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Bach Cantatas Mailing List (BCML)
Year 2008 - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

List thoughts

Julian Mincham wrote (June 14, 2008):
Apologies in advance for a longish posting. I have been running a couple of ideas past Aryeh recently about the lists and he has kindly invited me to send them out to everyone to gauge reactions. I think it fair to say that he is rightly cautious about making any changes but would like to hear the views of others. Obviously, he would need to be in full agreement with any possible alterations.

It seems to me that the present division between recordings, musicology and cantatas doesn’t work as well as it might or as it was probably conceived. It is my impression that most people contribute principally to the same list which has the effect of spreading the content rather thinly and presenting a lot of stuff, which might be interesting in itself but which is only minimally related to cantatas. It sometimes requires one to wade through a large number of emails only tangentially (if at all) related to the cantata of the week before getting down to comments on the work that purportedly serves as the principal focus of attention. Sometimes the work is almost totally ignored under the mass of peripheral comment, a situation which others have lamented on occasions.

So what if the present cantata lists were divided into two, not three parts, each with a clearly differentiated function?

Firstly list 1. Only postings directly related to the cantata of the week and its performance would be made to this list. Members would be requested to be disciplined about this and confine themselves to those issues which some people at present may think it should be properly concerned with. The music, texts and performances of each particular cantata would be the focus of discussion. Of course, all sorts of comparisons with other works could be made, but emanating from and centered on a focus upon the main work.

List 2 in which general and more discursive views, such as those that often dominate the present list, might be aired. Chat about guitars and trills would be obvious contenders, as would the present discussions on OVPP as it applies to the passions and cantatas in generalist terms.

How would it work? There could be more than one model of operation but one might be where the weekly intro could go automatically to both lists with the clear expectation that members respond to one or the other according to the nature of their contributions. They could, of course contribute to both, but with different kinds of comments relevant to each. Or the intros could go out on list 1 only with the more general comments sent to list 2.

There are three cardinal points:

1 This is not intended as a way of ‘freezing out’ non academic/musical/expert opinion. On the contrary, the interested general listener might be more confident in contributing to a more diverse list. My suggestion merely separates the types of contributions aiming for an increased focus. It may be that this division might attract comments from a broader range of participants, lack of wide participation being something which has also been lamented on list.

2 An important point to be taken into consideration is the workload of the moderator. But I would suggest that after the original setting up, this approach might even reduce it a little. Most of the main stuff for archiving would probably be on list 1. There would be 2 lists instead of 3. The moderation could, or at least should, be partially in the hands of contributors as they absorb and respond to the guidelines. There should be a greater clarity of function and purpose.

3 It may well be felt that whilst many discussion lists on the web come and go, this one has established itself well over the years with a core of regular contributors------why fix it if it ain’t broke? This is a fair point I am not suggesting that it is ‘broke’, but rather that, as a BACH CANTATA list it can lose its special focus. My suggestion would return it to its focal point whilst not in any way discouraging the more general comments. Indeed, they should be positively welcomed and encouraged but not, I suggest, in a way that overruns discussion, analysis, dialogue, debate, observation and the sharing of opinion about the artefacts themselves.

I can hear the objections already, perhaps the foremost one being the numerous grey areas: ‘what about the discussion of XXXX---which list should that go to?’ Of course there will always be grey areas but the main criterion seems pretty straightforward to me—does it relate directly to the cantata under discussion or not? For example, contextual comments would sit well on list 1 if someone wished to make comparisons with or distinctions about other cantatas written for the same day. I think one would be able to rely on the common sense of contributors to make sensible choices.

This is certainly not something I would go to the wall on---it ain’t a resigning issue. But speaking for myself I would certainly appreciate and probably be fired to contribute more to a list which really did focus upon those works which engendered it in the first place (this, of course, may not be thought a strong argument by some!).

Finally, I trust that there is nothing offensive or exclusive about this posting. The principle is simple—do contributors prefer the continuance of an established, successful and well patronised discursive list---or, rather, a division between the broader spectrum and more focussed comment. My suggestion would merely separate the chat list from the somewhat more scholarly elements

I am grateful to Aryeh for allowing me to put the proposal forward.

Nicholas Johnson wrote (June 14, 2008):
[To Julian Mincham] I very much enjoy these sights. Many very interesting people share their knowledge and insights with the group. I can't see any problem with your suggestion.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 14, 2008):
[To Julian Mincham] Very firstly, unless I am extremely quick and clever, I do not have an eMail reply function, forcing me to use <cut and paste>. I have found this to actually increase, rather than hinder, my compliance with the general guideline, and the moderators specific request, to be concise in citing prior posts, that is, to repeat only the specific points responded to. I take a bit of ironic satisfaction from the recent, self-righteous, post which not only ignored this guideline, but expressly held it in disdain. Poetic justice favors the patient? Not to be confused with <medical patient>, for those of you who may be struggling with English as a Second Language(ESL).

On to the <cut and paste>.

Julian Mincham wrote:
>Firstly list 1. Only postings directly related to the cantata of the week and its performance would be made to this list.<
This would have the effect of moving all the general chat, including that related to other vocal works and cantatas, to the BRML or its replacement. I do not subscribe to that list, so I have no idea how no idea how much current traffic there is. I certainly do appreciate the material which has been archived, especially discography and related recording commentary. I wonder how many subscribers there are whose main interest is Bach's instrumental works, and how they feel about becoming inundated with the OVPP threads, just as a current example. I also wonder how the present BRML-only subscribers will get to see my post (this one).

Many of us who have put time and energy into writing the weekly introductions, not least of all Julian, have been discouraged by the indifference encountered, at least judging from actual posts. There is the very real prospect that the discussion leader could be the only poster to the revised BCML, in some weeks.

That is enough for now, just to get discussion started.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (June 14, 2008):
[To Julian Mincham] I'm a relatively new member of this List, but it does seem to me, Julian, that your proposal is well thought out and that it probably ought to be adopted.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 14, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Only postings directly related to the cantata of the wand its performance would be made to this list. Members would be requested to be disciplined about this and confine themselves to those issues which some people at present may think it should be properly concerned with. >
This is an extemely difficult parameter to enforce. I've noticed over the years that discussion regularly goes "off-topic" and gravitates towards the Passions and the Mass in B Minor. In fact a week hardly goes by when someone doesn't use the canata as a stepping stone to talk about one of the Great Three.

I think this is inevitable because we all love those works so much and we can't explore them deeply enough. In fact, it we were going to try to discipline the discussion we should have two lists, the cantatas list and the Passions and Mass list. I'm not going to speculate which would be the most popular (smile)

Questions like the OVPP hypothesis or the theological backgrounds are unavoidable in discussing the canatas, precisely because those are the areas where scholarly investigation is at its most arresting and controversial.
Nor are the practical discussions necessartily off-topic. Our recent string on choral trills used the cantata under study as the jumping off point.

And finally, I think that people's impressionistic musings on the music of Bach are often entertaining and frequently quite moving. They do help to humanize the discussion, especially when the canons begin to roar.

I've expressed my preference for restructuring the discussion sequence so that the cantata are group by liturgical occasion (e.g. All the cantatas for Easter Day would be disccussed sequentially in 5 or 6 weeks). I believe that the comparative connections would enliven the discussion.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 15, 2008):
>In fact, it we were going to try to discipline the discussion we should have two lists, the cantatas list and the Passions and Mass list. I'm not going to speculate which would be the most popular (smile)<
Whichever one the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988) is (are?) assigned to? Excuse me, this is where I came in.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (June 15, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] If I understand him correctly what Julian is proposing is that there be two lists. The first would be a specialized list devoted to the discussion of the music, texts, and performances of a particular cantata chosen for that week. The second would have a much broader focus, and would provide a home for the more general discussions of Bach that are now often found on the cantatas list as well as for the discussions that now take place on the recordings and musicology lists. Under this scheme discussion of the Goldberg Variations would belong on the second list.

One of the reasons that I think that Julian's suggestion might be a good idea is that at the moment it's very hard at least for some of us to know where particular conversations belong. One could make a case, for example, that a discussion of some musicological point (such as OVPP or the execution of trills) that arises out of a comparison of two recorded performances of a Bach cantata belongs on any of the lists that now exist. Julian's scheme would make it much more obvious what belongs where.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (June 15, 2008):
[To James Atkins Pritchard] Except that it absolutely would not. Musicological discussions affect all areas of music--performance, recording, composition, etc. All human endeavors are intertwined with one another. The Reformation movements of the 16th century tought us that.

William Hoffman wrote (June 15, 2008):
William Hoffman replies: As a somewhat patient newcomer to the group, I find the extended discussion and focus to be helpful but sometimes confusing. Yet, it's much better than a free-for-all blog or a moderator/editor-dominated discussion. With OVPP (it took me a little while to figure out the letters) I've found that recent writings and other sources cited are very helpful. As a recovering journalist, these make me dig more for the background.

I also must apologize for making some sweeping, perhaps dogmatic statements about Bach's mastery of Latin and his conflict solely with Leipzig civic authority. Ed in particular challenges me to find documented authority and it can be like peeling layers off an onion. And while I agree that the Big Three (I have Four, maybe Five) tend to take over the discussions, I would only point out that it is "form" issues from the likes of Rifkin et al on the B Minor Mass and Melamed, Butt, et al on the Passions that give me a fresh look at important issues. Meanwhile, I would like to see more emphasis on the "content." I particularly find that the weekly intro's, especially in contrast to the earlier discussions, very enlightening, show a zest for contemporary "form" issues, and sometimes leave me almost wordless.

Postscript: Sometimes I feel the testosterone gets to be a bit much, but then, it guys having duels with swords outside the Hamburg Opera, contests to see who's the greatest keyboard performer, or composing gargantuan symphonies or operas who keep us all going. For we are all jolly good fellows!

Terejia wrote (June 15, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/28316
>> Firstly list 1. Only postings directly related to the cantata of the week and its performance would be made to this list. Members would be requested to be disciplined about this and confine themselves to those issues which some people at present may think it should be properly concerned with. The music, texts and performances of each particular cantata would be the focus of discussion. Of course, all sorts of comparisons with other works could be made, but emanating from and centered on a focus upon the main work. <<
How about making a yahoo blog shared by discussion leaders as the 1st category of list? In a blog, the discussion will just naturally kept focused on the topic, at least in my humble experience of a Japanese blog.

