M602: Seminar in Musicology: J. S. Bach, Christmas Oratorio BWV 248

Daniel R. Melamed

Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University

Spring 2012





Tuesdays, 2.30-5.30 PM, M271


10 January    1. Introduction

17 January    2. Liturgical context
24 January    3. Analytical and musical overview

31 January    4. Original sources: Autograph score

  7 February  5. Original sources: Performing parts

14 February  6. BWV 213, 214 and 215

21 February  7. Parody

28 February  8. The Christmas Oratorio and the St. Mark Passion BWV 247

  6 March      9.  Arias. Guest: Prof. Stephen A. Crist


20 March    10. Repertory

27 March    11. Ascension Oratorio BWV 11 and Easter Oratorio BWV 249

  3 April      12.  [Hiatus]

10 April      13. Part 6

17 April      14. Presentations    1. CM                                 2. ML

24 April      15. Presentations    3. DvR                                  4. RY                                5. DnR



J. S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio BWV 248 as a starting point for the study of early 18th-century music.


Prof. Daniel R. Melamed    M325C, dmelamed (AT) indiana.edu
Office hours: TBA. E-mail questions are welcome at any time and are the fastest way to get an answer.

Course information, assignments, reserve lists and this schedule can be found at http://dmelamed.pages.iu.edu/M602-BWV248-2012.htm, also reachable through  http://M602.melamed.org.



The course grade will be based on presentations, participation and the final paper. There will be no examinations.


David Rugger

Matthew Leone

Carolyn McClimon

Daniel Rogers

Ryan Young   

D. Melamed




Autograph score (D-B Mus. ms. Bach P 32)

    On Bach-Digital    Facsimile [ML96.5.B118 W3]


Original performing parts (D-B Mus. ms. Bach St 112)

    On Bach-Digital (St 112I, 112II, etc., fascicle 1)


Original printed text

    PDF on Oncourse


Bach-Gesellschaft score (BG 5 ed. Wilhelm Rust, 1856)

   On IMSLP        PDF on Oncourse


Neue Bach-Ausgabe score (NBA II/6 ed. Walter Blankenburg and Alfred Dürr, 1960)    [M3 .B119 Ser. 2 v. 6]


    Critical Commentary (1962)    PDF on Oncourse:   1   2   3

Text and English translation


        Text+translation--Marissen    Text in compact form



Suzuki    Herreweghe or Herreweghe   Harnoncourt    Richter or Richter    Rilling        Fasolis

Survey literature

Alfred Dürr. Johann Sebastian Bach, Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248. Munich: W. Fink, 1967. [MT115.B2 D75]

Walter Blankenburg. Das Weihnachts-Oratorium von Johann Sebastian Bach. Cassel: Bärenreiter, 1982. [MT115.B2 B65]

Ignace Bossuyt. Johann Sebastian Bach, Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248).  Transl. Stratton Bull. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2004. [MT115.B2 B6813]

Walter Meinrad. Johann Sebastian Bach : Weihnachtsoratorium. Cassel: Bärenreiter, 2006. [MT115.B2 W35]

On chorales

EKG                      Evangelisches Kirchengesangbuch. [Frontlog - Scores 5798104]

Zahn                      Johannes Zahn. Die Melodien der deutschen evangelischen Kirchenlieder. 6 vols. Gütersloh, 1889; reprint Hildesheim, 1997. [Ref ML3129.Z22 M5] [Volumes I   II   III   IV   V   VI]


Wackernagel          Philipp Wackernagel. Das deutsche Kirchenlied von der ältesten Zeit bis zu Anfang des XVII. Jahrhunderts. 5 vols. Leipzig: Teubner, 1864-1877. [BV355.G3 W12] [Volumes I   II   III   IV   V]

Fischer-Tümpel      Albert Fischer and Wilhelm Tümpel. Das deutsche evangelische Kirchenlied des 17. Jahrhunderts.  6 vols. Gütersloh, 1904-1916 reprint Hildesheim, 1964. [BV480 .F53] [Volumes I   II  III  IV   V  VI]

Reference tool

 Basic questions about research materials on Bach are answered in

Daniel R. Melamed and Michael Marissen. An introduction to Bach studies. New York, 1998. [Ref ML134.B1 M45]



Liturgical context


The liturgical calendar

    Overall principles of organization

    Rhythm of the liturgical year

    Major feasts

    Points of variation from year to year

    The tempus clausum

    The Christmas season

    The liturgical year 1734-35

    Later years    [NB: In 1744, Leipzig observed Easter on March 29, not April 5]


    Questions: How was the year organized, particularly around Christmas; how did BWV 248 fit in 1734-5; how might it have fit in other years?

