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Bach’s Library

Bach "replacing" library materials? & Sebastian Knüpfer

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 3, 2003):
Boy, I hate to step into this knightly conversation, but here's a question of clarification. Wolff on page 331ff describes the way Bach's study contained both the Thomasschule collection and Bach's own private library. Wolff there says that Bach didn't make much practical use of the old choral library, but continued to build (with his own money) his personal collection. Where, if anywhere, does Wolff say that Bach tried to "replace" the Thomasschule collection? I believe Charles' point, if he wishes us to take it as valid, needs to be explained further in that regard.

I'm also intrigued by one of David's points below, the one about Jakob Handl (Gallus). His motet "Ecce quomodo moritur" is most famous today due to Georg Friedrich Händel's reuse of it (by direct quotation) in a funeral anthem. And that's also an interesting Bach connection, being an old piece that Bach and Handel both knew. The Bach connection is explained on p111 of the New Bach Reader (and was not in the 1966 edition): there was an endowment fund set up in 1668 to have certain pieces performed annually in memory of Rettenbach family members, and this motet by Handl came around every year on January 18th. Out of curiosity, does anybody know of an instance where Bach also quoted that piece, perhaps in a cantata around that time of year? (I don't, but it would be interesting if there is one.) Wolff then copied that same information from NBR into one of his footnotes in The Learned Musician.

The caution I'd offer for David is: in terminology, don't forget that Bach himself sometimes called his "cantatas" by the name "motetto" when they were for more than one voice. Bach therefore didn't write "only 9" motets; please be careful to keep such generic terms clear in your mind.... The words "motet" and "cantata" can both refer generically to any music that is sung as opposed to played; hence their names, etymologically. It doesn't work to try to segregate them from one another, as neatly as you appear to do. "Motet" sometimes picks up the added connotation of sacred vs secular text, but that distinction is also not completely reliable. [Music history doesn't have the neat little pigeonholes you evidently assume it does. 20th century cataloguing forces some unfortunate, and untrue, assumptions back into music that was not so clearly distinguished!] And I'd second Charles' observation that David's syllogisms are not especially clear, often.

As for other older motets that Bach might have known: Wolff (back to The Learned Musician) also notes (p58) that Bach might have had exposure to some of Schuetz' music (and other composers' music) way back at St Michael's, although (p59) perhaps not at his own teenaged browsing initiative "roaming around the library." A microscopic point: at the bottom of that page 58, does everybody's copy have the typo (the misspelling of Knüpfer's name, lacking the N), or has that been fixed in later printings of the book? [Not that such a typo would ruin the overall value of the book; merely noting an easily-repaired inaccuracy.]

On that topic of Sebastian Knüpfer: anybody have any recommendations of recordings? I've been intending, for several years, to pick up Robert King's someday...but haven't got around to it yet. Are there others? What is the Cantus Cölln recording mentioned by the reviewer at: Amazon.com ? I don't know much about Knüpfer, except for seeing the King recording as a cover story and extensive review in Fanfare a few years ago. Guess I should go refresh my memory of that article....

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (December 4, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] I am aware of that. In this situation, however, I have not read where Händel wrote Kantaten per se, whereas most if not all the works I have read about that were/are by him were Motteten.

As to differentiation between Sacred and Secular texts, Hassler for one wrote some (at least some that I have read and/or heard about) Secular Motteten. My understanding in the differentiation is between Motteten and Kantaten. Schütz (as far as I know), for example, almost exclusively Motteten, whereas Buxtehude for example, wrote few Motteten and more Kantaten. The difference here is between Choral compositions and Compositions for Solo and/or mixed Choral and Solo forces. The Motteten (from what I know) fall in the former category while Kantaten fall in the latter. That (I think) is why Bach's Motteten stand out so much. I have seen the scores of Bach's Motteten and they do differ in that there are some that call for solo and choir interaction.

Continue of this discussion, see: What is a Cantata? [General Topics]

 

Bach "replacing" the choral library

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 16, 2004):
<< But you forgot the one mid-last year (maybe you weren't in this group yet) where Charles asserted that Bach REPLACED the St Thomas' choral library of fine old motets with his own compositions; and Charles claimed that he got this from a reading of Christoph Wolff's book. When I presented those pages from that book, showing directly that Charles was in error, he still didn't retract it or apologize for the misinformation, or the way he had misused Dr Wolff's work. >>
< I don't recall your receiving your email on that - do post a reference. >
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/11869
From that dialogue I see that I've mis-remembered the phrase "his own acquisitions" as "his own compositions", and I apologize. But, either way, the allegation that Bach "replaced" the library with anything is bizarre (to say the least), and certainly can't be pinned on Dr Christoph Wolff.

 

Bach's copy of the Galov

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 18, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Here is some history which Jean Gribenski seems to have overlooked or not even considered as being important enough to report on correctly: >
And Thomas Braatz, presumably, knows better than a published author when the reporting is being done "correctly"? Why?! And he knows the mind of a published author, as to what the author has "not even considered"???!!!!!! HOW?!

< What do the above error-prone observations thrown out as 'evidence or proof' illustrate? Are these just insignificant, but excusable aberrations on the part of Gribenski or Golomb? Should not those with Music Doctorates be held to a greater accountability, just because they are so critical of comments or information shared by 'dilettante and amateurish' list members? Should these 'degreed' individuals not provide examples of excellence in scholarship, rather than 'simply pasting together rather thoughtlessly information that has been garnered here and there on the internet?' >
Thomas, you owe Dr Golomb an apology, for these dilettantish attempts to overrule his work, and for the defamatory comment that his remarks are "aberrations". And then, your attempts to cast this as a double standard, where you get to make up whatever nonsense you choose (without accountability or responsibility!) but would hold educated members to a higher level of responsibility....this is obscene.