>> List 2 in which general and more discursive views, such as those that often dominate the present list, might be aired. Chat about guitars and trills would be obvious contenders, as would the present discussions on OVPP as it applies to the passions and cantatas in generalist terms.<<
And how about this list remains as it is as List 2?

Just my humble idea whose experience and wisdom is extremely humble and limited.

Terejia wrote (June 15, 2008):
PS : clarifying my own humble idea of creating a (co-authored?) blog a bit more :

It could be a blog hosted by one person (either Aryeh or Julian himself ) to whom the discussion leader forwards the introduction of cantata of the week. The selected discussion leaders can give consent to the blog hoster in advance in regard with the use of his/her introduction article in the blog.

In my narrow experience, in blogs, decent posters like subscribers of this list would just very naturally dicipline him-/herself to post only comments directly relevant to the original article and comments seldom stray off.

Anne (Nessie) Russell wrote (June 15, 2008):
The testosterone level [was: List thoughts]

William Hoffman wrote
< Postscript: Sometimes I feel the testosterone gets to be a bit much, but then, it guys having duels with swords outside the Hamburg Opera, contests to see who's the greatest keyboard performer, or composing gargantuan symphonies or operas who keep us all going. For we are all jolly good fellows! >
Yes, sometimes the testosterone level gets too high, but I find it wonderful that there are people around who care so much about Bach's music. Too bad some of us have to connect to the Internet to find these folks.

Paul T. McCain wrote (June 15, 2008):
If the proposal is to restrict conversation about one of Bach's cantatas only to the "performance" of it, I would not support that. If we truly wish to suggest that this group is devoted to discussing only the musical and performance aspectof Bach's Cantatas, then let the group's name be changed to: "The Music of BachCantatas." Otherwise, in my opinion, it would be less than honest to lead people to a discussion group about Bach Cantatas only to have them discover that conversations about the words of the Cantatas and their meaning is not allowed.

Chris Kern wrote (June 15, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I've expressed my preference for restructuring the discussion sequence so that the cantata are group by liturgical occasion (e.g. All the cantatas for Easter Day would be disccussed sequentially in 5 or 6 weeks). I believe that the comparative connections would enliven the discussion. >
As often as you say that, I will support you -- I hope that's how the next round of discussions is done starting in 2009. I would even offer to lead the first set of Advent cantata discussions.

Julian Mincham wrote (June 15, 2008):
Paul T. McCain wrote:
< If the proposal is to restrict conversation about one of Bach's cantatas only to the "performance" of it, I would not support that >
If you had read the proposal carefully you would have seen that nothing of this kind was proposed, neither was there any suggestion of exclusion of discussion of text and meaning---to the contrary.

By all means argue against the proposal--but don't set up your own windmills to tilt at please!

Paul T. McCain wrote (June 15, 2008):
[To Julian Mincham] Jim, thanks for clarifying your proposal. It was not clear from what you described that the words of the Cantatas and their meaning would also be "fair game" for conversation.

Since we have had issues here with some people wishing to restrict the conversation simply/only to the musical aspects of the Cantatas, and developing a case of the vapors when a list member talks about the words and meaning of the Cantata, it is good that you made this more clear in your proposal.

In which case, I support your proposal to create one part of the conversation here to be devoted strictly/only to the Cantata under discussion.

I also like Doug's suggestion that we identify a way for the Cantata discussions to parallel, in some way, the organization with which they were written: the historic Western Church Year calendar.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 15, 2008):
>Otherwise, in my opinion, it would be less than honest to lead people to a discussion group about Bach Cantatas only to have them discover that conversations about the words of the Cantatas and their meaning is not allowed.<
This comment is so patently unfair to the efforts of Aryeh to promote and publicize the cantata texts, that I cannot let it go without a response (as much as I would like to follow the writers own earlier advice, and simply ignore it). Indeed, BCW is the established standard source for cantata translations, see the reference included with the Gardiner recording series, where original German texts, with English translation, are printed: <translations in other languages are available at www.bach-cantatas.com>

The weekly cantata broadcast on WGBH (FM 89.7, www.wgbh.org) uses BCW as a reference resource, with emphasis on the importance of the cantata texts, and on the importance of Bach's 18th century theology, but also with emphasis on how different that world was from our own, three hundred years later.

Other additional thoughts, in no particular order.

William Hofffman wrote thoughtfully, concluding:
>For we are all jolly good fellows!<
I would remind him, and all, that we have benefitted greatly from the civilizing influence of many active female participants. Keep writing, ladies!

Doug Cowling wrote:
>impressionistic musings on the music of Bach are often entertaining and frequently quite moving. They do help to humanize the discussion, especially when the canons begin to roar.<
I hasten to point out that the <impressionisitc musings> are often at least as accurate, as well, compared to <scholarly> generalizations, of which we have plenty. References when appropriate, please, gentlemen (and ladies). I have no idea whether <canons> is a clever pun, or if Doug misspelled <cannons>. With characteristic generosity of spirit, full credit for the humor, intentional or otherwise.

I received a post off-list, from a new member, reminding me that he, and by inference, perhaps many others, joined BCML primarily for reading, as a guide to listening, with no intent to post comments. My sentiments exactly, a couple years back. Look at me now. Clearly, no expertise is required. Indeed, engaging brain before writing is probably of more importance, but also clearly, even that minimal suggestion is frequently ignored.

For the rest of 2008 (Current Era; add 4.56 billion for Earth Circuits), as we complete the enlightening chronologic traverse of Bach's cantatas (sacred AND secular), there will be introductions which include two participants who will be writing them for the first time (one lady and one gentleman, by the way). I suggest that those of us sincerely interested in improving the ongoing health of BCML might best contribute by giving as much support as possible to new writers. Comments on the music are the most encouraging, but even an occasional <nice job>, or thoughtful suggestions for improvement, are (with minimal effort, and good intent) an improvement on silence.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 15, 2008):
>Jim, [I believe Julian is intended] thanks for clarifying your proposal. It was not clear from what you described that the words of the Cantatas and their meaning would also be "fair game" for conversation.<
EM
It was clear to most of us. Why would anyone think otherwise?

>Since we have had issues here with some people wishing to restrict the conversation simply/only to the musical aspects of the Cantatas, and developing a case of the vapors when a list member talks about the words and meaning of the Cantata, it is good that you made this more clear in your proposal.<
EM
It was already clear to most of us.

Developing a case of the vapors? If the shoe fits, wear it (ACE). I second Julians choice of phrase, <tilting at windmills>.

It is a fundamental element of BCW that the cantata texts are essential to, integral with, the musical aspects. Disagreement arises when Lutheran theology in 21st century USA is conflated with 18th century Leipzig. No vapors, simply vocal disagreement about what is appropriate to a discussion list devoted to Bach's music (sacred AND secular).

Julian Mincham wrote (June 15, 2008):
Paul T. McCain wrote:
< Jim, thanks for clarifying your proposal. It was not clear from what you described that the words of the Cantatas and their meaning would also be "fair game" for conversation. >
Since we have had issues here with some people wishing to restrict the conversation simply/only to the musical aspects of the Cantatas, and developing a case of the vapors when a list member talks about the words and meaning of the Cantata, it is good that you made this more clear in your proposal.

In which case, I support your proposal to create one part of the conversation here to be devoted strictly/only to the Cantata under discussion.

Julian Mincham wrote (June 15, 2008):
[To Paul T. McCain] Paul thanks for your response.

The music emanates from the text, Bach began with it, frquently derived his ideas from it and found a myriad of ways of expressing and translating its meaning and feeling in musical terms. The cantatas cannot be fully understood or appreciated (in my view) without recourse to examinations of and discussions about both librettoi and musical notes singly and their inter-relationships.

On another point in the recent discussion on the next cycle of discussions I also supported the view that the cantatas be discussed contextually rather than chronologically as this will have been done in this round. My proposal was simply an early sally to see if we could develop a cantata list on which cantatas were the main (and not the lesser) focus of discussion.

Paul T. McCain wrote (June 15, 2008):
[To Paul T. McCain] Thanks for your remarks, and I agree. It will be to see if we could perhaps improve the conversation on this list by a more disciplined approach to the conversation.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 15, 2008):
James Atkins Pritchard wrote:
>If I understand him correctly what Julian is proposing is that there be two lists. The first would be a specialized list devoted to the discussion of the music, texts, and performances of a particular cantata chosen for that week. The second would have a much broader focus, and would provide a home for the more general discussions of Bach that are now often found on the cantatas list as well as for the discussions that now take place on the recordings and musicology lists. Under this scheme discussion of the Goldberg Variations would belong on the second list.<
EM
Yes, I agree that under Julians proposal, it is clear on which list the Goldberg Variations (as well as every bit of Bach's music, other than the one weekly cantata) would be discussed. I previously noted, and emphasize, that based on current posts, this would be a very lopsided distribution. I expect that Julians hope would be to increase discussion of the weekly cantata, but:

Doug Cowling wrote:
>In fact, it we were going to try to discipline the discussion we should have two lists, the cantatas list and the Passions and Mass list.<
EM
I was having a bit of fun, and reminding Doug that a lot of music, including the Goldbergs, would find no place on either of his (Dougs, not Julians) two suggested lists.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 15, 2008):
Paul McCain wrote (in response to himself, as I read it):
>Thanks for your remarks, and I agree. It will be interesting to see if we could perhaps improve the conversation on this list by a more disciplined approach to the conversation.<
Paul T. McCain wrote:
>> Jim, thanks for clarifying your proposal. It was not clear from what >> you described that the words of the Cantatas and their meaning would >> also be "fair game" for conversation. <snip> <<
EM
I would like to state strongly, on the record, that I do not consider talking to ones self a <disciplined approach to conversation>. In fact, not conversation at all.

Some of us quite thoroughly enjoy the existing conversations, and support the current level of discipline which the moderator appropriately provides. More posts regarding the cantata of the week would always be welcome, especially by the individual who has done the work of providing an introduction. I do not believe Julian has proposed more discipline, so much as a different organization which would emphasize and stimulate discussion re the weekly cantata.

