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Rehearsing
Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Georg Fischer wrote (March 4, 2007):
Cara Emily Thornton, in replying to Douglas Cowling, wrote:
<< new. Bach repeated them so rarely precisely because they were not the standard repertoire of his choirs. The whole purpose of the five-year cantata project (if it was an integrated project) was to have some something new all the time -- Bach judged that 5 years probably ensured that congregations felt they were hearing something new every week. >>
< Or perhaps they used a 5-year lectionary back then? (Nowadays, at least in Poland, they use a 6-year lectionary, the idea being to preach through (more or less) the entire Bible in 6 years). >
I PERSONALLY BELIEVE (obviously one has to be very cautious here in this group) that in Thuringia and Saxony at that time the lectionaries had a ONE year cycle, namely that set up by Luther: 1 Epistel and 1 Evangelium per sunday. After WWII, a 6-year cycle was introduced by the Evangelic Churches in Germany.

I have a "Evangelisches Gesangbuch" (songbook) for Brandenburg from 1884, which states the lectionary "according to the old order (Luther's?) and the new order". That old order (columns 2 and 3) coincides with the lectionaries in a Lutheran bible printed in Halle at 1863.

I've put a a link to a preliminary web page which links these bible locations to a German online bible on my Bach page on: http://gfis.dataway.ch/teherba.de/bach/index.html

Sorry, this page is by no means finished yet, I've made it up in a hurry for the discussion above. Ultimately, I plan to link the Sundays in Bach's lifetime to these lectionaries, and to the known texts and composition dates of the cantata.
----
BTW, I'm on Thomas Braatz' side. I THINK that it was possible for the poor Thomaner boys at that time to sing the new compositions (which often had fragments and style elements already known to them) with a single rehearsal before the service, and to perform them more or less adequately for a normal service.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 5, 2007):
2 suggestions:-rehearsal practices and headings

Thomas Braatz wrote:
< reveals a process regarding which we can reach some reasonable conclusions, conclusions which preclude the notion that Bach prepared these cantatas far in advance of the actual performance date >
Yes--the point at issue is how far ahead--days, hours or weeks? I'd discount the last but the jury may still be out on the first two.

Can I make two suggestions

1 that we put to bed this one about Bach's rehearsals (or lack of them) A lot of people have had their say and there have been various degrees of agreement and disagreement. People can make up their own minds on the evidence available; but I think that further discussion is likely just to go around in circle unless some new clear factual evidence becomes available (such as when Bach received the texts and the printed copies)

(My own view remains the same and has not really been altered by the discussion--i.e. that in his first Leipzig two years Bach wrote and performed the cantatas at a phenominal rate which allowed for a dgree of individual practice and group rehearsal but probably little of each).

2 Could we all be a bit more scrupulous about the titles we put to our postings? (and I am as guilty as anyone). The mass of emails which come in each week can be confusing to those with limited time who want to follow, say only the comments on the weekly cantata or a specific thread. If this could be made clear in the title it would help us to select what we want to concentrate upon and, I guess would also help Aryeh in the systemisation of contributions.

e.g. followups to the weekly intros might be headed------ BWV 125 further comment ---if general or-------- BWV further comment (choral writing)---------- if more specific.

Specific threads might be specifically headed e.g. Timetable of composition of cantatas

use of clefs. Use of boys and woman Tonal structures in the fantasias etc.

I guess it wouldn't always work but I think we all, at times press 'reply and 'send' without giving too much thought to the heading.

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 5, 2007):
< 1 that we put to bed this one about Bach's rehearsals (or lack of them) A lot of people have had their say and there have been various degrees of agreement and disagreement. People can make up their own minds on the evidence available; but I think that further discussion is likely just to go around in circle unless some new clear factual evidence becomes available (such as when Bach received the texts and the printed copies) >
Apparently the loudest several people on this topic had already made up their own minds without the evidence available; namely, having ever performed any Bach cantata themselves, to get even an inkling as to the work it entails. Without such experience, all the speculation is just a bunch of yelling (and then never backing down) about things they don't understand: practical musicianship, and the responsibility of doing Bach's (and his students') jobs.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 5, 2007):
Bach's keyboard facility in sight-reading

Bradley Lehman wrote:
< "He had an equal facility in looking over scores and executing the substance of them at first sight at the keyboard. He even saw so easily through parts laid side by side that he could immediately play them. >
It's interesting that the first skill is still valued especially for continuo players and church organists. It's not really taught systematically but is a necessity especially when a keyboard player is presented with a non-realized part. Many of them prefer to play from a ful score. There are lots of examples of this ability -- Clara Schumann and Liszt were famous practioners -- Liszt could even manage a Wagner score!

Playing from individual parts spread out is pretty much a lost art although there are quick studies out there. When Mozart visited Leipzig and heard "Singet den Herrn", there was no full score (how DID the cantor conduct the work?!), so he spread out the eight parts and read through the motet. But then he was such a show-off.

Shawn Charton wrote (March 5, 2007):
[To Bradley Lehman] just let it go... he's not going to listen and you've more than made your point...