If Gribenski were here, you'd owe an apology there too, among several other apologies.

=====

When those with music doctorates get angry at such obscene mistreatment, at the hands of a person whose main hobby is to belittle academia at every opportunity: our anger is justified. Our whole careers of hard work and dedication are being chucked into the garbage can, by one who refuses to understand anything that he has not invented himself. (Invented through his peculiar misuse of any and all sources he can get his on, twisting those sources to use them as weapons AGAINST those who have earned a professional level of respect, all to make real expertise look ludicrous in his own estimation!)

I suggest that Mr Braatz needs a better hobby than trying to drag everyone down to his level of disrespect for musicianship and scholarship. Since he has this apparently pathological need to destroy, perhaps he could take up skeet-shooting or wrecking-ball operation or demolition derby, or some other hobby in which destruction of property is a respectable goal? Heck, even a good game of bowling might accomplish something.

=====

Bach himself had a favorite passage from Calov's Bible commentary (with theological remarks from Luther et al), about the righteous anger that is appropriate when someone insults and belittles one's rightfully earned professional job. This is on pp121-22 in Robin Leaver's facsimile edition of Bach's copy of the Calov, if you'd care to look it up for yourself. Leaver has some plausible suggestions as to why Bach marked that part of the book in particular. I recommend this Leaver book enthusiastically. It also offers some insights into the way Bach studied scripture in preparation for composing the St John and St Matthew passions.

Meanwhile, Dr Golomb does provide examples of his excellence in scholarship. I have read some of them. He knows his topics and he writes well. His scholarly work has nothing to fear from the personal assaults by Thomas Braatz. And, Dr Golomb has treated Thomas Braatz with an exemplary level of patience and tolerance in the present discussions, even when Braatz' obscenities against the profession are beyond the bounds of human decency. In return for this, he earns the above chiding and alleged correction from Thomas Braatz?! HOW?!

Charles Francis wrote (October 18, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Bach himself had a favorite passage from Calov's Bible commentary (with theological remarks from Luther et al), about the righteous anger that is appropriate when someone insults and belittles one's rightfully earned professional job. This is on pp121-22 in Robin Leaver's facsimile edition of Bach's copy of the Calov, if you'd care to look it up for yourself. Leaver has some plausible suggestions as to why Bach marked that part of the book in particular. I recommend this Leaver book enthusiastically. It also offers some insights into the way Bach studied scripture in preparation for composing the St John and St Matthew passions. >
Unlikely, in my opinion, given Bach's copy of the Calov is dated 1733!

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 18, 2004):
[To Charles Francis] Leaver discusses that, explicitly, on pp24-27 and suggests there that Bach may have owned these books earlier than 1733. He offers his reasoning, which see. And on p25 Leaver describes the process by which Bach in 1742, being so much into this Calov stuff, purchased Calov's own copy of Luther's works (when they became available for sale, as a rarity) to supplement this. All this is background for Leaver's own commentary about the SJP and SMP, and Bach's study of scripture.

He also points out that Calov himself had died in 1686. Leaver knows chronology. Bach had a fondness for these antiquarian books. Leaver explains it.

Leaver's scholarship therefore has nothing to fear from one-line potshots from the opinion of Charles Francis.

Charles Francis wrote (October 18, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman]
Leaver writes, pg 26:

"The fact that both 2 and 3 bear the same year 1733 is both interesting and intriguing. One can take the date at its face value and assume that it records the year the volumes came into Bach's possession. As was outlined above, 1733 was a low year for Bach and marks the beginning of a fallow period in which he virtually abandoned composing church music for some years. According to Blume's thesis, this decline in the composition of religious music is to be explained by the composer's abandonment of the Christian faith. But it is at this significant juncture that he purchased this Bible commentary."

Two points to note:

1) Leaver is, apparently, not suggesting an earlier date than 1733.

2) If an earlier date were proposed as you suggest, it would kill one of Leaver's central attempts to refute Blume's thesis. But given Leaver's obvious "Christian" bias, he might be reluctant to argue for an earlier date for this reason. Perhaps you read of a proposed earlier date elsewhere?

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 18, 2004):
[To Charles Francis] Like what? Like his remark on page 27, which is the reason I cited pp 24-27?

"Further, if the Calov commentary was in Bach's possession before 1733, it may have exerted some influence on his compositions, such as the cantatas in general or specific works like the motet Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied (BWV 225) and the St John Passion (see nos. 18, 63)."

As you can see right there on pp26-27, leading into this, he's postulating that because Bach had a rough time in the years immediately preceding 1733, he may have written down "1733" in his Calov to represent a personal turning-point back toward faith and study. Bach could have had the books for any number of years preceding, and made any use of them (or not) as he saw fit; we simply don't know. Leaver's point is that the "1733" date does not necessarily represent Bach's purchase date, or the beginning of Bach's interest in Calov's work.

Charles Francis wrote (October 18, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Does Leaver offer any evidence for this speculation? It seems very odd to argue that because Bach was having a bad time in 1733, he wrote that year in a couple of books. If this year really was a turning back towards faith, why was he writing religious music for the Dresden court And why did he write so little church music for Leipzig after that?

