

Art and Parody? Parody and Art? Since the first guy stuck his hand in the mud and plastered it on the wall of the cave, 30k years ago (but see footnote), all art has derived from prior art.

Footnote: When Jakob Bronowski wrote the <Ascent of Man> in the early 1970s, there were many new ideas, not least the title: We [homo] have ascended, not desecended from the Apes (hominids).

Now, forty years later, we know a little more: there is a new group, hominins, between hominids and homo (none of these guys spoke Greek), and more startling to me, the first tools, the first artifacts (hence art?) predate homo by just a bit. They belong to hominin, by best present dating methods. This stuff changes fairly rapidly at the cutting edge (the edge of the tool, if you enjoy that analogy. I know Francis does), so dont write your grandmother just yet.

I dont know, is that too long for one post? Not long enough? I can see from the uproar, insults, etc., that everyone would like to see fewer posts from me. I presume that means longer, but not so many, posts?

Let me anticipate, save you the trouble of groping for the words. Just do a <cut and paste>, plenty of formats for that in the Lutheran dogma archives, on the following phrase.

<No, no, no. We did not want him to write longer, we wanted him to write less.>

My answer, prepared in advance, a quote from the great NYC songster, Lou Reed:
<You can all go take a f?!kin walk>

And from me. No need to shoot the messenger. If you must have violence, go to the source. Or perhaps you want the Fugitive, Old Dude (Sr.), even the Shadow. But not me. Youhave the wrong guy.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 22, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< You are correct in your observation. BWV 36 appears to be the only cantata originating as a secular work to be parodied as a sacred work and then, some five years later revert to a parodied secular work. Virtually all Bach's parodies are secular to sacred because as originally occasional secular works, their use was fulfilled and Bach was able to reuse them as sacred works available for further sacred use, usually repeats in the church year. >
To be a little more precise, Bach reused the secular cantata with a sacred text -- an "upward" adaptation. He then went back to source cantata and made a "lateral" revision with another secular text. I haven't looked at the music of the various revisions, but I doubt that the sacred cantata was the source for the second secular cantata. As far as I remember, there are no original sacred cantatas which were reworked with a secular text. Bach's compositional scruples seem to be preserved even in this instance.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 22, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>To be a little more precise, Bach reused the secular cantata with a sacred text -- an "upward" adaptation. He then went back to source cantata and made a "lateral" revision with another secular text. I haven't looked at the music of the various revisions, but I doubt that the sacred cantata was the source for the second secular cantata. As far as I remember, there are no original sacred cantatas which were reworked with a secular text. Bach's
compositional scruples seem to be preserved even in this instance.<
With all due respect to expertise, because this is a serious topic, I think we need a diagram. It would be more clear to me. Dougs final sentence is the crucial one for the argument. Mind you, the argument is one that I personally would not consider worth making one way or the other. In plain language, I have no horse in this race. But I do enjoy the analysis of information, and conclusions. They are usually called logical conclusions, but if you dig even a broken finger nail beneath the surface, you will strike human emotion.

If I may be so bold (dicing with scholars), the questions are:
(1) Is there a downward adaptation (sacred to secular) in the history of BWV 36, or
(2) Can all the data be interpreted as either upward or lateral.
(2a) Does a lateral adaptation leave the sacred scruples intact? I think not, but I also think it is analogous to arguing about number of angels on the head of a pin.

After the Working [Mans] Mmusic orgy(r) ended, I asked my spouse what she would like to hear. <Anything but Bach> is the standard answer (I usually just put some Bach on without asking). <Play some Duke>. That is probably the closest I will get to anyone actually calling me Duke. We are listening to <Such Sweet Thunder>, fresh in my mind from rereading the BWV 62 archives; from thinking about JJ, hence Puck (up and down); and especially for <I never heard such musical a discord>. Never fails to remind me, with some sort of twisted grin, of Brad and Braatz. You can look it up, almost all of it. BCW, better than a book! Undoubtedly. More fun than FW: the sequel? Under consideration.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 22, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< As far as I remember, there are no original sacred cantatas which were reworked with a secular text. Bach's compositional scruples seem to be preserved even in this instance. >
Agreed-- both Boyd and Dürr trace back to the 1725 original birthday cantata which served as a model for later versions (at least 4 of them, 2 secular and 2 sacred). There is no exception here of bach's neglecting his one way process of deifying the secular.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 22, 2009):
BWV 36 - Chronology of Parodies

The chronology for BWV 36 and variants, extracted from Durr:

(1) BWV 36c, 1725, birthdayof a teacher (Leipzig?)

