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Events in the Church Year
Discussions - Part 6

Continue from Part 5

Bach and liturgy

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 20, 2010):
I thought this weeks near coincidence of Bach on the radio and Bach on the BCML discussion schedule (a couple Sundays after Epiphany, plus or minus) might be worth a comment, other than mine.

How many weeks to Candlemas? Does anyone have the crepe formula at hand?

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 20, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< How many weeks to Candlemas? >
A week from next Tuesday.

 

Epiphany Cantatas

Peter Smaill wrote (February 20, 2010):
We touched on the puzzle- raised before in 2002- that there are no surviving Bach Cantatas for the fifth and sixth Sundays after Epiphany. These occur when Easter is late; Epiphany 5 did occur in 1726 when Bach used a Cantata by his cousin Johann Ludwig. In 1734 Easter was so late there were the full six Sundays.

Given Bach's strong predilection for using the Chorale associated by the Leipzig hymnbook for the day (according to Stiller) the chorale that would have applied is Elisabeth Cruciger's " Herr Christ, de einge Gottessohn". Bach has already written in Jahrgang II a work by this name, for the 18th Sunday in Trinity. The hymn was associated with both Epiphany 6 and Trinity 18.

However, on examining the text, this Cantata would have fitted Epiphany 6 surprisingly well. It is true that there is an allusion in the recitative to the Gospel for Trinity 18, the challenge to Jesus as to how the Saviour could be both Son of David and Lord of David. But the choice of the particular verse which closes the Cantata, "Ertoet uns durch deine Gute", is the allusion to the Epiphany 6 sermon on the curing of the leper. The expression "den alte Menschen kraenke", " Make the old man sicken /that he might have new life", invites, in an analogical sense, the Christian to be like the leper whose cure is the text for the Gospel for Epiphany 6. (This odd phrase is sometimes coyly translated as "weaken", but the German should then be "schwaechen?")

Bach also uses this verse for the Probestueck BWV 22 and there it is the aspect of mortifying the flesh which (as Duerr notes) is appropriate to the contemplation of Lent.

Epiphany 6 stands at a turning point in the Christian year. It commences with the Incarnation and the associated morning-star, twinkling away in the form of the sopranino recorder in BWV 96. But the Christian then turns towards Lent. BWV 96, opening with the festal greeting of the divine incarnation, closes with the mortification of human flesh; and is well suited to this liturgical purpose. It is as if the libretto had skillfully been devised to be used on both the main associated dates.

So could it have been used for the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany in 1734, and not October 24th? Dürr tantalisingly says only "probably" for that latter date, which means perhaps we do not conclusively know which Sunday was involved. It will be recalled that the opening chorus was rescored for violino piccolo in that year.

Although it is generally the case that the Cantatas are purely appropriated to a single day, the obvious exception BWV 71 "per ogni tempore", the multiple occasions on which this Chorale is set in the Leipzig hymnal gives it the potential to have fitted the bill on those very rare years when a long Epiphany season occurred.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 20, 2010):
Cantatas & Calendars

Peter Smaill wrote:
< We touched on the puzzle- raised before in 2002- that there are no surviving Bach Cantatas for the fifth and sixth Sundays after Epiphany. These occur when Easter is late; Epiphany 5 did occur in 1726 when Bach used a Cantata by his cousin Johann Ludwig. In 1734 Easter was so late there were the full six Sundays. >
Although there is usually a general glazing-over of eyes when we get into calendrical conundrums, this is a good example of a problem in discerning Bach's planning in the composition of cantatas.

The pre-Reformation Roman calendar which Luther adapted is a bit of a mess in the late Sundays after Epiphany and after Trinity. The Roman calendar provides for six Sundays after Epiphany, even though Epiphany 5 & 6 don't occur very often. However, a full provision of readings is only provided as far as Trinity 22 (Pentecost 23 in the Roman numbering). After that, if there are more Sundays, the readings from the Sundays after Epiphany not used that year are inserted for Trinity 23-26 (Pentecost 24-27). There are readings for the Last Sunday of the season.

Still with me?

On the BCW list of readings here: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/index.htm
there are no readings listed for Epiphany 5 and 6. Does that mean that late Sundays after Epiphany shared readings with the late Sundays after Trinity? If so, that would indeed mean that a cantata could well have been used at both ends of the church year. Does Dürr list the readings for Epiphany 5 & 6? If he does, we should add them to the BCW page.

