On today’s date in 1733, music-loving readers of a Leipzig newspaper called the “Nachtricht 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 Sonata 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. And, much like symphony orchestras do today, visiting composers or virtuoso performers who passed through town could be showcased as soloists at Collegium Musicum performances.
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 jingle: 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. 1056Gustav Leonhardt, Herbert Tachezi, hc; Leonhardt ConsortTeldec 35778