Bradley Lehman wrote:
< 1 that we put to bed this one about Bach's rehearsals (or lack of them) A lot of people have had their say and there have been various degrees of agreement and disagreement. People can make up their own minds on the evidence available; but I think that further discussion is likely just to go around in circle unless some new clear factual evidence becomes available (such as when Bach received the texts and the printed copies) >
Apparently the loudest several people on this topic had already made up their own minds without the evidence available; namely, having ever performed any Bach cantata themselves, to get even an inkling as to the work it entails. Without such experience, all the speculation is just a bunch of yelling (and then never backing down) about things they don't understand: practical musicianship, and the responsibility of doing Bach's (and his students') jobs.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 5, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Apparently the loudest several people on this topic had already made up their own minds without the evidence available; namely, having ever performed any Bach cantata themselves, to get even an inkling as to the work it entails. Without such experience, all the speculation is just a bunch of yelling (and then never backing down) about things they don't understand: practical musicianship, and the responsibility of doing Bach's (and his students') jobs. >
Which is one of the reasons why I suggested we let it go.

Chris Rowson wrote (March 6, 2007):
Sources re rehearsals

Alain Bruguières wrote:
Chris Rowson wrote::
CR: << Yes, we cbe sure the process was very different from that of modern concert performers and recording artists. My understanding of early 18th C practice is that it was in general considered necessary to have at least one full rehearsal. >>
< Whence do you derive this 'understanding of early 18th C practice? >
---------------------------------
<< From long-term occupation with 18th C music, with particular emphasis on contemporary sources. >>
< To cite one example, The Diary of John Grano, written c. 1728 while he was in debtor´s prison in London, describes how he produced benefit concerts to try to raise the money to get out. Although he was using top-flight instrumentalists, his friends and colleagues from the opera orchestra etc., he took it for granted there had to be a run-through the day before.
This is all made clear by his description of how it went wrong. >

Among these contemporary sources, is there any one concerning the practice in Germany?
-------------------------------

I don´t recall any contemporary German references to rehearsals beyond the ones (not very conclusive) that have already been cited here.

It´s a subject that was not much discussed. One gets occasional references, such as the very public final rehearsal of Handel´s Fireworks music, where the preceding, more functional rehearsal is also mentioned. There is relatively good documentation for opera rehearsals, but that is another matter. I mentioned Grano because he does actually give some specific information about rehearsals, while the general feel of the milieu seems to me rather more similar to that of the Bach cantatas than any theatrical situation does.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 6, 2007):
Chris Rowson wrote:
>>I mentioned Grano because he does actually give some specific information about rehearsals, while the
general feel of the milieu seems to me rather more similar to that of the Bach cantatas than any theatrical situation does.<<
"A general feel of the milieu" according to Grano being similar to the Bach cantatas being performed under Bach's direction in Leipzig?! In the 1720s and 1730s, France and England are still worlds apart from Germany in regard to rehearsal practices. The situation in Germany only began changing considerably in the latter half of the 18th century when rehearsals began playing a much more important role in the preparation of music for public performances in concert halls dedicated to this purpose. The choirs increased considerably in size (with many amateurs involved) and the Mannheim school saw the need for more practice and rehearsals, emulating what had already been established in France for almost a century.

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 6, 2007):
< In the 1720s and 1730s, France and England are still worlds apart from Germany in regard to rehearsal practices. >
As you keep harping on, yes, with assertions.

< The situation in Germany only began changing considerably in the latter half of the 18th century when rehearsals began playing a much more important role in the preparation of music for public performances in concert halls dedicated to this purpose. The choirs increased considerably in size (with many amateurs involved) and the Mannheim school saw the need for more practice and rehearsals, emulating what had already been established in France for almost a century. >
Let's be clear here. The rehearsals became better documented (in part because of the increase in size: more formal organization to get more people together). Plus, simply, the time is closer to our own: better documentation, more complete preservation of records, etc.

Lack of so much documentation, earlier, does not constitute proof that rehearsals didn't happen in less-well-documented periods.

Chris Rowson wrote (March 6, 2007):
[To Bradley Lehman] I´m not sure that England and Germany were so different from each other with regard to rehearsals in the 1720s and 1730s. But as you say, there is not much documentation for that period.

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 6, 2007):
[To Chris Rowson] Sort of like the lack of documentation that people variously ate meals, wore shoes, had sex, collected firewood, slept, bathed at least once a month, or ever bothered to tune their violins. That lack of documentation doesn't constitute proof that those things didn't happen, whether it was England or Germany or wherever. With little to go on, one simply must assume that normal people went about doing normal things, and didn't bother to write it down.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 7, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
<< One main purpose of the BCML is to select such outstanding mvts. [...] >>
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Opinions are opinions.
"We are all individuals!!!!" - the crowd, in rehearsed unison, >
Sweet!

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 7, 2007):
<<< I´m not sure that England and Germany were so different from each other with regard to rehearsals in the 1720s and 1730s. But as you say, there is not much documentation for that period. >>>
<< Sort of like the lack of documentation that people variously ate meals, wore shoes, had sex, >>
< some for sure, but not necessarily everyone >
<< collected firewood, slept, bathed at least once a month, >>
< ever the optimist, eh? >
Johann! We caught you rehearsing your instrument in secret, and so vigorously too. While we appreciate your enthusiasm, if you keep it up like that all the time, and in the dark, you'll surely go blind. Plus if you always rush through it like that, you'll regret it later because you'll have to work on your ensemble timing. Not to mention the way you're doing your fingering, which isn't the best way to get the results you want, especially if you have a duo with a soprano. Well, please take a break and go get wood.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 7, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< The situation in Germany only began changing considerably in the latter half of the 18th century when rehearsals began playing a much more important role in the preparation of music for public performances in concert halls dedicated to this purpose. The choirs increased considerably in size (with many amateurs involved) and the Mannheim school saw the need for more practice and rehearsals, emulating what had already been established in France for almost a century. >
This is only evidence that the secular choral societies of the 19th century had to create a new rehearsal model because the singers were not members of a residential music school with daily performances and a schedule of instruction and rehearsals. The need for both individual and corporate rehearsal was still a necessity for Bach's musicians.