My observation is similar to Doug's (over not quite so many years): people will write about what they want to write about, most of the 800 or so BCML members will write nothing at all, and Aryeh will manage to sort it out for the BCW archives. If isolating posts re the weekly cantata would simplify Aryeh's work (or vice versa), that should be the major consideration.

Chris Kern wrote (June 15, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>> I've expressed my preference for restructuring the discussion sequence so that the cantata are group by liturgical occasion (e.g. All the cantatas for Easter Day would be disccussed sequentially in 5 or 6 weeks). I
believe that the comparative connections would enliven the discussion. <<
Chris Kern wrote:
> As often as you say that, I will support you -- I hope that's how the > next round of discussions is done starting in 2009. I would even offer to lead the first set of Advent cantata discussions. <
To provide a concrete illustration of the principle, this would be the proposed first six months of discussions -- they would start in Advent (since that is the start of the liturgical year) and move through the liturgical dates, taking the cantatas within each date in order of composition. Feasts with fixed dates would be discussed where they fall in the year of discussion. Note that I included the Christmas Oratorio broken up into parts; since that has clear liturgical function I think it would be useful to discuss each part where it falls.

1/4/09 1st Advent (61)
1/11/09 1st Advent (62)
1/18/09 1st Advent (36)
1/25/09 3rd Advent (141)
2/1/09 4th Advent (132)
2/8/09 Christmas Day (63)
2/15/09 Christmas Day (91)
2/22/09 Christmas Day (110)
3/1/09 Christmas Day (191)
3/8/09 Christmas Day (248 part 1)
3/15/09 2nd Christmas (40)
3/22/09 2nd Christmas (121)
3/29/09 2nd Christmas (57)
4/5/09 2nd Christmas (248 part 2)
4/12/09 3rd Christmas (64)
4/19/09 3rd Christmas (133)
4/26/09 3rd Christmas (151)
5/3/09 3rd Christmas (248 part 3)
5/10/09 1st Sunday after Christmas (152)
5/17/09 1st Sunday after Christmas (122)
5/24/09 1st Sunday after Christmas (28)
5/31/09 New Year's Day (190)
6/7/09 NYD (41)
6/14/09 NYD (16)
6/21/09 NYD (171)
6/28/09 NYD (143)
7/5/09 NYD (248 part 4)

Obviously this is just one suggestion for what can be done next, but I think it sounds like a great idea.

Joerl Figen wrote (June 15, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
>It is a fundamental element of BCW that the cantata texts are essential to, integral with, the musical aspects. Disagreement arises when Lutheran theology in 21st century USA is conflated with 18th century Leipzig. No vapors, simply vocal disagreement about what is appropriate to a discussion list devoted to Bach's music (sacred AND secular). <
Yay! Beautifully stated. (Now I'm gonna beat it to death because it's just perfect....)

I would add that, even in those cases where the theology hasn't changed much, the sociology of being in a religion has changed hugely. To be in a religion today is a matter of choice and personal interest. In Bach's time, there was very little freedom in religious matters. While there were a few religious nonconformists (or am I thinking of england here?) you can be absolutely sure that bach couldn't have had the jobs he had were he jewish, buddhist, atheist, or anabaptist (let alone, dare I even say, Catholic). Today we have composers of any religion or none composing religious music for official use in pretty much any religious body. Times have changed so much that any discussion of Bach's religion has to be in a historical context, and any analysis of his personal beliefs has to be in a psychological context. However, input from (bach contemporary!) Lutheran religious practices and texts is necessary for any full appreciation of Bach's Spirituality or lack of it.

As for the Cantata Texts, as a singer, I automatically look at the libretto and think about vocal technique and how i'd deliver the words. There's acting involved, even though it's not technically "opera". To those who find deep religious meaning here, I would answer that occasionally there's something deep and universal, on other occasions, there would have to be a few references that only Lutherans would get, and on yet other occasions, it's pretty awful, expressing blatant hatred of catholics, muslims, jews, etc., preoccupation with death. and often an extremely petty triviality. All in all, nothing much in there to be proud of, imho.
The Sermons and homilies of the time are long forgotten. These (cantata) texts tell us why: they pretty much sucked. The cantata texts would be forgotten too, but for one thing: Bach's music.

Does this mean we don't care about the texts? Certainly not. The music and the text are an organic whole. How much does one care about the libretto of, say, Carmen? Very little, I'd wager, except when combined with the music, in performance, or when planning a performance. This is no different. Faith is no substitute for acting ability when performing choral music. And ability to sing in tune trumps both.

As for those claims that "only a christian/lutheran/whatever" could fully appreciate X.
This is absurd. In the first place, there are plenty of EX-christians who know exactly what christians are experiencing, but no longer believe in it. Furthermore, there is a psychology of religious experience, thanks to such writers as William James. Finally, there's no possibility of directly comparing qualia - i.e., what it feels like to experience something - for instance, there's no way to whether what I experience when looking at a red patch on the wall is the same or different from what, say, Paul T. McCain experiences when looking at the same thing. That having been pointed out, anyone who presists in praising his own subjective experience is simply an idle and ignorant braggart. Now, far be it from me to criticize idle braggadocio. I wouldn't even think of bringing in up were it not for the fact that persons who make such claims usually demand special respect for their religions.... Sorry. it just doesn't add up. Respect comes automatically when deserved. (Except of course, when it's us heathens failing to respect the one true faith.... oh well. Hell yawns luxuriantly at all of this.)

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 15, 2008):
Chris Kern wrote:
< To provide a concrete illustration of the principle, this would be the proposed first six months of discussions -- they would start in Advent (since that is the start of the liturgical year) and move through the liturgical dates, taking the cantatas within each date in order of composition. Feasts with fixed dates would be discussed where they fall in the year of discussion. >
This is precisely the schema which I envisaged. All kinds of of topics which we tend to ignore jump out:

1) scoring patterns
2) use of particular chorales
3) recurring literary motifs
4) literary relationship to readings

I think that some of the malaise that has settled over the weekly discussion would be enlivened by this arrangement.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (June 15, 2008):
[To Joel Figen] A question occurs to me that is suggested by Joel's comments (though this question is not in fact identical to those he considers); I direct this especially to those who share Bach's beliefs or something like them because they are likely to be best positioned to answer the question, but I'd be curious to hear the thoughts of others about this also.

When you hear a Bach cantata in the context of a church service is the experience the same as hearing it in a concert?

That's my question. Of course it could be asked about church music other than Bach cantatas. It could also be asked not only about the difference (if any) between the experience of hearing music during a service and hearing it in a concert but also about the special case of hearing church music in reconstructed services that are not actual religious services--is for example the experience of hearing, say, a Byrd mass in a re-enactment of a renaissance mass the same as or different from the experience of hearing the same music in an actual service or, for that matter, a conventional concert.

I am myself fairly unclear about all this.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 15, 2008):
<I think that some of the malaise that has settled over the weekly discussion would be enlivened by this arrangement.>
I strongly disagree with use of the phrase <malaise that has settled> to characterize the weekly discussion. Despite the thin participation, those of us who do take a moment to write about the music enjoy it, and receive positive responses. Those who dont bother have only themselves to blame. The chronologic discussion has been illuminating on many points, to say the least. Thanks to Aryeh for selecting it four years ago, out of a thicket of disputatious language, which I know only from the BCW archives (I was not around at the time). I shudder to think of what may have been deleted. The present thread is already looking familiar.

In fact, most of the <malaise>, it seems to me, comes from folks with statements which are various forms of <the world would be a much better place, if people would just do things my way>.

It should go without saying that I share that sentiment (that is <do things my way>, not any of yours). Like Bach (thanks to William Hoffman), I manage to keep my foot out of my mouth by biting my sharp tongue. Much of the time. You would be truly startled at some of the things I choose not say, I assure you.

David Jones wrote (June 16, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] I know the list would be a little harder to keep up with for me if it were divided in the way Ed is suggesting, but that's my personal opinion............

Jean Laaninen wrote (June 16, 2008):
[To Julian Mincham] I would enjoy having the cantata of the week in a separate list, and at this point that is the list to which I would be inclined to contribute when I write. The side issues are interesting, but having read these postings for some years, the same topics tend to recirculate and by now I think most of what I need to know has taken root. I would still read the other mailings to some extent, but would focus on list one.

Thanks, Julian.

William Hoffman wrote (June 16, 2008):
James Atkins Pritchard" asks:
> When you hear a Bach cantata in the context of a church service is the experience the same as hearing it in a concert? <
William Hoffman replies: That word "context" is, for me, what it's all about. Every time I hear a Bach cantata, it's a different experience: the location (live or recorded), the performers, the version of the work, and --especially for me -- the context in which Bach created it and recreated it, and we recreate it. It's also about the various recordings and interpretations, not only of the performers but also the listeners, especially for me in the context of Daniel Melamed's "Hearing Bach's Passion." Yes, for me the religious context has great meaning, especially, recently, when the church "audience" was invited to join in singing the closing chorale (printed in the program with text) of Cantata BWV 84, a soprano solo work. What an experience, even thou we didn't do it OVPP!

Also, although it is highly debateable, as it should be, I think Bach found less distinction between the sacred and profance than we often do today, especially when he recomposed Cantatas BWV 213-215 for the Christmas Oratorio (my Big Four).

Neil Halliday wrote (June 16, 2008):
List thoughts; and BWV 145

James Atkins Pritchard wrote:
>When you hear a Bach cantata in the context of a church service is the experience the same as hearing it in a concert?<
The answer will differ if one is a believer or not, but the experience of joy (or grief) is potentially available to any human being at any time and place.

In other words, the "throw my hat in the air and dance" type of joy that the bass aria of this week's cantata BWV 145 may engender in its listeners (aided and abetted by an outrageously long trill on a single note on the trumpet) is surely as equally valid outside a church as in it.

On the more mundane matter of recording quality, I experience the acoustic in the Rilling recording of this aria as somehow lacking in richness/liveliness, on my sound system at least, something I have experienced before with some of Rilling's late recordings (c. 1984, in his complete set).

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 16, 2008):
David Jones wrote:
>I know the list would be a little harder to keep up with for me if it were divided in the way Ed is suggesting, but that's my personal opinion............<
Ed Myskowski wrote [in response to Doug]:
>>I think that some of the malaise that has settled over the weekly >> discussion would be enlivened by this arrangement. <<
EM
Are twelve (seven plus five) periods significant? You guys are <weirding me out> (ACE)!!!

