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Parodies in Bach’s Vocal Works
Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Bach transcribing (to or from) his own cantatas

Alan Melvin wrote (July 12, 2004):
In the process of listening to (so far) about 150 Bach cantatas, I keep coming across music which I think I've heard before in transcribed form, but I can't trace it.

The few I've already identified are common knowledge: the Schuebler chorales, the Preludio BWV 1006, Adagio BWV 1056, and the cantata sinfonias based on BWV 1046 and 1048. But these seem to be only the beginning.

Is there any resource (perhaps a book I can find in the music conservatory library) that can help me assemble a list of these transcriptions?

P.S. - The latest one I'm curious about is the so-called turtle-dove chorus from BWV 71. I could swear I heard this as an organ solo years ago. Anyone familiar with it?

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 12, 2004):
[To Alan Melvin] If this is your first message to the BCML, then welcome aboard!

The beautiful website 'Music & Nature' by Henny van der Groep, a long-time member of the BCML, includes a comprehensive list of all the parodies of J.S. Bach. See: http://web.inter.nl.net/hcc/Egbert.Baars/Parodieen/parodie.htm

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 12, 2004):
[To Aryeh Oron] I am surprised that he did not include the four greatest examples of Bach's self-parody: BWV 244a (from BWV 198 and BWV 244), BWV 245 Fassung II (from eventually BWV 244 and the Weimarer Passion and BWV 23/4), BWV 248, and BWV 247.

Sw Anandgyan wrote (July 14, 2004):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] David, I bookmarked the site then looked again and saw that it says BWV 198 as the original and BWV 244 as the parody. There are mentions of the use of two other originals, BWV 106, BWV 161 for the aforementioned parody.

Maybe I misunderstood your point, I was a tad confused about the Weimar Passion bit until I googled it and lo and behold I was able to read some Joshua Rifkin's notes about the SMP (BWV 244) on the BCW !

Lots of dedication in some labors of love, wouldn't you say ?

Russell Telfer wrote (July 14, 2004):
[To Alan Melvin] Two comments: about the Turtledove chorus. When I first heard it, I was baffled. It wasn't Bach's style at all. I heard this 20 years ago, and I don't think I've heard any other work by Bach which might count as a reworking of it. However, I have heard at least one work with a very similar ending. Le Coucou, a harpsichord piece, something like that.

As for transcriptions and retranscriptions, I've come across a few, but it's the kind of question I couldn't provide chapter and verse quickly.

What might help is Riemenschneider's 371 harmonised chorales which shows how for example Christus, der uns selig macht appears in 4 separate guises, and a chorale that appears in two separate cantatas may pinpoint links where other movements have also been retranscribed.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 15, 2004):
[To Sw Anandgyan] He did not mention BWV 244a, though. He did mention BWV 244b, but not BWV 244a. BWV 244b is the Frühfassung der Mattuaehspassion. BWV 244a is the Truaekantate (BWV 198) for Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen's funeral. He also never mentioned BWV 247.

Also, the Weimarer-Passion connection has nothing to do with the Matthaeuspassion, but with the Johannespassion, and particularly the second version of it.

John Pike wrote (July 15, 2004):
[To Aryeh Oron] A most interesting site. Some questions for David, especially:

1. Does the music for BWV 244a still exist and are there any recordings of it?

2. Which passions by Bach do we still have music for (if any) other than:
SMP (BWV 244) 1727/29 and 1736 versions
SJP (BWV 245) 1724, 1725 and 1749 versions
One movement from the Apocryphal St Luke Passion

3. What is latest scholarship on the composer of the St Luke Passion?

4. David has mentioned a Weimar Passion. Does the music for this still exist?

5. What is the connection between Bach and the St Mark Passion (BWV 247) originally attributed to Reinhard Keiser and now attributed to Bruhns?

Many thanks

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 16, 2004):
[To John Pike]
< 1. Does the music for BWV 244a still exist and are there any recordings of it? >
No recordings that I know of. The music is possibly lost. I have seen where the NBA has it (Vol. I/41), but also have heard and read where it is lost. I am working on a reconstruction of it and of all versions of Bach's Passion music.

< 2. Which passions by Bach do we still have music for (if any) other than:
SMP (
BWV 244) 1727/29 and 1736 versions
SJP (
BWV 245) 1724, 1725 and 1749 versions
One movement from the Apocryphal St Luke Passion >
Actually, what we have as far as the Matthaeuspassion is concerned is the version from 1742 (that one that Richter recorded in 1979). We have only the parts for the 1736 version. We have the text and could easilly reconstruct the movements for the Markuspassion (BWV 247). Also, only two movements are missing (tbe one that replaces Nrs. 13 and 14 and the Sinfonie that replaces Nrs. 33-35) from a complete reconstruction of the 1732 version of the Johannespassion (BWV 245). I have a few ideas of workable movements for the Sinfonie, but would welcome some suggestions for the Arie. As to the Lukaspassion, I also think that this is workable.

