Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Secular Cantatas
General Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Sacred a& Secular Performance style

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 184 - Discussions

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 30, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Or is a composition "once secular, always secular" (which I suspect is yet another romanticized 19th century notion about Bach!) even if it gets used in church? >
And this brings us back to our discussion that there is a difference in performance style between the same music used in secular and sacred occasions.

I simply don't believe that the movements of the secular cantata, "Tonet Ihr Pauken", were played any differently when they reappeared as "Jauchzet frohlocket" in the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248). Or that that the St. Mark Passion (BWV 247) suddenly sounded different when it was transformed into the secular ode, "Lasst Fürstin".

Contemporary opinions about the difference between "sacred" and "secular' style simply do not relate to the performance style of the same music in the two situations.

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 30, 2006):
<< For that same one I also played Brahms's "Edward" ballade -- which happens to have a legendary subtext about parricide! -- but the way we used it we focused only on its suitability as expressive music of wide dramatic range, free of any programmatic implications. And I certainly didn't hold back in performance, one bit, on the fortissimos or anything >>
< However, musicians need to be careful that the music remains abstract. NEVER assume that there is no one out there that doesn't recognize the piece. I once heard an organist play "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" before a wedding. >

Es war ein wunderlicher Krieg?

< I debated whether to admonish him afterwards for such arrogance towards the couple and their guests, but decided I would get to the open bar first. >
Hoo-yah!

A friend of mine said his brother explicitly requested "To all the girls I've loved before" by Kenny Rogers as part of the wedding music; my friend refused to play it.

The worst choices of wedding music I've ever personally experienced were at the wedding of one of my cousins: the bride insisted on having the "Forrest Gump Suite" (on recording) as part of the prelude, and the couple walked out to the "Stars and stripes forever" by Sousa (also on recording). I was organist for the rest of the service, and the rest of the prelude...except for the several selections that were played by solo bagpiper INDOORS, programmed alternatim with my much more normal organ selections. Fortunately, the bagpiper was skilled and played well.

At another wedding--I think I may have related this anecdote before--I was brought in to play the whole service on harpsichord. I tuned and warmed up about 45 minutes ahead. As part of checking the tuning, I quickly ran through part of the WTC prelude in C, just for myself. The bride's mother came storming up and said, "You will not play that Christian piece; this is a Jewish wedding!!" (Evidently she heard the Gounod "Ave Maria" in her head....) I reassured her that it was simply a Bach instrumental piece, and showed her the score, but I wouldn't be playing it at all for the service.

< On another occasion, I was astonished to hear the bride come up the aisle to Byrd's "La Battaglia". I turned to my wife and suggested it wasn't the best omen for domestic tranquillity. >

Actually, I've played Bernardo Storace's "Ballo della battaglia" as recessional music for at least one wedding...with no intent to comment upon or cast any spell against the marriage, but just because it's a terrific and lively piece. Pull some reeds and let 'er rip.

< But then the two most popular wedding marches are parodies of matirmony. The Lohengrin "Bridal Chorus" (Here Comes The Bride) celebrates an invalid marriage in the opera (the groom refuses to tell the bride who he is). And the Mendelssohn "Wedding March" (There Goes The Bride) accompanies the drugged Titania's marriage to the ass-headed Bottom. Happy listeners don't realize that the opening of the march section (after the fanfares) is a diminished chord depicting the bray of an ass! >
Somebody should insert the even more obvious hee-haws from Mendelssohn's overture to same. Those make me wonder about any 19th century yodelling traditions around the campus of Berlin University.

Santu de Silva wrote (March 30, 2006):
Doug Colking wrote:

>>> [T]he two most popular wedding marches are parodies of matirmony. The Lohengrin "Bridal Chorus" (Here Comes The Bride) celebrates an invalid marriage in the opera (the groom refuses to tell the bride who he is). And the Mendelssohn "Wedding March" (There Goes The Bride) accompanies the drugged Titania's marriage to the ass-headed Bottom. Happy listeners don't realize that the opening of the march section (after the fanfares) is a diminished chord depicting the bray of an ass! >>>
!!! Yes, alas, too true! But an ameliorating factor is that the Mendelssohn march has been hallowed by usage, and it's only the most erudite music-lover who associates the march with the play rather than with other weddings --hopefully ones that turned out well, more or less!

