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Parodies in Bach’s Vocal Works
Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Neil Halliday wrote (December 13, 2006):
Secular/sacred

As we all know, some of the secular music is powerfully moving, even spiritual, while some of the sacred music has been considered to have `opera buffa' elements.

But the idea of the text of the magnificent `Sanctus' (ie, the one eventually finding its way into the BMM) being changed to celebrate some bigwig's birthday strikes me as, well, sacrilegious! I'm certainly surprised to learn that Bach did this, quite apart from any supposed Romantic era mythology saying that sacred to secular never happened.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 13, 2006):
I've set out my stall on this which is basically-- 1 he issue is probably interesting rather than significant for most people and 2 the evidence is largely of a one way process; but this makes exceptions possibly significant.

But may I be permitted to add two further points one specific, one general

1 General. It is my conviction that Bach consciously composed his cantatas on more than one level especially with reference to the imagery. Some is so obvious that I believe he would have expected that most attentive people in the congregations would have recognised it---e.g. treading footsteps, smoke rising in the air. But some is to abstruse that it takes study of scores, relistenings and (on this list apparently) even a certain degree of rancourous argument to establish its existence and possible meanings. This (I suggest) was written more for God than for man.

It follows then that Bach may well have had a conscious sense of writing for people on the one hand and God on the other---can't be proven of course, any more than the existance of God can be proven but I believe it to be true (the former rather than the latter contention, that is!) Bach being Bach could write for both at the same time; but if there is any credence in this view of his work it could well follow that he had a clearly defined concept of who he was writing for and how he might write for them.

True, it appears that he may have written everything 'for the glory of God" ---but this does not exclude the possibility that he may also have had certain particular emphases within works written for different purposes. The immense subtlety of his mind, clearly demonstrated in a variety of contexts, convinces me that this is a strong possiblity. If he thought of different images as being appropriate for different receptive ears within movements, he may well have taken the same view of complete works written originally for either ecclesiastical and secular functions.

I hope this is clearly stated--it's a personal conviction about his music (similar I think to that expressed by Chris) and a way for me to penetrate further into the man's complex and endlessly rewarding art. You can agree or not---but please don't come back by saying 'it's all great music so what does it matter?' which frankly I find patronising. There are some rather deep convictions here which I think, a bulk of evidence supports (if not proving beyond doubt) and frankly I am with Chris on this one.

2 Specific. Like Brad I have also performed the great D minor concerto and consider it the finest and most focussed of all Baroque keyboard concerti. Playing it from memory is a marvellous musical discipline--the keyboard player has no rest,lapsing back into the role of continuo when not playing solo--around 25 minutes without a break!

But I wanted to draw attention to a moment in the first movement which comes after that burst of quick notes mentioned by Brad, at the end of the magnificent cadenza. There is an impressive climax taking us back to what must surely be the final statement of the octave- ritornello theme. But Bach fools us--it turns out not to be, for he slips into an earlier excursion before finally sttling on the closing ritornello statement.

For me this is Bach's wit/sense of humour/practical joking---call it what you like. Even in a piece of this emotional intensity he works in a moment apparently saying to himself---there that fooled them for a moment! An instant of wit for the cognitive musicians--after all, with his family and students he had plenty of them around him.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 13, 2006):
[To Alain Bruguières] I was referring to the following exchanges from Oct. 2006, where Thomas Braatz first disparages the editing of a particular OCC article, then goes OT to disparage the entire editing process, and by implication, the entire book. I simply found it curious, and still do, that he would now turn around and use this very reference when it suits his immediate need. Hence my invocation of the ACE <You cannot have your cake and eat it too.>, that is, you cannot disparage an entire reference work when it disagrees with an immediate point at hand, then resurrect it later for convenient support. More precisely, you can indeed do this, but you cannot do it without losing the credibility of your audience (in this case, me).

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 31, 2006):
[...]
2. Malcom Boyd and John Butt ("Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach", Oxford University Press, 1999) who included in the OCC without checking and relied upon the validity of Robin A. Leaver's statement "The early Leipzig version was performed at the 1723 'Reformationsfest'" which in turn was based upon the Bach-Compendium (Leipzig, 1985-) A 183a which most likely represented the historical state of conjectures at that moment in time about the first Leipzig version before the appearance of the NBA KB in 1988 stating that there was no 1723, 1724, etc. version/performance in Leipzig of BWV 80b with further confirmation given by both

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 31, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>And, for what it's worth at this point: Boyd is now deceased (some years ago). Just to be clear on any points about his alleged use of "outdated" information!<< If the alleged point here is that it makes a difference whether the individual aiding or spreading information or ideas is dead or alive, what about your recent attack on Schweitzer's ideas?

It really should not matter whether one is dead or alive in regard to editing the OCC, particularly with the help of another assistant editor who is more busy asserting without evidence that Bach probably could not even play his own Goldberg Variations (BWV 988) during the last few years of his life. (p. 195 of the OCC).