On a practical note, even someone raised in the Lutheran pattern would need a reference work to know the byzantine ins and outs of the year's calendar. Was there a printed source which listed tables for the occurrence of Sundays over several years (they certainly exist for Catholic and Anglican calendars). Although there is no evidence to support me, I believe that Bach must have been planning ahead at least five years -- there's that five years again -- so that he knew what cantatas he had to write. A good example is the Christmas Oratorio whose structure is dictated by the occurrence of days in a specific year. Bach must have had a reference work to check as he planned this monumental work. A masterpiece like "Wachet Auf (BWV 140) may well have been percolating away for years in Bach's mind as he saw the rare occurrence of Trinity 27 approaching -- just as we plan centenary celebrations for years in advance.

Deglazing may commence.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 20, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< On a practical note, even someone raised in the Lutheran pattern would need a reference work to know the byzantine ins and outs of the year's calendar. Was there a printed source which listed tables for the occurrence of Sundays over several years (they certainly exist for Catholic and Anglican calendars). Although there is no evidence to support me, I believe that Bach must have been planning ahead at least five years -- there's that five years again -- so that he knew what cantatas he had to write. A good example is the Christmas Oratorio whose structure is dictated by the occurrence of days in a specific year. Bach must have had a reference work to check as he planned this monumental work. A masterpiece like "Wachet Auf (BWV 140) may well have been percolating away for years in Bach's mind as he saw the rare occurrence of Trinity 27 approaching -- just as we plan centenary celebrations for years in advance. >
I really wished there was a spreadsheet or graphic that would illustrate this, visually it would be so much easier to grasp I think.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 20, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I really wished there was a spreadsheet or graphic that would illustrate this, visually it would be so much easier to grasp I think. >
I've often wished we had a page which had a table for all the years of Bach's life which showed Sunday occurences as well as weekday festivals. I think there's much we could learn about Bach's long-range planning and compositional technique.

I'd be willing to work on it if someone could develop a good graphic interface which would have links to the cantata pages.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 20, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I'd be willing to work on it if someone could develop a good graphic interface which would have links to the cantata pages. >
Th's a super hot field that marries infomation science and data and graphics to generate fascinating charts and graphics*, it's really a fascinating field if you love that sort of thing; and I firmly believe this topic would make a perfect candidate for such a graphic. The trouble is the software is expensive and not easy to learn, and you'd need a decent database. While I don't think we need anything that complicated, I could try to help out with some of the gruntwork in this project, but not all of it.

===============
* See this link as an example: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gdsdigital/4362450550/sizes/o/

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 21, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< However, a full provision of readings is only provided as far as Trinity 22 (Pentecost 23 in the Roman numbering). After that, if there are more Sundays, the readings from the Sundays after Epiphany not used that year are inserted for Trinity 23-26 (Pentecost 24-27). There are readings for the Last Sunday of the season.
Still with me? >
Yes indeed, and thanks for this essential bit of info.

DC:
< Does Dürr list the readings for Epiphany 5 & 6? If he does, we should add them to the BCW page. >
EM:
Durr goes directly from Epiphany 4 to Septuagesima, no mention of Epiphany 5 or 6. However, he does give the readings for Trinity 23 to 27. Does not your prior statement suggest that these are in fact the readings for Epiphany 5 and later? There is a certain pleasing symmetry in the sharing of readings between late Epiphany or late Trinity, depending on the date of Easter.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 21, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Does not your prior statement suggest that these are in fact the readings for Epiphany 5 and later? There is a certain pleasing symmetry in the sharing of readings between late Epiphany or late Trinity, depending on the date of Easter. >
I'll pose the question on another list and see what Lutheran historians come up with.

 

Epiphany 5 & 6

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 22, 2010):
A few comments on the question of readings for Epiphany 5 and 6 by Frank Senn, a prominent Lutheran scholar:

"Typical Gospel readings for Epiphany 5 and 6 in post-Reformation Lutheran calendars were Matthew 13:24-30 (Jesus' wisdom) and Matthew 17:1-9 (Jesus' transfiguration) respectively.

There was no sharing of readings between Epiphany and Trinity. I don't know whether the Lutheran readings had pre-Reformation precedents. As you know, Transfiguration on August 6 was a late medieval addition (15th c.) to the Western calendar. It wouldn't surprise me if the transfiguration event was commemorated elsewhere in the calendar, considering its importance in the gospel narratives. I know that both Johannes Bugenhagen and Veit Dietrich preached sermons on the transfiguration on Epiphany 6 in the 1520s."

That tells us that there were proper readings for Epiphany 5 and 6 but that Bach never wrote cantatas for them -- a cantata on the Transfiguration would have been interesting!

Does Stiller tell us anything about the holes in our list of readings? Was this another peculiar feature of Leipzig? Did Graupner and Telemann write cantatas for Epiphany 5 & 6?

Why didn't Bach?

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 22, 2010):
More calendar commentary ...