The Wagner march indeed has tragic overtones, but the outcome of the marriage is less due to the bride's intrisically poor character than to the machinations of interested parties, and the somewhat peculiar axioms of the legends surrounding the knights of the grail, etc etc. If one believes that marriages must be grounded in common sense rather than romantic notions, perhaps the Lohengrin march should be avoided.

What does that leave us? The overture to Figaro? (The Wedding as the epitome of Chaos?)

Is there something in Bach that is a good Bridal March? (From the Wedding Cantata? Have we talked about this before, somewhere?)

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 30, 2006):
Santu de Silva wrote:
< Is there something in Bach that is a good Bridal March? (From the Wedding Cantata? Have we talked about this before, somewhere?) >
The second most-requested Bach piece at weddings is "Bist Du Bei Mir" (BWV 508), a funeral Lied.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 30, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I debated whether to admonish him afterwards for such arrogance towards the couple and their guests, but decided I would get to the open bar first. >
Not to leap (winged or not) to any conclusions, but this might be a wise response, in general, to the instinct to admonish.

John Reese wrote (March 30, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] I have sung Schubert's Ave Maria at a couple of weddings -- not with the original words (a despairing maiden beseeching the Virgin Mary for assistance), though, which would be singularly inappropriate for a wedding, not to mention for a male singer!

 

The secular cantatas

Continue of discuusion from: Cantatas BWV 173 & BWV 173a - Discussions

Julian Mincham wrote (February 13, 2011):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Despite for years taking little interest in the secular Cantatas >
Unfortunately, not an uncommon reaction I think amongst Bach afficionados, myself included at one time. . It was only when I studied the secular works in minute detail that I discovered that, with their greater range of subject matter, they are perhaps even more revealing of aspects of Bach the man and artist than the church works. For openers, BWV 201 (Phoebus and Pan) discloses much of Bach's attitude towards musics of greater or lesser quality. BWV 211 and BWV 212 allow us to infer quite a bit about the 'operatic' presentations of these works (yes I know that inferences from the scores may be less certain than the written evidence of contemporary observers but it is often all we ). BWV 204 (I am content) I find particularly fascinating because it seems to reveal something of Bach's character and attitudes----additionally it is a fine and underperformed work.

The secular cantatas are a goldmine of musical and musicological fascinations and it is well worth the effort of getting to know them. In a sense it is a pity that they have been lumped under the (unhistoric) generic title of 'cantatas' because so many of them stand well apart from the church works. For one thing, most of them were created to be 'seen' as well as 'heard' and the performance venues were much more varied.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 13, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< It was only when I studied the secular works in minute detail that I discovered that, with their greater range of subject matter, they are perhaps even more revealing of aspects of Bach the man and artist than the church works. >
The light bulb came on for me when I finally heard the original "Tönet Ihr Pauken" -- Bach's own "Introduction to the Orchestra" -- and thinking, "This is a better version than "Jauchzet Frohlocket" in the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248).

Claudio di Veroli wrote (February 13, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] My favourite one is Eolus Appeased ("Der Zufriedengestellte Aeolus") with its unique humour and grand scoring. By the way, though Bach did score both trumpets and horns in a few works (e.g. the b minor Mass), I cannot recall any other work where Bach scored trumpets and horns playing together.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 13, 2011):
Claudio Di Veroli wrote:
< My favourite one is Eolus Appeased ("Der Zufriedengestellte Aeolus") with its unique humour and grand scoring. By the way, though Bach did score both trumpets and horns in a few works (e.g. the b minor Mass), I cannot recall any other work where Bach scored trumpets and horns playing together. >
You mean where horns and trumpets play in the same movement?

I'm sure that's pretty rare (e.g. maybe under five instances)?

And I wonder why.

Graupner and Telemann and Stölzel scored cantatas with plenty of movements with horns, trumpets and timpani (and in some cases more than two drums).

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Horns in Bach’s Vocal Works [General Topics]

Claudio di Veroli wrote (February 13, 2011):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< You mean where horns and trumpets play in the same movement? >
I actually mean at the same time, like in the Overture of Handel's Fireworks.