Alain Bruguières wrote (December 13, 2006):
[To Julian Mincham] I'm enthusiastic about your contribution. The opinion you express is very close to mine. One or two comments interspersed:

< 1 General. It is my conviction that Bach consciously composed his cantatas on more than one level especially with reference to the imagery. /.../ some is to abstruse that it takes study of scores, relistenings and (on this list apparently) even a certain degree of rancourous argument to establish its existence and possible meanings. This (I suggest) was written more for God than for man. >
Verly likely true (God must be very good at rancourous argument - or perhaps more likely he can do without!).

< It follows then that Bach may well have had a conscious sense of writing for people on the one hand and God on the other---can't be proven of course, any more than the existance of God can be proven but I believe it to be true (the former rather than the latter contention, that is!) >
I suggest that Bach was also writing for a third public: himself. He must have delighted in challenging his own abilities and the fact that certain of his achievements remained unnoticed by his public must have been a source of secret glee.

This is speculation on my part; but considering the nature of the exchanges on this list, I suggest that 'speculation' should be the default mode, and whoever pretends that he's being non-speculative should declare it explicitly!

< I hope this is clearly stated--it's a personal conviction about his mus(similar I think to that expressed by Chris) and a way for me to penetrate further into the man's complex and endlessly rewarding art. You can agree or not---but please don't come back by saying 'it's all great music so what does it matter?' which frankly I find patronising. There are some rather deep convictions here which I think, a bulk of evidence supports (if not proving beyond doubt) and frankly I am with Chris on this one. >
I'm with you too, if you don't mind!

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 13, 2006):
Alain Bruguières wrote:
< I'm enthusiastic about your contribution. The opinion you express is very close to mine. One or two comments interspersed: >
Julian Mincham wrote:
<< 1 General. It is my conviction that Bach consciously composed his cantatas on more than one level especially with reference to the imagery. /.../ some is to abstruse that it takes study of scores, relistenings and (on this list apparently) even a certain degree of rancourous argument to establish its existence and possible meanings. This (I suggest) was written more for God than for man. >>
Alain Bruguières wrote:
< Very likely true (God must be very good at rancourous argument - or perhaps more likely he can do without!). >
Although I suppose it must be painful for strongly religious folks to accept, the nature and existence of god or God is the ultimate speculation.

But if God created people (s)he must certainly have a sense of humor! Just look around. Puck (a god of sorts, my kind of guy!) nails it: <Up and down, up and down, I will lead them up and down.> and <Lord, what fools these mortals be!>

Santu de Silva wrote (December 13, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
<< 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! >>
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I have read thuis sentence three (3) times, but I simply cannot understand it. The exclamation point only adds to the confusion. That makes it impossible to follow the remainder of the post. >
Here is a simplification (assuming the complaints about confusion are not a simple rhetorical device!) No assumptions about my own stance on the matter should be inferred from the paraphrase (or the fact that I volunteered to paraphrase).

1. Parties not specified --call them (A)-- have done the following:
1.1 created a fictitious context for a certain composition, evidently BWV 1052 .
1.2 In doing the above, (A) have ignored the prior history of (B).
1.3 From their fictitious context, (A) have declared that the origins of BWV 1052 are irrelevant.
1.4 From the above, (A) have concluded that BWV 1052 first existed in a sacred setting before it was a concerto.
2. One cannot reasonably do what is described in 1. above.

Well, now that that has been cleared up at least to my satisfaction, I would like to comment about the sacred <--> secular migration of Bach's parody process. (If this is not what is being talked about, well then, never mind, as Gilda Radner would say...)

"It is not what goes into a man that profanes him, but what comes out of a man." This joke (used as a serious point), attributed to Jesus, is a central doctrine of the Christian Church. It is far easier to sanctify a building, or person, or object for sacred use, than to "de-commission" a sacred thing for non-religious ("profane") use. In the old world, up to the early part of the 20th century, if the time came when a church, for instance, needed to be now put to non-religious use, there was a rather serious, well-defined ceremony for the de-sanctification. (In modern America, though, I doubt whether such a procedure is followed, but it is a sufficiently rare occurrence that the ceremony may go unnoticed.)

I am not an expert, but it is possible that in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul may have elucidated the theological principles involved. Sanctifying the ordinary things for sacred use: yes. To de-sanctify: hardly imaginable, to be done only in extreme need.

Absolutism and religious principle --there is a thin grey line. For those of no religious persuasion who struggle to understand Bach and the axioms of his thought-processes, this principle of one-way-traffic might sound like rigidity, dogmaticism, etc. But it is not hard to understand. Christians have long held that creation was in the process of being sanctified, until one day all would be holy. Even if it seems far fetched, it is easy to see how difficult it must have been (for Bach) to work against this process.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 13, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< 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. >
That's essentially what I said yesterday about the practical differences between the organ and harpsichord versions of this movement; viz. these excerpts:

< - 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.)
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? >
Bach knew how to write well and idiomatically for harpsichord, making effective changes to his musso it would sound good as "presented on an entirely different instrument". I'm glad we agree.

Bradley Lehman 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.<<
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Check Wolff's biography pp. 383-387 (parody process) >
Eric Bergerud wrote:
>>Did other musicologists do so as well?<<
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Almost all the important ones have commented on this issue. >
The "important ones" as decided how and by whom?

