N E W S L E T T E R              Fall 2000

President's report · News · Book review · Gerhard Herz (1911-2000) · New officers · Calendar of events

President’s Report: ABS in Prospect and The Bach Year 2000 in Retrospect

The ABS has new officers, and you will find some biographical information on each of us elsewhere in this issue.  Your new President, Vice-President, and Secretary-Treasurer thank you for your support, and are pledged to serve in the best interests of all our members. You will also note that, beginning with this issue of the Newsletter, we have a new Editor, and we are grateful to Frank Morana for his willingness to undertake this responsibility on our behalf.  Thus, the ABS moves into a new era of leadership, and it is, thankfully, one of evolution rather than revolution! 

     On behalf of the ABS, I would like to extend our sincere gratitude to our previous officers for the energy and thoroughness with which they have administered the affairs of the Society for the past four years--to George Stauffer, for his distinctive and particularly effective leadership as President, which has served to move the ABS into a new position of strength and significance; to Michael Marissen, for his equally vital and comprehensive support as Vice-President; to Stephen Crist, for his fiscal management as Secretary-Treasurer during a remarkable period of membership growth; and to Mary Greer, who consistently served well over and above her call of duty as Newsletter Editor.  To each and all, a heartfelt thanks for the leadership given to the Society.

     In looking ahead, I would like to announce that the next biennial meeting of the Society will be held in Houston, Texas, on April 26-28, 2002.  Further details will be provided in due course, but do mark the dates in your calendar now!

     Bach Year 2000 comes to a dramatic end in the aftermath of the Kyiv discoveries.  And the publication and collection of the many conference papers, books, monographs, and Festschriften generated within the international Bach circle this year will keep us busy for many years to come.

     With respect to the ABS, a brief summary of the "state of play" seems appropriate.  First, a significant contribution was our co-sponsorship with Great Performers at Lincoln Center for the symposium, "The World and Music of Johann Sebastian Bach" on February 5 (see Newsletter, Spring 2000).  Then, in March, the ABS joined with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem--as part of its centennial celebration--in our first Young American Singers Competition.  The competition drew some forty participants, and our winner, mezzo-soprano Margaret Bragel, will be a featured soloist with the Bethlehem Bach Festival next May.  Our biennial meeting in Washington DC, April 7-9 was an unqualified success.  For a full account, readers may wish to turn to the July 2000 issue of The American Organist.

     In addition, many individual ABS members have contributed keynote addresses and papers at a number of international Bach conferences in commemoration of the Bach Year, among them, conferences in Leipzig, Dublin, Utrecht, and California, in January, July, September, and October, respectively.

     Finally, there has been the emergence of what may be called the "electronic Bach" phenomenon.  So far this year there have been quite a number of websites and CD's offering Bach's music in digitalized format.  These include the Theodore Presser Co. Bach Works for Keyboard and Four-Part Chorales (CD-roms); scores and parts of many Bach works--including some 100 cantatas--available for downloading from the Center for Computer-Assisted Research in the Humanities (  ); and the IBM-sponsored project Bach Digital (, that will digitalize and make available many Bach autograph materials for downloading.  Thus, the dissemination of Bach's music for both study and performance will become ever more accessible in the new millennium, which, depending upon your arithmetic, is either about to begin, or has already begun!  After a quarter of a millennium, interest in Bach's music, rather than being on the wane, seems ever steadily more intensified.  So there is still much for us to do!

Robin A. Leaver


ABS 2000 Millennial Meeting in Washington DC, April 7-9

The meeting was jointly hosted by the Music Division of the Library of Congress (Jon Newsom, Division Chief) and the Musical Instrument Collection of the Smithsonian Institution (Kenneth Slowik, Director).  There were over a hundred participants for the three days of individual presentations, performance events, private exhibitions, and social gatherings.  Many thanks to Secretary-Treasurer Mary J. Greer, who served as local arrangements coordinator in Washington.

