Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Texts & Translations: 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 1081-1089 | BWV Anh | Chorale Texts | Emblemata | Sources | Poets & Composers
Discussions: Texts | Translations: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Translations of Texts of Bach's Vocal Works
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Hungarian Translations of Bach's Vocal Works

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 19, 2006):
One of the important sections of the BCW is the collection of about 1,400 translations of Bach's vocal works into various languages. We all know how strong is the connection between Bach's music and the text to which it was set. Understanding the sung text is therefore essential to intensify our enjoyment from the music. That's why I am continuously looking for additional translations.

The latest added language is Hungarian. The about 40 translations are not located at the BCW but in two websites of Hungarian ensembles. The translations have been found by a new member of the BCML, Pal Domokos, to whom I am sincerely grateful.

As with other languages, I have built 3 index pages of Hungarian translations sorted by.
BWV Number: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/IndexTexts-Hun-BWV.htm
Title: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/IndexTexts-Hun-Title.htm
Event: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/IndexTexts-Hun-Event.htm

I hope that the availability of Hungarian translations of Bach's vocal works, would make these sublime works more accessible to the community of Hungarian-speaking Bach lovers. Hungary is the country who has given to the world Julia Hamari, Eva Csapo, Magda Kalmar and Krisztina Laki, to name just a few of many Bach singers, conductors and ensembles.

Current status of translations into other languages:

English: Francis Browne - about 150, in progress.
Chinese: Yang Jingfeng - about 10, in progress
Dutch: Various contributors - about 30, slow progress
French: Jean-Pierre Grivois - all
Hebrew: Various contributors (most are mine) - almost all
Indonesian: Rianto Pardede - about 180, in progress
Italian: Emanuele Antonacci, Vittorio Marnati & Riccardo Pisano: - about 80, in progress
Portuguese: Rodrigo Maffei Libonati & Leonardo Santos - about 50, slow progress
Spanish: Various contributors - all

I am still looking for translations into other languages, such as Russian, Polish, Arabic, etc. If you speak one of those languages (or others) and you can not find translations into your language anywhere, you can always try your hands in preparing translations by yourself. By doing that, you would definitely help expanding the Bach message to the people who speak your language.

 

Translation of Bach Canatas into Persian (Farsi)

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 21, 2007):
During recent months a number of Iranian members have joined the BCML. Welcome aboard to you all.

I wonder if are there any translations of Bach Cantatas (and his other vocal works) into Persian (Farsi).
If not, would any of some of you be ready to translate the cantata texts into your language?

I believe that translations of the text of Bach Cantatas help expanding the Bach message around the world. Understating the text makes Bach's vocal music more approachable and deepens our understating of it. So far the BCW presents translations into languages as: Chinese, Dutch, English, French, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish. Catalan translations would be presented soon.

If you are interested to contribute such translations, please contact me off-list.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 21, 2007):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< So far the BCW presents translations into languages as: Chinese, Dutch, English, French, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish. Catalan translations would be presented soon. >
I cannot think of a more positive contribution that the site could make in order to bring together people of very differents worlds and culture through the music of JSB.

I'd love to have the skills to assist in translations but alas not!

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (February 22, 2007):
Zomify and translation

I read somewhere an alternate translation of the Magnificat or perhaps of the Gospel portion whence it was taken where the rendering was "My soul doth zoomify the Lord". Have to consult the American Bible Society or any like society on that matter. The traditional translation makes odd enough English, methinks,

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (February 22, 2007):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< I believe that translations of the text of Bach Cantatas help expanding the Bach message around the world. Understating the text makes Bach's vocal music more approachable and deepens our understating of it. So far the BCW presents translations into languages as: Chinese, Dutch, English, French, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish. Catalan translations would be presented soon. >
It is very good to hear that we have members from Iran on the list. I am not always sure what exactly "expanding the Bach message" means, esp. when it comes to the texts rather than an emphasis on the music. It is music where persons of many beliefs and cultures can indeed find much beauty. The words however are specific to one particular belief system and one particular culture and one particular language.

There are of course many of us who are not of that belief system, that culture or that language.

So the music is what matters to some of us while to others Bach seems to be part of a belief system. Like I had no idea it was Ash Wednesday until it was mentioned on this list.

In the USA that has not become a national holiday happily.

BTW I have been noticing in random use how much more accurate in the Harnoncourt-Leonhardt cantata set the French translations are on the whole than the English ones.