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 13, 2006):
Bach's parody of the St Matthew Passion, BWV 244a

More food for thought on this parody business:

In March 1729 Bach took ten movements of the early version of the St Matthew Passion, plus two movements from cantata 198 (the "Lass, Fürstin" funeral music), plus eleven newly-composed movements...and put together funeral music for prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen.

Granted, it's still an ecclesiastical occasion. Nevertheless, the engraving of a local and temporal prince is a step down from the dramatic suffering and engraving of JC (i.e. the overarching theme of the St Matthew Passion). The movements borrowed from SMP (BWV 244) are shuffled around to a different sequence, too, in addition to being given new texts specifically about Leopold.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 13, 2006):
Alain Bruguieres wrote
< I suggest that Bach was also writing for a third public: himself. He must have delighted in challenging his
own abilities and the fact that certain of his achievements remained unnoticed by his public must have been a source of secret glee.>
Thanks to Alain for his supportive comments.

< I do endorse his view copied above. No doubt at all in my mind that Bach constantly set himself challenges way and above that which seem to have been necessary. But perhaps they were essential for him to get the best out of himself. The very basis of the second cycle chorale fantasias (presening enormous problems of musical structure and the sustaining of interest, and not at all essential to Lutheran needs) is a very good case in point. He set himself constant challenges and continues to rise to him. In order to satisfy himself?? >
Very probably.

Peter Bright wrote (December 13, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< But if God created people (s)he must certainly have a sense of humor! Just look around. Puck (a god of sorts, my kind of guy!) nails it: <Up and down, up and down, I will lead them up and down.> and <Lord, what fools these mortals be! >
Incidentally, there is a wonderful instrumental version of this scene by Duke Ellington on the 'Such Sweet Thunder' album ('Up and Down, Up and Down (I will lead them up and down)'. The famous quote "Lord, what fools these mortals be" is played on the trumpet by Clark Terry. A wonderful piece of music...

Stephen Benson wrote (December 13, 2006):
Neil Mason wrote:
< 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. >
Kudos to all the musically literate members of the list, and there are quite a few of you out there, who say what you have to say about the music rationally and calmly and without condescension, brow-beating, hidden (and often not-so-hidden) agendas, and without engaging in ab hominem attacks. You are to be congratulated for sharing your expertise while remaining above the fray. It can be done!

Eric Bergerud wrote (December 14, 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.' >
Perhaps I miss something, but after rereading Wolff it does not appear that he writes specifically that Bach did not employ any sacred music in secular music. The examples he uses (such as the XO which dwarfs in importance the work others are discussing as an example of sacred to secular parody) are to show Bach's irrepressible "summa" mentality and include some that go from secular to sacred and none the other way. That doesn't mean it didn't happen.

Does anyone know which musicologist first noticed this aspect of Bach's works? Considering Bach's productivity it must have been someone who had great knowledge of his works. Is there any possibility that this is a point that come up after some East German scholars made the attempt (no doubt to please their craven masters and further their careers) to cast Bach as an early day Voltaire when it was discovered that most of Bach's religious cantatas were composed in a very short period? It bothered the East German government no end that their most famous composer was so closely associated with the Lutheran Church any anything that could be done to prove that Bach was a simple careerist who composed religious music to keep the family fed instead of sincerely praising God was "music to their ears". (It would be interesting to query Ms. Merkel on such points.) As I understand it, many Bach defenders outside the East German intellectual jail countered such claims. I wonder if the matter being discussed here figured into this debate.

(BTW: this doesn't mean there was no good scholarship in the late, hopefully unlamented German People's Republic. I used to read a lot of it. The problem was sifting through the work and ascertaining at what point it was safe to take the scholar at his word and at what point the scholar as writing for the Party hacks that made his/her career. It wasn't always easy. What was funny was how easy it was to get East German scholars to "wink wink" "nod nod" on the subject when discussing it informally, preferably with some beer under the belt.)

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 18, 2006):
SMP BWV 244a & b

Aryeh Oron has placed the following research paper on the origin, history, chronology of Bach's SMP (BWV 244) and its connection to/with its secular 'sister' work BWV 244a.

It can be found at the following address (as a PDF file): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/SMP244avsb.pdf

This investigation was prompted by the recent discussion of parodies, particularly from sacred to secular, and, interestingly enough, touches upon another topic recently discussed, the Sanctus in D (later in the Mass in B minor), which was performed on Christmas Day in 1724. The loss of key evidence has prompted endless speculation about the early form of the SMP (BWV 244) and the date for its first performance. Recent research by Andreas Glöckner in the NBA KB from 2004 calls into question many previous commentaries and assessments regarding chronology and the relationship between both works. This now outdated information is, however, still to be found in books and articles before this date, more recently circa 2000: Wolff, Geck, Küster, Robin A Leaver's article on the SMP (BWV 244) in the OCC (1999), etc.

The complexity surrounding this subject matter should not hinder an interested reader from grasping the essential details of the various arguments that have been presented pro and con regarding specific theories
offered by a variety of Bach experts for well over a century now.

I do not wish to begin a long discussion on this subject now, since our primary focus should be on this week's cantata discussion, but any questions, corrections, or suggestions would be welcome.