    Starting resources

An Introduction to Bach Studies

Hermann Grotefend. Handbuch der historischen Chronologie des deutschen Mittelalters und der Neuzeit. Hannover, 1872.


The liturgy

    Feast/Sunday liturgy in the principal Leipzig churches

    Role of music

    Place of BWV 248 in service


    Questions: How was the liturgy organized, particularly from a musical standpoint, and how did BWV 248 fit?

    Starting resources

An Introduction to Bach Studies

Robin A. Leaver. “The mature vocal works and their theological and liturgical context.” In The Cambridge Companion to Bach, edited by John Butt, 86-122. Cambridge, 1997. [ML410.B12 C24]

Charles Sanford Terry. Joh. Seb. Bach Cantata texts, sacred and secular, with a reconstruction of the Leipzig liturgy of his period. London: Constable, 1926. [ML49.B2 T3]

Gunther Stiller.  Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig. Transl. Herbert J.A. Bouman, Daniel F. Poellot, and Hilton C. Oswald; ed. Robin A. Leaver. St. Louis: Concordia, 1984. [ML410.B12 S853]

Leipziger Kirchen-Staat. Leipzig, 1710.  Part 1    Part 2



    Scriptural text in relaion to Gospel readings

    Chorale texts (origins, liturgical designations)


    Questions: How do the scriptural texts and chorale stanzas in BWV 248 relate to the Gospel readings and to seasonal hymnody?

    Starting resources

An Introduction to Bach Studies [for Gospel, Epistle]

EKG, Zahn, Wackernagel, Fischer-Tumpel [see above]

Werner Neumann, ed. Sämtliche von Johann Sebastian Bach vertonte Texte. Leipzig : VEB Deutscher Verlag für Musik, 1974. [ML49.B2 N4]

Vopelius, Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch [1682 version not online, but 1729 edition here]


Original printed text


       Scope, layout, typographical distinctions

       Degree of dependence on musical setting

       Comparison to other Leipzig text prints/reprings (cantatas, BWV 244, 247, Stölzel passion oratorio 1734)


       Questions: What is the relation of the original printed text to other Leipzig libretto prints and to the musical setting?

       Starting resources

Werner Neumann, ed. Sämtliche von Johann Sebastian Bach vertonte Texte. Leipzig : VEB Deutscher Verlag für Musik, 1974. [ML49.B2 N4] (incl. reprinted texts of BWV 244, 247, some cantatas)

Bach-Jahrbuch 2008, p. 92ff. [1727 cantata texts] [ML410.B12 A6]

Bach-Jahrbuch 2008, p. 96ff [Stölzel passion oratorio 1734]

Bach-Jahrbuch 2009, p. 37ff [1724 cantata texts]

Bach-Jahrbuch 2009, p. 41ff [1728 cantata texts]

Bach-Jahrbuch 2009, p. 45ff [1734 passion text BWV 247]


Other JSB repertory for Christmas feasts/Sundays

        Overview of cantata repertory for relevant days

        Organization/relation to Gospel & Epistle

        Performing forces (instrumentarium)

        Dates/performance history


        Questions: What other concerted music did Bach perform in other years in the spots occupied by BWV 248 in 1734/5?

        Starting resources

An Introduction to Bach Studies


Analytical and musical overview

We'll spend this week getting a musical overview of the Christmas Oratorio.

Gospel narrative--Evangelist

Relation to (poetic) recitative and to scriptural recitation

Melodic/harmonic syntax and conventions

Performance matters (particularly basso continuo)

Gospel narrative--other interlocutors

Vocal scoring (in context; in relation to other oratorios)

Musical style and types of movements


Style of 1734/5 4-part harmonizations

Other kinds of chorale settings in BWV 248--analytical issues

Colla parte scoring in Parts I-VI

Solo/duet/terzet arias

Analytical model for ritornello analysis

Analytical model for ritornello arias

Overview of BWV 248 arias; sample analysis

A very brief guide to ritornello analysis

Wilhelm Fischer. "Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des Wiener klassischen Stils." Studien zur Musikwissenschaft 3 (1915), 24–84.