(2) BWV 36a, Nov. 30, 1726, of new text to same music, birthday of Princess Charlotte Friederike Wilhelmine of Anhalt Cothen.

(3) Unnumbered sacred cantata, for Advent 1, before and leading to (4)

(4) BWV 36, a radical reworking of (3)

(5) BWV 36b, another secular work based on (1) and (2), around 1735

The sequence as given here is clearly secular, sacred, secular. I believe it is in agreement with the data presented by Will.

Douglas Cowling wrote:
>As far as I remember, there are no original sacred cantatas which were reworked with a secular text. Bachs compositional scruples seem to be preserved even in this instance.<
Julian Mincham wrote
>There is no exception here of Bachs neglecting his one way process of deifying the secular<
I believe Wills post, the Art of Parody, is in essential agreement with Durr, except that Durr specifically refers to five versions, while Will mentions four (1, 2, 4, 5), and Will has the final version, the secular 36b, as 1734 instead of 1735.

On the essential point of discussion, the sequence of a secular parody of a sacred work, Will and Durr indicate that BWV 36b and 36 represent that compositional process, Doug and Julian disagree. It is difficult to see on what basis.

Although this may seem like nitpicking (I certainly would have laughed it off as such three years ago), it is quite essential to the argument in favor of sacred texts as inspiration for the music, what Doug calls Bachs compositional scruples. Further, the potential for preservation is much greater for works that finish their life in sacred format. To state the reverse, a secular parody of a sacred original (or intermediate) would be more easily lost over the centuries. There is no reason to presume that BWV 36b, following BWV 36 is unique, merely that it is the only such to survive.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 22, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< On the essential point of discussion, the sequence of a secular parody of a sacred work, Will and Durr indicate that BWV 36b and 36 represent that compositional process, Doug and Julian disagree. It is difficult to see on what basis. >
For myself the basis is that the later parodies could as well have been based upon the original work of 1725. We don't know precisely which version Bach actually took as his model for the later parodies, nevertheless what seems clear is that the first version was definitely secular--and later ones would have eminated from that in one form or another.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 22, 2009):
> As far as I remember, there are no original sacred cantatas which were reworked with a secular text. Bachs compositional scruples seem to be preserved even in this instance.<
If we can step outside the use of text: the E major harpsichord concerto (BWV 1053) is dated 1738, according to the BWV. All three of its movements are rework of cantata movements. The first two come from cantata 169, and the third from 49. Both of those are dated 1726.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 22, 2009):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>If we can step outside the use of text: the E major harpsichord concerto (BWV 1053) is dated 1738, according to the BWV. All three of its movements are rework of cantata movements. The first two come from cantata 169, and the third from 49. Both of those are dated 1726.<
Nice point, easily overlooked (I cerainly did, or I would have mentioned it), concisely stated. No snips required. Smack the last nail in the coffin of that dead hypothesis (never rising to theory). Does anyone have a hammer? Alas, I am equipped only with the rapier of my wit.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 22, 2009):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< If we can step outside the use of text: the E major harpsichord concerto (BWV 1053) is dated 1738, according to the BWV >
I'd like to know the basis of this dating? ?1053 has many characteristics in common with other concerti from the Cothen period and there is quite a substantial sway of opinion that?believes its genesis was a violn concerto from that period.

Certainly if it was not based upon a violin model that would make it unusual--if not unique. Maybe?it 36 this might be thought of as another work that began as a secular composition, subsequently reworked in both secular and ecclesiastical forms.

Even if such works are exceptions to Bach's usual practice, they are very rare ones. And rare exceptions, though perfectly possible, should be treated with guarded scepticism.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 22, 2009):
[To Julian Mincham] 1738 is just the date given for all seven harpsichord concertos together in the BWV entry. It says it's based on work by Kobayashi.

I concur with all your remarks about this here, Julian.

Are there any available recordings of this on violin? I vaguely remember once hearing it played as a recorder concerto (Bruggen in a radio transcription LP?), transposed to F.

And I have here in front of me a CD claiming to be the first recording of it as a reconstructed oboe concerto, in E-flat. The recording is from 1983. Stephen Hammer plays the solo, and Rifkin conducts his reconstruction. In the booklet notes, Rifkin remarked: "The creation of the E-flat concerto probably belongs in the years around 1720."