 

Something confusing (was: a responsorial SMP)

Russell Telfer wrote (December 22, 2006):
We could talk about something , since it's Christmas. I have a plan to stop the flame wars, although I'm not allowed to.

No, I wanted to share an eerie experience.

Since it's Christmas I was listening to the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) (Rilling's, with Bach-Collegium). The phone went, I was distracted, I switched my attention back to the music, and I was amazed to find I was listening to the SMP (BWV 244). Or at least I thought I was.

I was completely disorientated.

I had reached number 45 at the beginning of Part V of the WO\CO (Wo, wo, ist der neuge borne Konig der Juden?) and my mind jumped. track. I thought I was somewhere in the early part of Part 2 of the SMP (BWV 244), and found the passage I thought I was being reminded of: No 43 - Who is he that smote thee?

I had never thought I could confuse two such masterpieces of such different metier.

You will appreciate that this is not a scholarly post, and if anyone has to deconstruct it (what we do round here) I'd prefer it to be Ed.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 22, 2006):
Russell Telfer wrote:
< I had reached number 45 at the beginning of Part V of the WO\CO (Wo, wo, ist der neuge borne Konig der Juden?) and my mind jumped. track. I thought I was somewhere in the early part of Part 2 of the SMP (BWV 244), and found the passage I thought I was being reminded of: No 43 - Who is he that smote thee?
I had never thought I could confuse two such masterpieces of such different metier >

There are some scholars who think that the choruses were first used in the now-lost St. Mark Passion (BWV 247), so you are in good company.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 23, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>There are some scholars who think that the choruses [BWV 248/45 "Wo, wo, ist der neugeborne Konig der Juden?"] were first used in the now-lost St. Mark Passion (BWV 247), so you are in good company.<<
Simon Heighes twice made such a claim in the OCC (1999) which information is now outdated by the scholarship presented in the NBA KB II/9 (2000) pp. 98-103 where it is made clear that Reinhard Keiser composed all or almost all of the St. Mark Passion which Bach performed in Weimar and in Leipzig. There are 2 chorales from the Weimar and 3 from the Leipzig version which may 'possibly' be 4-pt.settings by Bach, but even these are somewhat questionable. All the rest of the St. Mark Passion is not by Bach (not his original music). The music for this Passion does not appear in the NBA. The St. Mark Passion by Reinhard Keiser, depending upon which version you have in mind, contains 7 arias by Händel from the Brockes Passion.

Question: Why would Bach create a parody of a work which was not his own composition to begin with? Bach did some arrangements of works by other composers. These are clearly documented and Bach indicated the original source in his autograph arrangements (when they still exist for us to inspect). Has anyone heard or read of evidence where Bach 'lifted' music, whether sacred or secular, from another composer and reused it with a different text as part of his figural music to be performed in the Leipzig churches?

Bach may have emulated the style of the turbae that appear in the "Weihnachtshistorien" (the 'Christmas stories') of other composers of the 17th century, but he would not need to copy some other composer's music to compose BWV 248/45. The use of turbae is a very old, if not almost ancient musical tradition in the churches of Germany before Bach's time.

Rogier Michael (1554-1619) served the Dresden Court for over 40 years as a singer and court Capellmeister. In addition to composing a number of Passions (now lost), he also set to music two other Biblical Stories/Histories: "The Conception" ("Empfängnis-Historie") and "The Story/History of the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ" ("Historia von der Geburt unsers Herren Jesu Christi")[both works from 1602]. In the latter the turbae are the choruses of the shepherds at one point and the the 3 kings at another.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 23, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Question: Why would Bach create a parody of a work which was not his own composition to begin with? Bach did some arrangements of works by other composers. These are clearly documented and Bach indicated the original source in his autograph arrangements (when they still exist for us to inspect). Has anyone heard or read of evidence where Bach 'lifted' music, whether sacred or secular, from another composer and reused it with a different text as part of his figural music to be performed in the Leipzig churches? >
What's the difference between "arranging" and "lifting" another composer's work?

Neil Mason wrote (December 23, 2006):
At 08:34 PM 22/12/2006 -0800, you wrote:
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Question: Why would Bach create a parody of a work which was not his own composition to begin with? Bach did some arrangements of works by other composers. These are clearly documented and Bach indicated the original source in his autograph arrangements (when they still exist for us to inspect). Has anyone heard or read of evidence where Bach 'lifted' music, whether sacred or secular, from another composer and reused it with a different text as part of his figural music to be performed in the Leipzig churches? >
Don't know about being performed in Leipzig churches but didn't he do this with Pergolesi Stabat Mater?