Uri Golomb wrote (October 18, 2004):
Brad Lehman wrote:
< Thomas, you owe Dr Golomb an apology, for these dilettantish attempts to overrule his work, and for the defamatory comment that his remarks are "aberrations". >
Brad: Many thanks for this, and the rest of your spirited defence. For myself, I've just admitted making a mistake in attribution. Anyone -- from dilletants to scholars -- can make mistakes. One of the questions is, what do you do after you've discovered that you made one.

My mistake does not, in any way, touch upon the substance of the claims I quoted, of course; and as far as substance is concerned, I don't see how Braatz's information seriously contradicts or undermines William Weber's work (my own work in this particular case consisted of little more than citing a respected and reliable source).

Dorian Gray wrote (October 19, 2004):
>>Bach himself had a favorite passage from Calov's Bible commentary (with theological remarks from Luther et al), about the righteous anger that is appropriate when someone insults and belittles one's rightfully earned professional job. This is on pp121-22 in Robin Leaver's facsimile edition of Bach's copy of the Calov, if you'd care to look it up for yourself. Leaver has some plausible suggestions as to why Bach marked that part of the book in particular. I recommend this Leaver book enthusiastically. It also offers some insights into the way Bach studied scripture in preparation for composing the St John and St Matthew passions.<<
About righteous anger...it occurs to me that there is a difference between anger and vengeance. "Be as angry as you like," my conscience tells me, "but guard your actions and words." Bach himself was measured, if somewhat sarcastic, in how he chose to express himself to an offending party. But he lost his cool on occasion as we all do. It still doesn't make it right. A strong man, indeed, is the one who can accept criticism with equanimity- never taking offense, never demanding apologies, never puffing himself up to appear larger than others. I hold this standard as the highest, even though I rarely reach it myself. I will never accept that righteous anger can truly be put into action and words by anyone less than the Almighty. Everyone else is practicing hubris in one form or another. Remember: the Lord sait, "Vengeance is mine."

P.S. Would it be so terrible if a novice were to correct an expert? If it were the case, then the expert should thank the novice for correcting him. If the novice is wrong and will not accept the truth, then what is anyone to do about it? Move on, for heaven's sake!

Johan van Veen wrote (October 20, 2004):
Dorian Gray wrote:
< P.S. Would it be so terrible if a novice were to correct an expert? If it were the case, then the expert should thank the novice for correcting him. >
No problem at all, as long as the novice shows respect for the expert and is ready to acknowledge that he or she is an expert.But you can't expect the expert to accept 'corrections' from a novice when said novice is belittling the expert or even doesn't want to accept that there is a difference between an expert and a novice.That is the whole issue at stake here.

< If the novice is wrong and will not accept the truth, then what is anyone to do about it? >
Maybe try and hope to make someone see reason? And is ignoring someone more respectful than trying to show him the errors of his ways?

Bradley Lehman wrote (October 20, 2004):
Dorian Gray wrote:
<< P.S. Would it be so terrible if a novice were to correct an expert? If it were the case, then the expert should thank the novice for correcting him. >>
Johan van Veen wrote: < No problem at all, as long as the novice shows respect for the expert and is ready to acknowledge that he or she is an expert.But you can't expect the expert to accept 'corrections' from a novice when said novice is belittling the expert or even doesn't want to accept that there is a difference between an expert and a novice.That is the whole issue at stake here. >
It's some of the issue at stake here. Yes, it's important to offer due respect to expertise (which is relevant in the way to approach experts personally, and in the way to talk about or represent other people's work in public). But it's equally or even more important that the material (i.e. the music and the historical presentation) be correct, in some manner that includes both impeccable reasoning and a full consideration of the evidence. Respect the integrity of the material, and the integrity of any and all witnesses to it. That is, the findings have to be reasonable, supportable, reproducible, and be a useful model with predictive value to other data points: i.e. derived with scientific methods of inquiry.

Nothing reasonable can be derived by starting from a premise that all the dead guys were stupid, incompetent, deliberately deceptive, or dishonest about their own work in their own area of expertise. When apparent anomalies show up in the evidence, within reasonable investigation, the attempt must be made to find any extenuating circumstances and additional information that explains them plausibly. It doesn't do simply to throw out any witnesses one would rather not deal with (as stupid/incompetent/deceptive/whatever); such a process is not research! Rather, one must find a way to hypothesize and to explain the hypothesis, such that all the evidence is accounted for in a reasonable manner.

The "corrections" seen regularly in the present forum, from a dilettante, don't have any scientific rigor to them as to the pseudo-reasoning processes used, and they regularly ignore or change whatever evidence he chooses not to deal with. That is, his "corrections" are meaningless in any scientific sense; they're arbitrary and unreliable. His arrogance in presenting them, with his tone that insults expertise outright and forcefully, is only the frosting on an already unpalatable cake. Experts have as much responsibility to take those "corrections" seriously, as they do to pick up a supermarket tabloid and "correct" their work by its Nostradamus-predictions and its reports of alien spawn.

Recently I put up an outline at the bottom of my page: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/recits.htm
which shows why his pseudo-reasoning has no credibility, directly. (The section entitled "The dilettante's pet fallacies".) His methods of proof and disproof make no scientific sense, because they disdain logic. His syllogisms are so full of fallacies, the whole argument on whatever topic comes across as merely random ranting and polemic, where facts are twisted around to say whatever he wanted them to say: foregone conclusions masquerading as reason. It's all so unreliable!

