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DEVELOPMENT OF THE GERMAN PROTESTANT

CANTATA FROM 1648 TO 1722

A Dissertation
Submitted to the Graduate Faculty
of the
North Dakota State University
of Agriculture and Applied Science

By

Stephen Sturk

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements


for the Degree of
DOCTOR OF MUSICAL ARTS

Major Department:
Music

May 2009

Fargo, North Dakota


UMI Number: 3376715

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Title
DEVELOPMENT OF THE GERMAN PROTESTANT

CANTATA FROM 1648 TO 1722

By

Stephen Sturk

The Supervisory Committee certifies that this disquisition complies with North Dakota
State University's regulations and meets the accepted standards for the degree of

DOCTOR OF MUSICAL ARTS

SUPERVISORY COMMITTEE:

Qi^y^JUL^^

Approved by Department Chair:

8/25/2009 4AL
Date Signature
ABSTRACT

Sturk, Stephen, D.M.A., Department of Music, College of Arts, Humanities and Social
Sciences, North Dakota State University, May 2009. Development of the German
Protestant Cantata from 1648 to 1722. Major Professor: Dr. Jo Ann Miller.

Shortly after 1600, musical innovations from Italy were introduced in Germany and

combined with the German chorale to produce a unique repertory that eventually developed

into the Protestant church cantata. The combination of diverse compositional forms and

techniques with equally diverse text sources created a body of church music whose

character was constantly changing. This study presents a glimpse at some of these changes

and innovations, as introduced in representative works by a select group of Central and

North German composers who were active between 1648 and 1722. Compositional

techniques employed in the early cantatas are described in order to show their effects on

the cantata repertory inherited by J. S. Bach. The study includes works by four of Bach's

predecessors as Thomaskantor in Leipzig, Johann Hermann Schein, Sebastian Knupfer,

Johann Schelle and Johann Kuhnau, as well as cantatas by Franz Tunder, Dietrich

Buxtehude, and Johann Philipp Krieger. Political, religious, and social factors that

influenced the development of the German Protestant cantata in the late-seventeenth and

early-eighteenth centuries are also investigated.

in
TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT iii

LIST OF TABLES vi

LIST OF MUSICAL EXAMPLES vii

INTRODUCTION 1

CHAPTER 1. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 3

Musical centers in seventeenth-century Protestant Germany 3

Church music in northern Germany since the Reformation 6

Transmission of Italian musical influence to Germany 8

Legacy of Hassler, Praetorius, Schiitz, and the Venetian School 8

Carissimi and the Roman School 13

The birth of the German Protestant "cantata" 17

CHAPTER 2. LITERARY SOURCES OF THE CANTATA 20

Sources of cantata texts before 1700 20

Cantata texts and librettists after 1700 25

CHAPTER 3. SOCIAL, RELIGIOUS, AND POLITICAL INFLUENCES ON THE


CANTATA'S DEVELOPMENT 28

The Thirty Years War 28

Pietism 30

The plague of 1680 32

CHAPTER 4. SURVEY OF SELECT COMPOSERS AND REPRESENTATIVE


WORKS CONTRIBUTING TO THE CANTATA'S DEVELOPMENT 33

Predecessor of the cantata: Johann Hermann Schein 33

The Northern Lights: Franz Tunder and Dieterich Buxtehude 36

IV
The last two seventeenth-century Thomaskantors: Sebastian Knupfer and
Johann Schelle 42

The pre-Bach generation: Johann Philipp Krieger and Johann Kuhnau 50

The Telemann factor 57

CHAPTER 5. CONCLUSIONS 59

BIBLIOGRAPHY 61

v
LIST OF TABLES

Table Page

1. List of Leipzig's Thomaskantors from 1600 to 1750 4

2. List of composers surveyed and works studied 33

VI
LIST OF MUSICAL EXAMPLES

Example Page

1. Johann Hermann Schein, Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, mm. 1-4:
Contrast of Modal and Tonal Feeling 35

2. Chorale melody, Ein 'feste Burg ist unser Gott, Verse3: FirstPhrase 38

3. Franz Tunder, Ein 'feste Burg ist unser Gott, Verse 3, mm. 1-14: Melodic
Fragmentation 38

4. Chorale melody, Christe der du bist helle Tag, with text of Verse 6 41

5. Dietrich Buxtehude, Befiehl dem Engel dass er komm, mm. 1-38: Melodic
Embellishment and Fragmentation 41

6. Sebastian Kniipfer, Machet die Tore weit, Movement 3, mm. 1-14: Dramatic
Recitative 44

7. Johann Schelle, Vom Himmel kam die Engel Schar, mm. 1-4: Concerted
Effects in Chorale Cantata 49

8. Johann Philipp Krieger, Rufet nicht die Weisheit?, Movement 4 (tenor aria):
Da Capo Aria with Neumeister Text 53

9. Johann Kuhnau, Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern, Movement 4 (tenor


recitative): Secco Recitative with Concluding Arioso 56

vn
INTRODUCTION

The church cantata compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach are widely known

today, thanks in part to several recent recording projects that have made available Bach's

complete extant works in this genre. Bach's cantatas are generally acknowledged as the

eighteenth-century culmination of the genre. However, the cantata compositions of Bach's

predecessors—even his contemporaries—have not enjoyed the same fate. What then was

the "cantata" repertory that Bach inherited?

"If the genesis of the German cantata is vague, the names that are applied to it

during its years of development are downright confusing."1 Motet, concerto, Kirchenstuck

(church piece), Kirchenmusik (church music), and Musikalische Andacht (musical

devotion) are just some of the names composers used in the titles for their Lutheran church

music. More frequently, the composers simply titled their works with the first line of the

text, or with an indication of the particular feast day for which the music was intended. The

fact remains that German composers of sacred music, up to and including Bach, rarely used

the term "cantata" for their music. One of the first persons to use the term "cantata" in

connection with sacred music was the theologian and poet, Erdmann Neumeister (1671-

1756), in the title of his collection of texts for the church year, Geistlichen Cantaten

{Spiritual Cantatas). Although Neumeister called his libretti "cantatas" as early as 1700,

the name was not applied to the musical compositions until the editors of the Bach-

Gesellschaft compiled Bach's 200-odd surviving works in this genre in the nineteenth

century. However, the term "cantata" is now universally used to describe the main piece of

1
Elwyn A. Wienandt, Choral Music of the Church (New York: The Free Press, 1965), 231.
1
music that normally complemented the sermon in the German Protestant service of the

seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The purpose of this study is to explore the development of the German protestant

"church cantata" before J. S. Bach, as reflected through the works of several representative

composers active in North and Central Germany's most important seventeenth-century

musical centers. The years chosen to frame this study are 1648 and 1722—from the end of

the Thirty Years War to the death of Johann Kuhnau (1660-1722) in the year before Bach

assumed the Thomaskantorate in Leipzig. This study further proposes to investigate the

cultural, literary, religious and political climate in which these compositions developed.

2
CHAPTER 1

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Musical centers in seventeenth-century Protestant Germany

Since the time of the Reformation, music centers in northern Germany tended to be

concentrated in noble courts, university towns, and merchant cities. Support of music in

these centers was, of course, dependent on the taste of the particular nobleman or town

council in power at the time. Among the courts, one of the most influential was that of the

Elector of Saxony at Dresden (and Torgau). The Dresden court probably moved to Torgau

in 1486, and remained there throughout the reign of Frederick the Wise, a lifelong Roman

Catholic and yet Martin Luther's staunch supporter and protector. The Castle's Kapelle at

Torgau was the first church built specifically as a Lutheran church after the Reformation.

With the Saxon court's return to Dresden, it would remain one of Germany's major

musical centers. But, while Dresden seemed tolerant of all religious factions, its rulers

sometimes alternated between Catholic and Protestant for political reasons.

The Saxon town of Leipzig was settled as early as the seventh century, gaining

municipal status in 1160. Located at a fortuitous juncture of trade routes, Leipzig was host

to three annual trade fairs—two of them begun in the twelfth century, with the third added

in 1458. These thrice-annual trade fairs contributed greatly to the city's growth and

prosperity. Leipzig was also home to one of Europe's oldest universities. Leipzig was

never the seat of a bishop or royalty, and was indeed semi-autonomous from the Electoral

Saxon court in Dresden. It was governed by its citizenry, especially its prosperous

3
property-owning merchants. Martin Luther brought the Reformation to Leipzig when he

preached in the Thomaskirche on Pentecost Sunday, 1539—the same year the town

officially embraced the Protestant religion. The principal churches and the Thomasschule

with its distinguished Kantors (see Table 1) made Leipzig a major center of church music

in Germany.2

Table 1. List of Leipzig's Thomaskantors from 1600 to 1750


Thomaskantor (birth-death) Dates of Kantorate

Sethus Calvisius (1556-1615) 1594 to 1615

Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630) 1616 to 1630

Tobias Michael (1592-1657) 1631 to 1657

*Sebastian Knupfer (1633-1676) 1657 to 1676

Johann Schelle (1648-1701) 1677 to 1701

Johann Kuhnau (1660-1722) 1701 to 1722

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) 1723 to 1750

* From the time of Knupfer onward, the Thomaskantor was also Director of Music for the city of Leipzig.

Very near Leipzig are the towns of Halle (birthplace of G. F. Handel) and

Weissenfels. Halle saw the establishment of a new university in 1694, founded in part by

followers of the Pietist movement who were expelled by the orthodox Lutherans in

Leipzig. One of Halle's most distinguished musicians was Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654),

the well-respected contemporary of Michael Praetorius (1571-1621), Johann Hermann

Schein (1586-1630), and Heinrich Schiitz (1585-1672). In 1657 the court of the dukes of

2
George B. Stauffer, "Leipzig," Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com, n.d. [accessed May 10, 2009].
4
Sachsen-Weissenfels was established at Weissenfels, having moved from Halle, a short

distance to the north. Here the composer Johann Philipp Krieger (1649-1725)

labored at the court from 1680 until his death forty-five years later. Weissenfels was also

associated with Schiitz, who spent many of his later years in the town when not active in

Dresden. The town had been a boyhood home of Schiitz, whose father owned an inn there.3

The central German province of Thuringia, home of generations of Bach ancestors,

boasted many towns and smaller courts with a glorious musical tradition—Eisenach,

Gotha, Erfurt, Weimar and Jena, to name but a few. Besides many members of the Bach

family, the most notable musician active in this area was Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706).

Other major musical centers to be discussed are the Hanseatic towns of Lubeck and

Hamburg. Lubeck was the home of organist Franz Tunder (1614-1667) and his successor

at the Marienkirche, Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707). The much larger nearby city of

Hamburg could also boast a thriving musical tradition. With its mid-seventeenth-century

population of over 70,000, including many foreign traders, Hamburg became a natural

musical center. To help fulfill the city's need for musical entertainment, Jacobikirche

organist (and former pupil of Schiitz) Mattias Weckmann (1619-1674) founded a collegium

musicum in 1660, inaugurating Hamburg's first public concerts. Hamburg was also home

to Germany's first public opera house (1678), where both Handel and Telemann worked in

the early eighteenth century.

