Composers Datebook®

Bach at Starbucks?

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) — Harpsichord Concerto in f, S. 1056 (Gustav Leonhardt, Herbert Tachezi, hc; Leonhardt Consort) Teldec 35778 Coffee Cantata, S. 211 — Christine Schaefer, sop.; (Stuttgart Bach-Collegium; Helmuth Rilling, cond.) Hanssler 98.161


Composer's Datebook - January 6, 2022

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January 06, 2022

Synopsis

On today’s date in 1733, music-loving readers of a Leipzig newspaper called the “Nachricht auch Frag und Anzeiger” would have seen this welcome announcement: “Tonight at 8 o’clock there will be a Bach concert at Zimmermann’s Coffeehouse on Catharine Street.”

So, in addition to a Grandé Latté or Double-shot Depth-Charge, Zimmermann’s patrons could treat themselves to a Grand Suite or Double-Concerto by Johann Sebastian Bach. As if Bach wasn’t busy enough providing all those sacred cantatas and organ chorales for TWO Leipzig’s churches every Sunday, he was also in charge of that city’s Collegium Musicum, an organization that presented more secular musical fare.

It’s likely that on occasional weekday nights at Catharine Street, most of Bach’s concertos and chamber works were performed by Bach himself, alongside many of the same musicians he employed each Sunday for his church music.

Given his staggering workload, it’s not TOO far-fetched to assume that caffeine helped Bach stay focused and alert: One of his secular cantatas might even be considered as an early form of an advertising plug: the humorous text of Bach’s ‘Coffee Cantata’ recounts how a young woman’s addiction to coffee triumphs over her stuffy father’s moral objections to the tasty brew.

Music Played in Today's Program

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) — Harpsichord Concerto in f, S. 1056 (Gustav Leonhardt, Herbert Tachezi, hc; Leonhardt Consort) Teldec 35778

Coffee Cantata, S. 211 — Christine Schaefer, sop.; (Stuttgart Bach-Collegium; Helmuth Rilling, cond.) Hanssler 98.161

On This Day

Births

  • 1835 - Russian composer César Cui (Gregorian date: Jan. 18);

  • 1838 - German composer Max Bruch, in Cologne;

  • 1850 - German composer and pianist Xaver Scharwenka, in Samter;

  • 1872 - Russian composer Alexander Scriabin, in Moscow (Julian date: Dec. 25, 1871);

  • 1920 - American composer Earl Kim, in Dinuba, Calif.;

Premieres

  • 1724 - Bach: Sacred Cantata No. 65 ("Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen" performed on the Feast of the Epiphany as part of Bach's first annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig (1723/24);

  • 1725 - Bach: Sacred Cantata No. 123 ("Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen") performed on the Feast of Epiphany as part of Bach's second annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig (1724/25);

  • 1735 - Bach: Part 6 ("Herr, wenn die stoltzen Feinde schnauben") of the 6-part "Christmas Oratorio," S. 248, on the Feast of the Epiphany in Leipzig;

  • 1755 - Karl Heinrich Graun: opera "Montezuma" (with a French libretto by Frederick the Great) at the Royal Opera House in Berlin;

  • 1863 - Brahms: Piano Sonata No. 3 in f, in Vienna;

  • 1888 - Dvorák: Piano Quintet No, 2 in A, Op. 81, in Prague;

  • 1924 - Ibert: "Escales" (Ports of Call), in Paris;

  • 1950 - Poulenc: Piano Concerto, in Boston, by the Boston Symphony conducted by Charles Munch with the composer as soloist;

  • 1967 - Elliott Carter: Piano Concerto, by the Boston Symphony conducted by Erich Leinsdorf, with Jacob Lateiner the soloist;

  • 1991 - Michael Torke: "Bronze" for piano and orchestra, at Carnegie Hall in New York, by the American Composers Orchestra conducted by David Zinman and the composer as the piano soloist;

  • 1999 - Christopher Rouse: "Kabir Padavali" for soprano and orchestra, in Minneapolis by the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by David Zinman, with Dawn Upshaw the soloist;

  • 2000 - Bright Sheng: "Red Silk Dance" for piano and orchestra, by the Boston Symphony conducted by Robert Spano, with Emanuel Ax the soloist;

Others

  • 1733 - This notice appears in the Leipzig newspaper Nachtricht auch Frag u. Anzeiger: "Tonight at 8 o'clock there will be a Bach Concert at the Zimmermann Coffeehouse on Catharine Street"; This presumably featured secular vocal works, chamber music and concertos performed by the Leipzig Collegium, an ensemble directed by J.S. Bach.