Furthermore, he misrepresents and changes other people's published work, even as he quotes and translates and tries to explicate it, with the sanctimonious tone that he alone is representing it fairly, and that he is able to judge better than the author what the author's intent was! He regularly chides authors on "not even considering" the things they did not say; how does he know this? He doesn't even know, from experience, the process of preparing original research (at least in this field!) through
peer review and into publication...but he stands above it all to "correct" and belittle it as he sees fit, whenever it doesn't agree with his foregone conclusions. He casts the authors he's quoting as ignorant, dishonest, and worse. He treats his straw-man opponents (set up by himself, of course) even worse than he treats published sources, in that regard.

And then, his belligerence in presenting it to overrule expertise (on whatever topic...he comes up with new ones several times a week, usually as direct response contrary to whatever the real experts present have put up!) is merely adding profound insult to it all: not only in foisting unreliable conclusions, but doing it in such a way that he puts himself above any real responsibility to accuracy, and any responsibility to treat expert methods (and practitioners) with respect. Those with a professional stake in the field have a right to be deeply offended by his presentations. As one of those, I speak up about it (perhaps more frequently than I "should", but his attacks never stop; they just keep turning up notch after notch).

The current round, where he's trying to "prove" that autodidacticism gets to trump expertise automatically, is just more of the same: full of false dichotomies and other fallacies that render the whole thing merely meaningless, except for being polemic that amuses himself. How else are we to take his regular attempts to knock down scientific knowledge, except with a bemused annoyance at his audacity and persistence?

=====

I personally could take his opinions much more willingly--I even agree with some of them--if he'd present them honestly and forthrightly as amateur preferences, and as honestly questing questions about the material. But no; he puts up the facade of pseudo-objectivity around everything, absolutely refuses to admit that he could be wrong, and twists the verifiable facts to suit only his own preferences, as if that's all that could matter. It's his pugnacious and arrogant tone, and his patronizingly destructive treatment of real scholarship, that creates a large part of the problem here for me. Instead of asking questions and listening humbly to the responses, he tries to overrule all the responses, tries to prove that everybody is wrong. It's destructive to discussions rather than participatory. It shows little concern for serious work that has already been done, by those who are qualified to do it accurately. And it gets
some of us, especially me, to waste a lot more time and energy than we should do, going into his unreasonable blind alleys where the whole discernible purpose is merely to beat us up with insults and nonsense.

<< If the novice is wrong and will not accept the truth, then what is anyone to do about it? >>
< Maybe try and hope to make someone see reason? And is ignoring someone more respectful than trying to show him the errors of his ways? >
I've tried both those things, repeatedly. In this particular case, neither of them works. Ditto for argumentation against his cheerleader, who (with ad hominem aplomb) accepts everything he comes up with, at face value, and turns his critical eye only against everybody else's work...especially againsthe work of experts...often falling into those same fallacious traps himself. He doesn't seem to care that it is all one fallacy after another, strung together; pseudo-science is good enough for his purposes to put up anti-academic polemic.

Then, of course, these two claim regularly that they're being persecuted ad hominem (which complaint itself often reflects fallacious reasoning, and a misunderstanding of the structure of ad hominem argument!), whenever the verifiable fallacies in their work are pointed out, and whenever their names are mentioned in the posting.... Anything to strike back defensively, whenever their work is shown to be verifiably faulty.

A good reference source about various types of fallacies, and how to recognize them: http://www.fallacyfiles.org

 

Bach's Motet Repertoire

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 6, 2010):
Here's a terrific clip of Hammerschmidt's "Verleih Uns" by the Hannover Boys Choir. Hammerschmidt's works were well-represented in Bach's Bodenschatz motet collection. This gives us a good idea of the calibre of the 17th century music which is always so unfairly compared to Bach's cantatas as "just" motets. Imagine Bach's choir singing this kind of music during Advent and Lent.

I love the confidence of the boy soloist!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5prPiWxaiI&feature=related

 

Bach's Music Libraries

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 20, 2011):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< 4) Since the church service required that Bach provide two cantatas for every service, what was Bach performing in the other slot if not the second half of a bipartite cantata, or another of his own cantatas? >
Do we have any evidence about the organization of the music libraries at St. Thomas?

1) Bach kept the full scores and parts for his original compositions as well as copies of other composers' works in a personal library which before the end of his life he began to divide among his sons.

2) The school had a library containing multiple copies (at least 8) of the Vopelius hymn book and the Bodenschatz motet collection. That library would have remained in Leipzig if Bach had moved,

3) After Bach's death, Anna Magdalena sold or donated music to the school, so there appears to have been another library which was composed of concerted works and motets of other composers. If Bach had access to works by his predecessors such as Kuhnau and Schein, there would be a large repertoire which could sung as communion music, or indeed as replacements for the "missing" Sunday cantatas.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 20, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Do we have any evidence about the organization of the music libraries at St. Thomas?
3) After Bach's death,
Anna Magdalena sold or donated music to the school, so there appears to have been another library which was composed of concerted works and motets of other composers. If Bach had access to works by his predecessors such as Kuhnau and Schein, there would be a large repertoire which could sung as communion music, or indeed as replacements for the "missing" Sunday cantatas. >
He performed cantata cycles by Stölzel, in fact there was an entire cantata cycle in Leipzig by Stölzel up until 1943, when it was destroyed. There was also a great deal of Fasch's orchestral music (at least 12 orchestral suites) that vanished too, so the music wasn't just vocal/sacred music. But I'm more than willing to wager Bach performed Telemann and Fasch cantata cycles as well, but I'm sure Will Hoffman or Evan can fill us in with more details.A lot the information about the Stölzel being performed only came to light in 2008 based on an article in the 2008 Bach Year Book (many thanks to Evan and Thomas Braatz's help with providing me with that!)