These then are the major musical centers that are vitally concerned with the

development of the German Protestant church cantata. A few words need to be said about

the conspicuous absence of Berlin in this discussion. Martin Luther's Reformation, begun

Horst Seeger, "Weissenfels," Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,


http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com, n.d. [accessed May 10, 2009].
5
in Wittenberg, took deep root in central and northern Germany. But religious sectarianism

would prove to be extremely divisive in Germany for at least another 150 years. The Peace

of Westphalia, which effectively ended the Thirty Years War, gave the first official

recognition in Germany to Calvinism, another growing branch of Protestantism. Although

originally Lutheran after the Reformation, the Hohenzollern dynasty of Berlin converted in

1613 to Calvinism, a religion that did not prize music in its public services as much as

Lutherans. Thus, seventeenth-century Berlin made no real contribution to the development

of Protestant church music addressed by this study.

Church music in northern Germany since the Reformation

Martin Luther assigned music an important role in the new worship services

following the Reformation. ".. .Luther understood music as a donum dei, a gift from God,

rather than a human invention, and made frequent references to the interconnections

between music and theology."4 The importance of music is very clear in Luther's oft-

quoted statement from his Tischreden {Table Talks): "I place music next to theology and

give it the highest praise."5 Indeed, Luther not only gave the Reformation its theology, but

he also composed some of its first musical tunes and verses. Thus was born the "chorale,"

which originally functioned as a congregational hymn in the German language. In addition

to monophonic congregational use, the chorale quickly replaced Gregorian chant as a basis

for the new German polyphonic church music, often acting as a cantusfirmus.

John Butt, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Bach (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1997), 40.
5
Ibid., 41.

6
The prevalent musical style throughout Europe at the launch of Luther's

Reformation in 1517 was Franco-Flemish (or Netherlandish) polyphony. Josquin des Pres

(c. 1450-1521) was undoubtedly the most famous composer of this period, and Martin

Luther knew and admired his music. The invention of printing, which was so important to

the spread of the Reformation, was equally important for music. Josquin was among the

first composers whose music was widely printed and disseminated. During the course of

the sixteenth century, Josquin became much admired for his mastery of polyphonic

technique and his compositions were universally imitated.

Johann Walter (1496-1570) was among the young composers Luther enlisted to

help shape music for his new worship services. At age twenty-one, Walter had entered the

service of Saxon Elector Frederick the Wise as a chapel singer. Frederick was a lover of

music and the arts, and maintained a substantial number of chapel musicians who were

trained in the tradition of Josquin and Heinrich Issac (c. 1450-1517). This was the

formative environment of Walter, who would later become known as the first Kantor of the

Lutheran church. In 1524 Walter published (possibly with Luther's consultation) his

Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn, a small collection of compositions, mostly in German, for

use in the new Protestant church services. In addition to motets in the polyphonic

Netherlandish motet style of Josquin, Walter also provided some simple homophonic

compositions with melody in the tenor.6 However, this influence of the German Tenorlied

on the early chorale would soon disappear. By the 1580s most four-part chorale settings

saw the melody moved to the discant or soprano part.

Carl Schalk, Music in Early Lutheranism: Shaping the Tradition (1524-1672) (St.
Louis: Concordia Academic Press, 2001), 29.

7
Transmission of Italian musical influence to Germany

Legacy of Hassler, Praetorius, Schiitz, and the Venetian School

Beginning in about the 1580s, new developments in music occurred in several

Italian cities. First was the birth of opera, spawned by the Camerata in Florence, and

quickly developing in Rome, Naples, Venice and other centers. Perhaps more immediately

important for the development of church music were experiments of the composers

associated with San Marco in Venice, especially Adrian Willaert, Andrea and Giovanni

Gabrieli, and Claudio Monteverdi. Hence, Venice became a place of pilgrimage for church

musicians from around Europe.

The development of German music at the dawn of the baroque era was severely

affected by continued political and religious struggles, especially the Thirty Years War

(1618-1648), which some historians believe was responsible for cutting Germany's

population nearly in half. The cultural division continued to widen between the Protestant

central and northern parts of Germany and the Catholic south. As Manfred Bukofzer has

stated:

The wave of Italian influence that rolled over Germany in the first half of the
[seventeenth] century was followed in its wake by a French one, and the
assimilation and transformation of these stimuli gave German music its special
problems. While the Catholic composers adopted the Italian style without essential
changes the Protestant composers were faced with the task of bringing their
precious heritage, the chorale, in harmony with the concertato style. The result of
this fusion was the most original German contribution to the history of baroque
music.7

The first important German composer to study in Italy was Hans Leo Hassler

(1564-1612). Born in Nuremberg to a musical family, Hassler received early training from

Manfred Bukofzer, Music in the Baroque Era (New York: W.W. Norton, 1947), 78.
8
the Lutheran convert Leonhard Lechner, Nuremberg's most prominent musician of the

period. Lechner, who had served as a chorister under Orlando di Lasso in Munich, was

thoroughly grounded in the Franco-Flemish style. It would be Hassler's role to "begin the

century-long process of assimilating into German music the spirit and technique of the

developing Italian Baroque style."8 In 1584-85 Hassler was sent to study with Andrea

Gabrieli at San Marco in Venice, where he was exposed to a host of new musical

techniques, particularly the use of cori spezzati, echo effects, and a more progressive use of

instruments. During his eightheen-month Italian sojourn, he also witnessed new

developments in the madrigal and other secular forms that introduced Hassler to a "vitality,

exuberance, elegance, and lyric grace which were quite new to his Germanic background...

It was an experience which was to bear increasing fruit on his composition and would have

a significant influence on the future course of German church music."9

Upon his return from Venice, Hassler served the Fuggers, a wealthy banking and

business family at Augsburg that remained firmly Roman Catholic. Perhaps the Lutheran

Hassler was more prized by the Fuggers for his secular music. Even though he was freshly

exposed to the latest Italian trends, Hassler's church music of the period is decidedly in the

stile antico. After his patron's death in 1600, Hassler returned as organist to his native

Nuremberg (1601-04), then to Ulm (1605-1608), and finally as Dresden court organist

(1608-1612). During this period he composed some of his most important contributions to

the Lutheran repertory: two collections of "Psalms and Spiritual Songs" commissioned by

the Saxon Elector Christian II of Dresden. These collections include both straightforward

homophonic chorale settings, as well as elaborate settings of chorale melodies in


8
Schalk, 74.
9
Ibid., 76.
9
polyphonic chorale-motet style, in which all voices are given melodicfragments.In this

way, he built on the work of Johann Walter before him, and these two styles of utilizing

chorale melodies are Hassler's legacy to the next generation of Lutheran composers:

Praetorius, Schein, Scheidt and Schiitz.

Praetorius and Schiitz are the other two major links in the early transmission of

Italian musical styles to Germany. Although he never visited Italy, Praetorius is important

for two reasons: first is his brilliant multi-volume encyclopedia Syntagma Musicum, in

which he catalogued every known type of composition and musical instrument of his day,

and second is the huge collection of his own musical compositions—more than 1,200

works—showing an incredible variety of treatments of the chorale. Praetorius composed

everything from simple chorale harmonizations to vast polychoral works in the Venetian

style. The only Italian innovation not practiced by Praetorius was the recitative, and this

fact places his output more in line with the style of the sixteenth than the seventeenth

century.

According to Bukofzer,

Praetorius discriminated between three manners of chorale arrangement, "motet-


wise," "madrigal-wise," and "cantus-firmus-wise." In the first manner the chorale
pervaded the contrapuntal interplay of all the voices; in the second, the chorale was
broken up into smallfragmentsand motives set in concertato dialogue; in the third,
the cantus firmus was left intact and led against ostinato motives also derived from
the chorale—a procedure obviously borrowed from the organ chorale. Only the first
and last manners belonged to the chorale motet, the second showed Praetorius on
the way to the chorale concertato, but all three were to become important for the
elaborate chorale treatment in the future.10

Heinrich Schiitz was surely the most influential German composer of the

seventeenth century. His two study trips to Italy are well documented, and his role in

10
Bukofzer, 84.
10
introducing the latest Italian musical trends to Germany cannot be underestimated. Partly

because of his long life of eighty-seven years, and partly because of his connection to the

Dresden court, Schiitz's shadow looms large over German music of the seventeenth

century. Most of the century's leading composers were fortunate to count Schutz as teacher

or colleague. Carl F. Pfatteicher beautifully summarizes Schiitz's importance:

No one who listens carefully to this great word painter, this man who knew all the
secrets of rhythm and syncopation, this "modern" chromaticist and harmonist, this
master of the linear Gothic polyphony, of Venetian polychoral writing, of
Florentine melody, of the Italian madrigal, of the old German lied—not to mention
the many effects of the baroque period which he helped usher in—will fail to
realize that he is in the presence of one of music's mighty prophets. Schutz was no
mere volcano thrust up to imposing heights in the seventeenth century; he was and
is a primal mountain range.11

After being "discovered" for his fine voice by Moritz, Landgrave of Hessen, Schutz

was thereafter provided a courtly education at Kassel. Here the fourteen-year-old Schutz

worked as a singer in the court chapel choir under Georg Otto. Otto was born in 1544 in

Torgau where he "experienced at first hand the tradition associated with the original

evangelical cantor and friend of Luther, Johannes Walter. Thus we have a most important

artistic genealogical line running from Walter through Otto to Schiitz."12 It was Landgrave

Moritz, too, who suggested that Schutz continue his musical studies in Italy with Giovanni

Gabrieli. The Landgrave generously subsidized Schutz for most of his four years of study

in Venice. After Gabrieli's death in August of 1612, Schutz returned to Germany in the

spring of 1613. For a short period he resumed his studies in law at the university in

Leipzig, but Schutz was destined to make his mark in music. After a struggle to retain

Hans Joachim Moser, Heinrich Schutz: His Life and Work, 2nd rev. ed., trans. Carl F.
Pfatteicher (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), xiii.
12
Ibid., 28.

11
Schiitz in Kassel, the Landgrave Moritzfinallyacceded to the wishes of the Saxon Elector,

and Schiitz eventually became Kapellmeister in Dresden.

Schiitz's first published collection of sacred works was the Psalmen Davids (Psalms

of David, 1619), which contained large settings for two or more choirs. While this music is

clearly inspired by his experience in Catholic Venice, the spirit of the Reformation is also

present in his use of Luther's Bible translations. In 1628, nearly twenty years after his first

Italian sojourn, Schiitz again petitioned for leave to travel in Italy. This time Schiitz

encountered Monteverdi, the current musical star in Venice, and absorbed the many

changes that had taken place since his student days with Gabrieli. In 1629 Schiitz published

the Symphoniae sacre (Sacred symphonies, Part I), a collection of concerti and motets for

the Catholic service, which revealed the latest Italian trends. Music for one or two solo

voices with basso continuo, with thefrequentaddition of two violins, was now

emphasized.13

While Schutz's influence on seventeenth-century German music is undeniable, he

differed from most German composers of the day in his nearly total lack of interest in the

chorale. It is precisely for this reason that Schutz's music is excluded from this study of the

development of the cantata. But, his transmission of Italian practices would prove to be of

greatest importance to German composers who combined these innovations with the

chorale to create a whole new body of Lutheran church music.

