Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Instrumentation

Instrumentation

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 58 - Discussions Part 2

Julian Mincham wrote (September 21, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
>>Speaking of Passion resources, why didn't Bach use brass instruments --Telemann, Handel and others certainly did. Anyone care to tackle that one?<<
Neil Halliday wrote:
< One is tempted to think that Bach regarded the particular solemnity of the Passion story/occasion as precluding the use of brass, ie, it was a deliberate, personal decision of his, regardless of what other composers did. In any case, the opening and closing choruses of the SMP (BWV 244) and SJP (BWV 245) are unrivalled in their dramatic impact, no brass required! >
While it is clear that Bach did use trumpets and drums with some consistency for certain ceremonial events I suspect that his choice of instruments was dictated as much by availability as the nature of the event. He used only one solo trumpet in BWV 75 his debut cantata at Leipzig--written before he took up the appointment formally. It is not until the third cantata BWV 21 that he uses trumpets and drums? (and bassoon as listed as well) in a chorus (BWV 21/11) but in the next cantata for this same day BWV 135 (the 3rd after Trinity) he reverts to the chamber ensemble of 2 oboes and strings---i.e. there is no particular correlation between event and orchestration.

One might infer from this that he used smaller forces for his first cantata as he didn't know what would be available before he began working at Leipzig but by the third Sunday he knew what he could call upon and when he?brought back?some earlier movemnts for reuse he was confident that he would have brass and timps available.Also the SMP (BWV 244) and SJP (BWV 245) were designed for reuse over the years and it may be that Bach wasn't sure if he could? call upon the brass players for future occasions. He cetainly would not have wanted to create a situation where he was needlessly rescoring works because of this particular problem.

An interesting exercise (which I have only?done in part) is to look at the forces used for cantatas written for the same day. In many cases there are three extant works, occasionly four and the odd one or two with more. This is a reasonable basis from which to draw inferences.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 21, 2009):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< While it is clear that Bach did use trumpets and drums with some consistency for certain ceremonial events I suspect that his choice of instruments was dictated as much by availability as the nature of the event. He used only one solo trumpet in BWV 75 his debut cantata at Leipzig--written before he took up the appointment formally. It is not until the third cantata BWV 21 that he uses trumpets and drums? (and bassoon as listed as well) in a chorus (BWV 21/11) but in the next cantata for this same day BWV 135 (the 3rd after Trinity) he reverts to the chamber ensemble of 2 oboes and strings---i.e. there is no particular correlation between event and orchestration. >
I agree completely. Telemann complained in Frankfurt that there were never enough musicians and he had to pay out of pocket for such instrumentalists are trumpet and timpani players. In fact, things were so tight, Telemann apparently served as a vocal / instrumental soloist in some of his own cantatas. Like today, freelancers (e.g. trumpet players ) had their pick of jobs during the busy performance seasons of Christmas and Easter, and could command whatever fees they wanted.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 21, 2009):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< While it is clear that Bach did use trumpets and drums with some consistency for certain ceremonial events I suspect that his choice of instruments was dictated as much by availability as the nature of the event. He used only one solo trumpet in 75 his debut cantata at Leipzig--written before he took up the appointment formally. >
I'm not convinced that scoring for one trumpet necessarily implies unavailability. As early as the Branderburg Concerti Bach uses a solo trumpet as a concertante instrument and the music is very different than the Big Brass writing in the Suites. Cantatas such as BWV 147 "Herz und Mund" and BWV 70 "Wachet Betet" also have high-flying virtuoso parts for single trumpet which are very different from Bach's writing for trumpet and timpani "choir" as in BWV 68, "Christen Ätzet". And "Herz und Mund" is not a budget cantata: it is laid in an expansive two parts and calls for three types of oboes, independent bassoon, and concertante violin.

