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Members of the Bach Cantatas Mailing List
Part 7: Year 2005-1

Santiago Cardoso wrote (January 4, 2006):
[From a discussion of Cantata BWV 150]
I have enjoyed lurking on this list for the past year and a half, but have decided that I should accept the responsibility to contribute this time round, no matter how humble my opinions may seem compared to the learned comments of so many on the list. To introduce myself briefly, I am Senior Pastor of Bakersfield Community Church in California. I earned a PhD in New Testament Studies from the University of Durham, England and my performance instrument was classical organ when I pursued my BA in Fine Arts. I love the music of Bach, from both the perspective of a musician and a theologian.
[snip]

Lez Schelvis wrote (January 5, 2005):
[From a discussion of Cantata BWV 150]
Introducing myself and BWV 150

I will try to participate in the discussions about the cantatas but before I start: I wrote some contributions to this list before this one, but I never introduced myself. That is what I'm going to do now.

I am a teacher Dutch as a second language after a study mediaeval literature, no music education whatsoever, so I really don't know anything about the theory of music, I just listen at it, feel it or not and like it or not. So if I don't like it (that much) I always blame myself for it, I never blame the composer or the interpreter. I studied literature, so I can analyse a text, but I can't analyse music. I can say: I don't like this interpretation, but I will never say that let's say Rilling or Koopman don't know what they are doing.

I always have been listening to music, in my younger days pop music and especially simple music with piano, bass and acoustic guitar from singers who can't sing: Tom Waits has been and still is a favourite of mine. But then one night a friend of mine placed the Brandenburg concertos on the record player and it was big love from that very first moment. It was the joy and the fun that attracted me. I discovered that Bach was cheerful.

For some time I quit pop music totally and only listened to Bach: first only his instrumental pieces until I tried the Matthew Passion (BWV 244), the music that I always without having heard it considered to be too big, too heavy, too sombre, because everyone in my environment had told me so. I remember that first time I couldn't listen to it until the end, after the 'Erbarme dich' I had to stop, tears in my eyes, needing a break. I never knew that music could be so emotional. (Not true, 'Silent night' also touched me deeply, when I was a boy.) Afterwards I wanted to hear all the vocal music (oh, how much I hated vocal classical music before) of Bach and started with my journey through the cantatas.

The first one was BWV 9 and that one affirmed my prejudice that also Bach was only able to make a limited amount of masterpieces. Only later I learned that was nonsense: not all the movements are like "Erbarme dich' but Bach in a bad day is better than for instance Händel in his best (I still can't listen to a complete Messiah, but again, that must be my fault) and (almost) every cantata has one or more very special movements. (In BWV 9 for me it is the aria: 'Wir waren schon zu tief gesunken', an aria good enough to be part of the SMP (BWV 244), for me a criterion for a really good aria.)
<snip>

 

Hello there and please help to find parts...

Jim Sena wrote (January 20, 2005):
I'm a new member and I apologize for not introducing myself at length. I'm a bass-baritone in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the Denver Bach Society is having significant trouble tracking down orchestral parts for Cantata BWV 145 - Ich lebe, mein Herze, zu deinem Ergotzen. Are there resources which are not obvious, or do any folks in the group have parts available?

Thanks for your time and I look forward to conversing with the group soon. Bach's vocal music, most notably his cantatas, remains for me the lifeblood of his output.

Doug Cowling wrote (January 20, 2005):
[To Jim Sena] You might try Luck's Music. They're pretty good at finding obscure stuff. And they're quick: http://www.lucksmusic.net/

Good luck (no pun intemded)

Brent Miller wrote (January 20, 2005):
[To Jim Sena] You might try Carus Music in Europe.....they have distributers here in this country......Also, Kalmus has a ton of Bach Cantata instrumental parts.......

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 20, 2005):
[To Jim Sena] At: http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/store/smp_search.html I put "145" in the top box and "bach" in the second. Those eleven results all look like they're not orchestral parts!

I tried also: http://www.carus-verlag.com/index.php3?BLink=Catalog but didn't find it there either. Carus is a fine recent Urtext edition of scores and parts, but they evidently haven't got round to cantata BWV 145 yet.

