However, before we return to Leipzig's cultural and coffee
house scene of that time in general, let us also take a look at Bach's estate
that, according to Schulze, also contained the following:
" . . . 1 große Coffeekanne (wert) 19 Taler 12 Groschen, 1 ditto kleinere
10 Taler 20 Groschen, 1 Coffee-Teller 5 Taler 12 Groschen; An Kupffer und Meßing...:
1 meßingene Coffee Kanne, 1 ditto kleinere, 1 dito noch kleinere . . . "
(Schulze: 40 - 41--Schulze reports here that Bach owned 1 large coffee pot
valued at 19 taler 12 groschen, 1 smaller coffee pot worth 10 taler 20
groschen, 1 coffee plate at 5 taler 12 groschen, and of copper and brass
items, 1 brass coffee pot, 1 smaller coffee pot, and 1 very small coffee pot)
With respect to the "upward mobility" of the
former immoral facilities towards musical meeting places, Schulze features a
report that was published in a Leipzig music magazine in 1736, thus two years
after the writing of Bach's "Kaffeekantate":
"Die beyden öffentlichen Musikalischen Concerten, oder Zusammenkünffte,
so hier wöchentlich gehalten werden, sind noch in beständigen Flor. Eines dirigiert der
Hochfürstlich Weißenfelsische Capellmeister und Musik-Director in der Thomas- und Nikelskirchen
allhier, Herr Johann Sebastian Bach, und wird außer der Messe alle Wochen einmahl,
auf dem Zimmermannischen Caffee-Hauß in der Cather-Strae Freytag abends von 8 bi 10 Uhr,
in der Messe aber die Woche zweymahl, Dienstags und Freytags zu eben der Zeit gehalten. Das andere
dirigirt Herr Johann Gottlieb Görner, Musikdirektor in der Pauliner Kirche und Organist
in der Thomaskirche . . . Die Glieder, so diese Musikalischen Concerten ausmachen,
bestehen mehrentheils aus den allhier Studirenden, und sind immer gute Musici unter
ihnen, so daß öffters, wie bekandt, nach der Zeit berühmte Virtuosen aus ihnen erwachsen.
Es ist jedem Musico vergönnet, sich in diesen Musikalischen Concerten öffentlich hören
zu lassen, und sind auch mehrentheils solche Zuhörer vorhanden, die den Werth eines
geschickten Musici zu beurtheilen wissen" (Schulze: 27--"Both musical
concerts or meetings that are held here weekly, are still practiced.
One is conducted by the Kapellmeister of the Prince of Weissenfels, the Music
Director at the Thomaskirche and Nikelskirche here, Johann Sebastian Bach,
and, during regular times outside of the trade fair seasons, it is held once
a week, at the "Zimmermann'sche Kaffeehaus" in the Cather-Strasse
on Friday in the evenings from 8 to 10 o'clock, during the trade fair
seasons, however, twice weekly, on Tuesday and on Friday. The other
(concert) is conducted by Mr. Johann Gottlieb Görner, Music Director at the
Paulinerkirche and organist at the Thomaskirche. ... The members of
which these musical concerts are comprised are mostly local students and
among them ae always good musicians so that, as is known, very often, they
develop into famous virtuosos. Every musician can join them in order to
be heard in these public musical concerts, and the audience mostly consists
of such listeners who can appreciate the value of a skilled musician).
From these details we can learn that Bach, who was in his
early fifties at that time, was surrounded by Leipzig's coffe culture in his
own home as well as in his non-Thomas Cantor musical activities in
Leipzig. In the tenth chapter of his new Bach biography, Christoph
Wolff offers a good overview of Bach's activity as Director of the "Collegium
Musicum" that was soon named after him and that he directed from 1729 to
1741, with some interruptions. It is probably best to quote this
passage directly from Wolff:
"Zweifellos stellte die Leitung des Collegiums eine größere
Verpflichtung dar. Bach war nun zusätzlich zu seinen ständigen und regelmäßigen Aufgaben in
der Kirchenmusik auch noch das ganze Jahr hindurch für die Organisation und Gestaltung
einer wöchentlichen Konzertreihe verantwortlich. Das Programm dieser sogenannten
"ordinairen Concerte", von den beiden Collegia der Stadt in gegenseitiger Abstimmung
dargeboten, verdichtete sich durch zusätzliche Auftritte während der dreimal jährlich
stattfindenden Handelsmessen (s. Tab. 10.2) noch weiter" (Wolff, deutsches Leseexemplar:
380--Wolff explains that the direction of the Collegium Musicum was certainly
a considerable obligation and that Bach, in addition to his regular
responsibilities in the filed of sacred music, was now also responsible for
the organization and performance of this weekly concert series, and that the
program of the so-called 'ordinary concerts' was time-coordinated to meet the
requirements during the regular season but also the increased workload during
the three trade fairs held annually).