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 23, 2006):
Parodies again [was - a responsorial SMP - now something confusing]

I had written and asked:
>>Why would Bach create a parody of a work which was not his own composition to begin with? Bach did some arrangements of works by other composers. These are clearly documented and Bach indicated the original source in his autograph arrangements (when they still exist for us to inspect). Has anyone heard or read of evidence where Bach 'lifted' music, whether sacred or secular, from another composer and reused it with a different text as part of his figural music to be performed in the Leipzig churches?<<
Douglas Cowling wrote/asked:
>>What's the difference between "arranging" and "lifting" another composer's work?<<
Most of Bach's arrangements of sacred music by other composers are properly declared by Bach as coming from another composer. Bach may have reworked the music substantially (learning from it, but also improving it, sometimes even changing the Latin text in one mvt. as in the Sanctus BWV 241 - by Kerll), but if Bach's autograph title still exists, it would read thus: "Missa...di A. Lotti" or "Magnificat...di A. Caldara" or "Sanctus..." (BWV 241) with no composer noted - Bach always gave himself credit for a sacred composition if it was his own. When Bach, for purposes of supplying figural music for the Leipzig churches, arranged and/or 'lifted' music composed by others, he made a clear attempt to attribute its source properly even if he had revised, modified, arranged, and changed it in numerous ways. This is not the case with the usual parodies we encounter in Bach's music (WO, etc.), where he 'lifts' his own music from one context, changes the text entirely, often with little or no change to the original music/orchestration, and places it into a new and very different context. It is my contention that with BWV 248/45, Bach would not have 'lifted' the music from Reinhard Keiser's turba chorus in his St. Mark's Passion (BWV 247) without attributing its source properly. Also, as we have found out, Bis not creating a parody of his own music here. It is also my contention that there was a general style factor, a traditional form or sound attached to all turbae whether for Passions or for Christmas music. It is this turba-style which the listener will note as being different from the rest of the composition when hearing the turbae in Bach's Passions and Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248).

Richard Mix wrote (December 25, 2006):
"Wo, wo, ist der neugeborne Konig der Juden"

Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>There are some scholars who think that the choruses [BWV 248/45 "Wo, wo, ist der neugeborne Konig der
Juden?"] were first used in the now-lost St. Mark Passion, so you are in good company.<<
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Simon Heighes twice made such a claim in the OCC (1999) which information is now outdated by the scholarship presented in the NBA KB II/9 (2000) pp. 98-103 where it is made clear that Reinhard Keiser composed all or almost all of the St. Mark Passion which Bach performed in Weimar and in Leipzig. There are 2 chorales from the Weimar and 3 from the Leipzig version which may 'possibly' be 4-pt.settings by Bach, but even these are somewhat questionable. All the rest of the St. Mark Passion is not by Bach (not his original music). The music for this Passion does not appear in the NBA. The St. Mark Passion by Reinhard Keiser, depending upon which version you have in mind, contains 7 arias by Handel from the Brockes Passion. >
I don't quite understand this. For those of us coping with drastically reduced library hours, could someone please explain what the NBA makes clear? (And btw, in which piece's KB does this come up?) Is it that Reinhart's score has been rediscovered in the form used by JSB on two occasions? My previous understanding is that the libretto (or a copy made before 1944) of the Mark Passion is the only basis for speculation about the lost music. John Butt's program notes for last week's Philharmonia Baroque concerts repeats the presumption that this XO chorus is indeed recycled, but perhaps he wrote those notes for the 1995 performances by the same group. He mentioned the theory in rehearsal at that time, so it seems to have been in the air befor the 1999 publication in OCC (whatever that stands for).

< ... Bach These are clearly documented and Bach indicated the original source in his autograph arrangements (when they still exist for us to inspect)... >
Well, how many such cases are there? Are there such autographs of the Pergolesi & Kuhnau arrangements, for example? I know the arrangement of the Couperin trio (from L'Imperiale, I think) is unattributed, though I'm not sure offhand if the source is in JSB's hand.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 25, 2006):
Richard Mix wrote:
>>I don't quite understand this. For those of us coping with drastically reduced library hours, could someone please explain what the NBA makes clear?<<
With the possible exception of 5 4-pt. chorale settings from the St. Mark Passion by Reinhard Keiser, none of the music contained therein is by J. S. Bach.

Bach continued using and modifying Keiser's music during the various performances of this Passion music in Weimar and in Leipzig. In the final performance in the late 1740s (again with extensive modification, but not the inclusion of parodies of his own music but rather in the form of a Pasticcio, Bach even included 7 arias from Handel's Brockes Passion (HWV 48).

>>(And btw, in which piece's KB does this come up?) Is it that Reinhart's score has been rediscovered in the form used by JSB on two occasions?<<
The NBA KB I had cited gives a side-by-side, mvt. by mvt. comparison of Bach's 5 different versions of Keiser's score which were modified and performed under Bach's directiion. This is all the result of more recent research.

>>My previous understanding is that the libretto (or a copy made before 1944) of the Mark Passion is the only basis for speculation about the lost music.<<
The libretto for Keiser's St. Mark Passion along with the music has never been lost or are you referring here to the Picander text? A recent practical edition, edited by Hans Bergmann and published in Stuttgart in 1996 carries the title: "Passio secundum Marcum. Markuspassion" by Reinhard Keiser in the version as performed by J. S. Bach at the court in Weimar circa 1713.

>>John Butt's program notes for last week's Philharmonia Baroque concerts repeats the presumption that this XO chorus is indeed recycled, but perhaps he wrote those notes for the 1995 performances by the same group.<<
This contention may be right as long as it is clear that Bach is not recycling his own music here.

