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Part 7

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Douglas Cowling wrote (February 3, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Do you seriously think that the Rector of St. Thomas School and the Superintendent of all religious education in Leipzig (Deyling, for a number of years) as well as any of the city council members whose power and influence in these matters were greater than Bach's would tolerate having only half of the Primary Choir singing at any point during the church services when choir singing was expected? >
Yes. Intentional listening to the Word was an essential part of Lutheran religious education. The boys were not sitting around in the choir loft playing Tic-Tac-Toe. When not singing, they were expected to sit and listen, sometimes for at least an hour when the sermon was being preached.

I would love to think that this kind of collateral evidence helps us build a case against a universal application of OVPP, but it doesn't.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 3, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Multiple singers on single parts is a practical problem. Two singers per part works, three singers is a real stretch; >
Not to mention the literal stretch if they are sight-reading in poor lighting.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 3, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The use of adult women sopranos straight-out-of-the-freezer >
Do you really expect the ladies to take this lying down, in or out of the freezer? Give him heck, girls.

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 3, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>When not singing, they were expected to sit and listen, sometimes for at least an hour when the sermon was being preached. I would love to think that this kind of collateral evidence helps us build a case against a universal application of OVPP, but it doesn't.<<
Here is a directive from the Schulordnung (1723) to the Cantor (or whoever replaces him in the other churches): During communion (sometimes cantatas were performed during this period, often otherwise special settings of chorales sung by the choir) "der gantze Chor" must sing so that the congregation "solches besser vernehmen können" ("will be able to hear and understand [such music] better"). Reading between the lines, this means that an OVPP substitute with only the concertists singing would not be tolerated where such choral music is concerned.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 3, 2007):
[To Thomas Braatz] Again this is collateral evidence which probably refers to students who were being lazy and not singing fully during congregational chorales when it's easy to fake participation. My guess is that a non-musical staff member observed boys slacking off and this rather over-blown admonition was added to regulations. The prefects would have been personally responsible for discipline but the buck stopped with Bach.

If you push this as evidence for a larger choir in the cantatas, then "der gantze Chor" would have to sing the arias and recitatives as well. I think this is a disciplinary rule not evidence for performance practice.

Rick Canyon wrote (February 3, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Yes. Intentional listening to the Word was an essential part of Lutheran religious education. The boys were not sitting around in the choir loft playing Tic-Tac-Toe. When not singing, they were expected to sit and listen, sometimes for at least an hour when the sermon was being preached. >
But, wasn't there this thing at the Thomaskirche where the Thomaners left the building during the sermon in order to 1) set up dining tables in the auditorium 2) in winter, because there was no heat in the choirloft (unlike the Nicolaikirche)? I recall reading somewhere, however, that they still heard some sort of sermon while performing this task.

Rick Canyon wrote (February 3, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< then the more reasonable assumption is that the number of singers per part under Bach's direction in Leipzig would have averaged between 3 to 4 singers per part depending upon varying circumstances. >
When you think about it, Bach probably wasn't hurting for sopranos or altos, certainly. As I understand it, for his 2,3,4 choirs, he was allowed to draw upon the Externi in cases of illness. Arguably, the quality could be poor, tho not necessarily so. It's noted that musically adept students would often start out as Externi while awaiting an Alumni spot to open up. Not so for Choir 1 as it was, apparently, specified that only Alumni could sing in this choir. But, he could simply move Choir 2 singers up as necessary, and then backfill.

I'm not sure about tenors or basses, either. If the Externi was not limited to younger students--and I don't think it was--finding enough warm bodies to sing should not be a problem. If so, one would think that quality might suffer mostly with the 3 and 4 choirs; and not at Leipzig's main churches.

< Harnoncourt, for instance, in my edition does not list the number of singers in the choir. He only indicates their origin. The impression I received from listening carefully, for instance to the Wiener Sängerknaben (the Vienna Boys' Choir) is that the number of singers per part (soprano, alto only) was at least 4 or 5 per part while the supplemental tenors and basses (from a different choir) sounded at times like two voices at most. This began to sound rather lop-sided with an almost OVPP sound in the lower voices and a typical boys' choir sound in the upper voices. In any case, I do not believe that we can learn much from these modern ensembles unless they use only boys (and young men in their early 20s) with an equal distribution of singers per part. Perhaps some of the Thomaner recordings would reveal this information more precisely? >
The recent Thomanerchor B-minor Mass (BWV 232) under Biller (with an original instrument ensemble) lists 23 sopranos, 17 altos, 12 tenors, 23 basses (tenors and basses not even in their "early 20s" yet). Additionally, specifically in reference to Bach's TC, the liner notes state, "the twelve singers of the Choir of St. Thomas's Chorus Primus". (should we find the relatively small number of tenors as interesting?)

Harnoncourt's 1968 B-minor Mass (BWV 232) breaks the choir down into Gross, Mittel, and Klein depending on the section (Gross sings eg. Kyries, Gratias; Mittel eg. Credo; Klein eg. et Incarnatus; Mittel and Klein eg. Cum sancto spiritu) In his Gross choir are 10 1st and 10 2nd Sopranos, 8 alto, 6 tenor, and 8 basses. The Mittel, 6 1st, 5 2nd, 5 alto, 4 tenor, 4 bass. The Klein, 4 1st, 3 2nd, 3 alto, 3 tenor, 3 bass.

If, indeed, one accepts the use of 12 singers from the Entwurff, I might then question whether the 3-3-3-3 array was Bach's ideal. 4-3-2-3 might be a nice balance, if not 4-4-2-2.

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 3, 2007):
Canyon Rick wrote:
>>But, wasn't there this thing at the Thomaskirche where the Thomaners left the building during the sermon in order to 1) set up dining tables in the auditorium 2) in winter, because there was no heat in the choirloft (unlike the Nicolaikirche)? I recall reading somewhere, however, that they still heard some sort of sermon while performing this task.<<
Not according to the Schulordnung of 1723 which has strict, all-embracing rule that all the Thomaner singing in either church are to remain in church from the beginning to the end. To ensure this, it was the duty of the cantor or his proxy (Praeceptor) to report any infraction to the Rector. Also, there was always a 'weekly' Inspector who was present with each group and was instructed to do likewise.

Somewhere in the 1723 Schulordnung there is a hint of a previous problem of some poorly clothed boys who were excused from singing duties in cold weather, but this problem seems to have been solved [possibly through donation money to supply uniform clothing that all boys had to wear. The Schulordnung also hints at the fact that the black clothing (cape? jacket?) always required for funerals was at the same time the clothing required daily as a 'school uniform'. [Noproblems here with dress code and always suitable for funerals which were frequent!] In winter, the Thomaner, during church services, were allowed to keep on the cap/hat which they wore outside.

Arnold Schering ("Johann Sebastian Bachs Leipziger Kirchenmusik", Leipzig, 1936, pp. 149-150) refers to a report by Kuhnau (1717) in which he complains to the city council that there were some boys who were not dressed warmly enough for church services in winter [perhaps some wealthy donor took care of this problem between 1717 and 1723?]. Also, Kuhnau mentioned that these boys were required [probably by a previous Schulordnung] "to sing with uncovered heads" after an open coal fire carelessly left burning in a warming room in the choir loft had caught fire and destroyed the place where the Thomaner could go to warm up when they were not singing. Kuhnau then points out (1717) that St. Thomas Church did not have such a convenience, but there, when it was extremely cold, the Thomaner were permitted to leave the church and remain under the direction of the Rector who would lead them 'in reading the sermon' [whatever that may have meant, it certainly did not mean that they had printed copies of the sermon, nor could they hear the sermon from where they sat in a school room or auditorium.] The normal length of the church service on Sunday morning was 4 hours from beginning to end.

Schering goes on to suggest that in Bach's time the choir loft in St. Thomas Church would have had a similar place for the Thomaner to get warm on cold winter days and very likely the same 'warm room' with a coal fire was restored at St. Nicholas Church after Kuhnau's complaint was presented and discussed by the city council members.

Here is another point from the Schulordnung 1723: If the winter weather is too cold, and the school principal and rector are in agreement on this matter, the rule that requires the Thomaner to stay in church from the beginning until the bitter-cold end of the service may be lifted.