Evan Cortens wrote (April 20, 2011):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] I wish I did have more to add! I was just about to say what Kim has said, but he beat me to it. These discoveries, published in the two most recent issues of the Bach-Jahrbuch, are the result of a research project currently being conducted at the Bach-Archiv in Leipzig. Their goal, as I understand it, is to scour various libraries and archives for heretofore unknown Bach sources. Fingers crossed they keep turning up interesting things!

Certainly, in my experience, it does not seem uncommon for composers to have performed each others' works in this manner. CPE Bach was doing it several decades later, writing to Georg Benda for access to his cycles, and using the works of Telemann.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 20, 2011):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< I wish I did have more to add! I was just about to say what Kim has said, but he beat me to it. These discoveries, published in the two most recent issues of the Bach-Jahrbuch, are the result of a research project currently being conducted at the Bach-Archiv in Leipzig. Their goal, as I understand it, is to scour various libraries and archives for heretofore unknown Bach sources. Fingers crossed they keep turning up interesting things! >
Thanks Evan!

I've heard some news on the grapevine, and apparently someone in Russia has access to a lot of missing materials that vanished from Germany after WW2. I can't recall the one Russian archivist, but he's basically releasing these cantata text books at a slow-drip, and I think it's because of these rediscovered cantata text books, we know about the Stölzel cycles being performed by Bach.

And from what I've been told, there's a great deal of music materials still missing (particularly from Dresden), so maybe something(s) will turn up in Russia eventually.

Evan Cortens wrote (April 20, 2011):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] I think you may be referring to Tatiana Schabalina, who's been doing great work in St. Petersburg over the last few years. I gather that the collection there used to belong to Catherine the Great, and that she collected (not surprisingly) a considerable amount of German printed material, including a significant number of printed cantata text books from Leipzig.

Most of Schabalina's research has been coming out in the Bach-Jahrbuch, but some has come out in English, notably this: http://www.bachnetwork.co.uk/ub4/shabalina.pdf

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 20, 2011):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< I think you may be referring to Tatiana Schabalina, who's been doing great work in St. Petersburg over the last few years. I gather that the collection there used to belong to Catherine the Great, and that she collected (not surprisingly) a considerable amount of German printed material, including a significant number of printed cantata text books from Leipzig. >
Makes perfect sense, since Catherine the Great was from Zerbst, where Johann Friedrich Fasch was the director of music. It was for her wedding celebrations that Fasch wrote a large scale outdoor fireworks music piece for several choirs of oboes, trumpets, bassoons, and timpani. Remarkable piece of music ;)

Peter Smaill wrote (April 20, 2011):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] There is a strong possibility that the booklets discovered in St Petersburg were originally issued to the enlightenment poet Gottsched, who wrote the libretto for the Trauer-Ode BWV 198. If so at least we can know that Gottsched ( whose cantata text for the memorial service for the late Queen-Electress Christiane Eberhardine does not actually mention Jesus Christ) attended the Thomaskirche regularly. There is still the puzzle that Bach only once or maybe twice (there is another missing work, text by Gottsched, listed by Duerr) set the writings of the most distinguished poet in Leipzig, notwithstanding Mariane von Ziegler.

I recall also that the widow of Bach's predecessor Kuhnau offerred his works to the library of the Thomaskirche (as Anna Magdalena was to do in relation to the late Johann sebastian) but Bach turned down the chance to have them bought in.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 20, 2011):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< I recall also that the widow of Bach's predecessor Kuhnau offerred his works to the library of the Thomaskirche (as Anna Magdalena was to do in relation to the late Johann sebastian) but Bach turned down the chance to have them bought in. >
Do we know why? Price? Style?

Peter Smaill wrote (April 20, 2011):
Bach's Music Libraries- Kuhnau

[To Douglas Cowling] The source is p 457-8 of Wolff, "Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician".

"Anna Magdalena fared better than the widow of Johann Kuhnau, for whose musical estate the cantor Bach had expressed no interest". That's all he says.

However Bach did not neccesarily dislike Kuhnau's output entirely; part of the pre 1750 all comers Passion Pasticcio is from Kuhnau.

Anthony Newman draws attention to the remarkable similarity of Kuhnau's "Israelites Prayer" from the "Battle of David and Goliath" and the famous organ prelude , "Erbarme dich mein, O Herr Gott" BWV 721 which comes down to us via a single copy owned by J G Walther. But is this sequence of exquisite chordal modulations actually by Bach, or even inspired equally by Handel (cf. the setting of this English text equivalent in the Chandos Anthem HWV 248) , as Peter Williams suggests? Nevertheless Bach's writing (if it is by Bach!) appears to be "modelled exactly" on Kuhnau, as Newman points out.

Bruce Simonson wrote (April 20, 2011):
Shooting from memory here, but I believe Bach's motet "Der Gerechte kommt um" is based in large part on a work by Kuhnau. Bach's version is an elegant piece, virtually on par with BWV 118, "O Jesu Christ, mein's Lebens Licht".

Bruce Simonson wrote (April 20, 2011):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< ... Most of Schabalina's research has been coming out in the Bach-Jahrbuch, but some has come out in English, notably this: http://www.bachnetwork.co.uk/ub4/shabalina.pdf >
This Schabalina article is a very good read. Interesting to hear this new perspective on how Penticost was covered in 1727. Very interesting, indeed as BWV 34 is near and dear to my heart.