Out of respect for my friend (AFAIK) Doug Cowling, I did not specifically attribute the comment re <malaise> to him, in case he wished to reconsider. With generosity of spirit, I interpret his quick response to Uri as a reconsideration.

Apologies for any confusion which may be caused by my <cut and paste> technique, etc. I stand second to none, in my sincere attempts for clear communiciation. Success is for others to judge. Special thanks for positive feedback, no need for response here.

For all you jolly good fellows (thanks again to William Hoffman), I notice it is often the ladies who take the trouble.

Was it Ben Franklin (or John Adams, perhaps even Abigail) who reputedely wrote: <Apologies for the length of this letter. I did not have time to make it shorter.> That was in the days ofpen and quill, let alone free keystrokes.

A final thought. I believe Brad Lehman originated the <anonymous> citation. By the time I joined BCML, it was already a raging dispute, as to whether it was discourteous or considerate of the original poster. For those of you who may have missed it, there are traces aplenty in the BCW archives (the 17,000 pages of annotations to the discography). Worth lookng up, at your leisure. No slight intended on my part, at any time. Sometimes I fail on the <cut and paste>, sometimes I think anonymity may be a welcome courtesy, sometimes I follow Brad, emphasizing response to the idea rather than the person.

In the pesent instance, clarity suffered in the cause of courtesy. Always worth a try, with generosity of spirit in mind. Which reminds me, it is nice to see Neil M. posting again.

At the last moment, I notice that <AFAIK>, is a homonymn for <a fake>. Ach. I borrowed it from Uri, understood <As Far As I Know>.

For the uninitiated, there is a BCW glossary of general and Bach specific acronyms. Last time I checked, it did not include <ACE>, which I use as an alert for <American Colloquial Expression>. For example, <hanging out on the stoop in summer, having a beer and talking story> (ACE). Bonsoir mon ami, Alain. One of these years.

BCW, better than a book. As I write that phrase, Tiger Woods knocks in a 3.5 m (aprrox) putt to send The Open (well, USA variety) to a playoff.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 16, 2008):
Joel figen replied to my post:
EM:
>>It is a fundamental element of BCW that the cantata texts are essential to, integral with, the musical aspects. Disagreement arises when Lutheran theology in 21st century USA is conflated with 18th century Leipzig. No vapors, simply vocal disagreement about what is appropriate to a discussion list devoted to Bach's music (sacred AND secular).<<
JF:
>Yay! Beautifully stated. (Now I'm gonna beat it to death because it's just perfect....)<
Thanks for noticing my effort to be concise and accurate. I alway figure, the quicker I get it said, the more likely someone might read until the end.

Perfect? Always room for improvement, thats why editors have jobs. Beat away.

I am just wondering, any significance in the four periods plus one parenthesis? Or two parentheses, if we count the opening? The thinker I do, the confuseder I get (spontaneous ACE). That is my idea of humor, no ill will in mind, not even parenthetically.

Give me some silence (absence of words?), and some music, eh Terejia? I know what you mean!

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 16, 2008):
James Atkins Pritchard wrote:
>I direct this especially to those who share Bach's beliefs or something like them because they are likely to be best positioned to answer the question, but I'd be curious to hear the thoughts of others about this also.
When you hear a Bach cantata in the context of a church service is the experience the same as hearing it in a concert?<
EM:
I write as one of the <others>, thanks for the open invitation. The most immediate difference is acoustic, in my experience. As Doug has often noted, cantatas in churches are now performed mostly from the altar, a much different sound from a choir loft, and not up to the standards of a good concert setting. My experience is mostly with Jordan Hall compared with Emmanuel Church (from the altar), both Boston, USA.

[I began this post a bit earlier, then deferred out of respect, to give <those who share Bach beliefs> the first word. Absent any responses, I will continue, on spiritual tiptoes, as best I am able to manage that.]

Offsetting the acoustic of the venue, Emmanuel Music performs with a small choir of dedicated performers (you can visit their website via BCW). It is not for me to judge whether their beliefs are in the music, the mystique, or both. The communal experience of performance, weekly for over thirty years now, is what unites them, as I am told by a few members who I know well enough to ask. That also afffects the audience, in whatever setting. Of course, the thirty years have accumulated one year at a time, from the dedication which began with and was centered by Craig Smith.

There is a special spiritual quality to the performances of Emmanuel Music that I have heard, which transcends the acoustic. How much of that is due to my expectations, to their devotion, and to the hour of the performance (Sunday AM), I will leave to your imagination. Likely, a combination of the three, and more.

I do not go as often as I might, because of inconvenience of schedule and location, but also because of the awkwardness of getting to hear the music without having to endure the sermon. On the occasions when I have done both, the music was not sufficient to make me come back for another sermon.

I have just now revisited Joels post, to be sure that I do not unintentionally step on any toes, and I note:

>The Sermons and homilies of the time [Bach's] are long forgotten. These (cantata) texts tell us why: they pretty much sucked. The cantata texts would be forgotten too, but for one thing: Bach's music.<
From my samplings, the sermons and homilies of today are equally forgettable. I might have groped for more delicate language, but I agree with Joel in principle: it is the music which inspires and endures, not the accompanying sermons. I would also suggest that the Biblical texts that Bach set are the most durable, as texts, pretty much covered by Joels thoughtful (or lucky) <pretty much>.

I expect this topic will be around tomorrow, and the day after, for more <list thoughts>, but definitely not on the primary list of the <cantata of the week>. The <two tier> concept is lookng better by the minute.

Jane Newble wrote (June 16, 2008):
James Atkins Pritchard wrote:
< When you hear a Bach cantata in the context of a church service is the experience the same as hearing it in a concert? >
So far I have not heard a Bach cantata performed in a church service, although I would love to. The closest I came to it was in a concert in the Thomaskirche, and that was an overwhelming experience, as all the imaginations of how it possibly used to be, flooded in. But that had more to do with "this is the place where Bach was" than anything else.

Personally I think that Bach's cantatas are so sublime that I would be happy to hear them almost anywhere. I remember that the first time I heard one was in a record shop (Herreweghe) and I was at once motivated to collect all of them.|

But seriously, I think this is a very personal question. Probably my favourite place to hear Bach performed would be a church because of the special acoustics, (depending on the church building, of course) and because of the church interior associated with worship, for which purpose most of the cantatas were written.

Terejia wrote (June 16, 2008):
In a concert or in a church liturgy [was: List thoughts]

James Atkins Pritchard wrote:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/28362
>>When you hear a Bach cantata in the context of a church service is the experience the same as hearing it in a concert?(end of quote )<<
Absolutely, I would answer-and that regardless of one's faith. I lack ability to describe how exactly. Concert is, for me, the place where both listeners and performers concentrate on musical aspect devoid of context, roughly speaking and churches are where music bear some significance. Church liturgy would be a place where music cannot really stand alone, if my humble observation is correct...

I said "regardless of one's faith" but to be more exact, I mean, regardless of one's PROFESSED faith. Whatever professed faith-or professed no faith one has,for me, the particular concert or a liturgy is an experience in a new time independent of other times, while professed faith is something fixed. For me personally, any fixed idea is incompatible with a pure experience in an independent unit of time. For me personally, aethetic experience is always in an independent unit of time. It simply goes beyond my limited understanding how aethetic experience can be comwith fixed idea, fixed belief system, etc.

Both concerts and church services can be inspiring moment of aethetics. Quality might be different but it is not a matter of which is superior or inferior. My hubmle understanding level fails to understand how superior/inferior attitude could be combatible with sheer aethetic.

My English vocablary is too poor to express what I feel.

Terejia wrote (June 16, 2008):
Paul T. McCain wrote:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/28348
> Since we have had issues here with some people wishing to restrict the conversation simply/only to the musical aspects of the Cantatas.<
Well...I personally think Lutherian theology is a valid topic in a Bach's cantata forum (although I know there are many who would disagree with this statement...) However, I'm afraid to say, honestly and frankly, I suspect if it is a matter of HOW the topic is brought up rather than if it is a valid topic or not?

Theology is about God's words. God's words is really a powerful, horrible and dangerous "weapon" I dare say weapon. If used without due consideration, without utmost care toward others' sensitivity, it could hurt others.

I have to confess that it took me quite a courage to post this.

sincerely with cold sweat...,

Julian Mincham wrote (June 16, 2008):
Paul T. McCain wrote:
>> Since we have had issues here with some people wishing to restrict the conversation simply/only to the musical aspects of the Cantatas.<<
Terejia wrote:
< Well...I personally think Lutherian theology is a valid topic in a Bach's cantata forum (although I know there are many who would disagree with this statement...) However, I'm afraid to say, honestly and frankly, I suspect if it is a matter of HOW the topic is brought up rather than if it is a valid topic or not? >
Spot on.

And I don't think that anyone is suggesting that the discussions be only limited to the music---certainly not me as I have made clear on a number of occasions. Julian (was 'Jim'!)

Timothy D. Schellenbach wrote (June 17, 2008):
James Atkins Pritchard wrote:
< A question occurs to me that is suggested by Joel's comments (though this question is not in fact identical to those he considers); I direct this especially to those who share Bach's beliefs or something like them because they are likely to be best positioned to answer the question, but I'd be curious to hear the thoughts of others about this also.
When you hear a Bach cantata in the context of a church service is the experience the same as hearing it in a concert? >
I've listened to plenty cantatas on CD's but I don't recall hearing one in concert (though I did hear the B Minor Mass in concert performed by the Fort Wayne Bach Collegium under the direction of Dr. Daniel Reuning, but even though it was a concert it was still in a beautiful old Lutheran Church (Historic St. Paul's, for those who know what I'm talking about), so it did bear some resemblance to a church service in that sense.

I've been part of the Chorus when Concordia Theological Seminary's Schola Cantorum performed Bach cantatas as part of the order of Vespers in the Seminary's chapel (also under the direction of Dr. Reuning, before he retired from the Dean of the Chapel post at that institution), while I was attending seminary. I also attended choral Vespers put on by the same group at times when my schedule didn't allow me to participate in the rehearsals that quarter.