Sample: BWV 61/3        Score    Diagram    Recordings: Suzuki   Koopman   Harnoncourt      Rilling   

Sample: BWV 245/9      Score    Diagram    Recordings: Slowik      Suzuki      S. Kuijken       Rilling    


Tutti arias

[As above]

Original sources: Autograph score

This week we will study BWV 248 from the perspective of Bach's autograph score.

Using the published facsimile, online images, and description in the NBA KB, carefully study the autograph score of BWV 248. Everyone should work on Part I; each of you should also study a subsequent part and prepare a presentation on it. Things to consider:

The foundational study for "compositional process":

Robert L. Marshall.  The Compositional Process of J. S. Bach: A Study of the Autograph Scores of the Vocal Works. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972. [ML410.B12 M369]

Parallel studies of the score of the Mass in B Minor BWV 232 that can serve as models on some points:

Robert L. Marshall. "The Mass in B Minor: the autograph scores and the compositional process." In The music of Johann Sebastian Bach: the sources, the style, the significance, 175-89. New York, 1989.

John Butt. Mass in B Minor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. [ML410.B12 B972]

Autograph score [D-B Mus. ms. Bach P 180]:    On Bach-Digital    Facsimile: ML96.5.B118 M2

A good introduction to paper (for the later 18th century, but relevant):

Alan Tyson. Mozart. Studies of the autograph scores. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987. Chapter 1. [ML410.M9 T95]

Original sources: Performing parts

This week we will examine the original performing materials for BWV 248.

Use the images available on Bach-Digital; the NBA KB, paper catalogue, and copyist catalogue to become thoroughly familiar with the original parts for Part VI (everyone) and your assigned Part. I suggest you start with your own Part and work later on Part VI.

What parts are there, and what is in each? You will need to make a detailed list of parts, their contents, and their copyists. I recommend the format modeled here.

Reconstruct the process of copying. Who copied what? Why? In what order (to the extent that you can tell)? Note that the usual procedure was for a principal copyist to make a basic set, then for others to do supplemental copying. Is that what happened in your Part?

Note on the identification of copyists: Copyists are often given ad hoc sigla in a KB. That volume sometimes adopts the sigla assigned by Alfred Dürr and Georg von Dadelsen (see An Introduction to Bach Studies). Many of the anonymous copyists have since been identified by name. This means that there may be various sigla or names for the same copyist in reference works.

How does the piece represented in the parts differ from that in the score, the presumed model? (I am less interested in wrong notes and occasional details than in matters that are not reflected at all in the score, like the staffing of some instrumental lines.) What happens, for example, in four-part chorales?

What clues do the parts give to their intended use, particularly the number of singers and players expected to use each?

There are published facsimiles of the original parts to BWV 14 (a mostly-autograph and thus unusual set); BWV 33; and BWV 232I (also unusual in a few respects). You might want to see these to get a feel for this kind of parts.

Come prepared to present your findings on your Part and to participate in a discussion of general issues and of Part VI, which has a couple of wrinkles.

* * * * *

There is a large literature on Bach's performing materials--or at least on the question of the vocal (and some instrumental) staffing of his performances. Here are an overview and links to some readings, not including the most recent; they are focused on the cantatas. Not all of this is directly relevant to this assignment but is included for your reference.

--Bach's famous "Short but most necessary draft" on the staffing of Leipzig church music. Note that the translation (from the New Bach Reader) inevitably represents an interpretation of the document's meaning.

    Entwurff (transcription of original text)
    Entwurff (a standard English translation)

--There is an extensive literature on this document and the issues it is said to raise about Bach's staffing of his Leipzig church performances. On one side of a curiously heated argument are claims that it describes Bach's choral ideal, and indicates either how he performed concerted church music or how he wished to. On the other are arguments that the essay has been misinterpreted, and that it neither expresses an ideal nor documents the performance of cantatas. The following essay takes the second position; note that it is written in response to claims for the first view, and mentions or summarizes them:

Joshua Rifkin. Bach’s choral ideal. Dortmund: Klangfarben Musikverlag, 2002. [ML410 .B12 R57]

--Several aspects of the performance of Bach's cantatas have been the subject of heated ideological debate.The first presentation of a new view of vocal scoring Bach's cantata performances led to the publication of several versions of this paper and a response.