11
Biographical information on Schiitz is from Moser's Heinrich Schiitz: His Life and
Work, previously cited.
12
Carissimi and the Roman School

Venice was not the only Italian musical center to export ideas to Germany.

Although he apparently never left Italy, the Roman composer Giacomo Carissimi (1605-

1674) had a major impact on northern European music in general, and German music in

particular. As maestro di cappella of Rome's Collegio Germanico e Hungarico (known

simply as the German College), Carissimi exerted an influence that deserves much further

scrutiny.

An outgrowth of the Counter-Reformation, the German College in Rome was

established in 1552 to train Jesuit priests to serve as missionaries in German-speaking

Protestant lands. The idea was to educate priests at Rome, and then send them to Protestant

areas of Germany in order to re-convert the people to Roman Catholicism. By the 1570s,

under maestri di cappella such as the Renaissance master Tomas Luis de Victoria, the

German College developed a following for its music and musicians. By 1608, reports

described "cardinals, ambassadors of princes, prelates, etc." attending church services at

Sant'Apollinare (the college's chapel) because of the fine music there, and this reputation

was cemented during Carissimi's tenure.14

Carissimi was born in a suburb of Rome. Nothing is known of his early musical

training. He was engaged as a singer in the Tivoli Cathedral choir as a teenager, assuming

the position of organist there at age nineteen. After a brief appointment as maestro di

cappella at the church of San Rufino in Assisi (1628), Carissimi was offered a teaching

post at the German College at age twenty-four. In December 1629 he became maestro di

Graham Dixon, Carissimi (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), 2.


13
cappella at the college's church of Sant'Apollinare, a position he held for the remainder of

his life.

While Carissimi apparently displayed extraordinary ability as a composer and

musician, it is surprising to learn of his equally extraordinary lack of ambition. During the

course of his career, Carissimi was known to have turned down at least three offers for

major posts elsewhere (including an offer to replace Claudio Monteverdi at St. Mark's in

Venice after the composer's death in 1643). But, the German College was a highly

desirable and stable post. In addition to his work at the German College, Carissimi was

named maestro di cappella to Queen Christina of Sweden, who had been living in Rome

since December 1655. Queen Christina was the daughter of King Gustavus Adolphus, the

staunch defender of Protestantism who perished in Germany during the Thirty Years War.

After reigning as a secret Catholic in Lutheran Sweden, Christina finally abdicated her

throne and moved first to Paris and then to Rome, where she set up a magnificent court.

Carissimi's great fame is also confirmed in the writings of two contemporaries: the

itinerant Englishman Charles Burney, and the German Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher.

Burney singled out Carissimi and Stradella as representing the best of seventeenth-century

Italian composers, and he devoted more space to Carissimi (with particular emphasis on his

cantatas) in his General History of Music than to any of his contemporaries. Athanasius

Kircher's Musurgia universalis, an influential book on music theory, praised Carissimi as a

master of the Latin oratorio. Kircher identified Carissimi's Jephte as his finest work in this

form, claiming that the composer "surpasses all others in moving the minds of listeners to

whatever affection he wishes."15 Kircher's praise "epitomizes the high esteem in which

Dixon, 13.
14
Carissimi was held during his lifetime. Reports of compatriots and visitors spread

Carissimi's fame, as did the peregrinations of musicians from the Collegio Germanico."16

Indeed, it was his good fortune to be employed by the German College because of its direct

contact with the German-speaking countries. This proved crucial in establishing

Carissimi's reputation and influence in that part of Europe. Considering Carissimi's great

fame, it is odd that little of his music was published during his lifetime. Upon his death in

1674, Carissimi left all of his music to the German College, and the manuscripts were so

valued that school officials obtained a papal decree that forbade their removal from the

German College. This proved to be an unfortunate move, because after the Jesuit order was

dissolved in 1773 and Napoleon's troops sacked Rome some thirty years later, the German

College's collection of Carissimi manuscripts was completely destroyed. Today the lack of

original manuscripts has made it difficult to authenticate many of Carissimi's works, and to

assign a specific chronology to them. Much of Carissimi's music is known only through

copies made by his numerous pupils, who helped disseminate the works throughout

Europe.17

In addition to his pupils at the German College, Carissimi also taught a number of

private students. Marc-Antoine Charpentier was probably Carissimi's most gifted student,

and he was primarily responsible for introducing Carissimi's works to France. Kaspar

Forster (1616-1673) was a pupil at the German College from 1633 to 1636. He later held

positions in Copenhagen and Danzig and had an influence on Buxtehude and Johann

Andrew V. Jones, "Carissimi, Giacomo," Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com. n.d. [accessed May 10, 2009].
I7
Additional information concerning the influence of Carissimi and his pupils appears in:
Geoffrey Webber, North German Church Music in the Age of Buxtehude (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1996).
15
Philipp Krieger. Krieger himself studied in Italy, and although he almost certainly knew

Carissimi, it is not known if he was a pupil. Another German, Philipp Jakob Baudrexel

(1627-1691), studied composition with Carissimi from 1644 to 1651, and soon afterward

was ordained a priest. He subsequently held musical posts in Augsburg, Fulda and Mainz.

He was possibly responsible for the German translation of Carissimi's treatise on singing,

Ars cantandi. Unfortunately, the original Italian text is lost, and the treatise has survived

only in the German translation. An Italian musician who would later be active in Dresden

was Vincenzo Albrici (1631-1690?). Albrici was a student at the German College from

1641 to 1646. He was one of many Italian musicians employed in Stockholm at the court of

Queen Christina until her abdication in 1654. When, under Saxon Elector Johann Georg II,

Italian musicians were preferred in Dresden, Albrici found a position there, and eventually

rose to the rank of joint Kapellmeister with Schutz. After the Italians were dismissed from

Dresden in 1680, Albrici was engaged briefly as organist at Leipzig's Thomaskirche before

assuming similar posts in London and Prague. Two other musicians with connections to

Schutz and Dresden were also possibly students of Carissimi: Christoph Bernhard (1628-

1692) and Marco Gioseppe Peranda (c. 1625-1675). Bernhard first went to Dresden as a

student of Schutz, and soon became an assistant to him in the Kapelle there. The Elector

twice sent Bernhard to Italy for study and to scout for Italian musicians for the Saxon court.

It was in Rome that Bernhard became acquainted with Marco Gioseppe Peranda (c. 1625-

1675), another possible student of Carissimi. Bernhard sent Peranda to Dresden as a singer,

but Peranda soon rose through the ranks, becoming Kapellmeister in the last few years

before his death. Bernhard was embroiled in a controversy between the Italian and German

musicians in Dresden, and departed to become music director in Hamburg, where he

16
collaborated with another Schiitz pupil, Matthias Weckmann. However, the Elector

summoned Bernhard to return to service at Dresden in 1674. Following the dismissal of the

Italians in 1680, Bernhard was named sole Kapellmeister at Dresden, a position he held

until his death in 1692.

In Carissimi's hands, both the Italian solo cantata and the Latin oratorio reached a

certain maturity, and these were among the compositions that were widely disseminated

throughout Europe by Carissimi's students and admirers. So, in addition to German

musicians traveling to Italy for study, we can see that an extension of the Counter-

Reformation sent Italian-trained musicians, especially pupils of Carissimi, into Germany.

These brief biographical sketches demonstrate the existence of a very prominent

exchange of musicians between Italy, Germany and Scandinavia. This exchange and

melding of musical cultures had a major effect on the development of the German

Protestant cantata, especially in the second half of the seventeenth century.

The birth of the German Protestant "cantata"

The history of the cantata begins in Italy in the early 1600s. By 1650, the term

referred to a secular vocal form—usually for a solo voice and continuo—comprised of two

or three pairs of recitatives and arias. But this Italian model was not imitated in Germany;

in fact, the secular cantata was almost non-existent in baroque Germany. Instead, the

cantata was developed primarily as a sacred genre in Germany. Also, German composers'

use of texts from diverse sources, and their use of a wide variety of musical structures

represent a real departure from the Italian form of the cantata.

17
In his monumental study of the Bach cantatas, Alfred Diirr gives a succinct history

of the cantata before Bach. In discussing its Italian origin as a dramatic piece closely

related to opera and oratorio, Diirr tells us:

It penetrated into neighboring countries in the course of the seventeenth century;


and in the form of the church cantata it attained a unique high point in Protestant
Germany. This culmination is inextricably linked with the name of Johann
Sebastian Bach. Artistic peaks generally owe their origins to a happy
concurrence of various contributory factors. Hence a variety of causes may be
adduced for the cultivation of the Protestant church cantata. Perhaps the most
important of these is the theology of Martin Luther.18

At the heart of Luther's new Protestant service was the "Word of God," embodied by the
sermon. Diirr explains that:
Church musicians were naturally interested in those parts of the divine service best-
suited to assuming a sermon-like character. Up to the Reformation, the Ordinary of
the Mass had for centuries stimulated composers to ever-new settings. But now
Bible readings came to the fore: sometimes the Epistle, but more often the Gospel,
which had long been prescribed for clerics as the obligatory text of the sermon at
the main service.19

Thus, the German cantata soon found its place in the Protestant service defined as music to

enhance understanding of the Gospel or other biblical readings. "Here we reach the

birthplace of a genre that acquired many different names in contemporary terminology... In

the end, however, it was called 'cantata', and this name alone has survived for posterity as

a description of the music fulfilling this function."20

Musicologists have long struggled to label the various emerging types of cantatas in

the second half of the seventeenth century. Early twentieth-century German musicologist

Georg Feder attempted to classify the compositions by textual sources. According to Feder,

Alfred Diirr, The Cantatas of J. S. Bach, rev. and trans. Richard P. Jones (New York:
Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005), 3.
19
Ibid., 4.

18
"Biblical cantatas" were based strictly upon biblical sources; "Chorale cantatas" were those

based upon a chorale; "Ode cantatas" were those based upon other types of strophic poetry;

and other types were identified based on combinations of text sources. Because it was

based solely on textual sources, Feder's classification of the various types of cantata has

been deemed inadequate by musicologists of later generations.21 But, whatever names are

used to describe them, the fact remains that these compositions were extremely varied in

their construction. For, as Friedrich Blume observed, "Because it kept up with the times

and satisfied the needs for all occasions in and out of the worship service, the cantata was

the most active species of church music."22 Blume further notes that:

The later 17th century strove for a musical equivalent of preaching and exegesis.
The Word of God as proclaimed in the liturgy and interpreted in the rhetoric of a
sermon was now proclaimed and interpreted musically in the cantata (especially by
Bach). This musical dress (with some more or less important restrictions) was
tailored from remnants of an older German tradition and from contemporary secular
chamber cantatas and opera seria... Here we can see that the cantata lived up to the
original goal of Protestant church music: to keep pace with the general musical
style. It cannot be considered apart from opera of the time.23

Thus, because of the diversity of textual sources as well as the variety of musical

styles employed in these early church compositions, it seems best to accept Diirr's rather

broad definition of the cantata, which is based on its function: the main piece of music

complementing the sermon in the Lutheran service.