Luther Reed's "The Lutheran Liturgy"

"Since this feast (Transfiguration) received only limited observance on August 6, usually a weekday, and since it seemed appropriate as a climax to the Epiphany season, the reformers Bugenhagen and Veit Dietrich chose it as the theme for sermons on the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany. Eventually this became the general Lutheran use. "

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 22, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< That tells us that there were proper readings for Epiphany 5 and 6 but that Bach never wrote cantatas for them -- a cantata on the Transfiguration would have been interesting!
Does Stiller tell us anything about the holes in our list of readings? Was this another peculiar feature of
Leipzig? Did Graupner and Telemann write cantatas for Epiphany 5 & 6? >
Christoph Graupner wrote 6 cantatas for Epiphany 5 (and none apparently for Epiphany 6, which is odd, and I will make inquires regarding this):

(1.)
Seid nüchtern und wachet, GWV 1116/18 [1718] in B major
wrapper sheet:"Seydt nüchtern u. wachet / a / 2 Violin / Viol / Cant /
Alto / Tenore / Basso / e / Continuo / Dn. 5 p. Epiph. / 1718."

(2.)
Wachet und betet, GWV 1116/29 [1729] in G major
wrapper sheet:"Wachet und bethet, daß ihr / nicht in Anfechtung / a /
2 Violin / Viola / Canto / Alto / Tenore / Basso / e / Continuo. / Dn.
5. p. Epiph. / 1729."

(3.)
Lasset uns Gutes tun, GWV 1116/32 [1732] in A minor
wrapper sheet:"Laßet uns nicht schlaffen wie / die andern / a / 2
Hautb. / 2 Violin / Viola / Canto / Alto / Tenore / Basso / e /
Continuo. / Dn. 5. p. Epiph. / 1726.

(4.)
Ihr Menschen wacht der Satan will, GWV 1116/34 [1734] in G major
wrapper sheet:"Ihr Menschen wacht, der Satan / will im finstern / a /
2 Violin / Viola / Canto / Alto / Tenore / Basso / e / Continuo / Dn.
5. p. Epiph. / 1734.

(5.)
Herr hast du nicht guten Samen, GWV 1116/37 [1737] in G major
wrapper sheet:"Herr! hastu nicht guten Saamen / auf deinen / a / 2
Violin / Viola / Canto / Alto / Tenore / Basso / e / Continuo. / Dn.
5. p. Epiph. / 1737.

(6.)
Da Gott wollte Zorn erzeigen, GWV 1116/40 [1740], in C minor
wrapper sheet:"Da Gott wolte Zorn / erzeigen / a / 2 Hautb. / 2 Violin
/ Viola / Canto / Alto / Tenore / Basso / e / Continuo. / Dn. 5. p.
Epiph. / 1740.

There doesn't seem to be any Graupner cantatas for Epiphany 6.


TELEMANN:
----------------------------
Cantatas for Epiphany 5:
01: 300 Der höchste Gott ist rein SATB avec 2 hautbois, 2 violons, alto, violoncelle et continuo
01: 312 Der Regen Gottes fällt auf gute Sprossen Voix solo avec 2 violons et continuo
01: 631 Gleich wie man das Unkraut [perdu]
01: 731 Herr Christ, den rechten Soprano solo et SATB avec 2 violons, alto, violoncelle et continuo
01: 748 Herr Gott, wann manches gläubige [perdu]
01: 871 Ich wandle mit furchtsamen Schritten SATB avec 2 violons, alto et continuo
01:1021 Lasset das Wort Christi unter [perdu]
01:1030 Lasset uns rechtschaffen sein [perdu]
01:1044 Liebe, die vom Himmel flammet Voix solo avec violon et continuo
01:1273 Seid nüchtern und wachet SATB avec 2 hautbois, alto, violoncelle et continuo
01:1275 Seid nüchtern und wachet SATB avec 2 hautbois, 2 violons, alto, contrebasse et continuo
01:1277 Seid nüchtern und wachet [perdu]
01:1364 So lasset uns nun nicht schlafen SAB avec 2 violons, alto et continuo
01:1663 Wir haben ein festes prophetisches Wort SATB avec 2 violons, alto, violoncelle et continuo
01:1677 Wir sind Gottes Mitarbeiter SATB avec 2 hautbois, 2 violons, alto, violoncelle et continuo