William H. Scheide Award and Research Grant

The William H. Scheide Award for best publication by a young scholar was jointly awarded to Daniel R. Melamed and Reginald L. Sanders for their "On the Text and Context of the 'Keiser’ St. Mark Passion,” which appeared in the 1999 Bach-Jahrbuch under the title "Zum Text und Context der 'Keiser' Markuspassion." The William H. Scheide Research Grant was awarded  to David Schulenberg for his proposal to study the development of Bach's Weimar compositional style in the context of repertoire associated with Dresden.

The ABS and BCB Performance Prize

The prize for the newly inaugurated American Bach Society and Bach Choir of Bethlehem competition for young vocalists was awarded  to mezzo-soprano Margaret Bragel, with honorable distinctions conferred upon Jennifer Ellis, Christina Pier, and Sumner Thompson.

C.P.E. Bach Collected Works

The Packard Humanities Institute of Los Altos CA has established editorial offices in Cambridge MA for Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: The Collected Works.  This critical edition, planned and published by the Institute, will bring collaborative efforts of Bach scholars into close association with the Bach-Archiv Leipzig and Harvard University, and will benefit from the recently discovered Berlin Sing-Akademie materials located in Kyiv, Ukraine.  The editorial board is chaired by Christopher Hogwood, executive editors are Darrell Berg, Ulrich Leisinger, and Peter Wollny, and the managing editor is Paul Corneilson, who may be contacted at

Early Music America Award

The “Early Music Brings America Alive” award conferred by Early Music America was given this year to Ensemble Musical Offering (American Bach Project), Joan Parsley, Artistic Director, for its “extraordinary educational outreach” and for “raising awareness of early music through curriculum development and performance.”

Genius Challenge Grant

A Genius Foundation Challenge Grant was awarded this Summer to the Bach Festival of Winter Park FL, John V, Sinclair, Music Director.  The grant has enabled the Festival to double the size of its endowment fund, through a dollar-per-dollar match by the Foundation.

Original J.S. Bach Posters by Milton Glaser

The graphic designer and poster artist Milton Glaser has recently opened a website to offer original collectible posters from his archive.  The  Bach titles include Bach Variations (1985), and Bach in a Fugue Suit (1989).  For information,

Recent Dissertations

Abravaya, Ido.  “Studies of Rhythm and Tempo in the Music of J. S. Bach.”  Ph.D. Musicology, Tel Aviv University, 2000.

Aringer, Klaus.  “Die Tradition des Pausa-Schlusses in den Klavier- und Orgelwerken Johann Sebastian Bachs.”  Ph.D. Musicology, München, 1997.

Geuting, Matthias.  “Studien zu den schnellen Sonaten- und Konzertsätzen von Johann Sebastian Bach.” Ph.D., Musicology, Bochum.

Ko, Ching-Tzy.  “Dynamic Markings in Bach Cello Suites.”  D.M.A. Performance, University of Washington, 2000.

Madock, David Carter.  “A Study of the stile antico in the Masses and Motets of Antonio Lotti as Contained in the Codice Marciano Italiano IV, Venice.”  Ph.D. Musicology, Catholic University of America, 1996.

Reul, Barbara M.   “The Sacred Cantatas of Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758).”  Ph.D. Systematic Musicology, University of Victoria, 1997.

Book Review

      Theologische Bachforschung heute: Dokumentation und Bibliographie der Internationalen Arbeitsgemeinschaft für theologische Bachforschung 1976-1996.  Ed. Renate Steiger (Berlin and Cambridge, MA: Galda & Wilch Verlag, 1998), xxxi, 469 pp.

      This book provides an excellent introduction to the goals and work of the Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft für theologische Bachforschung.  Founded in 1976 largely through the efforts of Walter Blankenburg and Christoph Trautmann, the organization seeks to revive an interdisciplinary hermeneutic in Bach studies, in which an historically informed study of Bach’s texts illuminates his music, and conversely, analysis of the music illuminates the texts.  The book is divided into two primary sections:  Documentation (charter, membership lists, minutes, reports, and fifteen articles) and Bibliography (works by individual members).

