“Johann Sebastian Bach and His Sons”
May 1–4, 2014
C. P. E. Bach’s quartets for keyboard, flute, and viola (W. 93–95) are among the composer’s last works. Written during his final year (1788), they appear to have been unprecedented in their scoring.
The sources, in the archive of the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin, contain annotations revealing that the works were composed for the Berlin salonièrre Sara Levy (1761–1854), a keyboard pupil of W. F. Bach. Levy had a keen interest in collecting chamber music that included viola and flute, both individually and combined. Bach’s quartets are challenging to perform due to their complex, unpredictable contrapuntal dialogue; he must have exerted considerable imagination and creative energy to create these profound compositions.
I will discuss the sources of these works as well as their generic status as quartets, their close connection with Sara Levy, and their compositional style, relating them not only to Bach’s own music—especially the late Double Concerto also probably written for Levy—but to other works with related scoring in Levy’s music library, including trios by the Graun brothers and Quantz’s flute quartets. I will also address special questions of performance practice raised by these works, including the appropriate varieties of flute and keyboard instrument and whether a cello should reinforce the bass line.
Since 1962 the archive of Germany’s prominent music dealer Breitkopf (since 1795, Breitkopf & Härtel) has been kept in Leipzig’s State Archive. The history of the firm’s archive is problematic and numerous sources are lost, especially ‘Stammhandschriften’—i.e., model manuscripts from which correct copies could be made. The titles of vocal works in the various catalogs can be identified but the exact contents of pieces in the diverse keyboard music genres are often impossible to determine. When, why, and to whom the firm’s most important sources of J. S. Bach’s music were sold remains a matter of speculation. Collections in Brussels, Berlin, Leipzig, and Darmstadt represent fragmentary portions of Bach’s music which was once kept in the firm’s archive. Many important MS sources are still missing.
In early 2013 a box containing manuscript sources with music by both J. S. Bach and his sons was found. The sources date from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and include a “Sinfonia” (Fk 71/BR-WFB C 5) and two other chamber music sources by Wilhelm Friedemann considered to have been lost. There are also two trio sources (Wq 158) and some symphony sources (Wq 175–177) by Carl Philipp Emanuel, as well as a handful of symphonies and overtures (Warb C 15, C 17b, G 5/1, G 22/1) alongside spurious works by Johann Christian. Nearly all of these represent ‘Stammhandschriften’ of the Breitkopf firm which correspond to entries in the early thematic catalogs.
There are other sources with (mostly) keyboard music by Johann Sebastian Bach which need a very close look. Most important and mysterious are two early keyboard sources (the Toccatas BWV 913, 914), copied by Anonymus Weimar 1 (most likely Bach’s pupil Johann Martin Schubart), that are covered with autograph entries from Bach’s very early Weimar period. This is one of the highly important new sources which have never before been known.
The collection also includes other similarly rare sources containing Bach’s organ music in Carl Gotthelf Gerlach’s hand. Gerlach was a St. Thomas School pupil who later became Cantor at the Neue Kirche in Leipzig. He might have received his models directly from Bach in Leipzig. Some chorale preludes copied by Johann Ludwig Krebs correspond with those now in Brussels. These sources shed some light on the very early transmission of Bach’s organ chorales through the Leipzig music dealer. A few other keyboard music sources of unknown provenance present readings which deviate from those of better known copies.
The latest copies within this group are preludes and fugues which served as ‘Stichvorlagen’ (i.e., models for printing music) for Breitkopf’s publications of organ music (Johann Sebastian Bach’s noch wenig bekannte Orgelcompositionen, ed. A. B. Marx). They show Franz Hauser’s influence on the music dealer’s ‘Bach archive’ during his stay in Leipzig from 1832–35. The rediscovery of these manuscripts provides insight into the firm’s library, which obviously contained many more sources than those that are documented in the published catalogs. This presentation will provide a preliminary glimpse at these rich materials.
Arriving in time to mark the 300th anniversary of C. P. E. Bach’s birth, the Saxon Academy of Sciences Leipzig and the Bach-Archiv Leipzig have jointly produced a new thematic catalog of his works. The first volume to appear is, ironically, Volume 2 in the series. Edited by Wolfram Enßlin and Uwe Wolf, it catalogs C. P. E. Bach’s vocal works. Two more will follow: Volume 1 will catalog his instrumental works and Volume 3 will catalog his music library. This project continues the “Bach-Repertorium” effort, which recently presented thematic catalogs of the works of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (ed. Wollny, 2012), and of Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (ed. Leisinger, 2013).