My soul doth zomify the Lord,

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (February 22, 2007):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< I read somewhere an alternate translation of the Magnificat or perhaps of the Gospel portion whence it was taken where the rendering was "My soul doth zoomify the Lord". Have to consult the American Bible Society or any like society on that matter. The traditional translation makes odd enough English, methinks, >
I think this may be an urban legend - have found no evidence of it via Yahoo search. Nor have I come across any translations that use it offline. But it is cute and vaguely futuristic ;;)

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (February 22, 2007):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< It is very good to hear that we have members from Iran on the list. I am not always sure what exactly "expanding the Bach message" means, esp. when it comes to the texts rather than an emphasis on the music. It is music where persons of many beliefs and cultures can indeed find much beauty. The words however are specific to one particular belief system and one particular culture and one particular language. >
So are the words of, for example, the Qur'an. And I am not of that belief system, but does that mean I don't find any good in the words of the Qur'an? Not at all! I find much good in it and have read it at least twice in its entirety.

< There are of course many of us who are not of that belief system, that culture or that language. So the music is what matters to some of us while to others Bach seems to be part of a belief system. >
So I guess what I am saying is that it isn't so simple. There are non-Christians out there who can find much good in the Bible, and therefore in the words of Bach's cantatas, without necessarily becoming Christians (much as the Christians might hope that someday they might, just as no doubt my Muslim friends hope that someday I will become a Muslim).

< Like I had no idea it was Ash Wednesday until it was mentioned on this list. >
I had nearly forgotten myself, and I go to a Lutheran church!

< In the USA that has not become a national holiday happily. >
Especially for those of us who celebrate no holidays at all ;;)

< My soul doth zomify the Lord, >
And my spirit doth not worry, but beeth happy with God my Salvificator ;;)

Neil Halliday wrote (February 22, 2007):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< "I am notalways sure what exactly "expanding the Bach message" means, esp. when it comes to the texts rather than an emphasis on the music."<
To the extent that the texts of the cantatas refer to universal human experiences such as love, hate, fear, confidence, anger, joy, grief, ambivalence, doubt, enthusiasm, vulnerability, etc., they are at the very minimum useful in illuminating/understanding the music. One need not believe in Christian dogma in order to experience both an increase in the music's impact that may come from understanding the text, as well as the relevance of many aspects of the texts to one's own life experiences: "O Eternity, you thunder-word, O sword, that through the soul pierces" (BWV 20 and BWV 60).

Of course, one could simply `la-la-la' the vocal parts in Bach's great music and still be swept away, but the addition of words that deal with life's great challenges obviously has the potential to markedly increase the music's already considerable impact.

That's what I think Bach's "message" is: the composition of music of universal attractiveness set to words dealing with the great questions and experiences of life.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 22, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I cannot think of a more positive contribution that the site could make in order to bring together people of very differents worlds and culture through the music of JSB.
I'd love to have the skills to assist in translations but alas not! >
Once again, I second that emotion. Don't downplay your translation skills, mate! We do OK working on English and American. Especially the slang.

A special welcome to Iranian members, from a USA member.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 22, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Of course, one could simply `la-la-la' the vocal parts in Bach's great music and still be swept away, but the addition of words that deal with life's great challenges obviously has the potential to markedly increase the music's already considerable impact.
That's what I think Bach's "message" is: the composition of music of universal attractiveness set to words dealing with the great questions and experiences of life. >
Nicely stated. I was about to use 'Love thy neighbor' as an example of a more trivial question (or experience), but then I remembered some of my neighbors.

Shabtai Atlow wrote (February 22, 2007):
[To Cara Emily Thornton] So I guess what I am saying is that it isn't so simple. There are non-Christians out there who can find much good in the Bible, and therefore in the words of Bach's cantatas, without necessarily becoming Christians (much as the Christians might hope that someday they might, just as no doubt my Muslim friends hope that someday I will become a Muslim).

For the record, I am certainly a non-Christian who finds much good in the Bible. I also do not meant the same thing as Christians do when they say the Bible. I also read (frequently), from [what I mean by the] Bible in its original Hebrew and Aramaic.

Since we are supposed to be discussin Bach, however, I will tell a personal story about a Bach cantata, and myself. One day during the week of the discussion of BWV 3, I was having a particularly horrible day. And I started to hum "Wenn Sorgen auf mich Dringen" - and I had not even noticed the words. The music itself was having a calming effect on me. Then I popped the CD into the player, and started to listen to "Wenn Sorgen auf mich Dringen" (much calmer by now). Then I realized what the words are - no wonder this music had such an effect on me.

I can guarantee you that I have never, in my life: "Zu meinem Jesu singen", and I don't subscribe to: "Mein Kreuz hilft Jesus tragen" either. At most 'auf mein Gott Ich will singen', and so forth.

