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Chorale Melody Allusions in Bach's Vocal Works

Explanation

It is a well-known fact that Bach could take a simple chorale melody [henceforth referred to as 'CM'] and embellish it in various ways as he does in his chorale preludes for organ. In such cases, and also in certain cantata mvts. the CM is presented in its entirety. However, there are quite a number of instances where the CM is only hinted at with only the notes for the CM incipit or the Stollen at most being present. This is a CM allusion which may not have served quite the same purpose as the inclusion of an untexted CM as played by an instrument with long notes in the manner of a normal cantus firmus presentation. In the latter case, the audience is expected to make a meaningful text connection with simply the notes that are being played. In the following examples, however, the CM is so completely integrated with another subject or melody that it could easily go unnoticed by both performers and listeners. Another way to look at these examples is to consider them as being inspired by the CM. As Bach evolves a new musical subject or theme for a cantata mvt., a CM is always in the back of his mind. It provides a melodic structure upon which Bach can devise new and original ideas without entirely losing sight of the CM.

For each example, the CM (usually only the incipit or Stollen) is given first to establish the base from which Bach worked. After that examples from the cantatas follow. In each example, Alfred Dürr and Friedrich Smend, noted Bach scholars. both of whom have published commentaries on the cantatas from which these examples are derived, point out (the red notes identify the CM) where and how the CM is found embedded in the new material Bach has created from them.

 

Friedrich Smend

Example 1:

Example 2:

Example 3:

Example 4:

Example 5:

Example 6:

Example 7:

 

Alfred Dürr

Example 1:

Example 2:

Example 3:

Example 4:

Contributed by Thomas Braatz (November 10, 2006)

Chorales BWV 250-438
Recordings | General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Chorales in Bach Cantatas: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Hidden Chorale Melody Allusions | Passion Chorale
Individual Recordings:
Hilliard - Morimur | Chorales - Matt | Chorales - Rilling | Preludi ai Corali - Quartetto Italiani di Viola Da Gamba
References:
Chorales BWV 250-300 | Chorales BWV 301-350 | Chorales BWV 351-400 | Chorales BWV 401-438
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Articles:
The Origin of the Texts of the Chorales [Schweitzer] | The Origin of the Melodies of the Chorales [Schweitzer] | The Chorale in the Church Service [Schweitzer] | Choral / Chorale [Terry] | The History of the Breitkopf Collection of J. S. Bach’s Four-Part Chorales [Braatz] | Chorale Melody Allusions in Bach's Vocal Works [Braatz]
Hymnals used by Bach | Abbreviations used for the Chorales | Links to other Sites about the Chorales

Scores: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Other Vocal BWV 225-249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-524 | Other Vocal BWV 1081-1127, BWV Anh | Instrumental | Chorale Melodies | Sources
Discussions: Scores of Bach Cantatas: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Bach’s Manuscripts: | Part 1 | Part 2 | Scoring of Bach's Vocal Works
Scoring Tables of Bach Cantatas: Sorted by BWV Number | Sorted by Voice | Abbreviations | Search Works/Movements

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Last update: ýNovember 10, 2006 ý15:02:48