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First Leipzig Years

1723/5 cantatas:-- time frame

Julian Mincham wrote (February 26, 2007):
Just looking further at some of the time frame possibilities of the cantata compositions 1723-5.

Has anyone come across a definitive reference for when the printed texts for the cantatas 92, 125, 126, 127 and 1 were delivered to Bach and/or Stubel?

Wolff (p278) has a precise date of death for Stubel (Jan 27) and claims that the printed texts had been delivered before this (he must have had a reason for asserting this) but he gives no precise date. It would be most valuable to know this because one might then be able to work back from this point a credible time sequence of collaboration, getting the permissions and preparing the texts for printing plus the actual printing process.

This might give some indications as to how long Bach might have had to work on a batch of agreed texts. I think it unlikely that Bach would have begun serious work on cantatas before the texts were approved. He might have noted ideas of course but I think that his workload would have been such that he was unlikely to compose detailed movements from texts that might yet be altered--he cannot have had the time for this.

If we could ascertain the date of delivery of the printed texts it would be possible to make some credible inferences about how long Bach might have had to work on these five cantatas as a group. Certainly there would have been some additional time available following the delivery of the printed texts in the (musically speaking) relatively lean period of 21/1/25 to 25/3/25---a period of 9 weeks in which only five new cantatas were required.

This level of output contrasts with that of the last four weeks of the cycle in which 8 cantatas were performed---108-176. This was more than double the output of the previously mentioned group.

There is the strong possibility of some 'bunching up' of these works and also that he may well have been working on more than one at a time, turning from away from one, temporarily, to refresh his invention with another.My point has never been that he wrote a new cantata religiously (no pun intended) each and every week; what little we do know of the time scales makes that a non starter.

But I still cannot find any reason to suppose or evidence to support the contention that he stockpiled large groups of them for later use.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 4, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Just looking further at some of the time frame possibilities of the cantata compositions 1723-5.
Has anyone come across a definitive reference for when the printed texts for the cantatas 92, 125, 126, 127 and 1 were delivered to Bach and/or Stubel?
Wolff (p278) has a precise date of death for Stubel (Jan 27) and claims that > the printed texts had been delivered before this (he must have had a reason > for asserting this) but he gives no precise date. It would be most valuable to > know this because one might then be able to work back from this point a > credible time sequence of collaboration, getting the permissions and preparing > the texts for printing plus the actual printing process. >
Repeating Julian's request. Support (or challenge) for Wolff's statement would be especially welcome while we are discussing these key cantatas in Jahrgang II. This period must represent a hinge point in Bach's long range planning, assuming that one accepts that such planning existed.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 5, 2007):
first Leipzig years

Rick Canyon wrote:
< I just want to be sure, but aren't we talking here about just two (roughly) of Bach's 27 years in Leipzig? >
For myself yes, my comments have all been related to these first two years. As you say, after and before them the pace of composition seems to have been different---although there still is the unresolved question of the five cycles mentioned in the Obituary and how many cantatas may have been lost after 1725.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (March 5, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< although there still is the unresolved question of the five cycles mentioned in the Obituary and how many cantatas may have been lost after 1725. >
I've always wondered what wonderful pieces we're missing, and is there ever any hope they'll resurface? I think Wolf in his Bach biography, laid the onus of the missing cantata cycles on one of Bach's sons, who wasn't very responsible.

I also think Wolf uses paper orders during Bach's tenure in Weimar and Kothen and calculates about a 50 percent loss rate, maybe higher? While I'm thrilled with what has survived, you have to wonder what masterpieces have been lost? We're pretty lucky so much Bach survived, other baroque composers weren't so lucky.

Rick Canyon wrote (March 5, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< For myself yes, my comments have all been related to these first two years. As you say, after and before them the pace of composition seems to have been different---although there still is the unresolved question of the five cycles mentioned in the Obituary and how many cantatas may have been lost after 1725. >
Perhaps the pace changed because Bach was ultimately dissatisfied with the results of the previous years.

Perhaps, also, someone could tell me if any of these statements in support of poorly-or-unrehearsed cantatas are true or false:
1) A Thomaner sightreading a recitative would be no more challenged--maybe even less so--than we are when given a magazine article to read loud.
2) A chorale: wouldn't there already be some knowledge of the basic text and tune? I mean, weren't a lot of these, for example, by Luther? This also goes back to the question of whether Bach's congregation could sing along.
3) da capo arias and choruses: The repetitions mean that the listener does not 'go home' then with something the singers have never performed.

Again, even if true, this does not mean Bach was satisfied. Hence, after two years...
(and I've only considered the vocalists here, not the instrumentalists)

 

Bach's first nine cantatas at Leipzig: some observations

Neil Halliday wrote (April 23, 2011):
Below is a list, in order of performance, of the first nine cantatas performed by Bach in Leipzig in 1723.