BUT, and, here is what I see as the crux (no crux - Kreuz pun intended) - the "Bach message" is very much in the synthesis which Bach puts in to getting the music and the words to convey the same message. I choose [substitute "I" to the listener of your choice] to take from Bach's message what I want.

Just my $0.02 (about 0.10 Shekel). And now, back to work.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 22, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< That's what I think Bach's "message" is: the composition of music of universal attractiveness set to words dealing with the great questions and experiences of life. >
Well put!

It has always seemed to me that Bach penetrated beyond the turgid dogma of C17/18 Lutheranism to reveal fundamental aspect os the human condition. I further believe that those who dismiss the texts on the grounds of faith seem to be missing this essential idea.

But Neil has expressed this extremely well and I agree with him 100%.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 22, 2007):
Ed Myskowski wrote
< We do OK working on English and American. >
I think that my inability to distinguish between the many nuances of English and American language usages lies at the root of my own low confidence in any form of language translation!

Alain Bruguieres wrote (February 22, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Well put!
It has always seemed to me that Bach penetrated beyond the turgid dogma of C17/18 Lutheranism to reveal fundamental aspect os the human condition. I further believe that those who dismiss the texts on the grounds of faith seem to be missing this essential idea.
But Neil has expressed this extremely well and I agree with him 100%. >
I agree 200% with Julian and Neil (100% for each!). Of course Bach's music is wonderful in itself. But realizing how Bach takes into account the meaning of the text is also a source of wonder.

Besides, even if one doesn't adhere to the religious meaning of these texts, one can appreciate the fact that they can be interpreted in many ways, and Bach often chooses a more optimistic, humanistic interpretation.

Also, the emotional strength of certain passages would be devoid of meaning without access to the text. The first example coming to my mind is, in the concluding chorale of the Himmelfahrts Oratorium, the poignancy of the music on the words Dass wir den Heiland grüßen, Dass wir den Heiland küssen? (and especially on the last word) which is enhanced (for me at least) by my awareness of the meaning of the text. Not knowing what the text means I would be horribly frustrating!

Julian Mincham wrote (February 22, 2007):
Alain Bruguieres wrote:
< Besides, even if one doesn't adhere to the religious meaning of these texts, one can appreciate the fact that they can be interpreted in many ways, and Bach often chooses a more optimistic, humanistic interpretation. >
True. One of the wonders of Bach is that no single cantata that I can bring to mind is unrelentingly pessimistic and without hope. There always (unless someone comes up with an example of the contrary) seems to be a lightening of the mood, feeling and misery somewhere---frequently it seems to come before the closing chorale.

The other obvious reason for reading understanding the text is in order to appreciate the imagery. This is not a superficial matter since the words (frequently) generate the musical ideas which are then developed according to musical logic and grammar. It is impossible (I believe) to acquire any deep understanding (note I didn't say 'appreciation) of these works without awaress of this process.

None of this has anything to do with an individual's personal faith (I suggest!)

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (February 22, 2007):
[To Aryeh Oron] Since we are on the subject of translations, I just went to visit my pastor this morning, here in Poland, and was greatly (and pleasantly) surprised to find that he had in his possession a book containing (that we know of) the only existing translation of all of Bach's cantatas into Polish. I would be willing to approach the author, directly or otherwise, about making it available on BCW, but need some guidance as to what to say to him, what issues need to be discussed, etc. And I guess a question to Aryeh above all would be 'What do you need from me/us to make this project fly?' Awaiting instructions.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (February 22, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I think that my inabilto distinguish between the many nuances of English and American language usages lies at the root of my own low confidence in any form of language translation! >
I think particularly in the case of these two languages, the main problem is at the intersection of culture and language usage. People often do not realize how vastly different these two cultures are. I find even Polish culture to be more similar to American culture than is British culture. So maybe that's why I have an easier time translating back and forth between American and Polish than between American and British. Thankfully, few people bother trying to do written translations in the latter language pair ;;)

All that having been said, I have spent most of the past ten years working as a translator. I remember one tragicomic incident where a customer was not entirely satisfied with my work because it was too faithful to the original. My customer said something to the effect of, 'Just from reading your translation, I know who wrote the original. It faithfully reproduces the stylistic weaknesses in his writing that I find so problematic' (and which eventually led to said author's losing his job). So take heart: it really is possible, even when we are dealing with a very distantly-related language pair, to do a faithful translation.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 22, 2007):
Bach's "message"

Julian Mincham wrote:
<< That's what I think Bach's "message" is: the composition of music of universal attractiveness set to words dealing with the great questions and experiences of life. >>
< Well put!
It has always seemed to me that Bach penetrated beyond the turgid dogma of C17/18 Lutheranism to reveal fundamental aspect os the human condition. I further believe that those who dismiss the texts on the grounds of faith seem to be missing this essential idea. >
I think there are two points worth suggesting:

1) Bach's music exists in a historical context and we can discuss his theological system as a historical phenomenon without subscribing to it. I recently watched a very interesting documentary on the pyramids. It was only when the theology of the ancient Egyptians was outlined did the architecture make intellectual sense. I think we have the same situation for Bach.