If anybody knows of any other instance by Bach, I would be glad to know: none of the Cantatas, Suites and Concertos that I can recall.

 

The secular cantatas

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 175 - Discussions Part 4

Julian Mincham wrote (March 15, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
<< Having said that there are a few examples, particularly in some of the secular cantatas where the music is less interesting, less compelling than usual and which some might call trite. Perhaps the sheer pressures of deadlines occasionally produced inferior results. >>
Doug Cowling wrote:
< Julian, your knowledge of the cantatas is superhuman, so I'm interested in your criteria of for "less interesting," "trite," and "inferior". I have precisely the opposite subjective opinion of the secular cantatas. They are few in number, and yet I would say there are proportionally more masterpieces among them than in the sacred works.
At the same time, I have to fight against the traditional critical prejudice against the secular works and my own utter boredom with their feudal and mythological themes. I have the same problem with all those
Handel operas: I can't engage with them at all until I see them staged and sung by first-rate artists.
As we pass through the cantatas, there are weeks when I am simply not engaged by entire works. Does that mean that they are inferior works, or are my 21st century tastes interfering with my perspective of Bach's music?
One of the reasons that I am so tiresome about calendrical matters and Bach's well-regulated compositional strategies is that I don't believe that we know WHY Bach wrote certain cantatas: why did he write a solo cantata when he "should" have written the chorale-cantata we all unconsciously may consider the ideal cantata?
Thoughts? >
I am really pleased you raise these issues. I find over the years that the majority interest on the list seems to be with the comparisons of performances even though there is a separate list where these discussion probably should properly reside.. I (and I think you) am more fascinated by the artifacts themselves.

The more detailed analysis/ description/ interpretation (call it as you like—the intention was to fuse the three) of the secular cantatas can be found on my website. However here is a brief overview.

The secular cantatas form a most significant body of work, around three dozen in all (depending how you count some of the revised works which have common movements). My own listing of them (which differs from Dürr’s) is

Wedding 7

Funeral 3

Council events 7

Homage 12

Sundry and unknown 5

I would not for a moment count them as inferior to the church cantatas as a whole but there are a few clunkers (which I was referring to in the original posting). One such is the final chorus of BWV 205 which I find repetitive, lacking in invention and variety and generally rather tedious. That said, it may be partly its context ------coming after a group of splendid arias it seems to be something of a let down. I find that BWV 201 rather winds down towards the end—it just seems to go on too long and some of the transcriptions of duets in other works seem to me to be misbalanced and less convincing than other movements—e.g. BWV 173a----the bass aria of which is rather ruined for me by the constant bawling out of Leopold’s name!

But having said this, it is unarguable that much truly great, and relatively unexplored, even by many Bach lovers, works may be found within this canon. The two Italian cantatas are a delight as is BWV 204, the intimacy of some of the wedding and funeral movements and the sheer ebullience of a number of the works designed for outdoor performance:--God is my King, BWV 71, must surely have rocked the socks off the Mühlhausen audience---and that by a young man not long out of his teens!

Two works have engaged me particulary, the first being the battle of Phoebus and Pan and the other the very personal BWV 204. In the former Bach sets up the musical competition and one aria is declared superior to the other. Why? It is certainly not a matter of ‘good’ or ‘bad‘ music for why in that case would he reuse the ‘inferior’ aria elsewhere? But the one displays closely focused material, scrupulously developed with a range of scholarly musical techniques. The other is more extrovert and repetitive with a much more obvious delivery of musical imagery (something Bach became less prone to as he matured.) I am only scratching the surface here, but there is much of interest to be deduced or inferred from a comparative study of the two arias. BWV 204 is a much ignored gem. I do feel (and am aware of treading upon dangerous ground) that the unexpected setting of the text offer clues to Bach’s own attitude to life, and human contentment. Even if you don’t see it this way, the music is a joy and well worth the effort of exploring.

Not all ‘complete’ recordings include the secular ones; Koopman’s does, however, and his transcribing and completing of incomplete movements is excellent.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 15, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Wedding 7
Funeral 3
Council events 7
Homage 12
Sundry and unknown 5 >
I wonder if we should bea bit more more precise about the definition of "secular" cantata? I would suggest that a secular cantata is characterized by a non-religious text and performance outside the church.

