Bach Cantatas Website - Newsletters
The Bach Cantatas Website celebrates its 9th anniversary
Aryeh Oron wrote (January 3, 2010):
The Bach Cantatas Website (BCW) was launched in its current form and address on December 30, 2000.
The BCW is located at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com
Description: The Bach Cantatas Website (BCW) is a comprehensive site covering all Description: The Bach Cantatas Website (BCW) is a comprehensive site covering all aspects of J.S. Bach's cantatas and his other vocal works. The BCW contains discussions and detailed discographies of each cantata and other vocal works, performers and general topics. The BCW also contains texts and translations, scores, music examples, articles and interviews, and over 6,500 short biographies of performers of Bach's vocal works and players of his keyboard and lute works, as well as of poets & composers associated with Bach. There are also other relevant resources such as the Lutheran church year, database of chorale texts & melodies and their authors, detailed discographies of many Bach's instrumental works (solo keyboard, lute, Art of Fugue, Musical Offering, etc.) and piano transcriptions and their performers, reviews and discussions of Bach's instrumental works, books and movies on Bach, terms and abbreviations, schedule of concerts of Bach's vocal works, Bach Festivals & Cantata Series, guide to Bach tour, Bach in arts & memorabilia, thousands of links to other relevant resources. The BCW is an international collective project, being compiled from various postings about the subject, most of which have been sent to the Bach Mailing Lists.
Some statistics: by the end of 2009, the BCW contains over 21,700 pages, 60,500 photos, 3,100 music files, and 1,100 PDF files
The BCW is definitely the most popular site dedicated to J.S. Bach and his music and amongst the most popular sites dedicated to Classical Music in general.
The BCW has each day about 10,000-12,000 visits, from about 10,000 users, who see about 40,000-50,000 pages.
The BCW is rated very high in Google and other search engines, and there are thousands of links from other websites to the BCW (30,000-40,000 according to various sources).
I would like to use this opportunity to thank the numerous contributors to the discussions in the Bach Mailing Lists and some other lists, whose messages are compiled into the pages of the BCW. Their names are mentioned accordingly above each quoted message. I would also like to thank the many Bach lovers around the world who have sent me material to be included in the BCW, such as articles, translation of cantata texts, recording details, biographies, photos, music examples, links to other sites, etc. Their names are mentioned accordingly in the relevant pages.
There have been many improvements & additions to the BCW last year; of which the major ones were:
A. New look of thousands of pages.
B. All the BGA Scores of Bach's vocal works
C. Revised discography Bach's major vocal works: Matthäus-Passion, Johannes-Passion, Markus-Passion, Mass in B minor, Weihnachts-Oratorium.
D. Revised discography Goldberg Variations.
E. Table & Annual Calendar of Major Bach Events.
F. New section - Orchestral Arrangements/Transcriptions of Bach's works.
G. New section - Bach Festivals & Cantata Series.
H. Guide to Bach Tour - Revised, updated & expanded version.
I. Over 1,100 new bios of artists & composers, making the collection of over 6,600 musician bios on the BCW one of the biggest of its kind over the web.
F. Texts & translations section - hundreds of new translations, including complete sets of Russian translations by Peter Meshcherinov and Catalan translations by Antoni Sàbat i Aguilera.
For more info, please take a look at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/Newsletter-2009.htm
I am encouraged by the positive feedback the BCW is getting from all over the world. Many of the feedback messages from last year can be read at the page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/About-2009.htm
I continue to look forward to receiving your comments (corrections, suggestions, improvements, etc.) about the BCW. The instructions how to send me comments, appear in the following page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/How.htm
I wish you all another Great and Happy Bach Year!
BCW: Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel - Bist du bei mir BWV 508 and Brockes-Passion
Aryeh Oron wrote (January 13, 2010):
Bist du bei mir BWV 508
The aria Bist du bei mir BWV 508, is one of the best-known items in the 1725 Clavierbüchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach. This aria was part of the Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel opera Diomedes, oder die triumphierende Unschuld that was performed in Bayreuth on November 16, 1718. The original opera score is lost. The aria may have been transcribed and set by J.S. Bach as a solo aria appropriate for his wife's voice, and she may also have had to do some of the copying. No one will ever know how the actual transmission occurred. This popular song was attributed to J.S. Bach by the BGA editors, but now Stölzel is credited with the composition. The piece has become a very popular choice for wedding ceremonies and other such occasions.