Richard Mix wrote (March 12, 2007):
Alain Bruguières wrote:
< Since the rehearsal theme pops up again in our discussions, and I >find it very interesting, I have looked up in the Entwurff...
...He says basically that a good performer who works/rehearses >sufficiently produces better music than one who play 'ex tempore', and that the secret is: pay your musicians them adequately. Now this does suggest that (and more than suggest, in fact, the whole paragraph would be pointless unless) Bach's musicians did play ex tempore, there were no rehearsals, or at least no >rehearsal was considered necessary by Bach's employers, and consequently there was no budget for rehearsals. Agreed, this is an >interpretation. >
We have often enough seen the Entwurff read in contradictory ways; to me this rather 'less than suggests', especially in light of the extra bits supplied by Brad:

< translation as printed on page 169 of Andrew Parrott's book, The Essential Bach Choir (2000).
"...the few beneficia, which should have been increased rather than reduced, have been completely
withdrawn from the chorus musicus....
...The conclusion is accordingly easy to draw, that with the stopping of the beneficia my power to put the musical ensemble into a better state is removed." >
Doesn't this seem to describe the proposed curtailing of paid rehearsals that were already taking place? That's my reading, at least.

Thomas has observed that Bach's musicians would need to be well aquainted with Bach's music, though it was immediatly after his arrival that time presures were greatest! We can assume that they acquired this advantage of familiarity by practicing/playing during the week, and that they didnt confine themselves to scales between Sundays. But what would have been the repertoire on which they sharpened their chops & sightreading skills? The now available parts of the previous week's cantata perhaps? ;-]

[Alain:]
< I would like to conclude this post by thanking the many list members >who approach this discussion with an open mind, it takes an effort to accept ideas which go against the grain of one's personal experience. >
Indeed! I must still attempt to get a handle on the copying chronology, which confuses me a little. There must be something there besides evidence of haste to draw the conclusion that the deadline was Sunday morning instead of a rehearsal, yes?

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 13, 2007):
Richard Mix wrote:
>>Doesn't this [the payments/stipends to performers not enrolled in the St. Thomas School as internii or externii] seem to describe the proposed curtailing of paid rehearsals that were already taking place? That's my reading, at least.<<
No, these payments were for the performances, not the rehearsals. Nowhere are any rehearsals ever mentioned. Please supply documentation for your reading/interpretation of this section of the "Entwurff" and indicate where you think that this notion of "curtailing of paid rehearsals" might even be implied.

RM: >>Indeed! I must still attempt to get a handle on the copying chronology, which confuses me a little. There must be something there besides evidence of haste to draw the conclusion that the deadline was Sunday morning instead of a rehearsal, yes?<<
Here is some further clear evidence for the extremely rapid, under-pressure-of-time-constraints, composing/copying/performance chronology:

Timeline for BWV 214 "Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten" [Dramma per musica for the Birthday of the Queen/Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony and Poland]

This cantata first performed by the Collegium musicum under Bach's direction on December 8, 1733 would eventually, a year later, supply the musical source for some parts of BWV 248, the Christmas Oratorio (December 1734-January 1735). BWV 214/1, 5, 7, 9 would become BWV 248/1, 15, 8, 24. Two large mvts. 1 and 9 with 3 trumpets and timpani and two arias, one for tenor, another for bass, would be reused with new text in the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248).

There is little doubt that this music originated with BWV 214 based upon the fact that the autograph score of BWV 214 is a composing score with a great number of corrections throughout.

We are fortunate to have 3 key dates that seem to point to a very tight schedule from inception to performance, and while there may be some who would like to argue that Bach could have had the text in hand long before any of these key dates and could then possibly have composed most of the music long beforehand, the evidence from the autograph score and the remaining parts from the original set of parts indicates once again (as with the cantatas composed in early 1725) that with this birthday cantata everything was accomplished with great haste leaving little or no time for any rehearsal.

1. The large folio-size print out of the text (only one copy of this is still in existence) was ordered from Breitkopf by Bach on Friday, December 4, 1733 for which the receipt indicates that Bach paid 2 Reichsthaler for the batch (exact number not listed, but a similar order for another cantata text from Breitkopf on January 16, 1734 cost 1 Reichsthaler 20 for 100 pages/sheets).

2. The autograph score has Bach's title at the top of the first page:

J.J. Drama p. Musica, à 4 Voci. 3 Trombe Tamburi, 2 Hautb. 2 Violini Viola e Cont.

At the end of the score Bach wrote:

Fine | DSG | 1733. | d. 7 Dec.