So far I have not found anything about setting up tables in the auditorium while listening to one of the adults deliver his own sermon or read from a book of sermons for that given Sunday, but it sounds like a possibility.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 3, 2007):
Canyon Rick wrote:
< But, wasn't there this thing at the Thomaskirche where the Thomaners left the building during the sermon in order to 1) set up dining tables in the auditorium 2) in winter, because there was no heat in the choirloft (unlike the Nicolaikirche)? I recall reading somewhere, however, that they still heard some sort of sermon while performing this task. >
Sounds suspiciously like a Cuban cigar rolling factory, where the rollers were (still are?) read Granma, the official (and only, of course) newspaper all day. Paulina, the ultimate authority on all things Cuban, informs me that the name is a Castro misspelling of Grandma (ACE for grandmother). L'etat, c'est moi? (I am the State?).

Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same). Apologies for not taking the time to hunt for a circumflex for 'meme'.

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 4, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>If you push this as evidence for a larger choir in the cantatas, then "der gantze Chor" would have to sing the arias and recitatives as well.<<
Sometimes you will hear in the early recordings of the Thomanerchor (1950s) where arias are very successfully sung by 2 or 3 sopranos in unison. At times you will think that only one voice is singing. "der gantze Chor" refers to those mvts. within a cantata where all four voices sing together.

I have just found further evidence for "der gantze Chor" singing during communion as it was required in the Schulordnung of 1723:

Arnold Schering (book referred to only minutes ago in another message) p. 10

"Concertante music [figural music as cantatas, etc.] and motets were also performed on feast days as long as communion lasted." Schering quotes Leibnitz "Kirchenandachten" (1694) and also in the latter's "Leipziger Kirchenstaat" (1710) "During communion, before the singing of German chorales begins, a cantata ["Stück" which is short for "Kirchenstück" = cantata] is performed or a motet is sung."

Connecting this observation with the stipulation from the Schulordnung (1723) that the "gantzer Chor" must sing (whenever any kind of choral music is performed) during communion, it becomes very difficult to claim that an OVPP or RIF Thomaner Choir would have performed under Bach's direction at such a time.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 4, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< "Concertante music [figural music as cantatas, etc.] and motets were also performed on feast days as long as communion lasted." Schering quotes Leibnitz "Kirchenandachten" (1694) and also in the latter's "Leipziger Kirchenstaat" (1710) "During communion, before the singing of German chorales begins, a cantata ["Stück" which is short for "Kirchenstück" = cantata] is performed or a motet is sung."
Connecting this observation with the stipulation from the Schulordnung (1723) that the "gantzer Chor" must sing (whenever any kind of choral music is performed) during communion, it becomes very difficult to claim that an OVPP or RIF Thomaner Choir would have performed under Bach's direction at such a time. >
Again, I don;t think this collateral evidence can prove the question one way or the other. It is clear from the collection of motets used that many were for fewer than four parts and probaby sung by solo voices and continuo. I suspect that there was not a standard ensemble size for the period. In the motet collectons there are two-voice pieces which may have been performed by three musicians, voice, cello and organ. A good case can be made that "Gottes Zeit" is a cantata for four voices, six instrumentalists and organ. The "Mass in B Minor" (BWV 232) doesn't even have a standard choral format: there are choruses for 4, 5, 6 and 8 parts. At the other end of the size spectrum are those big outdoor secular cantatas where it is clear that large numbers of performers took part.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 4, 2007):
< Thank you for the interesting debate on the size of the choirs. So much is unknowable, but what we DO know is this: whatever the size of the choir, there were no women's voices in them. Paul McCreesh and Rifkin and Parrott can go on all they want about authenticity, but by cutting down the size of the choir and using adult women's voices, like Argenta and Kirkby and the like, they've only created a solipsism of another sort, that is as far from Bach's world as Scherchen is. >
Agreed that the substitution of women's voices in practice does what you say here. It's still not boys, and it makes a different solipsism.

On the other hand: the published argument in Rifkin's and Parrott's books (READ THEM!) is not for switching voices in such a way. Nor is it about "cutting down" the size of any choir.

Rather, it is for the attempt to understand what Bach composed for (which appears to be boy soloists singing "choral" lines most of the time). That's an attempt to understand the compositions--their balances, flexibility, clarity, etc-- on the way to making performances that happen to work well today. It's about understanding the milieu in which Bach worked.

The several hundred references provided by each of Rifkin and Parrott make it clear that they've done their homework and constructed a plausible case. If that case now gets argued against by people who don't even bother to READ their argument (or who refuse to read it), we're getting nowhere.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 4, 2007):
Brad Lehman wrote:
< If that case now gets argued against by people who don't even bother to READ their argument (or who refuse to read it), we're getting nowhere. >
Au contraire, mon ami! (To the contrary my friend, although the Fr. is now effectively 'American English', thanks to the efforts of Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy, as radio announcer)

We are getting somewhere, but it is somewhere we don't want to go!

Terence wrote (Febr4, 2007):
Yes, and we are getting nowwhere if you wilfully misunderstand someone's point besides your own. I've dealt with experts all my life; who do you think you're talking to? Read what I said.

Goodbye to all.

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 4, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>The several hundred references provided by each of Rifkin and Parrott make it clear that they've done their homework and constructed a plausible case.<<
"They [Rifkin & Parrott] have done their homework"

It is obvious that they have failed to take into account sufficiently or properly the 'supernumerarii' and to assess the importance and numbers of such adjunct musicians that Bach could rely upon for his weekly, if not more frequently occurring than that, cantata performances. The dispute is centered upon their one-sided interpretation of the "Entwurff", which, although resting upon a wealth of historical detail, still fails to present a more complete picture based on further evidence which had been overlooked and which is still in the process of being discovered as further research in the Leipzig archives continues.

BL: "They [Rifkin & Parrott] have constructed a plausible case"
Their case is plausible only if you accept certain strictures in advance:

a) the number of adjunct musicians [those not drawn from the Thomanerchor itself after the boys for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th choirs have been subtracted and removed] remains extremely small (possible reasoning process: if their are extremely few records of university students who received stipends for performing in the cantatas, etc., then this is indirect proof that university students and/or those studying music with Bach privately generally did not participate. This then means that Bach was supposedly forced to draw upon a fairly large number of the Thomaner in the Primary Choir to play the instruments needed for the performances. When Bach, in the "Entwurff", states that: "there must be at least two ripienists for each voice....Each 'musical' choir must have at least 3 sopranos, 3 altos, 3 tenors and 3 basses....it would be better still to have 4 singers ["subjecta"] per part so that each choir would have a total of 16 singers", this means that Bach really did not mean this literally, but rather that OVPP was the ideal sound for which he composed most of his sacred music.

b) the evidence from the original sets of parts shows that only one part per singer was the norm; hence, only one singer or player (or at most two, if Bach actually indicates entrances for the ripienists) could read from a single part.

BL: >>If that case now gets argued against by people who don't even bother to READ their argument (or who refuse to read it), we're getting nowhere.<<
I would suggest looking once again carefully at the evidence (primary and collateral) and removing the artificial strictures that have been placed on the evidence that we have directly out of Bach's hands.

The Rifkin-Parrott argumentation is definitely lop-sided and is due for a much-needed correction in the light of new evidence (names of those individuals who were not Thomaner, but yet assisted Bach ably with their musical skills) and a reinterpretation of the "Entwurff" which will take Bach's direct statements about the number of singers per part as an indication of the type of ensemble for which he actually composed his great choral music.

Eric Bergerud wrote (February 5, 2007):
[To Bradley Lehman] I beg to take issue with Brad. (And I have read Parrott and Rifkin.) In the narrow sense you are correct that Rifkin does not call for a purge of multi-voiced Bach choral ensembles. However, both Parrott and Rifkin have performed and recorded OVPP and have argued implicitly in the liner notes that this approach allows for the clarity and delicacy that Bach was seeking. So maybe the OVPP fans agree that we should let 100 flowers bloom, but it strikes me that they think their flowers are prettier and that Bach would have preferred them if he was still here to savor flowers. (I have never understood why a few musicologists that have trashed the period instrument movement could have made it almost impossible for its practitioners - who happen to dominate baroque and classical era music today - to deny that they are seeking to reproduce music as it was heard or the composer intended. While it's obvious that in practice this is impossible, the ideal is perfectly admirable.)

