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Part 6: Year 2004-2

Continue from Members of the BCML - Year 2004-1

Hello from Italy!

Giorgio Ruffa wrote (May 21, 2004):
I'm a Bach lover from Italy, Venice precisely. I'm also lutheran.

I'm happy to join to this Mailing List.

Bye Again

SDG - JSB

P.S. If you can read italian please visit my website:-) There is Bach too!
http://evanweb.altervista.org

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (May 21, 2004):
< I'm a Bach lover from Italy, Venice precisely. I'm also lutheran. >
Excuse my ignorance but I had no idea that there were Lutherans in Italy!

Silly me-the Reformation was 400 years ago!

Giorgio Ruffa wrote (May 21, 2004):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] Are you joking ;.-))) Venice had the most important lutheran community in the 16th Century... Now we are few, but protestantism in Italy is a reality nowadays.

I'm a philosopher and a theologian... I compose music and I hold history course of music; obviously Bach is my point of reference.

By the way, I wasn't born "lutheran"... I became it studying J.s.Bach... Curious, uh? :-))

I renew my cordial greeting to all of you!

 

A new member / Introducing myself

Nanraella (Kilby Baisner) wrote (May 21, 2004):
I've just joined the BachCantatas group, because I love the site and have been wanting to post my thoughts on some of the interesting discussions I've seen there. How can I post a message in, say, the discussion of the cantata "Ich habe genug", BWV 82a? I'm not the brightest bulb in the world, or I could probably figure out myself.
Thanks for any help you can give.

Nanraella (Kilby Baisner) wrote (May 21, 2004):
Help! I'm not sure I understood what I was signing up for. I've seen some very interesting discussions on the Bach-Cantatas.com website, and I wanted to take part in some of them -- on the site. This doesn't seem to be the same thing. Can anyone give me a pointer?

Nanraella (Kilby Baisner) wrote (May 21, 2004):
Well, I suppose this should have come first, but as I've said, I'm not the brightest bulb around, and I'm pretty absent-minded.

My love for music and for Bach in particular has been nurtured all my life, my dad having been a very good classical singer, and, just to put it out there, Robert Shaw asked for him to tour with him some years back, and called him the MGM Lion.

In the past couple years, I've been trying to get deeper into Bach and Baroque. Just this Christmas, I sang "Quia Respexit" in his Magnificat for our church's concert. Since then, my goals have been much fixed around singing, and Bach especially.

Only a month or so ago, I stumbled across Ian Bostridge (one of the performers listed and discussed on the site -- which is why I wanted to join!), and have fallen in love with his skill and expression. I recently checked out his Bach cantatas and arias album and right now am listening to "Ich habe genug" (BWV 82), and in fact! Oh, joy! my favorite part -- "Hier muss ich das Elend bauen, aber dort! dort werd ich schauen sussen Friede, stille Ruh." The way he sings "aber dort!" just takes my breath away, and makes me impulsively want to weep. I've seen a lot of discussion about Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing "Ich habe genug", and am curious if the cantata has been
converted to tenor on Bostridge's cd, or if it's for tenor in the first place. Further, has anyone heard Bostridge sing this? It absolutely blows me away. I've not heard someone sing any Bach as expressively and convictedly as he does it. But I guess I should listen to the Fischer-Dieskau recording, too.

I am a committed Calvinist Presbyterian Christian, and have been all my life. However, I wish that somehow we could combine the Presbyterian theology, the Baptist fervor, the Anglican music, and the Lutheran liturgy into one church. I guess what I want is heaven! (Exactly what Bostridge is singing right now, incidentally -- "Ich freue mich auf meinen Tod".) My primary goal in life is to glorify and enjoy God, and to do so with my mind and my music, which is the reason I've joined this group, to have good, deep discussions about Bach's God-glorifying music.

But could someone please help me on how to post on the website and not just this posting group?! :)

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Cantata BWV 82 - Discussions Part 2

Aryeh Oron wrote (May 21, 2004):
[To Nanraella (Kilby Baisner)] Welcome aboard!