If I'm not mistaken, of the wedding cantatas, only "Weichet Nur" is not a church cantata with a sacred text. Similarly, all of the Council cantatas (e.g. Gott ist mein König) have religious texts.

Among the funeral cantatas, "Lasst Furstin" (BWV 198) is in a category of its own, being an elegaic tombeau performed in church but not part of the liturgy. The modesty of its text reflects its unusual performance situation.

That leaves the various Court cantatas (e.g. Tönet ihr Pauken) and Social cantatas (e.g. Coffee Cantata (BWV 211)) as the corpus of Secular Cantatas.

The more I think about it, the more inadequate these categories seem. If Bach had a system for genres of church cantatas, the nuance of WHY he wrote a particular cantata becomes even more acute in the secular cantatas.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 15, 2011):
Doug Cowling wrote:
< I wonder if we should be a bit more more precise about the definition of "secular" cantata? I would suggest that a secular cantata is characterized by a non-religious text and performance outside the church. >
I agree in principle if not in practice. In fact Bach himself hardly used the term at all. But historically we seem to be stuck with it.

My general definition of the secular cantatas is that they are works written for use outside the church which may or may not have religious texts.

On that basis I divided them according to the specific purposes for which they were written as much as that is known.

'Church' cantatas I simply define as works written for use within the services.

Of course if we know little of the history of a work with a religious text it may be impossible to decide where to slot it in e.g. the solo sop work BWV 51.But changing the definitions wouldn't help.

Given the traditions we are stuck with I am happy with that categorisation.

Evan Cortens wrote (March 15, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< My general definition of the secular cantatas is that they are works written for use outside the church which may or may not have religious texts. >
Not to be a pain about this, but following from Doug's point... the Ratswechsel ceremony was conducted within the church, as part of a service... That said, I agree that these works are in some sense "secular", but not in terms of their poetry or original performance conditions.

Perhaps a better way to think about this, rather than sacred vs secular, is to think of "cantatas for use within the liturgical year" and "occasional cantatas", with true "secular" cantatas being a third category? The first category would include regular sunday/feast day works, the second funerals/weddings/Ratswechsel and the third works like the coffee cantata (BWV 211).

Julian Mincham wrote (March 15, 2011):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< Perhaps a better way to think about this, rather than sacred vs secular, is to think of "cantatas for use within the liturgical year" and "occasional cantatas", with true "secular" cantatas being a third category? The first category would include regular sunday/feast day works, the second funerals/weddings/Ratswechsel and the third works like the coffee cantata (BWV 211). >
You can go on making catagories until the cows come home but it still won't fit everything partly because of the range of commissions Bach undertook and our basic lack of information. Where, for example do you place BWV 204? or BWV 191--or BWV 51 and the Italian cantatas?? One could go on.

The problem is to get some system which people dragged along by the baggage of history can easily understand. As it is we know precisely why and for what purpose some of these cantatas were composed for--others we don't and that becomes very complicated when you try to sort out the various reuses of works, often with recomposed movements, recitatives, other movements dropped etc etc. I know--I have had a go at doing it!

We should of course always note the functions of particular works when history tell sus what they were. Creating more caregories doesn't help much to my mind particularly when we take into account the many gaps in our knowledge.

William Hoffman wrote (March 15, 2011):
[To Julian Mincham] Don't forget the "per ogni tempo" sacred cantatas. Then there is all the secular (special occasion) music reused in a church service context. Also, we have cycles and repertories of works. There are writings about the sacred solo and duet cantatas, the two-part cantatas and double-bill cantatas (before and after the sermon), cantatas with brass for festivals, and at Hamburg, Telemann compiled simultaneous "cycles" for two other cities (Frankfurt and Erfurt) as well as service-closing cantata music with one aria and a chorale from works presented earlier in the service.

We also gave some 150 "free-standing" Bach four-part chorales as well as Eric Chafe's "Christological Cycle" of major works for feast days. And within Emmanuel's musical estate we have Dad's sacred cantata cycles as well as secular and major sacred works, an early version of the SMP (BWV 244) and a BWV 194 partial, as well as pastiches. Don't forget, Bach's third cantata cycle is a hybrid with cousin Ludwig and the at-least three versions of the chorale cantata cycle: the 1724-25 cycle as performed, the later addendum cycle, and the cycle in the estate division.