Joshua Rifkin. "Bach's Chorus: A Preliminary Report." Musical Times 123 (1982): 747-754.

Robert L. Marshall. "Bach's Chorus. A Preliminary Reply to Joshua Rifkin." Musical Times 124 (1983): 19-22

Three articles on this and related topics appeared in the same 1996 issue of Early Music.

Andrew Parrott. "Bach's chorus: a ‘brief yet highly necessary’ reappraisal." Early Music 24 (1996): 551-582. 

Joshua Rifkin. "From Weimar to Leipzig: Concertists and ripienists in Bach's Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis." Early Music 24 (1996): 583-604. 

Ton Koopman. “Recording Bach’s early cantatas.“ Early Music 24 (1996): 612-617. 

They (particularly the last) spurred the following increasingly testy exchange. [Available in a single file]

Andrew Parrott. “Bach’s chorus. Who cares? (Observation).“ Early Music 25 (1997): 297-300. 

Joshua Rifkin. “Bassoons, violins and voices. A response to Ton Koopman (Observation).“ Early Music 25 (1997), S. 302-307. 

Ton Koopman. “One-to-a-part? Who then turns the pages? – More on Bach’s chorus (Correspondence).“ Early Music 25 (1997): 541f. 

Joshua Rifkin. “Page turns, players and ripieno parts. More questions of scoring on Bach’s vocal music.“ Early Music 25 (1997): 728-734.

Ton Koopman. “Bach’s Choir, an ongoing story.“ Early Music 26 (1998): 109-121.

John Butt. "Bach's vocal scoring: What can it mean?" Early Music 26 (1998): 99-108. 

Joshua Rifkin. “Bach‘s Chorus. A neverending story?” Early Music 26 (1998): 380f.

Christoph Wolff. “Bach’s chorus. Stomach aches may disappear!” Early Music 26 (1998): 540f.

Joshua Rifkin. [Reply to Christoph Wolff]. Early Music 26 (1998): 541f.

Andrew Parrott. “Bach’s Chorus. Beyond reasonable doubt.” Early Music 26 (1998): 637-658.

Christoph Wolff. “Bach’s chorus. An amplification (Correspondence).” Early Music 27 (1999): 172.

Joshua Rifkin. “Bach’s chorus. Not again!” Early Music 27 (1999): 350. 

In this exchange you can follow most of the various threads of argument about Bach's performances, particularly the matter of vocal scoring. Rifkin has tended to argue from the evidence of Bach's performing materials, leading to the conclusion that Bach's parts were designed for use by one singer each; these singers were deployed as concertists and (where parts were provided) ripienists. Others, including Parrott, have emphasized iconographic evidence (drawings of performances) and writings of the time that discuss concertist/ripienist practice.

Arguments against this view and in favor of choral performance have taken several forms. One raises practical questions about the workability of performances with one singer (or sometimes two) on each line, or cites the simplicity of Bach's indication of where additional singers were to join. Another argues that various documents demonstrate that Bach had more singers available (and that he presumably used them); the main source here is the 1730 Entwurff. Recent writings along these lines (almost entirely in German) have enumerated specific students in Leipzig and argue or implied that they (and others) particpated in performances of concerted music. Other writers assert that Bach's ideal was of a chorus of multiple voices on a line, again often citing the Entwurff.

In response, Rifkin in particular has questioned the grounds for claiming to know Bach's ideal, and challenged traditional interpretations of documents like the Entwurff, pointing out that its interpretation (and translation) have typically been done from the assumption of choral performances of cantatas.

BWV 213, 214 and 215

This week we will study three works from which Bach drew in assembling the Christmas Oratorio. Study the work to which you are assigned, examining it from the various perspectives we have discussed and any others that are useful in getting a complete picture of the piece, its text, the context of its creation and performance, the sources that transmit it, and its analytical and musical features. For each, I have suggested some starting points. Come prepared to give (or collaborate on) a presentation and discussion. Check the NBA volume, its KB, and entries in BWV and BC (for literature).

Bach's cantatas for the Saxon royal family


This week we will discuss the process of parody and its use in BWV 248.