While I doubt Rifkin or Parrott had much to do with it, the fact remains that with a very few exceptions that boy soloists have not been welcome in Bach choral performances since the Teldec set. And, as I have complained before, no OVPP group has recorded using boy sopranos and altos. (Someone pointed to Parrott's Mass in B (BWV 232). It's true that Parrott employs alto soloists from the Tolzer in a few places, but the sopranos are women and a male countertenor does the heavy lifting on the alto side: hardly what Bach would have recognized.) I still think this is extremely unfortunate. I was listening a few days ago to the Teldec version of BWV 1083 which features exclusively boy singers from the St. Florianer Sängerknaben, and it's wonderful. I myself heard a boy alto soloist do a splendid job singing with the American Bach Soloists a couple of weeks ago. In any case, despite Herreweghe blaming Sunday outings and video games for the demise of boys choirs, I really think it could be done, even if only once a year. Better yet, do it in a liturgical setting - give the boys a little chance to rest the vocal chords. Why? Because that's what Bach did. And I think you'd get some lovely music even with Playstations flooding the market.

Alain Bruguières wrote (February 5, 2007):
[To Eric Bergerud] On the whole I agree with your post.

However when you write:
< (I have never understood why a few musicologists that have trashed the period instrument movement could have made it almost impossible for its practitioners - who happen to dominate baroque and classical era music today - to deny that they are seeking to reproduce music as it was heard or the composer intended. While it's obvious that in practice this is impossible, the ideal is perfectly admirable.) >
I'm not sure I get your meaning. Perhaps I could sort it out given sufficient time, but I'd be grateful if you could reformulate in a few short sentences.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 5, 2007):
< I beg to take issue with Brad. (And I have read Parrott and Rifkin.) In the narrow sense you are correct that Rifkin does not call for a purge of multi-voiced Bach choral ensembles. However, both Parrott and Rifkin have performed and recorded OVPP and have argued implicitly in the liner notes that this approach allows for the clarity and delicacy that Bach was seeking. (...) >
OK, but my remark was simply (and to the point): the Parrott and Rifkin books do not argue in favor of women singers, as any historical reconstruction. As scholars, they focus on trying to tell us what Bach composed for: boys, and (in their model) only one of them per part.

Rifkin and Parrott as performers (which is a separate activity from doing research!) sometimes produce performances using women...women who happen to have clear and somewhat boy-treblish voices, such as Julianne Baird or Emily van Evera (Parrott's wife), or Emma Kirkby.

Again, this is not the same thing as the historical thesis that they put forward; nor should it be constrained to be so. Performance and scholarship are two different activities, each informing the other to some extent and valuable in that cross-breeding...but separate. As scholars they need to build a plausible argument on evidence (which they have done). As performers, they need to make the music work beautifully with available resources (which they also do).

They make a modern practical substitution, as performers; but their books are not about making modern practical substitutions. Rather, the books are about reconstructing the compositional situation, in a historical model. That's the only point I was trying to make.

And now, I've had to say twice too many wexplaining the same thing over again, just because several people have misunderstood what I said the first time.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 5, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< As scholars they need to build a plausible argument on evidence (which they have done). As performers, they need to make the music work beautifully with available resources (which they also do). >
I don't always read all of the long posts which are repeating old arguments. Have you stated this point as accurately and concisely as this previously? Nicely done, in any case, even if it is a repeat.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 5, 2007):
[To Thomas Braatz] One very straightforward and direct question for Thomas Braatz: have you actually read Joshua Rifkin's book yet? (This is a yes-or-no question calling for the single word answer "yes" or "no" -- not inviting yet more excuses for not having done so!)

Eric Bergerud wrote (February 5, 2007):
[To Alain Bruguieres] That was not well put: I've gotten lazy working with editors. So let me try to translate.

After the initial excitement of the early period instrument began to wane several musicologists began attacking what either was or was claimed by the musicologists to be the aim of the movement - reproducing the music as it was actually performed. The new critics, such as Taruskin, of the new performance style attacked from the point of view of "post-modernist" dogma. Some went so far as to suggest the whole period instrument movement was some kind of stunt or charade. This is why some poor soul created the miserable phrase "historically informed performance" (HIP) to describe an approach that I had always seen described simply as "with original instruments." (See, a "historically informed" work does not imply a reproduction which is by definition impossible.) John Butt, who appears to buy some of the late 20th century's most dubious contribution to artistic criticism felt compelled to write a book (Playing with History) to argue it was possible to be both a modernist and a fan of very old techniques of music-making.

There is nothing that I have ever seen in the liner notes or early interviews given by practitioners of period instrument music that suggested to me that they were attempting in any way to "reproduce" the music as it was heard two or three centuries ago. Instead they made much more modest claims - music made on instruments it was composed for will sound very good because the composers created the works anticipating the sounds that instruments of the period made. That said, it was implicit years back that both audience and performers thought they were hearing something that was closer to what was played in years past than was available in the concert hall prior to the 1960s. I simply wish performers would continue to make this claim. Artistically it is probably unnecessary. However, I can see nothing wrong with adding antiquarian concerns into the equation. What's wrong with saying "this is very close to what I think the music sounded like when played in Bach's day"? Why would one clean the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? It was beautiful in its own way smudged with a few hundred years of smoke and dust. But scholars and civic leaders decided it was worth the risk to create something they thought would be more beautiful and true to what Michelangelo created. They might have flunked the post-modernist test, but that's fine by me.

Uri Golomb wrote (February 5, 2007):
Eric Bergerund wrote, re Parrott's B minor Mass (BWV 232):
"(Someone pointed to Parrott's Mass in B (BWV 232). It's true that Parrott employs alto soloists from the Tolzer in a few places, but the sopranos are women and a male countertenor does the heavy lifting on the alto side: hardly what Bach would have recognized.) "
This is simply inaccurate. There are no countertenors in any of Parrott's Bach performances (this is one area where he and Rifkin are in disagreement, both about history and about what to do today). In Parrott's Mass (BWV 232), the three Tolzer boys act as concertists -- between them, they share the choral alto lines and ALL the alto solos (the original EMI issue -- though not the Virgin re-issues -- tells you exactly which boy sings in which movement). There is one mezzo who acts as ripienist (that is, she joins in some of the choruses, though not all); but the "heavy lifting" is done by the boys. It's true, though, that the soprano lines are entrusted to women. In his SJP (BWV 245), by the way, he does the reverse: mezzo sopranos does the concertist work (choral alto lines and alto solos), and a boy only joins as ripienist.

I'm sure Parrott wouldn't argue that either of those solutions is historically accurate; they're artistic decisions in the here-and-now. There is, as I said, the claim that Bach's boys do not exist any more: boy-sopranos and boy-altos today are younger than than those that Bach had. In which case, using a younger boy soprano and using an adult singer are BOTH compromises (viewed from the stand point of historical reconstruction), and NEITHER is historically accurate.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 5, 2007):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< What's wrong with saying "this is very close to what I think the music sounded like when played in Bach's day"? Why would one clean the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? It was beautiful in its own way smudged with a few hundred years of smoke and dust. >
There were critics who argued that the dirty Sistine Chapel was the artifact which became the great piece of art to modern sensibilities. In pre-cleaning art history, the "sculptural" values of Michelangelo's figures were the principal aspects of admiration. When the cleaning began, there were many who were dismayed to find that Michelangelo was a briliant colorist. The work of art had changed for them.

I've often thought that the debate about historically-informed performances of Bach has much of the same dilemma. We all grew up listening to Bach perfomed by large mixed voice choirs and modern symphony orchestras -- those were grand, monumental occasions befitting monumental works It was a shock when the "cleaning" began and the forces kept getting smaller and smaller and the sounds of the instruments kept changing. I suspect the works, like the Sistine Chapel, seemed to change into something new and unfamiliar.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 5, 2007):
< In Parrott's Mass (BWV 232), the three Tolzer boys act as concertists -- between them, they share the choral alto lines and ALL the alto solos (the original EMI issue -- though not the Virgin re-issues -- tells you exactly which boy sings in which movement). There is one mezzo who acts as ripienist (that is, she joins in some of the choruses, though not all); but the "heavy lifting" is done by the boys. >
Yes: Panito Iconomou, Christian Immler, and Michael Kilian are those three boys, code-lettered c-d-e in the credits.

Iconomou (c) sings both Kyries, Qui sedes, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, and Dona nobis pacem.

Immler (d) sings Gloria, Et in terra, Gratias, Qui tollis, Cum Sancto Spiritu, Et in unum, Et incarnatus, Crucifixus, Et resurrexit, Sanctus, and Dona nobis.

Kilian (e) sings Credo, Patrem, Confiteor, Et exspecto, Sanctus, Osanna (choir 1), Dona nobis.