Bach's intent was to set the Word (and Christian reflections on it) into musical form, and we Lutherans do believe that the Word is powerful, also outside a formal "worship" context. However, I think there's a bit of a subjective difference between listening to a CD vs. participating in a worship service (whether one of the "performers" or a member of the congregation). It's still the Word either way, but in the worship service one feels like one is praying and worshipping along with Bach, while listening to a CD is more like studying the Word at home or in an academic context, if that makes any sense.

Jeremy Vosburgh wrote (June 17, 2008):
Flemish greetings!

The unpolished church performances of Bach's cantatas have always touched me: far more than most of the professional recordings I've heard. An attitude of worship can be be more free to exist regardless of the performer's abilities or interpretation. I often wonder how the greatest Bach interpreter's found themselves able to repeatedly give beautiful performances in front of a non-ecclesiatical audience. It, frankly, saps you. I have had first hand experience and when I pear into those "hungry" eyes it excites me with the news I am about to send forth but stifles you during the most intimate portions of the piece. Especially if the piece is directed towards Christians. If a singer is truly sincere he communicates with the audience, thus depending on the audience, a good singer will sing differently in order to get the message of the song across. A more devout audience may get a deeper more complex expounding while a less devout audience may get a more imploring tone. Since, I believe, Bach intended his music for religious settings, I must believe that is why I prefer the interpretations that commonly are drawn out of singers in those venues.

Terejia wrote (June 17, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/28379
>> And I don't think that anyone is suggesting that the discussions be only limited to the music---certainly not me as I have made clear on a number of occasions. Julian (was 'Jim'!) <<
Thank you for clarifying the point again, Julian. Music itself can cover broad range of subjects, if my understanding is correct.

I'd like to also add, to my previous post under this title, that Lutherian topic can inspire our listening experiences and sometimes performance, when brought up with right type of...(I have to put the noun here but I would rather leave the noun in blank)

The thing is, like atomic energy, the topic seems to involve so much danger, while good, valid, inspiring, etc. per se. It would be a valid topic but dangerous topic,too. Almost all the standpoints, pros, cons and neutral calm ones which don't take either side , could provoke negative responses from others more or less.

All are my humble personal opinions just for now which may well change as I grow up.

I think I have expressed what I feel about one of the list topics enough for now.

Thank you again for your comment and sharing your thoughts to the list in general.

John Pike wrote (June 17, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
"I suggest that those of us sincerely interested in improving the ongoing health of BCML might best contribute by giving as much support as possible to new writers. Comments on the music are the most encouraging, but even an occasional <nice job>, or thoughtful suggestions for improvement, are (with minimal effort, and good intent) an improvement on silence."
I strongly agree with this idea.

John Pike wrote (June 17, 2008):
Would there be any appetite for a list devoted to a weekly discussion of an instrumental work by Bach? I know the website is Bach Cantatas.com, but it is also a mine of valuable information about all Bach's other works, so much so that it may need to change its name in the near future! In any case, I guess we all love all music by Bach, cantatas or not.

There's a danger of there being too many lists around but I think there is much to recommend Julian's suggestion of a separate list devoted to the weekly cantata.

As I have said before, I also support Doug's suggestion for organising the next round of discussions. I feel it would be far more likely to stimulate new debate than simply repeating the chronological approach that has served well over the past few years.

Paul T. McCain wrote (June 18, 2008):
Next time you are in St. Louis, Missouri, you are cordially invited to check in with St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Des Peres(one of our suburbs). We regularly feature a Bach Cantwoven throughout a Divine Service.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 18, 2008):
List thoughts (really)

Therese Hanquet wrote, so concisely that I will repeat her two very important points in their entirety, for emphasis, with a few added thoughts:

TH:
>I also prefer the current organisation, but I can understand that some may find it a little bit "messy" if they want to follow threads (but this comes sometimes from the fact that guidelines concerning the wording of the topic are not followed, as Aryeh reminded).<
EM:
To phrase it even more directly, much of the breakdown in communication clarity (not all that bad, IMO) is the result of writers who overlook the guidelines. Changing the format is not likely to improve that, of itself.

TH:
>But I wonder how separating the two lists will be implemented practically if we also follow the suggestion to compare cantatas written for the same occasion (thus which will be discussed during different weeks). I find comparing cantatas one of the most interesting themes of discussion on this list.<
EM:
This is a crucial distinction between the original thought by Julian for a <cantata of the week> list, and the supplementary proposal by Doug, detailed by Chris, to organize by liturgical calendar. As Therese points out, the liturgical organization is not really a cantata of the week, more a three cantatas of the three weeks (just for example). For the intensive seasons of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun, full comparisons would likely stretch out over two months, or more. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but different from a strict weekly cantata discussion.

I agree that comparing cantatas is one of the most interesting discussion themes. Second only to attacking/defending the publications and references of the OVPP hypothesis (joke!) Exclaim with trill, shake, or vibrato of your choice. I go with the shake.

Jean Laaninen wrote (June 18, 2008):
Read between the lines, please.

Ed Myskowski wrote:
TH:
>>But I wonder how separating the two lists will be implemented practically if we also follow the suggestion to compare cantatas written for the same occasion (thus which will be discussed during different weeks). I find comparing cantatas one of the most interesting themes of discussion on this list.<<
This seems to become even more complicated as we go along trying to incorporate a range of features different people would like to see added. I am wondering with an extra list if there is a possibility some of us might even be a bit confused and give the wrong response on the wrong list. If I were tired this could happen.

Many years ago a very learned psychologist told me that 50% of the time, 50% of the people are likely to dislike either what the hypothetical 'you' looks like, or iare doing, or what you think of things. Whether we change these lists in the long run or not, it seems to me it is essential to retain the IMO or IMHO factor. I for one would think that while comparing cantatas is interesting that it might involve a great deal more work than already confronts us just listening and responding. I am not unilaterally opposed to doing this, but I suspect such an approach would 'shut out' some of the beginners in Bach. How could such a problem be avoided? Those who would write introductions would also need to do considerably more to prepare the discussions, and that is something John Pike has explained takes a lot of work already and I agree. At first it might seem like fun, but over a period of time bog down, I am guessing. But, it does offer a fresh perspective, I admit.

EM:
< This is a crucial distinction between the original thought by Julian for a <cantata of the week> list, and the supplementary proposal by Doug, detailed by Chris, to organize by liturgical calendar. As Therese points out, the liturgical organization is not really a cantata of the week, more a three cantatas of the three weeks (just for example). For the intensive seasons of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun, full comparisons would likely stretch out over two months, or more. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but different from a strict weekly cantata discussion. >
Generally speaking then, I still favor a cantata per week, as I do not know them so well that I would feel moved at this point to tackle major comparisons. If such a program were to be implemented my idea would be to follow along, but probably have less to contribute.

David wrote (June 18, 2008):
Along with the list becoming harder to follow, it is my personal contention that separating this list into "streams" will hinder the perception, appreciation and understanding of the Cantatas as integrated, complete entities. There are musical elements, liturgical and religious elements, vocal and instrumental elements, etc. that we can examine and hold up to the light in turn, but the examination of those elements should elevate our understanding of the cantata that we are studying....

Peter Bright wrote (June 18, 2008):
[To Davis] I only have a few words to say about the list organisation. I tend to agree with David, that separating discussion into multiple lists is not a good idea (for the reasons he raises below). The only major problem as I see it is the fact that we tend not to spend much time thinking about the subject title of our emails. For example, my brain is so disorganised that I will sometimes hit reply to a message - a new, unrelated idea will pop into my head - and that will be submitted without my thinking about changing the subject title. It may prove annoying from time to time when we forget, but if we can just try a bit harder to consider subject lines before submitting our messages, I think that's all that's required. I don't think that separating the cantatas discussion matter into separate lists will help...

Julian Mincham wrote (June 18, 2008):
List thoughts---final

Having raised the issue of lists, below is a summary of the views so far recorded.

15 responses have reached me to date, 7 broadly in favour, 7 broadly against and three I would label doubtful.

This clearly does not present a mandate for change; although the exercise was not entirely without value and a few interesting points have emerged.

The first is the very small number of responses. I put this idea up partly to see if there were a number of ‘lurkers’ who, if they didn’t want to engage in musical discussions, might have been tempted to offer a view on what sort of list they preferred. I think that the list membership is 800 or more (Aryeh can correct, if this is wrong) so the responses come to about 2 percent of membership. It’s a rather odd situation that such a small proportion of those who remain members are fired to contribute to a list of this sort but this appears to be the case.

The second is the amount of mis-readings that took place: whether wilfully or otherwise I have no way of knowing. Several seemed to interpret my proposal as a way of excluding certain topics when it was quite clear that the intention was to focus even more on any topic related to the cantatas. Also ideas became conflated and confused. As Ed pointed out the suggestion to approach the cantatas contextually (which I support) is not related to the proposal about a focussed list. One can have one or the other, neither or both. This element of misreading (perhaps through haste or skim reading) is allied to that of mis-headings which Aryeh has already pinpointed. (At one stage there seemed to be more postings headed ‘List Thoughts’ about other topics than ones which actually addressed the proposal).

Thirdly some rather strange reasons came up, one being that some respondents couldn’t see how the present dilution of discussion would be improved by the ‘splitting of lists’. I found this quite odd since the lists are already split into three and my suggestion was to divide them into two! Maybe I have missed something!

Anyhow I am not sorry to have broached the idea----it’s certainly thrown up some revealing aspects and thanks again to Aryeh for agreeing that the idea be aired. As for me, I’m looking forward to chapters 9 and 10 of guitars facts and what they are going to teach me about the Bach Ca!

Terejia wrote (June 18, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/28413
>> The second is the amount of mis-readings that took place: whether wilfully or otherwise I have no way of knowing. Several seemed to interpret my proposal as a way of excluding certain topics when it was quite clear that the intention was to focus even more on any topic related to the cantatas. Also ideas became conflated and confused.(end quotation )<<
Maybe due to reactiveness? Be it here in Bach Cantata Mailing List or somewhere else like bussiness meeting, different people(myself included, of course) seem to have different reactiveness to different words, topics, which makes it difficult to get the message as it is. I cannot always get the messages correctly, either, even when the other end of the communication is speaking in a perfect decorum, in a careful afterthought. Thus that the communication receiver showed reactiveness doesn't always have to be the fault of the message sender, either, nor the person reacted has to be always at fault, either, it depends, case by case.