The material in the discussion pages of the Bach Cantatas Website (BCW) is compiled from various discussions in the BCML, BRML and several other Bach-related ML. The material is organised according to the various topics and most of the discussions find their way into the discussion pages: cantatas, other vocal works, performers, general topics, etc. Of course, I try to ignore messages which have no relation to Bach, personal attacks, etc. I update the BCW with the discussion material every couple of days. For example, if you decide to write about your view of a certain recording of Cantata BWV 82, you will find your message and the following discussion (if there were feedback messages to your post) in the discussion page of this cantata. If your post is related to a discussion which you have found in the BCW, you can include in your message a quote from that discussion. In short, if you want your messages to appear in the BCW, please write to the BCML.

See also: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/How.htm
A link to this page appears in the upper right corner of BCW Home Page, as well as the bottom of every page of the BCW.

Hope to see you contributing to the discussions and as a consequence to the BCW.

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 21, 2004):
Nanraelle wrote:
< Help! I'm not sure I understood what I was signing up for. I've seen some very interesting discussions on the Bach-Cantatas.com website, and I wanted to take part in some of them -- on the site. This doesn't seem to be the same thing. Can anyone give me a pointer? >
Nan, you're in the right place. The discussions here (whatever they're about) are then archived by the list owner, Aryeh Oron, on the Bach-Cantatas web site: organized by composition and/or topic.
Welcome!

And incidentally, if you'd like to hear a good recording of "Ich habe genug" (cantata BWV 82) sung by a woman, check out Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's: Nonesuch 79692.

John Pike wrote (May 21, 2004):
[To Nanraella] What a nice and heart-felt introduction. The former director of music at my Church once said to me "John, when we get to heaven, I'm sure JS Bach will be director of music there!"

If so, I look forward to it.

Nanraella wrote (May 21, 2004):
[To Braley Lehman] Thanks much! How do I find the discussions I join in the actual site? Do I just search around in related places till I find them?

I would love to hear Hunt-Lieberson do it, so I can see how it sounds with a female voice (I want it sung at my funeral, and if no one else can get around to doing it, I could record it :)), and her's is a good one if any. I discovered her just the other week when I checked out a recording of Idomeneo with Bostridge. She did a brilliant
Idamante.

Nanraella wrote (May 21, 2004):
[To John Pike] I'm really glad to be a part of this group, even though I've only seen a little bit of the site and discussions. It encourages me to realize that there ARE other Christians around who love good music and understand its place in our life and theology.I, too, John, look forward to being in heaven to sing under and with the greatest master of music, and theological music, at that!

Nanraella wrote (May 21, 2004):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks for the warm welcome. I've been on the site more today, and
every place I go I get more thrilled, especially with the fact that you have all the lyrics AND the scores, pdf format! God bless your endeavor.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (May 21, 2004):
[To Nanraella] God willing, Aryeh will soon find a legal solution to put those BGA full scores bup on the site... I understand that some German gentleman (?) thinks he has the rights to them (!)

Dale Gedcke wrote (May 21, 2004):
Religious Affiliation

Nanraelle wrote:
"I'm really glad to be a part of this group, even though I've only seen a little bit of the site and discussions. It encourages me to realize that there ARE other Christians around who love good music and understand its place in our life and theology. I, too, John, look forward to being in heaven to sing under and with the greatest master of music, and theological music, at that!"

MY COMMENTS:

Perhaps surprisingly, there are members of this discussion group who find the music of J. S. Bach fascinating in spite of the fact that they are not Lutheran or even of the Christian religion. Bach has a rather universal appeal, ... both his religious and secular music. But, if you are a devout Christian, or perhaps a Lutheran, it opens up an additional dimension in appreciation of his compositions.