Mary Nichols is code-lettered k, and also part of the five-member ripieno group collectively lettered h. She sings alone in the Osanna, as the alto of choir 2. As a ripieno member, h, she sings in some of both Kyries, Gloria/Et in terra, Gratias, Cum Sancto Spiritu, Credo, Patrem, Et resurrexit, Et exspecto, Sanctus, and Dona nobis. Some of those passages: starting and stopping their doubling at the conductor's discretion, not simply singing all the way through the movement.

Parrott's album note (I have both the CD and LP) says this: "It could be a mistake to be too dogmatic. For one thing, as we have seen, the Mass (BWV 232) gradually floated clear of practicalrestraints as composition proceeded, so we are scarcely obliged to re-impose them. For another, the scale is that of the two great Passions, for which extra voices were available, and we know that in the case of the St John Passion (BWV 245) they acted as ripienists. Most helpfully, the Gratias chorus derives from cantata BWV 29, one of eight for which the performing material clearly indicates a ripieno group. We therefore use a concertino of single voices, with one extra ripienist per part. Some choruses are sung entirely solo, others entirely tutti; and many follow Bach's practice in the eight cantatas by moving freely between concertists and tutti according to the nature of the writing and the scoring.
[NEW PARAGRAPH] The types of voice which sang Bach's upper parts are no longer available to us. His sopranos and altos were skilled boys in their mid or late teens with unbroken voices. (Bach did not use countertenors at Leipzig.) We use a mixture of the two closest modern substitutes, women's and (younger) boys' voices. The boys share the alto solos, and sing one-per-alto-part in choruses. The maximum vocal complement of twelve (heard only in the six-voice Sanctus) is matched by a maximum instrumental ensemble of twenty-four."

Rifkin's remark about this in the main text of his book, leading into endnote #150, is about adding a single ripienist to double some of the concertist's part (i.e. at the conductor's discretion) whether the score/parts say so or not: "Ironically, such arrangements in fact bring us closer to eighteenth-century practices than does the modern all-or-nothing use of the chorus."

Endnote #150 is then a direct comment about Parrott's recording: "Parrott's recording of the B minor Mass (BWV 232) attempts an arrangement of this sort, openly acknowledged as such. Readers should recall, too, that Bach's own additions of ripieno parts to works originally composed without them also count as 'arrangements'."

< It's true, though, that the soprano lines are entrusted to women. In his SJP (BWV 245), by the way, he does the reverse: mezzo sopranos does the concertist work (choral alto lines and alto solos), and a boy only joins as ripienist. >
It's not completely clear from the opening credits, or in the next four pages of this SJP (BWV 245) booklet, who's singing in the "chorus" movements as the concertist or ripienist. (Booklet of EMI CD 54083 from 1991.) The boy's name -- Christian Gunther -- is listed first of the two altos, with no note other than the asterisk indicating he's from the Tolzers. The other alto, Caroline Trevor, is listed next to that, with this parenthesis: "(Aria 7, Aria 30)".

Parrott has a boy treble, also from the Tolzers, here: Christian Fliegner. The three sopranos of the production are listed in this sequence: "Tessa Bonner (Aria 35), Christian Fliegner* (Ancilla), Emily Van Evera (Aria 9)."

John Butt's essay in this SJP (BWV 245) booklet explains further: "The doubling 'ripieno' voices to the soprano and alto lines are assigned to boys' voices. It is hoped that the effect of a 'modern' boy and a woman singing together will approach the kind of sound, agility and insight which Bach would have expected from his boy students who were still singing high parts in their late teens."

Butt also points out the "slight modification" here of having one extra soprano voice, and a separate Evangelist and Jesus. Grand total singers in this production: 11, comprised of the Evangelist tenor, Jesus bass, and 3-2-2-2. The Jesus and the Evangelist each get to sing three of the arias or ariosos in their voice range, not only the named roles.

< I'm sure Parrott wouldn't argue that either of those solutions is historically accurate; they're artistic decisions in the here-and-now. There is, as I said, the claim that Bach's boys do not exist any more: boy-sopranos and boy-altos today are younger than than those that Bach had. In which case, using a younger boy soprano and using an adult singer are BOTH compromises (viewed from the stand point of historical reconstruction), and NEITHER is historically accurate. >
Exactly. And these are still performance decisions, as separate from the straight-research thrust of both his book and Rifkin's.

And these two Parrott recordings were made a very long time ago, already: 1984 for the Mass (BWV 232) and 1990 for the St John (BWV 245). There is no automatic guarantee that Parrott would make similar performance decisions next time, either in concerts or recording, given another opportunity since his book (2000). Or Rifkin, in any of his newer recordings since his book (2002).

When Parrott wrote to me about something else, a couple of years ago, I replied with my enthusiasm about these two recordings of his (and others)...and I threw him the suggestion that maybe the St John (BWV 245) should be tried sometime with the "lute" parts played by Lautenwerck (keyboard instrument that Bach owned two of) as part of the continuo team. I don't know how Parrott took that suggestion, but anyway the idea is on the table. I'd certainly love to hear it, if he or someone else gives that a try. Similar problems come up with Bach's so-called solo lute pieces, happening to work arguably better on keyboard than they do on lute....

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 5, 2007):
Sizes of Bach's Choirs - Cantata 71

Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Rifkin's remark about this in the main text of his book, leading into endnote #150, is about adding a single ripienist to double some of the concertist's part (i.e. at the conductor's discretion) whether the score/parts say so or not: "Ironically, such arrangements in fact bring us closer to eighteenth-century practices than does the modern all-or-nothing use of the chorus." >
Last night, I attended a performance of "Gott ist mein König", the 299th anniversary of its premiere on February 4, 1708. The choir was about 30 voices with solo players in the strings. I was interested to see that the soloists sang throughout with the choir, unlike the last time I heard the cantata when the soloists sat out front as if they were doing the 'Missa Solemnis'. The effect, especially in the first chorus, of the soloists emerging from from the choral texture was quite thrilling and reenforced the work's connection with the 17th century tradition of solo favoriti and choral ripieni. I surprised myself by the end of the evening of wishing that the choir had been smaller -- say, 16 voices (grin)

Below are the programme notes I wrote for the concert.

***********************
Today marks the 299th anniversary of the first performance of Cantata BWV 71 on February 4, 1708. The occasion was the church service celebrating the election of the Mühlhausen town council. The 23 year-old Johann Sebastian Bach shrewdly gave the small-town politicians music of such regal splendour that they arranged for its publication, the only cantata published in the composerıs lifetime.

The text of the seven movements is drawn primarily from Psalm 74 and celebrates both the sovereignty of God and the wisdom of human age. The cantata prefaced a sermon which undoubtedly admonished the new councilors to uphold their civic responsibilities and the citizens to maintain peace, order and good government. The tension between the burgersı civic rights and the absolutism of the king was always a sub-text.

Bach unleashes the full splendour of his orchestra, and the martial fanfares of the brass and timpani recur throughout the work, not only in the opening and closing choruses but in the delightful alto aria, ³Durch mächtige Kraft² (No.5) where the singer is constantly interrupted by the excitable trumpets. Bachıs devotion to the Lutheran chorale is beautifully reflected in ³Ich bin nun achtzig Jahr² (.2) where the aged tenor is supported by a consoling hymn.

The cantata differs from Bachıs later Leipzig works by the prominent role given to the choir. ³Dein Alter sei² (No. 3) is a rigorous chromatic fugue, while ³Du wollest dem Feinde² (No. 6) is full of the plaintive cooings of the frightened turtle-dove. If only our own civic rites of passage were inspired by such magnificent music!

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 5, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< The types of voice which sang Bach's upper parts are no longer available to us. His sopranos and altos were skilled boys in their mid or late teens with unbroken voices. (Bach did not use countertenors at Leipzig.) We use a mixture of the two closest modern substitutes, women's and (younger) boys' voices. [...]
< Readers should recall, too, that Bach's own additions of ripieno parts to works originally composed without them also count as 'arrangements'. [...] >
< Exactly. And these are still performance decisions, as separate from the straight-research thrust of both his [Parrott's] book and Rifkin's. >
Thank for this entire post, which is very informative and relevant to ongoing (!) discussion. I have taken the liberty of repeating just a few highlights, for reference and emphasis.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 5, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< The Rifkin-Parrott argumentation is definitely lop-sided and is due for a much-needed correction in the light of new evidence (names of those individuals who were not Thomaner, but yet assisted Bach ably with their musical skills) and a reinterpretation of the "Entwurff" which will take Bach's direct statements about the number of singers per part as an indication of the type of ensemble for which he actually composed his great choral music. >
And I replied last night:
< One very straightforward and direct question for Thomas Braatz: have you actually read Joshua Rifkin's book yet? (This is a yes-or-no question calling for the single word answer "yes" or "no" -- not inviting yet more excuses for not having done so!) >
While Thomas is still deciding what he's going to say -- but how hard can a simple "yes" or "no" be on a presumably sunny morning?! -- I'd also point out:

1. Nobody can assert reliably that "The Rifkin-Parrott argumentation is definitely lop-sided and is due for a much-needed correction", if they haven't actually read or engaged all the major published pieces of that argument itself (many articles and the two books). The absurdity of this assertion against their work is breathtaking. Rifkin's book has been readily available in print since 2002, and there are more than 20 years of work represented in it. But the assertion "definitely lop-sided" itself is not demonstrably based on 20, or even one, year(s) of serious research at the hand of the person saying so: Thomas Braatz. Shouldn't the judgment in an allegedly well-informed perspective be held to the same standards as the work itself, in deciding if the work has merit?