     Walter Blankenburg’s guiding influence is apparent from the outset, in his seventeen “issues and tasks” presented during the founding sessions.  Task 1, for instance, consisted in identifying text authors so that scholars might better determine whether some texts might have been constructed by Bach himself.  In documents from the early period, one senses a certain political caution on the part of the organization--in 1977, it was thought best not to publicize its existence at all, and as late as 1985, even specially invited guests were not normally privy to the Rundbrief distributed among members.  But as the organization grew in stature and size, it became more open to publicity, and to the participation of the non-German scholarly community.  The 1993 meeting, for example, drew presentations from four Americans: Robin Leaver (already a founding member), Jaroslav Pelikan, Don Franklin, and Mark Bangert.  Though its presentations have become more and more specialized and sophisticated over the years, the primary goal of the organization remains the same--the enlightened performance and reception of Bach’s works.

     The fifteen articles included in the Documentation section date from 1985 to 1996.  A contribution by Walter Blankenburg traces the changing views of Bach since Spitta and Schweitzer, and summarizes the state of theological Bach research thru 1985.  Ulrich Meyer argues that Bach wrote in a unified compositional language because his life was an “integrated-reconciled” one.  Elke Axmacher distinguishes between orthodox and pietistic mysticism in Bach’s day through the writings of Valentin Löscher (1673‑1749).  Martin Petzoldt constructs an 18th century sermon for the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany, drawing upon Bach’s Cantata Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid, BWV 3, and he recreates an entire liturgy (with musical intonations and responses) for Ascension Day, drawing upon Bach’s Ascension Oratorio.  (Petzoldt believes that preachers developed their sermons with the specifically designated cantata texts in mind, but this view was called into question by Hans-Joachim Schulze.)  Helene Werthemann explores theological connotations in three cantatas, each intended for the same liturgical day (BWV 152, 28, and 122, for the Sunday after Christmas), but each having a very different literary thrust.  Lother Steiger constructs sermons for 1. Advent and 8. p. Trinity, drawing upon the texts of Bach’s Cantatas 132 and 186, respectively.  Robin Leaver provides a fine outline for Bach’s hymn sources, arguing that, contrary to conventional belief, Bach had a broad and continuing interest in both old and contemporary hymns.  Renata Steiger offers short introductions to each of Bach’s passions, and Meinrad Walter offers short introductions to the Saint John Passion, the Christmas Oratorio, and the B minor Mass. Albert Clement studies three organ chorales in 24/16-time (BWV 768/8, 617, and 736), and argues that Bach used this time-signature to suggest pastoral peace and joy in anticipation of death.  Two presentations discuss choreography in relation to Bach’s music.  Heinz Grasmück explains the concepts underlying his choreographic adaptation of Christ lag in Todes Banden, BWV 4, and Meinrad Walter presents a critique of Achim Freyer’s adaptation of the B minor Mass.

     While this volume is not a reference work in the usual sense, it does provide a stimulating perspective from which to rethink Bach’s sacred works, and will serve as an excellent overview of the work of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft.  Its practical appeal is enhanced by the inclusion of a more-or-less complete index of all the Bach works discussed.

Melvin P. Unger

Gerhard Herz (1911-2000)

      In its great sadness, it is a deeply appreciated task to devote a few words to the memory of Gerhard Herz, who died in early September of this year.

     His life was committed to Bach scholarship.  In very young years, he had completed his doctorate with a dissertation on the legacy of Romantic Bach veneration.  It was to be published by Bärenreiter, but with the imprint  completed, he was advised by the firm’s president to take the publication out of Germany, whose regime would not favor the work of a Jewish author.  The one who came to his rescue was Albert Schweitzer, who had early taken a compassionate interest in the young scholar and his work.  The book was published in Switzerland, and the author's emigration to the United States received decisive help.  He found a position at the University of Louisville, with a chair in music history that he kept throughout his life.