Any luck through Luck's Music Library of older Baerenreiter parts or whatever?
http://www.lucksmusic.net/

Good luck! There's always copy-and-paste from full scores.....

Hans-Joachim Reh wrote (January 20, 2005):
[To Jim Sena] Breitkopf should have the material - but only for rent! Try this: http://www.breitkopf.com and enter BWV 145 as search request.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (January 21, 2005):
[To Jim Sena] www.sheetmusicplus.com might have them. They are pretty good about carrying such things.

Jim Sena wrote (January 22, 2005):
To all the nice folks who helped me track down orchestral parts for Cantata BWV 145 - thanks so much! We hopefully arrived at a source.

Ludwig (william rowland, composer and conductor) wrote (January 22, 2005):
You will find all parts for the all of the complete Cantatas in the Edwin F. Kalmus Editions, Boca Raton Florida. They also are online. Please tell me your source of BWV 145.

I need to inform you that they had sold these to Ted Turner and Time Warner/MGM and these deal removed them from the market. However I just found out that they are again publishing these. I did not see BWV 145 but if you will asked them either by phone or email--they might can find a copy from their stock somewhere.

I have recently seen, most of the Cantatas on the Kalmus Edition website. So check with them and they can direct you.

My critique of this edition is that in some parts occur as though there were two separate and different instruments. For Instance in Cantata BWV 29; they have the scores for Organ in two different parts: Obligatto and Continuo when the Obligatto and Continuo parts should be as one score. What I did in this case was to sit down a year before the performance and united them into one complete Organ score and if other instruments were to be added to the Continuo parts I added these also. Instruments I use for Continuo besides Organ or with Organ (do not use Harpsichord for continuo parts as Bach never used the Harpsichord in the Cantatas unless the Organ was being tuned or repaired.)are Bassoon, Gamba (or you can sub a Cello but it is not the same instrument and does not sound the same)and very light use of a violone (do not use a Double Bass as it will dominate the ensemble and make things sound muddy,ponderous, lugubrious,etc. If you can not get a Violone; it is just best to leave it off as the music sounds better without it.)

If you are going to perform these your group should consist of 4 SATB each in the Chorus and any soloists--I usually use soloists out of the appropriate Choir in the Chorus. I do not mean to sound discriminatory but if at alpossbile you should use Boys for the Alto and Tenor parts. Bach got into trouble for allowing his wife to sing in his group and we have little evidence that women. Also do not use huge groups of people such as the Romantics used in Handels Messiah. Bach sounds best with the minimum people required and this usually means chamber porportions.

Your String section should consist of 4 to 8 first and Second Violins (no more than 16), 2 to 4 Violae,(no more than 8) 1-2 Gambas or Celli--leave double basses off or use Violone. These instruments do not contribute anything to the score or
improve the tone color and just plod along with the Gambas or Celli.

Blockflotes (not proper English to say recorders) 2 SAT most often you will be using Altos and Tenors. Flauto Traverso-- 2 but not often call for. This is what we call Flute today. The primary instruments used were Blockflutes. Oboe da cacca 2-4 as demanded by score Oboe d'more 2-4 as demanded by score Bassons- 1-2 optional used for continuo usally with Organ. Trumpets in D&E 2 to 5 as demanded by score.
When Bach uses Trumpets and Tympani--you can just about bet that it is a High Church occaision with much pomp and circumstance. French Horns---4 as demanded by score but not often used in the Cantatas--not more than 4 score for Horns. Rarely called for Trombones--2 but rarely called for Tympani---two drums rarely three are needed. Organ---Should be at least 20 ranks and for continuo should have one of these stops: Gedackt, Rhorflote, Copula, Hohlflote 8' The addition of a 2' stop of similar character which can be added to the foregoing to add sparkle. There should be a Chorus of Principals from 16 or at least 8' up to 1' with Tierce, Nazard, and perhaps a Quint and Mixture IV ranks as well as a Cymbale III. There should be also a Cymbelstern and a Glockenspiel stop if BWV 15 is included or a separate Carillon Score made. Do not use Tubular chimes--these did not exist in Bach's
Day. Instead you may use real Church Bells or the cupped bells(tuned) that use to be found on bicyles and door bells. Aside from BWV 15 Bell sounds are required in some of the Christmas music and solo music works as in the

tune most English speaking people know as "Good Christian Men Rejoice, Rejoice"