Information about cantata classification in Georg Feder's article, "Die protestantische


Kirchenkantate," found in the 1949 edition of Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart has been
translated into English and appears in: Robert Alan Murray, "The German Church Cantatas of
Johann Schelle" (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 1971), 22.
11
Friedrich Blume, Protestant Church Music: A History (New York: W.W. Norton &
Company, 1974), 270.

19
CHAPTER 2

LITERARY SOURCES OF THE CANTATA

Sources of cantata texts before 1700

At the beginning of the seventeenth century there was deep concern for the reform

of the German language. Luther's translation of the Bible and other liturgical texts were in

wide circulation and proved to be a major source of words for early Protestant musical

compositions. According to historian Geoffrey Barraclough:

Luther's appeal, reaching across the outward barriers of territorial particularism, put
fresh life into the disjointed body of Germany. His translation of the Bible gave
common currency to the new form of the German language, which—springing up in
the colonial east, where settlers from all parts of Germany were mingled—had
slowly found its way into the chanceries of Vienna and Saxony and Brandenburg, at
the same period as a common tongue was gaining ascendancy in England over the
provincial dialects. Through Luther's Bible, with its vigorous, positive vocabulary,
the bond of common language, replacing provincial dialects, became a factor of
unity in Germany; the same result was achieved by his treatises addressed to the
people in their thousands which (like the subsequent controversial writings of his
partisans and adversaries) propagated far and wide a speech common to all
Germans.24

Still, some scholars contend that Luther's Bible translation and other writings did not

completely uproot the German dialects, particularly in North Germany. While Luther's

language was well suited to religious expression, it was found too rich in imagery and

metaphor to serve as the instrument of learning. Besides, Latin and French words were

abundant in the German language at this time. Historian Hajo Holborn writes that:

Geoffrey Barraclough, The Origins of Modern Germany (New York: W.W. Norton &
Company, 1984), 369.

20
A general deterioration of all literary expression was the consequence. What
Germany, in contrast to France and England, did not possess was a capital in which
a differentiated society created standards of taste and forms adequate to express the
full scale of human experiences. The active guardianship of the language lay in the
hands of small groups of intellectuals thinly spread over the Empire.25

One such group was The Fruitbearing Society (Die Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft), a

literary society founded at Weimar in 1617 by German scholars and nobility for the express

purpose of standardizing German, thus ensuring its importance as a scholarly and literary

language. The German nobility, however, was widely attracted to French and Italian

civilization, particularly when it came to the arts. And Latin was still the preferred

language of scholars; instruction in the German universities was given exclusively in Latin

until the end of the seventeenth century. "In these circumstances the struggle for the

growth and revitalization of the German language lasted well into the late eighteenth

century."26

James Day has summarized the lot of the seventeenth-century writer:

The conception of the literary artist, responsible only to his aesthetic sense and
creative urge, is a comparatively recent one. The German baroque writer was not in
this position at all; had he been so, he would have died of starvation even earlier
than the expiry of the short life-span which seems to have been allotted to many of
his kind. Patronage was erratic; royalties non-existent. Payment for publication was
ridiculously small, and in any case, few of the important writers produced enough to
live by.27

Most writers of religious lyrics at this time were clergymen, church musicians or

gifted amateurs. But by the early seventeenth century, many authors tried their hand at

25
Hajo Holborn, A History of Modern Germany 1648-1840 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf,
1964) 164-65.
26
Ibid.
27
James Day, The Literary Background to Bach's Cantatas (London: Dennis Dobson,
1961), 4.
21
translating individual books of the Bible, like the Psalms and the Song of Songs (or, Song

of Solomon). The Psalms had been the source of the vast majority of liturgical texts since

the earliest days of Christianity. Composers were naturally drawn to these texts because of

their lyrical quality. Geoffrey Webber writes that:

The Song of Songs was one of the most popular sources of texts amongst Italian
composers of the seventeenth century. The text was highly prized in Germany as
well, where it was frequently printed in German translation in the course of the
seventeenth century: at least thirteen different translations are known, many of
which were reprinted several times. The most popular version was that by the
Dresden court preacher and poet Martin Opitz. First published in Breslau in 1627, it
was printed eight times within the next twenty years, including twice at the north
German city of Danzig. The popularity of the text rested on the suitability of its
highly emotional love poetry for expressing the yearning for mystical union
between the individual soul and Christ.28

Martin Opitz (1597-1639) was an influential Silesian Protestant poet whose verses

were set by many leading seventeenth-century German composers. He was well known in

his day as a librettist and literary theorist who introduced important reforms. He is

sometimes called "the father of German poetry." He traveled widely to avoid conflicts

during the Thirty Years War. Although he was a Protestant, most of his patrons were

Roman Catholic. The Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II made Opitz his court poet for

writing a requiem poem on the death of his brother, Archduke Charles. He was later

ennobled with the title Opitz 'von Boberfeld.' "Opitz inaugurated the modern era of

German poetry by writing in High German, avoiding false rhymes and regularizing metres

and strophic forms."29 Among the composers who set his texts were Hammerschmidt, C.C.

Webber, 90. However, Webber must be mistaken in his identification of Opitz as


"Dresden court preacher" since Opitz was not a clergyman. The fact that Opitz had converted to
Calvinism, makes Webber's statement even more unlikely.
29
Julie Anne Sadie, ed. Companion to Baroque Music (New York: Schirmer Books, 1991),
224.
22
Dedekind and Schiitz. Opitz supplied the libretto for Schutz's now lost Dafne (1627),

usually considered the first German-language opera.

In his Buck von der teutschen Poeterey, of 1624, Opitz introduced new formal

patterns and meters that were generally accepted by baroque writers. Opitz, however, was

"more important as an example to other poets rather than for what he achieved himself."30

Day further clarifies Opitz's contribution to literary development:

His reforms did not aim at banishing exaggerations and vulgarisms, but at
producing formal models for learned poets to imitate, and anyway, despite the
numerous societies formed in Germany in the seventeenth century for the
preservation and improvement of the German language, the lack of a central
administration deprived German literary reformers of any impetus such as the
Academie Francaise was to provide from Paris. Opitz really brought up to the
surface of the German language the learned humanistic current which had been
flowing underground, as it were, in the scholarly Latin lyric of the sixteenth
century.31

Roy Pascal has noted that religious verse of the seventeenth century adheres to the same

stylistic and metrical principles as secular verse, except that in general, classical mythology

is replaced by Biblical imagery.32

According to J. G. Robertson, "the purest form of expression of German lyric

feeling is to be found in the hymn."33 The chorale was, of course, a driving force in the

Protestant Reformation. And it should be remembered that Luther himself supplied some of

the Protestant church's earliest hymn texts and tunes. "Since Luther there had been no lack

of evangelical hymn-writers, but it was late in the seventeenth century before religious

31
Day, 5-6.

Roy Pascal, German Literature in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Vol. II of
Introductions to German Literature (London: The Cresset Press, 1968), 94.

J. G. Robertson, A History of German Literature (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, Ltd.,


1931), 224.

23
poetry reached its highest development. The greatest of German hymn-writers is Paul

Gerhardt (1607-76)."34 Gerhardt's chorales achieved great popularity, and were viewed as

more personal and reflective than those of previous generations.35

Gerhardt, a Lutheran theologian and poet educated at Wittenberg, is remembered

chiefly for his 134 surviving chorale texts, including O Haupt vollBlut und Wunden (O

sacred head, sore wounded). He spent most of his career in Berlin, where the Nikolaikirche

organist/composer Johann Criiger (1598-1662) would become his principal musical

collaborator. The librettist Erdmann Neumeister (see below) incorporated a number of

Gerhardt's stanzas in one of his cantata cycles.

Other important chorale writers include: Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608), Johann

Heermann (1585-1647), Martin Rinckart (1586-1649), Johann Rist (1607-1667) and Paul

Fleming (1609-1640), all of whom are represented in the later cantatas of J. S. Bach.

Of particular interest to the development of cantata libretti in the late seventeenth

century was the introduction of Pietism in several areas of Germany. Pietism was a

movement that arose within the Lutheran church around 1675, and flourished through the

middle of the eighteenth century. It sought to combine the Lutheranism of the time with the

Reformed (Calvinist) emphasis on individual piety and a vigorous Christian life. The

movement seemed a natural outcome of the mysticism and religious emotionalism that was

prevalent throughout the seventeenth century, and its effects were certainly evident in the

religious poetry of the period. With increasingly pietistic poetic accretions, the cantata

libretto gradually changed from "proclaiming the Word" to "interpreting the Word." Thus,

Ibid., 222.

Pascal, 95.
24
by 1700 the German baroque church cantata could truly be described as a "sermon in

song." (For more discussion of the Pietist movement, see Chapter 3.)

Cantata texts and librettists after 1700

While authors of many chorale texts are known, identification of specific cantata

librettists is difficult to find in the seventeenth century. It is possible that the composers

themselves compiled their own cantata librettos, which typically came from biblical verses

and chorale stanzas, sources readily available to them. It is also possible that earlier

librettos were compiled with the help of clergymen. After all, many of the early hymn

writers were Lutheran pastors and theologians. With the interpolation of madrigalian poetry

in the cantata text beginning in the eighteenth century, the names of specific librettists

began to be known. "Such interpolations first appeared after 1700 (beginning with

Erdmann Neumeister), when poets prepared cantata texts. Neumeister, in particular, shifted

the emphasis from direct quotations of biblical texts to their poetic interpretation."36

Erdmann Neumeister (1671-1756) was a poet, theologian and pastor, who after studying at

the Leipzig university between 1689 andl695, delivered a series of lectures on poetry

there. His importance to the development of the genre lies in the nine cycles of cantata

texts that he wrote between 1695 and 1742, each containing texts for all the Sundays of the

church year and many extra feasts. He specifically called his texts 'cantatas,' and "they

consisted entirely of madrigalesque poetry for recitative and aria in the manner of the

Evangeline Rimbach, ed., Johann Kuhnau: Magnificat, vol. 34 of Recent Researches in


the Music of the Baroque Era (Madison: A-R Editions, Inc., 1980), viii.

25
Italian secular cantata or, as he put it in the 1695 lectures, 'a piece out of an opera'." Both

Kuhnau and Bach wrote a small number of cantatas with Neumeister librettos, but it was

probably Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) who used Neumeister's texts the most.

Telemann's lifetime output includes an astounding 1,700 church cantatas, at least 350 of

which had Neumeister librettos.