I have recently revised and updated the discography of Bist du bei mir BWV 508 in the same method I used last year for Bach's major vocal works.
Complete recordings of AMN: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV508-523.htm
Recordings of Bist du bei mir and other individual songs from AMN: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV508-523-Rec2.htm
Apart from the 16 complete recordings of AMN, 118 recordings of Bist du bei mir are now presented (in the previous version there were 94). The last in the line so far (No. 118) is from a new German movie "Albert Schweitzer - ein leben für Afrika". The aria was also featured in the 2005 French movies "Joyeux Noël" (Merry Christmas), accompanied by piano, violins, and cello (No. 107).
I would appreciate any help in making this discography even more comprehensive, updated and accurate by adding recordings, correcting errors and completing missing details.
As mentioned above, the most popular work by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, the aria Bist du bei mir, became initially famous because is was (and in some circles still is) often mistakenly attributed to J.S. Bach
If this lead you to the assumption that Stölzel might have written more good music, you would not be mistaken. Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690-1747) was the Kapellmeister of the court at Gotha from 1729 until his death in 1749. He also wrote for Sonderhausen. He was a very prolific composer: his lifetime corpus includes seven passions and 12 complete annual cantata cycles as well as cantatas to secular texts. According to reliable sources he composed at least 900 cantatas, and about 500 hundreds of these have come down in full. He also wrote much instrumental music. According to sad circumstances about half of Stölzel's output has not survived, including 80 orchestral suites and 4 operas. As with Bach, I believe that we should be grateful for what has survived instead of being sad of what we lost. Among the Stölzel's survived works we have gems as the Brockes-Passion.
About a year ago I discovered Stölzel's Brockes-Passion. The text of the Brockes-Passion was written by the Hamburg poet and burger Barthold Heinrich Brockes and was published in 1712. The work was one of the first passion oratorios - a free, poetic meditation on the passion story. It became quite popular and was set to music many times. Already in 1712 Brockes organised a performance of the first musical setting of the text, by the opera composer Reinhard Keiser, in his home. The poetic text met with immediate recognition: its theological accent and the new possibilities of artistic design thit opened up were just what people of those times needed and wanted. Other musicians set the libretto to music in rapid succession. G.F. Handel supplied the second version, probably in 1715. G.P. Telemann performed his setting of the passion in Frankfurt in 1716. Astute businessman that he was, Brockes found a clever way of getting around the ban on charging admission to a church. He put texts of the passion on sale and made their purchase obligatory. The settings by J. Mattheson in 1719 and G.H. Stölzel in 1725 were followed by numerous other later settings: J.F. Fasch (c1730), C.G. Fröber, J. Schuback, Steininger, J.B.C. Freißlich, and J.C. Bachofen. J.S. Bach employed some passages from the poem in his Johannes-Passion (BWV 245) and even performed G.P. Telemann's setting of the Brockes-Passion.
The story of the re-discovery of Stölzel's Brockes-Passion is somewhat peculiar:
The years following Stölzel's death posed great dangers for the transmission of his works. The next generation of composers in the 18th century often regarded his style as old-fashioned and were convinced that they could do everything much better. So why keep this old musical junk around? That must have been what was thought of his work in Gotha: almost nothing by him housed there managed to survive. That the Brockes-Passion was able to survive is something that we owe to a fortunate series of circumstances.
Stölzel sent a copy of the passion to Sonderhausen, presumably in 1735. After several performances at the court there (such as is indicated by the parts, some of which have come down to us in multiple copies), it was stored away with numerous other compositions by him in a container. The container ended up behind the organ, and soon nobody remembered that it was there. It was not until 1870 that the court organist Heinrich Frankenberger and the later Bach biographer Philipp Spitta rediscovered it. Another hundred years would go by before a musicologist would take a closer look at Stölzel. Fritz Hennenberg's dissertation of 1965 includes a catalogue of Stölzel's cantatas and makes some remarks about the passion. In 1996 Ludger Rémy undertook a closer examination of the sources and did some research into the background of the Gotha passion performances. After some 250 years the passion was performed again for the first time in 1997.