Isn't it amazing, that important Bach scholarship can still continue? I especially like hoping and believing that missing works will materialize, and that future Bach scholars will have to the opportunity to explore this (new) music, and be able to expand our understanding of the mind and creativity of Bach. He's the gifted that keeps on giving, this Bach guy.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 20, 2011):
Bach's Printer

Bruce Simonson wrote:
http://www.bachnetwork.co.uk/ub4/shabalina.pdf
< This Schabalina article is a very good read. Interesting to hear this new perspective on how Penticost was covered in 1727. Very interesting, indeed as BWV 34 is near and dear to my heart. >
Beautiful facsimiles of some of the pages from the libretto booklets: fine quality printing. Do we know anything about the printers who worked with Bach? Did they have the church trade for sermons and the like?

Always interesting to see the emblematic illustrations which accompany Bach's texts. Particularly noteworthy are the angels holding up the "Soli Deo Gloria" motto.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 21, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Beautiful facsimiles of some of the pages from the libretto booklets: fine quality printing. Do we know anything about the printers who worked with Bach? Did they have the church trade for sermons and the like? >
Very interesting topic. One of Bachs major objectives in the later part of his life appears to be the consolidation, publication, (and sale at Leipzig fiars?) of the Clavier-ubung series of works for keyboard and organ.

Why would the cantata texts get more elaborate decoration?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 21, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Very interesting topic. One of Bachs major objectives in the later part of his life appears to be the consolidation, publication, (and sale at Leipzig fiars?) of the Clavier-ubung series of works for keyboard and organ. >
Telemann, one of Bach's friends, and CPE Bach's godfather had been publishing his own music, and cantata books for decades. He even owned his own press at his home. Maybe Telemann had encouraged him to do this as a way for raising money. I've wondered why Bach didn't use all his children and use a press to increase his income, he had the manpower and musically literate people to help him. Telemann made an large sum of money printing music.

< Why would the cantata texts get more elaborate decoration? >
Religious art is customary for such cantata books, there are dozens of them that survive. Such printings would often include the coat of arms for the sovereign for special birthday odes, wedding anniversaries or even jubliee events.

Bruce Simonson wrote (April 21, 2011):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Telemann, one of Bach's friends, and CPE Bach's godfather had been publishing his own music, and cantata books for decades. He even owned his own press at his home. Maybe Telemann had encouraged him to do this as a way for raising money. I've wondered why Bach didn't use all his children and use a press to increase his income, he had the manpower and musically literate people to help him. Telemann made an large sum of money printing music. >
I am sure I have read recently (somewhere) that Bach occasionally published libretti to his cantatas in advance, for purchase by the public. Something like 6 cantatas in a publication. And, if I don't misremember, Bach got a little cash for this entreprenurial endeavor. And a pre-informed and educated audience (congregation).

Did my memory make this up?

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 21, 2011):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
EM:
<< Why would the cantata texts get more elaborate decoration? >>
KPC:
< Religious art is customary for such cantata books, there are dozens of them that survive. Such printings would often include the coat ofarms for the sovereign for special birthday odes, wedding anniversaries or even jubliee events. >
EM:
I suspect that Doug is on the right track, that there was an established connection between printer and church and/or civic authorities, which Bach inherited on his arrival in Leipzig.

From a reference new to me, quite concise and reasonably up to date (Peter William: JSBach, A Life in Music, Cambridge University Press, 2007, p. 173):

<Adding to the need for efficient planning ahead was [the fact] that a set of texts for several Sundays had to be approved by the clergy and given to a printer in time for the congregation to have the textbook in front of them for the relevant services. This was a custom from before Bachs time, and had several functions, not least for the cantors income: he published them and had them sold.> (end quote)

Of course, if the printing expense exceeded sales income, the cantors income was in fact outgo. One of Bachs major complaints from the outset, in Leipzig, was that he had been misled as to the potential for ancillary income. Could this be one of the items?

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 21, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< From a reference new to me, quite concise and reasonably up to date (Peter William: JSBach, A Life in Music, Cambridge University Press, 2007, p. 173):
"Adding to the need for efficient planning ahead was [the fact] that a set of texts for several Sundays had to be approved by the clergy and given to a printer in time for the congregation to have the textbook in front of themfor the relevant services. "
Of course, if the printing expense exceeded sales income, the cantors income was in fact outgo. One of Bach’s major complaints from the outset, in
Leipzig, was that he had been misled as to the potential for ancillary income. >
Where and when were the librettos sold? It couldn't have been Sunday when commerce was closed from Vespers of the preceding Saturday. Were they sold solely from the printer's shop or was there was some sort of subscription distribution? Handel ran a music store from house. Did Anna Magdalena work the retail operation?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 21, 2011):
Bruce Simonson wrote:
< I am sure I have read recently (somewhere) that Bach occasionally published libretti to his cantatas in advance, for purchase by the public. Something like 6 cantatas in a publication. And, if I don't misremember, Bach got a little cash for this entreprenurial endeavor. And a pre-informed and educated audience (congregation).
Did my memory make this up? >
No ;) Your memory is correct. I was just thinking out loud why Bach didn't do self publishing or printed music and sell it in an effort to raise his income.

Evan Cortens wrote (April 21, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Where and when were the librettos sold? It couldn't have been Sunday when commerce was closed from Vespers of the preceding Saturday. Were they sold solely from the printer's shop or was there was some sort of subscription distribution? Handel ran a music store from house. Did Anna Magdalena work the retail operation? >
I confess, I don't know about J. S. Bach off the top of my head, but for C.P.E. Bach, who dealt with a similar arrangement (namely, a small income from the sale of printed text booklets), they were sold directly by the printer. Often one finds them advertised for sale in newspapers; when the booklets themselves are no longer extant, or when they don't have exact dates, this can provide helpful additional evidence for dating particular performances. C.P.E. Bach did act as his own publisher for most of his career, but only for his music, not the text booklets.

