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2nd Cycle Of Bach Cantatas in Leipzig

Second cycle structure

Julian Mincham wrote (April 9, 2007):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Although this is a seemingly trivial point , I find, along with Wolff, that it provides some insight into Bach's creative methods. >
Here I fully agree with Ed and it leads to what is (I hope) my last word on this--a summation of the position as I see it.

1 Bach's second cycle is like none of the others in that it seems to have been planned as a canon of original music WITHOUT recourse to a large number of reworkings of earlier compositions OR the use of music by other composers.

2 It falls into two clear sections a) up to and including BWV 1 and b) after BWV4 each defined principally by structural processes.

3 An obvious question arises----was it thus planned or was it enforced?

4 The Stubel theory supports the latter contention and appears to have no external supporting evidence apart from the date of the man's death and his (likely) personality and religious position.

5 The formertheory similarly has no external esupporting evidence and relies mainly upon what can be deduced from the music itself.

6 For myself both possibilities remain fully open; I have simply suggested that it is appropriate to challenge the outright rejection of the 'planned two part cycle' theory on the musical evidence available and to hold in mind an alternative possibility. I was slightly surprised at the general resistance to this non-controversial (as I thought) idea.

7 Like Alain this unsolved problem does not prevent me sleeping either:- but like Ed, I feel that consideration of it illuminates the music and perhaps is suggestive of Bach's working methods. This has been my experience which is why I brought it up in the context of the intros to the last 13 cantatas. One of many observations which i could quote as being of possible relevance pertains to the three cantatas which begin with the words of Christ and consequently with a bass aria rather than with a chorale fantasia. This seems to me to be quite likely to be something that Bach planned in advance rather than did because he was responding to a crisis. The case for the planning of Part 2 relies upon a large number of small observations of the music of this kind NONE of which is individually compelling but which, as a whole, can be interpretted as being indicative of a longer term strategy.

But apart from such single observations which might be seen as relevant to the discussion which may yet be referred to in the forthcoming intros (which were completed several weeks ago) that's all I have to say on the subject.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 9, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< This has been my experience which is why I brought it up in the context of the intros to the last 13 cantatas. One of many observations which i could quote as being of possible relevance pertains to the three cantatas which begin with the words of Christ and consequently with a bass aria rather than with a chorale fantasia. This seems to me to be quite likely to be something that Bach planned in advance rather than did because he was responding to a crisis. The case for the planning of Part 2 relies upon a large number of small observations of the music of this kind NONE of which is individually compelling but which, as a whole, can be interpretted as being indicative of a longer term strategy. >
I like the notion of the longer term strategy in this cycle. Did Bach look at the calendar before him and choose a chorale for each Sunday which would be the basis of a yet-unwritten cantata? He certainly did that in the Orgelbüchlein collection where he prepared the blank manuscript pages by writing the chorale title and Sunday name at the top and then worked on the music intermittently. Did Bach have a list with him when he talked to his librettists and then ask them to create poetry that used those chorales? If so, his plan for wholly original music could have been formulated even before he arrived in Leipzig.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 9, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< 3 An obvious question arises----was it thus planned or was it enforced?
4 The Stubel theory supports the latter contention and appears to have no external supporting evidence apart from the date of the man's death and his (likely) personality and religious position. >
First, I am going to be really picky, and remind everyone that Wolff calls it 'hypothesis', not 'theory'. Those are not synonyms to a scientist, and I don't expect to musicians either. As to the liner note writers Alain mentions, if they treat the hypothesis as fact, it is difficult to fault Wolff for that. Incidentally, Wolff cites one additional bit of supporting evidence: Stübel's poetic skills; it is unclear if this is an independent opinion or quoting Schulze. My impression of the cantata texts is that poetic skills could as well be considered disqualifying evidence for authorship, but I have made only the most cursory attempts to appreciate isolated bits of the original German.

As to planned or enforced, isn't it some of each that Wolff suggests? Bach had a larger scale plan, which he had to adjust if the Stübel hypothesis is correct. He had better than two months to accomplish this, from late January (Stübel's demise) until early April, the performance of the first cantatas without Stübel text. An enforced adjustment to the plan, but as you point out, perhaps welcome as well, by that time.

I have had the impression that you feel there is internal evidence for more than one author, in what we are calling Part 1 of Jahrgang II, as well as the examples you cite from Part 2. I don't especially need to see the evidence at this point, but I would like to confirm (or not) that I understood correctly that you believe there is such evidence?.

I do not have a scholarly position on this topic, as I have pointed out carefully throughout, I hope. My interest has merely been to point out that no evidence has been presented on this forum to disprove Wolff's carefully worded statements, citing Schulze. I do not have access to the Schulze reference, but I agree with Brad that any serious research on the topic needs to recover that reference, as well as any subsequent changes of evidence and/or interpretation. I for one, would welcome any such reports, whatever the conclusions, and however preliminary they may be. However, I will not be surprised if there is nothing new, and the status is pretty much as Wolff wrote.

 

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Last update: řApril 28, 2007 ř17:04:46