(Dates from the OCC, scores from BGA; cantatas marked with * were revised/repeated from previously performed works).

1. BWV 75 (bi-partite cantata). 1st Sunday after Trinity, on 30th May 1723.

2. BWV 76 (bi-partite cantata). 2nd Sunday after Trinity, on 6th June 1723.

3. BWV 21* (bi-partite cantata). 3rd Sunday after Trinity, on 13th June 1723.

4. BWV 185* (solo cantata). 4th Sunday after Trinity and

5. BWV 24. also 4th Sunday after Trinity ie, both performed on June 20th 1723.

6. BWV 167 (solo cantata). Feast of St John the Baptist, on Thursday June 24th 1723.

[There is no extant cantata for 5th Sunday after Trinity, on June 27th 1723; perhaps BWV 167 was repeated?).

7. BWV 147* (bi-partite cantata). Visitation of the Virgin Mary, on Friday 2nd July 1723.

[There is no extant cantata for 6th Sunday after Trinity, on 4th July 1723; perhaps BWV 147 was repeated?).

8 BWV 186* (bi-partite cantata). 7th Sunday after Trinity, on 11th July 1723.

9. BWV 136. 8th Sunday after Trinity, on 18th July 1723.

------

Notes:

1. BWV 76, BWV 21 and BWV 24 all have 'solo' and 'tutti' indications in various choral movements. Are we to consider that Bach normally employed OVPP, when three of the first nine works performed at Leipzig specifically call for larger vocal forces?

For example, the first regular performance of a cantata at Leipzig - BWV 75 - with no solo or tutti indications - was to be performed OVPP, while the 2nd, 3rd and 5th require larger vocal forces? And the 7th, 8th, and 9th were to revert to OVPP?

To my mind - not likely, when sufficient boys (and men) for solo and tutti choral textures were obviously available at Leipzig right from the start of Bach's tenure. It seems more reasonable to assume XVPP (X greater than one) as the norm.

------

2. In the score of BWV 185 the bassoon part is separately notated in both the accompanied and secco recitatives and written in crotchets, whereas the continuo is notated in long notes (but in the last 10 bars of the accompanied recit. the bassoon is silent). If the convention in seccos requires that long notes are to be shortened (to crotchets), why the differing notation for bassoon compared with continuo?

Moreover, this cantata has a particularly complete set of Figured-base figures throughout; in both recitatives there are many sets of figures under the long - sometimes tied- continuo notes, which for example Suzuki (in an otherwise excellent performance) completely ignores, enabling him to comply with the shortened-note theory (!) .

This is not the effect Bach wanted - the figures are there for a reason, ie, to realise the accompanying harmonies on the organ.

--------

3. BWV 167 (solo cantata) and BWV 136 appear to be the only cantatas
among the first nine that were not bi-partite, or not performed in conjunction with another cantata.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 24, 2011):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< For example, the first regular performance of a cantata at Leipzig - BWV 75 - with no solo or tutti indications - was to be performed OVPP, while the 2nd, 3rd and 5th require larger vocal forces? And the 7th, 8th, and 9th were to revert to OVPP?
To my mind - not likely, when sufficient boys (and men) for solo and tutti choral textures were obviously available at
Leipzig right from the start of Bach's tenure. It seems more reasonable to assume XVPP (X greater than one) as the norm. >
A reasonalbe alternative to OVPP, X = 2 (soloist + ripienist) has yet to be recorded for any of the weekly cantatas?

NH:
< 2. In the score of BWV 185 the bassoon part is separately notated in both the accompanied and secco recitatives and written in crotchets, whereas the continuo is notated in long notes (but in the last 10 bars of the accompanied recit. the bassoon is silent). If the convention in seccos requires that long notes are to be shortened (to crotchets), why the differing notation for bassoon compared with continuo? >
EM:
One possibility is conventional 18th C. notation. Indeed, is this not the argument: that continuo notation was not intended to be precise? Those long notes could be held, shortened to crotchets, or perhaps expanded to a few bass riffs, at the performers artistry and discretion.

NH:
< Moreover, this cantata has a particularly complete set of Figured-base figures throughout; in both recitatives there are many sets of figures under the long - sometimes tied- continuo notes, which for example Suzuki (in an otherwise excellent performance) completely ignores, enabling him to comply with the shortened-note theory (!)
This is not the effect Bach wanted - the figures are there for a reason, ie, to realise the accompanying harmonies on the organ. >
EM:
A couple points we often return to, in the interpretation of continuo notation:

(1) Was Bachs notation intended to indicate a specific performance interpretation (<what Bach wanted>?)

(2) If the answer is yes, how do we interpret notation which is not always specific.

 

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Last update: řApril 28, 2011 ř01:31:17