The Organ should always be used whenever possbible only in some hall that does not have a Pipe Organ should Harpsichord be used. You may not use Piano because Bach never wrote for it and also it has the same problem as the Double Bass---it does not blend well.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (January 22, 2005):
Ludwig writes: "I do not mean to sound discriminatory but if at all possbile you should use Boys for the Alto and Tenor parts."
Err.....boys for the Tenor parts?!! (And why discriminatory - are Tenors usually women...?!!)

Ludwig wrote (January 22, 2005):
[To Gabriel Jackson] Adult men for tenors or boys who voices have changed. In the Baroque age; the voices of Boys were highly valued and this went to the extreams of making the beter singers into Castrati.

The lower parts were done by adult men or adolescents whose voices has changed. More often than not a boys voice which had changed was regarded as a persona non grata by those who formerly gave the boy the time of day and anything else he wanted---figuratively speaking. If he were lucky as a young adult he could remain in the chorus as a tenor or bass.

Counter tenor parts were often performed either by Castrati or Boys although I guess that in a pinch a regulart tenor could do the part. I do not recall that any of Bach's Scores call for a Counter Tenor.

Yes there is a difference in the sounds of Boys voices and that of women. One only has to listen to the Kings Chapel Choirs, Cambridge Univeristy, to hear this and copare the same work as sung by a mixed chorus of adult men and women.

In Bachs time; the place of a woman was in the home to raise children and be a good wife to her husband, caring for the children and him when he came home from whatever job he was doing to support them etc. When we read about Maria Barbara (or what it the other wife?) and the scandal that ensued when Bach allowed her to sing in his Chorus (He nearly lost the job over this and did not stay too long afterwards--I think this occured in Mühlhausen but am not sure so anyone should feel free to correct this) we can see the prejustice and discrimination against Women of the time.

So in general; if we are looking for the sounds that were heard in Bach's time we need to use an all male chorus with some license for women as soloists.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (January 22, 2005):
Ludwig wrote:
< In Bachs time; the place of a woman was in the home to raise children and be a good wife to her husband, caring for the children and him when he came home from whatever job he was doing to support them etc. When we read about Maria Barbara (or what it the other wife?) and the scandal that ensued when Bach allowed her to sing in his Chorus (He nearly lost the job over this and did not stay too long afterwards--I think this occured in Mulhausen but am not sure so anyone should feel free to correct this) we can see the prejustice and discrimination against Women of the time.
So in general; if we are looking for the sounds that were heard in Bach's time we need to use an all male chorus with some license for women as soloists. >
From what 'ludwig' writes, it seems that the use of all-male choirs in Bach's time had absolutely nothing to do with the sound, and everything to do with views concerning women. Why would we want to perpetuate such views (and practices thereof) today? Quite frankly, that sounds like something I (and I hope no one else on this list either) would not want to have any part of!

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Voice Types [General Topics]

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 22, 2005):
< My critique of this edition [Kalmus] is that in some parts occur as though there were two separate and different instruments. For Instance in Cantata BWV 29; they have the scores for Organ in two different parts: Obligatto and Continuo when the Obligatto and Continuo parts should be as one score. What I did in this case was to sit down a year before the performance and united them into one complete Organ score and if other instruments were to be added to the Continuo parts I added these also. >
That's a good idea, but the problem remains that the organ part of BWV 29 has been transposed up to D in these modern editions, while it was originally in C. This has ramifications not only for the tuning, but also for the last bar in the first movement where the organ part goes up to high d'''. Some organs didn't and don't have that note. The string players read this movement in D major. The organ (originally), trumpets, and drums read it in C, playing instruments that are effectively transposing instruments in D.

(And yes, this movement is an arrangement by Bach from the E major violin partita, bringing it down from E to C!)