Thus Bach indicated that on Monday, December 7, 1733, the day or night before the actual performance on December 8, 1733, he finally finished the last mvt. which would eventually become the grand opening mvt.
of Part III of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) "Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen."

3. The performance of BWV 214 took place at Zimmermann's Coffee House from 5 to 7 pm on Tuesday, December 8, 1733.

Thus the key dates have been quite firmly established. What remains is to examine the evidence more closely:

a) The Text

The text is generally ascribed to an unknown librettist; however, two theories of the three theories suggested by the NBA KB I/36 should be considered:

1.) There is a slight possibility that Picander may have been the librettist. Scholars are bothered by the fact that he included some of his celebratory cantata texts (which Bach also set to music) but not others like this one. One possibility: Picander disowned this text because it was not up to his normal standard. [Perhaps the text for BWV 214 was such a rush job that Picander did later not want to be associated with it or to have it appear years later in his book of cantata texts?]

2.) Since the poetry is of such a mediocre quality, it has been suggested that Bach accepted the quickly patched-together results of a rather inexperienced rhyme-smith from among the university students.

3.) Although it had been suggested by some of the very early Bach biographers, the notion that Bach himself wrote the text is considered today to be the least likely of all the possibilities that have been suggested.

Summary:

The rather poor quality of the rhyme along with the resulting text makes it appear that whoever did write the text may have done so very quickly without having a chance to improve on the first draft which probably became the final draft since the printer Breitkopf needed time to print the text (setting the type, etc. -something we rarely consider today when text can be printed so quickly and easily). December 4, 1733 was a Friday with Saturday and Sunday possibly lost as work days. This left only Monday and the early part of Tuesday to complete the entire printing task. A very short time schedule indeed. One can almost hear Breitkopf mumbling and grumbling about not having sufficient preparation time: ("Sebastian, you owe me one for this.").

b) Composing the Music

Bach may not really have begun seriously writing out the music for the score until the text had been firmly established on Friday, December 4. The facsimile of the 1st page with the mvt. now known as "Jauchzet, frohlocket", the opening mvt. of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248), shows that Bach original had each first entrance of each trumpet begin a beat earlier. This premature entrance is then crossed out. Bach is indeed working very fast and feverishly even in the very first bars of music for the first mvt.!

Although Bach did not have to compose or perform a cantata for Sunday, December 6, which, in Leipzig, was a time (Advent) when no figurative music was performed, he may still have had some obligations to oversee in the churches on Sunday morning.

c) Copying the Parts

When Bach called together his 'crew' of copyists (three of them are noted as participating in the few remaining original parts, but there may have been more), Bach still had not finished composing the final large choral/trumpet/timpani mvt. which eventually, in the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248), became the opening of Part III "Herrscher des Himmels". This is evidenced by Bach having to add this mvt. to the Soprano part which Copyist 1 had completed up to that point. The sole, remaining parts of this incomplete set of original parts are: Soprano, Alto, Tenore, Baßo, Viola, and Violono. Usually tcontinuo parts involve other copyists, but these parts are non-existent. The Viola part is copied by Copyist 2 and the Violone part by Copyist 3. If Bach had had sufficient time for the copy procedure he would have either:

1) delegated this task to one reliable copyist instead of 3 or more.

2) copied the parts himself as he did with a church cantata from the 1730s (I still need to find the specific reference again, but I am certain that this situation does exist).

Knowing that Bach had finished composing the score on Monday, December 7, 1733, the copy process probably did not begin before this time and very likely it took place Monday evening, the night before the actual performance on Tuesday afternoon. It is also a possibility that some of the copy work (continuo parts, for instance) was completed on the day of the performance since these parts were often copied straight through from beginning to the end by a single copyist. This means also that Bach would still need time to add the figures to the continuo parts, make further corrections to the parts, and add articulation, dynamics, embellishments, etc. before the parts could be considered ready to play from.

d) Performing the Cantata

This brings up again the subject of 'sight-reading' the music at the first performance. It has been demonstrated from the existing records about the Collegium musicum that their 'rehearsals' were at the same time 'performances', which people were invited to attend. There is no evidence that the Bach's Collegium musicum ever rehearsed, unless you consider their 'rehearsals' as performances, since these 'rehearsals' were never a prelude to any other, later 'real' performance.

Johann Gottfried Walther, in his "Musicalisches Lexicon.." Leipzig, 1732, p. 656, reports that Johann Gotthilff Ziegler, born in 1688 in Dresden, had begun to learn singing at age 4 and keyboard at age 6 and became so proficient in these that at age 10 he could sing or play any part placed before him at sight (".solche profectus erlanget, daß er im 10. Jahre eine vorgelegte Partie ohne Anstoß ex tempore wegsingen."). He studied with Petzold, Zachau and J. S. Bach.

Bach could rely on the sight-reading capabilities of his musicians, many of whom, in this case, if not all
of them, were students from the university (no students currently enrolled as Thomaner would perform in Zimmermann's Coffee House) and the City Pipers would play the trumpets parts.