< 3. What is latest scholarship on the composer of the St Luke Passion? >
The latest that I know of is that it is still unknown. The best source for current info (outside of the Bach-Jahrbuch and possibly Christoph Wolff's new Bach biography) is the liner notes of the Helbich recording.

< 4. David has mentioned a Weimar Passion. Does the music for this still exist? >
The music and text for this work (BWV deest, BC D 01) is lost. However, Bach used for sure five movements, although I have heard and read of at least seven movements, in other works. The five definites were reused in the 1725 version of the Johannespassion (BWV 245), and two were also reused in other works. The two that were also reused in other works were the opening and closing Choralsaetze: "O Mensch, bewein' dein' Suende gross'" (openining Choralsatz), which was reused (transposed up 1/2 step) in the 1736 and 1742 versions of the Matthäuspassion (BWV 244), and "Christe, du Lamm Gottes," (closing Choralsatz), which Bach also used as the fourth and final movement of "Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn" BWV 23, which he performed for the first time (along with BWV 22) at his trial for the position of Leipzig Thomaskantor. The other three definites were also reused in the 1725 Johannespassion (BWV 245): the Bassarie mit Choral "Himmelreise, Welt erbebe", the Tenora"Zerschmettert mich, ihr Felsen und ihr Hügel", and the Tenorarie "Ach, windet euch nicht so, geplagte Seelen,". The two others are the Choralsatz "Christus, der uns selig macht," BWV 283 and an unspecified movement Bach also used in the Kantate "Ich, armer Mensch, ich Suendenknecht" BWV 55.

This work Bach wrote in Weimar and performed it on Good Friday 1717 in Gotha at the request of the the court there in the stead of the Kapellmeister Christian Friedrich Witt (who was at the time on his deathbed).

< 5. What is the connection between Bach and the St Mark Passion (BWV 247) originally attributed to Reinhard Keiser and now attributed to Bruhns? >
Bach wrote three Passionspasticcios on this work during his lifetime. The first (BWV deest (BC D 05a), which was also his first forray into this field of Sacred music) was written between 1710 and 1712 and performed on Good Friday of the latter year in Weimar. For this version, Bach wrote two Choralsaetze: "O hilf, Christe, Gottes Sohn," BWV deest, Serie II: 002, and "O Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid," BWV deest, Serie II: 003.

In 1726 (two years after the premier of the Johannespassion and a little over halfway into his third Cantata cycle), Bach wrote a second Passionspasticcio on this work. For this (BWV deest (BC D 05b)), Bach wrote three Choralsaetze: "So gehst du nun, mein Jesu, hin," BWV 500a, "O hilf, Christe, Gottes Sohn," BWV 1084, and "O Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid," BWV deest (Serie II: 004).

Finally, between 1743 and 1748, Bach composed a third Passionspasticcio on this work. This one (BWV deest (Serie II: 005)) was a very curious affair. In addition to the main work and the first two of the three Choralsaetze mentioned in the 1726
version, Bach also borrowed at least seven Arien from Georg Friedrich Händel's Brockespassion HWV 48, namely Hallische Händelausgabe Nr. 9, Nr. 23, Nr. 41, Nr. 44, Nr. 47, Nr. 52, and Nr. 55.

John Pike wrote (July 16, 2004):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] Many thanks, David. Most helpful. A couple of points. You say that only the parts for the 1736 version of the SMP (BWV 244) survive but I felt sure it was the score of that version (with red ink for the libretto and the Bach-restored cover) that was included on my SACD recording of the SMP (BWV 244) by Harnoncourt (his 3rd recording, 2000/1). Please could you check this?

Also, it is generally accepted that much of the St Mark passion (BWV 247) was a paody of BWV 198 but I was under the impression that there was considerable uncertainty over the remainder of the music, so much so that both the recordings I have use music from "Keiser's" (Bruhn's?) St Mark Passion to fill in the gaps, i.e. recitatives and Turba choruses.

Many thanks

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 16, 2004):
John Pike wrote:
< Many thanks, David. Most helpful. A couple of points. You say that only the parts for the 1736 version of the SMP (BWV 244) survive but I felt sure it was the score of that version (with red ink for the libretto and the Bach-restored cover) that was included on my SACD recording of the SMP (BWV 244) by Harnoncourt (his 3rd recording, 2000/1). Please could you check this? >
I got that fromthe liner notes of the Rilling recording.

< Also, it is generally accepted that much of the St Mark passion (BWV 247) was a paody of BWV 198 but I was under the impression that there was considerable uncertainty over the remainder of the music, so much so that both the recordings I have use music from "Keiser's" (Bruhn's?) St Mark Passion to fill in the gaps, i.e. recitatives and Turba
choruses. >
Actually, there was only about five or six movements of the work that was parodied from BWV 198. A couple movements (the first Turba Chorus and the one that starts "Pfui dich") were parodied from BWV 248, and the rest was unknown. While I do like the Goodman recording (which is based on Heigh's reconstruction), there are a few things I would change and actually favor in the Koopman recording. Here they are:

1.) The Tenorarie "Falsche Welt" should be sung by a Tenor, not a Counter-Tenor (which Goodman uses). Also the mood is better.