< Instruments I use for Continuo besides Organ or with Organ(do not use Harpsichord for continuo parts as Bach never used the Harpsichord in the Cantatas unless the Organ was being tuned or repaired.) >
Probably not true (as to "never" using it); see Laurence Dreyfus's book Bach's Continuo Group: Players and Practices in his Vocal Works. There's a chapter there arguing that this 19th-20th century tradition of excluding the harpsichord is mistaken.

< Bach got into trouble for allowing his wife to sing in his group and we have little evidence that women. >
Not necessarily. The incident in question was from the time Bach was in his 20s and not married yet for the first time.

< Oboe da cacca 2-4 as demanded by score Oboe d'more 2-4 as demanded by score >
See Bruce Haynes's article "Questions of tonality in Bach's cantatas: the woodwind perspective" (1986) for a discussion of which oboes to use on which occasions, whether the words in modern scores say so or not. Thissue is not as simple as merely glancing at what the score "demands" but it also involves questions of tessitura and tonality.

 

Introducing new member

David Lichtenstein wrote (January 21, 2005):
Thank you for welcoming me to BachCantatas. My immediate interest in the group was to replace my scratchy Nonesuch LP of BWV 51, with Teresa Stich-Randall. I have despaired of an easy solution to that problem, and have found no pointers to the location of an Accord CD also mentioned.

However, the following excerpt from an earlier discussion gave me hope that other singers have recorded Cantatas in a style similar to hers:

"Stich-Randall's approach to Baroque music is signified by her light tone with no more than a subtle vibrato, clear enunciation, and an infallible sense of pitch. She was definitely ahead of the game in regard to latter-day period performance practice, and her best recordings generously bear this out,..."

Who today is recording in a style like hers?

Thank you,

Doug Cowling wrote (January 21, 2005):
David Lichtenstein wrote:
< Thank you for welcoming me to BachCantatas. My immediate interest in the group was to replace my scratchy Nonesuch LP of BWV 51, with Teresa Stich-Randall. I have despaired of an easy solution to that problem, and have found no pointers to the location of an Accord CD also mentioned. >
This was one of the first Bach recordings I bought while in grade school. I listened to it again after you mentioned it. She does have a lovely light sound -- very unlike most sopranos attacking Bach in those days. But where are the words? Reminded me of Elizabeth Schwarzkopf who could have been singing Bantu for all we know.

Eric Bergerud wrote (January 22, 2005):
[To David Lichtenstein] If a light touch is to your taste you might to check out the Nancy Argenta performance of BWV 51 with Ensemble Sonnerie. It's part of a 2CD Veritas set - OVPP. I like it.

 

Sending suggestions for topic discussion

Alfonso Anso Rojo wrote (January 24, 2005):
Greetings to the members group!
I am new member of the BCML.

I'd like to suggest a new topic for discussion, but I don't know how to do it.

In my welcomw message, you said: "(...)every member can also suggest any topic for discussion relating to Bach's Cantata & his other vocal works, regardless of the 'Order of Discussion'"

How can I post a new topic for discussion?

Thanks.

Oh, all right, that's me again. I see now all I have to do is come into the group, go to "post" and write and send my message.

I was a little confused with this: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order-2004.htm

I thought all the messages were only there, but I see that's another discussion point, so I'll post a new topic here in my next message!

 

New Member: Introduction

Michael Telles wrote (January 24, 2005):
I just joined the group and would like to introduce myself. I'm a 30 year old high school English teacher from Gloucester Massachusetts and live with my wife and two cats. I came to Bach relatively recently at the urging of a friend: I started listening seriously to Baroque music only about five years ago and immediately loved Bach, but felt daunted by the magnitude of material. When I heard Trevor Pinnock's recording of the Brandenburg Concertos I nearly lost my mind and from there have been behaving like some kind of drug addict. I was a little slow warming to the Cantatas, but once the hit home there was no going back.

I'm a very big fan of the Suzuki series, and have been sampling the other series here and there. I've nearly collected all of the released Suzukis. I only hope that I don't make for dull conversation because I'm such a novice, but I am a dedicated listener and would love advice and suggestions. However, I'm literally discovering the cantatas as Suzuki puts them out or my friend sends a sample in the mail. None of my friends in the immediate area really care much about the music (to be honest, they think I'm looney) so I'm just sitting here with my pile of records and no one to talk to.

