2006 Biennial Meeting of the American Bach Society
Bach on the Border of Styles: A Fresh Look at the
Controversies Surrounding the Autograph Manuscript of BWV 1032
Marie Herseth Kenote (Nyack College)
J. S. Bach’s Sonata in A Major, BWV 1032, for flute and obbligato cembalo,
has attracted attention over the years, especially since 1977, when the lost
autograph manuscript reappeared. Until the middle of the nineteenth century,
this manuscript’s existence was little-known, a fact that may strike us today as
surprising since it is the only known example of a Bach double manuscript, one
that unites two independent works of different origin and instrumentation. Bach
used the top sixteen staves on each of the first thirty pages for the double
harpsichord concerto, so that four staves were left free at the bottom of each
page for the flute sonata.
This sonata causes flutists considerable frustration. While movements two and three are complete, the first lacks several pages, an estimated forty percent of the movement. Thus, we are left to ponder how we might respond to this missing music: would it be better to ignore the first movement altogether? or, should we play it as is, with the gap? dare we attempt to reconstruct the missing bars? It has been determined that the excision of the bars occurred while the manuscript was still in Bach’s possession. Just what was Bach’s intention in 1736? As a fair or revision copy, this autograph manuscript provides valuable clues to Bach’s compositional intentions and process.
We will look at the clues in the music to help us understand possible original versions and why Bach excised the bars in the first movement. These clues include the style of writing, “On the Border between Sonata and Concerto,” i.e. Sonata auf Concertenart; the clefs used; the corrections in the manuscript; the melodic style and the strong thematic similarities between BWV 1032 and two cantata movements, both in A major; and the range of the flute writing. Another source for the second movement, Mus. Ms. Bach St. 345, will be examined in detail by looking at the instrumentation, key, articulation markings, and its use in one of Bach’s sonatas for obbligato organ.
Examination of the internal evidence in the manuscript, combined with a close look at other works of J. S. Bach, and those of his son C. P. E. Bach, offer evidence that this sonata might be a transcription by Bach himself. Perhaps ironically, the missing bars remain our most significant clue that the piece, as it survives, is possibly a transcription from a differently-scored earlier version.
Ritornello and Variation Processes in the Music of J. S.
Mark Ellis (University of Huddersfield)
The non-contrapuntal formal processes that Bach explored most intensively are
ritornello form, da capo form, Bar form and variation form. Bach frequently
combined these forms in unique ways. This paper considers, in particular,
combinations of the ritornello and variation principles, which underpin many
cantata arias and allegro movements of concertos.
Bach’s ritornello construction rarely follows the clear-cut ‘Torelli’ form involving a strongly contrasted tutti-theme/soloepisode outline. Indeed, Bach carefully integrated these originally contrasting elements to create tightly unified structures. Bach’s application of the variation principle is similarly individual and innovative. The type of melodic variation associated with ‘theme and variation’ movements is rare. Instead, three distinct processes can be identified: first, textural enrichment, in which material is added to the original theme; second, expansion, in which bars are interpolated into the original material; and third, contraction, in which bars are deleted from the original theme.
In addition, both ritornello and variation forms present the common compositional challenge of being ‘open ended’; by combining the two forms, frequently within an encompassing tonal scheme, Bach has solved this problem. These processes will be viewed through specific examples, including the aria “Ach Herr!, Herr lehre uns bedenken” (from Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, BWV 106/2b), the first movement of the Violin Concerto in A minor (BWV 1041/1), the sinfonia from the Christmas Oratorio, part 1 (BWV 2481/10) and the aria ‘Schweig, schweig nur taumelnde Vernunft’ (from BWV 178/6).
Bach and the Figure of the
Elizabeth Joyce (Brandeis University)
The image of the shepherd played a significant role during
a number of historical periods in various places. In the Near Eastern cultures
of Biblical times, the designation “shepherd” had royal connotations and was
commonly applied to deities. Biblical Jewish culture shared in this tradition,
and the Old Testament includes passages that apply the title of
“shepherd” to God. Additionally, in the Islamic tradition, Mohammed is said to
have been a shepherd as a child. In the New Testament, the evangelist John
presents Jesus’ redemptive mission in terms of the “good shepherd.” Scholars
have yet to point out the combination of these historical elements of divine majesty
and eschatology in Bach’s interpretation of the shepherd in the cantata Du
Hirte Israel, höre, BWV 104.
