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Trumpets, Horns, and Bach «Abschriften» at the time of Christian Friedrich Penzel: Probing the Pedigree of «BWV» 143

Don Smithers

There can be no doubt as to the authenticity of BWV 143 as a genuine cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. While the originals are lost, there are second and third «generation» copies. This study considers all known facts since the work’s composition in the 18th century and discusses in detail the criteria for judging the authenticity of the work.
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Bach’s use of the chorale, Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ


Bach’s technique of employing a method for thematic-rhythmic unity in much of BWV 143 is through the use of various motivic figures encorporating an anacrucis, very likely based upon the cantata’s anacrusic chorale, Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ, an extraordinarily compact melody, one with a strong emphasis on the mediant. The same rhythmic-anacrusic approach was used in the bicinium Choralbearbeitung, BWV 1102, found in the Yale University collection, which is the only known organ work attributed to Bach employing the particular chorale.148

There was at least one other organ setting of the same chorale intended by Bach. For besides the 46 completed settings in Bach’s Orgelbüchlein (BWV 599–644), there were the remaining 118 ‘bypassed’ chorales.149 A text incipit of the chorale, Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ, is number 129 in the combined total number of 164 text incipits (that represent 161 melodies) for the 46 completed as well as 118 bypassed chorales in the Orgelbüchlein. It is the twelfth of the particular group of seventeen and, as we may suppose, was intended to be comparable to the forty-six completed settings. The text incipits for the one group of seventeen planned but bypassed settings are found between the completed ‘Choralbearbeitungen’, Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten (BWV 642) and Alle Menschen müssen sterben (BWV 643). The text incipit for Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ is the second of three, the first and third being Gieb Fried’, o frommer,...

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