Summary:

A likely scenario is that Bach asked a librettist to prepare, on very short notice, the entire text for this cantata which would have to be performed in about a week. Bach received the text, made a copy for himself, and quickly took it to Breitkopf the printer who had to prepare printed copies of it in less than 4 days with a weekend intervening. Immediately thereafter, Bach set to work on composing the entire score over the course of about 3 days, but still had not finished composing the grand final mvt. when the copy process involving a number of copyists began. The copy process as well as the editing of the parts may have begun late in the day preceding the performance and the final editing by Bach could easily have continued in the morning hours on the day of the performance which would take place in the late afternoon hours. Concerned with notifying all the musicians involved in the performance and making all the final arrangements for set up (tuning the harpsichord, making certain that all the musicians had access to the instruments they needed) at Zimmermann's Coffee House, there really was no time left for rehearsals. Bach knew that he could rely on the sight-reading skills and musicianship of all of his performers to make this a memorable public concert.

Alain Bruguieres wrote (March 13, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Here is some further clear evidence for the extremely rapid, under-pressure-of-time-constraints, composing/copying/performance chronology:
.../... >
Very impressive. And this is going on well after the first 2 hectic years in Leipzig. Thank you very much, Thomas, for providing us with such a wealth of information. You certainly deserve more credit than you get for the tremendous work you're doing on this list.

Canyon Rick wrote (March 13, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Bach could rely on the sight-reading capabilities of his musicians, many of whom, in this case, if not all of them, were students from the university (no students currently enrolled as Thomaner would perform in Zimmermann's Coffee House) and the City Pipers would play the trumpets parts. >
Why would no Thomaners be allowed to participate? Zimmermann's wasn't an 'Adults Only' establishment, was it? Also, at Zimmermann's, could women sing the soprano and alto parts, both as solists and choirsters?

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 13, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< We are fortunate to have 3 key dates that seem to point to a very tight schedule from inception to performance, and while there may be some who would like to argue that Bach could have had the text in hand long before any of these key dates and could then possibly have composed most of the music long beforehand, the evidence from the autograph score and the remaining parts from the original set of parts indicates once again (as with the cantatas composed in early 1725) that with this birthday cantata everything was accomplished with great haste leaving little or no time for any rehearsal.
Fine | DSG | 1733. | d. 7 Dec.
Thus Bach indicated that on Monday, December 7, 1733, the day or night before the actual performance on December 8, 1733, he finally finished the last mvt. which would eventually become the grand opening mvt. of Part III of the Christmas Oratorio (
BWV 248) ³Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen
3. The performance of
BWV 214 took place at Zimmermannıs Coffee House from 5 to 7 pm on Tuesday, December 8, 1733.
2.) Since the poetry is of such a mediocre quality, it has been suggested that Bach accepted the quickly patched-together results of a rather inexperienced rhyme-smith from among the university students. >
The evidence is sparse and in no way allows for such a definitive timeline.

The name day of a sovereign was an annual observance and there is no necessity for haste in its planning. In fact, the intimate relationship between text and the unique orchestral effects argues for a substantive collaboration between poet and composer.

Who decided that the poetry is mediocre? You may have decreed that it is a "patched-up affair" and proves that it was written in haste. You make it sound like a school-boy limerick. There is no evidence whatsoever for this assertion, and it is not credible that Bach as a prominent municipal employee would have set a doggerel text. We may not like it, but Bach certainly thought it worthy of a royal tribute.

In fact, the opening chorus, "Tönet ihr Pauken", with its arresting timpani solo and wind solos is one of the finest and most innovative movements that Bach ever conceived. Its sophistication argues that Bach was the instigator of the concept not some student with a rhyming dictionary. The relation between text and music is much stronger than in its later reincarnation in the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) as "Jauchzet Frohlocket"

Bach did not date his manuscripts. The inscription "Fine" indicates that the chorus was the final movement in the cantata. The date indicates that it was intended for the Birthday festival which traditionally began on the evening before the actual day. Thus, when Bach writes December 7 he's merely identifying the work as a celebration of the natal festival.

Alas this is no proof for the midnight-oil/no-rehearsal dogma which once again presented as fact.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (March 13, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Bach did not date his manuscripts. The inscription "Fine" indicates that the chorus was the final movement in the cantata. The date indicates that it was intended for Birthday festival which traditionally began on the evening before the actual day. Thus, when Bach writes December 7 he's merely identifying the work as a celebration of the natal festival. >
I have not seen a copy of the manuscript, but I'd find it odd the date for the performance of a piece, would be buried inside the score, and not on the cover, which is where you would expect it to be easily seen, obviously without having to thumb through the manuscript to find it.

Since Handel would mark sections off in his manuscripts with dates, why can't this be one exception where Bach did the same?

Just curious.

Thanks

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 13, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>The evidence is sparse and in no way allows for such a definitive timeline.<<
The evidence, in your opinion, is sparse and you personally do not believe it and you consider that there is no possibility that a definitive timeline such as this could ever exist. I see this matter very differently and find that I have presented the most reasonable possibilities and conjectures based upon the available evidence.

DC: >>The name day of a sovereign was an annual observance and there is no necessity for haste in its planning. In fact, the intimate relationship between text and the unique orchestral effects argues for a substantive collaboration between poet and composer.<<
This is not what Alfred Dürr has determined. He has pointed out that all 3 arias of BWV 214 have exactly the same rhyme scheme, a fact which makes clear that Bach himself would never have written this text because he would never have tolerated a 'straitjacket' approach of this sort.