Du Hirte Israel, höre is based on one of John’s most famous treatments of the good shepherd theme. The cantata depicts a believer’s journey to faith and the consequent experience of a “foretaste of heaven,” a concept characteristic of seventeenthand eighteenth-century Lutheranism. The first recitative and aria trace the Christian’s passage to conversion and faith, while the second recitative and aria endeavor to translate into words and music the spiritual experience that faith provides. As a result of his newfound faith, the believer’s perception of the world is transformed; what once appeared to be a “desert” is now a “heavenly kingdom.” The sermons and commentaries in Bach’s library provide the background for an enhanced understanding of Bach’s theological interpretation of the “good shepherd,” and the composer uses the pastorale to stress the divine or eschatological dimensions of this figure. Tonal organization in the direction of key signatures with more sharps adumbrates the believer’s spiritual progress while, in contrast, chromaticism and tonal ambiguity characterize the believer’s initial doubts.
The Role of the “Actus
Structure” in the Planning and Composition of J. S. Bach’s
Don O. Franklin (University of Pittsburgh)
In his 1985 study of the St. Matthew Passion, Martin Petzoldt pointed out the ways in which Bach’s libretto reflects the six “acts” that correspond to the primary events of the passion as defined by Lutheran tradition: 1) the Preparation, 2) the Garden of Gethsemane, 3) the Trial before Caiaphas, 4) the Trial before Pilate, 5) the Crucifixion, and 6) the Burial.1 To date, however, the implications of the actus structure for Bach’s planning and composition of the St. Matthew Passion have not been systematically explored. To do so reveals, embedded within the two part structure by which we traditionally have viewed the work, a series of six sections, each of which contains a core sequence of movements that comprise what I will call the Passion’s schematic structure. After explicating its importance in Bach’s composition of the St. Matthew Passion score, I will illustrate how the schematic structure is present in a less systematic form in Bach’s St. John Passion, and, in a simplified and reduced form, in his St. Mark Passion. In addition, the paper will examine Bach’s performance scores to the so-called “Keiser” St. Mark Passion in light of the actus structure described above.
1Martin Petzoldt, “Passionspredigt und
Passionsmusik der Bachzeit,” in Johann Sebastian Bach, Matthäus Passion, BWV
244. Vorträge der Sommerakademie Johann Sebastian Bach 1985, ed. Ulrich
Prinz (Kassel: 1990), 8-23.
Bach’s Use of Fugue in the
Stile Antico Vocal Writing of the B-Minor Mass
Paul Walker (University of Virginia)
With the recent discovery of new sources, scholarly
attention has once again focused on Bach’s engagement with the stile antico
in the last two decades of his life. Following up on that work, this paper
will take a fresh look at Bach’s handling of fugue in his stile antico
vocal music, more particularly the second “Kyrie” and the “Credo in unum Deum”
movement from his B-Minor Mass. The paper begins with an investigation of the
ways in which fugue, as understood by sixteenth-century German musicians and
found in the motets of Gombert, Clemens, and Lassus, differs from the approach
to imitative writing taken by Bach in music that otherwise pays homage to the
earlier style. In addition, a brief historical outline will trace the changing
nature of fugal writing in vocal music of the stile antico through the
seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, including such landmarks as
Monteverdi’s handling of imitation in his Missa of 1610, based on a
Gombert motet; Palestrina’s in his Offertories of 1593, cited as models
of fugal writing by Christoph Bernhard in the 1650s; as well as the dearth of
imitative writing in the most famous collection of stile antico motets in
seventeenth-century Germany, the Florilegium Portense; Fux’s famous
bringing together of Renaissance-style polyphonic writing and Baroque fugue in
the Gradus ad Parnassum; and the late seventeenth-century experiments
with stile antico polyphony and fugue (predating Fux) in Masses by Johann
Theile and Dieterich Buxtehude. In light of this history, the paper will offer
conjecture about thei nspiration behind Bach’s treatment of fugue in these two
movements and will place that treatment in the broader context of fugal writing
for voices more generally.