John Pike wrote (January 22, 2009):
[To Bradley Lehman] The Hänssler oboe reconstructed version is in F. I am not aware of any reconstructed violin version recordings. The Haenssler disc includes 1045, 1052R, 1056R and 1064R.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 23, 2009):
[To Bradley Lehman] I have heard about a violin transcription but never actually heard it, Bet someone's done one though.

Incidentally on the subject of the reuse of this work in the cantatas i love the way bach manages to work a dim 7th chord in the original work (2nd movement) on a word (war? stress?or something like that??) that just fits it perfectly when the text is added. Can't recall the details--will look it up when I get a mo.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 23, 2009):
BWV 36 - Parodies - Tastless or Blasphemous?

Julian Mincham wrote:
< For myself the basis is that the later parodies could as well have been based upon the original work of 1725. We don't know precisely which version Bach actually took as his model for the later parodies, nevertheless what seems clear is that the first version was definitely secular--and later ones would have eminated from that in one form or another. >
I'm talking through my hat here because I haven't looked at the various versions. But I'm willing to bet that the subsequent secular versions written take their revisions from the first secular cantata not the sacred parody. We may not have much sympathy for Bach's scruples, but I think the principle was important to him as it was for the composers before him. Palestrina and Lassus wrote masses based on quite racy madrigals, but there are no examples of sacred works parodied as secular works. I suspect that such an adaptation would be considered, at worst, blasphemous, and, at least, in poor taste.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 23, 2009):
BWV 36 chronology

>I'm talking through my hat here because I haven't looked at the various versions.<
Nothing the WOGS (perhaps WOLGS as well?) enjoy more than academia in action

>But I'm willing to bet that the subsequent secular versions written take their revisions from the first secular cantata not the sacred parody. <
I will take the bet. Belgian Ale, your place or mine?

>We may not have much sympathy for Bach's scruples<
It is not sympathy we are after, it is evidence!

>but I think the principle was important to him as it was for the composers before him. Palestrina and Lassus wrote masses based on quite racy madrigals,<
I am interested!

>but there are no examples of sacred works parodied as secular works. I suspect<
Suspect? Evidence please.

>that such an adaptation would be considered, at worst, blasphemous, and, at least, in poor taste.<
Considered by whom.?

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 23, 2009):
>I'm talking through my hat here because I haven't looked at the various versions.<
This is a perfect example of what I mean by write thoughtfully. In other words, be careful not leave an opening for some low-life wag to derail your whole argument before it gets started.

Elliot Carter Orgy(r) continues tomorrow for those who do not let their choices in life be dominated by trivia like work and/or sleep. Work and sleep? What a combo, if I had thought of it sooner I might ....

Neil Halliday wrote (January 23, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>I'm willing to bet that the subsequent secular versions written take their revisions from the first secular cantata not the sacred parody.<
I'm inclined to agree, especially if this is the only example in Bach's parodies where it appears that a secular version (c.1735) follows a sacred version (1731).

But consider the case of someone who heard the cantata in church in 1731, and then happened to be present at the secular presentation in 1735. "Bach's scruples" might be intact, but what of the hypothetical listener's sensibilities? (Bach apparently was not concerned by the
possibility).