If I had to guess, things were probably similar in Leipzig: congregants would buy their booklets in advance, from a seller unaffiliated with the church, and they would be good for several weeks, in the case of cantatas, or a single performance in the case of a passion. On this last point, it's worth consulting Schabalina's article in BJ2009, which shows facsimiles of a Mark passion booklet where they could simply write in the location and year of the performance as necessary.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 21, 2011):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< If I had to guess, things were probably similar in Leipzig:congregants would buy their booklets in advance, from a seller unaffiliated with the church, and they would be good for several weeks, in the case of cantatas, or a single performance in the case of a passion. >
Ruth Tatlow opens her booklet notes to the DG Archiv CD, BWV 16, BWV 98, BWV 139 (JEGardiner, specifically NOT Pilgrimage recordings, but deceptively labeled as such):

<Once a month in Leipzig boys from St. Thomas School could be seen running from house to house distributing small booklets. These contained texts of the cantatas to be heard in St. Thomas and St. Nicholas over the next four Sundays, and they had been prepared and printed at Bachs own expense. The proceeds not only covered his production costs and rewarded the delivery boys with some pocket money, but also replensihed a vital fund to pay for extra musicians imported to boost the standard of Sunday performances.>

The closing paragraph begins:

<Although the errand boys have long since passed into history, Bachs music is, in a sense, still being delivered to our homes.>

Be your own judge and/or researcher as to the mix of fact and fantasy which may be represented. No sources are cited, but I believe Ruth Tatlow is considered a reputable *music scholar*.

Peter Smaill wrote (April 21, 2011):
Bruce Simonson wrote:
< Shooting from memory here, but I believe Bach's motet "Der Gerechte kommt um" is based in large part on a work by Kuhnau. Bach's version is an elegant piece, virtually on par with BWV 118, "O Jesu Christ, mein's Lebens Licht". >
Bruce , you shoot well from memory on this - a bulls-eye in fact. And yet....

The Kuhnau work "essentially identical" to the Bach motet "Der Gerechte kommt um" is the Latin motet "Tristis est anima mea". However, Dan Melamed goes on to note "Any number of problems make the attribution to Kuhnau difficult to evaluate". Furthermore, there is a setting by Lassus which occurs in the "Florlegium Portense", perhaps the original root for both works. And it is possible that "Tristis est" was actually derived later from the German work, but made a capella for an occasion when instruments were unavailable.

The "Kuhnau" piece reoccurs in the aformentioned Passion pasticcio, is indeed similar to BWV 118 and the "Et incarnatus" of the BMM (BWV 232). The cautious Melamed concludes that not only do we not know that "Tristis est.." is by Kuhnau, but that although stylistically related to other works by Bach, we cannot be sure JSB wrote " Der Gerechte .." ("It is unlikley that Bach was responsible for "Der gerechte kommt um". (J. S. Bach and the German Motet, pps 149-150)

Andrew Shryock wrote (April 21, 2011):
[To Ed Myskowski] As one who has just begun to follow this list, I'm glad that I'm able to offer a few thoughts early on even as I apologize for the indefensible length of what follows.

First and foremost, I confess to know little of printing practices in Leipzig or even across that region more broadly. I am familiar with contemporary practices in England, however. And,thankfully, print technology and practices at this time are not so different between the continent and England that one cannot make a few rudimentary observations. So even as Evan's observations re CPE Bach's customs are generally consistent with British practice, I'll try not to indulge in (too much) wild speculation.

It is often helpful during this period to distinguish between publisher, bookseller and printer. A publisher commissioned works, managed copyrights, solicited subscriptions, directed the design and production process, marketed volumes and assumed similar responsibilities. The bookseller operated a physical shop where volumes were sold. He may have offered bookbinding services, but this was not included in a book's purchase price. Finally, the printer executed the physical production of the book, ushering it from manuscript to finished (albeit unbound) product.

These occupations occasionally overlapped. For example, Jacob Tonson, London's foremost publisher during the first half of the eighteenth century, performed all three duties. Yet he also subcontracted printing work to other printers and accepted such work on occasion. In short, the profession and its practitioners were fluid.

The printing profession was not one conducive to the weekend warrior, however. The initial investment-printing press, typefaces, ornaments, ink and so on-was significant. A composer, such as JS Bach, could not simply launch a casual printing operation. As a result, materials one wished to have printed needed to be sent out.

In the case of Handel, which I am most familiar with, the material to be printed dictated the contractors to be employed. Music is printed, published and sold by John Walsh. Most oratorio word-books were printed, published and sold by Jacob Tonson and John Watts. (The two firms alternated. There is some evidence to suggest that Watts printed some or all word-books produced under Tonson's name. Subcontracting of this sort was common.) A different cohort, meanwhile, produced Italian opera librettos, because they were more familiar with the quirks of printing in foreign languages and side-by-side translations.

Because printers specialized in certain types of printed material, physical characteristics (e.g. dimension, ornaments, typeface) varied by genre. Tonson catered to a highly literate market with tools and a production process that yielded large, luxurious volumes with attractive typefaces and elaborate ornaments and drop letters. Handel's decision to engage Tonson for the oratorio word-books, then, represented his desire to appeal to a well-to-do, educated audience. I suspect similar circumstances were common in Leipzig. As a result, one expects a "Soli Deo Gloria" ornament in a cantata booklet. The ornament was also likely to be found in most materials produced by that printer. Yet one is unlikely to find, say, ornaments featuring verdant depictions of Arcadia, because that printer was unlikely to specialize in pastoral literature.