2. Joshua Rifkin's book includes, directly, an interpretation that goes through the first eight paragraphs of Bach's "Entwurff" point by point. And that engagement of Bach's writing, by Rifkin, takes Bach's direct statements about the number of singers per part as an indication of the type of ensemble for which he actually composed his great choral music.

3. In Parrott's book (2000) there is a brief remark in passing about some existing music having "enormous but still underestimated value as evidence." This is one of the points that Rifkin's book (2002) draws out much further and more explicitly, showing why it is important in understanding the working conditions in Leipzig when Bach took the job. And this is one of the reasons (among many) that it's important to read both Parrott's and Rifkin's books: not simply browsing in one or the other and making assumptions about the depth (or not) of the continued case (1981-present).

==========

Thomas Braatz also wrote, in that same message:
< It is obvious that they have failed to take into account sufficiently or properly the 'supernumerarii' and to assess the importance and numbers of such adjunct musicians that Bach could rely upon for his weekly, if not more frequently occurring than that, cantata performances. >
It is obvious that pages 103-115 in Parrott's book address this issue directly, as part of his argument.

Any alleged "failure to take into account" this material, by Thomas, simply shows that Thomas didn't fancy (or maybe hasn't read with any openness to the facts) what Parrott has provided here.

< The dispute is centered upon their one-sided interpretation of the "Entwurff", which, although resting upon a wealth of historical detail, still fails to present a more complete picture based on further evidence which had been overlooked and which is still in the process of being discovered as further research in the Leipzig archives continues. >
So, Thomas Braatz believes he personally knows something new and profoundly important that "had been overlooked", despite Rifkin's more than 20 years researching and writing about this extremely difficult historical topic. The theory somehow needs a "much-needed correction" at the hand of Thomas Braatz.

Just making clear what it is that Thomas Braatz is claiming here. And, awaiting the simple yes-or-no answer about actually reading Rifkin's book.

=========

Thomas further recommended, still in this same message:
< I would suggest looking once again carefully at the evidence (primary and collateral) and removing the artificial strictures that have been placed on the evidence that we have directly out of Bach's hands. >

I happen to agree!

And that too is what Rifkin's book does: chop away artificial strictures and wrong cultural assumptions around the documents, to see what Bach really said in the context of his work, directly from Bach's handwritten material. Rifkin cites more than a hundred bits of primary and collateral evidence, directly, in support of his case.

So, it sounds as if Thomas doesn't actually disagree with Rifkin's method of argumentation, after all: in telling Rifkin et al how he personally believes they should go do their jobs correctly (which is rather presumptuous in itself), Thomas Braatz is recommending the procedure that Rifkin has already followed here, five years ago, in print. Which Thomas should of course know, if he's actually read the book instead of merely relying on hearsay, or on his own prejudice or wishful thinking against it, or on his own guesses from listening to any recordings that he happens not to fancy.

It's been 14 hours now already, and the simple "yes" or "no" is still awaited! I re-read both of these books over the weekend, to remind myself what's in them or not in them; excellent books. I believe they'd be of interest to anyone who seriously cares about this topic, with a willingness to study scholarly work.

So is Rifkin's newest published piece (2007), which I started reading yesterday: a 98-page article about a piece by Bach. (N.B. Rifkin obviously doesn't need to be told how to do his job thoroughly, by anybody!) There's also a new (2006) published edition of the B minor Mass (BWV 232), by Rifkin, in case anybody's interested....

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 5, 2007):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Thank for this entire post, which is very informative and relevant to ongoing (!) discussion. I have taken the liberty of repeating just a few highlights, for reference and emphasis. >
Just to be clear, where credit is due:

- The paragraph "The types of voice..." is by Parrott, in an LP liner note and reproduced in CD of same (B minor Mass (BWV 232), recorded 1984, published 1985).

- The paragraph "Readers should recall..." is from Rifkin's book (2002).

- The only part quoted here that's by me is the "Exactly..." paragraph.

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 5, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>And that too is what Rifkin's book does: chop away artificial stricturesand wrong cultural assumptions around the documents, to see what Bach really said in the context of his work, directly from Bach's handwritten material. Rifkin cites more than a hundred bits of primary and collateral evidence, directly, in support of his case.<<
But Rifkin remains blind to the artificial strictures he himself needed as postulates for his OVPP theory. It remains a fact that Rifkin and his epigons have chosen to 'soft-pedal' the significant contribution made by the "Externii" and "Supernumerarii" (adjunct musicians, many of the highest quality but remunerated mainly by other means that Bach devised) who assisted Bach both as singers and as instrumentalists in his figural, sacred music performances in Leipzig. Rifkin artificially emphasizes that aspect of Bach's political statement to the city council which points to the lack of professionally-paid musicians while Bach, in the "Entwurff," then attempts to lead the reader to believe that he might have forced to reduce the number of singers in the Primary Choir in order to provide for the instrumentalists which were necessary. This we now know was not really necessary because of the more than adequate number of "outsider" musicians that Bach was able to use. With Rifkin's presuppositions, it appears that Bach's stated number of singers needed for each voice (3 per part, or 4 per part which was Bach's stated ideal) no longer means in reality what Bach had explicitly stated in the "Entwurff" and elsewhere as well. Another extremely artificial assumption which Rifkin based upon the existing numbers of original parts is that only one person, perhaps two at the most, can read from a single part. Rifkin has presented more than a hundred bits of primary and collateral evidence, but the assumptions that he had made about the number of singers per part are not corroborated by the best and most directly related iconographical 'evidence' provided by the Groschuff, 1710 engraving where for each voice part there is a group of 3 singers huddled together around a single part. The singers are depicted with artistic license thus making it possible to see a little more of each singer. Such an engraving can not be justifiably construed as a photographic representation of reality leading to a 'logical' conclusion that only one singer was actually singing while the others were simply standing there without being physically able to see the part from which they must sing. As pointed out previously from the 'Schulordnung' 1723, the Thomaner boys were to stand in such a fashion that they did not impede the line of sight to the part from which they were singing. This directive in itself already assumes more than simply OVPP as the norm.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 5, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< It remains a fact that Rifkin and his epigons have chosen to Osoft-pedalı the significant contribution made by the ³Externii² and ³Supernumerarii² (adjunct musicians, many of the highest quality but remunerated mainly by other means that Bach devised) who assisted Bach both as singers and as instrumentalists in his figural, sacred music performances in Leipzig. >
I'm ready to believe that dozens of external musicians were rounded up every Sunday, but where is the music they sang from? This three and four to a part just can't fly.

Anthony Olszowy wrote (February 5, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] First off, please don't jump down my throat for sticking my two cents worth in on this debate, although I am not an academic or professional musician. I have no opinion one way or the other about Rifkin's conclusions. I have read Parrot's book, and Rifkin's original essays, but have not read the ancillary academic materials Brad has referred to.

What I have often wondered, however, in reading their materials and their arguments from the lack of parts, stems from summer work I did decades ago with some museum and municipal archives. None of these were run by professional archivists, and space was at a premium (as it frequently is in larger centres). I was a teenager back then, and simply did what I was instructed--and we were instructed to dispose of any materials which may be considered a duplicate of other materials. Very naughty from an archivist's point of view, of course--but not necessary to a church or civic bureaucrat trying to make room for more "useful" things (after all, performance of the cantatas, unlike the motets, fell into abeyance for decades after JSB's death).