>>Well, how many such cases are there? Are there such autographs of the Pergolesi & Kuhnau arrangements, for example?<<
The Pergolesi transcription BWV 1083 is again of a very late origin (1746-1747). There is no composer indicated in the title (for his own composition, Bach adds his name at the end of the title).

"Der Gerechte kommt um (BWV deest), once attributed to Johann Kuhnau's "Tristis est anima mea", is now considered to be by an anonymous composer. It is mvt. 39 of a Passion Cantata "Wer ist der, so von Edom kömmt". This is not a valid case for answering the above question.

>>I know the arrangement of the Couperin trio (from L'Imperiale, I think) is unattributed, though I'm not sure offhand if the source is in JSB's hand.<<
The authenticity of BWV 587 is very much in doubt: "So ist die Zuschreibung dieser Übertragung [BWV 587] an Bach durch die Überlieferung nur schwach beglaubigt."

NBA KB IV/8 p. 95

One of the original questions in this thread focused on Heighes' claim that two mvts. from Bach's St. Mark's Passion, now known to be almost entirely by Reinhard Keiser and not by Bach, although Bach performed various versions (5) of it in Weimar and Leipzig, that two turbae "Ja nicht auf das Fest" and "Pfui dich" were parodied in the WO. As given in great detail in the NBA KB, there is only one chorus (no. 22b "Pfui dich") which appears in any of the versions that Bach performed. Whether "Ja nicht auf das Fest" is in the original Keiser Passion, but not in Bach's version, I cannot determine here. If it can be ascertained that the latter chorus by Keiser containes exactly the same music as the turbae in Bach's WO, do we call this a parody as well?

From a broader perspective, any transcription/arrangement by Bach of another composer's work is a parody. This would mean that Bach parodied a number of Handel arias in his performance of the St. Mark Passion which contained almost or no original music of his own.

Daniel R Melamed's article on 'Parody' in the OCC makes clear that there are various definitions of parody that can be applied to Bach's music: 1. Bach can parody a style with a satirical effect; 2. Bach can 'retext' any music to make it serve his immediate purpose (this may involve little or no modification in the music/orchestration); 3. Bach can assemble various mvts. from his other works (or even occasionally from those of other composers) in order to create a single, structured composition containing a number of mvts. some of which (like recitatives) have to be composed anew.

It would appear that generally the factor of retexting the music is an important element in defining a Bach parody, but what do we call Bach's use of Handel arias in a Passion which contains little or possibly none of Bach's original music? Can we call any compositions (instrumental or otherwise, by Bach or by other composers) which have been modified by Bach in any way, even with the slightest changes, 'parodies'? Is the meaning of 'parody' as applied to Bach being used in a sense that is becoming so general that it begins to lose its significance? Perhaps it has been my misconceptiall along that Bach parodies had to involve his own music. These new, broad definitions of 'parody' would mean that the turbae mentioned by Heighes may well be instances of Bach 'lifting', copying, integrating, adding new text to the turbae that were Reinhard Keiser's original composition for his own St. Mark Passion.

Richard Mix wrote (December 28, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Simon Heighes twice made such a claim in the OCC (1999) which information is now outdated by the scholarship presented in the NBA KB II/9 (2000) pp. 98-103 where it is made clear that Reinhard Keiser composed all or almost all of the St. Mark Passion which Bach performed in Weimar and in Leipzig. There are 2 chorales from the Weimar and 3 from the Leipzig version which may 'possibly' be 4-pt.settings by Bach, but even these are somewhat questionable. All the rest of the St. Mark Passion is not by Bach (not his original music). The music for this Passion does not appear in the NBA. The St. Mark Passion by Reinhard Keiser, depending upon which version you have in mind, contains 7 arias by Handel from the Brockes Passion.
Question: Why would Bach create a parody of a work which was not his own composition to begin with? Bach did some arrangements of works by other composers. These are clearly documented and Bach indicated the original source in his autograph arrangements (when they still exist for us to inspect). Has anyone heard or read of evidence where Bach 'lifted' music, whether sacred or secular, from another composer and reused it with a different text as part of his figural music to be performed in the
Leipzig churches?
Bach may have emulated the style of the turbae that appear in the "Weihnachtshistorien" (the 'Christmas stories') of other composers of the 17th century, but he would not need to copy some other composer's music to compose
BWV 248/45. The use of turbae is a very >
Today I had a lovely walk under cloudless skies to Davis' Shields Library for a quick look at NBA KB II/9. It has nothing to do with XO, (which is vol 6, from the early 1960's) but deals with Latin church music, Passions: opera dubia, arrangements and formerly attributed works. The Passions are the Luke, which gets a long and what looks like an interesting discusion, and the Mark Passion of Keiser {this has been printed in the Stuttgardt edition]. The later we know to have been performed by JSB at Weimar (1712) and Leipzig (1726) on the basis of parts copied in Bach's hand. There are several other sources, including a JCFB cembalo-part from around 1743-8 with figuring added by JSB. There are indeed chorals that dont apear in the independent sources, but as far as I can tell, there has never been any question of this representing a 'lost' JSB work. The KB does not refer to Heighes, indeed the only reference in the article is to Melamed & Sanders in BJ 1999, which is said to be superceeded (I didnt have time to look and see what superceded claims they made).