Here is the link of the original post by Julian,( if it helps anybody at all...)
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/28316

Jane Newble wrote (June 18, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< .....
Thirdly some rather strange reasons came up, one being that some respondents couldn’t see how the present dilution of discussion would be improved by the ‘splitting of lists’. I found this quite odd since the lists are already split into three and my suggestion was to divide them into two! Maybe I have missed something! >
As I had been out of the running for so long I did not feel qualified to give my opinion. That does not mean that I have not been thinking about this whole concept.

Somewhere along the line I probably missed something (please forgive me if I have), but it seems to me that an approach with more focus ought to stimulate more directed discussions.

It seems a great idea to have a list dedicated to a weekly discussion of cantatas, and a similar one with weekly discussion of instrumental works. That would then include the recordings for both and anything relevant. The question is, where would the other vocal works fit in?

John Pike wrote (June 18, 2008):
Jane Newble wrote:
< That would then include the recordings for both and anything relevant. The question is, where would the other vocal works fit in? >
I was imagining all the vocal works would eventually get an airing in the weekly discussions. I am not certain whether all of them have been discuused in every cycle. Is it worth finding a slot for the lesser-known vocal works at the end of the weekly discussions? There are a lot of Chorale Settings, Geistliche Lieder and a few Latin Church Music pieces, for example.

John Pike wrote (June 18, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< As for me, I'm looking forward to chapters 9 and 10 of guitars facts and what they are going to teach me about the Bach Cantatas! >
Nice one, Julian!
I suspect one reason why you did not get more responses is that your e mail went out at the weekend, a time when i (and I suspect several others) were busy with families. When I got back to e mail on Monday, I found 100 e mails for me, some of which i have still not got round to reading. I usually read e mails with the most recent first, and my response to your initial question was based on the edited highlights incorporated by others in their replies.

I certainly wouldn't think this topic will go away. it is an issue whose time has come. In particular, how do we increase contributions from the 770 or so lurkers?

Russell Telfer wrote (June 24, 2008):
[To Julian Mincham] Well past the due date, but at least in the same month ...

I've read with great interest Julian's proposals and have attempted to absorb what everyone else has written, and I've come to a few conclusions - contradictory, but, I hope, positive. Thanks to him and the other contributors.

If the list remains as it is, I am sure that it will continue to function as it has over many years. There will be a lot to sift through, but the Delete button is there to help you. (I'm not very good at this; that's why the comment is late.)

If Julian's proposal is followed, it would be easier to read the Cantatas of the Week discussion. It would divert the vast amount of other comment into another stream. It is then for us (as now) to pick out those topics that exercise us most.

Anne (Nessie) among others was keen on the idea of a strand for discussion of Bach's instrumental music. If you think back, several of us have done this anyway, from time to time. Making that legitimate would be good.

Finally, if Julian's proposal was adopted, and did not work (which I doubt) I don't imagine that it would be difficult to restore the status quo in six months or so.

 

Discussion topics [was: BWV 120]

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 15, 2008):
Doug Cowling wrote:
>Sidebar: In the next round of discussions could we include the Lutheran masses, motets, Sanctus settings and Magnificat? They are of a piece with the cantatas.<
Ed Myskowski replies:
Not to mention the Passions, SJP and SMP, which we have noted in passing, during the chronologic discussions. Plenty of topics, writers are more scarce. Becoming less reticent? Wonders never cease.

PS I notice many minor improvements in language, as I patiently (or not) try for an internet connection. God is my Editor?

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 15, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Not to mention the Passions, SJP and SMP, which we have noted in passing, during the chronologic discussions. Plenty of topics, writers are more scarce. Becoming less reticent? Wonders never cease. >
I find it almost impossible to refrain from discussing the Passions and the Mass in B Minor on this list. So much insight about them springs out of the cantatas. I wish we could devote 3 or 4 weeks each year to each of them perhaps in the summer when participation is low.

Going back to the idea of discussing the cantatas by occasion rather than chronologically ...

The sequence of discussion in Dürr's book would be good schema.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 15, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] As always, I am perfectly willing to start a discussion on the Passions. If possible, I would suggest holding off on it, however, until maybe January 2009, as this way it would put it closer in proximity to Good Friday (on which day the Passions would be performed) as possible, as there is so much to discuss. Also, I would not limit the discussion to just the SJP, the SMP, the SLP, and SRP (St. Mark Passion), but also discuss all versions of these works, the three Pasticcios on the anonymous (Keiser/Bruhns) Markuspassion, and the Passionspasticcio "Wer ist der, so von Edom kommt", as well as all the Passiontide Chorales.

Also, unlike the other attempts at a discussion of these works, I would not do a movement-by-movement analysis per se. It may take years for such a format to produce any fruits. Instead, I propose the following possibility:

1.) Week 1: Introduction

2.) Week 2: Background and history

3.) Musicological concerns

4.) Aesthetic/artistic concerns

5.) Interpretation and recordings

6.) Concluding remarks

Comments welcome.

William Hoffman wrote (July 15, 2008):
My suggestion: Discussion correspond with church year; during Lent do the Passions, motets and funeral music; during Trinity do the Masses and Mass movements; and during Advent do the wedding, misc. and per ogni tempo cantatas.

Chris Kern wrote (July 15, 2008):
Discussion order

William Hoffman wrote:
< My suggestion: Discussion correspond with church year; during Lent do the Passions, motets and funeral music; during Trinity do the Masses and Mass movements; and during Advent do the wedding, misc. and per ogni tempo cantatas. >
I'm not entirely sure what you mean, so I'll write for two possibilities. I don't like the idea of matching up the real-life liturgical period with thecantatas because I feel like it's too limiting. There are a huge number of Christmas cantatas, for instance, and it would be impossible to discuss them all in the Christmas period unless we started doing 3-4 a week. Nor do I like the idea of just picking a few representative Christmas cantatas; the point (to me, at least) of doing the liturgical order is that it allows us to investigate what Bach did with a particular liturgical occasion in all the cantatas that he wrote for the period.

However, maybe you just meant that when we get to Lent in the discussion order, we should include the Passions in the discussion -- I agree with that.

I'm not sure what Dürr's order is that was mentioned in another post, but the Bach Cantatas website has already ordered the cantatas by liturgical period and then by composition date within each liturgical week; that seems ready made.

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 15, 2008):
Chris Kern wrote:
< I'm not sure what Durr's order is that was mentioned in another post, but the Bach Cantatas website has already ordered the cantatas by liturgical period and then by composition date within each liturgical week; that seems ready made. >

That's Dürr's schema and it works very well. There's no advantage to us to try to coordinate the discussion with the current liturgical calendar -- it's different from Bach's even for modern Lutherans.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 15, 2008):
William Hoffman wrote:
< My suggestion: Discussion correspond with church year; during Lent do the Passions, motets and funeral music; during Trinity do the Masses and Mass movements; and during Advent do the wedding, misc. and per ogni tempo cantatas. >
Except that there is a few problems with this:

Problem 1: With the exception of the Missa BWV 232 (earlier version), most (if not all) Masses and Mass movements were written for earlier in the Church year (in fact, the earlier version of the Sanctus of BWV 232 was written for Bach's first Christmas in Leipzig, and the Sanctus in D BWV 238 was written for Easter). Even BWV 233a was written for use earlier in the Church year.

Besides this, in Leipzig (where most of the Masses and Mass movements were composed), Latin figural music was reserved for two times in the liturgical calendar: 1. Weinachtstag (1st day of Christmas) and 1. Ostertag (1st day of Easter [Easter Sunday]). The only exceptions to this was the Magnificat, which was reserved for the Feast of the Visitation (2 July).

Problem 2: Per ogni tempo was usually reserved for post-Trinity Sunday. To discuss these cantatas during Advent would be absurd, for they assume the presence of the Holy Spirit, which does not come until Pentecost.

Problem 3: To discuss wedding music durin a tempus clausum period (Advent [especially in Leipzig and other Orthodox Evangelical strongholds] usually meant no music beyond simple Chorale-singing [with the exception of 1. Advent, when a cantata was performed]). Wedding dates were carefully chosen to coincide with appropriate times in the liturgical calendar. On the other hand, funerals were year-round.

Problem 4: The Motets were actually not a part of the liturgy proper. They were a part of the "Kasualien", and even today are not performed during the liturgy by the Thomanerchor Leipzig, but rather are performed during Friday evenings. These works are much in the same group as the funerary works (in fact, a few of these works were wrritten for funerals).

Here is my suggestion:

1.) Chronological discussion of Cantatas to be continued, with the additional caveat that it also incorporates liturgical calendar into the order of discussion.

2.) The motets, funerary, and wedding music, as well as the Chorales be interspersed in these discussions (again in Chronological order).

3.) The Latin figural music be discussed at the appropriate times (Christmas, Easter, Mariae Heimsuchung [Magnificat]) in Chronological order.

4.) In addition to the few cantatas written during the period, the Passions would be discussed during Lent.

Jean Laaninen wrote (July 15, 2008):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote to Ed Myskowski:
< 1.) Week 1: Introduction
2.) Week 2: Background and history
3.) Musicological concerns
4.) Aesthetic/artistic concerns
5.) Interpretation and recordings
6.) Concluding remarks
Comments welcome. >
---While I ssee where you are headed on this, and think your idea has merit, it seems to me that unless you have discussion leaders who are particularly skilled in some of the above numbered items (i.e. aesthetic/artistic concerns and interpretation and recordings) setting such a definitive agenda would be difficult. Numerous listeners and participants who might conduct the discussions might also not be able to isolate the musicological concerns--a rather broad area of discussion.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (July 15, 2008):
[To Jean Laaninen] I think that Doug has some interesting thoughts on this topic.

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 15, 2008):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< Problem 2: Per ogni tempo was usually reserved for post-Trinity Sunday. To discuss these cantatas during Advent would be absurd, for they assume the presence of the Holy Spirit, which does not come until Pentecost.
Problem 4: The Motets were actually not a part of the liturgy proper. They were a part of the "Kasualien", and even today are not performed during the liturgy by the Thomanerchor Leipzig, but rather are performed during Friday evenings. >
I'd like to suggest that this poster adopt a more gracious manner and resist using loaded language like "absurd" and highlighting negatives in such a peremptory fashion. This is all the more urgent considering that the poster's decrees are often simply wrong factually.