Categorization is a beginning and the rest is discovery.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 15, 2011):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< Perhaps a better way to think about this, rather than sacred vs secular, is to think of "cantatas for use within the liturgical year" and "occasional cantatas", with true "secular" cantatas being a third category? The first category would include regular sunday/feast day works, the second funerals/weddings/Ratswechsel and the third works like the coffee cantata (BWV 211). >
This three-fold division makes eminent sense. In the absence of a catalogue raisoné of Bach's own devising, we also need to be vigilant about associating works which were distinct genres to Bach: the sacred and secular wedding cantatas are good examples.

The problem of genre and classification reminds me of what happens to music before the Classical period in the Dewey Decimal and L of C systems. Choral music is divided into masses, oratorios, requiems, etc-- the genres which the 19th century thought were immutable for all time. The variety of forms and genres of medieval and renaissance music simply don't appear and you find yourself wandering all over the stacks.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 15, 2011):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Don't forget, Bach's third cantata cycle is a hybrid with cousin Ludwig and the at-least three versions of the chorale cantata cycle: the 1724-25 cycle as performed, the later addendum cycle, and the cycle in the estate division. >
I find this one of the most intriguing aspects of Bach's well-regulated catalogue. It's not that Bach didn't write cantatas and left the cycle incomplete -- exhausted, writer's block, grumpiness, you name the reasons advanced -- but rather that the cycle concept may have included the works of other composers at its inception. That makes a lot of sense when you see how collaborative Bach's relations were other composers.

 

"Secular" as terminology

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 29 - Discussions Part 2

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 14, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< It is probably because it is a secular cantata that JEG has not recorded it yet. >
"Secular cantata" is such a misleading term. Should we not reserve it for non-sacredworks like "Phoebus and Pan" and the "Coffee Cantata"? Cantatas like "Gott ist mein König" and "Wir Danken Dir" have sacred texts and were sung in church at services. There's nothing "secular" about them other than as prayer for the civil authority.

Julian Mincham wrote (October 14, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] I’m using the generally accepted terms of 'church 'cantatas which were composed for the regular Sunday service and 'secular' for the others. Dürr list both cantatas mentioned below in the latter category for 'council elections. Which is not to say that 'secular' works did not have a lot of religious context, particularly those for wedding s and funerals. i am happy to use any terminology which is readily understood and accepted and the term 'secular' is not ideal but, like the equally misleading 'paraphrase' it's understood and in common usage.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 14, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I am happy to use any terminology which is readily understood and accepted and the term 'secular' is not ideal but, like the equally misleading 'paraphrase' it's understood and in common usage. >
Hmmm ... I would say common usage makes "sacred" and "secular" antithetical. Our present confusion here stems from calling the Council and Wedding cantatas "secular" as if they have non-sacred texts.

But then my hackles are raised by using "Missa Brevis" for Bach's "Missa".

A rose by any other name ...

Julian Mincham wrote (October 14, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Our present confusion here stems from calling the Council and Wedding cantatas "secular" as if they have non-sacred texts. >
No I don't think so. I think that cantatas that lie outside what which Dürr, Wolff and others have established as the pattern of cantata cycles have come to be known as 'secular' whether the texts are sacred or not. In fact it is very hard to think of a 'secular' cantata which does not make mention of God, Faith, Christ or some other religious reference---such was the culture of the time.Furthermore the relentless use of movements in both groups of cantatas makes something of a mockery of almost any form of categorisation.

I agree that the term is a very 'broad brush' but what do we replace it with? Why not get rid of the term 'cantata' (which Bach seldom used) altogether? And if we recatoregize how do we ensure that people understand what we are writing and talking about?

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 14, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< In fact it is very hard to think of a 'secular' cantata which does not make mention of God, Faith, Christ or some other religious reference---such was the culture of the time. >
Grin. I couldn't disagree more. The following cantatas show distinct secular genres. There are no religious references in any of the librettos.

Homage Cantatas:
BWV 201 - Geschwinde, ihr wirbelnden Winde
BWV 205 - Zerreißet, zersprenget,
BWV 207 - Vereinigte Zwietracht der wechselnden Saiten
BWV 208 - Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd!
And others ...