     There were very few centers for the American cultivation of Bach’s work at the time; in fact, there was no real center.  The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, the oldest American "center," was founded in the same year as the Neue Bach- gesellschaft.  Albert Riemenschneider's admirable work led to a Bach Institute at Baldwin-Wallace College, and with Arthur Mendel's scholarly work, Bach studies entered the American University.  Gerhard Herz made it a habit to visit him regularly at Princeton.  He would do research in the Bach treasures Arthur Mendel had gathered and would invariably spend some moments of silent reverence in front of the authentic Bach portrait in William Scheide's home.

     I vividly remember the occasion of one of these visits.  Germany’s division into East and West, with separate chapters rather than a single self-contained Bach Society had prompted the wish for the establishment of similar chapters in other countries, especially the United States.  As conductor of the Bethlehem Bach Choir at the time, I was able to offer the Society, upon its inquiry, one of Bethlehem’s historic buildings, which served as the Choir’s organizational headquarters, and to take over the task of organizing an American chapter.

     No such step could be undertaken, I realized, without Arthur Mendel’s help.  There were only very few members of the International Society in the country (among them Rudolf Serkin), and Mendel was hesitant because of the Society’s  outspoken emphasis that it served a specifically German legacy.  Eventually, he drew reassurance from the fact that, as he said, were England to concern itself with an international Shakespeare society, it would doubtless in no way neglect an emphasis upon a specifically English legacy, and he recommended the inclusion of new members, including Gerhard Herz.

     He agreed to call a Princeton meeting of what  might be key members of the chapter.  In preparation of it, we were going to use one of the routine visits by Herz to act according to some provisional ’bylaws’ which provided for a pro tem committee of three officers, chairman, vice chairman, and secretary, who wee to take over these duties by agreement among themselves.   

     Herz happened to be late for the meeting, and with a twinkle in his eye, Mendel said, "While he's delayed, let's elect him chairman."  Herz, in his positive spirit, arrived not with an apology, but with a classic verse on his lips:  "Spät kommt ihr, doch Ihr kommt, Graf Isolan," and I remember his pleasant, yet proud surprise when Mendel informed him that he had just been appointed the first chairman for an American chapter of the of the American chapter of the international Bach Society (today the American Bach Society).

     He served his duties well.  At a Leipzig meeting of the international Society, introducing the chapter, he announced the plan for his book on the astounding variety of original Bach sources in America, his magnum opus, which took years of research throughout America, to be published in German and English in the two Germanies and this country.  It crowned his fine publications in the Bach Jahrbuch and numerous other scholarly journals, his Norton “study scores”--actually complex histories--of Cantatas 4 and 140, and his “Essays on J.S. Bach,” published in English (UMI, 1985) and in East and West German editions.  He became an honorary member of the international Bach Society and the American Bach Society, was honored at his university with a Festschrift and as a veritable oracle of American Bach research.

    His last years were beclouded by illness.  He fought a brave fight.

Alfred Mann

Newly Elected Officers

Robin A. Leaver, President, is Professor of Sacred Music at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, and Visiting Professor of  Liturgy for the Liturgical Studies Program, Caspersen School of Graduate Studies, Drew University.  After initial studies in England, he received his doctorate from the Rijksuniversiteit, Groningen, the Netherlands, and is an internationally recognized hymnologist, musicologist, liturgiologist, Bach scholar, and Reformation specialist.  He has written many books and articles in the cross-disciplinary areas of liturgy, church music, theology, and hymnology, published in the United States, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Africa, Korea, and Japan.  He has made significant contributions to Luther, Schütz, and Bach studies, and has authored articles for the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, and the forthcoming edition of Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart.  Dr. Leaver has written or edited four books on Bach, and has contributed chapters to the Cambridge Bach Companion, Die Quellen Johann Sebastian Bachs, Bachs Musik in Gottesdienst, and the Oxford Composer Companion Series.