The KB makes no effort to address the question of whether Bach ever composed a lost M-P, nor is XO mentioned even in passing. It's hard to prove a negative but I suppose the parody case is somewhat weakened if Bach had another work available for the occasions he is known to have needed a M-P and IF these are the only likely times. I think, though, Thomas might have made clear from the beginning that this was his own contribution, not that of the NBA. Wishing everyone much merriment or smugness, according to your own preferences.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 28, 2006):
Richard Mix wrote:
>>The Passions are the Luke, which gets a long and what looks like an interesting discusion, and the Mark Passion of Keiser...The later we know to have been performed by JSB at Weimar (1712) and Leipzig (1726)on the basis of parts copied in Bach's hand. There are several other sources, including a JCFB cembalo-part from around 1743-8 with figuring added by JSB. There are indeed chorals that do not appear in the independent sources, but as far as I can tell, there has never been any question of this representing a 'lost' JSB work. The KB does not refer to Heighes, indeed the only reference in the article is to Melamed & Sanders in BJ 1999,... The KB makes no effort to address the question of whether Bach ever composed a lost M-P, nor is XO mentioned even in passing. It's hard to prove a negative but I suppose the parody case is somewhat weakened if Bach had another work available for the occasions he is known to have needed a M-P and IF these are the only likely times. I think, though, Thomas might have made clear from the beginning that this was his own contribution, not that of the NBA.<<
With your help and input, I believe that I can now properly sort out the problem involved. Laboring under the mistaken impression that Bach composed or had a hand in composing some sections of a St. Mark Passion which he performed in Weimar and Leipzig and that most of the music was based on Reinhard Keiser's St. Mark Passion with later inclusion of some Handel arias from the Brockes Passion, I had thought that the issue was resolved. However, this is not the case with Bach and his St. Mark Passion performances. There is one instance, on March 23, 1731, when Bach presented a St. Mark Passion based upon a Picander text that was printed in one of Picander's books. Not a single scrap of the music for this St. Mark Passion BWV 247 has survived, but ever since Wilhelm Rust, editor of the BGA Vol. XX, made his discovery of possible correspondences between existing works (BWV 198 and possibly one or two other cantatas which were parodied), Spitta, Smend and others have speculated about which movements came from earlier Bach compositions.

The summary that Simon Heighes gives in the OCC is a good introduction to this work: BWV 247 and its history. He does not indicate who discovered the possible reuse (parody) of the turbae of BWV 247 in the WO BWV 248. This discovery was made by Gerhard Freiesleben ("Ein neuer Beitrag zur Entstehungsgeschichte von J. S. Bachs Weihnachts-Oratorium", Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, Issue 83, 1916, pp. 237ff.). The fact that Simon Heighes and A. H. Gomme have prepared practical editions of BWV 247, but have included recitatives and turbae composed by Reinhard Keiser only serves to cloud the issue which prompted this research: Freiesleben, back in 1916, worked in reverse. He took the existing turbae in the WO and found that they fit Picander's text portion used in Bach's 1731 performance. Now, however, Heighes and Gomme use/include turbae from Keiser's Passion as well. Have they kept apart Bach's compositions from Keiser's or are we to assume that Bach copied/parodied Keiser's turbae in the 1731 performance, which he subsequently parodied in the WO. The BWV Verzeichnis gives BWV 247/39 as the original form of BWV 248/45. We know from the detailed description of Keiser's Passion in the NBA KB II/9 that mvt. 22b of the Keiser Passion is "Pfui dich". Can we assume that "Ja nicht auf das Fest" which is not by Keiser is a composition by Bach? How do Heighes and Gomme know this when not a single tiny bit of BWV 247 has survived? Just where does "Ja nicht auf das Fest" come from? Who composed it? Does it come from another Bach Passion? If that is the case, why not state it clearly?

Summary:

There are two separate versions of theSt. Mark Passion which Bach performed during his lifetime:

1. BWV 247 (all music lost, but Picander text survives) consisted most likely of many parodies of other works by Bach with the recitatives being composed new for the single performance in 1731 and which did not receive a repeat performance.

2. Reinhard Keiser's Passion which Bach modified, added some chorale settings and even 'lifted' some of Handel's arias from the Brockes Passion. There is very little music by Bach in this Passion which he performed once in Weimar and at least twice in Leipzig. This Passion was performed at least 3 times by Bach!

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 28, 2006):
Richard Mix wrote:
< Wishing everyone much merriment or smugness, according to your own preferences, >
Are they mutually exclusive? My observation is that most of us enjoy a large portion of both.

Richard Mix wrote (December 29, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< With your help and input, I believe that I can now properly sort out the problem involved. >
Thanks, it's very reassuring to know the world didnt turn upsidedown in 2000 without my noticing. Since we're now all talking about the Picander libretto which JSB did apparently set for the 1731 performance, quite plausibly later parodying "Wo, wo", can someone also confirm my recollection that this book was destroyed by bombs?