Other librettists who achieved prominence in the first half of the eighteenth century

included the following: Salomo Franck (1659-1725), Georg Christian Lehms (1684—1717),

Johann Christoph Gottsched (1700-1766), Christiane Mariane von Ziegler [nee Romanus]

(1695-1760), and Christian Friedrich Henrici (1700-1764). All of these poets contributed

libretti set by Bach. Henrici, who wrote under the pen name Picander, was probably Bach's

most frequent collaborator. During the two decades of their friendship, Bach set no less

than thirty of his cantata librettos. In addition, Picander provided the text for the St.

Matthew Passion, and perhaps for other larger works.

Librettists for many of the cantatas by Kuhnau and Bach are still unidentified, but it

would not be inappropriate to speculate that they might be clergymen. In his 1970 study of

liturgical life in Leipzig Gunther Stiller proposes that since the authors of three-fourths of

the extant Bach cantatas are still unknown to us, it would seem Bach's Leipzig clergy

might come into consideration. Superintendent Salomon Deyling and Christian Weiss were

the two chief pastors in Leipzig during Bach's time, and Bach was known to have close

collaboration with them on selection of appropriate cantata texts. Deyling was Leipzig's

church superintendent throughout Bach's twenty-seven years as Kantor. Stiller believes

that there is no reason to doubt the report that "Bach 'regularly at the beginning of the

Kerala J. Snyder. "Neumeister, Erdmann," Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com, n.d. [accessed May 10, 2009].

26
week sent' to the superintendent 'several (usually three) texts of his church cantatas

[Kirchenstucke] arranged for the day' and Deyling chose one."38 Stiller also notes that

Deyling was the author of a number of hymns in the Eisleber Gesangbuch, and that he

"therefore possessed poetic talents and also exercised them in this way."39

10

Gunther Stiller, Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig, trans. Herbert J. A.
Bouman, Daniel F. Poellot, and Hilton C. Oswald, ed. Robin A. Leaver (St. Louis: Concordia
Publishing House, 1984), 219.
39
Ibid.

27
CHAPTER 3

SOCIAL, RELIGIOUS, AND POLITICAL INFLUENCES


ON THE CANTATA'S DEVELOPMENT

The Thirty Years War

Fought mainly on German territory, the Thirty Years War was a conflict involving

most of the European powers between 1618 and 1648. It began as a religious conflict

between Protestants and Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire, but eventually drew much

of Europe into a broader war that was not necessarily concerned with religion. Any cause

assigned to the origin of the Thirty Years War must begin with the failure of the Peace of

Augsburg (1555). The terms of the Peace of Augsburg essentially gave recognition to two

"official" religions in the Empire—Catholic and Lutheran. "The fractionalization of

religious nationhood in Germany was made worse by the fact that by 1600 Calvinism had

established itself as a Protestant alternative to Lutheranism—a fact as unwelcome to

Lutherans as to Catholics."40

Although historians and other commentators cannot agree on numerical losses, the

devastation in Germany caused by the Thirty Years War should not be underestimated. In

addition to battle casualties, the ensuing famine and disease were responsible for even

greater loss of life. Historian Michael Hughes states that:

The traditional German view was that Germany lost two thirds of her population
and suffered massive economic damage in the war, which set her back a hundred
years, excluded her from the race for colonies and commercial expansion and kept
40
John G. Gagliardo, Germany Under the Old Regime, 1600-1790 (New York: Addison
Wesley Longman, 1991), 13.
28
her weak and disunited when other states were carving out places in the world for
themselves.41

Musical establishments in courts and churches were also affected by this conflict.

Composers and musicians were either dismissed from service altogether, or retained in

very small numbers. Even the most eminent German musician of the age, Dresden

Kapellmeister Heinrich ScMtz, was severely affected by the war, a situation he chronicled

in the preface to his published compositions. His second study trip to Italy in 1628-29 was

occasioned by the war, as were two visits in the 1630s and 1640s to Copenhagen, where

Schiitz acted as Kapellmeister to the royal Danish court. Schutz's compositions of the

period also reflect the austerity imposed by the war. The Kleine geistliche Concerte (Small

spiritual concertos) replaced the elaborate Venetian polychoral compositions of earlier,

more prosperous days.

The effects of the war were also felt in literary pursuits, especially the composition

of hymns:

.. .the strongest influence on early 17th-century chorale texts was the Thirty Years
War, which produced an outpouring of chorale poetry by laymen as well as
professional poets. The destruction of German churches and schools during the war
also encouraged private devotions rather than formal church services. This in turn
heightened the personal and subjective tone of the chorales, which suggested the
term 'Ich-lied' for 17th-century chorale poetry in contrast to the 'Wir-lieder' of the
16th century. It is symptomatic that the works of the most outstanding chorale poets
of the time - Paul Gerhardt, whose 134 texts are the greatest in the tradition next to
Luther's, Johann Heermann, Johann Franck and Johann Rist - appeared first in
collections of home devotions and not in hymnbooks.42

Michael Hughes, Early Modern Germany, 1477-1806 (Philadelphia: University of


Pennsylvania Press, 1992), 106.

4
Robert L. Marshall and Robin A. Leaver, "Chorale, §11: Baroque era, cl600-75," Grove
Music Online. Oxford Music Online, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com, n.d. [accessed May 10,
2009].

29
The Peace of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years War in 1648, after which "religion

slowly declined as a major factor in German politics and toleration spread, largely for

pragmatic reasons."43 More spiritual trends began to appear in both Catholic and Protestant

churches. This was especially seen in the Lutheran Church in a powerful movement called

Pietism.

Pietism

The rise of the Pietistic movement in Germany has already been mentioned in

connection with its effect on poetry and cantata libretti of the late seventeenth century. The

movement was begun in 1675 by Philipp Jakob Spener (1635-1705), a Lutheran pastor in

Frankfurt am Main. Spener felt that the orthodox Lutheran church and its pastors had

become corrupt by placing too much emphasis on sacramental worship and theological

disputation. His object was to reform Lutheranism from within. Spener advocated private

Bible study and devotions in the home to achieve a more personal spiritual fervor and a

deeper social consciousness. Spener believed that true and adequate service to God could

not be offered through the sacramental worship in the orthodox Lutheran church alone; he

taught that a personal change of heart was required to achieve this aim.44

After earning his doctorate in Strassburg, Spener received a call to become a

preacher and supervisor of all the pastors in Frankfurt. During his twenty years in Frankfurt

he developed and wrote about his principles for reforming the church. In 1686 Spener was

43
Hughes, 134.

Martin O. Westerhaus, "Literary Landmarks of Pietism," Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary


Essay File, http://www.wlsessays.net/node/961, n.d. [accessed May 4,2009].

30
called to the prestigious position of court chaplain to Saxon Elector Johann Georg HI at

Dresden. During his five years in Dresden, Spener was publicly critical of the Elector's

lifestyle. Although he refused to dismiss Spener, the Elector was able to arrange for

Spener's move to his next position. The final fourteen years of his life were spent as pastor

of St. Nicholas Church in Berlin.

While Spener's movement gained popularity in some areas of Germany, Pietism

was vigorously opposed by orthodox Lutheran theologians and clergy. Until the end of his

life, Spener was subjected to vicious attacks, especially by the faculty of Wittenberg

University, who deemed his ideas on obtaining salvation as too simplistic. Another Saxon

town that resisted the advance of Pietism was Leipzig. Saxony was the birthplace of

Luther's Reformation, and Leipzig's clergy, politicians, and scholars remained committed

to Lutheran orthodoxy, despite the challenge from some local Pietists. When they could not

get a foothold in Leipzig's university, many of the Pietists moved to nearby Halle, where a

new university sympathetic to their beliefs was founded in 1694.

Much has been written about Pietism's influence on poets and writers (including

cantata librettists) of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. There is evidence

that some of the composers of the period, including Schelle and Bach, were somewhat

sympathetic with the Pietistic movement. (Schelle contributed some of the melodies for

Der anddchtige Student, a 1682 collection of Pietistic devotional hymns.) But, their

sympathy generally was limited to their preference for the more personal religious poetry

that grew out of the movement. Pietism rejected the "trappings" of what was considered the

rigid, formal worship of orthodoxy, and that included elaborate musical performances in

31
church. For this reason alone, church music composers would more likely have aligned

themselves with the traditional orthodox Lutheranism.

The plague of 1680

With barely more than thirty years to recover from the Thirty Years War, a

devastating plague swept over Saxony and Thuringia in 1680, killing thousands of

inhabitants. For the second time in the century, some towns saw their populations cut in

half. The death and destruction caused by the Thirty Years War and the 1680 plague

probably touched the life of every German during the seventeenth century. It is no wonder

that poets and composers of this period seem to have a preoccupation with the subjects of

death, sin, the transitory nature of earthly life, and the hope of a better life to come. The

heightened religious emotionalism that pervaded the German territories throughout the

century was probably a result of these catastrophic events. Thus, Pietism was not the only

influence on the more personal texts created by poets and used by composers of the period.

32
CHAPTER 4

SURVEY OF SELECT COMPOSERS AND REPRESENTATIVE WORKS


CONTRIBUTING TO THE CANTATA'S DEVELOPMENT

The present chapter will attempt to demonstrate the development of the German

Protestant cantata through a brief survey of representative works by select composers (see

Table 2) who contributed to this process.

Table 2. List of composers surveyed and works studied

Composer (birth-death) Title

Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630) Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland

Franz Tunder (1614-1667) Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott

Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707) Befiehl dem Engel dass er komm

Sebastian Knupfer (1633-1676) Machet die Tore weit

Johann Schelle (1648-1701) Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar

Johann Philipp Krieger (1649-1725) Rufet nicht die Weisheit?

Johann Kuhnau (1660-1722) Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern

Predecessor of the cantata: Johann Hermann Schein

Antecedents of the German Protestant cantata that emerged by the mid-seventeenth

century can be seen in the music of Johann Hermann Schein, who was Thomaskantor in

Leipzig about one hundred years before Bach would hold the same position. Among

Schein's important compositions is his 1618 collection entitled Opella Nova (New Little

33
Works), containing thirty chorale-based concertos for three, four or five voices with basso

continue Schein's little concertos serve as an example of the compositional style from

which the cantata would soon develop. Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (Now come,

Savior of the nations) is a typical piece from this collection, for two sopranos and tenor

with continue 45 The tenor voice sings the first stanza of the Advent chorale Nun komm,

der Heiden Heiland with the original tune in its entirety, but broken up phrase by phrase.

Between the chorale phrases in the tenor, the two soprano parts weave an interesting

counterpoint based on fragments of the same melody. Schein probably learned much about

the technique of melodic fragmentation from the works of Michael Praetorius. But,

Schein's compositional technique is almost identical to that pioneered by Monteverdi in his

Vespers of 1610 only eight years before. The only substantial difference is that Monteverdi

used plainsong for his cantus firmus, whereas Schein used the chorale. Nonetheless, it

shows how quickly Italian practices were imitated and adapted in Germany.

The melody and text of Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland represent some of Luther's

earliest work. He translated the ancient Latin hymn Veni, Redemptor Gentium by St.

Ambrose, and adapted his new German words to the traditional Latin plainchant.