Daniel R. Melamed, Vice-President, is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at Indiana University School of Music.  He holds a masters degree in choral music and performance practice from Stanford University, and the Ph.D. in Musicology from Harvard University, and has taught at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at Yale University.  His current projects include studies of passion music in Hamburg, and Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail.  He is the author of J.S. Bach and the German Motet, co-author of An Introduction to Bach Studies, and editor of  Bach Studies 2.  He has published articles and reviews in JAMS, Bach- Jahrbuch, Beiträge zur Bachforschung, Journal of Musicology, Music & Letters, Early Music, and Notes, as well as music editions for Hänssler, Carus, A-R, and Harvard University Press. 

Mary J. Greer, Secretary-Treasurer, was editor of the Newsletter of the American Bach Society from 1996-2000 and coordinator of local arrangements for the recent meeting of ABS in Washington.  She holds bachelors and masters degrees from Yale University, and the Ph.D. in Musicology from Harvard University, and has taught at Montclair State University and at Yale University.  Her research interests center on the influence of Lutheran theology in Bach’s sacred music, and her doctoral thesis focused on the duets and terzets in  Bach’s church cantatas.  She has presented papers at meetings of the ABS and AMS,  the Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft für theologische Bachforschung, and the International Bach Symposium Utrecht 2000, and has lectured at the Robert Shaw Choral Institute, and the International Baroque Institute at the Longy School in Cambridge.  Her article on Bach performances in New York City, 1855-1900, will appear in the next installment of Bach Perspectives.  A conductor as well as scholar, Dr. Greer launches a new Bach series this Spring, “Cantatas in Context,” with the Orchestra of St. Luke's in New York City.

Frank Morana, Newsletter Editor, was appointed by the executive officership in  September.  He holds degrees in organ and composition, and is reviewer of new organ music publications for The American Organist.  He is an examiner and national committee member for the American Guild of Organists Professional Certification Program, and as a performer and composer can be visited at

Calendar of Events

     American Bach Soloists (San Francisco, CA)--Three cellists/Three Cello Suites, January 19-21.  Berkeley Festival Inter-national Violin Competition winner,   February 23-25.  Vocal works of J.S. Bach (BWV 106 and 152), J.C. Bach, and Matthias Weckmann, March 30-April 1.  Jeffrey Thomas, artistic director.  Information:  415-621-7900.

     The Bach Choir of Bethlehem (PA)-- Christmas Concerts, December 9-11.  Family Concert, February 11, Spring Concert, March 21.  Greg Funfgeld, artistic director.  Information: 610-866-4382.

     The Bach Festival of Philadelphia (PA)-Basically Bach Concert Series, pianist Marta Felcman, November 4; High School Bach Weekend, November 11-12;  L'Ensemble Arion, November 18; The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, December 11; The Tallis Scholars, April 20. Information:  215-247-2224 /

     The Bach Sinfonietta (Silver Spring, MD)--Concerto in D minor in choreographic adaptation, November 29.  Composed for Nobility, a program of Bach, Telemann, Heinichen, March 31.  Information:  301-445-6872 /

     The Bach Society of Saint Louis (MO)--60th Anniversary Season.  Favorite motets, choruses, and arias, February 25.  B minor Mass, April 22.  Dr. A. Dennis Sparger, music director. Information:  314-652-2224.

     Boulder Bach Festival  (CO)--New Years Eve Bach Celebration, December 31.  Annual Festival January 26-28, featuring BWV 134a, 173a, 227, 234, 247, 1044, 1060.  Childrens Concerts, February  25.  Organ  Series, March 4, 8, 11.  Information:  303-494-4940.