I suspect you will encounter members of various religious persuasions in the Bach Cantatas Discussion Group as you join in the postings. There is benefit in this diversity, because it opens up a wide range of perspectives for discussion. Curiously, most of the very heated discussions in the last year have not been related to religious nuances, but rather: musical technique and historical accuracy.

But, if you sift the wheat from the chaff, there is much knowledge and enjoyment to be gained from this discussion group.

John Pike wrote (May 22, 2004):
[To Dale Gedcke] A spot-on comment.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (May 22, 2004):
[To Dale Gedcke] I agree. However, in order to have a deeper appreciation of Bach's music (especially the sacred music), I believe that it would help to have an understanding of Orthodox and Pietist Evangelical doctrine, especially since Bach straddled between both camps.

Smoovus wrote (May 22, 2004):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] How about giving us an intro then? i dont know anything about any of those things.

Smoovus
(who worships FIRE)

Juozas Rimas wrote (May 22, 2004):
Dale Gedcke wrote:
< Perhaps surprisingly, there are members of this discussion group who find the music of J. S. Bach fascinating in spite of the fact that they are not Lutheran or even of the Christian religion. >
I'd go even further and say that there are members of this discussion group who find the music of Bach fascinating without ANY connections to religion.

Being a nominal Christian (behaving according to the main Western principles of good conduct but refraining from prayers, church-going, Bible-reading, and despising Catholic materialism at church), I never regretted I approach Bach's religious pieces just as music.

I can't see how good knowledge of the Orthodox and Pietist Evangelical doctrine will enhance my experience of listening to the music. I will know which cantata was written for which occassion better but, frankly, it's the last bit information that I'm interested in. What does it give to the musical experience that in cantatas and passions there are many happenings from the Bible and the listener knows them well? I liked the pieces the same before and after finding out the non-musical facts.

Charles Francis wrote (May 22, 2004):
[To Smoovus] As one who worships FIRE, I imagine you'll appreciate one of Bach's late cantatas, BWV 34:

O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe,
Entzünde die Herzen und weihe sie ein.
Laß himmlische Flammen durchdringen und wallen,
Wir wünschen, o Höchster, dein Tempel zu sein,
Ach, laß dir die Seelen im Glauben gefallen.

[O eternal FIRE, o source of love
ignite our hearts and consecrate them.
Make heavenly flames penetrate and flow through us,
We wish, o most high Lord, to be your temple,
Ah, make our souls pleasing to you in faith.]

A reference, one suggests, to the alchemical transformation of the temporal to the eternal (Re: turning lead into gold).

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (May 22, 2004):
[To Juozas Rimas] To one for whom these things are part of their everyday spiritual experience, probably it gives the same thing that it would give you to hear music that reflects your personal experience and knowledge. One could say it adds a 'theatrical' dimension. And who knows, attempting to understand the spiritual experience behind Orthodox and Pietist Evangelical doctrine might give you some new experiences of your own. Even if you don't agree with everything these doctrines teach.

I could probably use to take my own advice here, in that I spend a good deal of time in pretty conservative Lutheran circles nowadays - but really I'm a Quaker in everything except the name. So, for example, I could do to exercise more patience with the kind of thinking that is constantly conscious of one's own sins, of one's own lowly and miserable estate before a holy God who hates sin, that one deserves eternal condemnation for these sins, that one can do nothing on one's own to escape that condemnation, that one needs redemption, that this redemption necessitated great suffering on the part of Jesus Christ - that constantly begs God for forgiveness of these sins but is only with difficulty, if at all, able to escape that shadow of guilt and fear of punishment, that spends so much time thinking about the horrible death that Jesus died and one's own responsibility for same that there is little time left over to notice that it is finished, that He is risen from the dead, never to die again, and ponder the implications of that, and consider that they might actually concern today, and not just the future in heaven... That thinks in categories of obedience to commandments, of authority (divine and human as well), and thinks that love for God necessarily contains these elements of fear and guilt. I could use to feel the pain of living such a spiritual life, knowing that that pain is unnecessary...