In the personal foreword to his recording of Stölzel's Brockes-Passion (CPO, 1998), Ludger Rémy writes:
"When I read the first pages of the score manuscript from Sondershausen, I was overcome by all sorts of emotions and felt no little shock. Here was a work that had been lying dormant for over 250 years, and it had an inner strength and power to it that have continued to hold me under their spell ever since then. Incredible music...and after reading it I was a changed man.
Ever since then I hove regarded the Brockes Passion by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel as one of the most moving and genuinely human pieces of music that I have ever performed or had the good fortune to hear, and I reckon Stölzel among the truly great masters of the Central German Baroque, one who is perhaps even superior to most other composers of those times in his effect on heart and soul. I believe that the helpless silence and perplexity of humanity in face of the unchangingness of existence has only rarely found such eloquent expression in music."
And what about the music and recording of Stölzel's Brockes-Passion, the raison d'être of mentioning it here?
From the captivating and mesmerizing opening chorus, through a chain of 61 consecutive movements, including interspersion of melodious and imaginative recitatives, heart-rending and beautiful if sometimes too brief arias, chorales, and powerful and impressive turbae choruses, you are easily grasped by this sublime work. When it is finished the only thing you want is listening to it all over again. Although this Passion is quite different from the much more familiar Passions of Bach, it should be said to its credit, that it does not stand in their shadow. Stölzel creates his own unique world, full of charm, beauty and drama. He describes Jesus's suffering in a personal penetrating and moving way. You are reminded of Bach only in some of chorales, which have been used also by Bach. On the other hand, Stölzel's original treatment of the chorales only emphasizes the differences between him and Bach.
The conductor Ludger Rémy uses a first-rate period-instrument small ensemble, good chamber choir and a superb roster of vocal soloists; some of them are familiar from recordings of Bach's vocal works. Among them are soprano Dorothee Mields, with angelic voice and dramatic expression, the earthier and no-less impressive soprano Constanze Backes, the native-sounding strong-voiced counter-tenor Henning Voss, the tenors Knut Schoch (who sang the lion's share of tenor parts in Leusink's Bach cantata cycle) as the Evangelist, and Andreas Post (whom I prefer) in most of the arias, and the dignified, authoritative and reliable as ever Klaus Mertens (who sang all the bass parts in Koopman's Bach cantata cycle) as Jesus.
There is nothing that should have improved is this only recording of Stölzel's Brockes-Passion. However, I wonder why has not any other conductor took upon himself recording this work since 1997. There are 174 recordings of Bach's Matthäus-Passion, 153 recordings of his Johannes-Passion and only one recording of Stölzel's Brockes-Passion. I do not know to whom should I address this request, but I would like to hear more recordings of the latter. The work definitely deserves it and you deserve hearing it.
Further reading on the BCW:
Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel biography: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Stolzel-Gottfried-Heinrich.htm
Comprehensive discography of G.H. Stölzel's vocal works: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Stolzel-Vocal.htm
[The recording of the Brockes-Passion is No. V-2]
Discussions of Stölzel & Bach: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Stolzel-Gen1.htm
Barthold Heinrich Brockes biography & Brockes-Passion: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Brockes-Barthold-Heinrich.htm
Ludger Rémy biography: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Remy-Ludger.htm
Sundays & Holidays in the Lifetime of J.S. Bach
Aryeh Oron wrote (March 8, 2010):
On January 16, 2006, Douglas Cowling wrote:
"I know this is a huge request, but I would love to see lists of the Lutheran Church Year from 1685 - 1750 showing the dates of variable feasts such as Easter and the weekdays upon which fixed feasts such as Christmas fell.
This would be an invaluable resource in determining Bach's compositional calendar. For example in some years, depending on the day of the week which Christmas fell on, Bach might write a cantata for the Sunday after Christmas or one for the Sunday after Circumcision/New Year. Or the number of cantatas required between Epiphany and Lent or between Trinity Sunday and the last Sunday after Epiphany (the six parts of the Christmas Oratorio clearly reflect the weekday pattern of Dec 25 to Jan 6 in a particular year)."