2) For lack of a better word, Bach's music has a "profundity" that draws us again and again into ever-deepening insights. Some may say this is "spiritual". I prefer to think of Bach as my best friend. His music has been a constant in my life and he has never failed me in moments of joy and sorrow. He has been present at every significant event in my life and I am sure that he will there at my funeral.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Bach' Message [General Topics]

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 22, 2007):
[To Cara Emily Thornton] Thanks for your willing to help in providing Polish translations of the Bach Cantatas.

2 things are needed:
- Permission from the translator.
- The translation texts.

When you get the permission, please contact me off-list and I shall guide you how to send me the translations. The editing, converting into HTML, etc. are on me.

Thanks & enjoy,

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 22, 2007):
Yoël L. Arbeitman] wrote:
< The traditional translation makes odd enough English, methinks, >
Francis Browne contributed a translation of the Magnificat into modern English. See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV243-Eng3.htm

Julian Mincham wrote (February 22, 2007):
[To Cara Emily Thornton] Cara thanks for your thoughts on translation.

I was being a bit disingenuous in my comments about UK and USA language--I have learnt over the years to understand quite a lot of what my American friends and colleagues say now----I think! Some of us have on ongoing debate about the different ways in which we approach irony for example.

But I totally agree with you about differing cultures. When at the tender and innocent age of 22 I first visted Uk from Australia I expected England to be basically the same culture and language with just a different accent. After all we both read Shakespeare, Trollope, Dickens, Keats etc etc and we both spoke the same language (as I then thought) and saw the same films.

It was one of the greatest shocks of my life to discover just how different we really are; and from this flowed an understanding of the ways in which people from radically different cultures, religions, literatures and languages can so easily misunderstand each other.

The wonder of great music, not only Bach's is that sometimes it can reach across these chasms---that truly is a miracle.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 22, 2007):
< Francis Browne contributed a translation of the Magnificat into modern English. See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV243-Eng3.htm >
OK, but also: can't one simply flip open any of dozens of modern English versions of the Bible, and read it straight off?

Plus the earlier bit from 1 Samuel chapter 2 that Luke based it on?

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (February 22, 2007):
A Catholic annotated Magnificat Translation 1945

For someone like me who can ruin a good quip with what is either a lapsus digiti or a lapsus mentis and end up writing "zoomify" with deletion of the gemination inherent in the first component, I truck on and shall give an interesting note I found in a 1945 Catholic Book Publishing Company New Testament. This is from the _The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Translated from the Latin Vulgate. Diligently compared with the original Greek and first published by the English College at Rheims A.D. 1582. With Annotations and References by Dr. Challoner and Dr. H. J. Ganss...._

For some reason in this annotated printing of the Rheims translation of the N. T. alone the primary annotator get no first name or even initials.

At all events, when we come to Luke I:48 within the Zoomificat and Mary says:"Henceforth all generations shall call me blessed", the annotator writes:"These words are a prediction of that honour which the Church in all generations should pay to the blessed Virgin. Let Protestants examine whether they are in any way concerned in this prophesy".

The volume has the Nihil obstat of Arthur J. Scanlin, S.T.D, Censor Librorum and the Imprimatur of Francis J. Spellman D.D., Archiepiscopus Neo Eboracensis. The last item: Archbishop of New York has Latin that looks odd to me, the Neo is either dative or ablative sg. while Eboracensis is what? A nominative sg. or a dative/Ablative plural, depending on stem?

The book was published Aug. 15, 1945 on the Feast of the Assumption.

At all events the kind of mutual antipathies that existed in those days between Catholics and Protestants seems a little extreme these days.Yoel who still prefers Zoomificat to Magnificat or at least Zoomify as an English translation. Yes, we should not tamper with the Latin, itself a translation of Greek megalynei, but perhaps alter the English.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 23, 2007):
< At all events the kind of mutual antipathies that existed in those days between Catholics and Protestants seems a little extreme these days. >
Well, it still goes on at some places. For the bizarre experience and pedagogical usefulness of it, once, I attended a service at Ian Paisley's church in Belfast. Some of the stuff said by the guest speaker during the service was (to put it mildly) incendiary; and some lines I found printed in the hymnal there were so odiously over-the-top
that I had to copy them out for myself, in wonderment. We had a good discussion with our students, later, as to why it was so incendiary, and what could possess self-proclaimed religious people to be so strongly at odds with one another.