2.) The Turba Chorus "Weissage uns" is in the major (ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) in the Goodman recording (as it was in the Keiser/Bruhns Markuspassion). Koopman parodies the movement from the Matthäuspassion (BWV 244) "Weissage uns, Christe" for this movement (a better fit, I feel).

3.) Either way of the final Chorus "Bei deinem Grab und Leichenstein" is good.

 

BWV 1052's secular origin [was: Introduction to BWV 133...]

Continue of Discussion from: Cantata BWV 133 - Discussions

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 12, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>Isn't the D minor harpsichord concerto (BWV 1052, most likely from 1730s) a case in point? Its movements came from the cantatas BWV 146 (1726 or maybe 1728+) and BWV 188 (similarly 1728 or soon after).<<
No, it is not a good case in point since Bach scholars have known since at least 1869, when Wilhelm Rust pointed out in his forward to the BGA various reasons why the original form of this work is a violin concerto probably from the Köthen period. While in the interim a few scholars (Siegele one of the most prominent dissenters) have doubted Rust's conclusion and have even doubted whether this was a genuine work by Bach, the general consensus among Bach scholars today is that it is genuine and that it existed in its earliest form as a violin concerto. [Reconstructions of the violin concerto have been undertaken in the past by Ferdinand David (1873), Robert Rietz (1917) and the NBA VII/7.

From a secular instrumental work, Bach next used it (either 1726 or 1728) in a transcription for organ obbligato in mvt. 1 and with 'Vokaleinbau' (the vocal parts were overlaid/added to the original slow mvt.) in BWV 146/1,2 "Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen". After that it reappeared in BWV 188/1 "Ich habe meine Zuversicht" (either 1728 or 1729)--this is a fragment sinfonia.

Shortly before leaving Leipzig to go to Frankfurt on the Oder in 1734, C.P.E. Bach made the first transcription of the violin concerto for harpsichord. Very likely he performed it with his Collegium musicum in Frankfurt. There is no evidence that J.S. Bach helped his son with this transcription although it is quite possible that he had suggested it as a possibility to be pursued. This version compared to J.S. Bach's own harpsichord transcription undertaken later shows many weaknesses so that no scholar would ever consider that J.S. Bach had worked on it.

Circa 1738 is the time when J.S. Bach completed the score for his own harpsichord transcription of the violin concerto. He did not use the already existing organ part for his transcription, it would have made his work even more difficult! After completing the score, the harpsichord part still underwent subsequent intensive revision. The NBA gives the original, first version in the appendix and presents the final state "Fassung letzter Hand" as its main printed version in NBA VII/4.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 12, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< From a secular instrumental work, Bach next used it (either 1726 or 1728) in a transcription for organ obbligato in mvt. 1 and 'Vokaleinbau' (the vocal parts were overlaid/added to the original slow mvt.) in BWV 146/1,2 "Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen". >
This is the most fascinating part of the cantata. Bach uses the opening movement as a sinfonia-type introduction. In the chorus which follows, Bach does not set the music of the concerto to words but rather superimposes wholly new vocal music over the original lines. Bach's scruples about using secular vocal music to new sacred words did not include a prohibition against using orchestral music (viz. The use of several Branderburg movements in the cantatas).

Are we saying here that the Easter Oratorio (BWV 249) is the only example of a secular cantata being reused with sacred words? What's the accepted history of the oratorio?

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 12, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>> Even one isolated movement is earth-shaking for me, as I grew up believing that he never ever used music for secular purposes when had once been used in church, and have had this belief reinforced recent years. (I think Wolff states it his biography.)
Isn't the D minor harpsichord concerto (BWV 1052, most likely from 1730s) a case in point? Its movements came from the cantatas
BWV 146 (1726 or maybe 1728+) and BWV 188 (similarly 1728 or soon after).<<
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< No, it is not a good case in point (...) >
<>
The question was not about the piece's origin (before use in cantatas BWV 146 and BWV 188). That's irrelevant!

The question, plain and simple (at least the question that I answered the first time!), was about the reuse of music in a secular context after it had definitely been used in sacred music, in church. These particular movements popped out of cantatas BWV 146 and BWV 188 were recast as a harpsichord concerto (obviously secular context) in the 1730s.

It does not matter what they were used for, or whatever instrumentation they might have had (violin concerto or whatnot, in whatever key), before their appearance in those two cantatas...at least for the purposes of this question!

Unless the point is simply to be disagreeable, and to negate every piece of data that is presented in support of a question.

Chris Rowson wrote (December 12, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote: ...
< The question, plain and simple (at least the question that I answered the first time!), was about the reuse of music in a secular context after it had definitely been used in sacred music, in church. These particular movements popped out of cantatas BWV 146 and BWV 188 were recast as a harpsichord concerto (obviously secular context) in the 1730s. >
Thanks. So I now have a few cases that require me to revise my former belief that Bach never used music for secular purposes after it had been used for sacred purposes.