     Carmel Bach Festival (CA)--Winter Series includes A Bach Odyssey with actor Timothy West, cellist Raphael Wallfisch, and harpsichordist John Butt, January 28.  Information:  831-624-1541

     Carolina Baroque (Salisbury NC)--Concerts featuring BWV 152 (sel.), 1016, 1028, January 21; BWV 84, 105 (sel.), 199, 1050, 1055, March 25.  Dale Higbee, music director.  Information:  704-633-9311.

     Christ the King Lutheran Church (Houston TX)--Vespers Series includes Cantatas 96, 149, 161, and 248/I, II, III, VI.  Organ Series with Ludwig Boehme, Jon Laukvik, and George Ritchie.  Information: =

     Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti MI)--Fourth Annual Improvisation Symposium, Bach and Continuo Practices.  Masterclasses and performances, November 2-4.  Information:  734-487-1314 / 

    Ensemble Music Offering (Milwaukee WI)--BWV 51, 227, 243, 248/I, 1043, 1047, 1060, 1067, 1079, and works of J.C.F. Bach, J.L. Bach, Telemann, and Quantz, November 4, December 16, and March 17-24.  Joan Parsley, artistic director.  Information:  414-226-BACH.

     Emmanuel Music (Boston MA)--Weekly Sunday morning Bach Cantata with Craig Smith, music director, and guest conductors Michael Beattie, John Harbison, Christopher Hogwood, David Hoose, James Oleson, and Seiji Ozawa.  Benefit concert features Goldberg Variations with harpsichordist Joseph Paine, November 25.  Evening Concert Series features Cantatas 199, 82, and 170 staged by Peter Sellars, February 26, 28. B minor Mass, April 26, 28.  Information:  617-536-3356.

     Harpsichord Unlimited (New York NY)--Elaine Comparone and The Queen's Chamber Band perform the Musical Offering, November 26; Bach and the Italians, February 14; Bach and Couperin le Grand, April 22. ABS discounts.  Information:  212-932-9462 .

     Holy Trinity Church (New York, NY)--Vespers Series thru April 15 includes BWV 31, 54, 78, 80, 98, 118, 126, 157, 159, 163, 226, 229, and 243.  Organ works performed by Richard Erickson, Peter Stolzfus, and Jonathan Biggers, with pre-concert lectures by music director Richard Erickson.  Information:  212-978-5032 /

    Lutheran Church of Saint Luke (Chicago IL)--Cantata Series features BWV 57, 135, and 248/V, November 19, December 17, and March 25.  Mark Bangert, music director.  Information:  773-472-3383.

    NYC Chapter, American Guild of Organists--Organ masterclasses with Christoph Wolff, December 9. Information:  212-865-6903.

    Ohio University Bach Festival--University ensembles joined by guest speakers George Stauffer and Christoph Wolff, November 10-12.  Information:  740-593-4253 /

    Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, NY)--Cantatas in Context, BWV 11, 31, 37, 42, 67, 128, 182, and 249, March 4, 11, and 18.  Mary Greer, conductor.  Information:  212-594-6100.

    Santa Fe Bach Festival (NM)--BWV 42, 55, 56, 188/1, 243, 249, 808, 831, 1009, 1011, 1021, 1034, 1044, 1067, 1069.  March 31 through April 3, and April 6 through April 8.  Information:  505-988-4640 /

Newsletter Address and Deadline

The Newsletter of the American Bach Society is published twice yearly (Spring and Fall) and is mailed to all members and subscribers. The editor welcomes letters, articles, comments, and suggestions for future issues. Sponsors of conferences, festivals, and similar events are especially encouraged to furnish information, which will be included as space allows.  Items for publication for the Spring 2001 issue should be submitted by February 1, 2001, to:  Newsletter Editor, American Bach Society, c/o Robin A. Leaver, Westminster Choir College of Rider University, 101 Walnut Lane, Princeton NJ 08540.

© 2000 by The American Bach Society.
All rights reserved.