Cantatas for Epiphany 6:
01: 39 Ach, wie so gut ist hier zu sein SATTBBB avec hautbois d'amour, 2 violons, alto, violoncelle et continuo
01: 305 Der Mensch lebet nicht allein [perdu]
01: 328 Dich, den meine Seele Voix solo avec 2 violons et continuo
01: 432 Ei nun, mein lieber Jesu Alto solo er SATB avec 2 violons, alto, violoncelle et continuo
01: 655 Gott hat sein Kind Jesu verklärt [perdu]
01: 754 Herr, in dir ist Freude die Fülle [perdu]
01: 967 Jesu meine Freude SATB avec 2 violons, alto, violoncelle et continuo
01:1229 Reiss los, reiss vom Leibe Voix solo avec violon, alto et continuo
01:1437 Und siehe, eine Stimme aus den Wolken SAB avec 2 violons, alto et continuo
01:1448 Unser Wandel aber ist im Himmel [perdu]
01:1516 Was ist das Herz Voix solo avec violon et continuo
01:1517 Was ist dein Freund vor andern Freunden SATB avec 2 hautbois, 2 violons, alto, violoncelle et continuo
01:1645 Wie teuer ist deine Güte [perd]

I hope this helps.

< Why didn't Bach? >

Evan Cortens wrote (February 22, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Does Stiller tell us anything about the holes in our list of readings? Was this another peculiar feature of Leipzig? Did Graupner and Telemann write cantatas for Epiphany 5 & 6? >
A quick scan of Kim's wonderful spreadsheet:
(http://www.baroquewave.com/darmstadt/graupner_cantata_Listing.htm)
reveals 3 cantatas by Graupner for Epiphany 5:

Seydt nuchtern u. wachet a 2 Violin Viol Cant Alto Tenore Basso e Continuo Dn. 5 p. Epiph. 1718.
Laset uns nicht schlaffen wie die andern a 2 Hautb. 2 Violin Viola Canto Alto Tenore Basso e Continuo. Dn. 5. p. Epiph. 1726.
Ihr Menschen wacht, der Satan will im finstern a 2 Violin Viola Canto Alto Tenore Basso e Continuo Dn. 5. p. Epiph. 1734.

None for Epiphany 6.

Regrettably I can't seem to find a complete listing for Telemann online, and I don't have the TVWV handy...

Evan Cortens wrote (February 22, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Christoph Graupner wrote 6 cantatas for Epiphany 5 (and none apparently for Epiphany 6, which is odd, and I will make inquires regarding this): >
Clearly I'm out of my league here! :)

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 22, 2010):
It appears that there was considerable variation between Lutheran churches' celebration of Epiphany 5 & 6:

Bach wrote no cantatas for either Sunday.

Graupner wrote for Epiphany 5 but not Epiphany 6.

Telemann wrote cantatas for both.

Interestingly, the titles of Telemann's cantatas clearly indicate that the Gospel reading for Epiphany 6 was Matthew 17:1-9, the account of the Transfiguration:

39 Ach, wie so gut ist hier zu sein
655 Gott hat sein Kind Jesu verklärt
1437 Und siehe, eine Stimme aus den Wolken

What DID Bach perform on those Sundays?

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 22, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Christoph Graupner wrote 6 cantatas for Epiphany 5 (and none apparently for Epiphany 6, which is odd, and I will make inquires regarding this) >
Epiphany 6 should be about equally rare as Trinity 27, occuring only a couple times per century, if memory serves.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 22, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Epiphany 6 should be about equally rare as Trinity 27, occuring only a couple times per century, if memory serves. >
Yet Telemann wrote so many for Epiphany 6. What years did Trinity 27 occur? One Graupner cantata for Trinity 27 survives (1742). If another instance happened prior to 1739, Graupner's asst Grunewald must have written it (and doesn't survie).

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 22, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Epiphany 6 should be about equally rare as Trinity 27, occuring only a couple times per century, if memory serves. >
Epiphany 6 and Trinity 27 each occur roughly once every ten years.

Epiphany 5 will occur twice a decade.

It would interesting to compare the texts of Graupner and Telemann's cantatas against Bach's to see if there could be cantatas which Bach performed again on those missing Sundays.

The great conundrum in all of this is why Bach chose to write perhaps his greatest cantata, "Wachet Auf," for a Sunday which appeared once during his tenure in Leipzig.

Did he take a long view of cantata composition and assume that his sons and successors would have many Trinity 27's ahead and need the cantata? Or was the cantata a real "Gebrauchsmusik" composed for a particular practical need and then laid aside?

Neil Halliday wrote (February 22, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
>Christoph Graupner wrote 6 cantatas for Epiphany 5<
Notice that four of these are for SATB, strings and continuo; the other two cantatas have two oboes added.

In the 27 Telemann cantatas listed, the orchestration of five of them is augmented with two oboes. The second cantata listed is for solo voice, two violins and continuo. The third from the bottom is for solo voice, one violin and continuo only. The rest are for SATB, strings and continuo.

In general, these cantatas appear to show much less variety in orchestration, as well as smaller ensembles, than we are used to with Bach.

There is one (Telemann) cantata showing a rather adventurous setting with unusual vocal forces: the first of the cantatas for epphany 6 - for SATTBBB, two oboes d'amore, strings and continuo.