Bach's scoring across the cantatas is so multi-faceted and dynamic that it is hard to believe that he couldn't have whatever instruments he wanted whenever he wanted them. And from a practical view, there is a qualitative technical difference between a first trumpet part and second and third trumpet parts. A modern high school student can play just about any of Bach's third trumpet parts.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 21, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I'm not convinced that scoring for one trumpet necessarily implies unavailability. As early as the Branderburg Concerti Bach uses a solo trumpet as a concertante instrument and the music is very different than the Big Brass writing in the Suites. >
Right, and the brass and timpani were added to the suites at a later date, when he had the trumpets available. And the suite in B minor for flute was originally for violin and tuned in A minor. So obviously he didn't have all instruments available at all times.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 21, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Right, and the brass and timpani were added to the suites at a later date, when he had the trumpets available. >
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra is performing the early versions this season and calling them "chamber" versions.

I'll stir the trumpet pot once more and say that the addition of brass may not be related to availability but be a matter of a desire for variation for a later performance. W.F. Bach added trumpets and timpani to BWV 80, "Ein Feste Burg", and the result is quite splendid. His father chose not to use trumpets on a festival which almost always used Big Band. I still think that scoring is a matter of aesthetics not economics.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 21, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I'll stir the trumpet pot once more and say that the addition of brass may not be related to availability but be a matter of a desire for variation for a later performance. W.F. Bach added trumpets and timpani to BWV 80, "Ein Feste Burg", and the result is quite splendid. His father chose not to use trumpets on a festival which almost always used Big Band. I still think that scoring is a matter of aesthetics not economics. >
Yet, there's no proof of that, despite the evidence to the contrary, e.g. there really aren't any significant and impressive trumpet solos in any Bach work after Gottfried Reiche's death that I'm aware of. If what you said is true, that wouldn't have been the case. It seems like you have an aversion (and rather Romantic view) of Bach's compositional process: that he had to write for what was available versus he wanted. That doesn't make him any less of a genius, at least to me.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 21, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< If what you said is true, that wouldn't have been the case. It seems like you have an aversion (and rather Romantic view) of Bach's compositional process: that he had to write for what was available versus what he wanted. >
Grin. On the contrary, I think many of Bach's works have "Particular Performer" written all over them: "Jauchzet Gott" is the obvious one, but even the bass in "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" suggests that Bach had a singer with a real high E and low E. For sure, he performed the cantata again, but there is a very individual stamp to the bass aria. I think it is a Romantic myth that extrapolates from the Entwurf an image of Bach perpetually understaffed and surrounded by bureaucratic phililstines. The Matthew Passion (BWV 244) is the great example of a monumental conception coupled with the practical ability to mount a performance.

Julian Mincham wrote (September 21, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I still think that scoring is a matter of aesthetics not economics. >
It's not either-or----but possibly both. I'm sure that Bach made the most aethetically successful use of what he had available--which, as he himself complained wasn't always the best musicians. I was just pointing out:

1 that he may not have even been aware of what he could draw upon in his first weeks at Leipzig and played for safety

2 that a comparison of various instrumentations of cantatas composed for the same day may well be illuminative--or indicative.

They are not incompatible.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 21, 2009):
Julian Mincham wrote:

< It's not either-or----but possibly both. I'm sure that Bach made the most aethetically successful use of what he had available--which, as he himself complained wasn't always the best musicians. I was just pointing out:
1 that he may not have even been aware of what he could draw upon in his first weeks at
Leipzig and played for safety
2 that a comparison of various instrumentations of cantatas composed for the same day may well be illuminative--or indicative. >
You know what instrument I wished Bach had written for, but apparently didn't: the chalumeau. Considering how popular and available it was, it's a bit of a shock that he didn't use it, especially in Leipzig, where many younger players from the University would have been available. Well maybe Bach DID write for it, and it was in a lost piece. I honestly wished at times that the Landgrave at Darmstadt had invited Bach for a concert or two and comissioned him for music for the huge orchestra there with all the instrumentalists Bach would have dreamt of having in Leipzig.

Ed Myskowski wrote (September 22, 2009):
Note my post from a few weeks ago (Sunday, Trinity 12) pointing out the spectacular instrumentation for two of the cantatas for that date, BWV 69a and BWV 137, as well as the single trumpet for the third work, BWV 35.

Just another Sunday in August, with a bunch of itinerants available? I doubt it.