I do have musical experience: I study basic classical guitar and have played percussion for the Cape Ann Symphony nearby -- not exactly first class but at least I know the fundamentals. Unfortunately, I think my German has deteriorated since I studied it some years ago.

Can't wait to meet some of the characters in the Cantata group! All the best, Michael.

 

Introducing myself

Teddy Kaufman wrote (February 1, 2005):
I am a Plastic Surgeon from Haifa, Israel.

Classical music is an integrated part of my life since the age of 3 yrs., when my elder brother started to play the violin.

During the last 20 years, my inerest if mainly focused on vocal works of the Baroque period, as well as on works composed for the Viola da Gamba. In addition to Bach's Cantatas and other vocal works, my interest is dedicated to Stabat Mater pieces composed by various composers during the last 5 centuries.

In spite of my very busy professional schedule, I weekly devote about 20 hrs. to music, mainly during the weekends.

I am indebted to Mr. Arye Oron who introduced me to the Bach Cantatas Group. I am sure that joining this group would enhance my understanding of Bach' Cantatas as well as deepening my knowledge in music.

Thank you

 

Introducing new member

Markku (Mara) Laurikainen wrote (February 1, 2005):
Thank you for welcoming me to BachCantatas. I live in Finland. I started listening seriously to Bach's music already over 30 years ago. The first recording I bought was Toccatas and fugues with Helmut Walcha. I still like his interpretations very much.

Nowdays are the Passions most important to me. My immediate interest in the group is to find a certain "different" recording of St. John Passion (BWV 245).

Eric Bergerud wrote (February 2, 2005):
Welcome Mara,

I guess the most controversial performance is by Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort. It is OVPP and a delicate version at that. I like McCreesh very much, although he is another conductor who does not employ boys often or at all. Many people do not. There is also a performance by Christoph Spering that tries to recreate the 1841 Felix Mendelssohn revival of the SMP (BWV 244). I like that one too. Sounds more like Gardiner and others to me than it does to Richter or Karajan.

Riccardo Nughes wrote (February 2, 2005):
< I guess the most controversial performance is by Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort. It is OVPP and a delicate version at that >
Eric, Mara asked about Johannes Passion ^___^

Peter Bloemendaal wrote (February 2, 2005):
[To Markku Laurikainen] I hope Johan van Veen is still a list member. He wrote about a radio recording he made from an SJP (BWV 245) performance of a reconstruction of Bach's very first 1724 version of SJP (BWV 245). Johan copied it for me and it is a very iteresting and good recording. Maybe Johan could make a copy for you, or,if Johan doesn't mind, I could make a copy of my copy, which is on CD.

Riccardo Nughes wrote (February 2, 2005):
< I hope Johan van Veen is still a list member. He wrote about a radio recording he made from an SJP (BWV 245) performance of a reconstruction of Bach's very first 1724 version of SJP (BWV 245). >
I'm not sure but it should be this new release ->
http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product//CCSSA22005.htm

Jim Groeneveld wrote (February 2, 2005):
[To Riccardo Nughes] No, I don't think so, Riccardo. You are referring to a CD-recording. The radio recording was a live OVPP performance, which I missed, but could enjoy later many times, thanks to Johan van Veen. It had the following cast, which information I copied from the radio guide in April 2001:

Cappella Figuralis:
Jos van Veldhoven (Conductor)
Achim Klein(Evangelist)

Choir I:
Maria Rosenmöller (s), Peter de Groot (a), Robert Morvai (t), Henk Neven(b)
Choir II:
Irmela Brünger (s), Dorien Lievers (a), Immo Schröder (t), Arnout Lems (b)

The singers in choir I sang the arias in part 2, those in choir II sang the arias in part 1. The bass Henk Neven sang all bass solos, Arnout Lems sang the Christ part.