Please read the overviews cited below, as well as other literature as you find it useful.

Study individual movements and their parodies, closely comparing models and new versions. Examine everything in overview; please also divide the poetic parody movements among the members of the seminar and come prepared to discuss examples in close detail. Be sure to include planned parodies.

Examine Bach' overall strategy, planning of BWV 248, use of material from source works, and other broad aspects of parody in the Christmas Oratorio.

Outline of BWV 248 with parody models    [should be checked for accuracy]
Outline of three source compositions            [should be checked for accuracy]

The literature on this subject is large.Please read the following as an overview:

"Parody." In Malcolm Boyd, ed. Oxford composer companions: J.S. Bach. Oxford, 1999. [Ref ML410.B12 J15]

Hans-Joachim Schulze. "The parody problem in Bach's music: an old problem reconsidered." Bach 20, no. 1 (1989): 7-21.

Classic studies of Bach's parody:

Arnold Schering. “Über Bachs Parodieverfahren.” BJb 18 (1921): 49–95.

Werner Neumann. “Über Ausmaß und Wesen des Bachschen Parodie­verfahrens.” BJb 51 (1965): 63–85.

Friedrich Smend. Bach in Köthen. Berlin, 1951. Translated by John Page and edited and revised by Stephen Daw as Bach in Köthen. St. Louis, 1985.


Renate Steiger, ed. Parodie und Vorlage: zum Bachschen Parodie­verfahren und seiner Bedeutung für die Hermeneutik. Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft für theologische Bachforschung Bulletin 2. Heidelberg, 1988. (BWV 67, 136, 179, and Masses BWV 233–236)

Klaus Häfner. Aspekte des Parodieverfahrens bei Johann Sebastian Bach: Beiträge zur Wiederentdeckung verschollener Vokalwerke. Laaber : Laaber-Verlag, 1987.

Studies of parody in BWV 248

Walter Blankenburg. "Das Parodieverfahren im Weihnachtsoratorium Johann Sebastian Bachs." Musik und Kirche 32/6 (1962): 245-54; also in Johann Sebastian Bach. Wege der Forschung. Darmstadt, 1970. Pp. 493-50.

Ulrich Siegele. "Das Parodieverfahren des Weihnachtsoratoriums von J. S. Bach als dispositionelles Problem." In Studien zur Musikgeschichte: Eine Festschrift fur Ludwig Finscher. Cassel, 1995. Pp. 257-66.

Case study on the St. Matthew Passion and a lost funeral work (BWV 244a):

Detlef Gojowy. "Zur Frage der Köthener Trauermusik und der Matthäuspassion." BJb 51 (1965): 86-134.


Paul Brainard. “Bach’s parody procedure and the St. Matthew Passion.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 22 (1969): 241–60.



The Christmas Oratorio and the St. Mark Passion BWV 247


This week we will look into the supposed connection between music in the Christmas Oratorio and the lost St. Mark Passion BWV 247.


Our questions: Is there music from the lost passion in the Christmas piece? Where did this idea come from? How has it been argued for? Has it been argued for? Is there good evidence? Of what kinds (musical, text-critical)? Why has the theory been so popular? Is this principally a theory about the St. Mark Passion, or is this a theory about the Christmas Oratorio?


Trace the problem in the literature, starting with these two studies:

Gerhard Freiesleben. "Ein neuer Beitrag zur Entstehungsgeschichte von J. S. Bachs Weihnachtsoratorium." Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 83 (1916): 237-8.

Ortwin von Holst. "Turba-Chöre des Weihnachts-Oratoriums und der Markuspassion." Musik und Kirche 38 (1968): 229-233

Trace it, as you have time, to later literature and reference works. How has it been received?


To understand the issue you need to become familiar with the literature on the St. Mark Passion. To do that you need to know about the "Trauer-Ode" BWV 198 as well. Here are some resources:


BWV 247

Original text: In NeumannBT (Picander's 1732 reprint of the 1731 text)

                    In Bach-Jahrbuch 95 (2009), pp. 45-48 (recently discovered reprint; date is complicated)



Free poetic numbers

Texts compared to BWV 198

Some additional texts

The classic studies:

Arnold Schering."Zur Markus-Passion und zur 'vierten' Passion." BJb 36 (1939): 1-32.