DC: >>Who decided that the poetry is mediocre? You may have decreed that it is a "patched-up affair" and proves that it was written in haste. You make it sound like a school-boy limerick. There is no evidence whatsoever for this assertion,..<<
Dürr points out that the subtitle "Dramma per musica" sounds very promising, but it never delivers anything more than static figures. There is no development.

The NBA KB states that from the standpoint of formal structure and content the libretto is "unbedeutend" ("insignificant, of little value, negligible"). One must consider this poetry to be written by an amateur ("An einen Laiendichter wird man indes denken müssen").

Perhaps I should not be amazed that you, not being fluent in German and certainly not having studied as much German poetry as I or the NBA editors have, should issue pretentious statements such as these without having a solid foundation in this subject matter. I also find it somewhat annoying that you express such disbelief that I am presenting accurate information based on documentary evidence and research without your being able prove the contrary but instead relying instead upon unfounded dogmatic assertions.

DC: >>. it is not credible that Bach as a prominent municipal employee would have set a doggerel text. We may not like it, but Bach certainly thought it worthy of a royal tribute.<<
Being in great haste, Bach had to accept a text unworthy of his music. We should be thankful that he composed great music to a bad text that could later be used with a better text in the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248). There is always the sneaking suspicion that Bach may already have had a Christmas application in mind when he began composing BWV 214. But there is no proof for this assertion, as appealing as the idea may be.

DC: >>The relation between text and music is much stronger than in its later reincarnation in the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) as "Jauchzet Frohlocket"<<
Perhaps Bach hinted to the amateur poet that he wanted the cantata to begin with "Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten" and then let him take it from there?

DC: >>Bach did not date his manuscripts.<<
A general, dogmatic, all-inclusive statement of this type is bound to fail. In this instance, BWV 214, the NBA KB I/36 editors make clear that this is the accepted date of completion of this particular cantata.

DC: >>The inscription "Fine" indicates that the chorus was the final movement in the cantata. The date indicates that it was intended for the Birthday festival which traditionally began on the evening before the actual day. Thus, when Bach writes December 7 he's merely identifying the work as a celebration of the natal festival.<<
In Germany there is a rather strong tradition/superstition that birthdays must never be celebrated in advance of the actual date. It brings bad luck. Certainly I would like to see any proof that you can offer from the original, historical records that birthday festivals, such as those Bach celebrated with music in Leipzig, actually began on the evening before the actual date.

From the NBA KB I/36 p. 107:
"Der Schlußvermerk der Bachschen Partitur gibt uns als Datum des Abschlusses der Komposition den 7. Dezember 1733." ("The final note/remark/comment of Bach's score gives us as the date of completion of this composition the 7th of December, 1733"). According to you, the editors seem entirely oblivious to a strong tradition of beginning a birthday celebration in the evening before the actual date of birth. Share with this list the information (citing exact primary sources from Bach's tenure in Leipzig) you have so that we can come to a better understanding of this matter that you seem to understand better than most.

Better yet, instead of 'throwing about' these general assertions about the excellence of the libretto of BWV 214, that Bach never dated his scores, and that birthday festivals in Leipzig in the 1730s were celebrated beginning on the evening before the actual birthdate, immediately provide the necessary proof and evidence for your assertions which seek to denigrate the findings of others without good reasons being given. Just a suggestion!

DC: >>Alas this is no proof for the midnight-oil/no-rehearsal dogma which once again presented as fact.<<
Some of your dogmatic assertions attacking the tentative scenario which I have established are certainly more incredible and far less likely to have occurred than the potential reality which I am attempting to describe based upon factual information which I continue to find to support my current thinking about this subject.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 13, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Perhaps I should not be amazed that you, not being fluent in German and certainly not having studied as much German poetry as I or the NBA editors have, should issue pretentious statements such as these without having a solid foundation in this subject matter. >
My mistake. I assumed that Bach spoke German fluently and exercised extraordinary care in his choice of texts. But I guess you and the NBA editors know better than Bach.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 13, 2007):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
>>I have not seen a copy of the manuscript, but I'd find it odd the date for the performance of a piece, would be buried inside the score, and not on the cover, which is where you would expect it to be easily seen, obviously without having to thumb through the manuscript to find it.<<
Think of it this way: often Bach did not write the cover page title (a task frequently delegated to the main copyist). This is where a date (usually just a year) might be found. Church cantatas generally do not have any calendar dates given anywhere in the score, while the liturgical Sunday or Feast Day is always noted.

When Bach wrote his own titles on top of the first page of the score as in the cantatas (these titles were almost always written by him and no one else), he left very little space at the top. There really was not very much space to write in a date as well.

>>Since Handel would mark sections off in his manuscripts with dates, why can't this be one exception where Bach did the same?<<
My guess here is that Bach composed faster (setting notes down paper) than most composers. Putting down dates for each section might even interrupt his flow of thought as his mind would already be working on the next mvt. to follow before he had finished the one he had been working on.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 13, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>My mistake. I assumed that Bach spoke German fluently and exercised extraordinary care in his choice of texts. But I guess you and the NBA editors know better than Bach.<<
Bach was in a great hurry to get this cantata composed and performed in a very short time span. Can you forgive him for not living up to your standards of what good German poetry should be like? Can you forgive him also for waiting until it was much too late to set up all those precious rehearsals which you deem absolutely necessary for his well-trained musicians?