Our group blog about that Catholic/Protestant wrangle in Belfast, from way back in 1998 before blogging was cool: http://www.emu.edu/crosscultural/eirefa98/journal3.htm
Also describing our visit to Iona, etc.

Douglas Cowling (February 23, 2007):
Brad;ey Lehman wrote:
< OK, but also: can't one simply flip open any of dozens of modern English versions of the Bible, and read it straight off?
Plus the earlier bit from 1 Samuel chapter 2 that Luke based it on? >
Is there a scholarly English translation of Luther's German version of the Bible? There are many instances where neither the King James Bible or modern translations capture the turn of phrase which Bach would have known from Luther's Bible.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 23, 2007):
< Is there a scholarly English translation of Luther's German version of the Bible? There are many instances where neither the King James Bible or modern translations capture the turn of phrase which Bach would have known from Luther's Bible. >
Maybe so; I don't know if anyone has gone straight from that version over to English, or not. It would be interesting.

In any case, the Luther version is available free here: http://www.biblegateway.com/

But again, for the Magnificat: it's sung in Latin, so how does Luther's German come into play here? Except maybe for the musicians and parishioners studying the material outside the performance?

Canyon Rick wrote (February 23, 2007):
Cara Emily Thornton wrote:
< All that having been said, I have spent most of the past ten years working as a translator. I remember one tragicomic incident where a customer was not entirely satisfied with my work because it was too faithful to the original. My customer said something to the effect of, 'Just from reading your translation, I know who wrote the original. It faithfully reproduces the stylistic weaknesses in his writing that I find so problematic' (and which eventually led to said author's losing his job). So take heart: it really is possible, even when we are dealing with a very distantly-related language pair, to do a faithful translation. >
Remember what happened to US prez Jimmy Carter when he visited Poland and spoke Polish on Polish TV. He said, in Polish, "I want to know the Polish people". Unfortunately, his Polish translator gave him the...ah..."Biblical" form of "to know". (at least, that's what Carter's staff told the media)

My only exposure to sung Polish (as far as I know) is Gorecki's 3rd Symphony.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (February 23, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
[quoting me]
<< At all events the kind of mutual antipathies that existed in those days between Catholics and Protestants seems a little extreme these days. >>
< Well, it still goes on at some places. For the bizarre experience and pedagogical usefulness of it, once, I attended a service at Ian Paisley's church in Belfast. >
Let me modify my statement. In the USA where there were such extreme fears of the other by each of these groups, e.g. when John Kennedy ran for president, such no longer seems to be the matter. Indeed the Protestant Right and the Catholic Church often are united in the socio-political causes. It is they combined who are often against other types of Protestants, Secularists, and others of liberal persuasion on certain agendas.

The kind of ethnic, religious, linguistic and so forth "problems" in Northern Ireland are not dissimilar to problems in the Balkans which are or are not religious in nature.Of course they are ethnic-religious and so forth and simply result in mass murder by all sides involved and the same applies to far too many places on earth whether by religious persons or any other kinds of persons.

Such is human nature and probably applies to Bach lovers or those not interested in our music at all.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (February 23, 2007):
Canyon Rick wrote:
< Remember what happened to US prez Jimmy Carter when he visited Poland and > spoke Polish
> on Polish TV. He said, in Polish, "I want to know the Polish people". Unfortunately, his Polish translator gave him the...ah..."Biblical" form of "to know". (at least, that's what Carter's staff told the media) >

I read a slightly expanded version of that story years ago in the New York Times magazine section. Supposedly, someone translated 'The US desires closer cooperation with Poland' (or something to that effect) as 'The US lusts after closer sexual intercourse with Poland' (or something to that effect). I can see how that error could be made - by someone who was completely out of contact with living Polish - and I am sure that my Polish friends would roar with laughter if I were to retell this story. I believe the Times article also said that the perpetrator lost his/her job.

< My only exposure to sung Polish (as far as I know) is Gorecki's 3rd Symphony. >
That is a work I need to get my hands on and listen to. Thanks for reminding me. There is also an opera entitled 'Halka' by Moniuszko which is apparently worth listening to (though I have not heard the whole thing myself, just one aria I believe).

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (February 23, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
Brad Lehman wrote:
<< Francis Browne contributed a translation of the Magnificat into modern English. See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV243-Eng3.htm >>
< OK, but also: can't one simply flip open any of dozens of modern English versions of the Bible, and read it straight off?
Plus the earlier bit from 1 Samuel chapter 2 that Luke based it on? >
If you read the Hebrew of I Sam2, you would see very strange language of the type that forces the translator to make a decision. Destroy the type of metaphoric language that the original uses for the sake of clarity of meaning in a modern Western world or leave the strange imagery and thus cause the reader to enter into a strange and different world. Bach knew such poetry as it had been modernized and Westernized and so forth and therefore did not know it and its world at all.