Is this general lack of variety in instrumental forces (that we observe in this list) the rule, amongst the thousand or so Telemann cantatas, and Graupner's cantatas?

Evan Cortens wrote (February 22, 2010):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< There is one (Telemann) cantata showing a rather adventurous setting with unusual vocal forces: the first of the cantatas for epphany 6 - for SATTBBB, two oboes d'amore, strings and continuo. >
Just a guess here, but I'd wager that rather than two independent Tenor parts and three independent Bass parts, that notation means rather that there's more than one extant copied part for that voice. Based on my experience with Hamburg, where conventions for this kind of thing were set in the 17th century and continued through until CPE Bach's death, I'd guess that the bass and tenor parts almost exclusively double in the choruses, though there may be some alternation with which singer gets the solo part.

Neil Halliday wrote (February 22, 2010):
Evan Cortens wrote:
>Just a guess here, but I'd wager that rather than two independent Tenor parts and three independent Bass parts, that notation means rather that there's more than one extant copied part for that voice.<
Thanks Evan; that went through my mind when I first read it but I forgot to mention the possibility.

If there are three extant bass copies, does that imply three soprano copies, etc, originally existing (now lost) for the choruses?

(Somewhat mystified)

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 22, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
<< Epiphany 6 should be about equally rare as Trinity 27, occuring only a couple times per century, if memory serves. >>
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Yet Telemann wrote so many for Epiphany 6. What years did Trinity 27 occur? One Graupner cantata for Trinity 27 survives (1742). >
I wrote in general, without checking exact dates. Doug gave us the historic dates for Trinity 27 the other year (2009?) when we had one. My point was that Trinity 27 only occurs when Easter is at its earliest; conversely, Epiphany 6 only occurs when Easter is at its latest. The fact that Telemann wrote so many for Epiphany 6 suggests that the probabilities (the span of possible dates for Easter) are not precisely equivalent for early or late.

Those who find this thread tedious might like to ponder the following from <How the Irish Saved Civilization>, by Thomas Cahill. Descussing the final conflict and resolution between Celtic and Roman Christianity, he writes (p. 200):
<The main issue--as had also, by the way, been the case in the Burgundian Synod--was the correct date for celebrating Easter.> (end quote)

Those with still-unglazed eymay recall from other discussions that the original impetus for any calculation of the date for Easter was to provide a clear distinction from the Hebrew Passover, which of course established the timing of the original. Is it too late to go back? Never mind.

Stefan Lewicki [Harrogate, North Yorkshire UK] wrote (February 22, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling] I apologise for appearing suddenly/ unannounced in this thread, but the observation about 'Wachet Auf' and Trinity 27 puzzled me, for I had always thought that, although written for Trinity 27, it was meant as a cantata for the last Sunday of the church year, ie for the Sunday before Advent. Now I'm trying to track down where I got this notion from. Does it make sense to anyone else?

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 22, 2010):
Stefan Lewicki wrote:
< the observation about 'Wachet Auf' and Trinity 27 puzzled me, for I had always thought that, although written for Trinity 27, it was meant as a cantata for the last Sunday of the church year, ie for the Sunday before Advent. Now I'm trying to track down where I got this notion from. >
Perhaps from right here at BCML. See comments by Doug Cowling at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV140-D6.htm

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 22, 2010):
Stefan Lewicki wrote:
< I apologise for appearing suddenly/ unannounced in this thread, but the observation about 'Wachet Auf' and Trinity 27 puzzled me, for I had always thought that, although written for Trinity 27, it was meant as a cantata for the last Sunday of the church year, ie for the Sunday before Advent. >
Trinity 27 was the last Sunday in the Trinity season and thus the calendrical Sunday before Advent in the year that Bach wrote the cantata.

It's very easy for us to make errors by anachronistically projecting back modern usage to Bach's calendar which had some very unusual features. Most modern Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican calendars now have a set of readings which is always used on the last Sunday before Advent no matter how many Sundays there are in the Pentecost/Trinity season. Bach's calendar didn't have this feature.

As byzantine as this thread is, it does bear significantly on Bach's compositional and performance practice. What DID he do on Epiphany 5 & 6?

Reglazing of eyes may resume .

William Hoffman wrote (February 23, 2010):
I think one of the keys to understanding Bach's presentation of the less-frequent last Sundays after Epiphany is his utilization of the Johann Ludwig Bach cantata cycle. This cycle Bach introduced with the cantatas for the Fourth through the Sixth Sundays After Epiphany, beginning on Feb. 14, 1726. Presenting these works in Leipzig afforded him the opportunity to present these works as part of a "well-ordered church music to the glory of God," enabled Bach to use 18 cantatas from his cousin's, and absolved him of having to compose works less-frequently heard at a time when he had begun to curtail weekly composition of church-year cantatas. The J.L. Bach cantata cycle was a serendipitous situation, I suggest, for the intentional and calculating Bach.

