In last week’s post, I pointed out that Bach might have lost his soprano soloist this spring of 1724. There might not have been a boy in his choir good enough to sing complicated solo arias. Or perhaps there was a boy who had a good voice, but who needed several weeks of coaching by the maestro before he was ready to sing an aria. Because during this spring semester of 1724 in Leipzig, Bach’s cantatas featured a soprano aria (not counting solos consisting of only a chorale tune) only every 3-4 weeks.
Some writers suggest Bach might have been training a new soprano in the weeks between Easter and Pentecost of 1724, so this boy would be able to sing the aria for this Sunday (Exaudi, or the Sunday after Ascension) and the arias in the upcoming Pentecost cantatas. I myself think that Bach’s problems with the boys of the school might have persisted for the long-term, but that he had a temporary solution for these few weeks. What if one of the boys who had moved away earlier in the year would be back temporarily, visiting Leipzig with his family for the Pentecost holiday –a three-day holiday in Leipzig, as important for the church as Easter and Christmas? Or perhaps Bach knew that one of the extra oboists or trumpet players would be bringing his talented son with him? After all, as I’ve come to believe over the course of doing research for this blog, it is likely that musician friends and musician relatives visited Leipzig for two weeks or longer around the time of major holidays.
Whatever the background story, on this Sunday in 1724 there was finally a glorious soprano aria in the churches again, a favorite from my childhood. I wrote about it last year in this post.
Wieneke Gorter, May 27, 2017
Sara Tanke said:
Where do you get all the phenomenal art work for your blog? This week’s is particularly charming!
Google is my friend and I usually do a quick search first, always with “17th century” added to the query, and when I see a painting I really like, and it is on Pinterest (which most often is the case), I do a new Google search with the subject of the painting and name of the painter, including the word “wiki” and then I usually find the wikipedia art file of the painting, which specifies whether it is in the public domain or not. If it is, I download it. If the first “hit” is not a Pinterest link, I usually click on “go to page” to find out more. Sometimes it is a religious site, sometimes it is a museum site, and then I go from there, and try and find the wiki page from there, or if the museum has indicated it is ok to download, I download from their site. As far as the image for this week goes, The bigger picture (of which this one, with the choir boys, is a detail) is pretty well known and available everywhere on the internet, but on the bach-cantatas.com website one of the scholars had posted this detail with the information that these were the St. Thomas choir boys going from the school to the church …