The Holy Spirit is celebrated numerous times every Sunday in the Lutheran liturgy; the Third Person of the Trinity doesn't just appear on Pentecost. The motets were liturgical music. They were used as introits, in the same place as cantatas, and as communion music.

St. Thomas in Leipzig no longer follows the liturgical pattern of Bach's day. Bach's music is more often performed in concerts such as the Friday series away from the liturgy. In fact, last year St. Thomas followed Bach's order of service with concerted mass setting and cantata on only one occasion, Ascension Day.

Let's resume the discussion with less heat.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 16, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I'd like to suggest that this poster adopt a more gracious manner and resist using loaded language like "absurd" and highlighting negatives in such a peremptory fashion. This is all the more urgent considering that the poster's decrees are often simply wrong factually.
The Holy Spirit is celebrated numerous times every Sunday in the Lutheran liturgy; the Third Person of the Trinity doesn't just appear on Pentecost. The motets were liturgical music. They were used as introits, in the same place as cantatas, and as communion music. >
However, the period from Pentecost onward is considered the season of the Spirit. That is the point. To discuss the per ogni tempo cantatas during Advent (which deals with waiting for the coming of the Messhias) is, for the lack of a better word, absurd, since the Spirit could not come because the Messhias had not been yet
glorified because He had not come yet.

Even the great Choraele that deal with the Holy Spirit ("Komm Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott" and "Komm Gott, Schoepfer, Heiliger Geist") are usually reserved for Pentecost, and such ones as "Der du bist drei in einigkeit" for Trinity season (per ogni tempo).

As to the Motets, they are not as you state. Even in Bach's day, they were considered part of the "Kasualien" ("Casual"), and had no liturgical function whatsoever. The only exception that I have read about (and this from the Leipzig Order of Service and other sources) of a mohaving a specific liturgical placing and functtion is the annual singing of Jakob Handl's "Ecce quomodo moritur justus" during the Vespers of Good Friday.

< St. Thomas in Leipzig no longer follows the liturgical pattern of Bach's day. Bach's music is more often performed in concerts such as the Friday series away from the liturgy. In fact, last year St. Thomas followed Bach's order of service with concerted mass setting and cantata on only one occasion, Ascension Day. >
Not according to what I have seen on the Thomaskirche website (as well as the one for the Thomanerchor). In fact, the Thomaskirche website's outline of the service is exactly identical to the outline of services during Bach's lifetime.

Also, Bach's music is the feature and sole music (except in extraordinary situations) of the liturgical services (outside of the Choraele, of course). This is also attested to by the Thomaskirche website and that of the Thomanerchor.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (July 16, 2008):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] My impression has been for some time that Bach's motets were in fact liturgical music. Can you provide a source to substantiate your claim that they weren't?

Also, it would be good to have a link to a page (or some other evidence) that supports your remarkable assertion that the liturgy at the Thomaskirche still follows the pattern that was characteristic of Bach's time.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (July 16, 2008):
The Difference Context Makes [was: List Thoughts]

John Pike wrote:
<< When I visited Berlin a lot at weekends, I used to attend the fortnightly Bach cantata performed at the end of the Saturday afternoon service at Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche. Much as I enjoyed the performances, I can't honestly say that it had special impact for me as a result of being "bolted on" at the end of the service. >>
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I couldn't agree more. There is no special ethos or experience merely because of inclusion in a religious service skewed to highlight a cantata. In fact, Bach is often a liabilty in balancing a service because his music has attained such a monumental reputation that the expectations of the performance are misplaced.
McCreesh's recreation of a Bach Epiphany Mass on Archiv was instructive because it placed Bach's music in its historic context. Just as we are unprepared to sit through a 3 hr concert as Mozart and Beethoven's listeners were, we can't expereince the 3 hr service which was the matrix of Bach's cantata -- even McCreesh only included a five minute snippet of the usual hour-long sermon. The most interesting think about the McCreesh reconstruction that it placed Bach's music with its historic compnaions: more than two hours of organ pieces, chorales, chanted readings and prayer. >
I'm still somewhat uncertain about what I think about these and related questions but I'm inclined to agree. Having said that I find myself thinking about a point raised by Brad Lehman that also relates to context, but not in the concert-vs-church-service-vs-re-enacted-service sense; he made some remarks some time ago about how the preludes and fugues that make up the WTC sound quite different when played in an order suggested by key relationships--I do think this is right (of course the use of tunings other than equal-temperament also make a critical difference).

Doug, thank you so much for responding to this; my musings were in part occasioned by delightful memories of your very beautiful and moving re-enactment of a renaissance mass with music by William Byrd in which I was fortunate enough to take part many years ago. I returned recently from travelling for some weeks during which time I had only limited access to the Internet and so I just came upon your post.

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 16, 2008):
James Atkins Pritchard wrote:
< Doug, thank you so much for responding to this; my musings were in part occasioned by delightful memories of your very beautiful and moving re-enactment of a renaissance mass with music by William Byrd in which I was fortunate enough to take part many years ago. >
That was a LONG time ago! The Tallis Choir of Toronto continues to include a historic recreation each season, albeit not staged as the Byrd was. This coming December will see a recreation of an 18th century Roman Vespers under the title "Handel: Vespers of Christmas Eve" which will include psalm settings by Handel and responses and Magnificat by Vivaldi. Alas, the exigencies of the modern concert audience means that we have to trim the extra concerto movements and motets that would have adorned the 3-4 hour service. In 2009-1010, we hope to recreate a Bach Christmas mass with all the trimmings of chant and organ music.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (July 16, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] I'll try to arrange some of my future visits to Toronto in such a way that I can catch some of your concerts, especially the Bach. Are your concerts recorded?
http://tallischoir.com/2008-09season.html
www.tallischoir.com

Also, I notice you're doing Palestina's Missa Papae Marcelli. Have you thought of using the 8-part Soriano version? Might be interesting...
www.areditions.com/rr/rrb/b016.html
*http://preview.tinyurl.com/69tvbs

*Returning to the Bach mass, have you chosen specific works of Bach yet?

I hope things continue to flourish,

William Hoffman wrote (July 17, 2008):
I appreciate the various comments about the benefit of context. I remember that 30 years ago in academia there was the New Criticism School which insisted that the work itself was the THING and the only thing; forget the historical-biographical. While it encouraged what we used to call explication du texte (sp.?), it left out for me any approach (framework) and boundaries. As for Bach, I think that contexct is crucial, especially as it relates to his goal of a "well-regulated church music." I'm half way through a short study by Leo Schrade, "The Conflict Between the Sacred and the Secular" (1946). It traces the devlopment of Bach's concept and actually sheds much
light on the secular, especilly Buxtehude's concept of dramma per musica in the context of his Advent Abendmusik.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (July 17, 2008):
[To William Hoffman] Thank you for these comments and especially for the mention of the Leo Schrade book, which sounds extremely interesting. I think I'll seek for it in a library though, since second-hand copies on Amazon appear to be starting at $150.

 

Future Cantata Discussions

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 11, 2008):
The present cycle of cantata discussions is finished by the end of 2008.

In the 1st cycle of cantata discussions (1999-2003), the cantatas were discussed in the BCML on a weekly basis, a cantata per week. The list of cantatas to be discussed was suggested about every 10 weeks by one of the members of the BCML. It was agreed between the members that the cantatas would be discussed more or less according to their relation to the Lutheran Church Year. Cantatas that were composed for no special event, or secular cantatas, were used as 'fillers' for weeks to which there was not any dedicated cantata. I led almost all the discussions in the 1st cycle.

Year 2004 was dedicated to discussions of J.S. Bach's other vocal works.

In the 2nd cycle of cantata discussions (2005-2008) the cantatas have been discussed chronologically, in the order J.S. Bach initially performed them. The discussions have been led by roster of members; each one was responsible for 5-12 consecutive cantata discussions. IMO, this procedure has worked fine, since we have enjoyed from variety of approaches and opinions.

A few months ago there was a discussion of future cantata discussions. After reading all the messages under this thread as well as personal correspondence with several members, it seems that there is a general consensus between the members about the following guidelines for the order of discussion.

A. Each week onework would be discussed.
B. The works would be discussed by the order of the Lutheran Church Year (LCY).
C. Within each event in the LCY, the works would be discussed by their order of composition.
D. The other vocal works (non-cantatas) would be included in the sequence of discussion. If they are associated with a certain event in the LCY they would be discussed with the cantatas belonging to the same event.

To these guidelines I add some guidelines relating to the inclusion of the other vocal in the discussion cycle:
E. Every year around Easter one of the Passions would be discussed. 1 weeks for SLP & SRP, 2 weeks for SJP & SMP.
F. Every year in the fall (Sep-Oct) we shall discuss one of the Masses: 2 weeks for the MBM, 1 week for each of the LM.
G. The motets are a six-week group.
H. The Songs and Notebook would each have a week.

And another one:
I. Non-Bach Cantatas in the BWV list would be included and discussed according to the associated event.

That means that we shall have a 5-year discussion cycle.

Based on all these guidelines, I have prepared, with the assistance of Doug Cowling, a suggested discussion sequence for the 1st year (2009).
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order-2009.htm

I would like to hear your opinion regarding the general concept and the sequence for the 1st year of the 3rd discussion cycle.

The next step after the sequence is agreed, would be nominating discussion leaders.

Jean Laaninen wrote (September 11, 2008):
[To Aryeh Oron] The proposed schedule looks like it would work. I was a little sorry to get embroiled in the middle of controversy over the schedule when I was hosting so I decided to stay out of the matter until some other proposal might be in place. There are some writers who certainly would be well qualified to create commentary on the comparisons between the weeks, and perhaps in some way this would make the cantatas stick in one's mind even more than by means of the current method. I don't think I am particularly adept at drawing comparisons between the cantatas but there are enough people who are able so that the discussion would no doubt be deepened.
<>
Thanks for all the work you do and I am looking forward to what lies ahead.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (September 11, 2008):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
"I would like to hear your opinion regarding the general concept and the sequence for the 1st year of the 3rd discussion cycle."
I think that both the general concept and the suggested discussion sequence are excellent and likely to bring to light insights about Bach's works that might otherwise not occur to us.

William Hoffman wrote (September 11, 2008):
[To James Atkins Pritchard] I second the motion! Great work! What about the some 16 secular, works?