William Hoffman wrote (September 22, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Note my post from a few weeks ago (Sunday, Trinity 12) pointing out the spectacular instrumentation for two of the cantatas for that date, BWV 69a and BWV 137, as well as the single trumpet for the third work, BWV 35.
Just another Sunday in August, with a bunch of itinerants available? I doubt it. >
William Hoffman replies: Both cantatas have been associated as doing double duty with the nearby date of the Installation of the Town Council in late August, on the Monday after St. Bartholomew's Day. All Bach's Town Council cantatas are score for trumpets and timpani.

Ed Myskowski wrote (September 22, 2009):
William Hoffman replies:
< Both cantatas have been associated as doing double duty with the >nearby date of the Installation of the Town Council in late August, on the Monday after St. Bartholomew's Day. All Bach's Town Council cantatas are score for trumpets >and timpani. >
Thanks for the clarification. In any case, I think these works are supportive of the idea, endorsed by Doug and others, that Bachs choices of instrumentation were primarily esthetic, with practical considerations (availability of specific musicians) unavoidable or desirable at times.

I suppose a slightly different viewpoint is that if the trumpets and drums were avaialble for a Monday performance, Bach simply wrote them in for the preceding Sunday, as well. This might make especially good sense if they were in fact itinerants. I withdraw my bit of satiric humor from the previous post.

Note that Durr states that Bach only adapted BWV 69a as a Town Council cantata (BWV 69) <in the last years of his life.>

Ed Myskowski wrote (September 22, 2009):
I previously wrote that BWV 35 for Trinity 12 includes a single trumpet (more precisely, tr da t). In fact I was carelessly looking ahead one work in Durr, at the instrumentation for BWV 77 (Trinity 13). However, BWV 35 for Trinity 12 does in fact have just a bit of adornment, a third oboe (taille).

In fact, all of the works for Trinity 12 to 14 have various types of extra instrumentation, consistent with Will's suggestion that they are related to the festive Town Council cantatas. This summer festive season provides a nice balance with the more obvious Christmas and Easter works. It is certainly consistent with the idea that Bachs choices of instrumentation were primarily motivated by esthetic consideration, rather than opportunistically making use of available forces, although as Julian pointed out, those are not necessarily a simple *either/or*, mutually exclusive choice.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 22, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Both cantatas have been associated as doing double duty with the nearby date of the Installation of the Town Council in late August, on the Monday after St. Bartholomew's Day. All Bach's Town Council cantatas are score for trumpets and timpani. >
There we go!

A very obvious reason why Bach would have included the trumpets and timpani-- no doubt because there was extra funding for those trumpet players. As a matter of civic duty and honor, Bach included them because they were available and used for the immediate Sunday services too. If trumpets and timpani were readily available in the other Sundays of Trinity, we'd have a lot more cantatas with them.

Doug mentioned that 3rd trumpet parts were easy enough that a high school performer could have performed them. That may well be very true, but trumpet guilds in Germany made it very unlikely that any students (or anyone else for that matter) were playing these parts, unless they were apprentices. How do we know these? There was specifically a crackdown with harsh punishment in Saxony because the Elector issued an edict protecting the trumpet guilds against any "rogue" players." (see Edward Tarr's translation of the edict-- it's fantastic reading). So if there were brass players in Bach's church, they were being paid, and while they no doubt knew the music they were peforming was top notch stuff, they had a living to earn too. I'm curious, what's the total count of surviving cantatas with brass and timpani by Bach, and cantatas with any trumpet at all?

Thank you kindly ;)

Ed Myskowski wrote (September 22, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
<< All Bach's Town Council cantatas are scored for trumpets and timpani. >>
Kim Patrick Clow replied:
< There we go!
A very obvious reason why Bach would have included the trumpets and timpani-- no doubt because there was extra funding for those trumpet players. >
Hmm. Consider the data, for the assoccompositions around the time of Town Council, which show no suggestion whatsoever of Bach making use of available players in any particular year, and no exact repition of scoring. In fact, it looks precisely like what we might expect if Bach was striving (in typical fashion, I would suggest) to make each composition unique:

Trinity 12
BWV 69a, Aug. 15, 1723: tr I-III, timp, ob I-III
unknown, 1724
BWV 137, Aug. 19, 1725: tr I-III, timp, ob I-II
BWV 35, Sep. 8, 1726: ob I-II, taille, obbl org