Friedrich Smend. "Bachs Markus-Passion." BJb 37 (1940-1948): 1-35.


Preface to Gomme's edition

Preface to Hellmann's edition


Gustav Adolf Theill. Die Markuspassion von Joh. Seb. Bach (BWV 247): Entstehung--Vergessen--Wiederentdeckung--Rekonstruktion. Steinfeld: Salvator Verlag, 1978. [With detail on the relationship to BWV 248]


[There is an overview chapter in Hearing Bach's Passions if you are interested.]


BWV 198

Original text: In Neumann BT



BWV 198 text compared with Gottsched's ode



Our guest this week will be Prof. Stephen A. Crist of Emory University. Our aim is to gain something like a synoptic view of the twelve arias in the Christmas Oratorio. [This assignment is a joint effort.]

Please spend time with them, systematically considering

--scoring: which voice(s) sing, instrumentation

--keys of the arias, also in relation to overall tonality of each part of the oratorio
--prosody of the texts, and of the known models--esp. poetic meter (iambic, trochaic, dactylic, amphibrachic), number of poetic feet (tetrameter, trimeter, dimeter), number of lines, rhyme scheme

How are the poems divided--i.e., which lines are sung in which vocal paragraphs? Also, are words/phrases sung straightforwardly, or repeated, or sung out of order, etc.?

All of the arias in the Christmas Oratorio begin with ritornelli. This is usual of course, but not be taken for granted, since there are arias elsewhere that begin with no instrumental introduction. How do the ritornelli here work (harmonic behavior of the opening ritornello, comparison to the closing and medial ritornellos, Einbau segments and other uses of ritornello fragments throughout the arias)? Where do instruments play material not derived from the ritornello?

What, exactly, is the relationship between the vocal line, especially the initial entry, and the ritornello? Is it the same (e.g., mvt. 62) or different or varied, etc.?

What are the patterns of modulation, especially cadences at the end of sections, but also other significant harmonic motion. You will want to map these for each aria.

The sum total of these matters yields several forms: regular da capo, modified da capo, and through-composed. It's worth comparing the arias of each formal type to see whether they differ in significant ways (e.g., differing compositional strategies among modified da capo arias).

Other things to be aware of: "expressive" fermatas; adagio passages, particularly towards the end of vocal paragraphs; minor-mode inflection before a cadence in a major key (the so-called schwarze Gredel).

BWV 248/57 is sui generis and worthy of particular attention. What is going on there?

The relationship between BWV 248/47 and its model (215/7) is complicated and interesting; consider it in detail

Your time is arguably best spent analyzing the arias rather than reading, but here is some material for background and analytical ideas:

Stephen A. Crist. "Aria Forms in the Vocal Works of J. S. Bach, 1714-24." Ph.D. diss. Brandeis University, 1988.

Stephen A. Crist. "Recitatives and Arias in Bach's Leipzig Church Cantatas." Choral Journal 41, no. 4 (2000): 9-20.

David Schulenberg. "Modifying the da capo? Through-composed arias in vocal works by Bach and other composers." Eighteenth-Century Music 8 (2011): 21-51.

Paul Brainard. "The Non-Quoting Ritornello in Bach's Arias." In A Bach Tribute. Essays in Honor of William H. Scheide, ed. Paul Brainard and Ray Robinson, 27-44. Cassel: Bärenreiter, 1993.



This week we will look at some other Christmas Oratorios and "Christmas Oratorios." Below is a list as a start, but you are free to add to it. Some of these are relevant to BWV 248 as predecessors or roughly contemporary works; others are modern inventions that are interesting as elements of the reception of Bach's composition.


Please note that there may be scores available for some of these works--just because a score isn't cited here doesn't mean it does not exist. Please also note that the liner notes reproduced here may be of varying quality, and are no substitute for scholarly literature that may exist on many of these pieces.


Please choose a topic relevant to this repertory: The relation of a particular (real) piece or type to BWV 248; the treatment of gospel narrative in various pieces; the nature of interpolations in closely relevant repertory; the creation of "Christmas Oratorios"; a sorting out (overview) of these pieces and others for orientation; the treatment of these pieces in the literature on BWV 248; etc.. Please keep everyone posted by e-mail as you choose a topic to investigate and present.

