Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Crist, Stephen A. "The Question of Parody in Bach's Cantata Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen, BWV 215." In Bach Perspectives 1 (1995): 135-62.

Although there are many documents attesting to the first performance of Bach's Cantata No. 21, BWV 215, there is conflicting evidence about how it was composed. Bach had three days notice of the visit of the elector of Saxony to compose this work. Because of this short time frame for composition, many scholars have argued for Bach's need to borrow from his previous works. However, the majority of earlier scholars have disagreed as to which parts are borrowed and from which compositions. Several types of evidence demonstrate that there is in fact very little borrowing in this cantata. In other pieces with proven cases of borrowing, Bach's handwriting is neat in passages of parody because melodies are simply copied. In certain passages of BWV 215, Bach's handwriting is of the same character as other known first drafts of works, and there are continuation sketches, which do not appear in borrowed movements. Changes from the autograph score to the final version of BWV 215 reveal that the autograph written for the Elector's visit was an initial stage in the composition process. The formative changes made between these two versions are found in both instrumental and vocal lines. In most cases of Bach's parodies, the majority of corrections are in the vocal lines because they are being reworked to fit new words. Considering how quickly other cantatas had to be composed early in Bach's first few years in Leipzig, one should not be surprised at how quickly he was able to compose the new material in BWV 215.

Works: J. S. Bach: Cantata No. 21, Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen, BWV 215 (137-38, 152, 159-60), Mass in B Minor, BWV 232 (138), Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248 (139-51).

Sources: J. S. Bach: Cantata No. 16, Es lebe der König, der Vater im Lande, BWV Anh. 11 (138), Cantata No. 21, Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen, BWV 215 (139).

Index Classifications: 1700s

Contributed by: Danielle Nelson

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