Schein's setting also reveals the combination of Renaissance modal use and the

incipient tonal (major-minor) harmonic technique of the baroque era. The original chorale,

based on Gregorian chant, is modal, and Schein retains the modal feeling of the chorale

tune in the tenor part of his concerto. But, a more modern tonal harmony is introduced by

Adam Adrio, ed., Opella Nova I, 1618. Vol. 4 oiJohann Hermann Schein: Neue
Ausgabe samtlicher Werke (Kassel: Barenreiter, 1963), 3-7.

34
the two sopranos in the second measure when they change the tenor F-natural to F-sharp

(Example 1). This struggle between modal and tonal is heard throughout the piece.

Example 1. Johann Hermann Schein, Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, mm. 1-4:
Contrast of Modal and Tonal Feeling.

Canto

Canto II

Hei - den Hei - land. nun komm. der Hei - den Hei - land,

Nun komm. der Hei - den Hei land, nun komm, der Hei - den Hei

Two other important composers from this early period are Samuel Scheidt and

Andreas Hammerschmidt (1611/12-1675). An exact contemporary and friend of Schein

was Samuel Scheidt, who spent his entire career in Halle, a town not far from Leipzig.

Scheidt is notable for his introduction of the chorale concerto or motet, in which he set all

the verses of a chorale in separate movements. This multi-movement feature of Schiedt's

35
works is a definite antecedent of the cantata of future generations. Hammerschmidt was a

Bohemian composer about twenty-five years younger than Schein and Scheidt. Like

Schutz, Hammerschmidt did not make as extensive use of the chorale as did his

contemporaries. Many of his compositions are in the style of Schutz, but his importance in

the development of the cantata lies in his cultivation of the aria. Most of Hammerschmidt's

sacred vocal works are considered concertos, but the insertion of extended aria passages

almost gives the impression of separate movements.46 While most sacred music in this

period was composed on chorale texts and Biblical passages, Hammerschmidt utilized

additional texts by poets such as Martin Opitz and others. This pioneering use of poetic

texts in the arias is a practice that would be become standard in later cantata works.

The Northern Lights: Franz Tunder and Dieterich Buxtehude

Two important composers from the North German town of Liibeck were Dietrich

Buxtehude, and his predecessor as organist of the Marienkirche, Franz Tunder. Although

they were both organists, whose main duty was not the composition of vocal music, Tunder

and Buxtehude were more active as composers than the Liibeck Kantors at this time. As

such, both were important contributors to the cantata genre. The surviving compositions of

Tunder, who possibly studied in Italy with Frescobaldi, show that he was very acquainted

with the Italianate style. In his organ works, Tunder frequently combined a florid Italian

toccata style with the conservative German chorale. He composed vocal works in both

Latin and German, and of the German works, most are chorale-based.

Johannes Gunther Kraner and Steffen Voss, "Hammerschmidt, Andreas," Grove Music
Online. Oxford Music Online, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com, n.d. [accessed May 10,2009].

36
An exact date cannot be assigned for the composition of Tunder's cantata on the

famous Reformation chorale, Ein 'feste Burg ist wiser Gott (A mighty fortress is our

God).47 However, it can be placed in the twenty-year period between 1646 and 1666. The

cantata is scored for two violins, three violas, violone and organ, plus a four-voice chorus.

The opening sinfonia includes all three viola parts, and the first verse uses one viola part,

after which the violas are completely omitted for the remainder of the composition. Thus,

the instrumental forces required for the bulk of this cantata are two violins and continuo.

While not explicitly marked in the score, it can be assumed that some of the florid vocal

passages are intended for soloists. The cantata sets all four verses of Luther's hymn.

Although the work is divided into distinct sections, they sometimes overlap and are not

always marked by the beginning of a new text stanza. The music frequently alternates

between duple and triple meter. An interesting feature of this cantata is the fact that the

chorale tune is never presented in its original form. The opening stanza set for soprano solo

does have all the notes of the melody, but they are set in strict triple meter, not the duple or

mixed meter of the original. In the other movements, fragments of the melody are always

present—both in voices and instruments—but the fantasia-like compositional technique

never yields to a straightforward statement of the melody. An example of this technique is

seen at the beginning of Verse 3, where the bass sings a "devilish" melisma on the word

"Teufel (devils)". After a clear reference to the opening of the chorale tune (Example 2) in

the bass, fragments of the melody are passed between other choral voices (Example 3).

Max Seiffert, ed., Franz Tunders Gesangswerke: Solokantaten und Chorwerke mit
Instrumentalbegleitung, Vol. 3 oiDenkmdler deutscher Tonkunst, rev. by Hans Joachim Moser
(Wiesbaden: Verlag Breitkopf &Hartel, 1957), 142-57.

37
Example 2. Chorale melody, Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott, Verse 3: First Phrase.

J J
$*"* r r r J r C t r
3. Und wenn die Welt voll Tcu - fcl war'
'* r r r
und wollt' uns gar
r J^LJ
vcr-schlin gen

Example 3. Franz Tunder, Ein 'feste Burg ist unser Gott, Verse 3, mm. 1-14: Melodic
Fragmentation.

x = chorale melody note; 0 = missing or altered note


VERSE .1. X X X X 0
^m H • P"?^" -

L
U-LJ | _ - - ^ u, ^ j L-BJU ufc— • j ^
.l.Und wenn die Welt voll fel

J J
Basso
continue
"y- *n % " | f' r 1r J J 1r r ft* 1" =1

X X X X X X X X

38
Dietrich Buxtehude is well known for his Abendmusik concerts in Lubeck. The

fame of these concerts is related many times in accounts of the youthful Bach's visit to hear

them in the winter of 1705-06. However, it was Buxtehude's predecessor, Franz Tunder,

who is credited with initiating Liibeck's Abendmusik concerts as early as 1646. Tunder

supposedly seized upon the idea of performing organ recitals for businessmen who

gathered in the Marienkirche while waiting for the stock exchange to open. These

businessmen eventually came to finance the performances of vocal and instrumental music,

which led to the foundation of Buxtehude's Sunday evening series.48

Buxtehude contributed some 120 works in the cantata genre, encompassing many

different styles and utilizing texts in four different languages. Another variable is the length

of the compositions: some were four- or five-minute settings of one or two chorale stanzas,

while others were multi-movement works lasting a half hour or longer. The great variety in

these works is probably due to the many different occasions for which they were

composed. Most of Buxtehude's extant vocal works were composed between 1680 and

1685. Befiehl dem Engel dass er komm (Command thine angel that he come) is an example

of one of Buxtehude's shorter chorale-based cantatas.49 The text, which refers to "angels

guarding us while we sleep," is drawn from a vespers hymn. In contrast to all of the other

cantatas in this survey, which were intended for performance at the Lutheran church's main

Sunday morning service, this work was for an evening service. Thus, we can assume that

this little cantata was likely composed for one of Buxtehude's Abendmusik concerts. The

text is a translation of the ancient vespers hymn for the Advent season, Christe, qui lux es

Kerala J. Snyder, "Abendmusik," Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,


http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com, n.d. [accessed May 10, 2009].
49
Dietrich Kilian, Dietrich Buxtehudes Werke, Vol. VIII (New York: Broude International
Editions, 1958), 73-84.
39
et dies (O Christ, who art the light and day). Martin Luther translated this hymn as Christe,

der du bist Tag undLicht. Buxtehude, however, used the 1536 adaptation by Erasmus

Alber, with the words Christe, du bist der helle Tag. The difference of German text is

significant because each translation is associated with a different chorale tune. Buxtehude's

cantata uses Verses 6 and 7 of Christe, du bist der helle Tag. The cantata is for four-voice

chorus with no soloists, accompanied by two violins and continuo. The first of the two

verses set is in duple meter, while the final verse and concluding "Amen" are in triple

meter.

Buxtehude's method of setting of this chorale tune is worth mention. The first line

of the melody appears unadorned in the soprano, but in subsequent phrases the chorale

melody is so decorated and fragmented that it is barely recognizable. It is almost as if

Buxtehude presents the first line as a clue, and then dares the listener to find the rest of the

melody. This technique was also evident in the work of Tunder, whose compositions were

surely known to Buxtehude.

The original chorale melody {Christe, du bist der helle Tag) is shown in Example 4,

but with the words of Verse 6 {Befiehl dent Engel dass er komtri). This is followed by the

opening measures of Buxtehude's setting of the soprano voice (Example 5), showing

embellishment and fragmentation of the chorale melody.

40
Example 4. Chorale melody, Christe der du bist helle Tag, with text of Verse 6.

T\ 0 m T\

6.Bc - fichl dcm En-gel, daB cr kommund uns be - wach,_dcin ci - gen-tum; gib

/TV

i uns die lie-ben


r i r r i i i i i r r i r m' iuu i r i ir r ' ii
Wacht-er zu daB wir fiirm Sa-tan ha
J
ben run

Example 5. Dietrich Buxtehude, Befiehl dem Engel dass er komm, mm. 1-38: Melodic
Embellishment and Fragmentation.

x = chorale melody note; 0 = missing or chromatically altered note


„ X X X X X X X X
J
Sop.
» J r irwm
^ rri r *r n r ^
Be-fiehldem En-gel, daB er komm, daB er komm, daB er komm,

X X XX

4 - h p p p r > h p p P r * u r r r-r&ri
und uns be-wach, und uns be-wach, und uns be -

/9 X X X X X X

wach, dein_ Ei - gen - turn; und uns bc-wach,_ dein Ei - gen-

x x x x O x x x

> f f > i > f f > U f f r i r ' P r r»n iEE*E=


gib uns, gib uns, gib uns die lie-ben Wacht-er zu

x x x 0 0 x x x

. M' I I' lUr ' " " f r f ' ^ " I C f l ^ ^


daB wir fiirm Sa - tan, fiirm Sa - tan, fiirm Sa - tan ha - ben

JS 0 X X X X 0 X X X

j«£jj,JRun,
[jciriiu^rjPi^
ha ben Run.

41
The last two seventeenth-century Thomaskantors:
Sebastian Kniipfer and Johann Schelle

The transition from concerto to cantata was completed in the works of three Bach

predecessors as Thomaskantor: Sebastian Kniipfer and Johann Schelle, the last two

Thomaskantors of the seventeenth century, and Johann Kuhnau, the first Kantor of the

eighteenth. Kniipfer, Schelle and Kuhnau held the post in succession from 1657 through

1722—a total of sixty-five years between the three men.

When Kniipfer was elected to the post in 1657, he was charged with rebuilding

Leipzig's musical reputation, which had deteriorated considerably during the Thirty Years

War (1618-1648). Along with his appointment as Thomaskantor, the Leipzig city fathers

also named Kniipfer the first civic director of music, thus formalizing a relationship that

had already tacitly existed under previous Thomaskantors. As music director for the city,

he was expected to supply compositions to celebrate town council elections and official

visits by nobility. This arrangement also gave the Thomaskantor supervisory powers over

the town's professional musical guilds: the Stadtpfeifer (wind players) and Kunstgeiger

(string players). These guilds were, after all, the main suppliers of instrumental players for

the town's church music. And Kniipfer seems to have made good use of them. Many of the

compositions he wrote for Leipzig use unusually large forces, both instrumental and vocal.