Leipzig Church Music in the
Shadow of Johann Sebastian Bach: Insights into the Cantatas of Johann Gottlieb
Görner and Balthasar Schott
Michael Maul (Bach-Archiv Leipzig)
If we look for musicians who observed Bach’s activities as
Thomaskantor from the beginning of his tenure, and these number among the best
informed authorities on his cantata cycles, we soon come across his colleagues
who occupied other musical positions in Leipzig. We may assume that the
organists at the two main churches were among the best informed, with the most
long-term exposure to—and likely also participants in—performances of Bach’s
cantatas. The organists at the Neukirche, however, who seem to have performed
works by Bach on occasion and who apparently fulfilled his duties as
Thomaskantor during extended absences, also belong to this circle of
authorities. We have not been able to systematically explore the question of
whether the continuous exposure to Bach’s music influenced their own artistic
output, both from the point of view of compositional technique as well as on a
structural level, because their sacred vocal works have not received scholarly
attention until now. My paper will pursue this question by focusing on the few
extant cantatas by Johann Gottlieb Görner and Bathasar Schott and will
simultaneously constitute a summons to give greater attention to the virtually
unknown cantatas of Bach’s Leipzig colleagues.
The “great unknown” in the life of Leipzig’s church music is Johann Gottlieb Görner, who, during Bach’s entire tenure, served as organist at the main churches and, as such, was in a unique position to observe Bach’s musical activities. I will focus on a work “by Görner” transmitted in an obscure place and hence hitherto unknown, laid out as a “chorale cantata” that provides welcome grounds to reflect on the question raised above. In addition, the discovery of a Pentecost cantata by Georg Schott, hitherto believed to be lost, permits the first glimpses into the artistic capabilities of this composer who was described by Bach as “honest H. Schott” and provides material relevant to this assessment.
Bach and Zelenka: New Light
on the Musical Relationship between Two Contemporaries
Anselm Hartinger (Bach-Archiv, Leipzig)
Bach’s relationship to Dresden and its Catholic sacred
music has been known for a long time, and partly explained as far as the
biography and sources are concerned. Yet a systematic and comparative
investigation of the relationship between the works of Bach and those of Jan
Dismas Zelenka, doubtless the most important and most innovative Dresden musician and composer
of sacred music of his time, has never before been carried out in detail. The
absence of such a study is astonishing in light of the fact that Carl Philipp
Emanuel Bach, in his famous letter to Johann Nikolaus Forkel of 13 January 1773,
counted Zelenka among the few composers Bach respected and knew personally,
especially in his later years. And there are definite links between the works
and style of both masters that go far beyond their common preference for
counterpoint and interest in the reception of the polyphonic tradition of the
stile antico (Palestrina, Frescobaldi).
Stemming from a profound, sovereign mastery of the craft of composition, both musicians composed works of uncompromising quality involving radical formal designs and textual interpretations. These extraordinary qualities, however, already appear anachronistic in the so-called galant century – especially at the Dresden court, where the musical taste was dominated by the modern operatic style.
The remarkable stylistic and musical parallels found in the works of the two composers only begin with the similarities that exist between the “Credo” of the Mass in B Minor and Zelenka’s Missa Dei patris, ZWV 19. Further, the still mysterious and apparently “purposeless” completion of the Mass in B Minor finds its only counterpart in the uncompleted project of Zelenka’s six last Masses.
Apart from demonstrating the obvious similarities, the central part of this paper deals with the search for similarities and differences in composition strategies. Above all, it concerns itself with the interrelationship of motifs and dramaturgical mastery of large-scale, poly-stylistic “choral works.” Drawing on the relationship between harmony, invention, structure, and counterpoint as seen in the works of the two composers, discussion shall be encouraged that considers the reasons why Bach respected Zelenka so much. What linked the two masters and what separated them? Instead of the traditional denominational and biographical “drawing of frontiers,” more precise musical criteria must be used. In comparing the two composers, the Bohemian Zelenka could appear to be the more innovative with respect to form and structure, though the more “bizarre” and formalistic in compositional detail.
Two Catholic Bach Enthusiasts
from Eighteenth-Century Fulda: Johann Heinrich Fischer and Fructuosus Roeder
Andrew Talle (Peabody Institute, John Hopkins University)
This paper will examine the musical lives of two Catholic
Bach enthusiasts who lived in Fulda in the eighteenth century, Johann Heinrich
Fischer and Fructuosus Roeder. Fischer (1711-1775) was an influential lawyer who
taught music lessons in addition to serving as Geheimrath at the local
court. He was very highly regarded in his lifetime as a model for the
intellectually curious and musically inclined businessman. Fischer’s music
library, consisting of 109 volumes, was donated to the newly founded
Landesbibliothek Fulda around 1770 and now forms the basis of the substantial
music collection of the Hessische Landesbibliothek Fulda. Fischer was clearly a
Bach enthusiast, having acquired prints of the Clavier-Übung, parts 1 and
2 and the Musical Offering. Shortly after he donated his music collection
to the Fulda library, the organist at Fulda’s Domkirche, Fructuosus Roeder
(1747-1789), was given Fischer’s Bach prints on loan, presumably for use in
church or for teaching purposes. One of the Bach prints formerly belonging to
Fischer and Roeder—that of the Clavier-Übung, part 1, now in New York’s
Pierpont Morgan Library—was drastically edited, most probably for religious
reasons. The story of Fischer’s and Roeder’s Bach collection offers insight into
the complex and changing cross-confessional attraction of Bach’s music in a
Catholic city during and shortly after the life of the composer.