Instrumentalists:
Pieter Affourtit (solo), Antoinette Lohmann (violin), Sayuri Yamagata (violin, viola), Staas Swierstra (viola), Richte van der Meer (cello), Mieneke van der Velden (viola da gamba), Margaret Urquhart (contrabass), Michael Niesemann, Peter Frankenberg (oboe), Pieter Dirksen (organ), Siebe Henstra (cembalo), Mike Fentross (theorbe).

Sw Anandgyan wrote (February 3, 2005):
Markku Laurikainen wrote:
[snip] < Nowdays are the Passions most important to me. My immediate interest in the group is to find a certain "different" recording of St. John Passion
(BWV 245).
Sincerely,
Mara >
I just posted this bit:

" Maria,
This is the different SJP (BWV 245) recording
you have been looking for. "

I'm sorry I got your first name wrong.
I had you in mind.

Mara, Maria ...

Two names that are grammatically so close and " spiritually " so opposite if you're
curious about Christian faith and Buddhist philosophy.

- never mind -

;-)

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (February 3, 2005):
[To Markku Laurikainen] Finally, someone who speaks my language--the Passion story. I find that to me (not just as a Christian or as an Evangelical (Lutheran), but also as a person, and a deeply religious one at that, who has studied countless hours both religious history and doctrine for my own amusement) the Passion and Passiontide holds a great deal more weight than that other great religious holiday, Christmas. After all, whilst it is important to commemorate the coming of our redemption in the person of the Babe of Bethlehem, I find that it is even more important to truly commemorate the fulfillment of our redemption that took place that first Friday in April the year 33 CE at a place known variably as Golgatha or Calvary. For this reason (as well as the fact that I like minor-keyed music), the settings of the Passion and Oratorios inspired by the Passion story hold a chief place amongst my favorite musical works of art.

A side note: I just listened to samples of the Channel recording of the 1724 Johannespassion (BWV 245), and whilst I would gladly buy it, there is one serious flaw in the performance. The same is shared with the Max recording of the 1749 version. The flaw is that it only uses 10 singers in the Choir. In Bach's day, it was customary to use 10 singers per part. That is to say, to use 10 Sopranos, 10 Altos, 10 Tenors, and 10 Basses. Therefore, the size of the Choir would be 40 members.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (February 3, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
"The flaw is that it only uses 10 singers in the Choir. In Bach's day, it was customary to use 10 singers per part. That is to say, to use 10 Sopranos, 10 Altos, 10 Tenors, and 10 Basses. Therefore, the size of the Choir would be 40 members."
We've been here before! Not necessarily (to put it mildly....)

Doug Cowling wrote (February 3, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< I find that it is even more important to truly commemorate the fulfillment of our redemption that took place that first Friday in April the year 33 CE at a place known variably as Golgatha or Calvary. >
The weight of scholarship suggests April 7, 30 C.E. as the probable date of the Crucifixion.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Johannes-Passion BWV 245 - General Discussions Part 5 [Other Vocal Works]

David Glenn Lebut Jr.
wrote (February 4, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
<< I find that it is even more important to truly commemorate the fulfillment of our redemption that took place that first Friday in April the year 33 CE at a place known variably as Golgatha or Calvary. >>
Doug Cowling wrote:
< The weight of scholarship suggests April 7, 30 C.E. as the probable date of the Crucifixion. >
Not according to most of the research that I have seen, both scholarly and otherwise.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Jesus' Life [General Topics]

 

Ask for opinion

Juan Carlos Herreara wrote (February 11, 2005):
I am Juan Carlos Herrera from Chile. I am in the way of becoming a "mad" fan of J.S. Bach. In relation to recordings, I would appreciate if someone in the club can comment on the following:
1.- Herrewegue recordings, in particular, the S.M. Passion (BWV 244). I have the classical Klemperer's and Richter's and need some opinion on how these compare to the Herrewegue.

2.- I have some old cassettes on bach music with Max Pommer conducting and Güttler in trompet and an orchestra from Leipzig, recorded in Capriccio or something like this, wich are already unplayable. Any hint whether these are available on CD┤s ?

Thank you..

. the tetes hints before buying

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 12, 2005):
[To Juan Carlos Herrera]
Welcome aboard!