This can certainly be viewed as a sign that Leipzig was recovering from the austerity

imposed by the Thirty Years War. During his nearly twenty-year tenure, Leipzig was able

to regain its position as an important music center, thus setting the stage for a period of

musical excellence that would find flowering in the work of his three successors, Schelle,

Kuhnau and Bach.

42
Not much is known of Knupfer's early life and training, but he arrived in Leipzig as

a twenty-year-old, and seems to have established himself very quickly in the city's musical

life. We can assume that he was an extremely gifted musician, for he was only twenty-three

years old when appointed Thomaskantor, having prevailed over several candidates who

were already Kantors of no small reputation. Even though he was never officially

connected to the university in Leipzig, Kniipfer was active in the university community and

was considered one of the city's leading intellectuals, especially in the fields of poetics and

philology.50

Knupfer's surviving musical output is almost completely sacred. His works are

mostly in the style of the traditional seventeenth-century vocal concerto, but they contain

some compositional techniques that can be identified with the cantata, particularly the use

of dramatic recitative and the organization of distinct movements. He wrote works in both

Latin and German. The Latin works include masses, motets and Magnificats, and the

German works include a variety of pieces drawing texts largely from the Psalms and

hymns. Because of their use of both chorale text and melody, a number of his compositions

can be classified as chorale cantatas.51 Knupfer's use of large forces has already been

mentioned. He often alternated huge blocks of chordal sound with polyphonic

counterpoint, of which he was a master. Kniipfer was also recognized for his brilliant

instrumentation, as well as imaginative scoring for voices, and his setting of Machet die

David William Krause, "The Latin Choral Music of Sebastian Kniipfer with a Practical
Edition of the Extant Works," 2 vols. (PhD diss., University of Iowa, 1974), 14.

George J. Buelow, "Kniipfer, Sebastian," Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com, n.d. [accessed May 11, 2009].

43
Tore weit (Psalm 24, verses 7-10) serves as an excellent example. This cantata is scored

for two cornetti, three trombones, an expanded string section of two violins and four violas,

plus bass and continuo, supporting a five-voice choir and soloists.

Example 6 shows Knupfer's creativity in vocal scoring and use of dramatic

recitative. Sung by pairs of solo voices, the question is heightened by repetition of the first

word, "Wer, wer, wer ist derselbe Konig der Ehre? (Who, who, who is this King of

Glory?)." This is followed by the bass's emphatic answer, "Er ist der Herr, stark, machtig

im Streit (He is the Lord, strong and mighty)," in which the listener cannot help to feel the

power and majesty of this text.

Example 6. Sebastian BCniipfer, Machet die Tore weit, Movement 3, mm. 1-14: Dramatic
Recitative.

Arnold Schering, ed., Sebastian Kniipfer, Johann Schelle, Johann Kuhnau: Ausgewdhlte
Kirchenkantaten. Vols. 58 and 59 ofDenkmaler deutscher Tonkunst, rev. by Hans Joachim Moser
(Wiesbaden: Verlag Breitkopf & Hartel, 1957), 104-5.

44
Example 6. (Continued).

ist der-sel-be Ko-nig tier Eh - ren?

ist der-sel-be Ko-nig tier Eh - ren?


BASS SOLO ,

Es ist dcr Hcrr, stark, stark und mach

m WE f f

^ P u
FOUR VIOLAS

* * * f f f r
J J.J
m
a^ J J J I r r i" I J J J ^
7 #6

tig, dcr Hcrr, mach-tig, mach-tig im Strcit, mach-tig. mach-tig im Strcit. mach-tig. mach tig im Strcit.

4 It t

45
In the work of Knupfer's successor, Johann Schelle, the cantata continued to

evolve. Schelle received his early training as a member of the Dresden court chapel choir

under Schutz. He continued his education in Leipzig, first at the Thomasschule under

Knupfer, and later at the university. Schelle succeeded Knupfer as Thomaskantor in 1677,

winning the post over eleven other candidates. His duties were similar to Knupfer's, and

included the title of civic music director.53 It was during Schelle's tenure that Leipzig

established its first opera company in 1692.

Schelle's output consists mostly of sacred works with German texts, but relatively

few have survived. His importance in the development of the cantata lies in his preference

for more modern—even experimental—poetry, and in his incorporation of recitatives and

arias similar to those found in contemporary German opera.54

Like Knupfer, his predecessor, Schelle showed a special affinity for brilliant

orchestral techniques. He delighted in huge, massed homophonic effects, and his mastery

of counterpoint was also evident in the choral fugues with which he liked to conclude his

cantatas. These larger gestures are balanced by solo sections with much more delicate

writing.

Schelle's cantata, Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar (From heaven came the angel

host), demonstrates the synthesis of compositional elements of many of his predecessors.55

At the same time, this work can be seen as an unmistakable model for future cantatas by J.

S. Bach. The use of chorale melody as cantus firmus and the fragmentation of chorale

53
Murray, 6-7.

A. Lindsey Kirwan and Peter Wollny, "Schelle, Johann," Grove Music Online. Oxford Music
Online, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com, n.d. [accessed May 10, 2009].

55
Schering, 167-206.
46
melody in both voices and instruments show clear imitation of techniques pioneered by

Praetorius and Schein. The vocal concerto principle prevalent throughout the seventeenth

century is still very much present in Schelle's work. Schelle set all six verses of the chorale

(a technique known as per omnes versus), with each verse as a separate movement, thus

defining this work as a chorale cantata.

Schelle used Luther's hymn text for Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar, but set it to

another melody which shares the same meter, Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her. Both

are texts by Luther, but the six verses of Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar (1543), are

thought to be a shortened version of the original fifteen verses of Vom Himmel hoch da

komm ich her (1534). The tune of Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her used by Schelle is

also sometimes attributed to Luther.

The rich scoring is for two clarinos, tympani, two cornettos, two trombones, two

violins, two violettas, five-voice choir (SSATB, with frequent alternation between soli and

tutti), plus organ and continuo. Although there are some passages for soloist(s)

accompanied only by two violins and continuo, the full instrumental ensemble takes part in

every movement. There is no introductory sinfonia. The opening movement begins with a

brief instrumental fanfare, and the chorale melody is introduced by a solo soprano in the

second measure. This is followed by a richly harmonized five-voice chorale setting, with

instrumental episodes between each chorale phrase. The second movement is introduced by

a solo soprano with a decorated version of the chorale melody, imitated by two violins. But

the full ensemble soon enters to complete the verse with melodic fragmentation. The third

verse, now in triple meter, is a motet-like setting in which all five voices sing in imitative

fashion, alternating between soli and tutti. The tutti sections are accompanied by the full

47
instrumental ensemble, and the chorale melody is always clearly present in the top soprano

voice. The fourth movement again has alternation between soli and tutti, but the chorale

melody appears as a cantus firmus in the bass voice. The fifth movement is similar in

construction to movement two, and the sixth movement is mostly a repeat of movement

one, with the addition of a dramatic eight-measure coda.

The concerto principle is apparent from the opening measures (Example 7) of this

cantata, where the contrast between the three groups of instruments is immediately evident.

Schelle's nearly quarter-century in office as Thomaskantor (1677 to 1701) was a

time of great change and upheaval. In his early years, Schelle made some controversial

changes to the Leipzig worship services, most notably his substitution of German-texted

works where Latin motets had been traditional. Even after the Reformation, when more

emphasis was placed on music and worship in the vernacular, Latin still maintained a

stronghold in Lutheran services. But Schelle's preference for presenting music in German

won in the end, and this would have important consequences for the development of the

cantata, especially in the kinds of texts used in church music.

48
Example 7. Johann Schelle, Vom Himmel kam die Engel Schar, mm. 1-4: Concerted
Effects in Chorale Cantata.

49
The pre-Bach generation:

Johann Philipp Krieger and Johann Kuhnau

A major episode in the development of the cantata took place around 1700 with the

so-called "Neumeister Reform," when the poet and theologian Erdmann Neumeister

introduced his libretti, which he specifically called "cantatas." Neumeister's contribution

has already been discussed in Chapter 3. His new format (libretti consisting of recitatives

and arias) was embraced by a number of composers who produced solo church cantatas by

the thousands. The solo cantata was perhaps a more attractive vehicle for composers who

wrote in the emerging galant style, which placed more emphasis on pure melody with

simple accompaniment rather than on more complex polyphonic texture.

Nonetheless, in his later cantata cycles, Neumeister eventually included chorale

verses for choruses, which produced the "mixed cantata" that would become standard by

the time of Bach's Leipzig years. Bach used Neumeister libretti in five of his cantatas.

One composer closely associated with Neumeister is Johann Phillip Krieger.

Neumeister had served as a deacon in Weissenfels from 1704 to 1706, at which time

Krieger was court Kapellmeister there. Krieger was possibly the first composer to set

Neumeister's texts, which were likely created at the musician's suggestion.

Krieger received early musical training in his native Nuremberg, but soon went to

Copenhagen to study composition with Kaspar Forster. Forster had been a pupil of

Carissimi in Rome, and was responsible for introducing the Italian style to the Danish

court. Krieger subsequently took the position of Kapellmeister in Bayreuth, but was soon

granted leave to study in Rome and Venice. Upon his return to Germany, he accepted the

organ post at the Halle court in 1677. After the death of the duke three years later, the court

50
was relocated to nearby Weissenfels. Here Krieger was made Kapellmeister, a post he held

until his death forty-five years later in 1725. As a court composer, Krieger was responsible

for both church music and secular entertainment. An extremely prolific composer, Krieger

wrote eighteen German operas and over 2,000 church cantatas, including at least 250 on

Neumeister's libretti.56 Unfortunately all of Krieger's Neumeister cantatas are lost with one

exception, Rufet nicht die Weisheit? (Does not wisdom call out?), which dates from before

1699.57 (Incidentally, one of the most valuable documents Krieger left was a meticulously

kept list of every composition he performed in his forty-five years at Weissenfels.)58

We have already seen that in the middle-seventeenth century cantata, texts were

composed from either biblical passages or chorales. With poetic accretions by the end of

the century, the cantata gradually changed from "proclaiming the Word" to "interpreting

the Word." This is plainly evident in Krieger's setting of Neumeister's text ofRufet nicht

die Weisheit? The cantata's five discreet movements (plus a final "Amen") form an arch:

chorus, aria, recitative, aria and chorus. Most of the text is drawn from biblical passages,

and Neumeister's only original contribution to the libretto is found in the addition of the

two da capo arias. But it is in these arias that one can clearly see the poet (and composer) as

preacher. A comparison of the aria texts reveals a rather simplistic rhetorical expression. In

the first aria, the soprano announces that "God calls us." Separating the two arias is a brief

Harold E. Samuel, "Krieger, Johann Philipp," Grove Music Online. Oxford Music
Online, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com, n.d. [accessed May 10, 2009].
en
Max Seiffert, ed., Johann Philipp Krieger 1649-1725: 21 Ausgewdhlte
Kirchenkompositionen. Vols. 53 and 54 of Denkmaler deutscher Tonkunst, rev. by Hans Joachim
Moser (Wiesbaden: Verlag Breitkopf & Hartel, 1958), 275-290.