Now, the challenge is to determine the precise year when the Sundays for the Fourth through the Sixth Sundays After Epiphany occurred around 1715, enabling J.L. Bach to compose these unique cantatas. I have checked the old calendars for 1714-16 and find that only the first three Sundays After Epiphany were presented. The key is when Good Friday occurred. I am still trying to pinpoint the exact year this cycle was composed.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 23, 2010):
Epiphany 5 & 6 - J.L. Bach

William Hoffman wrote:
< I think one of the keys to understanding Bach's presentation of the less-frequent last Sundays after Epiphany is his utilization of the Johann Ludwig Bach cantata cycle. This cycle Bach introduced with the cantatas for the Fourth through the Sixth Sundays After Epiphany, beginning on Feb. 14, 1726.
Now, the challenge is to determine the precise year when the Sundays for the Fourth through the Sixth Sundays After Epiphany occurred around 1715, enabling
J.L. Bach to compose these unique cantatas. >
Interesting. Are you suggesting that Johann Ludwig might be an active collaborator with Johann Sebastian rather than just a name in the latter's music library? Ludwig was almost a contemporary of Sebastian (1677-1731). Did he have an older brother/mentor role? He was a very experienced musician and could well have advised his cousin on the Leipzig Cantata Project, pointing out where his own works could help fill some awkward holes like Epiphany 5 and 6. Could he have written some of his cantatas on the request of Sebastian? Bach's broad use of Ludwig's music and his obvious influence on his choral style suggests a close, creative relationship. What do we know about that relationship?

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 23, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling] Regarding Johann Ludwig Bach, May I suggest looking at his bio page:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Bach-Johann-Ludwig.htm
and follow many links on the BCW from this page.

William Hoffman wrote (February 23, 2010):
Epiphany 5

I tried to access on BCW: http://gfis.dataway.ch/teherba.de/bach/index.html , "Sundays in Bach's Lifetime." Safari says it's down. The current calendar shows that the six Sundays of Epiphany occur in 2000 and again in 2011, approximately each decade. In order for these six to take place, Easter would have to fall around April 25. I'll go to me dating of Holy Week Passion performances, 1700-1723, to try to find which years J.L. Bach may have composed his cycle. I'll also check William Scheide's extensive Bach Jahrbuch articles re. the J.L. Bach cantatas, which C.P.E. inherited and are listed in the BGA.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 23, 2010):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< Regarding Johann Ludwig Bach, May I suggest looking at his bio page:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Bach-Johann-Ludwig.htm
and follow many links on the BCW from this page. >
"Johann Ludwig Bach wrote an imposing number of vocal works. Although orchestral music was probably his principal activity from 1711 onwards, hardly any material is extant."

Such a shame. He must have written dozens upon dozens of suites etc.

Thanks Aryeh!

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 23, 2010):
William Hoffman wrote:
< I'll also check William Scheide's extensive Bach Jahrbuch articles re. the J.L. Bach cantatas, which C.P.E. inherited and are listed in the BGA. >
Is there any documentary evidence of a personal relationship? Comments from the Bach boys?

Damn, it must be frustrating for a Bach historian -- so few primary sources!

William Hoffman wrote (February 25, 2010):
J. L. Bach

Further information, confirmed from Bach Jahrbuch, Sheide and Kuester articles, as well as JSB:OCC

The Johann Ludwig Bach Cantata Cycle was composed in 1714-15 and involves the Fourth and Fifth Sundays After Epiphany (no sixth), as well as the three pre-Lent "geisma" cantatas, for the Meiningen Court.

Sebastian is thought to have made connections with his cousiat the annual Bach Family Reunion, most likely at Erfurt c. 1715. Some of the cantatas also were presented in 1717 at Frankfurt, presumably by Telemann. It appears from Meiningen Court documents that J.L. composed a substantial Passion in 1713, about the time Bach performed the Keiser St. Mark Passion (not necessarily in Weimar, the parts show). J.L.'s employer and patron, Duke Ernst Ludwig, contributed lyrics to the assumed Passion oratorio. Earlier, around 1704, the Duke contributed the original cantata texts set by J.L.'s predecessor, Georg Caspar Schuermann, the libretto form predating the so-called "Neumeister-type" of cantata, and known as the Rudolstadt Texts in Sebastian's incomplete third cycle.