My own preference is a translation that keep the imagery of the strange ancient Semitic world and annotates scientifically (not theologically) to tell the reader what this means and then suggests that translation is never the full story. One does not have to know ancient Semitic to get into this imagery but one should have a translation that confronts one with it.

In the last century the discovery of the c. 1400-1200 B.C.E. Ugaritic library, another ancient North West Semitic language with close relationship to both the Hebrew tongue and to many of the theo-mythological tales in the Hebrew Bible let scholars understand this world much more.

Of course the c.1928 revelation of Ugaritic was only one of a number of such openings of the Ancient Mediterranean and Semitic world(s) which illuminate The Bible and Homer and much else.This was one decade only after the understanding of what Hittite was the the reading of their texts from the same period as those of Ugaritic. Hittite is not Semitic but rather Indo-European.

In plain English any of the translations by some dude updating the Magnificat are fine but fine for what? Fine maybe for Bach but let us realize that Bach did not understand the Bible in any real sense as to what it really is. What he understood was a modern western and Lutheran annotated "scripture". This is not a criticism. It was a different world. The concerns were theological and not of other natures of understanding.

Anthony Olszowy wrote (February 23, 2007):
[To Cara Emily Thornton] Cara, I always found Halka extraordinarily boring, and of somewhat limited musical interest. Moniuszko's Straszny Dwor (the haunted manor, or court) has always been more popular, for good reason--tuneful, quickly paced, often (intentionally) humerous and dripping with nineteenth century patriotism (if that's your cup of tea). EMI I believe has relatively recently issued a studio version of the London performance from earlier this decade, which is marvelous.

I don't think Dvorak, Smetena or Mussorgsky have much to worry about from Moniuszko, but at his best, he can entertain .

Eric Bergerud wrote (February 24, 2007):
OT: Translation Adventures

[To Cara Emily Thornton] I was told by a language teacher in Berlin that when JFK gave his speech there telling the world "Ich bin ein Berliner" that he caused some smiles. There's a popular pastry called "ein Berliner" (or so one would call it when buy it). Berliner's would skip the article when referring to themselves making it "ich bin Berliner". So, according to some Teutonic wags, Kennedy said "I am a donut."

 

BCW - Russian Translations of the Bach Cantatas

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 28, 2007):
One of the important sections of the BCW is the collection of about 1,650 translations of Bach's vocal works into various languages. We all know how strong is the connection between Bach's vocal music and the text to which it was set. Understanding the sung text is therefore essential to intensify our enjoyment from the music. That's why I am continuously looking for additional translations.

For a long time I have been looking for Russian translations of the Bach Cantatas. The Cantatas are already presented on the BCW in translations into languages as: Chinese, Dutch, English, French, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish. It has been seemed to me important to present them in Russian as well.

At the end of March 2007 my wishes were fulfilled. Alexander Volkov, a member of the BCML, found a translator, Peter Meshcherinov, hegumen of St. Daniel Monastery, Moscow.

Peter Meshcherinov has been working very skilfully and rapidly. By the end of 2007, after only 9 months, about 120 Russian translations of the Bach Cantatas are already presented, as well as the 6 Cantatas of the Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248.

As with other languages, there are 3 index pages of Russian translations.
BWV Number: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/IndexTexts-Rus-BWV.htm
Title: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/IndexTexts-Rus-Title.htm
Event: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/IndexTexts-Rus-Event.htm

In August 2007 I received through Teddy Kaufman, another member of the BCML, a message from Mikhail Saponov, Russian musicologist who is known in Russia for translating Bach Cantatas. Mikhail Saponov wrote as follows:
"I have read the Russian translations on your web site with enthusiasm and find them splendid and exact, their prose style is so beautifully united with the atmosphere of old Russian prayers! The translator, hegumen Peter is my former student in music history at the Tschaikovsky Conservatoire, Moscow, and by now surely feels the liturgical spirit of the texts much better then me. My translations are made in quite another tone, so the intrusion of such style as mine will damage the stylistic unity of the texts already inserted at your site. Please, don't interrupt the beautiful series of these translations and let this serious and theologically educated translator rev. Peter Meshcherinov finish his work of high level."

I hope that the availability of Russian translations of Bach's vocal works would make these sublime works more accessible to the community of Russian-speaking Bach lovers around the world (including my country).