While I think of it, I have noticed that the Lutheran Church here in Krakow even today also appears to be divided into two camps (imagine, even the pastors (we have two) are in different camps!), one of which appears to consider baptism to be necessary for salvation, the other of which says it is not, it is merely a step of obedience that should be taken just like every other of God's commandments, because salvation is by grace through faith - period. The first of these camps also seems to be more inclined to be mindful of authority (divine and human) than the second. I am guessing that the former would be the Pietist camp, the latter, the Evangelical. But I don't know enough about the nature of this dichotomy (particularly the Pietist side - I used to go to Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, which is a solidly Calvinist congregation that I think we could call Evangelical rather than Pietist) to be able to say for sure. Maybe someone else who knows more could enlighten me/us?

Johan van Veen wrote (May 22, 2004):
[To Charles Francis] What a load of rubbish.

This is a cantata for Whit Sunday. The text of the opening chorus refers to the "cloven tongues like as of fire" which appeared to the apostles and "sat each of them" - as told in Acts 2.

This is a symbol of the Holy Spirit moving in with them and making them to his 'temple'. In the cantata this is connected to the Gospel reading of that Sunday, in which Jesus says: "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."

The "eternal fire" (= the Holy Spirit) is asked to fill the heart with love and then to move in and make it to his temple.

No connection to alchemy whatsoever.

Charles Francis wrote (May 22, 2004):
[To Johan van Veen] I don't believe your somewhat parochial interpretation of the text corresponds to the facts we have available. If one looks at the original wedding cantata from 1726 (BWV 34a) ones reads:

O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe,
Entzünde der Herzen geweihten Altar.
Laß himmlische Flammen durchdringen und wallen,
Ach laß doch auf dieses vereinigte Paar
Die Funken der edelsten Regungen fallen.

[O eternal FIRE, o source of love,
ignite the sacred altar of their hearts.
Let heavenly flames penetratand surge,
Ah, may upon this united pair
the sparks of noblest impulse fall.]

Given the purposes of the original (BWV 34a) was a wedding, there is no reason to assume a connection to the apostles in Acts 2. In the parody (BWV 34) Bach made for Whit Sunday, he therefore leverages an existent wedding text, almost certainly making the needed textual adjustments himself. This is fully aligned with the Lutheran-inspired alchemical treatise "The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkruetz", which was first published in 1616 with a commentary published in Lüneburg in 1617: http://www.hermeticgoldendawn.org/Documents/Archives/chemical.htm

(Lüneburg will be known to many on this group as the place where Bach worked as a chorister at the Church of Saint Michael).

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (May 22, 2004):
Charles Francis wrote:
< Given the purposes of the original (BWV 34a) was a wedding, there is no reason to assume a connection to the apostles in Acts 2. >
Yeah there is. It's in Ephesians 5:22-33. This passage is about marriage, and an explicit parallel is drawn between the relationship of husband and wife, and the relationship of Christ and the Church. Furthermore, in Eph. 1:13-14, there is something about the function of the Holy Spirit - in this context, He serves as a deposit on our inheritance [as children of God] until the day of redemption. In the wedding imagery, He could be viewed as an 'engagement ring' - the wedding to take place in due time in heaven, as I understand it (I'm not much into eschatology, in that I am already living in eternity and considering all those things that are 'yet to come' as present reality).

Johan van Veen wrote (May 22, 2004):
Charles Francis wrote:
< This is fully aligned with the Lutheran-inspired alchemical treatise "The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkruetz", which was first published in 1616 with a commentary published in Lüneburg in 1617: http://www.hermeticgoldendawn.org/Documents/Archives/chemical.htm
(Lüneburg will be known to many on this group as the place where Bach worked as a chorister at the Church of Saint Michael). >
And what has the one thing to do with the other? Is the fact that Bach worked in the same place as the treatise was published evidence that he has been influenced by it, or even read it? Is there any proof he even knew that it existed?