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 13, 2007):
Canyon Rick wrote:
>>Why would no Thomaners be allowed to participate? Zimmermann's wasn't an 'Adults Only' establishment,was it?<<
There were some school rules which forbade the enrolled (internii) Thomaner to sing anywhere outside of the school and church. There were many regulations governing every aspect of performance when they did leave the school building, whether for funerals, weddings, caroling (Kurrende) or what have you. Anything that would create problems with missing scheduled classes or being outside the building when they should be studying in their cubicles after classes and in the evenings would be subject to review by Bach's superiors.

I had just read a source (forgotten to mark it as usual) where the German commentator stated outright "the Thomaner would never have been allowed to sing or perform with the Collegium musicum in Zimmermann's Cafe." No direct reason was given, but again I think it had to do with school regulations. Any such outside activity would have needed the approval of the top authorities in the school and a member of the City Council as well. Bach was severely chastised for not following this rule in one instance which had nothing to do with performances at Zimmermann's Cafe. The difficulty with the Collegium musicum would be the numerous, rather regular performances, many of them in the evening, that were given. There would be no way for Bach to get away with this on so many different occasions. I wonder, however, if it might have been easier for the Thomaner externii to be used in this fashion since they lived at home or in a different house outside of school.

CR: >>Also, at Zimmermann's, could women sing the soprano and alto parts, both as solists and choirsters?<<
I would think that this could easily have occurred although direct evidence for this is still lacking. The soprano version of BWV 82 which was discussed recently would certainly have provided an opportunity for Anna Magdalena Bach to perform in this setting. Again, no direct proof for this, but the circumstantial evidence points in this direction. Since there were so many university students involved in these performances, what about the 'Frauen Collegium' (I found this building marked in an engraving from Bach's time in Leipzig). This intriguing name seems to indicate the possibility that women who were studying at the university either congregated, attended classes, or lived in this building dedicated solely for use by university women. Imagine that some of these women might also have been very good musicians or could sing soprano or alto in the chorus. They would then have fit very nicely into the Collegium musicum along with the other male students who constituted the largest portion of musicians in this ensemble. However, somehow, no female names have ever appeared in the roster of musicians that have been documented from this group.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 13, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>> My mistake. I assumed that Bach spoke German fluently and exercised extraordinary care in his choice of texts. But I guess you and the NBA editors know better than Bach.<<
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Bach was in a great hurry to get this cantata composed and performed in a very short time span. Can you forgive him for not living up to your standards of what good German poetry should be like? Can you forgive him also for waiting until it was much too late to set up all those precious rehearsals which you deem absolutely necessary for his well-trained musicians? >
I happily forgive Bach any faults.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 13, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>I happily forgive Bach any faults.<<
I am certain that he could have learned a lot from you regarding better ways of planning and organizing the performances of his own music.

Canyon Rick wrote (March 13, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< There were some school rules which forbade the enrolled (internii) Thomaner to sing anywhere outside of the school and church. There were many regulations governing every aspect of performance when they did leave the school building, whether for funerals, weddings, caroling (Kurrende) or what have you. Anything that would create problems with missing scheduled classes or being outside the building when they should be studying in their cubicles after classes and in the evenings would be subject to review by Bach's superiors. >
The problem I have with the "rules" is that there were apparently a substantial number of Thomaners who were in their 20s (in some cases, well into their 20s). I have a hard time believing that males of that age would have to put up with rules which seemed designed for young teenagers. Indeed, I recall hearing mention of the possibility that Bach was bringing in more mature voices (when he could) to satisfy his desire for a proper tenor/bass sound. I doubt he would have been able to attract such voices if there had been a pile of tacky or restrictive rules they would have to live by (a 20-something could only drink weak beer rather than the real thing, for example?)

< I had just read a source (forgotten to mark it as usual) where the German commentator stated outright "the Thomaner would never have been allowed to sing or perform with the Collegium musicum in Zimmermann's Cafe." No direct reason was given, but again I think it had to do with school regulations. Any such outside activity would have needed the approval of the top authorities in the school and a member of the City Council as well. Bach was severely chastised for not following this rule in one instance which had nothing to do with performances at Zimmermann's Cafe. >
Enforcement of rules may have had more to do with Bach's Rectors. Ernesti1 seems too feeble to be on top of things; Gesner supported Bach's visions; Ernesti2, however, seems eager to be strict. If rules were enforced as written, it would be most likely under his rectorship. I've been thinking that a strict enforcement of the Ordnungen might have been at one of the cores of the Bach-Ernesti battles. Certainly, such would have made Bach's desire to have music (be it at Zimmermann's or the churches) performed at a certain level much more difficult (which may well have been a goal of Ernesti's).

< The difficulty with the Collegium musicum would be the numerous, rather regular performances, many of them in the evening, that were given. There would be no way for Bach to get away with this on so many different occasions. I wonder, however, if it might have been easier for the Thomaner externii to be used in this fashion since they lived at home or in a different house outside of school. >
The problem with Externi is that they were likely not the best musicians at the TS. If there were Thomaners who were equal to the Collegium Musicum, one would think they would be interni (tho there were apparently often gifted students among externi awaiting a spot to open up among the interni, I would think these were generally younger students too inexperienced to compete with older musicians as yet)

< Imagine that some of these women might also have been very good musicians or could sing soprano or alto in the chorus. They would then have fit very nicely into the Collegium musicum along with the other male students who constituted tlargest portion of musicians in this ensemble. However, somehow, no female names have ever appeared in the roster of musicians that have been documented from this group. >
Well, if Thomaners were not allowed to sing, it would probably have to be women (I suppose we must allow for the possibility of falsettists, etc). No (or, rare use of) Thomaners or women among the instrumentalists seems possible. But, do we really think that a treble or counter-tenor performed Liesgen in the Coffee cantata?