I guess itīs just one of those romantic notions.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 12, 2006):
[To Chris Rowson] For what it's worth: another example, maybe not quite so convincing, would be the case of BWV 1006a. That's the arrangement (c1736/7) for lute or keyboard from the E major violin partita. Obviously, this happened after the sacred use of its first movement in cantata BWV 29 (1731).... The original violin version was of course from c1720.

Good music is around, so keep using it for whatever, and keep revising and recasting it. What's the problem?

I played some of BWV 1006a a couple of weeks ago, in church, on piano, putting it back to sacred use.... zig. zag. zig. zag. Sounds good and it makes a joyful effect, which can be appropriate in church, so what's the problem?

I've also played Brahms's "Edward" ballade in church, without telling anybody there that the old legendary text behind it is about murder; it's a good piece of music, beautifully and powerfully dramatic with some whomping D minor, whatever imagery might accrue to it. It fit the themes of the service that day, and helped the worship move along appropriately, so I don't see a problem.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 12, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>It does not matter what they were used for, or whatever instrumentation they might have had (violin concerto or whatnot, in whatever key), before their appearance in those two cantatas...at least for the purposes of this question!<<
One cannot reasonably create a fictitious and selective context excluding the prior history of a composition and then declare the real origin of a piece to be irrelevant and thus arrive at the conclusion that BWV 1052 first existed in a sacred setting before it was transformed into a harpsichord concerto! Looking at the historical record selectively (and incorrectly), Tim Smith formulated a meaning of 'circulatio' that does not make sense in a historical context. The same thing is being perpetrated here by claiming that the cantata mvts. that ended up in the subsequent arrangement of the same music as a harpsichord concerto give evidence of Bach creating a secular parody of a work originally intended for a sacred setting.

The fact is that this music began as a secular composition which was parodied in a sacred setting in the cantatas. But then....

The fact is, if all the historical details surrounding these transformations are as important as they should be, Bach did not use the organ part from the cantata (this was the first time a mvt. from BWV 1052 was transcribed for a keyboard instrument) for creating the harpsichord concerto. He went straight back to the violin part original. From this standpoint it is clear that Bach was working from a secular original which he parodied/transcribed for a different instrument 20 years later.

Chris Rowson wrote (December 12, 2006):
[To Thomas Braatz] Itīs the same piece whichever version itīs in.

Chris Rowson wrote (December 12, 2006):
Brad Lehman wrote:
< Good music is around, so keep using it for whatever, and keep revising and recasting it. What's the problem? >
I have no problem with it, I do exactly that. But I was taught in school that JSB took a principled stand against sacred -> secular. I am pleased to learn that it was just one of those romanticisations.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 12, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< The fact is, if all the historical details surrounding these transformations are as important as they should be, Bach did not use the organ part from the cantata (this was the first time a mvt. from BWV 1052 was transcribed for a keyboard instrument) for creating the harpsichord concerto. He went straight back to the violin part original. From this standpoint it is clear that Bach was working from a secular original which he parodied/transcribed for a different instrument 20 years later. >
So, let's get straight what you're making up here. Bach (according to you) DID NOT "use" (i.e. even look at) either his scores or parts of BWV BWV 146 and BWV 188, when making the concerto 1052. Rather, he used ONLY the "violin part original" which nobody alive today (except apparently you) is absolutely certain ever existed at all. Bach (according to you) DID NOT consult his own intermediate work across whatever intervening years, or even his memory in his head of having written/performed cantatas BWV 146 and BWV 188, but rather he used ONLY this other now-lost manuscript, as his sole source. If it ever existed.

And then you go right on as if it's been proven: "From this standpoint it is clear...."

HOW DO YOU KNOW THESE THINGS? The "standpoint" being whatever you've just made up, for yourself, as if it's true.

=====

I personally happen to know the first movement of harpsichord concerto 1052 quite well, having performed it by memory (way back in 1984) with a string orchestra, conducted me from the harpsichord. I know that the figuration looks really violinistic, and uses the violin's open strings, even though it's a harpsichord concerto. This is all painfully obvious, on even five minutes of studying the piece. Now, this familiarity with the piece is still not enough to convince me ABSOLUTELY that there was ever a violin-concerto original. There probably was, sure.

And yet there's still an unbridgeable chasm between this (the notion that a violin-concerto original probably existed) and the assertion that Bach somehow used ONLY such a version (and none of the cantata material, even his own memory of it) to fashion 1052. Why would Bach ever make such a categorical and pedantic distinction: such that sacred material (namely BWV 146/BWV 188) must never be "used" or consulted (or even thought about) again, when refashioning similar musical materials into a new piece?
<>

Alain Bruguières wrote (December 12, 2006):
Chris Rowson wrote:
< But I was taught in school that JSB took a principled stand against sacred -> secular. I am pleased to learn that it was just one of those romanticisations. >
I'm not sure that this is an instance of 'romanticization'. I think, rather, that it gives a psychorigid image of Bach. As has been previously suggested, I prefer to think of Bach's as a personality of many aspects, not excluding a peculiar, tongue-in-cheek, form of humour. But apparently for the general public Bach was a no-nonsense guy, rather boring, and who wrote rather boring stuff.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 12, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< For what it's worth: another example, maybe not quite so convincing, would be the case of BWV 1006a. That's the arrangement (c1736/7) for lute or keyboard from the E major violin partita. Obviously, this happened after the sacred use of its first movement in cantata BWV 29 (1731).... The original violin version was of course from c1720.
Good music is around, so keep using it for whatever, and keep revising and recasting it. What's the problem? >

I always read that Bach never used a sacred vocal work with a new secular text -- but the reverse many times. The use of "abstract" instrumental works did not seem to be a problem and we see those works passing through all vocal genres. Is this a principle which Bach actually stuck with, or is it a Romantic projection designed to protect modern listeners' prudishness?