I believe the bulk of the original scores of the cantatas remain in the Archive of the Berlin Singakcademie (those that weren't pilfered by the Allies during the last world war, of course)--or, at least, are no longer kept in Leipzig. Has anyone delved into the history of the transfer of the documentation from the one to the other, to see if materials were destroyed, or otherwise disposed of prior to, or after, their transfer? Or would parts simply have been copied by choristers themselves, and retained as their own copies? I have not read as widely as the others on this list, so those things may be addressed in the ancillary literature. But have they?

I say this only because, as both a lawyer and former historian, arguing from the absence of evidence always makes me nervous. And I think that the Entwurfe was, as are all inherently political documents, somewhat ambiguous--the varieties of historical interpretations of it are evidence enough of that.

And now I go back into lurker mode....

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 5, 2007):
[To Thomas Braatz] That's a 405-word paragraph (starting at "But Rifkin..."), and your presentation in it doesn't resemble the argument in Rifkin's 2002 book (as to representing its contents, let alone refuting it).

His book is not about teenagers standing around holding pieces of paper, in any positions whatsoever. Nor is it about losing singers to the orchestra. Nor is it about basing anything on pictures, one way or the other.

It's obvious that you're just plain GUESSING at whatever his 2002 case entails.

What an extraordinary way to waste 405 words in search of the simple and honest admission: "NO", you didn't read the book; and you can't be troubled even so far as to do so before offering public criticism (or "much-needed correction"!!) of Rifkin's work. Er...what you imagine to be Rifkin's work. Tilt at those imaginary windmills, O Senor Quixote!

Two further difficulties:

1. Something in your 405-word diatribe here makes Bach out to be a liar when he wrote the "Entwurff". You're apparently asserting that Bach had an undisclosed stash of non-students ("more than adequate number of 'outsider' musicians that Bach was able to use"!), such that he would openly lie to his superiors about his student requirements there in the "Entwurff". Aren't you overlooking something? If Bach was lying in the "Entwurff", about something like that, what sense does it make to draw binding performance conclusions from anything else in the "Entwurff" either? Such as the bit about 12 or 16 head counts (which incidentally says nothing about part-holding or standing positions anyway)?

2. It's dismaying: you don't acknowledge (or recognize?) there's even a conceptual problem with blistering on in public against published work INSTEAD OF reading it.

(Only 288 words of response, including this sentence.)

Peter Bright wrote (February 5, 2007):
[To Anthony Olszowy] I found John Eliot Gardiner's views on Rifkin quite interesting in this regard (from a Guardian (UK) interview in 2005):
----------------

He has, he says, a constructive dialogue with two rival conductors who have also embarked on major cantata recording projects - Ton Koopman and Masaaki Suzuki. "It's difficult to talk to Rifkin because he takes a very entrenched position and there is no dialogue. Actually, it's impossible.

"There are many ways to skin a cat. I'm not rigid in that way at all. You have to make certain decisions, but we're all trying to take on board as much historical information as you can and you come to different conclusions."
-----------------

Of course, just because Rifkin is deemed 'entrenched' in his views by Gardiner, doesn't mean he is incorrect about OVPP - but it does seem a pity if he does not even listen to alternative (and possibly more widely held) views of others such as Gardiner et al. I appreciate Gardiner's following point about there being 'more than one way to skin a cat' - some unknowns will always remain that way, but it can be entertaining and interesting to hear different approaches to singing Bach.

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 6, 2007):
Anthony Olszowy wrote:
>>I was a teenager back then, and simply did what I was instructed--and we were instructed to dispose of any materials which may be considered a duplicate of other materials. Very naughty from an archivist's point of view, of course--but not necessary to a church or civic bureaucrat trying to make room for more "useful" things (after all, performance of the cantatas, unlike the motets, fell into abeyance for decades after JSB's death).<<
Some thoughts emanating from the above.

1. Scores and sets of parts were very valuable in Bach's time. It is difficult to imagine these materials, if duplicate parts were involved, simply disappearing by being thrown out as unneeded. Yet Bach, who was very careful about these things 'lost' entire scores and possibly also sets of parts (the latter could be regenerated from the score if you had the original or copy of it). The main cause for this was that he generously gave his music to others but frequently 'got stung' because it was never returned. There may have been some legitimate reasons for the non-return, but the loss pained Bach greatly as one could easily imagine.

2. It would be difficult to conceive of Bach simply not worrying about the doublets although logically he could feel secure if he retained only the complete original set without the doublets. Historically the doublets were often transmitted together with the original score while the original set of parts, like the very large batch which Anna Magdalena gave to St. Thomas Church/School soon after Bach's death, separately found a subsequent owner. In this rather wise method of distribution, the owner of the score and doublets would only(!) have to generate the rest of the main set of parts, while the owner of the original set of parts sans doublets could create a new copy of the score from these parts.

3. Personally, I cannot see how Bach would have lost any doublet parts or that he would have said to a group after a performance: "You can have all the doublet parts as souvenirs." There are a few instances where we now have isolated vocal doublets (some of the 4 parts are missing). What happened to the others? Why have we not found more examples of vocal doublets than the relatively few that have been documented?

AO: >>I believe the bulk of the original scores of the cantatas remain in the Archive of the Berlin Singakademie (those that weren't pilfered by the Allies during the last world war, of course)--or, at least, are no longer kept in Leipzig. Has anyone delved into the history of the transfer of the documentation from the one to the other, to see if materials were destroyed, or otherwise disposed of prior to, or after, their transfer? Or would parts simply have been copied by choristers themselves, and retained as their own copies? I have not read as widely as the others on this list, so those things may be addressed in the ancillary literature. But have they?<<
Actually the losses caused by the WWII are remarkably few and, yes, some ended up in private collections and libraries in various countries, however most of these have been accounted for. There is no reason to think that the war caused a large number of doublets to disappear. The NBA KBs have a detailed accounting of the provenance of each score and/or set of parts from before and after both world wars. The large number of autograph scores (and in some cases original sets of parts as well) in the Berliner Staatsbibliothek and the original sets of parts from the Anna Magdalena legacy seem to have come through the war without any considerable losses. In the 19th century, the Berliner Staatsbibliothek, the recipient of the extensive collection amassed by the Berlin Singakademie, continued providing accurate details about the contents of each cantata folder. Such a folder, as we have recently learned, also contained additional parts generated under Zelter's direction for possible performance. Why would Zelter have wanted to throw out any doublets? Were his vocalists unable to read Bach's clef signs which are no longer standard today? Did he not realize what important information about articulation, dynamics, etc. Bach had included in the parts (including the doublets)?

If the vocalists who performed Bach's music under his direction had created their own doublets, we should at least have an example or two of this, but we do not. The handwriting analysis shows that the doublets that do exist come from the 'workshop' of Bach's own copyists. The original set of parts includes quite generally parts (with a few exceptions like those belonging to BWV 80 in its various incarnations) which exhibit no normal physical use: they are in excellent condition; not even the mistakes on the page which Bach may have overlooked are corrected! There are no smudges or candle wax drippings, nor are there oily spots made by holding the page between the fingers while turning it over. Bach's parts are notorious for bad/awkward page turns and yet there is no evidence of any dog-eared pages. [This could be considered indirect evidence for having more than one singer or instrumentalist per part.] Breath marks for singers and the usual special markings by string instrument players in their parts are entirely missing. All of this is indirect evidence for the idea that Bach may have had the musicians sight-read the music for its first performance at the early morning service (it would then be repeated at the other church later on the same day for a different service).

>>I say this only because, as both a lawyer and former historian, arguing from the absence of evidence always makes me nervous. And I think that the Entwurfe was, as are all inherently political documents, somewhat ambiguous--the varieties of historical interpretations of it are evidence enough of that.<<
Thank you for sharing your opinion on the Entwurff as a political document. This agrees with Andreas Glöckner's appraisal (recently shared with this list) placing the blame on Bach as the main source for having created this controversy that surrounds us today.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 6, 2007):
Anthony Olszowy wrote:
< I say this only because, as both a lawyer and former historian, arguing from the absence of evidence always makes me nervous. And I think that the Entwurfe was, as are all inherently political documents, somewhat ambiguous--the varieties of historical interpretations of it are evidence enough of that. >
This is cool voice of reason breathing over the passions of both sides of this question.