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 29, 2006):
Richard Mix wrote:
>>Since we're now all talking about the Picander libretto which JSB did apparently set for the 1731 performance, quite plausibly later parodying "Wo, wo", an someone also confirm my recollection that this book was destroyed by bombs?<<
The only source for the Picander (Henrici) libretto appeared in "Picanders Ernst=Schertzhaffte und Satyrische Gedichte, Dritter Theil" Leipzig, 1732. Facsimiles of the St. Mark Passion as well as other cantatas have appeared in various NBA KBs. It does not appear that a sole copy was destroyed, for there must be a number of copies of this book still in existence. If a copy was destroyed during bombs, there will still others which could replace it for ascertaining the libretto for the St. Mark Passion that Bach used for the 1731 Good Friday performance.

Alfred Dürr on pp. 248-266 of NBA KB II/5 gives a complete analysis of what is and what is not considered a parody in BWV 247 (St. Mark Passion - Bach's composition for which all scores and parts have been lost). "Ja nicht auf das Fest" BWV 247/2b does not reappear in the BWV 248 (WO), nor is it a parody of an earlier work. "Wir haben gehöret" BWV 247/25b = BWV 248/28(?) "Lasset uns nun gehen"; "Pfui dich" BWV 247/39b = BWV 248/45 "Wo, wo" (possibly). "Ja nicht auf das Fest" BWV 247/2b is claimed by Heighes to 'possibly' reappear in the WO (BWV 248), but this contention is not confirmed by Alfred Dürr, who does not see a connection between this and mvt. in the WO.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 29, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< the WO (BWV 248) >
Most of the recent commentary has used the acronym XO for BWV 248. I see from the official list of abbreviations that both WO and XO have been proposed, and are listed.

I would respectfully suggest that the proposers communicate, and agree on one or the other. The acronyms are enough of a challenge without creating an additional point of contention and confusion.

My vote goes to XO, because of the pending suggestion to get Martell XO Cognac to sponsor discussions. Although I am partial to Martell, I believe Courvoisier also makes an XO. I do not believe there is a WO Cognac. Enough said.

Peter Smaill wrote (December 29, 2006):
The complex history of the settings in Bach's hand, performed by Bach or written by Bach of the St Mark Passion are set out in Daniel R Melamed's "Hearing Bach's Passions". He states that no musical material survives for the 1731 version but, as Thomas Braatz has explained, the Picander text is easily accessible and it is the linguistic parallels with the Trauer-Ode which has generally encoraged reconstructions leaning on that source.

Melamed identifies five other related settings - Göttingen, Berlin (essentially the Reinhard Keiser/Brockes setting originating in Hamburg in 1707), and three other known versions which stem from J S Bach. Usually it is the 1731 version , which was composed separately from the others, that is referred to and performed as Bach's St Mark Passion.

The rest form a chain of adaptation and pastiche originating in the Keiser Passion but scarcely recognisable as such by the end:

The first, where parts have survived, dates from 1711-14 at Weimar.

The second was adapted for Leipzig in 1726, with changes from the first; some of the vocal parts survive

This version was further revised in the 1740's, for which a few performing parts remain . Four arias were replaced and three added, all seven of the new movements coming from G F Handel's Brockes Passion.

Thus Bach's copying of Handel which started in Weimar continued throughout his career.

In terms of lost documents Melamed, writing in 2005, makes the intriguing statement regarding the 1740's version:

"A word is in order here about the evidence for this third version by Bach, known only by a very few performing parts prepared in the 1740's. There is reason to think these are escapees from a full set of parts that has survived
into the twenty-first century but that it is closely held in private hands".

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 29, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Alfred Dürr on pp. 248-266 of NBA KB II/5 gives a complete analysis of what is and what is not considered a parody in BWV 247 (St. Mark Passion - Bach's composition for which all scores and parts have been lost). "Ja nicht auf das Fest" BWV 247/2b does not reappear in the BWV 248 (WO), nor is it a parody of an earlier work. "Wir haben gehöret" BWV 247/25b = BWV 248/28(?) "Lasset uns nun gehen"; "Pfui dich" BWV 247/39b = BWV 248/45 "Wo, wo" (possibly). "Ja nicht auf das Fest" BWV 247/2b is claimed by Heighes to 'possibly' reappear in the WO (BWV 248), but this contention is not confirmed by Alfred Dürr, who does not see a connection between this and mvt. in the WO. >
It always struck me as odd that Bach would resuse a musical settting of a prose scriptural text for another prose text which would have entailed a lot of alteration. His usual practice was to substitute poetic texts which already fit the music. On the other hand, he successfully adapted German cantata poetry to the Latin prose of the masses, some might say he even improved the music in the case of the Agnus Dei of the B Minor Mass.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 20, 2006):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< "A word is in order here about the evidence for this third version by Bach, known only by a very few performing parts prepared in the 1740's. There is reason to think these are escapees from a full set of parts that has survived into the twenty-first century but tit is closely held in private hands". >
Wow! Passion music by Bach held in private hands? Tell us more!

I see a BBC mystery series with Christoph Wolff as the detective.

 

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