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 12, 2006):
BWV 205, 205a, and 171

[To Douglas Cowling] Well, how about BWV 205, the secular piece about Aeolus? August 1725, according to BWV. Its movement 9 is about "Angenehmer Zephyrus", with text written by Henrici.

That movement then got used as movement 4 of sacred cantata BWV 171 "Gott, wie dein Name", for New Year's Day 1729. Its sung text (also by Henrici) there, as movement 4, is "Jesus soll mein erstes Wort..."

Now flip over to BWV 205a, for the coronation of August III, in January 1734. Secular piece here, in praise of this earthly ruler, and movement 9 is this same one we've been talking about: but now its text is "Grosser König unsrer Zeit...."

Secular - sacred - secular.

Now all the dodgy business comes in, where this transubstantiation can be weaseled out of.

BWV 205a is actually a reconstruction where the music has been lost, and only the text survives. If we didn't want to acknowledge that Bach used a sacred piece (BWV 171/4) later as secular (BWV 205a/9) we'd at least need to assert that the NBA has reconstructed this lost piece incorrectly; we'd also perhaps need to assert that Bach didn't actually use (or consult) the BWV 171 version at all, but worked only from BWV 205 source which was secular to begin with. BWV 205a/9 and BWV 171/4 could somehow be wholly independent branches off a common source (BWV 205/9), where Bach maybe forgot or ignored the fact that he had transmuted the thing to a sacred piece in 1729.... Like Pooh-Bah, it's as if the BWV 171 version wasn't even there; how convenient.

The BWV also offers another dodge: the conjecture that BWV 171 might be mis-dated, and that its first production might have occurred as late as 1736 or 1737...which puts it safely after BWV 205a, having the secular occurrence come up last. ["zum 1.1.1729 (oder in einem der folgenden Jahre? oder erst um 1736/37?)"] Aw, come on! The text by Henrici, as it says right here in the BWV 171 entry, is from 1728...the circumstantial evidence indicating that Henrici and Bach probably put this together expressly for the 1729 production.

=====

Apparently under the incoming rulership of August III, according to movement 13 of BWV 205a, "Schwarze Raben werden eher Schwaene haben". What a Bird-Dude!

Julian Mincham wrote (December 12, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote: ...
< The question, plain and simple (at least the question that I answered the first time!), was about the reuse of music in a secular context after it had definitely been used in sacred music, in church. These particular movements popped out of cantatas BWV 146 and BWV 188 were recast as a harpsichord concerto (obviously secular context) in the 1730s.
It does not matter what they were used for, or whatever instrumentation they might have had (violin concerto or whatnot, in whatever key), before their appearance in those two cantatas...at least for the purposes of this question! >
That's Ok if you limit the question. There are a lot of threads here suggested by Chris's original posting that I find myself in some disagreement with.

1 There is , as I see it no problem. Whether the music is good or not ( most on this list would agree that it is) is not relevant to this particular discussion.

2 Some have described Bach's re-use of his music in a one way only street as a 'Romantic notion'. Why? What is romantic about it? The bulk of evidence is that he did not secularise deified music and there are many examples. The remaining question is, was this always his practice or did he sometimes depart from it? This is a matter of some interest to me if to noone else.

3 Whether the D minor keyboard concerto was itself an arrangement of a pre-exiting violin concerto (supported by some slightly ambivalent evidence as I explained earlier) seems to form a relevant part of this discussion. If the original conception was secular (and perhaps from the Köthen period) then Bach follows the practice of deifying the secular. The fact that he might have gone back to his original source to arrange a later keyboard concerto (when he was in his University directorship and required a number of such concerti for himself, his students and his sons) does nothing to destroy the established belief of his general practice. The order would then have been secular, ecclesiastical, secular---not a commonly established practice of Bach's but a possible one.

Of course it does not advance an argument to say that he 'may' have composed a piece in a different form, now lost. But he still may have done. My conclusions would be that

1 mostly the process was one way

2 it is possible that it was always one way, although this cannot be proven

3 it is also possible that he made exceptions--Bach, always the great pragmatist ---and

4 discussion of this point remains interesting, not in itself a problem, and it does not reflect in any way on the greatness of the music itself.

Chris Rowson wrote (Decem 12, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< My conclusions would be that
1 mostly the process was one way
2 it is possible that it was always one way, although this cannot be proven
3 it is also possible that he made exceptions--Bach, always the great pragmatist ---and
4 discussion of this point remains interesting, not in itself a problem, and it does not reflect in any way on the greatness of the music itself. >
I agree with JMīs conclusions in general, particularly that the issue does not reflect in any way on the greatness of the music.