The rediscovery of the historic music library of the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin in 1999 by Harvard University researchers, directed by Christoph Wolff, unearthed many new sources for C. P. E. Bach’s music. A number of these were unknown to previous catalogers of C. P E. Bach’s works, including Wotquenne and Helm. The Sing-Akademie sources offer insight into the performances Bach gave during his tenure as music director in Hamburg (1768-1788). These include original works, arrangements, and pasticcios. Given the blurring of boundaries between these categories, one of the primary challenges in preparing the new thematic catalog was to try to define C. P. E. Bach’s conception of a musical work.
A lot of J. S. Bach’s most famous music is best known in versions that adapt older music to new text, a process loosely known as “parody.” Scholars have spent a lot of time examining these pieces, looking for insights into Bach’s ideas about text/music relationships and for clues to how we might spot hidden parodies.
In the critical evaluation of this music, a recurring question is whether listeners were supposed to hear the music as parodies—as reworkings of music originally created for a different text. The answer is almost always “no,” as it is unlikely that more than a few people besides the composer would have known an earlier version.
But there is a category of reworkings in which Bach makes structural changes to a model, not only supplying a new text but also changing a movement’s formal organization. These pieces present conventional clues to ordinary form but appear to go astray, or raise formal expectations that are not subsequently met. Certain movements from the Mass in B Minor BWV 232 are among the best examples.
Did Bach’s attentive listeners, steeped in well-worn conventions, hear these moments? That is, did they recognize analytical problems with movements like these? Did Bach want them to? Answers to these questions could have implications for the way we listen to and analyze this music today.
Christoph Graupner (1683–1760) remains virtually unknown today, familiar only as a footnote to perhaps the most famous job search in music history, one that brought J. S. Bach to Leipzig. In spite of the fact that Graupner was ranked ahead of Bach by the Leipzig authorities and held in great esteem by his contemporaries, music history has for the most part ignored his astounding output, the chief part of which is made up of some 1,400 liturgical cantatas, preserved today in Darmstadt, where Graupner served as Kapellmeister for nearly half a century. Depicted in standard histories of music—and even in a recent Broadway play—as competitors, perhaps even antagonists, Graupner and Bach are better seen as companion pioneers in the so-called new German cantata.
In this paper, I consider a rare opportunity for direct comparison of cantatas in their two settings of the same text, one saturated with vivid imagery, “Mein Herz schwimmt im Blut.” Comparing Graupner’s 1712 setting with Bach’s 1714 setting, a clearer understanding of their varied approach to the treatment of sacred texts emerges. In Bach’s, we see the overriding influence of the Italianate: concerto-esque forms, sonata-like textures. In Graupner’s work, by contrast, we see intimate and direct expression, a clear rhetoric intended to directly reach the congregation. Yet, I argue, it may even have been possible that Bach knew Graupner’s setting and modeled his own after it. Moving beyond such stylistic considerations, this comparison raises fundamental questions about the very purpose of church music—in Bach we see the glorification of the sacred while Graupner strives for the edification of the believer.
Aside from Bach’s sons, Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780) must be numbered among the Thomaskantor’s most gifted students. Krebs’s plentiful organ works are well known and frequently performed. But the much smaller corpus of his vocal music is only now receiving the attention it deserves, on account of the 300th anniversary of his birth.
The present paper presents the results of a searching analysis of two soprano arias: (1) “Schlage bald, geliebte Stunde” from the cantata Jesu, meine Freude (Krebs-WV 110) for the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, and (2) “Laß dein Herze mit Erbarmen” from Seid barmherzig, wie auch euer Vater barmherzig ist (Krebs-WV 112) for the Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity. The former is a regular da capo aria, whose structural features and imagery of funeral bells bear comparison with the tenor aria “Ach schlage doch bald, selge Stunde” (movement 5) in Christus, der ist mein Leben (BWV 95). The unusual formal features of the latter Krebs aria suggest that it may have been modeled on the tenor aria “Mein Jesus soll mein alles sein” (movement 3) in Die Elenden sollen essen (BWV 75).
Examination of these pieces by Krebs in relation to his teacher’s understanding of the conventions of aria form illuminates an important aspect of Bach’s vocal pedagogy, which has so far received much less attention than his famous contributions to keyboard instruction (e.g., Inventions and Sinfonias, Well-Tempered Clavier, Clavier-Übung).
Between 1725 and 1749 Georg Philipp Telemann published five annual cycles of church cantatas, which circulated widely throughout northern Europe during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Manuscript copies of these pieces, correspondences, and printed libretti demonstrate that both Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach knew Telemann’s cantatas and performed many of them as part of their official duties as church musicians. Manuscript copies of cantatas from Telemann’s Harmonischer Gottes-Dienst (Hamburg, 1725–26), now found at the Royal Library in Copenhagen, show that these pieces were performed during Wilhelm Friedemann Bach’s time in Halle. His brother, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, performed several works by Telemann while in Hamburg, and printed libretti demonstrate that these included cantatas from Telemann’s last published cycle: the so-called “Engel-Jahrgang” (Hermsdorf, 1748–49).
Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel chose certain works by Telemann to perform, and the reasons for their decisions can tell us much about the practices and professional expectations of these church musicians. Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, for instance, composed his own works for the most important feast days and evidently turned to other composers’ works—such as Telemann’s printed cantatas—for more ordinary days. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach did this, too, and he disregarded the original de tempore designations of Telemann’s cantatas, deciding to perform works on different Sundays and feast days. These documents also reveal the vast popularity and long-lasting appeal of Telemann’s church music, and confirm the assumptions of Johann Ernst Bach, who, in 1758, wrote that “one can barely find a Protestant church in Germany where Telemann’s cantata cycles are not performed.”
In his provocative essay, “Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and the Aesthetics of Patricide,” Richard Kramer remarks that “Everywhere, Emanuel felt the need to speak of his father. In his music, he fails to do so. The patrimony is not acknowledged there.” Kramer demonstrates this in a typically perceptive analysis of one of Emanuel’s challenging keyboard compositions, the Sonata in C, H. 248 (1775).
The towering shadow cast by J. S. Bach on the lives, careers, and ambitions of all five of his musically gifted sons was undoubtedly overwhelming. Building on Kramer’s insight, I propose to examine the various tactics these uniquely privileged and unfortunate offspring developed to cope with that unimaginably intimidating legacy.
Little is known about the period of Leipzig concert life after 1739 when Bach regained the directorship of his Collegium musicum after a two-year interregnum. We don’t even know how long he remained director of this ensemble. The last newspaper announcement documenting his activities in Zimmermann’s Coffeehouse dates from 1740. Therefore it has been suggested that Bach’s Collegium musicum stopped its activities after the death of Gottfried Zimmermann in the summer of 1741. A newly discovered report of Zimmermann’s garden, where many of Bach’s secular cantatas were performed for its first time, gives a detailed account of this place and offers insight into the demise of the Collegium musicum in 1741.
The loss of Bach’s Collegium musicum was a profound blow to Leipzig’s concert life which was compensated by the founding of the Großes Concert series in 1743. In 1744 the coffee garden of Enoch Richter opened, and Italian operisti began performing regularly in Leipzig. Around the same time, Johann Gottlieb Görner’s Collegium musicum increased its performance activities and the German theatre companies began to perform Italian intermezzi between the acts of their dramas. The decade before Bach’s death thus witnessed a tremendous flourishing of musical theater in Leipzig, much of which was driven by his students.
In an application letter from 1751, a former prefect of the St. Thomas school claimed that he had to conduct and perform the entire church music at the two Leipzig main churches for two full years as a stand-in for the “Capellmeister.” This remarkable statement sheds new, unexpected light on J. S. Bach's activities, and indeed on his understanding of his duties, during the 1740s. The new document also raises many questions. Did Bach consent to have this prefect act as his substitute, or was he hired by someone else—perhaps rector J.A. Ernesti or the Leipzig town council? What might have been the reason for this arrangement? Was Bach ill? Was he jaded after his many years in office? Or was it his legendary obstinacy? Last but not least: was this the only case where a student served as a replacement for the cantor? Some other recently uncovered materials, including a list of all of the choir prefects at the St. Thomas school from 1670 to 1770, make possible a rich discussion.
From our modern perspective, the eighteenth century marks the development of the fortepiano, which eventually replaced the harpsichord. A closer look at contemporary documents reveals, however, that this was not a straightforward process, but in fact has to be seen in the context of numerous efforts to enhance the sound and flexibility of keyboard instruments. Instrument builders tried to invent new types of instruments (such as the “Bogen-Clavier”) and also experimented with various types of combination instruments. We know that J. S. Bach and his two eldest sons Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel were very interested in this development and composed works to test the possibilities of new instruments. My paper will explore their involvement on the basis of evidence in the musical sources and will also present a newly discovered manuscript of a keyboard work by C. P. E. Bach containing, in the composer’s hand, instructions for the performance on a combination instrument (harpsichord + fortepiano).
By 1760, the great musico Gaetano Guadagni had made a name for himself singing the role of Arbace in Baldassare Galuppi’s popular setting of Artaserse. So when Turin’s Teatro Regio hired the young Johann Christian Bach to compose the first opera for carnival 1761, with Guadagni as primo uomo, Artaserse was therefore the logical choice. One replacement aria seems to have been Guadagni’s signature song: its text appears in all librettos for Galuppi’s setting of Artaserse that Guadagni sang. An attractive portrait of a primo uomo singing an aria with the same text suggests a connection with Leonardo Vinci’s 1731 setting of the libretto. The piece represents a rare example of a suitcase aria’s text traveling without its music as well as Bach and Guadagni’s first encounter (they would meet in London a decade later).