Social Wedding Cantatas
BWV 202 - Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten
BWV 203 - Amore traditore
(vs. sacred wedding cantatas like BWV 197 - Gott ist unsre Zuversicht)

Elegaic Cantatas:
BWV 198 - Laß, Fürstin, laß noch einen Strahl

Convivial Cantatas:
BWV 211 - Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht (Kaffeekantate)
BWV 212 - Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet

Occasional Cantatas:
BWV 209 - Non sa che sia dolore

The most interesting of course is the Trauer Ode BWV 198 which, although it was performed in a church, does not mention God at all but rather presents a moralistic libretto.

Julian, I suspect you're right about terminology. We debate terms like "solo" and "chorale" cantata, when Bach rarely used even the term "cantata."

Julian Mincham wrote (October 15, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] yes, apologies, i wrote rapidly and without checking---must be a first for this list! I omitted a rather crucial word 'municipal' before the words 'secular cantata' in the last posting. The council and municipal cantatas are full of religious content e.g. BWV 71, BWV 119, BWV 69, BWV 29 (from which part of this discussion arose) BWV 120, BWV 193.

Reverting to the more general problem of how to list and what to call these works, I wrestled with the problem for some time when trying to work out the best way of presenting them on the website---it became a bit of a nightmare. You could divide them as a) those with religious content, B0 those with themes drawn from mythology and antiquity and C) those which were essentially masque-like and probably presented dramatically and semi-operatically (e.g. Coffee and Peasant).

In the end i decided to stick with the generic or overall term 'secular' (but you are right Doug in that it is very general and misleading) with sub groupings as to know function e.g. wedding, funeral, municipal. works of homage etc. But this does not fully solve the problem either. Where, for example does BWV 51 fit in? What about some of the earlier cantatas which Bach did not reuse in the first cycle? Mostly they are assumed to have been for the church but, as the municipal works demonstrate, religious content does not rule out the possibility that they may have been composed for other (secular??) purposes. What about the unique pair of Italian cantatas?

In conclusion I am not stuck on the 'secular' term but have just adopted it, with subheadings, because i can't think of a better way of classification. In point of fact these cantatas are so diverse that they probably shouldn't be grouped at all except for convenience. Ironically, and slightly with tongue in cheek, the same might be said of the diversity of the cycle 1 works seen as a group not because of any stylistic or structural links but simply because they were composed and thrown together for the church year.

William Hoffman wrote (October 15, 2011):
[To Julian Mincham] I think this terminology is a bit restrictive, the increasingly basic way of dealing with the modern world since 1750, essentially "either-or." Previously, the mode of thinking was to embrace "both-and," rather than polarization or simplistic choice. A good example in Bach's music is the closing great choruses in the three Passions, where there is a time to both mourn and dance (ref. Ecclesiates 3.3), with a weeping text and dancing music of sarabande (Matthew), menuet (John). and gigue (Mark). As to the vocal music text designations, I suggest something more along the lines of "sacred" (geistliche) and "profane" or worldly (weltliche) as I find often one within the other.

Julian Mincham wrote (October 15, 2011):
William Hoffman wrote:
< I think this terminology is a bit restrictive, the increasingly basic way of dealing with the modern world since 1750, essentially "either-or. >
I don't know if the simplistic 'either or' syndrome appears to be what I was advocating; but it certainly wasn't what I meant which is that the situation is quite complex in that there are various ways in which the works can be catagorised (for the purposes of communication, teaching and comparative analysis) none of which are entirely satisfactory.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 15, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< But this does not fully solve the problem either. Where, for example does BWV 51 fit in? What about some of the earlier cantatas which Bach did not reuse in the first cycle? Mostly they are assumed to have been for the church but, as the municipal works demonstrate, religious content does not rule out the possibility that they may have been composed for other (secular??) purposes. What about the unique pair of Itacantatas? >
Hmmm. I'm not convinced that the situation is as confused as you posit. BWV 51 Jauchzet Gott has the designation "et in ogni tempo", the Italian for "In omne tempore" which is the standard term for a church work suitable on any Sunday or festival that requires a song of praise. We see the same non-specificity in the use of chorales and motets on various Sundays and festivals.