Trinity 13:
BWV 77, Aug. 22, 1723: *tr da t*
BWV 33, Sep. 3, 1724: ob I-II
BWV 164, Aug. 26, 1725: fl I-II (No. 4), fls + obs (No. 5, and No. 6, Chorale)

Trinity 14:
BWV 25, Aug. 29, 1723: ctt, trb I-III, rec I-III, ob I-II
BWV 78, Sep. 10, 1724: hn, fl, ob I-II
BWV 17, Sep. 22, 1726: ob I-II

Evan Cortens wrote (September 22, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< So if there were brass players in Bach's church, they were being paid, and while they no doubt knew the music they were peforming was top notch stuff, they had a living to earn too. I'm curious, what's the total count of surviving cantatas with brass and timpani by Bach, and cantatas with any trumpet at all? >
A quick little search reveals the following:

Cantatas with two or more trumpets and timpani (the average being 3 trumpets, but there are cantatas with 2 and 4 as well): BWV 11, BWV 19, BWV 21, BWV 29, BWV 30/BWV 30a, BWV 31, BWV 34/BWV 34a, BWV 41, BWV 43, BWV 50, BWV 59, BWV 63, BWV 69/BWV 69a, BWV 71, BWV 74, BWV 80/BWV 80a (added by WFB), BWV 110, BWV 119, BWV 120/BWV 120a, BWV 129, BWV 130, BWV 137, BWV 149, BWV 171, BWV 172, BWV 190/BWV 190a, BWV 191, BWV 195, BWV 197. That's a total of 29 cantatas, counting originals and variants as one.

Cantatas with only one trumpet (as it happens, Bach never uses timpani with only one trumpet: BWV 4, BWV 5, BWV 10, BWV 12, BWV 20, BWV 23, BWV 24, BWV 25, BWV 28, BWV 46, BWV 48, BWV 51 (I believe WFB also later added additional trumpets and timpani here? JSB had only one trumpet), BWV 64, BWV 66/BWV 66a, BWV 68, BWV 70/BWV 70a (Joshua Rifkin has raised the possibility that the trumpet was added only in Leipzig, the BWV 70 version), BWV 75, BWV 76, BWV 77, BWV 90, BWV 96, BWV 101, BWV 103, BWV 121, BWV 126, BWV 127, BWV 128, BWV 133, BWV 135, BWV 145, BWV 147/BWV 147a, BWV 148, BWV 162, BWV 167, BWV 181, BWV 185. That's a total of 36 cantatas, again counting original and variant together.

I note here that in general, this search excludes secular cantatas, except when variants of sacred cantatas.

Evan Cortens wrote (September 22, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I agree completely. Telemann complained in Frankfurt that there were never enough musicians and he had to pay out of pocket for such instrumentalists are trumpet and timpani players. In fact, things were so tight, Telemann apparently served as a vocal / instrumental soloist in some of his own cantatas. Like today, freelancers (e.g. trumpet players ) had their pick of jobs during the busy performance seasons of Christmas and Easter, and could command whatever fees they wanted. >
I would note here though that when Telemann moved to Hamburg in 1721 (or was it 22? I always forget...), this situation changed. He now had a standing brass ensemble available whenever he needed it. This ensemble had been around since the middle ages, I believe (considerably longer than the choral organization and the rest of the orchestral players, incidentally), and continued at least until C.P.E. Bach's death in 1788.

I wonder if someone has done an extensive study of surviving pay records and membership rolls for brass/timpani guilds in Germany in the eighteenth century... Certainly that'd be a fascinating read!

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 22, 2009):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< Cantatas with only one trumpet (as it happens, Bach never uses timpani with only one trumpet: BWV 4, BWV 5, BWV 10, BWV 12, BWV 20, BWV 23, BWV 24, BWV 25, BWV 28, BWV 46, BWV 48, BWV 51 >
Those stats would seem to indicate that cantatas with single trumpet and no timpani form a genre in contrast to those with a "choir" of trumpets and timpani. Which cantatas only have two trumpets with timpani? That's
Handel's usual layout.