Eric Bergerud wrote (February 6, 2007):
[To Uri Golomb] I stand corrected. I was working off the notes from the Virgin edition and did not notice that Panito Iconomou was listed twice - both under soloists as alto and as one of the "Solisten des Tolzer Knabenchors." As is usually the case I should have checked the web site: Iconomou is clearly labeled a boy soloist. (It does appear as though Mr. Iconomou has made the transition into musical adulthood nicely. He sings bass in Vol 27 of Gardiner's Pilgrimage.) I did look through my various recordings of the work to find one with more details per individual tracks. Couple of questions for Uri. First, there are three alto arias in the work and two are clearly done by boys and very nicely indeed. However, does a boy alto sing the first alto aria of the Gloria (track 6)? Logic would say yes if there are three alto soloists listed but it sure sounds like a woman to me. Second, is this an OVPP work at all? As indicated by Uri, the notes that accompany the Virgin edition are extrespare and there is nothing about performance practice at all nor is there a word concerning any of the performers. It is clear that Parrott employs small forces, but I wouldn't trust my ears to distinguish between a chorus of six or seven (assuming all of the soloists are employed) or eight or ten. Does the EMI version shed any light on this?

So properly chastened I amend my remark. The heavy lifting in Parrott's Mass in B (BWV 232) is done by the adults. That is unmistakable. Indeed, although there are no boy soloists in Harnoncourt's 1968 Mass, the presence of boys is much more apparent because they are so strongly present in the choruses - no small point in a work like the Mass in B (BWV 232). And my point that no OVPP ensemble has ever recorded with boys singing their proper parts (soprano and alto) also remains valid. (Ironically the American Bach Soloists who have been leaning toward OVPP lately, brought their full choir to accompany their last program which did include boy soloists in each cantata. Their next concert is back to OVPP sung by adults.)

BTW: the whole issue of countertenors seems to be all over the map concerning the Mass in B (BWV 232). Harnoncourt, of all people, uses a female alto (Helen Watts) in his 1968 recording of the work. Gardiner, on the other hand, brings in a battalion of countertenors. And, if there are any audiophiles out there, do get the Naxos SACD version under Helmut Muller-Bruhl: the sound is very good indeed.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 6, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Personally, I cannot see how Bach would have lost any doublet parts or that he would have said to a group after a performance: ³You can have all the doublet parts as souvenirs.² There are a few instances where we now have isolated vocal doublets (some of the 4 parts are missing). What happened to the others? Why have we not found more examples of vocal doublets than the relatively few that have been documented? >
I agree. Bach was so careful with his library that it seems impossible that he alllowed multiple parts to go missing. In terms of ownership, are we always to asssume that works written for a particular church or patron remained the property of the composer? (that seems the norm)

In the "Grasping at Straws Department" ...

Is there any possibility that the composer owned the score and single copies as exemplars and the church library owned multiple copies made from those exemplars? In the Thomaner library are there any examples of works which have multiple copies?

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 6, 2007):

Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>If Bach was lying in the "Entwurff", about something like that, what sense does it make to draw binding performance conclusions from anything else in the "Entwurff" either?<<
As previously pointed out, Bach repeats these numbers 3-3-3-3 elsewhere and not in the context of the "Entwurff". The numbers in the "Entwurff" simply confirm that Bach is noting the actual numbers of singers who normally sang in the Primary Choir.

In any case, Bach is not 'lying' in his political statement to the City Council of Leipzig, he is simply 'pushing the envelope' in the hope that the council members would 'buy into' his presentation. As we all know, they didn't for various reasons: 1) if the representational music coming from the choir loft still had excellent quality, why should they, in a time when funds were dwindling, add an unncessary expense to the city budget? Everyone, including Bach, should simply 'draw his belt tighter' and continue as is. 2) unofficially they would have been aware of what Bach was doing to uphold excellence; it would have been difficult for Bach to keep secret his negotiations/agreements with musicians who performed for him. Although the musicians were situated up in a high choir loft, there would still be a few members of the congregation who could see which ones were the Thomaner (the ones in the black capes) and which were the 'outsiders' ('non-Thomaner', Externii, Supernumerarii). It was an 'open secret' just how Bach managed to staff his performances adequately without letting the musical performances suffer.

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 6, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>In the Thomaner library are there any examples of works which have multiple copies?<<
What I wish we had a record of is: just how many copies of the Bodenschatz were copied when the older set wore out? All we have is the total amount of the expenditure each time Bach ordered a new set. I would not be surprised if the number of part books is very small (perhaps only 1 copy for each voice part). Then the claim would arise that the motets were sung by only 4 to 8 choristers. The motet choir in 1744-1745, however, had 13 listed members, none or perhaps only one of whom played an instrument (perhaps organ/harpsichord). This would mean the usual 3 to a part just as with the primary choir.

Alain Bruguières wrote (February 16, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< One question which occured to me was 'does it matter?' And quite probably, for the majority of music loveres, it doesn't.
But then I thought, as a musician it might matter a great deal. Hope this makes some sense! >

It doeth to me. Although I'm a mere music lovere (I suspect Middle English rather than ACE here), I still appreciate this kind of discussion. I particularly enjoy reading Julian and Neil's courteous exchanges. I often feel like agreeing with both!

Since I'm very sensitive to the dance-like quality of much of Bach's production, I can easily believe that for a performer, deciding that a particular movement is suggestive of a minuet, a sarabande, or a polka has a very strong influence on the way he plays it and the way it is perceived by the 'music loveres'.

Now another question would be: when a choral fantasia, say, seems to suggests a certain dance form, how do we know that Bach actually meant to suggest it? Methinks many of Bach's works are brimming over with potentialities which may or may not be exploited, often leading to very different and yet very convincing performances.

Somehow we're lucky that we know so little about how Bach 'should' be performed (which doesn't mean we should give up trying to know more). Each period has produced wonderful performances. Although I'm definitely pro-HIP, I'm very fond of Richter's approach. Having read the exchanges about OVPP, I remain rather sceptical: I find the evidence in favour rather scanty and far-fetched. However I like Rifkin's OVPP performances very much. I'd find it difficult to maintain that Rifkin's OVPP + female voices option is completely coherent. I have no problem with that. (If there's no solution, it means that there's no problem.)

PS A prominent list member has repeatedly claimed that AE (with or without intervening C) is the official language of the list. As far as I'm concerned, this is OK since I consider myself perfectly fluent in Approximative Continental English.However, certain varieties of Commonwealth English, illustrated by the contribution of other esteemed list members, are also in a position to lay claim to being the BCML official language. Quid est veritas? (ACE: Buck est veritas?)

Alain Bruguières wrote (February 16, 2007):
[To Eric Bergerud] Thank you very much for taking the trouble of clarifying the paragraph which puzzled me.

I agree with the opinions you express here, regarding the HIP acronym as well as the idea that striving to produce a performance as close as possible to what could be heard in Bach's time is a noble endeavour.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 6, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< What I wish we had a record of is: just how many copies of the Bodenschatz were copied when the older set wore out? >
The motet choir in 1744-1745,

< however, had 13 listed members, none or perhaps only one of whom played an instrument (perhaps organ/harpsichord). This would mean the usual 3 to a part just as with the primary choir. >
Knowing how many copies of the Bodenschatz collection were in use would be a valuable cl, but we need to remember that many 17th century pieces were undoubtedly solo motets (voice and continuo)

We cannot say "the usual 3 to a part". You've inferred that from very dubious iconographic evidence. Two to a part is practically possible -- three or four to a part is physically impossible.

Neil Halliday wrote (February 6, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The choir was about 30 voices with solo players in the strings. >
Doesn't the existence of doublets for the 1st and 2nd violins, in this cantata and the cantatas in general, mean that at least two each of these instruments are required? (Those groups employing only one violin to each part certainly need to ensure those parts can be clearly heard).

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 6, 2007):
I have found some answers to my own question, but now suddenly many more questions arise:

Bach-Dokumente II, Item 271

Purchase

12 Thaler for Cantor Bach for 1 copy of Bodenschatz' Florilegium Portense which the students will use in the churches and for other occasions.

Receipt number 140 in the record book for St. Thomas School in a record book which runs from Lichtmeß (February 2), 1729 to Lichtmeß (February 2), 1730. [This book was in use until 1770]

Bach-Dokumente II, Item 170

In Bach's library:

Those books and music which did not belong to him but rather to the St. Thomas School Library. Bach as Cantor was in charge of these books at all times and an official inventory of these items was kept by the school.

Here is the list of items in the inventory:

68 books on music by various authors (purchased in 1679)

30 concertos (these are sacred vocal compositions) in manuscript (purchased in 1680)

15 parts (purchased in 1683) noted as among Johann Schelle's things on July 16, 1712

additional note: rather damaged, almost unusable

1 book called the Florilegium Portense which is used by the students (boys) in church and for other occasions. purchased in 1729.is kept secure by the cantor in his apartment.