I'm not sure what you're saying about "secular purposes". The municipal works are church cantatas which replaced the Sunday cantata when the Council attended mass as a corporate body. Are you suggesting that they were sung outside of church in a civic hall? Certainly the homage cantatas had their performances in "secular" civic settings.

Why do the earlier cantatas have to have an alternate setting to the church? Is there evidence to suggest other venues? The Notebook of AM Bach shows that arias and chorales were excerpted from the cantatas, probably for domestic use. It is not hard to imagine the Bach family eschewing non-religious music on Sundays and during Advent and Lent with family performances of individual movements. If the Collegium played during the "closed" seasons, it's possible that these movements replaced concertos.

The Italian cantatas have neither a church nor homage context. BWV 203 Amore traditore is an independent operatic scena such as may have been sung at a Collegium recital, and BWV 209 Non sa che sia dolore is an occasional cantata perhaps sung at farewell party for a friend.

Are we really in doubt of the performance settings of the various types of Bach cantatas?

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 15, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< The council and municipal cantatas are full of religious content e.g. BWV 71, BWV 119, BWV 69, BWV 29 (from which part of this discussion arose) BWV 120, BWV 193. >
Indeed, it appears that none of the municipal works are free of religious content. It also appears, that is one detail which continues from Bachs day to present: if you wish to stand for election, best to have God at your side. Perhaps the concept has simply migrated to USA?

Durrs distinction between Church Cantatas (including coucil elections, weddings, funerals), and the much smaller group of Secular Cantatas, seems workable and accurate.

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 15, 2011):
Cantatas for Town Council Election and Bach Compendium

[To Julian Mincham, Douglas Cowling & Ed Myskowsky]
In the Bach Compendium (BC) the Cantatas for Town Council Election are included in Group B: Sacred Works for Special Occasions, while Group A includes Cantatas for Sundays and feast days of the liturgical year and
Group G the Secular Cantatas. See:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/IndexRef-BC.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/IndexRef-BC-B.htm

I believe that I have not informed you yet of the availability of the BC lists on the BCW, which I prepared about two years ago with the help of David Berger from Concordia Seminary Library. Probably because I would like to add some day the organ and keyboard works. These works received BC numbers but BC volumes of them have never been published.

Julian Mincham wrote (October 15, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Why do the earlier cantatas have to have an alternate setting to the church? >
Douglas you really are twisting my words here. I have never said that these cantatas 'have to have' settings outside the church. I merely suggested the idea that it is possible that some of them, for which we do not know the original purposes, settings or functions, MAY have had origins others than those automatically ascribed to them today.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 16, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Douglas you really are twisting my words here. I have never said that these cantatas 'have to have' settings outside the church. I merely suggested the idea that it is possible that some of them, for which we do not know the original purposes, settings or functions, MAY have had origins others than those automatically ascribed to them today. >
Julian, that's not my intent at all! I'm just trying to figure out which cantatas you are referring to. Please give us a few examples where the performance venues are questionable. You've looked at the contexts much more closely than the rest of us.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 16, 2011):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< I believe that I have not informed you yet of the availability of the BC lists on the BCW, which I prepared about two years ago with the help of David Berger from Concordia Seminary Library. >
This is a terrific resource especially for the division of the court cantatas by princely family and for the inclusion of the lost and fragmentary cantatas. It's instructive to see a list of all the secular cantatas in one place: you forget how extensive Bach's work was.

The terminology of "sacred" and "secular" in the Compendium lists seems precise and unambiguous. The only term which might be changed would be "For Wedding Ceremonies", a term which in modern usage implies the church service. Possible alternates: events, festivities, receptions (!)

Thanks for pointing out the page.

Julian Mincham wrote (October 16, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Julian, that's not my intent at all! I'm just trying to figure out which cantatas you are referring to. Please give us a few examples where the performance venues are questionable. You've looked at the contexts much more closely than the rest of us. >
As far as I can ascertain the early cantatas not reused by Bach in the first cycle are BWV 150, BWV 131, BWV 143, BWV 54, BWV 132, BWV 152, BWV 161 and BWV 158. BWV 131 is thought to have been commissioned but for what purpose is not known. BWV 143 contains some music of such poor quality that it is certain to have been messed around with by others with a transmission which cannot be relied upon. We do not know for what purpose BWV 150 was written. For others, like the early solo cantata BWV 54, Dürr suggests it might have been composed for the third Sunday of Lent but there is no certainty about this.