And, finally, while I would be pleased to hear otherwise, Handel did not operate a bookshop out of his house. Rather, he sold tickets (season subscriptions and single performance) out of 25 Brook Street.

So what are the implications of all this for JS Bach?

It seems reasonable to presume that Bach sent out manuscript librettos for a batch of cantatas and these came back as printed booklets, which the St Thomas School boys distributed once a month. (Thanks to Ed for alerting us to comments by Ruth Tatlow.) We also know these booklets were printed by ("Gedruckt bey") Immanuel Tietzen on at least one occasion. (See Fig. 1, Tatiana Shabalina, "Recent Discoveries," 2009, which Evan recently cited.)

I also see ties in this discussion of print history to lingering questions regarding bipartite cantatas. For instance, the title page for the cantata booklet reproduced in Shabalina's article is unambiguous: the booklet contains church music for Leipzig performed during the period from Pentecost 1 to Trinity Sunday 1727. While I am not knowledgeable enough about this to draw broader observations about what it may (or may not) mean about normative cantata performance practice, it seems to me that Bach performed only one standard-length cantata-none of these (BWVs 34, 173, 184, 129) are bipartite, right?-for at least four services in 1727.

A compelling discussion, to be sure!

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 22, 2011):
Shryock Andrew wrote:
< And, finally, while I would be pleased to hear otherwise, Handel did not operate a bookshop out of his house. Rather, he sold tickets (season subscriptions and single performance) out of 25 Brook Street. >
In addition to Handel's selling tickets at Brook Street, the Handel House Museum notes that scores were distributed to subscribers.
http://www.handelhouse.org/the-house/history/

That's a fair amount of retail.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 22, 2011):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< And it is possible that "Tristis est" was actually derived later from the German work, but made a capella for an occasion when instruments were unavailable. >/
"A capella" doesn't necessarily mean "unaccompanied". From the beginning of the 17th century, polyphony was normally accompanied by organ, if not doubled by instruments. The organ was not silenced in Advent and Lent during Bach's tenure. The doubling of polyphony by instruments (particularly cornetti and trombones) may not have fallen under the prohibition of concerted music with independent instrumental parts.

Bruce Simonson wrote (April 22, 2011):
Shryock Andrew wrote, at length, about publishing, bookselling, and printing in London in the 18th century, with implications for similar practices in Bach's Germany.

Thank you, Andrew, very interesting, and informative. Thanks much.

 

Bach's hymnbook - cammerton or cornet-ton?

Charles Francis wrote (October 29, 2012):
Not all questions can necessarily be answered: What time is it on Mars? What's the meaning of life? etc., and perhaps asking such a question about Bach's hymnbook is mute. Weren't the congregational chorals unaccompanied, after all? There are, moreover, two conflated issues: the absolute pitch at which chorals were sung and their intonation. With regard to the latter, we may assume that unaccompanied singers would naturally tend towards harmonic intervals and whenever a piece modulated would effortlessly switch to a new collection of harmonic relations. Where the organ was involved, however, the pitch and intonation would necessarily be fixed. An organ cannot accommodate its tuning to singers or orchestra, so must be the tuning reference. As we know from CPE Bach's letters, his father was a stickler for keeping everything in tune, so one imagines a procedure like the following would be his norm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LETOARKBkX0

With regard to this week's cantata, the chorale melody for the text "Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin" appears in the 1715 Gotha Hymnal with derivations used in the BWV 83 closing chorale, in BWV 382 and in BWV 616: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Mit-Fried-und-Freud.htm

BWV 382 is the 49th chorale in the 1784 CPE Bach collection, while BWV 616 is a chorale prelude from the Orgelbüchlein: http://tinyurl.com/92aztds

It's of interest to note that all three settings appear at first glance to share the same key signature as the Gotha Hymnal of 1715. There's a subtlety, however, of the kind often missed by musicologists who ignore the pitch standards in use at Bach's time: while BWV 382 and BWV 616 certainly do share the same tonality as the 1715 Gotha Hymnal melody, that is not th case for BWV 83. Delving deeper, we know that the existent organ performance part for BWV 83 is notated in two flats and is one tone lower than the other parts. So from the fixed tonal organ reference, the performance was in two flats with all singers and instrumentalists in cammerton transposition – the organ, in God-like manner, providing the absolute Church Pitch in a world of relatives. Thomas Braatz has mentioned that Johann Kuhnau introduced cammerton pitch to Leipzig during his tenure, but what exactly happened from the congregation's perspective? Was it purely a notational change for the organist that had no effect on them, i.e., Kuhnau's chorale harmonisations continued in their usual cornet-ton tonality? Or were the chorals transposed and re-pitched in the manner of BWV 83?

Below are two links to organ realisations with archaic tunings that optimise the harmonic relations for natural key tonalities:

BWV 382: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mkgcc55cfgQ

BWV 616: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVVgtS81g2I

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 31, 2012):
Charles Francis wrote:
< Not all questions can necessarily be answered: >
??? (as my hero, The Riddler, might say)

< What time is it on Mars? >
The same time as everywhere else in the universe!

< What’s the meaning of life? >
Self-evident.

< and perhaps asking such a question about Bach’s hymnbook is mute. >
Do you mean moot? Interesting near-homonym, in any case.

William Zeitler wrote (October 31, 2012):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
<< and perhaps asking such a question about Bach's hymnbook is mute. >>
< Do you mean moot? Interesting near-homonym, in any case. >
Or maybe 'mu'! (The zen word for 'nothingness')

 

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