Each week , we’re presenting a tiny taste of the BFX—an amuse-bouche for the upcoming Festival feast!
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J.S. Bach doesn’t need much introduction, but in case you wanted to send a card, March 21 was his 337th birthday.
Among his prodigious output are approximately 200 extant cantatas (although it’s estimated that he wrote at least another 100 church cantatas)—not surprising considering that, as Thomaskantor, he composed a cantata for every Sunday and feast day of the liturgical year.
From Wikipedia: “His first cantata cycle ran from the first Sunday after Trinity of 1723 to Trinity Sunday the next year. For instance, the Visitation cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147, containing the chorale that is known in English as “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”, belongs to this first cycle. The cantata cycle of his second year in Leipzig is called the chorale cantata cycle as it consists mainly of works in the chorale cantata format. His third cantata cycle was developed over a period of several years, followed by the Picander cycle of 1728–29.”
He also composed several secular and non-liturgical cantatas, the most famous of which is perhaps Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht (Be still, stop chattering), BWV 211, otherwise known as…the Coffee Cantata.
(His love of the blessed bean beverage was well known: he once said “Without my morning coffee I’m just like a dried up piece of roast goat”…a sentiment to which many of us can relate!)
A comprehensive resource for all things cantata–based is the Bach Cantatas website; there you can find all sorts of information on the history and performance of all of Bach’s cantatas.
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Our opening day festivities continue on Sunday, June 5 at 7 PM with a trio of Bach cantatas (49, 82, & 199) performed by local luminaries CANTATA COLLECTIVE, joined by soprano SHEREZADE PANTHAKI and bass-baritone PAUL MAX TIPTON.
Learn more, and get tickets for the BFX, here: https://berkeleyfestival.org/2022-main-stage/