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Cantatas BWV 34 & BWV 34a – Discussions Part 2

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (May 22, 2004):
To Smoovus] I would suggest as a starting point either going to your nearest collegate library or going on line and purchasing (checking out from the collegate library [BTW, I am referring to a major college, not a community college]) the following:

1.) The Book of Concord (Concordia)--Triglotta edition (1917-1921) if possible.

2.) works by Philipp Jakob Spener (a good representative of the Pietists, being one of the founders of the movement)

The Book of Concord was written in 1580 and is the be-all and end-all of Evangelical doctrinal writing. It has every Evangelical confession written between 1529 (the date of the authorship of the Small Catechism and Large Catechism) to 1578/1580 (the date of the authorship of the Formula of Concord).

Philipp Jakob Spener was a priest and theologian who was appalled at what he saw was the presumptuousness and un-Christian behavior of the people and the dryness and inflexability of Orthodox Evangelical doctrine. He proposed that people should imitate Christ and walk in His ways. It was this movement that he established (Pietism) and its warmth that led to a new outflowing of religious poetry and music in Evangelical Germany during the 17th and 18th centuries. It is under this movement we start to see such figures as Johann Rist, Johann Schop, Melchior Vulpius, and other hymnwriters.

Nanraella wrote (May 22, 2004):
[To Cara Emily Thornton] To all who have suddenly been involved in a discussion I unwittingly started, I have this to say -- and pray that it doesn't offend anyone, since it's directed toward no one in particular. First, I don't want my presence to redirect the object of this discussion group to religion and evangelism, however highly I esteem those. We are here to discuss music, so... don't let me stop you!I certainly agree that one can enjoy the music of Bach greatly without any idea of his religious standpoint, or the religious quality of his music. However, I must add a word for Bach himself here: on every piece of music he wrote, he signed with the initials "SDG", which stand for "Soli Deo Gloria" -- to God alone the glory. Bach was a deeply religious man, and apparently deeply thoughtful, too, and to understand his music well (I say understand, not like), I think one should have some understanding of what he believed wholeheartedly with every note he penned. Certainly you can enjoy his cantatas, even if you have no interest whatsoever in what they are communicating, in lyrics and music, and even if you happen to oppose his particular beliefs. Music is music, enjoyable by all, regardless of what he believes. Still, those who understand and love his music most understand and love his theology and life most. So please don't just shrug the person off for the music. There IS a very real person behind each piece, and understanding him and what he thought about and meant in his music is vital to understanding the music itself.

In answer to Cara, I can't enlighten on the technical terms of pietist and evangelist -- I know the Presbyterian stance on baptism, but that's not much related to Bach's music at present... To your comment that you attended Tenth Pres.: that's great! I'm sure you were greatly blessed in and through that church.

In answer to what Cara answered to -- understanding Orthodox doctrines WILL enhance your understanding of Bach, immensely. I could use a number of illustrations, but I could just say briefly now that if you've ever heard the Magnificat, you probably did NOT catch this: the last movement "Gloria Patri" is very deeply theological. To begin with, you will note that the Magnificat is written mainly in two-four or four-four time, UNTIL the beginning of the last movement, when it goes into three-four (or maybe not... perhaps I'm thinking of triplets. No, I believe it's both -- I'd have to look at the music again). You may wonder what this has to do with anything. Look at the lyrics: Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. Worship of the Trinity, three persons in one God. Thus the three-four time, and/or the triplets. Three beats in one measure, three notes in one beat. And then it changes back to two-four to make sure there's no doubt about it when it goes into "as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, amen". This, I am sure, is only a more obvious and general illustration of the intricacy with which Bach wove in his theology with his music. Next time you listen to the Magnificat, think of that, and you'll certainly be in just a little more awe at the beauty and logical genius of the music.

In answer to the first posting "Re: Relgious Affiliation (formerly: Introducing Myself)" -- I realize the wide variety of minds engaged in this group, and am only too thankful for it. As a Christian, I'll always be especially excited when I find someone who understands the relationship between good, sound music and good, sound theology, and good sound worship.