This paper examines Guadagni’s iconic aria, “Vivrò se vuoi così” as set by Bach and Galuppi, and its possible link to Vinci. Variants in copies of the libretto Bach set for Turin indicate emendations in this aria’s scene that highlight the piece. Musical sources including multiple copies of Bach’s score for Turin reveal the aria’s transformation. Turin’s Artaserse taught Bach valuable lessons about opera seria conventions just as he embarked on his international career composing works in that genre. My study of multiple sources for Guadagni’s aria demonstrates that chief among those lessons was how to do what Mozart would later famously describe as “fitting the aria to the singer like a suit of clothes.”
There are occasions in music history when two lives intertwine in fruitful collaboration. Such is the case with Johann Christian Bach and Anton Raaff. Although Raaff was the same age as J. C. Bach’s half-brother, C. P. E. Bach (1714–1788), Italian opera brought the tenor and younger composer together. Raaff began his professional career less than two years after J. C. Bach was born, singing the role of Aquilio in Adriano in Siria (Munich, 1737). By the time Bach wrote his first opera, Artaserse (Turin, 1760), Raaff had become the most famous tenor in Europe, arriving at Naples in 1760. Raaff appeared in the title roles of Bach’s Catone in Utica (1761) and in Alessandro nell’Indie (1762). Soon afterward Bach went to London. One aria in Alessandro, “Non so d’onde viene,” became Raaff’s favorite, and he continued to sing it into the 1780s. Raaff joined the Mannheim court in 1770, and two years later, Bach was commissioned to write an opera Temistocle with Raaff in the title role. Its success led to Lucio Silla, another opera featuring Raaff, in 1775. The two might have worked together again in Munich, where Mozart’s Idomeneo had its premiere with Raaff in 1781, but Bach died in London less than a year later.
J. C. Bach wrote more arias for Raaff than any other opera singer. Through a study of these arias, I demonstrate how Bach showcased Raaff’s voice and style of singing to its fullest advantage. By establishing a vocal profile for Raaff, we come closer to understanding the appeal of one of the greatest tenors of the eighteenth century.
C. P. E. Bach’s Die Israeliten in der Wüste received it first performance at the dedication of the Lazareths Kirche in Hamburg on November 1, 1769. By Bach’s own account, the poet Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, a close friend and Freemason, was instrumental in convincing him to publish the oratorio. The wording of the announcement of the publication and correspondence from Bach to Breitkopf suggests that Freemasons may have constituted a large segment of the potential subscribers. In an announcement that appeared in 1774 Bach wrote, “this oratorio...can be performed not only on a solemn occasion but anytime, inside and outside the church, simply to praise God, and indeed without objection by any Christian denomination.”
Music was an integral part of Masonic activities. In fact, Bach directed performances of oratorios by Handel at the concert hall of the Hamburg Lodges. Moreover, Freemasonry was ecumenical, stipulating only that its members believe in the deity, not that they belong to any specific denomination.
In a letter to Breitkopf, Bach explains that most subscribers wish to remain anonymous: “Neither dedication, nor foreword, nor, I believe, the names of the purchasers will be included in our piece...I am certainly satisfied with my purchasers, but most of them do not want to have their names known.” The subscribers’ desire for anonymity was in keeping with the Masons’ commitment to secrecy.
The role of Freemasons—mostly noblemen or prosperous merchants—in the publication of sacred choral works in the late eighteenth century may not have been sufficiently appreciated.
The recent rediscovery of the Sing Akademie Archive has provided new insight into the musical content of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s twenty liturgical Passions written during his tenure as Music Director for Hamburg’s principal churches (1768-1788). Bach used pasticcio technique to create these works, thus fulfilling the duties of his position in an efficient yet creative manner. During the 1770s, Bach mostly relied on other composer’s works to fill his settings, but in the next decade he contributed more of his own material, both in the form of newly-composed movements and arrangements of his sacred songs.
I argue that the same characteristics central to Bach’s song arrangements also permeated the new compositions in the later Passion settings. I begin by examining the aesthetic of his songs and analyzing the methods by which he transformed them into arrangements both for solo voice and for chorus. I then trace a clear line of influence from these songs to the new compositions of this time by demonstrating how Bach used similar melodic profiles, methods of text setting, forms, and orchestration styles in his newly-composed arias and choruses. The appearance of this simpler song aesthetic in the later Passions not only mirrors a general tendency towards the simplification of church music in the second half of the eighteenth-century, but also reflects Bach’s broader preoccupation with the Lied in his final years.