Please take a look at the page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Pommer.htm which includes list of recordings of Bach's vocal works conducted by Max Pommer.
I believe that the recording you are referring to is [C-5]
This album is included in a cheap 11-CD box set, which is available from JPC
(Germany). See: http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/hnum/9660841/rk/classic/rsk/hitlist

John Pike wrote (February 12, 2005):
[To Juan Carlos Herrera] You cannot go wrong with Herreweghe in Bach. It is consistently excellent.

 

Introduction

Johan de Ryck wrote (February 12, 2005):
I've been reading this mailinglist for about a week and I haven't introduced myself yet. I'm a student in theology at the catholic university of Leuven, Belgium, with a thesis project on 'situating' Bach between lutheran orthodoxy and pietism being the 'only' obstacle left for my master degree. But I'm sure that project will go with me for the rest of my life. Besides that I started a study in musicology last semester as well. Since my friends and colleages at the university often hear me commit heresies such as proclaming 'Soli Bach Gloria', I'm sure I'll have a good time reading the discussions on this list :).

Doug Cowling wrote (February 12, 2005):
[To Johan de Ryck] I hope you'll contribute your knowledge of historical theology to the discussion. It will be nice having a professional theologian to help us through the knotty relationship of various Lutheran theologies. Welcome.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (February 13, 2005):
[To Johan de Ryck] Vielen gruess.

I think that it would be interesting to have a Catholic's views on Bach, his music, his importance, and his religiosity.

I myself am half Italian, and all my mother's family were brought up in the "Mother Church".

Having said this, though, I find myself more inclined towards my paternal grandfather's family (whose parents were German Evangelical immigrants [I trust that you, who are closer to das Vaterland than most people (or at least those in America) know what I mean by Evangelical. Here is a hint if you don't: I am referring to the splinter faith that was started by a certain monk of the Order of the Augustinian Emerites and Dr., Professor, and Chair of Biblical Theology in Wittenberg (now in the state of Sachsen-Anhalt, then part of Electoral Saxony) in 1517 when he nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the Electoral Chapel in that city (of course, I am referring to Dr. Martin Luther and to the church that bears his name now (not that he himself referred to it as such--he always called it either Christian or Evangelical)]).

As to the debate, whilst Bach did have sympathies with the Pietists, and whihis music has Pietistic qualities, he nevertheless was firmly in the Orthodox camp both by training and by personal conviction. And for good reasons in his case. After all, the Pietists (like the Calvinists before them) were totally against music, or at least against anything by Psalm-singing. Pietism even began as a reaction to what it saw as the "worldliness and doctrinal dryness" of Orthodox Evangelicalism (and hence also its Catholicity). And whilst it did preserve a sense of religiosity in the community and helped foster the second greatest flowering of religious thought and poetry (and hence also Chorale-writing) since the days of Luther, it also bred an intense hatred of the overly dramatic and complex music being written at the time and replaced it with simple Psalms. The Pietist writers were not at all favorable to music. This is why, with very few exceptions, one coes not hear about Pietist musicians. The one notable exception would be the family Ahle. Both Johann Georg and Johann Rudolf Ahle were Pietist Organists at Divi Blasii in Mühlhausen, and Bach inherited the position from the latter. So it was small wonder that the congregation he inherited (including the Pastor) were mortified and shocked by the excessively Orthodox music he was producing.

I have to say that personally I agree with Bach. I have read the works of Jakob Philipp Spener (one of the founders of the Pietist movement), and find it so anti-music and anti-arts in general. If the whole object of the arts (as with all other human endeavors) is to glorify God and give witness to one's faith, then why be so much against them? why associate them with the work of the Devil (as the Pietists and Calvinists did and do)?

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (February 13, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] There is nothing really knotty at all about it. And there is no such thing as "various Lutheran theologies". There is only one "Lutheran" theology. this was written down in 1580 in a book called Concordia (in English, the Book of Concord).

Also, there is no such thing as "Lutheran theology" for the simple fact that there is no such thing as a "Lutheran". This term was applied to the church that Luther ended up establishing by late-19th/early 20th century Americans and adopted later in Europe. We called ourselves simply either as Christians or Evangelicals since these were the terms Luther himself used.