Of course, such concerns are slightly amusing in the 21st century - we can love the music - sacred or secular - in a church or a concert hall.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 23, 2009):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Of course, such concerns are slightly amusing in the 21st century - we can love the music - sacred or secular - in a church or a concert hall. >
Actually, modern sensibilities are much more puritanical about secular works becoming sacred works. I regularly read program notes which suggest that a raunchy chanson becoming a Kyrie is somehow offensive. It never bothered Palestrina or Lassus. Romantic commentators were very sniffy about Bach's recasting of secular music into sacred guise -- as if sacred music must be pure and uniquely "inspired". Bach had no such problems with the traditional path of adaption, but I would still maintain that he would have disapproved of an original Sunday cantata being reused for an entertainment in Zimmerman's. Go figure.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 23, 2009):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< If we can step outside the use of text: the E major harpsichord concerto (BWV 1053) is dated 1738, according to the BWV. All three of its movements are rework of cantata movements. The first two come from cantata 169, and the third from 49. Both of those are dated 1726. >
I looked up the context of the use of the second movement of this concerto which I referred to (vaguely) in another email. The unexpected touch of Dm in a D major/Bm context (bars 9/10 of BWV 169/5, alto aria) is present in the original concerto. Bach does not waste this little moment. He contrives to use it as the harmonic background to accentuate the principal notion of this text ‘deiner Liebe Stirb in mir’---let the love of the world, die within me. Bach’s eye for detail is unfailing (the text of this aria deals with the love of worldy goods dying within the human breast so as to allow room for the cultivation of God rather than worldy pleasures). The musical touch of sadness here conveys a sense of sadness and regret at the loss of worldy pleasures---something that Bach, with his apparent enjoyment of food and drink, tobacco and procreation would surely have understood! The wedding of words and music is so perfect that it would be easy to assume that Bach conceived these phrases as a unity. But if, as i believe the available evidence strongly indicates, Bach was adapting a previously composed concerto movement it simply goes to demonstrate his great attention to detail, even in the contruction of parodies.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 23, 2009):
Doug;as Cowling wrote, in response to Julian Mincham:
>But I'm willing to bet that the subsequent secular versions written take their revisions from the first secular cantata not the sacred parody. We may not have much sympathy for Bach's scruples, but I think the principle was important to him as it was for the composers before him.<
Both Doug and Julian overlook the point I tried to make early in the thread. There are statements in BCW archives, by both Tom Braatz and Paul McCain, I believe, to the effect that Bach never parodied a sacred work for secular use, and that once a secular work was parodied for sacred use, it never had additional use for a secular function.

BWV 36 contradicts the second half of the hypothesis, and Brads examples contracict the first half. The hypothesis, as stated, including the very strong word never, is deader than a doornail. Not a big deal, exactly, although the spiritual point the proposers of the hypothesis were trying to make was important to them, and is now discredited.

Neil Halliday wrote (January 25, 2009):
BWV 36 F# minor duet

I reommend that all capable (or budding) pianists play through the rather effective piano part composed for the S,A duet (Mvt. 2), available at the BCW vocal & piano score: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/index.htm

This piano realisation fully expresses all the wonderful modulations and chromatic episodes of this elaborate F# minor duet, in the most effective harmonies, most of which are not not available to be heard in the recordings which have have as usual the single cello line backed by vague/inaudible keyboard realisation.

Jane Newble wrote (February 3, 2009):
[To Neil Halliday] Thank you, Neil, for this recommendation.

I printed it out, and it is a revelation, playing through this wonderful music. The harmonies jump out and make it a very rewarding experience!!

Again I thought of the closing remarks in Maarten 't Hart's chapter on Bach's chamber-music:
(translated from Dutch) ".......filled with immense gratitude to the composer, who, when you play his music, knows how to give you the overwhelming feeling that you have been allowed to compose the music yourself."

Neil Halliday wrote (February 4, 2009):
Jane Newble wrote:
>I printed it out, and it is a revelation, playing through this wonderful music. The harmonies jump out and make it a very rewarding experience!!<
Another revelatory BCW vocal and piano score is the realisation for the continuo only tenor aria from BWV 182. This is obviously the work of an accomplished composer/arranger; note the beautiful right hand proto-melody in bars 6-9, derived from the opening ritornello, and in bar 44 (closing a long melisma on "crucify") we have the most striking chromatic harmonies. This arrangement would make a wonderful duet for flute and piano, with the flute taking the tenor part (playing in the treble clef as written).
-------
Back to the BWV 36 duet (Mvt. 2): it's worth noticing that the vocal parts (S and A lines) consist largely of canonic episodes of varying length (I count at least a dozen such episodes).

Eg, at the start of the second section, the alto follows the soprano at a distance of one and a half bars, at a 4th below.

This chorale melody is unusual in that the 4th (last) line is the same as the first; Bach varies his material in this duet, with S (a 5th above) following A at a bar's distance in the first line, whereas S follows A at *one and a half* bars distance,in the fourth line. The climax of the piece is reached where S takes the lead from A, with the chromatic scale in bar 44 ("God ordained such a birth to Him").

Neil Halliday wrote (February 4, 2009):
Neil Halliday wrote:
>This chorale melody is unusual in that the 4th (last) line is the same as the first;<
Or rather, the chorale melody on which this duet (Mvt. 2) is based.

 

Cantatas BWV 36, BWV 36a, BWV 36b & BWV 36c: Details & Complete Recordings of BWV 36 | Recordings of Individual Movements from BWV 36 | Details of BWV 36a | Details & Complete Recordings of BWV 36b | Details & Complete Recordings of BWV 36c | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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