Ibid. The extensive Vorwort (in German) to this edition gives a complete catalog of
Krieger's own compositions, as well as a list of the works by other composers performed by
Krieger.

51
bass recitative, which preaches that "God's call has been rejected." The second aria (see

Example 8) is set to the same music as the first aria, but now assigned to a tenor, who sings

the words "God complains that no one hears him" and that the people are too worldly to

accept his mercy. The final chorus is a hopeful-sounding plea for salvation, which would

surely have been a comfort to the listener.

52
Example 8. Johann Philipp Krieger, Rufet nicht die Weisheit?, Movement 4 (tenor aria):
Da Capo Aria with Neumeister Text.

Cont

bf
' r * J J- i11 r r r pi r * f J- pi ^ ^
klagt. Gottklagt. daB ihn kein Mensch nicht hort, daB ihn, daB ihn kein Mensch_

nicht hort. daB ihn. daB ihn kein Mensch. kein Mensch nicht

JV i » — i»p._ fj»_~i~ »_ I fr*i - _ _ » J - i I » , - . —

S 6

SE J J* HiJ J ' ^
hort. Kr findt vor sci - nc Gii - tc ein wclt-ge - sinnt Gc-

tvi I r p f j - IVI-.I j »-. i i - K rrn i . hi j ] i Jj


vi> J 11 i.f p [ f "fi LEfr ft ^ r * * ^ f * ' \: 6 f J*'

mil - tc, das sich an kci - n c _ Gna - dckohrt. cr findt vor sci - nc Gii - tc

ein welt-ge - sinnt Ge-mil - te. das sich an kei - ne Gna - de kehrt.

^ m
IF mm 6>>
4
I II I f kf 'T 11 J J

53
Johann Kuhnau, who succeeded Schelle as Thomaskantor in 1701, is one of those

musicians who had a parallel career as a literary figure. Kuhnau had been organist of the

Thomaskirche while still a law student at the Leipzig university. Fluent in several

languages, Kuhnau had already published an original novel, as well as German translations

of several books from French and Italian, all before being appointed Thomaskantor. He

was greatly esteemed by Germany's foremost musicians and was the last of the multi-

faceted Thomaskantors, a man who mastered music, law, theology, rhetoric, poetry,

mathematics and foreign languages.59 Alongside Handel and Telemann, he was considered

one of the major German composers of his day. However, Kuhnau's lasting fame as a

composer lies almost completely with his published keyboard works, especially the

Biblical Sonatas. Only one of his sacred vocal works was published in his lifetime. There

are references to at least eighty-five cantata compositions, but the vast majority of them are

now lost. Kuhnau is one of the few composers of this period who can be positively

identified as the author of both text and music of some of his cantatas.

Stylistically, Kuhnau's cantatas can be seen as a transition from the seventeenth to

the eighteenth centuries. Throughout his life, Kuhnau tried to maintain a standard of church

music worthy of his predecessors. He strongly resisted using the operatic style in his

church music. In order to combat the suspicion of writing "theatrical music," Kuhnau

avoided using recitatives and da capo arias in his church compositions until fairly late in

his career. In the end, however, Kuhnau adopted the use of secco recitative and the da capo

aria, thus giving them a secure position in the Leipzig church cantata.60

George J. Buelow, "Kuhnau, Johann," Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com, n.d. [accessed May 10,2009].

Rimbach, Johann Kuhnau: Magnificat, viii.


54
Kuhnau's chorale cantatas could possibly have influenced the style adopted by

Bach in some of his cantatas for Leipzig. Kuhnau's setting of Wie schon leuchtet der

Morgenstern (How brightly shines the morning star) is a cantata for Christmas, scored for

two horns, two violins, two violas, continuo and five-part chorus with soloists.61 Its

opening and closing movements for chorus use the first and last verses of Philipp Nicolai's

chorale, both text and tune. The inner movements have no relation to the chorale tune, and

include three recitatives and two arias for tenor, another chorus, plus a duet for two

sopranos. These inner movements relate and reflect upon the familiar Christmas story.

Some words are taken from Gospel sources, but others are the poetic text of an unknown

author. It is possible that the librettist was Kuhnau himself. This format (the use of first and

last chorale verses, with free text for inner movements) is a feature of Bach's chorale

cantatas from his second Leipzig Jahrgang, or annual cantata cycle.

Kuhnau's technique of mixing secco recitative with arioso is shown in Example 9.

The first part of the recitative is in secco style. But, the last line of text introduces an arioso

style with descending scale passages at the words "die ganze Erde neiget (the whole earth

bows before him)." The combination of secco recitative and concluding arioso passage

becomes a frequent feature in the Leipzig cantatas of Bach just a few years later.

Schering, 292-320.
55
Example 9. Johann Kuhnau, Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern, Movement 4 (tenor
recitative): Secco Recitative with Concluding Arioso.

Jl
Tenor
t > r c i r T O p p p p p'p J i»pLL£/r
Doch leuch tet in dcr Nied-rig-kcit ein Strahl von
jpp R ^
sei-ner Gott-lich-keit,

Cont.
S r M

^ rp' a ' i P p p i J- > J'Jikp p i r r ^PFF


cin Kai-scr sehreibt die Schat-zung aus, so zieht zu-gleich dcr Prinz dcr Prin-zen in CHICS

r • J* J J< J! p p J11 J > - » J ir r P p ^ P


an, weil es kein Mensch ver- rich-ten kann. Denn al - le Him-mel sindsein

S P^P s
m ^ ' Pll Mj
" 6 8 6 6 8 6 6 6 6 6
5 5

r J^ r
ci - gen, wie sol It' sich
r inM^^u
nicht vor ihm die gan - zc Er - dc nci
c r ^ i ^S
f \ j * r r= r f * J — «* »* f 3 1 1 1 ^
6 7 6 6

56
The Telemann factor

One last composer in the development of the church cantata needs mention: Georg

Philipp Telemann (1681-1767). Baroque scholar George Buelow has argued for a thorough

reassessment of Telemann and his music. After all, Telemann was one of the most prolific

composers of all time, and so little of his music is available or known today.62 Telemann

arrived in Leipzig in 1701 as a twenty-year-old law student at the university. That he was

unquestionably a capable and talented musician is witnessed by the fact that within a year

of his arrival, Telemann left the university for a musical career, beginning with his

appointment as director of the Leipzig opera in 1702. In his first months in Leipzig,

Telemann's musical talents came to light when a roommate of his is said to have

accidentally discovered one of his manuscripts. The story is that his fellow students

arranged for the work to be performed at the Thomaskirche.63 The performance was

attended by the recently appointed mayor of Leipzig, one Franz Conrad Romanus, who in

turn commissioned Telemann to compose (and probably perform) a cantata for the

Thomaskirche every fourteen days. Because the Thomaskantor presided over the music at

the Thomaskirche and the Nicolaikirche on alternate Sundays, this arrangement could have

been possible, although it would still seem to be an insult to the Thomaskantor, Johnann

Kuhnau, who had only been in office since April 1701. Romanus assumed the office of

mayor on August 29, 1701, so his commission of Telemann had to be after that date.

Romanus was installed as mayor specifically at the order of August the Strong, Elector of

George J. Buelow, A History of Baroque Music (Bloomington: Indiana University Press,


2004), 567-569.

Richard Petzoldt, Georg Philipp Telemann, trans. Horace Fitzpatrick (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1974), 15-16.
57
Saxony, in what was the first Electoral intervention in the administration of the city of

Leipzig.64 Only three weeks after Romanus was installed, on September 19, a decree was

issued from the sovereign, demanding that "the standard of church music be improved, on

account of foreign visitors who came to Leipzig, particularly during the fairs."65 The

annual Michaelmas fair would start at the end of September, but it is not known whether

Telemann fulfilled his commission from Romanus at all, since none of his extant cantatas

can be verified as dating from his Leipzig years. (Incidentally, Mayor Romanus, who was

the father of Bach librettist Mariane von Ziegler, was arrested for financial impropriety in

1705 and imprisoned until his death in 1746.)

Telemann wrote some 1,700 church cantatas in all, including many complete annual

cycles with libretti written especially for him. Of the 1,400 extant cantatas, 350 were

composed on libretti by Erdmann Neumeister. Both Telemann and Erdmeister served the

principal churches in Hamburg as composer and preacher, respectively, for more than thirty

years together.

64
Butt, 20.
65
Ibid., 32.
58
CHAPTER 5

CONCLUSIONS

The German baroque church cantata developed from a wide diversity of textual

sources, including biblical quotations, chorale verses, and madrigalistic poetry. The

musical styles used to set these texts were equally diverse, incorporating the motet, vocal

concerto, Italian secular cantata, and opera. Choruses, recitatives, arias, duets and other

vocal combinations were all present to varying degrees in the early cantatas. The variety of

vocal forms was matched by a dazzling array of instrumental styles and accompaniments.

Seventeenth-century German nobility was certainly attracted by the latest Italian

fashions in music. The large number of Italian musicians and composers employed at

German courts is an indication of the nobility's craving for foreign entertainment. For the

growing middle-class, however, the weekly church cantata provided access to some of the

latest musical styles. Church music was obviously a matter of civic pride, especially in the

larger trade cities like Leipzig, Hamburg and Liibeck. In Leipzig the three annual trade

fairs coincided with the major church holidays of New Year's, Easter and Michaelmas—all

three holiday periods demanding large-scale festival cantatas from the Kantor. In Liibeck,

church music was so valued by the public that organ recitals came to be sponsored by local

businessmen, possibly even financing the famous Abendmusik concerts there.

Disasters of war and disease during the seventeenth century had a marked effect on

the literary development of the period. These events promoted a religious fervor—also later

embraced by Pietism—that contributed to the highly emotional and personal lyric poetry

59
that was prevalent at the end of the century. With the inclusion of more poetic texts,

particularly in the arias, cantata libretti assumed a more exegetical role. The main Sunday

Lutheran service music turned from mere "proclaiming" the Word to actually

"interpreting" it through the lyrics of the poet and sounds of the composer. This is where

the genius of Bach shines—the reason his cantatas are considered the pinnacle of the genre.

We know that Bach was familiar with the compositions of many of his

predecessors—perhaps even performing some of their works himself. While the

Neumeister Reform went a long way toward creating a more uniform cantata style, Bach

seems to have admired the diverse styles of music and text sources that characterized the

cantata's developmental period between 1650 and 1700. Composers like Telemann and

Krieger embraced the new Neumeister style and produced thousands of cantatas—the vast

majority composed for solo voices, which is probably what Neumeister intended. Bach,

however, retained an important role for the chorus in his cantatas, and created a stunning

variety of works clearly indebted to the diverse tradition he inherited.

60
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65