Evan Cortens wrote (September 11, 2008):
Thanks Aryeh (and Doug) for all the work! It looks great! I only have one question (issue?), regarding point I. I wonder why you decided to go with non-Bach included in the BWV catalog, rather than, say:

J) Works performed but _not_ composed by Bach. This would open up that whole interesting set of 18 Johann Ludwig Bach cantatas performed by JSB in 1726, only one of which (BWV 15) is in the catalog. Alfred Dürr, in "Zur Chronologie der Leipziger Vokalwerke" lists a further 20 works performed by Bach not in the BWV catalog, for a total of 37 (pp. 161-162).
_or_
K) All sorts of non-Bach sacred cantatas, for instance sacred music by his sons WF, CPE, JC and JCF, or other contemporary composers like Graupner or Telemann.

I certainly don't think K is feasible for a mailing list called "Bach Cantatas" (heh, maybe an 18th-century-sacred-cantatas list is in order, there's certainly some great music out there!), but it seems to me that J makes more sense than I, as it maintains the relevance to Bach, but is not artificially restricted by adherence to the BWV.

Anyway, great work, everything else looks excellent... don't mean to be a stick in the mud!

John Pike wrote (September 11, 2008):
[To Aryeh Oron] Brilliant. Many thanks to you both.

Francis Browne wrote (September 11, 2008):
The suggested cycle of discussions will provide an excellent way to approach the cantatas and other works.There will probably be an advantage in most cases in having one person leading the discussion for each event.

Many thanks to Douglas and others who have developed this approach and, as always, many thanks to Aryeh.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (September 16, 2008):
[To Aryeh Oron] A good idea in general, but a few questions:

1.) When will you go into the works that do not have a BWV number?

2.) In regards to the Passions (which I would like to initiate in chronological order), when would you like to discuss the following:

a. The 1st (Weimar) pasticcio on the Hamburger (Keiser/Bruhns) Markuspassion?

b. The so-called "Weimarer-Passion"?

c. The 2nd (1st Leipzig) pasticcio on the Hamburger Markuspassion?

d. The 3rd (2nd Leipzig) pasticcio on the Hamburger Markuspassion?

e. The Passionskantate "Wer ist der, so von Edom kommt"?

3.) When will the various versions of the SJP and the SMP and the SLP be discussed? By this, I mean when will BC D 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 3a, 3b (I), 3b (II), and 6 (I, II), as well as BC D 2e, 3b (III), and 6 (III)?

If I could make a suggestion, I would switch the Passion discussion from the Matthaeuspassion BWV 244 for 2009 to the 1st (Weimar) pasticcio on the Hamburger (Keiser/Bruhns) Markuspassion, and cut it to 1 week.

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 16, 2008):
Hi David and all,

I am working on the 5-year schedule of discussions (~260 weeks).

To the guidelines detailed before a few more have been added:
J. Works with a,b, c suffix would be discussed together with the work without suffix (BWV 243a with BWV 243, BWV 36a,b,c with BWV 36, BWV 245a,b,c with BWV 245,etc.)
K. All variants of a work would be discussed together (such as the 2/3 versions of BWV 21, several versions of SJP, etc.)
L. Works without music left would not be discussed separately. This would leave out most of BWV Anh. works, BWV 223, BWV 224, etc.

Here is a rough estimation of the number of discussion weeks:
Cantatas BWV 1-222 - 222 weeks
Motets BWV 225-231, BWV Anh. 159 - 8 weeks
Masses BWV 232-236 - 6 weeks (2 + 4)
Sanctus, etc. BWV 234-242 - 1 week
Magnificat - BWV 243 - 1 week
Passions BWV 244-247 - 6 weeks (2 + 2 + 2)
Oratorios BWV 248-249 - 7 weeks (6 + 1)
Chorales BWV 250- 438 - 1 week
Sacred Songs BWV 439-507 - 1 week
AMN BWV 508-523 - 1 week
Quodlibet BWV 524 - 1 week
BWV 1081-1083, BWV 1088, BWV 1127 - 5 weeks

Total: 260 weeks: 222 for cantatas, 40 weeks for other vocal works.

This means that each year we have to allocate 8 weeks for other vocal works:
- Around Good Friday (Mar-Apr) - one of the Passions (1-2 week)
- Around Fall (Sep-Oct) - one of the masses (1-2 weeks)
- Close to the end of the year - 2 motets (2 weeks)
- Around June-July - 2-3 other works (2-3 weeks)

Considering the Guidelines listed in my previous message and above, please let me know if is there anything important I have missed I would like to receive your input before finalising the new Order of Discussion.

BTW, all previous discussions under this topic from 2008 have been recently compiled and are presented at:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/BCML-2008.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/BCML-2008-2.htm

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 16, 2008):
Responding to myself:
"Considering the Guidelines listed in my previous message and above, please let me know if is there anything important I have missed."
I have missed the Little Magnificat BWV Anh 21 (which can be discussed in the group of works for Christmas Day) and the 2 Masses BWV Anh-25-26 (which can be included in the group of Masses). That's make up total of 263 discussion weeks, including 43 weeks for other vocal works.

Awaiting your input,

 

3rd Cycle of Cantata Discussions: 2009-2013

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 22, 2008):
Based on discussions of this topic in recent , I have prepared a complete Order of Discussion for the 3rd Cycle of Cantata Discussions.


The 3rd cycle of cantata discussions will start at the beginning of 2009 and will last 5 years. This round the cantatas would be discussed roughly in the order they are presented in the NBA and in Alfred Dürr's The Cantatas of J.S. Bach (Oxford University Press, 2005). This round will cover all the performable works in the BWV and BWV Anh lists, including all Bach's other vocal works, as well as spurious works.

The Order of Discussion of the 3rd cycle of cantata discussions can be found at the pages:
2009: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order-2009.htm
2010: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order-2010.htm
2011: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order-2011.htm
2012: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order-2012.htm
2013:. http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order-2013.htm

In the 1st round of cantata discussions (1999-2003) the discussions were usually led by me. In order to make this 2nd round of cantata discussions (2005-2008) successful, we have agreed that this responsibility would be shared among the members. Each person, who had agreed to take responsibility, was in charge for a period of 5 to 10 weeks, as he/she had wished. At the beginning of each week, this person sent an intro message to the BCML, reminding the members of the cantata for discussion that week. He/she had the option of adding some background, personal opinion, etc.

IMO, this concept has worked fine. We have seen variety of approaches and the cantatas have been discussed from various angles. As a result, the cantata discussions are live and kicking. The leaders in the 2nd cycle were: Neil Halliday, Thomas Shepherd, Peter Bright, Santu de Silva, Thomas Braatz, John Pike, Douglas Cowling, Eric Bergerud, Peter Smaill, Alain Bruguieres, Roar Myrheim, Ed Myskowski, Chris Kern, Julian Mincham, Russell Telfer, Uri Golomb, Jean Laaninen, Francis Browne, Stephen Benson, and, starting this week, Therese Hanquet. The next and last discussion leader in this round would be another lady, Terejia. I am sincerely grateful to them all, as well as to the contributors to the discussions.

For the 3rd cycle of cantata discussions I would like to adopt the same concept. In order to make this round as successful as the previous one, volunteers to lead the cantata discussions are needed. With more than 840 members of the BCML, many of them are performers or experts in this field, and all are enthusiastic lovers of these works, I am hoping that many members would step forward and take upon themselves the responsibility of leading the cantata discussions. This is not a very difficult task and it helps putting the discussions into the right track.

Every member willing to lead the discussions for a certain period of time (preferably group/s of works belonging to the same event), please write to me, either through the BCML or off-list.

 

Getting Prepared For The 2009 Cycle

Robert S. wrote (October 27, 2008):
I am considering starting the new listening cycle with the group in January and was wondering if anyone could give me some ideas about how to go about purchasing the recordings of the cantatas.

Since the order is the church calender, I"m assuming there isn't a series or set that is in that order so I could just by individuals CD's as I go. What would be the best way to purchase them if I don't have any Bach cantatas at the moment?

Thanks,

Julian Mincham wrote (October 27, 2008):
[To Robert S.] I think the best way is to get an entire set because, as you say you will not be able to buy them in the list order.

I would suggest you look at the complete Bach Editio--160 CDs of Bach's complte repertoire, not just the cantatas. Last time I looked i saw the cheapest price was about £60.00 sterling which is less that 50 pence a CD! Or perhaps Tom Koopman's complete set of the cantatas 22 boxes. I heard that they were going very cheaply at the moment although I got them some time ago. You might try hunting around on the inter-net for the best prices of each of them.

These would probably be the cheapest options although there is a lot of other choice--but bear in mind that some of the best have not yet completed recording the full cantata cycle.

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 27, 2008):
[To Robert S.]
1. The best written guide you can have to accompany the listening is Alfred Dürr's "J.S. Bach Cantatas" (Oxford University Press, 2005).
It is also arranged more or less in the same order as the Order of Discussion.
However, it does not include the other vocal works (non-cantatas) and the spurious works (non-Bach).

2. Several recorded cantata cycles are arranged according to the Lutheran Church Year (LCY). All cantatas belonging to the same event appear on the same CD. These are:

J.E. Gardiner's Bach Cantata Pilgrimage.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Rec2.htm
The Advent Cantatas has not yet been released in this series, but you can have them from an earlier release on Archiv.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner.htm [C-3]

S. Kuijken & La Petite Bande (OVPP).
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Kuijken.htm

E. Milnes & Montreal Baroque (OVPP)
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Milnes.htm

T. Koopman complete cantata cycle, originally recorded and released in chronological order, is now re-packaged according to events/subjects.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Koopman-Rec5.htm

The 3 Advent cantatas (BWV 61, BWV 62 & BWV 36), the first group of cantatas in the 3rd discussion cycle, have also appeared on the following albums:
P. Herreweghe: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Herreweghe.htm [C-10]
K. Mallon: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Mallon.htm [C-1]

So you have a variety of options to choose from if you want to purchase individual CD's according to the Order of Discussion.

Robert S. wrote (October 27, 2008):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thank you very much for your information. I discussed this with my wife this morning and we are going to use the Bach Cantatas as something we can listen to together each week. I will be joining the group!

Thanks again,

 

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Last update: ýNovember 2, 2008 ý08:22:51