Further, in his table 10.2, Wolff lists the performance
times of the "ordinary concerts" in detail, and from this can be
seen that Bach's Collegium Musicum usually performed at the Zimmermann'sche
Kaffeehaus in the Catharinenstrasse or in the Zimmermann'sche Caffeegarten at
the Brimm'sche Steinweg, while Görner's Collegium Musicum usually performed
at the Richter'sche Kaffeehaus in the Clostergasse. In winter, Bach's
Collegium Musicum performed at the Zimmermann'sche Kaffehaus every Friday
from 8 to 10 p.m., and during the trade fair seasons each Tuesday and Friday
from 8 to 10 p.m., and in summer, at the Zimermann'sche Kaffeegarten each
Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m., while Görner's Collegium Musicum performed at
the Richter'sche Kaffeehaus each Thursday from 8 to 10 p.m. and also there
during the trade fair season, each Monday and Tuesday, from 8 to 10 p.m..
Also with respect to BAch's works that were likely to be
performed there, Wolff's biography offers two very helpful tables, the content
of which I will try to present here in essence.
Wolff's table 10.4 deals with the "Instrumentalen
Ensemblemusik für die 'Ordinairen Concerte'" (Wolff, German
reading sample: 386, thus with instrumental ensemble music for the 'ordinary
concerts'). Due to the lesser relevance of these works for our present
discussion, let me just mention that Wolff divides these into three
categories, namely into sonatas (from BWV 1023, the Sonata in E minor for
violin, Bc [assigned by him to 1723 with a question mark] to BWV 1031, the
Sonata in E-flat Major for Harpsichord and Flute, the earliest copy of which
he mentions as belonging to 1746/49), into concertos (from BWV 1044, the
Concerto in A minor for Flute, Violin, Harpsichord, Strings, Bc, assigned to
1729 - 1734, to BWV 1062, the Concerto in C minor for two Harpsichoards and
Strings, Bc, assigned to -1736), and into suites (from BWV 1056, the Suite in
C major for two Oboes, Bassoon, Strings, Bc, assigned to - 1725 to BWV 1067,
the Suite in A minor for Flute, Strings, Bc, assigned to -1738/39).
Here, we may move on to the for us more relevant work
category, namely the " Moralischen Kantaten" (moral cantatas) for
the "Ordinairen Concerte" (ordinary concerts), which Wolff lists in
his table 10.3, and this table I want to essentially refer to in its
BWV 204, Ich bin in mir vergnügt, assigned to - 1726/27, a
"Von der Vergnügsamkeit" (Text: Christian Friedrich Hunold), BWV 201, Geschwinde, geschwinde, ihr
wirbelnden Winde, assigned to 1729, a Dramma per musica "Der Streit zwischen Phoebus und Pan"
(Text: Picander), BWV 216A, Erwählte Pleißen-Stadt, assigned to 1729 with a
question mark, "Apollo
und Merkur" [Über die Stadt der Gelehrsamkeit und des Handels], (Text: Christian Gottlob
BWV 211, Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht, assigned to - 1734, Dramma per musica "Über den Caffee"
Now that we have considered Bach's expansion of his
Leipzig activities from his office of Thomas Cantor to that of Music Director
of the Collegium Musicum named after him, but also his certainly less
significant involvement in Leipzig's coffee culture, we can move on to
discussing the Libretto.
With respect to this, Schulze reports that already in
1703, the French composer Bernier published a cantata with the title "Le
Caffee", and that not long after that, German authors such as Johann
Gottfried Krause from Weissenfels featured a cantata text with the title
"Lob des Coffee" (praise of coffee) in his "Ersten Bouquet
Poetischer Blumen So wohl bey Freuden - als
Trauer-Fällen, In müßgen Neben-Stunden An dem anmuthigen Saalen-Strande
Abgebrochen" (First Bouquet of Poetic Flowers, Plucked in Joyful Moments
- as well as in Moments of Grief, in Leisure Hours at the Banks of the Saale
River), in 1716, and the Silesian Daniel Stoppe had the text to his Coffee
Cantata printed in 1728.