But I grew up believing in the one-way street, and more recently found it apparently confirmed by modern scholarship, and I have shaped my understanding of JSB to include this.

But now it appears clear that the one-way street was not entirely one-way. For me, that is a very significant development. In this context, there is for me an enormous difference between "one-way" and "mostly one-way". I am facing a substantial change in my understanding of JSB.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 13, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>So, let's get straight what you're making up here.<<
No, this is based firmly upon the scholarship of the NBA editors who have examined the evidence very carefully before presenting their observations.

BL: >>Bach (according to you) DID NOT "use" (i.e. even look at) either his scores or parts of BWV 146 and BWV 188, when making the concerto 1052.<<
No, not according to me but rather by acknowledged experts specialized in Bach's music and life. What is the most important part in this entire concerto? Certainly not the instrumental parts, which, unless they happen to be duplicating the solo part, play a rather insignificant role with their accompaniment.

BL: >>This whole discussion is so profoundly absurd that it's surreal. A guy telling us what Bach absolutely DID NOT DO, and telling us exactly what "Bach's intentions" ever were and WERE NOT, while adopting the voice of authority for himself (but not as a practicing musician or composer, himself....).<<
<>
In this thread it is not a question of whether Bach did or did not peek at the instrumental parts of the cantatas that may have contained a mvt. or two of what eventually became the harpsichord concerto BWV 1052 and which in its original form did once exist as a complete violin concerto before parts of it were used in the cantatas mentioned. The focus must be upon the determination by the NBA editors that Bach did not base the harpsichord part of his transcription for that instrument upon the most likely already existing keyboard verwion: the solo obbligato organ part (BWV 146/1). Here was an already existing keyboard part and yet Bach did not use it for working out his transcription of this music for the harpsichord. Had I been asked politely by anyone concerning the reasons for this point, I would probably been able to give further interesting details about the methods used to make this determination.
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Bradley Lehman wrote (December 13, 2006):
< If the original conception was secular (and perhaps from the Köthen period) then Bach follows the practice of deifying the secular. The fact that he might have gone back to his original source to arrange a later keyboard concerto (when he was in his University directorship and required a number of such concerti for himself, his students and his sons) does nothing to destroy the established belief of his general practice. The order would then have been secular, ecclesiastical, secular---not a commonly established practice of Bach's but a possible one. >
My own hypothesis about this instrumental music remains a simple one: that Bach had decently effective music in hand and used it for whatever purposes seemed suitable at the time. I don't think that such a distinction of secular vs ecclesiastical necessarily had much of a bearing, one way or another, as to any resistance of secularizing (or re-secularizing) the material. Music is music.

Why wouldn't Bach simply bring his organ part of BWV 146 over to the new harpsichord concerto version, with few or no changes? Some possibilities that occur to me, some or all of which may have been factors:

- The thing is being rewritten anyway to omit the oboes from the orchestra, and to omit all the singers from the second movement!, so why not do a more extensive overhaul to the solo part (as BWV 1052 demonstrates) as well?

- The organ solo part has nothing of interest for the left hand to do; it just doesn't make a very impressive effect when played on harpsichords.

- The organ solo part is arguably too easy to play, if one wants a harpsichord concerto solo to give one's students any challenge. (The BWV 1052 version is MUCH more difficult....)

- Harpsichords "carry" less acoustically than the organ, and it's a musical virtue to add more oomph: a new and more active left-hand part that takes advantage of the extra low notes (GG, AA, BBb, BB) that aren't available on organ keyboards.

- Much of the organ part lies rather low, with the right-hand stuff going far down into the bass register...and on organs there are some 4-foot, 2-foot, and other upperwork stops available...but not on harpsichord. In the harpsichord version, some of that right-hand stuff itself gets transposed up an octave where it will be more brilliant, not even needing to use the 4-foot stop (if one is even available, which many harpsichords don't have and don't need).

- There's at least one spot in the organ version where the player definitely has to use two manuals, because both hands are playing independent melodic material in the same low octave. The harpsichord version works fine in that analogous passage when played on a single manual, since the bass line has been taken down an octave (also taking advantage of the low BBb and its neighbors that aren't available on the organ keyboard). The hands don't crash into each other, as the music has been written differently [so they won't].

- In the organ version there's about half a page where the organist is merely given chords on which to improvise figuration suitably. In the harpsichord version this passage is worked out to be some difficult and interlocked figuration for both hands together...again making the piece arguably more brilliant...without necessarily having anything to do with sacred/ecclesiastical distinctions. (Bach wasn't averse to using brilliant and difficult instrumental parts in other vocal pieces, or difficult vocal parts either, for that matter.)

- The organ version looks so rudimentary, maybe Bach didn't have much time available during its compositional process, while he had more leisure to work out details when doing the harpsichord version?