Looking back over all the postings so far on this, I wish that I could give a comprehensive idea of what the Pietist and Evangelical camps are. I regret to say that I, personally, at this point don't know half as much about Bach as I would like to, or as some of you certainly do, but that shall soon be remedied: this summer I'm going to read a very fat biography of Bach by a good scholar in that area.

To conclude, I'm aware that hundreds of thousands of people listen to and love Bach without any religious , or even clues, at all. Thus it will always be. Music is music, and often transcends culture, religion, and personal experience. It is an objective thing, I would argue vehemently, but would decline to now, which also, in a way, is subjective. You can love it regardless of who you are, and yet, at the same time, certain people with different levels of knowledge and experience have varying levels, too, of ability to appreciate it. The more you learn about music as it was written, and how it was intended to be heard, the more you will, when you listen to it, enjoy it. I, at least, have found this abundantly true.So love it and enjoy it and listen to it, but don't be anti-intellectual about it.

Giorgio Ruffa wrote (May 23, 2004):
[To Nanrarella] I completely agree with you.

Charles Francis wrote (May 23, 2004):
[To Cara Emily Thornton] The relevant point in Ephesians 5:22-33 concerns the suggested parallel between Husband-Wife and Christ-Church. One can also point to the opening words of the Matthew Passion (BWV 244):

Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen,
Sehet! Wen?
Den Bräutigam.
Seht ihn! Wie?
Als wie ein Lamm.

[Come, daughters, help me mourn!
Look! At whom?
The Bridegroom!
Look at him! In what guise?
Like a lamb.]

Notably, some writers interpret the crucifixion story as a metaphor for the personal death the ego must experience to reach "Peace over Israel" (Re. the transformation of lead into gold).

Charles Francis wrote (May 23, 2004):
Johan van Veen wrote:
< And what has the one thing to do with the other? Is the fact that Bach worked in the same place as the treatise was published evidence that he has been influenced by it, or even read it? >
No, which is why the remark was placed in brackets!

< Is there any proof he even knew that it existed? >
Let me refer you to Frank Berger's:
"Der okkulte Bach (Zahlengeheimnisse in Bachs Leben und Werk)".

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (May 23, 2004):
[To Charles Francis] Good translation, except that "wie" is translated as "like" and "how" and "als" is translated as "as". The "in what guise" part has no place here. Here is a more accurate translation:

"Come, ye daughter, help me mourn,
behold! Whom? The Bridegroom.
Behold Him! How? As like a Lamb."

Remember, German does not easily translate into rhyme in English. Also, the language follows more the King James Bible and Elizabethan English than modern English and the NRSV. That is the one problem I have with, for example, the recording on the CPO label of the apocryphal Lukaspassion BWV 246. In the scene of Peter's denial, the second person to say "Thou art also one of them" is sung by a female voice. This is clearly contradicted both by the Scripture passage and by Peter's response "Man, I am not." In fact, only in Matthew's and Mark's account of the Passion is the first two confrontations between Peter and the servants of the High Priest involving females. In Luke's and John's account, the female role is diminished. In fact, in John's account, there are no females involved. This is very likely closer to the truth. As the Jews were a patriarchical society, women would probably not have been in such public places as the courtyard of the High Priest's palace. They probably would have been inside the palace in the bedchamber or the kitchen, or in their own dwellings or rooms.

Nanraella wrote (May 24, 2004):
[To Johan van Veen] Yes, indeed -- Bach, I am sure, had no more faith in the ridiculous (and dying) practice of alchemy in his days as we do now. Fire is often referred to in Christianity as a purification, sanctification, of our hearts, often in trials and hardships, and much of the time as the Holy Spirit, who gave a sign of his presence to the disciples at Pentecost, when the tongues of flame settled above their heads. It is contrary to anything I've ever heard of Bach to think that he worshipped, or wrote in the worship of, fire.\

Nanraella wrote (May 24, 2004):
[To Cara Emily Thornton] Thanks for saying what I would have said in a more concise and Biblical way!