Following this request and a recent discussion on the BCML, I have created a calendar of the Lutheran Church Year (LCY) for the Sundays & Holidays in the Lifetime of J.S. Bach (1685-1750).
There is a page every Year with dates of all the events in the LCY.
There is a page for each Event in the LCY with a list of all the Years/dates in which this event occurred.
There is also a table with the Events in German/English and the corresponding Bach's works.
I am in a process of adding the vocal works performed by J.S. Bach to the Year/Event pages.
So far I have covered the Events from New Year's Day to Sexagesima.
See, for example the page of Septuagesima, which contains this week's Cantata BWV 84:
For easy reference, this page is also linked from the main page of Cantata BWV 84:
I was greatly helped by Dr. Georg Fischer from south-west Germany in preparing the calendar. I am sincerely grateful to him for his willing to contribute the data which was the basis for this calendar.
Please send me your comments and/or inform me of any error you find.
Sundays & Holidays in the Lifetime of J.S. Bach - Phase 2
Aryeh Oron wrote (March 13, 2010):
Last week I informed you of the addition of a calendar of the Lutheran Church Year (LCY) for the Sundays & Holidays in the Lifetime of J.S. Bach (1685-1750).
There is a page for every Year with dates of all the events in the LCY.
There is a page for each Event in the LCY with a list of all the Years/dates in which this event occurred.
There is also a table with the Events in German/English and the corresponding Bach's works.
I am glad to inform me that I have just finished the second phase of this project. I have added Performances of vocal works by J.S. Bach to the calendar, including both works from his own pen and by other composers.
- Event pages contain now all the vocal works performed by J.S. Bach on this Event.
- Year pages contain only vocal works, of which definite performance date/s by J.S. Bach are known.
See, for example:
Year 1726 page, with many works by J.L. Bach: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/1726.htm
Sexagesima Sunday page, the cantatas of which would be discussed in the next few weeks, starting with BWV 18: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/Sexagesimae.htm
Another interesting Event page is Good Friday: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/Karfreitag.htm
The Event & Year pages in the calendar list only vocal works associated with the events in the LCY and performed by J.S. Bach. Vocal works associated with other events (such as weddings, town council, secular events, etc.) are not listed. However there are two complementary chronological lists on the BCW:
Vocal works performed by J.S. Bach: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Date.htm
Works of other composers performed by J.S. Bach: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Work-Perform.htm
The Year & Event pages would gradually be linked from the work pages and from other pages on the BCW.
See, for example, the main page of Cantata BWV 18: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV18.htm
I have a small request:
I would like to add to the Event pages descriptions of all the events, including:
- Meaning of the name.
- Meaning of the event.
- How the event is celebrated in the Lutheran Church, and especially how was it celebrated in J.S. Bach's time.
- Date of the event and how is it calculated.
- Other important information.
I know that the BCML has many members with good knowledge of this field. Any member wishing to contribute is asked to send me a message OFF-LIST.
Seven articles available online
Uri Golomb wrote (December 6, 2010):
For several years, I have written articles and reviews for Goldberg Early Music Magazine, which unfortunately was closed two years ago.
I have now sent several Bach articles, originally published there, to Aryeh Oron, who kindly placed them on the Bach Cantatas website; see links at the end of: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/index.htm
This includes two interviews (with Ton Koopman and Joshua Rifkin) and five articles: on the Art of Fugue, the St Matthew Passion, the Oratorios, the four "Lutheran" Masses, and rhetorical performance of baroque music - focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on Bach's music.
XLS Spreadsheet Posted in Files
Eric Basta wrote (December 24, 2010):
I posted an XLS spreadsheet of cantata information (BWV, voicing, key etc...). I had been gathering information to make tagging of music files easier, and I think other people may find information in an XLS format useful. The spreadsheet is by no means complete and is still a work in progress and will probably contain many errors as well. If someone does find it useful and decides to fill out information in it, please post the file (change the date in the file name!) so we may have a more complete information source. Please note, the notes, if any, are not my own, but culled from the internet.
Hello - please see the XLS sheet for download under the "CONTENTS" section at this URL: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/IndexBWV.htm.
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