Current status of translations into other languages:
English: Francis Browne - about 160 cantatas as well as many, in progress.
Chinese: Yang Jingfeng - about 20, in progress
Dutch: Various contributors - about 50, in progress
French: Jean-Pierre Grivois - all
Hebrew: Various contributors (most are mine) - almost all
Indonesian: Rianto Pardede - all
Italian: Emanuele Antonacci, Vittorio Marnati & Riccardo Pisano & Alberto Lazzari: - about 160 (several cantatas have 2 translations), in progress
Portuguese: Rodrigo Maffei Libonati & Leonardo Santos - about 50, slow progress
Spanish: Various contributors - all

I am still looking for translations into other languages, such as Polish, Arabic, etc. If you speak one of those languages (or others) and you can not find translations into your language anywhere, you can always try your hands in preparing translations by yourself. By doing that, you would definitely help expanding the understanding and appreciation of Bach's vocal music to the people who speak your language.

Happy New Year!

 

Cantata texts [was BRML, Weekly discussion]

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 18, 2008):
Francis Browne wrote:
>Six years ago I was translating cantatas and - despite Aryeh constantly pointing out the splendid industry of Rianto Pardede (Indonesian), Yang Jingfeng (Chinese), Guy Laffaille (French), Peter Meshcherinov (Russian) and others - not to mention his own Hebrew translations - six years later I still have some 60 to translate, with approximately 120 chorales used by Bach for good measure. ... I shall concentrate on translation for the foreseeable future as my contribution to the BCW.<
In light of some recent posts suggesting indifference, even hostility, to cantata texts as a BCW policy, Francis summary seems worth repeating on BCML, from his original post to BRML. His interlinear translations (English-3) are especially useful as a more readable alternative to those Whittaker provides in his examples. By themselves, even without Francis many other contributions, his translations add greatly to the value of the BCW database.

For a more freely poetic version by a vocalist, see also those by Pamela Dellal of Emmanuel Music (English - 6). Hometown (Boston) plug, and pride.

 

Catalan Translations of the Bach Cantatas

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 13, 2009):
One of the important sections of the BCW is the collection of about 2,420 translations of Bach's vocal works into various languages. We all know how strong is the connection between Bach's vocal music and the text to which it was set. Understanding the sung text is therefore essential to intensify our enjoyment from the music. That's why I am continuously looking for additional translations.

In February 2009, Antoni Sàbat Aguilera from Tarragona (Catalonia) Spain suggested contributing to the BCW his Catalan translations of the Bach Cantatas. Within a short period of 6 months he provided his translations into Catalan of all the Bach Cantatas, both sacred and secular. My humble contribution was some editing and converting them into parallel format.

As with other languages, there are 3 index pages of the Catalan translations.
BWV Number: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/IndexTexts-Cat-BWV.htm
Title: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/IndexTexts-Cat-Title.htm
Event: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/IndexTexts-Cat-Event.htm

According to Wikipedia, about 10,780,000 people understand Catalan, and about 7,670,000 can speak the language. I hope that the availability of Catalan translations of the Bach Cantatas would make these sublime works more accessible to this community.

Current status of translations into other languages on the BCW:
English [Interlinear Format]: Francis Browne - all; in a process of adding also Parallel Format of these translations
Chinese [Parallel Format]: Yang Jingfeng - about 20, in progress
Dutch [Parallel Format]: Various contributors - about 100, in progress
French [Note-to-Note Format]: Jean-Pierre Grivois - all
French [Interlinear Format]: Guy Laffaille - almost all
Hebrew [Parallel Format]: Various contributors (most are mine) - almost all
Indonesian [Word-for-Word Format]: Rianto Pardede - all
Italian: Emanuele Antonacci, Vittorio Marnati & Riccardo Pisano & Alberto Lazzari - almost all (many cantatas have 2 translations)
Portuguese: Rodrigo Maffei Libonati & Leonardo Santos - about 50, slow progress
Russian [Parallel Format]: Peter Meshcherinov - about 190, in progress
Spanish: Various contributors - all

I am still looking for translations into other language, such as Arabic, Greek, Persian (Farsi), Polish, etc. If you speak one of those languages (or others) and do not find translations into your language anywhere, you can always try your hands in preparing translations by yourself. By doing that, you would definitely help expanding the understanding and appreciation of Bach's vocal music to the people who speak your language.

 

BCW: Arabic Translations of the Bach Cantatas

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 27, 2011):
An important part of the BCW are the translations of Bach's vocal works into various languages such as: English, Catalan, Chinese, Dutch, French, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish. I believe that understanding the sung text is essential to intensify the enjoyment from Bach's music.
The recent addition is Arabic. The first translations by Tamer Massalha are already presented:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/IndexTexts-Ara-BWV.htm
I am still looking for translations into other languages. If you are interested to contribute please contact me.