Pietism came as a response to the believed "worldliness" of Orthodox Evangelicals.

Also, I would not totally expect much help from Johan. After all, he is not studying or even involved in the Evangelical faith at all. He is studying to be a Catholic theologian.

Unlike the Catholics, our theology has never changed. It remains now as it had when Luther posted the 95 Theses to the door of the Schlosskirche zu Wittenberg on 31 October 1517. Pietism is not a theology, but rather a religious reaction to the secular society. It is, as I call it, "the Reformation of the Reformation", meaning a call back to the faith of the Reformation, just as the Reformation was a call back to the faith of the Fathers, the early Church, and of the Apostles.

Eric Bergerud wrote (February 13, 2005):
[In response to David Glenn Lebut Jr.'s 2nd message]
There's no such thing as Lutheran theology? You mean I went through two years of very hard study for nothing? Tell that to the young gents (and now women) of Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul that I used to deliver papers too.

As far as the theology not changing, I'm so sure. In my recollection the Pietests, "high Church" Lutherans, Methodists and others were brewing up quite a storm (not to mention rationalist Protestantism which held the fort, of all places, at Halle not long after Bach's time) throughout the 18th Century. I'll grant that the New World churches almost by necessity had to dance to their own drummer, but the I believe the first formal union between Evangelical Lutherans and Reformed happened in Bohemia and has been copied many times since in the USA. And Lutherans have had their bouts with the social gospel on and off since the 18th Century. (Not sure if it's the Nordic love of order or not, but Lutheran Services today has the reputation as one of the most efficient and pragmatic of the large American charities.)

In the real world I'm not so sure that Luther would be happy with the good citizens that worship in his name today in Minnesota. If the theological issues that powered the Reformation were put up to a spiritual vote today, I wonder whether Luther would crush Erasmus now as easily as he did then. (Let's agree that indulgences probably would not go down well in the 21st Century. They weren't going down well in the 16th Century. If that had been the only problem, Luther might have been made a Cardinal.) Would the modern Lutheran dismiss free will as a charade? Do modern Lutherans dismiss "good works" as a way of getting on the right side of the God? Would modern Lutherans dismiss an attempt to find support for faith in rational observation of the natural world? I will grant that the emphasis on the congregation remains, as does the emphasis on faith. But even revelation through scripture alone might not pass muster. I was taught forty years ago that the Old Testament included much metaphor. (According to Bainton, Luther had similar thoughts, but feared that any doubts on a literal interpretation of scripture could not easily be controlled.) Not once was I ever told that I was a member of the "elect." Predestination is another topic that I haven't heard discussed from the pulpit. Nor do I think one Lutheran in twenty could tell you the doctrinal differences between themselves and a Methodist. (Except that Lutheran wine has alcohol in it - it's not very good.) I'm not discussing Christmas and Easter Christians here. True enough, our Lutherans are still Evangelical in their own way. Nevertheless, I rather think that American Lutherans have much more in common with American Catholics than they would have with 16th Century Lutherans. But they still sing hymns. But no cantatas. Might have been the Pietists.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (February 13, 2005):
[To Eric Bergerud] Now you have made all of this very confusing. The Evangelical Lutherans are now part of the Episcopal Church (read Church of England in the United States) and their Liturgy is about the same as ours except the there are some differences in hymnals etc.

If I recall correctly all this split with other Lutherans came about because of Women in the Church, Gay Clergy and other issues which we in the American and Canadian have resolved although some of our extreamists conservatives would not agree with this surmizemnet.

Doug Cowling wrote (February 13, 2005):
[In response to David Glenn Lebut Jr.'s 2nd message]
Well David, once again you managed to offend just about everyone on the list. Not only have you dismissed the theological discussion but you have cast professional and personal aspersions on a new member.

Frankly, if you can't express yourself adequately and courteously in English, then you should restrict your comments to factual details in your own language. I never want to hear such a comment about a newcomer again.

I repeat my welcome Johan and reassert that the observations of a professional theoloigian are always valuable.

Mike Mannix wrote (February 14, 2005):
I met a Jesuit once who said: 'Luther wasnt a Saint, but he was the next best thing!'

 

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