- Some of the interlocked-hand passages--the ones that look like violinistic open-string alternations--are the same in both the organ version and harpsichord version. This at least mildly argues that Bach worked in part from his organ version to make the next one, rather than completely independently inventing exactly the same thing twice.

It seems to me that most or all of these points are merely about having second (or third or fourth or whatever) compositional thoughts, about handling the material to greater effect. New instrumentation, so use it idiomatically and rethink whatever needs to be rethought. Rework the piece until it goes well in its new gig. That's just good compositional process, not having anything to do one way or another with secular/ecclesiastical considerations.

And, I don't see that it's especially a virtue for either of these keyboard versions to sound like a putative violin original. The music is not being played on a violin, so what would be the point of keeping it close to such a reading?

I have no objections to reconstructed violin versions either, and I enjoy listening to them; I've heard several such versions of this concerto, and the others. Just saying that any previously existing violin version of this, if there ever was one, doesn't give me anything compelling one way or anotherabout the sacred/secular question!

Alain Bruguières wrote (December 13, 2006):
[To Julian Mincham] I like very much Julian's approach to this 'problem'.

Let me quote one of the tenets of Shadok wisdom :

'If there is no solution, then there is no problem'.

Here is more about the Shadoks: http://www.lesshadoks.com/index2.php?page=3

More to the point perhaps, here is my contribution.

The 'one way street rule' holds true in almost all case.

The only case which may be an exception to the rule is somewhat debatable.

In matters touching to human behaviour rules often have exceptions (perhaps this is specific to the south of France, butone way streets are sometimes used the wrong way).

That this rule should suffer only one exception, and that, somewhat dubious, is a remarkable fact in itself.

At this stage I conclude that the rule is valid. Which doesn't mean that Bach deliberately decided not to, he just happened not to.

Moreoer I fail to see in what sense the rule is 'romantic'. But having been taxed of romanticism before, I'm probably not the best suited to judge in these matters! In any case, if someone proved that the rule is not valid, I would not feel perturbed in the least.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 13, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>after reading the acrimonious vitriol against serious performers and our work (the record reviews, the characterizations of singers as "half-voices"<<
My observations are the result of repeated, careful listening with score in hand and with an ear attentive for good performances, good voices, and good musicianship. A sweeping characterization such as the one given above is a certain indication of someone who is willing to forgive all that does not live up to the standards that all professional organizations and performers should have. Not all performances which purport to be world-class performances can fulfill these higher expectations. There are bad non-HIP as well as bad HIP performances/recordings. Distinctions do have to be made and they are based upon careful listening with specific indications as to just what is good and not good.
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BL: >>On the occasions when I've gone to listen to the reviewed work myself, it's often so different from the way the review had painted it....<<
This is why a variety of viewpoints and opinions are presented on the BCML: so that other listeners can compare their own assessment with others either concurring or disagreeing with what others have stated. Some of this is certainly due to personal tastes differring, but I have offered actual evidence for what I heard and observed and have compared it with Bach's scores while also considering how Bach might have performed and heard this music. Did he have voices which could hardly be heard on certain notes? Did these voices sing lightly and fast with little support in a sotto voce style? Did he treat his 'simple' 4-pt. chorales in the same manner as some Bach choirs today: many breaks in the cantabile lines and severe abbreviations at the end of line with the final unaccented syllable being inaudible? etc. etc.

BL: >>Nor can I trust that any such research presented is objectively balanced or accurate, either (as to speaking on behalf of real scholars, or on behalf of Bach, or on behalf of "Bach's intentions"), as it's all so regularly twisted to deliver foregone conclusions: that real experts allegedly aren't equipped to handle the material properly, but that just-pretend-experts somehow are.<<
In almost all instances, no real counter-evidence has been presented to refute my claims which are based on sound scholarship and not the type of wishful thinking that may cause Tim Smith and others to obscure and twist the historical record so that the result is something much less than satisfying.
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I gratefully await corrections from individuals who can look up information in the NBA KBs. Unfortunately with all the animosity contained in numerous messages, it becomes difficult for me to share the original German along with my translation as the subject matter (when there are questions that needs quick resolution).
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Thomas Braatz wrote (December 13, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>My own hypothesis about this instrumental music remains a simple one: that Bach had decently effective music in hand and used it for whatever purposes seemed suitable at the time. I don't think that such a distinction of secular vs ecclesiastical necessarily had much of a bearing, one way or another, as to any resistance of secularizing (or re-secularizing) the material. Music is music.<<
This may be overstating the notion that all of Bach's music (for him at least) would be reusable equally in both as sacred and secular.

Possible objections:

Mattheson, Heinichen and possibly some other German theorists as well held to the distinctions between the composing and performaing styles: Church vs. Chamber vs. Opera. The bulk of Bach's compositions moved from secular to sacred and not vice versa. Often a secular cantata would be composed at one time within months of its use as a sacred cantata: the Easter Oratorio (BWV 249). This seems to indicate to me that Bach conceived in advance just how one secular cantata would be used in a sacred setting as well. Of course, I still maintain that certain arias were more difficult to transform. The original conception for the secular has a more perfect union of words and music, but the music even in its sacred form works well too, but the connection between words and music has become a bit more abstract. The word-painting is then not quite as effective, but not enough to bother Bach or most listeners. The same is true when certain solo instrumental parts change from an oboe, for instance to a violin or flute. There is characteristic writing which is appropriate for each instrument, but one stands out as much better than the others, although the potential for transcribing the part for other instruments will not seriously undermine Bach's music.