Bach and the Story of an
“Aria tempo di Polonaise” for Joachim Friedrich Flemming
Szymon Paczkowski (Institute of Musicology, Warsaw University)
In 1724, General Joachim Friedrich von Flemming (brother of
Jacob Heinrich Flemming, the powerful field-marshal of the Polish-Saxon court
during the reign of August II) became governor of Leipzig. As an official
representative of the court, Joachim Friedrich became the addressee of numerous
panegyrics and cantatas composed by Leipzig artists. The first volume of
Picander’s Ernst-Schertzhaffte und Satyrische Gedichte (1727) contains
four texts addressed to Flemming, including two drammi per musica in his honour:
Der eyfersüchtige Mars über das Vergnügen der Pallas (for the governor’s
arrival on 31 July 1724) and Erhabner Graf (for the New Year 1725). The
intended composer of the music is unknown.
Bach is known to have composed cantatas in the governor’s honour. Surviving documents attest to the existence of three Bach cantatas composed for Flemming (BWV 249b, BWV Anh. 10 and BWV 210a). For some time now, attempts have been made to make a connection between Bach’s oeuvre and Picander’s libretto Erhabner Graf because the poet subtitled one of the arias, “Großer Flemming, Dein Vergnügen,” an “Aria tempo di Polonaise.”
Bach frequently employed polonaise rhythms in cantatas celebrating royalty and aristocrats. Among others, his aria “Großer Flemming, alles Wissen” from the cantata O angenehme Melodei, BWV 210a, is a typical sung polonaise. This work is part of a larger set of works—O holder Tag, BWV 210, Angenehmes Widerau, BWV 30a , and Freue dich, erlöste Schar, BWV 30—interlinked by ties of parody. The numerous erasures in the manuscript that preserves the text to the soprano part of BWV 210a provide evidence that Bach used this particular composition at least three times; he changed the text to make it appropriate for the different addressees. As demonstrated by H. Tiggemann, the first addressee was Duke Christian von Sachsen-Weißenfels (1729). In a later version, BWV 210a became BWV 210, which, according to Michael Maul, celebrated the wedding of the Prussian Court Counsellor Georg E. Stahl (1741). The polonaise aria appears here with the text “Großer Gönner, dein Vergnügen.” Bach recycled the music to the aria once again in setting the text “So wie ich die Tropfen zolle” from cantata BWV 30a (1737), which was composed in honour of Johann Christian von Hennicke, a minister in the cabinet of Chancellor Brühl.
In view of the parallels that exist between the related arias in these cantatas, on the one hand, and the text to Picander’s “Aria tempo di Polonaise” from his Erhabner Graf, on the other, the question arises, what was it that guided Bach’s choice of the polonaise form, and what prompted him to use the same music in at least five works addressed to different persons? The proposed answer will take into account the following factors: (1) the contemporary political context and consequences of the Polish-Saxon union (1697–1763), including the numerous interrelations between Poland and Saxony in terms of cultural affinities and family colligations; (2) the polonaise’s immense popularity in eighteenth-century Saxony; and (3) the symbolic meaning of the polonaise as part of the Dresden court ceremonial.
Leipzig Theologians and the
Early Enlightenment: A New Avenue to the Issue of Bach and the Jews
Raymond Erickson (Queens College, City University of New York)
A remarkable document of 1714 that has no direct
relationship to Bach, music, or liturgy may have something important to
contribute to the discussion of possible anti-Judaism in Bach’s Leipzig music.
Commissioned by August the Strong to investigate the truth of the allegation
that the blood of Christian children was used by Jews in their rituals, this
document is an unpublished eighteen-page report by the theological faculty of
the University of Leipzig that constitutes an impassioned defense of the Jews,
systematically destroying the credibility of the accusation, denouncing
persecution of Jews, and at the end appealing for compassion in the name of
truth and justice.