By the way, I wasn't suggesting that students actually played Bach's third trumpet parts, just that there is a significant technical complexity which increases from third to second to first trumpet. That might reflect the
apprentice and master system which was common in just about every medieval guild.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 22, 2009):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< I would note here though that when Telemann moved to Hamburg in 1721 (or was it 22? I always f...), this situation changed. He now had a standing brass ensemble available whenever he needed it. This ensemble had been around since the middle ages, I believe (considerably longer than the choral organization and the rest of the orchestral players, incidentally), and continued at least until C.P.E. Bach's death in 1788. >
Righto, but in Hamburg, Telemann still had issues with instrumentalists other than brass players. Telemann had constant fights with the city fathers (sound familiar?) about other things as well. >

< I wonder if someone has done an extensive study of surviving pay records and membership rolls for brass/timpani guilds in Germany in the eighteenth century... Certainly that'd be a fascinating read! >
I'm sure that would be in Edward Tarr's book(s).

Evan Cortens wrote (September 23, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Those stats would seem to indicate that cantatas with single trumpet and no timpani form a genre in contrast to those with a "choir" of trumpets and timpani. Which cantatas only have two trumpets with timpani? That's Handel's usual layout. >
Agreed! It certainly seems that Bach treats "one trumpet" and "multiple trumpets with timpani" as entirely different entities, both musically and "symbolically." (I hesitate to use that word, I mean in the appropriate-for-a-given-occasion sense in which this discussion has been taking place.)

The only cantata with two trumpets and timpani is BWV 59 "Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten", a cantata from the first Leipzig cycle.

The cantatas with four trumpets and timpani are BWV 63 "Christen, ätzet diesen Tag" (Christmas, c. 1714-15) and BWV 119 "Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn" (Town Council, 1723).

< By the way, I wasn't suggesting that students actually played Bach's third trumpet parts, just that there is a significant technical complexity which increases from third to second to first trumpet. That might reflect the apprentice and master system which was common in just about every medieval guild. >
You should see C.P.E. Bach's trumpet parts! I'd wager that all three parts (CPEB virtually always uses three trumpets and timpani when he uses trumpets at all; very rarely does he use two trumpets, and I can't think of an instance with one or four+ trumpets) could be played by high school students! That said, again as was the case for J.S. Bach in Leipzig, the guilds had a stranglehold on these positions, and never would have allowed non-members to play the parts.

Evan Cortens wrote (September 23, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Righto, but in Hamburg, Telemann still had issues with instrumentalists other than brass players. Telemann had constant fights with the city fathers (sound familiar?) about other things as well. >
It would seem this is the cross all composers must bear: perpetual disagreements with their employers!

< I'm sure that would be in Edward Tarr's book(s). >
Do you mean the book "The Trumpet"? (German 1984, English 1988)

I confess, I seem less familiar with brass instruments than with woodwinds (which I play)...

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 23, 2009):
3rd trumpet in BWV 59

Evan Cortens wrote:
< The only cantata with two trumpets and timpani is BWV 59 "Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten", a cantata from the first Leipzig cycle. >
Surely the third trumpet part is missing: I could improvise one as I read along in the score. Alas, the full score didn't survive.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Cantata BWV 59 - Discussions

Peter Smaill wrote (September 23, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Doug has raised the interesting observation that this Cantata uniquely features two trumpets, every other with the instrument being scored for one , three or (on two occasions) four.

Triple trumpets correlate strongly with Cantatas which feature reference to or events concerned with the Holy Trinity; to which one has to add the feast of St Michael and All Angels. In the case of BWV 59 my thesis, though it is by no means certain, is that Bach is illustrating the unity of Father and Son in the incipit, just as he does in the canonic writing in the "Et in unum..." in the BMM (BWV 232). A ?reference to the Holy spirit comes later in the Neumeister text, which is consistent with Bach's acceptance of, and illustration of, ?the third person proceeding from the first two.

This order of referring to the Persons( Father and Son first, then the Holy Spirit later on ) does not occur in van Ziegler's text to BWV 74 and so Bach sets the Trinitarian triple trumpets throughout.

 

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



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ýSeptember 27, 2009 ý07:10:54