 

New Set of Spanish Translations on the BCW

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 19, 2012):
A new complete set of Spanish translations of Bach sacred cantatas has been added to the BCW. The new set was contributed solely by Saúl Botero-Restrepo from Colombia.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/IndexTexts-Spa7-BWV.htm
or: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/index.htm
[marked as Spa-7 the 16th column - Spa]
Links from the cantata pages would be added later.
In 2012, there are about 400 million people speaking Spanish as a native language and a total of 500 million speakers world-wide. Spanish is the second most natively spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese. Spanish is the second most studied language in the world, after English. I hope that the these translations as well as the previous set of Spanish translations on the BCW, contributed by 6 different translators, would intensify the understanding of the Bach Cantatas and enjoyment from them by Spanish-speaking Classical music lovers.

 

BCW: English Translations in Parallel Format

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 2, 2012):
I am glad to inform you that I have finished creating Parallel Format pages of all (but 1) Francis Browne's English Interlinear translations of Bach's vocal works.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/IndexTexts-Eng3-BWV.htm
The Interlinear and Parallel pages of each work are, of course, inter-linked.
Please notice that when the Interlinear version includes Note on the text, it is mentioned in the 4th column of the Index page above as well as in the corresponding Parallel page.

Francis Browne's translations in their interlinear format are extremely popular among performers and lovers of Bach's vocal works. They are also used in programme notes, liner notes, etc. We hope that the availability of these translation in parallel format would make them even more useful.

Any comments would be most welcome.

 

New Set of Chinese Translations on the BCW

Aryeh Oron wrote (April 20, 2013):
A new complete set of (Standard) Chinese translations of all the Bach Cantatas BWV 1-224 (including the spurious works in the BWV list) has been added to the BCW. The new set was contributed solely by Chen-Hanson Ting.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/IndexTexts-Chi2-BWV.htm
or: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/index.htm
[marked as Chi-2 the 6th column - Chi]
Standard Chinese is a standardized form of spoken Chinese based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin Chinese. It is the official language of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (AKA Taiwan), as well as one of four official languages of Singapore. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
About one-fifth of the world's population, or over one billion people, speaks some form of Chinese as their native language, meaning that it is the most natively spoken language in the world.
I hope that the these translations as well as the previous partial set of Chinese translations on the BCW, contributed by Yang Jingfeng, would intensify the understanding of the Bach Cantatas and enjoyment from them by Chinese-speaking Classical music lovers.

The BCW presents now complete sets of Cantata translations into sush languages as Catalan, Chinese, English, French (2 sets), Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian (2 sets), Russian, Spanish (2 sets), as well as partial sets of translations into Arabic, Dutch, Hungarian, Japanese and Portuguese.
I am still looking for translations to complete the partial sets and to add new languages, such as Polish, Urdu, etc. If you are willing to contribute such translations, I would be happy to host them on the BCW.

 

BCW: New Set of Russian Translations on the BCW

Aryeh Oron wrote (November 2, 2013):
A new complete set of Russian translations of almost all Bach’s Vocal Works BWV 1-249, 518-524, 1127 (including spurious works in the BWV list and BWV Anh 21, 24-25) has been added to the BCW. The new set was contributed solely by Igor Sivkov.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/IndexTexts-Rus3-BWV.htm

Russian is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia and the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages. It is also the largest native language in Europe, with 144 million native speakers in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Russian is the 8th most spoken language in the world by number of native speakers and the 5th by total number of speakers. The language is one of the 6 official languages of the United Nations.

I hope that the these translations as well as the previous complete set of Russian translations on the BCW, contributed by Peter Meshcherinov, would intensify the understanding of the Bach Cantatas and enjoyment from them by Russian-speaking Classical music lovers.

The BCW presents now complete sets of Cantata translations into such languages as Catalan, Chinese, English, French (2 sets), Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian (2 sets), Russian (2 sets), Spanish (2 sets), as well as partial sets of translations into Arabic, Dutch, Hungarian, Japanese and Portuguese.
I am still looking for translations to complete the partial sets and to add new languages, such as Polish, Urdu, etc. If you are willing to contribute such translations, I would be happy to host them on the BCW.

Any comment regarding this new addition would be most appreciated.

 

Translations of Texts of Bach's Vocal Works - Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Texts & Translations: 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 1081-1089 | BWV Anh | Chorale Texts | Emblemata | Sources | Poets & Composers
Discussions: Texts | Translations: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: żNovember 2, 2013 ż23:50:06