The content and methodology of the report (uncited in the Bach literature) run counter to the image of the University of Leipzig at this time as an intellectually conservative, even intolerant institution, typified by the expulsion of Francke and Thomasius late in the seventeenth century; only in the second quarter of the eighteenth century is the Aufklärung considered to have found a foothold, and then primarily among literati (e.g., Gottsched, Lessing). The 1714 document provides solid evidence, however, that the Aufklärung arrived earlier and likely was first led by theologians.
The paper will establish what links may have eventually existed between the theologian-authors of the 1714 report and Bach, discuss the situation of Jews in early eighteenth-century Leipzig, review treatments of the Jews in the learned journals of the early eighteenth century, and raise the issue of August the Strong’s role in promoting the Aufklärung in Saxony, and in Leipzig in particular (for example, through reform of the University). All these factors should lead to a fuller comprehension of the prevailing atmosphere in which Bach composed works that some regard as having anti-Judaic content and purpose.
Bachian Fugues in Mozart’s
Ulrich Leisinger (Mozarteum, Salzburg)
Paradoxically, both “old” and “new” music were held in high
esteem in late eighteenth-century Vienna. Whereas in Protestant Germany
organists and music theorists preserved the contrapuntal heritage, in Vienna
dilettantes like Emperor Joseph II and Gottfried van Swieten played a leading
role in the promotion of the fugue. Fugues by Baroque masters continued to be
copied in Vienna in astonishing numbers. From a study of the pertinent sources
it becomes evident that the fugues of Bach were a fairly late addition to the
repertoire. Mozart’s oftenquoted enthusiasm about the Bachian fugues may thus be
seen as a document of a more general Viennese “Bach discovery” around 1780.
A systematic survey reveals that the reception of Bach’s fugues was centered on, but by no means limited to, The Well-tempered Clavier. According to his letter of 10 April 1782, Mozart planned “a collection of Bachian fugues” that was to include works by “Sebastian as well as Emanuel and Friedemann.” This study will show the extent to which Mozart’s plan was realized. It will become clear that the plan itself involved the actual distribution of sources in Vienna; from copies and arrangements we can derive which types of fugues were most fashionable. As a result the question of “Bach’s influence” on Mozart’s fugal writing around 1782 needs to be addressed anew: in the works of Bach’s sons, Mozart and his Viennese contemporaries found “modern” traits that could be integrated more easily into their compositions than the strict fugal style of Johann Sebastian Bach.
The Vocal Parts to Bach’s
St. Matthew Passion as used by Mendelssohn in Leipzig, 1829:
Some Considerations of the History and Meaning of the Surviving Materials
Albert Clement (University of Utrecht)
Recently, a large number of the vocal (solo and choral)
parts to J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion once owned and used by Felix
Mendelssohn Bartholdy in 1829 emerged in the Netherlands. A list accompanying
these parts, probably added in the first half of the twentieth century, reveals
that at that time—some sixty years ago—the collection consisted of a total of
145 items; of these, seventy-eight have survived. Eight of them are now in the
possession of the Internationale Mendelssohn-Stiftung e.V. in Leipzig. Another
original set was donated to the Library of Utrecht University, which now also
has facsimile copies of all seventy-eight items.
The materials not only raise a number of questions regarding performance practice, (reception) history, etc., but also, through their study, we have the opportunity to gain new insights into these matters. Taking the surviving materials as a point of departure, this paper will address various issues, including the number of singers involved in the performance, the meaning of the comments in Mendelssohn’s handwriting, and the relationship between the parts and the first print of 1830.
"Most ingenious, most
learned, and yet practicable work": The English Reception of Bach’s
Well-Tempered Clavier in the first half of the Nineteenth Century seen
through the Editions published in London
Yo Tomita (Queen’s University, Belfast)
Unlike in Germany, where Bach was famous and held in
unparalleled esteem as a virtuoso organist and composer of keyboard works, it
took many decades for his showcase compositions such as The Well-tempered
Clavier to penetrate into the core repertory of keyboard music in foreign
countries. In England, the works did not begin to find a place in the repertory
until nearly half a century after Bach’s death. The timing of this development
coincided roughly with the appearance of the first complete printed editions of
the WTC by several competing publishers in mainland Europe in 1801 that
reached English soil with little delay. In England, too, the WTC was also
published in many forms. Some editions were identical to those issued on the
continental, but others, such as an arrangement for strings and an appearance in
a miscellaneous collection of pieces, reflect the wide range of appeal this
celebrated work seems to have had at the time in England.