With effort, however, Bach could transform a violin concerto into a harpsichord concerto, but it entailed bringing to bear upon this transcription everything that he knew about the harpsichord so that its uniqueness could be made apparent to the listener. This meant that many changes had to be made in the way that the same music would now be presented on an entirely different instrument.

What follows [I have deleted that text since it has already been presented twice], after having resisted vehemently the possibility that Bach did not base the harpsichord part for BWV 1052 on the previously existing organ part, is a list of conjectures, many of them reasonable to prove that Bach would have more easily based his transcription upon the violin solo original which most likely was still in his possession at the time.

By using the violin concerto directly, Bach could avoid having to work backward from his changed orchestration in the cantata versions. It was much easier to work directly from the violin concerto (from the Köthen period) which he most likely still had in his possession.

The obbligato organ part in the cantata had numerous deficiencies just because it was a violin part considerably changed to make it playable on an organ. Various differences can be listed: differences in the size and number of the keyboards between organ and harpsichord; the fact that the left-hand part is not fully utilized (it is surmised that it may have been composed with a 12-year-old C.P.E. Bach or 16-year-old W.F. Bach in mind.) etc.

The resulting harpsichord concerto is an improved composition making full use of the characteristics that a harpsichord has to offer. The best course of action which Bach chose was to work directly from the score of the violin concerto which would still have been, it is reasonable to assume, in his possession. Could Bach have worked from the cantata scores? Yes, but the enprocess of transcription would have been much more tedious and cumbersome. Being eminently efficient, Bach would have chosen the easier, more reliable course of transcribing from the existing score of the violin concerto.

Eric Bergerud wrote (December 13, 2006):
I have no idea whether the secular/sacred issue is important or not. (It might not be the same as religious/non-religious. The Coffee Cantata (BWV 211) was not composed, I think we can agree, to the greater glory of God. But the lovely "Sheep may safely graze" from BWV 208 evokes Luther's concept of the paternalistic state whose major role is to protect the people from disorder that could make the worship and contemplation of God more difficult. I would be most wary of classifying that particular movement as "secular" in the Lutheran context. Maybe he thought instrumental music was in a different category. Maybe he didn't do it consciously. Maybe he didn't care. There's a long list of maybes.)

I can remember reading that Wolff made the point that secular music was not used in sacred works. Did other musicologists do so as well? If so, would it be inappropriate to pass this question on to people who may have the right background and interest in the subject to offer informed comment?

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 13, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
>>I can remember reading that Wolff made the point that secular music was not used in sacred works.<<
Check Wolff's biography pp. 383-387 (parody process)

>>Did other musicologists do so as well?<<
Almost all the important ones have commented on this issue.

>>If so, would it be inappropriate to pass this question on to people who may have the right background and interest in the subject to offer informed comment?<<
See Daniel R Melamed's article on Parody in the OCC [Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, Boyd, Oxford University Press, 1999.: 'Why did Bach make parodies and what does it mean that he did? ...This is the sort of aesthetic question that will never be fully resolved.'

Alain Bruguières wrote (December 13, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
<< See Daniel R Melamed's article on Parody in the OCC [Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, Boyd, Oxford University Press, 1999.: 'Why did Bach make parodies and what does it mean that he did? ...This is the sort of aesthetic question that will never be fully resolved.' >>
Ed myskowski wrote:
< OCC, a source recently disparaged, nay, savaged, by this very writer. You can have your cake, or you can eat it, but you cannot have your cake and eat ti too! (ACE)
That is probably number ??, in the Lehman list of absurd logical fallacies. >
Come on, Ed. This isn't fair. Thomas is answering an accusation to the effect that he is alone in saying what he says. It is perfectly normal and sound that he should answer by quoting others who say the same, whether he agrees with them or no on other matters is totally irrelevant.

Neil Mason wrote (December 13, 2006):
[To Chris Rowson] My opinion on all of this is that the supposed differences between sacred and secular are somewhat artificial.

All JSB's music was written "to the glory of God".

Neil Mason wrote (December 13, 2006):
[To Thomas Braatz] I don't disagree with a lot of what Thomas writes here.

The problem is perhaps one of style, in which the motives of other people, whether other list members or performers are impugned.

The same writer who impugns others' motives also seems to know the motives of JSB.

When criticised for this there never seems to be a rethink.

No matter how much the matter is canvassed, this happens time and time again. I find it profoundly irritating, particularly because I happen to like HIP performances, the ones most criticised.

This is not to say that the writer has not got the right to express his opinion, but it often is expressed in a manner that implies disagreement is argumentative. Unnecessary rancour is the normal result.

Perhaps it is time to limit posters to one post per day or something similar to prevent a reoccurrence.

 

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