Who will then be surprised that also Bach's industrious
text writer Christian Friedrich Henrici, alias Picander, the writer of the
text to the St. Matthew Passion, just at the very time of the first staging
of this sacred work (namely in 1727) also took up the subject of coffee in
the following text:
"hier ward vor wenigen Tagen
Ein Königlich Mandat ans Parlament geschlagen,
das hieß: Wir haben längst und leider wohl gespürt.
da bloß durch den Caffee sich mancher ruiniert.
Um diesem Unheil nun beizeiten vorzugehen,
soll niemand sich Caffee zu trinken unterstehen,
der König und sein Hof trinkt selben nur allein,
und andre sollen nicht dazu befuget sein.
Doch dann und wann wird man Permission ertheilen...
Drauf hörte man daselbst ein immerwährend Heulen;
ach! schrie das Weibesvolk, ach nehmt uns lieber Brod,
denn ohne den Cafee ist unser Leben todt.
Was wollen wir denn früh zum Morgenbrot genießen,
nun müssen wir die Zunft, Cafee zu trinken schließen;
wie öfters werden wir bey unsrer Einsamkeit
betrübt zurücke stehn; da war es gute Zeit,
da jene, die und ich vertraut zusammen kamen
und bey dem Lomber-Spiel ein Schälchen Kaffee nahmen.
Das alles aber brach doch nicht des Königs Sinn,
und kürzlich starb das Volk als wie die Fliegen hin.
Man trug, gleichwie zur Pest, so haufenweise zu Grabe
und nur das Weibesvolk nahm so erschchrecklich abe,
bis da man das Mandat zerrissen und zerstört,
so hat das Sterben in Frankreich aufgehört" (Schulze: 35 - 37).
(Here, a few days ago, there was
A Royal Decree posted outside the parliament,
Which read: Unfortunately, for a long time, we have felt
That merely by coffee many a person is ruined,
Thus, in order to counteract this in a timely fashion,
Nobody shall dare to drink coffee,
Only the King and his cour drink it, themselves,
And others shall not be entitled to do so.
However, now and then, permission will be granted...
Following this, one heard an incessant crying;
Oh!, cried out the women folk, oh, take our bread, instead,
Since, without coffee, our lives are dead!
What shall we enjoy along with our morning bread,
Now we have to abandon the coffee-drinking habit;
Very often, we shall sadly retreat
Into loneliness; these were good times,
When we gathered in confidence,
And, when playing the Lombar game, had a cup of coffee.
However, all of this could not sway the King,
And soon, people dropped dead like flies.
One carried, as in the days of the black plague, many to their graves,
And women were decimated so terribly,
Until the Decree was torn apart and destroyed,
Thus the dying found and end in France.)
Schulze describes Picander as a weakly-built, yet
industriously-writing "poet" of occasional works who first eeked
out a living as a private teacher and writer of ossasional poetry who, from
1727 on, held a post as 'Actuarius' at the Leipzig Post Office and moved up a
rank in this career before he became a land and drinking tax collector in
The above text already shows that, in his "coffee
poetry", Picander concentrated on the caffeine dependency of the female
gender. This tenor also governed the text of his "Kaffee-Kantate"
at the end of the third part of his
"Ernst- Scherzhafften und Satyrischen Gedichte" (Serious-Humorous
Satyrical Poems) of 1732, of which one, according to Schulze's report,
does not exactly know if this edition was a re-print of an earlier text and
whether or not it had already been set to music by another composer. It
is also not known what, in 1734, might have moved Bach to compose his music
to it--a casual request by a Leipziger, a request by one of his friends, or
even the urge to write "better music" to it if it was, indeed,
already set to music by another composer.
Let us introduce the three actors in this 'dramma per
musica', namely the narrator, the Father named Schlendrian (in German, a lazy
individual), and his daughter Liesgan. Let us feature the original text
(from: Picander, Ernst-Schertzhaffte und Satyrische
Gedichte, Bd. 3, Leipzig 1732 - Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig) and an
English translation below each part,