As always it is interesting to read what Dürr says about all of these works. My point, and it's mere speculation, is that with several of them the dates of composition, and functions are unclear (as, in some cases the processes of transmission) and it may well be that some of them were written for purposes we are unaware of, possibly later rejigged for church performances; we are not able to assume that they all began life as works for the church. We just don't know; it simply remains a possibility. Bach was writing both 'secular' and church cantatas from his early twenties.

William Hoffman wrote (October 16, 2011):
Council

[To Ed Myskowski] To this list of Town Council cantatas we may add four others: BWV Anh. 4 (1727, confirmed), BWV 137 (Trinity 12 + possible double duty), BWV Anh.?206a(?) Muehlhausen Ratswahl II 1709), and BWV 216a, a "worldly tribute." It appears that Bach annually throughout his Leipzig tenure presented only the Good Friday vesper Passion and the Town Council cantatas on the Monday after St. Bartholomew's Saint's Day (in Middle Trinity Time).

William Hoffman wrote (October 16, 2011):
Council CQN

BCW BWV Anh. List:

192 Cantata
Zweite Muehlhaeuser Ratswahlkantate
I/32.1
> Anh I 4
Text & music lost

193 Cantata
Herrscher des Himmels, Koenig der Ehren
I/32.1
> Anh I 4

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 16, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< My point, and it's mere speculation, is that wiseveral of them the dates of composition, and functions are unclear (as, in some cases the processes of transmission) and it may well be that some of them were written for purposes we are unaware of, possibly later rejigged for church performances; we are not able to assume that they all began life as works for the church. >
Thanks for clarification, and a few specific examples. Perhaps many more relevant details in the Bach Compendium, awaiting analysis?

For some reason, my reply function seems to be deleting the subject, apologies for any unclear posts.

Douglas Cowling wrote (October 16, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< My point, and it's mere speculation, is that with several of them the dates of composition, and functions are unclear (as, in some cases the processes of transmission) and it may well be that some of them were written for purposes we are unaware of, possibly later rejigged for church performances; we are not able to assume that they all began life as works for the church. >
Is there any evidence in Leipzig or the other cities in which Bach served of a tradition of "concerts spirituels" replacing public concerts and opera during a "closed" season such as Lent? For instance, did the Collegium in Leipzig stop their concerts during Lent or did they perhaps offer programs of religious music? Did the university or professional associations sponsor such devotional exercises? Or wealthy households?

If so, the performance of a cantata outside the church is a real possibility. In England, Handel's oratorios replaced his operas during Lent, and there are numerous examples of devotional concerts in 17th century Paris
and 18th century Rome. The pubic demonstration of piety has a long tradition in the Baroque.

William Hoffman wrote (October 16, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] We still have much to learn about the church calendar and civic performances. In Hamburg and elsewhere I believe the Passions beginning with Selle (c.1660) were performed during Holy Week in churches, then the Brockes non-liturgical Passion Oratorio initially during Lent at Brockes' home(1712), then the Drill House, later apparently in the more progressive churches, like, also, the Leipzig New Church (1717) at Holy Week, later the 1734 Stoezel Passion at St. Thomas and perhaps even later in the 1740s the blending of Passions in the pasticcios on Keiser and Graun. Operas in Leipzig in Bach's time were allowed at the seasonal fairs (Epiphany, Easter, St. Michaels) and in the summer. I assume Zimmermann's Coffehouse was shuttered only during Advent and Lent (winter and spring housecleaning?).

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (October 16, 2011):
William Hoffman wrote:
< I assume Zimmermann's Coffehouse was shuttered only during Advent and Lent (winter and spring housecleaning?). >
Considering the filth, and corruption and unsanitary conditions in Europe at this time, I'm surprised they didn't close once a month for that "housecleaning."

It's surprising people lived as long as they did under the circumstances.

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 17, 2011):
William Hoffman wrote:
< BWV 216a, a "worldly tribute." >
Just in the nick of time?

 

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ýOctober 17, 2011 ý07:07:14