Christoph Graupner, "Ein Weihnachts Oratorium"    Recording (Naxos)    Liner notes    Text

Johann Mattheson, Das größte Kind   Recording (Naxos)    Recording: Frontlog CD 9564415    Liner notes    Text

Johann Mattheson, Die heilsame Geburt    Recording: Frontlog CD 9564413    Liner notes    Text    Score: M2000.M37 H4

Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, "Christmas Oratorio"    Recording: Frontlog CD 7861618    Liner notes    Text   

Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, "Christmas Oratorio Cantatas 6-10"    Recording (personal copy on Oncourse)    Liner notes    Text

Gottfried August Homilius, "Die Freude der Hirten über die Geburt Jesu" "Weihnachtsoratorium"    Recording: Frontlog CD 9290142    Liner notes    Text    Score [Frontlog? Catalogue record is defective--ask]

Johann Rosenmüller, Weihnachtshistorie    Recording (Variations)    Liner notes    Text

Reinhard Keiser, Dialogus von der Geburt Christi "Weihnachtsoratorium"    Recording (Naxos)    Liner notes    Text    Score: M2000.K45 D5

Georg Gebel d. J., "Musicalische Andacht am heiligen Christ-Abende" ["Christmas Oratorio"]    Recording (Naxos)    Liner notes    Text

Johann Heinrich Rolle, "Christmas Oratorio"    Recording (personal copy on Oncourse)    Liner notes    Text

Georg Philipp Telemann, "Die Hirten an der Krippe zu Bethlehem" "Christmas Oratorio"    Recording: Frontlog CD 7586633    Liner notes    Text    Score: M3 .T26 v.30

Carl Heinrich Graun, "Christmas Oratorio"    Recording: Frontlog CD 4793292    Liner notes    Text    Score: M2003.G73 O7

Johann Schelle, Actus musicus auf Weyh-Nachten    Recording (Naxos)    Liner notes    Text    Score (with thanks to DS)

Heinrich Schütz, Weihnachtshistorie SWV 435    Recording (Naxos)    Liner notes    Text    Score (pdf) 1    2    Article: Linfield

Ascension Oratorio BWV 11 and Easter Oratorio BWV 249

We keep landing glancing blows on Bach's two other oratorios, so let's square up and take a direct shot this week.

Below are some starting points for exploration of these works. You have plenty of tools, skills, and reference works available: literature through BWV and BC; original sources through Bach-Digital, the Berlin microfiche collection in the Music Library,and libretto facsimiles in Neumann's text collection; information on sources and transmission in the NBA KB; tools for parody analyis; models for musical analysis; access to comparative repertory; recordings; and so on. By this point you know how to find relevant materials. Learn these pieces, then pick a topic to present; please coordinate, as usual, by e-mail.

The music of BWV 249 has a pre-history in the "Tafel-Music" BWV 249a (surviving libretto by Picander). The church piece originated in 1725, evidently as a cantata, and was revised c. 1738 as an oratorio; there was at least one further performances in the late 1740s. Note changes in text scoring. It is claimed that Bach planned to reuse one movement in BWV 197 but ended up composing a new piece instead. Note the writings by Friedrich Smend and by Detlef Gojowy. Be sure to sort out the presentation of the various versions in the NBA.

BWV 11 originated in 1735; its first movement evidently stems from BWV Anh. 18 (BC G39) and was later reused in BWV Anh. 12 (BC G17) as well. Movement 4 was reused in the Mass in B Minor.Note that there are two versions in the NBA: a first version from 1978 based on the autograph score and a revised version published in 1987 after the original parts turned up. Note the literature by Friedrich Smend and Alfred Dürr and this new study:

Eric Chafe. "Bach's Ascension Oratorio: God's Kingdoms and Their Representation." In Bach Perspectives 8, ed. Daniel R. Melamed, 122-45. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011.

Part 6

Let's look this week at Part 6 of BWV 248--the one that is supposedly different in its origin. Spend time particularly with the original performing parts, which are an interesting group. Consider what is known and what has been postulated about a parody model overall and for particular movements. Is Glöckner's hypothesis the true end (beginning) of the story?

Starting points

Original sources, esp. performing parts


Andreas Glöckner, “Eine Michaeliskantate als Parodievorlage für den sechsten Teil des Bachschen Weihnachtsoratoriums?Bach-Jahrbuch 86 (2000): 317–26.