Bach-Dokumente II, Item 407 (from Feb 2, 1737 to Feb 2, 1738

8 Talers to Johann Sebastian Bach for a book called "Florilegium"

[This title is ambiguous since it might refer to a number of books by Bodenschatz which begin with this same first word, but then might be "Florilegium selectissimarum Cantionum (1603) or "Florilegium Hymnorum" all by the same editor, Bodenschatz.]

So now we have a single book, but as Arnold Schering informs us ("Johann Sebastian Bachs Leipziger Kirchenmusik", Leipzig, 1936, p. 123) the Florilegium Portense score book was bound but that there were accompanying parts were not. No mention of this is made in the reports above. According to Schering's footnote about a purchase of this collection made in 1699 for the New Church in Leipzig, he thinks there were 9 of these part books which needed to be bound. There is no exact record of this of this but only that a bookbinder charged 6 Groschen for each of the 9 parts (of which specific work? that was bound). In contrast a hymnal (Vopelius with circa 1000 pages some of which are in 4-pt. settings) cost 9 Groschen.

It is strange that these part books are not mentioned in the school inventory. Perhaps they were left at the New Church some distance away, but then how would these boys assigned to that church learn and rehearse these motets?

Did the Thomaner continue the tradition recommended by Bodenschatz to sing these motets before and after their meals? Where did the Thomaner keep their part books? How many part books did they have? Why aren't they included in the inventory? Why didn't these part books wear out and need to be replaced?

The 1723 Schulordnung directs the cantor to keep all music and parts used by the students in a safe place. He must also inform the principal, when requested, about the status of the inventory and where all this music is currently located.

Perhaps these records have been lost?

Why 9 part books, if Schering's assumption is correct? In addition to double-chorus compositions for which 8 part books [actually the 4 separate part books are duplicated] would be ideal, there are a few 5 or 6 part motets that would have to be printed in a separate part book.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 6, 2007):
Anthony Olszowy wrote:
<< I say this only because, as both a lawyer and former historian, arguing from the absence of evidence always makes me nervous. And I think that the Entwurfe was, as are all inherently political documents, somewhat ambiguous--the varieties of historical interpretations of it are evidence enough of that. >>
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< This is cool voice of reason breathing over the passions of both sides of this question. >
Perhaps. But is it a 'cool voice of reason' which employs (OK, uses) a phrase like 'inherently political documents'?

My son , the lawyer, would probably love it. I am dubious, suspicious, and just plain doubtful.

Let the mayhem resume!

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 6, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>In the Thomaner library are there any examples of works which have multiple copies?<<
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< What I wish we had a record of is: just how many copies of the Bodenschatz were copied when the older set wore out? All we have is the total amount of the expenditure each time Bach ordered a new set. I would not be surprised if the number of part books is very small (perhaps only 1 copy for each voice part). Then the claim would arise that the motets were sung by only 4 to 8 choristers. The motet choir in 1744-1745, however, had 13 listed members, none or perhaps only one of whom played an instrument (perhaps organ/harpsichord). This would mean the usual 3 to a part just as with the primary choir. >
This is worse than talking to my spouse! OK, not worse, but the same (sorry, Babes).

Does anyone but me have a problem that the answer is not responsive to the question?

Geez, where's a lawyer when you need one!

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 6, 2007):
[To Eric Bergerud] I posted a complete roster of the alto assignments yesterday. (For Parrott's 1984 recording of the B minor Mass (BWV 232), deploying the three boys and Mary Nichols.)

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 6, 2007):
"scanty"

< Although I'm definitely pro-HIP, I'm very fond of Richter's approach. Having read the exchanges about OVPP, I remain rather sceptical: I find the evidence in favour rather scanty and far-fetched. >
OK....but the evidence in favour hasn't (for the most part) been presented here on-line in these discussions; nor should it necessarily be. There's far too much to it, for the several books already mentioned plus a long string of articles, plus all the other books and articles they reference. And, to try to reduce it to a couple pages of summary would do it a terrible injustice, making even more misleading impressions than some people already have! I'm sorry to be dogmatic about this point, but: there's no substitute for reading Rifkin's and Parrott's actual published work on this, to see what THEY say in presenting their own case. In stating that material, they don't need assistance from Uri, or me, or Eric, or anybody else here who has read their books.

Anthony Olszowy wrote (February 6, 2007):
[To Ed Myskowski] Okay, Ed, you've aroused my curiosity. How is the Entwurf not an inherently political document?

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 6, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>OK....but the evidence in favour hasn't (for the most part) been presented here on-line in these discussions; nor should it necessarily be. There's far too much to it, for the several books already mentioned plus a long string of articles, plus all the other books and articles they reference. And, to try to reduce it to a couple pages of summary would do it a terrible injustice, making even more misleading impressions than some people already have! I'm sorry to be dogmatic about this point, but: there's no substitute for reading Rifkin's and Parrott's actual published work on this, to see what THEY say in presenting their own case. In stating that material, they don't need assistance from Uri, or me, Eric, or anybody else here who has read their books.<<
Brad Lehman has recently (once again) read through these materials over the weekend and is still unwilling to (or incapable of) summarizing for the BCML the key points in support of OVPP along with a few salient references from primary sources and a short description of the argumentation involved. Brad Lehman frequently finds time to write up long tirades to the BCML against my qualifications for stating anything meaningful or professionally reliable in this forum. Why should it be so difficult for him to find some time to distill the significant arguments and evidence that support a theory which is currently still in vogue among certain specialist musicians but about which there is a great amount of discussion and disagreement?

What other reasons could there be for not presenting the "evidence in favour" of OVPP in this forum where this discussion most rightly belongs? Is there a special epiphany which awaits the reader after reading Rifkin and Parrott several times? Or is this type of total immersion necessary so that professionals can communicate psychically with simply a nod of the head to each other or a short phrase in a message to the BCML thus obviating the need to explain to theordinary listener why so much of Bach's sacred music is being performed OVPP and not with a choir as stipulated and documented by Bach personally? Is the reader to gain an understanding of OVPP by reading all that Rifkin and Parrott have presented in order to get a special 'feel' about their argumentation and proof without then being able to turn around and explain what they consider to be the unshakeable truths that support their favorite theory? Certainly there is no substitute for reading the books and articles in support of OVPP several times. This fact is not under contention here. What is remarkable, however, is the reluctance to share the insights one has garnered, insights that have been achieved by reading the sources enthusiastically and insights which ought to be communicable to others unfamiliar with the methods of argumentation and the manner of interpretation of the primary evidence used. Does it not appear to be underestimating the capabilities for understanding argumentation and evidence on the part of many BCML list members when it is stated that the evidence in favor of OVPP should not be presented here? Since when would a good summary be 'misleading' and do a 'terrible injustice' to a theory that deserves to be upheld? Theories deserve to be scrutinized continually and not simply believed in because a few professionals have decided that they want a theory to continue its existence without being questioned by the general public, in this instance, all those who love Bach's music and begin to wonder why 4 singers in a chorale cantata are being used instead of 12 or 16.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 6, 2007):
[To Anthony Olszowy] I did not mean to say that the Entwurf is not an inherently political document. In fact I believe just the opposite, it is primarily (if not entirely) a political document.

What I meant to say (not very clearly) is that 'legalese' is not necessarily 'the cool voice of reason' to some of us (me, for sure). I expect that most lawyers, including my son, would disagree with me.

I think it was the use of 'inherently' which reminded me of 'legalese'. On more thoughtful reading, it is appropriate and accurate. Sorry for any confusion I caused. Nevertheless, I maintain that 'legalese' and 'cool voice of reason' are distinct from each other, although occasionally overlapping. You did not necessarily lapse into 'legalese'.

That is a long-winded (legalistic?) way of saying, I guess I was wrong, and I apologize.

I don't need a lawyer often. When I do need one, I love you guys. I love my son all the time, in spite of his chosen profession.

Anthony Olszowy wrote (February 6, 2007):
[To Ed Myskowski] No apology necessary, Ed. It's amazing how much you sound like my wife the teacher, whom I adore, but who loves me in spite of my chosen profession.

 

Continue on Part 8

Choir Form: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9
One-Voice-Per-Part (OVPP):
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20 | Part 21
Articles:
Bach’s Choir and Orchestra [T. Koopman] | Evidence for the Size of Bach’s Primary Choir [T. Braatz]
Books on OVPP:
The Essential Bach Choir [A. Parrott] | Bach's Choral Ideal [J. Rifkin]: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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Last update: ŭDecember 6, 2009 ŭ23:11:53