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 13, 2007):
Canyon Rick wrote:
>>The problem I have with the "rules" is that there were apparently a substantial number of Thomaners who were in their 20s (in some cases, well into their 20s). I have a hard time believing that males of that age would have to put up with rules which seemed designed for young teenagers.<<
My current thinking along these lines is that these older Thomaner were given positions of authority over the younger students and were compensated accordingly for their efforts. They had to serve as good models for the younger boys.

CR: >>Indeed, I recall hearing mention of the possibility that Bach was bringing in more mature voices (when he could) to satisfy his desire for a proper tenor/ bass sound.<<
These were the supernumerarii (mainly university students and perhaps a few of Bach's own private students). Although all of them were under 30 years of age, they, in addition to playing instruments, provided the 'backbone' for the Tenor and Bass sections and also sang the arias that would have been too difficult for most of the enrolled Thomaner.

CR: >>Enforcement of rules may have had more to do with Bach's Rectors.<<
This appears to be true with Gesner being more lax than others in the enforcement of the rules. Reading between the lines of the Schulordnung of 1723, it appears that many rules were being broken and that a book of statutes had for a long time been used as a threat to keep most of the Thomaner in line. It tried to spell out the procedures that would/could be used to expel a student from the school. It spelled out the details of the power hierarchy within the school. From all appearances (records of complaints about Bach), however, Bach seemed to disregard the rules like the one which required him to give group singing lessons for an hour each day. One complaint indicates that Bach had given these up entirely (probably he delegated this responsibility to his prefects).

What was Bach probably doing with 'all this extra time on his hands', if he did not conduct any classes as was required of him?

Yesterday I quoted from Walther's biographical entry on Johann Gotthilff Ziegler (born 1688 in Dresden). After not quite completing his university studies in various subjects, Ziegler was offered the position of organist in Halle. There he had so many students coming to him for individual music instruction that he was occupied with teaching them all day long from 6 in the morning until 9 at night with every hour slot taken. In 1730 he still had 33 "Expectanten" (those on a waiting list hoping to be accepted when one of the students left). Could it possibly be that Bach was also laboring in this type of teaching situation? BTW, during the time Ziegler was teaching students privately in this manner, he still found time to write two treatises: "Neü-erfundene Musicalische Anfangs-Gründe" and "Neu-erfundener Unterricht vom General-Baß" and composed two cantata cycles based on the Gospel readings for each Sunday and another cycle based on the Epistle readings. Just where would Ziegler have found time to compose, then copy out the parts and then even rehearse his cantatas before performing them? Having his musicians sight-read his cantatas without rehearsal at their first performances during the Sunday church service seems to be a reasonable solution under these circumstances. How similar was Bach's situation in Leipzig? Did he also have such a large number of private music students? With such a teaching load, when did Ziegler and Bach find time to compose their cantatas? Were they able to compose their music very quickly and on short notice and with very little time on their hands? I am beginning to think so.

Canyon Rick wrote (March 13, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< These were the supernumerarii (mainly university students and perhaps a few of Bach's own private students). Although all of them were under 30 years of age, they, in addition to playing instruments, provided the 'backbone' for the Tenor and Bass sections and also sang the arias that would have been too difficult for most of the enrolled Thomaner. >
But, doesn't this then harken back to enforcement of rules? Am I incorrect in understanding that these rules required First Choir members to be not only Thomaners, but Interni as well? (regardless of conditions such as illness depleting the ranks) The other three choirs were apparently not held to the standard of "Interni only" and externi could be used on an emergency basis. Is there a section of Ordnungen concerning supernumerarii?

< From all appearances (records of complaints about Bach), however, Bach seemed to disregard the rules like the one which required him to give group singing lessons for an hour each day. One complaint indicates that Bach had given these up entirely (probably he delegated this responsibility to his prefects). >
"group singing lessons" mean what? Was this in addition to the 7 hours per week of music classes? Was Bach expected to have all 150 TS students (externi and interni) up on the stage together for some kind of group sing along? I gather as a result of his conflicts with Ernesti2, Bach eventually no longer taught the music classes, but I don't think we are talking about the same thing here.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 14, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
<< There were some school rules which forbade the enrolled (internii) Thomaner to sing anywhere outside of the school and church. >>
Canyon Rick wrote:
< The problem I have with the "rules" is that there were apparently a substantial number of Thomaners who were in their 20s (in some cases, well into their 20s). I have a hard time believing that males of that age would have to put up with rules which seemed designed for young teenagers. >
Given our experience (21 C. anarchy), it is hard to believe that young teenagers (never mind the twenty-ish) would put up with rules made for young teenagers.

Perhaps Germans are different? More respectful of rules, especially the rule that Germans rule?

 

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Last update: ŭAugust 11, 2007 ŭ13:17:06