Peter Smaill wrote (February 26, 2010):
[To William Hoffman, regarding J.L. Bach] Thanks indeed for this informative note. The Johann Ludwig Bach Cantatas have most attractive chorale settings: QED, Hermann Max has recorded four of the best on Carus 83.186, the first being the title for the set , "Mache dich auf, werde licht". as long ago as 1981, but released again in 2006. The jewel case bears a pastel portrait by his son Gottlieb Friedrich Bach (1714-1785), who also depicted J S Bach ( the "Meiningen Pastel"). As far as I know from internet searches not all of the 1726 Cantatas performed by J S Bach in 1726 are recorded, which means we are unable to reconstruct even today to the fullest known extent the music performed at the Thomaskirche during J S Bach's Cantorate.

We know what the Cantatas were but maybe the materials are incomplete? Comments on this perception will be welcome especially, as I have suggested regarding the Meiningen texts set by J S Bach in the "third" cycle,the librettist is doctrinally suspect: stressing salvation by one's own efforts versus the Lutheran attiude of salvation by faith.

 

Bach's Calendar

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 26, 2010):
Below is a list of the dates of Easter during Bach's adult life including the number of Sundays after Epiphany and Sundays after Trinity.

A few observations:

1) Epiphany 5 occurred 10 times:
1702, 1710, 1713, 1715, 1718, 1724, 1726, 1729, 1740, 1745.
Bach appears never to have written a cantata for this Sunday.
In the 1710s, Epiphany 5 appeared four times in one decade.

2) Epiphany 6 occurred only twice: 1707, 1734
Bach appears never to have written a cantata for this Sunday.
Bach encountered the Sunday (which had the Transfiguration as its theme) when he he was 22, and then not again until he was 49.

3) Trinity 27 occurred 3 times: 1704, 1731, 1742
Could "Wachet Auf" (BWV 140) have been repeated in 1742?

4) Trinity 26 occurred 12 times: 1701, 1709, 1712, 1714, 1717, 1720, 1723,
1725, 1728, 1736, 1737, 1748
The Sunday occurred 4 times in the 1720's
Bach wrote only one cantata for this Sunday (BWV 70)

5) Even in a career of 50 years, there were a fair number of Easter dates which did not occur during Bach's lifetime.

**********************************************************
DATES OF EASTER: 1700 - 1750

E = Sundays after Epiphany
T = Sundays after Trinity

11 April 1700 - E4 T24
27 March 1701 - E2 T26
16 April 1702 - E5 T24
8 April 1703 - E4 T25
23 March 1704 - E1 T27
12 April 1705 - E4 T24
4 April 1706 - E3 T25
24 April 1707 - E6 T22
8 April 1708 - E4 T25
31 March 1709 - E2 T26

20 April 1710 - E5 T223
5 April 1711 - E3 T25
27 March 1712 - E2 T26
16 April 1713 - E5 T24
1 April 1714 - E3 T26
21 April 1715 - E5 T23
12 April 1716 - E4 T24
28 March 1717 - E2 T26
17 April 1718 - E5 T23
9 April 1719 - E4 T25

31 March 1720 - E2 T26
13 April 1721 - E4 T24
5 April 1722 - E3 T25
28 March 1723 - E2 T26
16 April 1724 - E5 T24
1 April 1725 - E3 T26
21 April 1726 - E5 T23
13 April 1727 - E4 T24
21 April 1726 - E5 T23
13 April 1727 - E4 T24
28 March 1728 - E2 T26
17 April 1729 - E5 T23

9 April 1730 - E4 T25
25 March 1731 - E2 T27
13 April 1732 - E4 T24
5 April 1733 - E3 T25
25 April 1734 - E6 T22
10 April 1735 - E4 T24
1 April 1736 - E3 T26
2 April 1737 - E3 T26
6 April 1738 - E3 T25
29 March 1739 - E2 T26

17 April 1740 - E5 T23
2 April 1741 - E3 T26
25 March 1742 - E2 T27
14 April 1743 - E4 T24
5 April 1744 - E3 T25
18 April 1745 - E5 T23
10 April 1746 - E4 T24
2 April 1747 - E3 T26
14 April 1748 - E4 T24
6 April 1749 - E3 T25

29 March 1750 - E2 T26

[compiled but not double-checked]

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 26, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< A few observations:
[...]
2) Epiphany 6 occurred only twice: 1707, 1734 Bach appears never to have written a cantata for this Sunday. Bach encountered the Sunday (which had the Transfiguration as its theme) when he he was 22, and then not again until he was 49. >
What did Telemann do with all those compositions for Epiphnay 6, about half a dozen I believe Kim reported the other week?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 26, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
<< [...]
2) Epiphany 6 occurred only twice: 1707, 1734 Bach appears never to have written a cantata for this Sunday. Bach encountered the Sunday (which had the Transfiguration as its theme) when he he was 22, and then not again until he was 49. >>
Ed Myskowski asks:
< What did Telemann do with all those compositions for Epiphnay 6, about half a dozen I believe Kim reported the other week? >
Telemann lived another 17 years, to the ripe old age of 86, composing music pretty much up until he died. So it's possible he wrote some of those for subsequent Epiphany 6 feast days. Telemann could have written two cantatas for a specific event, where one cantata was presented before the sermon and another afterwards (Stolzel did this for the Sonderhausen court when commisssioned to provide them with a few cantata cycles).

