“J. S. Bach and the Confessional Landscape of His Time”
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN
April 7–10, 2016

The Department of Music and the Program of Sacred Music at the University of Notre Dame invites members of the American Bach Society to the Society’s biennial meeting, 7–10 April 2016, in South Bend, Indiana.

For the conference theme the Society has chosen “J. S. Bach and the Confessional Landscape of His Time.” During his lifetime, Johann Sebastian Bach came into contact with most of the religious currents in Germany. His time in Mühlhausen was overshadowed by tensions between Lutheran Orthodoxy and Pietism, in Köthen he served at a Calvinist court, and in Leipzig he was subject to a Catholic ruler. The program will explore the music of Bach and his contemporaries in relation to various religious and denominational currents in the early 18th century.

A keynote address will be delivered by Professor Mark Noll of Notre Dame’s own Department of History, author of many books on religion in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In addition to the customary paper sessions, the conference will feature an enticing array of concerts: a Thursday evening organ recital by Craig Cramer, Professor of Organ at Notre Dame; a second organ recital by graduate students from the Sacred Music Program; a Friday evening concert by the New York-based ensemble Pomerium, under the direction of Notre Dame’s Alexander Blachly, featuring Bach’s arrangements of earlier works by Palestrina, Lassus, and others; and a Saturday evening program of Latin-texted works by Sebastian Knüpfer, performed by the singers and conductors of the Sacred Music Program with an orchestra of period instruments.


All conference events, except where otherwise noted, take place in Notre Dame’s conference center, McKenna Hall.

Thursday, April 7
3:00–5:30 pm Registration
5:30–6:30 pm Welcome Reception
6:30–8:00 pm Dinner (on your own)
8:00 pm Organ Recital by Craig Cramer (Reyes Organ Hall)
Friday, April 8
7:30 am American Bach Society Editorial Board Breakfast Meeting
9:15–10:15 Keynote Address: Professor Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame
10:15–10:30 Coffee break
Paper Session I: Cantatas
Derek Stauff, The Church Allegorized in Cantatas of Bach and his Contemporaries
Peter Wollny, Bach’s Cantata Performances During his Years in Cöthen—Observations, Questions, Perspectives
Christine Blanken, Christoph Birkmanns “Sabbaths-Zehnden” and the Role of Johann Abraham Birnbaum’s Weekly Rhetorical Colloquia at Leipzig University
12:15–1:30 Lunch
1:30–2:30 Recital by Notre Dame Organ students
Paper Session II: Latin Church Music
Mark Peters, The Mercy of God in the Magnificats of J. S. Bach and His Contemporaries
Daniel R. Melamed, Two Sanctus Settings by Johann Christoph Altnickol
4:15–4:30 Coffee break
Paper Session III: Bach and Weimar
Michael Maul, Duke Wilhelm Ernst, Bach and the Escaped Monk – Former Catholics in Bach’s Weimar Court Chapel and Beyond
Mary Greer, The Genesis of Bach’s Eight-Voice Motet Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV 225: A New Hypothesis
6:00 Dinner
8:00 Concert by Alexander Blachly and Pomerium (Leighton Concert Hall)
Saturday, April 9
Paper Session IV: Sacred and Secular
Tanya Kevorkian, Confession and Town Musicians’ Careers
Gary Sampsell, The Leipzig Mandora Manuscript: Content and Context
Joyce Irwin, Dancing in Bach’s Time: Sin or Legitimate Pleasure?
10:45–11:00 Coffee break
Paper Session V: Music at German Courts
Traute M. Marshall, Where did Bach Hear the Celle Court Kapelle?
Barbara Reul, Unverwelklich grünende Palmen Unsterblicher Tugenden – Funeral Music at the Court of Anhalt-Zerbst in the 1740s
12:15–2:00 Lunch
2:00–3:00 Tours of DPAC and the Notre Dame Library
Paper Session VI: Telemann and Bach
Ellen Exner, The Godfather: Georg Philipp Telemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and the Family Business
Steven Zohn, Bach, Telemann, and the Tafelmusik Tradition
4:15–4:30 Coffee break
Paper Session VII: Form, Meaning, and Performance
Ruth Tatlow, A Lutheran Theology of Proportions and Bach’s Response
Michael Marissen, Religious Meaning and Bach Performance
6:00 Dinner
8:00 Concert of music by Sebastian Knüpfer, performed by Notre Dame Students (Basilica of the Sacred Heart)
Sunday, April 10
8:30 Society Breakfast and Business Meeting


South Bend has its own airport, of medium size. Direct flights to and from it connect to Chicago O’Hare, Detroit, Atlanta, and a couple of others. From the airport, it is a relatively modest taxi ride to the Notre Dame campus. Another possibility is to fly to O’Hare or Midway airports (Midway is a little closer and less busy) and take a dedicated bus service, Coach USA, which just so happens, after several stops, to end on the Notre Dame campus only a short walk from our hotel, the Morris Inn. The bus takes about three hours; schedule and fares can be found online.