Giorgio Ruffa wrote (May 24, 2004):
[To Nanraella] This time I disagree with you. :-)

< the ridiculous (and dying) practice of alchemy >
Alchemy and esoterism are not ridiculous things! They are different way of knowledge. I'm Christian, nonetheless I study this subjects. The forma mentis of an ancient era couldn't be understand without the whole path of science.

Nevertheless, your interpretation of "fire" is good.

John Reese wrote (May 24, 2004):
[To Giorgio Ruffa] Alchemy did serve as a different way of knowledge in that alchemists stumbled across of few useful substances in looking for the Philosopher's Stone. However, science (and chemistry in particular) is a much more precise, effective, and rational way of knowledge.

So I think "ridiculous and dying" is a not inappropriate description.

OK, back to Bach...

Smoovus wrote (May 24, 2004):
< To all who have suddenly been involved in a discussion I unwittingly started, I have this to say -- and pray that it doesn't offend anyone, since it's directed toward no one in particular. First, I don't want my presence to redirect the object of this discussion group to religion and evangelism, however highly I esteem those. We are here to discuss music, so... don't let me stop you! >
Your being much too reasonable! after so many endless discussions about such dry topics as secco recitatives and the like, i think a fierce debate about religious doctrine would bring a refreshing change of pace to the list.

However, I must add a word for Bach himself:
< here: on every piece of music he wrote, he signed with the initials "SDG", which stand for "Soli Deo Gloria" -- to God alone the glory. Bach was a deeply religious man, and apparently deeply thoughtful, too, and to understand his music well (I say understand, not like), >
doesnt his composition schedule reflect the fact that he sort of rushed through his official dutys to compose religious music in order to be able to spend more time on instrumental music? and diddnt he always say that the happiest time of his life was when he was at cothen, where he didnt have to write religious music and wrote only intrumental music?

Charles Francis wrote (May 24, 2004):
John Reese wrote:
< Alchemy did serve as a different way of knowledge in that alchemists stumbled across of few useful substances in looking for the Philosopher's Stone. However, science (and chemistry in particular) is a much more precise, effective, and rational way of knowledge.
So I think "ridiculous and dying" is a not inappropriate description. >
If anything, there is a revival of interest in alchemy as judged by journals, books and exhibitions dealing with the subject (just try a Google search!) I do note how certain individuals will apply pejorative labels ("absurd", "ludicrous", or in this case "ridiculous") to that which they have not studied or understood. The perception of alchemy changes when understood as a modality of redemption (Re: Carl Gustav Jung): http://www.gnosis.org/jung_alchemy.htm

The wedding theme linking BWV 34 (Pentecost), BWV 34a (Wedding) and BWV 244 (Crucifixion and Redemption) is an inevitability from the perspective of the Second Rosicrucian manifesto.

< OK, back to Bach... >
OK then: thanks to the detective work of biographer Charles Sanford Terry, we know Bach's library contained Johann Müller's "Atheismus devictus" dealing with the "Second Reformation" character Jacob Boehme: http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~janzb/boehme/

So it is not unreasonable to conclude Bach was acquainted with the "esoteric". For purported examples where Bach applied such principles in his music, see the recent contribution responding to Mr. van Veen.

Nanraella wrote (May 24, 2004):
Ancient practice of Alchemy (formerly: Religious Affiliation)

[To Giorgio Ruffa] Okay, granted. Sure, I'm willing to understand that the ancients hevery good and, to them, scientific reason to practice alchemy, and thought it was a valid science. However, will you not agree that the idea itself, of somehow turning one element into another, is, in itself, regardless of association to those who, albeit innocently, practice it, ridiculous? (I have a feeling I just used a few too many commas...) I have no problem with the people who did it at all, and many, no, most of them were probably as smart and smarter than all of us here -- humans have not somehow become more thoughtful through the ages -- nonetheless, the practice of alchemy is, in and of itself, somewhat ridiculous and definitely fruitless. Esoterianism -- I'll have to look that one up, as I'm not very familiar with ancient sciences.