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 26, 2010):
Telemann's Calendar

Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Telemann lived another 17 years, to the ripe old age of 86, composing music pretty much up until he died. So it's possible he wrote some of those for subsequent Epiphany 6 feast days. >
Tables the dates of Easter from 1600 to the present day can be found at:
http://www.census.gov/srd/www/x12a/easter500.html

Epiphany 6 occurs in years when Easter is late: April 22, 23, 24, 25.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 26, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling, regarding Telemann's Calendar] 1754 and 1764 had the potential for cantatas then.
Thanks Doug, great job on doing this research. Much appreciated ;)

William Hoffman wrote (February 26, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote to Ed Mykowski:
< Telemann lived another 17 years, to the ripe old age of 86, composing music pretty much up until he died. So it's possible he wrote some of those for subsequent Epiphany 6 feast days. Telemann could have written two cantatas for a specific event, where one cantata was presented before the sermon and another afterwards (Stolzel did this for the Sonderhausen court when commisssioned to provide them with a few cantata cycles). >
Will Hoffman writes:

I have been reviewing my Telemann resources, especially convergences with the Bach Family. There is so much overlap, as with their colleagues.It appears that their use of the church year calendar and cantatas and texts was quite significant and variable. Sacred cantatas were reperformed for other occasions. Other composers' cantatas were substituted to fill gaps, for example when Telemann took an extended trip in late 1717, and when very late Epiphany or Trinity Sundays occurred. What's most interesting is that Sebastian, in his quest for a "well-ordered church music to the Glory of God," continually recycled and parodied cantatas such as the 20+ from Weimar and six from Koethen, including the Advent works and serenades altered for other occasions. I also found a Keiser oratorio, composed for June 25, 1730, for the 200th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, at the Hamburg Dom Cathedral, where he was the music director, succeeding Mattheson, who went deaf. I'm just wondering if Telemann, the Hamburg municipal music director, and his prolific and talented contemporaries did any repeats, borrowings, or parodies. I also wonder if Telemann did pasticcios of some of his annual biblical Passions, as did his Hamburg successor, C.P.E., whose 1772 St. John Passion includes the closing chorus, "Ruht wohl," from Dad's St. John Passion, text rewritten in an "Enlightened" style, as well as music of Telemann, Stölzel, and Homilius -- both lyric and narrative Passion music.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 27, 2010):
William Hoffman wrote:
< I also wonder if Telemann did pasticcios of some of his annual biblical Passions, as did his Hamburg successor, C.P.E., whose 1772 St. John Passion includes the closing chorus, "Ruht wohl," from Dad's St. John Passion, text rewritten in an "Enlightened" style, >
Can you post the revised text please? I'd be very interested in the shift.

William Hoffman wrote (February 27, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Can you post the revised text please? I'd be very interested in the shift. >
Will Hoffman replies:

In English translation: Bach's Oratorios: The parallel German-English Texts with Annotations (p. 133), Michael Marissen

Be fully at peace, you holy bones,
for which I no longer will inconsolably weep:
I know that someday death will grant me peace.
the tomb will not always enclose me;
someday when God, my redeemer, calls,
then I, too, will rush, transfigured, to God's Heaven

Original (p. 70):

Be fully at peace, you holy bones,
which I will no longer bewail;
be fully at peace and bring also me to this peace.
The grave, so to you predestined
and henceforth no distress will enclose,
opens to be the [gates of] heaven and closes the [gates of] hell.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 27, 2010):
Bach's Calendar - PDF link

Thanks to Aryeh who has posted a PDF I put together with two helpful guides to Bach's calendar:

1) A Table of the possible dates of Easter with a grid of the dates of dependent moveable feasts (e.g. Pentecost) and the sequences of the Epiphany and Trinity seasons.

2) A Table of the dates of Easter from 1700 - 1750.

* PDF download: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Main/Bachs-Calendar.pdf

* Link from site: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/index.htm

Eventually, a comprehensive spread sheet of every day from 1685 to 1750 with links to pages on the site would be invaluable.

At the moment, I'd rather spend my time playing Bach!

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 27, 2010):
[To William Hoffman] Interesting, especially elimination of the word predestined, which I would agree with C.P.E., is an enlightened advance.

 

Continue on Part 7

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