The Bach movement in England appears to have been set in motion by A.F.C. Kollmann, who proclaimed his treatise An Essay on Practical Musical Composition (London, 1799) that Bach’s fugues merit wider recognition. Describing the WTC as the ‘most ingenious, most learned, and yet practicable work,’ Kollmann cautiously promoted the WTC against the background of Burney’s negative appraisal of Bach’s fugues. While the three qualities attributed to the WTC by Kollmann’s may have been influenced by a more general historical trend at the turn of the century in London—particularly, the changing musical aesthetics, the rediscovery of fugue as a musical genre, and the rapidly expanding market for piano music—it can also be argued that Londoners responded to a universal appeal in Bach’s music, which gave the movement crucial impetus.
In this paper, I shall discuss how the WTC captured London audiences from various social groups. I shall also identify what is both unique and universal in the English Bach reception through the examination of all the editions of the WTC issued in London between 1800 and 1850.
The C. P. E. Bach’s 1790
Verzeichniß: What do the Pictures Exhibit?
Robin A. Leaver (Westminster Choir College, Rider University)
A substantial part of the Verzeichniß des musikalischen
Nachlasses des Verstorbenen Capellmeisters Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
(Hamburg, 1790) is given over to a listing of portraits of composers and authors
that the Hamburg Bach owned at his death (pages 92-126). Some are
originals—paintings in oil, pictures in pastel, and drawings in pen and
ink—others are printed engravings, as well as older woodcuts. Among them is the
Haußmann portrait of the Leipzig Bach commissioned from the artist (now in the
possession of William H. Scheide, Princeton, NJ, USA). There are other oil
paintings that C. P. E. Bach must have inherited from his father, such as the
painting of his grandfather, Ambrosius Bach (now in the Staatsbiblothek,
Berlin), and of his step-mother, Anna Magdalena Bach (location unknown;
no-longer extant?). If these paintings were once owned by Johann Sebastian Bach,
it is likely that other portraits in the 1790 listing also came to C. P. E. from
his father after the latter’s death in 1750.
This paper—which crosses the borders of art history and music history—isolates those portraits that may have once belonged to Johann Sebastian Bach. By eliminating from the 1790 listing portraits of composers and authors who were C.P.E. Bach’s contemporaries, rather than his father’s, who were obviously connected with C. P. E. Bach’s professional life in Berlin and Hamburg, or that were executed in the later eighteenth century, a revealing number of portraits remain: they are of composers whose music J. S. Bach is known to have studied, musicians with whom he is known to have worked, and theologians whose works were to be found in his personal library.
“Und ging hinaus, und weinete
bitterlich”: Music Crossing Social Borders in C.P.E. Bach’s Passions
Isabella van Elferen (University of Utrecht)
In eighteenth-century musical Passions, Peter’s contrition
receives special attention. The apostle’s tears are painted musically in such a
way that audiences could not only feel his remorse, but also – as contemporary
concert reviews tell us – join him in his weeping. This effect was in accordance
with contemporary theological ideas regarding penitence: genuine remorse could
be demonstrated to God and the world by weeping abundantly. Moreover,
contemporary theorists of Empfindsamkeit also attributed social meaning
to crying. Tears were considered proof of virtue or nobility of spirit (Seelenadel).
Just like penitential tears, sensitive tears gained meaning when shed publicly
so that the world could view the weeper’s virtue. In this context, musical
performances and concerts acquired an emphasized social dimension: while the
musician could show his sensitivity by weeping during the performance, the
audience could demonstrate its by shedding tears in response.
In my paper, I will propose a re-evaluation of sensitive and penitential tears from a performance-theoretical perspective, and investigate the role of music as a multi-layered performance art. In the scenes regarding Peter’s contrition from C. P. E. Bach’s Passions, both types of contemporary tears are joined. These passages illustrate that empfindsam music was able to both evoke tears and enforce their social function, as many tears were shed and shared during their performance.
Whereas repentance was described as a private emotion, its tearful expression took place in the new public sphere of the bourgeois described by Jürgen Habermas. In its functionality as a public arena for collective repentance, the mid-eighteenthcentury concert hall can be interpreted as the stage on which music evoked the crossing of borders between private and public emotions.