Nanraella wrote (May 24, 2004):
[To Smoovus] Thanks, Smoovus, for the posting. However, I have a bone to pick (in all humor). I hope I'm not being too reasonable, because I think that it's impossible for ANYONE to be TOO reasonable, so either I'm no one, or I'm not being too reasonable after all. :) But yes, I suppose I shouldn't be timid of debating something we're not particularly assigned to. My problem is, that's what practically my whole life is taken up with just now, and I thought I was getting a break for some easier stuff like music, objective and "dry" as all that. :) But I'll certainly take your advice and join in the breaks from the general topic.

Since I've not yet read up a lot on the person of Bach, I wouldn't be able to tell whether or not he thought about his composition in the way you set forth. But by listening to the music, I cannot but think it would give immense pleasure to anyone to be composing that as a living. However, I've heard that he wrote enough full cantatas to be sung one every Sunday for... I think it was seven years... and much of it was lost besides. A guy with that pressure must certainly have gotten tired, even though it could have been something he loved doing.But that says nothing about his signing it "SDG", all to the glory of God. Cannot we give God even the grudging sweat of our brow, so to speak? Life may not always be easy, but it must always be God-glorifying. And I'm sure Bach is enjoying the fruit of his life right now, and that'll be quite enough of a pay-back for whatever grudging he did as he worked for God's glory and the Church's edification.

Nanraella wrote (May 24, 2004):
[To Smoovus] I just reread the end of your posting, and I've this to ask -- do you mean that you think Bach wrote religious music just because he was paid to do it, and really wouldn't have done anything of the kind if he had his own life to control, and therefore didn't have any Christian conviction about the things he wrote? I really hope you didn't, because anyone who could think so either knows nothing at all of Bach, or is somewhat wrong in the upper story. ;)

Nanraella wrote (May 24, 2004):
Charles Francis wrote:
< If anything, there is a revival of interest in alchemy as judged by journals, books and exhibitions dealing with the subject (just try a Google search!) I do note how certain individuals will apply pejorative labels ("absurd", "ludicrous", or in this case "ridiculous") to that which they have not studied or understood. The perception of alchemy changes when understood as a modality of redemption (Re: Carl Gustav Jung): http://www.gnosis.org/jung_alchemy.htm >
My apologies for my aptness to use random adjectives which I think fitting at the moment. I gladly admit I have not studied alchemy much at all. Am I not right, though, that the way the medieval, at least, scientists referred to it was a changing of lead to gold? And if anyone here think that it is NOT ridiculous to think that one who
knows nothing at all of atomic and molecular structure, or how to mess with it in any fruitful way whatsoever, should try to change one element into a completely different one, let him speak, and I'll try my best to be quiet. Perhaps the perception of alchemy has changed, but that says nothing of what it was, and is no defense of it as anything less than (please excuse that infamous word again) ridiculous.

I am, as I said, open to persuasion, and I write this all in perfectly good humor. If I need to be enlightened on the ancient use of alchemy, or what the term means in and of itself (or rather, meant in the medieval times), someone please enlighten me.

[rest of this discussion was omtted]

 

Introducing Myself

Csaba Kapitány wrote (May 24, 2004):
Let me greet the noble community of the Bach Cantatas Mailing List. I'm a new member of the ML.

My name is Csaba Kapitány. Actually I don't play music, but my 3 children play the following instruments: double bass, violoncello, piano & cemballo. I'm collecting LPs and CDs for 35 years, and love Bach's music above all. I have many old Rilling's cantata LP and the new Bach 2000 CD collection. I like other composer's cantatas from that period like Telemann's or Händel's.

I hope for having enough time to read through the ML that you wrote about my favorite composer and his beautiful cantatas first. Afterwards I'll contribute my comments on the current discussion topics.

 

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