Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

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ContrapunctusIX
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Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by ContrapunctusIX » Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:30 am

This is based on a theme from one of Bach's cantatas. Can anyone tell me the BWV number of said Cantata?

I have the complete Cantatas with Koopman/Amsterdam Baroque, so I'm looking to pull this out to give it a listen.
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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by MarkC » Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:35 am

My first reaction was "That's not true."

I checked it out.
And it is true. But apparently, just sort of:

"......loosely borrowed from Bach's Cantata no. 150, Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich (I long for you, O Lord) [the cantata is no longer thought to be by Bach]....."

Anyway, I imagine that gives you what you were looking for. :)

Source: http://www.cso.org/main.taf?p=5,5,5,9
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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:45 am

Poor Brahms! The most scholarly of composers up until his own time and he borrows Bach that is not by Bach and Haydn that is not by Haydn (at least the Handel is by Handel).

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by MarkC » Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:52 am

The Haydn is not by Haydn? :dunno: :shrug:

(Note to file: we need "dunno" and "shrug" smilies) :)

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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by ContrapunctusIX » Mon Dec 28, 2009 1:02 am

MarkCannon wrote:The Haydn is not by Haydn? :dunno: :shrug:

(Note to file: we need "dunno" and "shrug" smilies) :)
I believe the "Haydn" theme is thought to have been actually composed by Pleyel, although that too is uncertain.

Thanks for the bit on the cantata though - even though it's apparently of uncertain authorship . It seems musical scholarship wasn't quite so scholarly in Brahms' day!
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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by MarkC » Mon Dec 28, 2009 1:18 am

ContrapunctusIX wrote:......It seems musical scholarship wasn't quite so scholarly in Brahms' day!
Well look........even nowadays, hardly anyone is quite so scholarly as we here on CMG. :mrgreen:
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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by Ken » Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:18 am

jbuck919 wrote:Poor Brahms! The most scholarly of composers up until his own time and he borrows Bach that is not by Bach and Haydn that is not by Haydn (at least the Handel is by Handel).
And the Schumann that once borrowed was indeed Schumann, although Schumann believed it was communicated to him through the spirit of either Mendelssohn or Schubert. Poor Brahms indeed! ;)
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by Heck148 » Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:21 am

ContrapunctusIX wrote: I believe the "Haydn" theme is thought to have been actually composed by Pleyel, although that too is uncertain.
I thought the "St. Anthony Chorale" tune was actually a popular song, a quasi-folk tune, that Haydn used in one of his divertimenti??

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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by karlhenning » Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:41 am

ContrapunctusIX wrote:. . . It seems musical scholarship wasn't quite so scholarly in Brahms' day!
Musicology was just getting started then, really. Brahms was a subscriber to the Bach-Gesellschaft, which was a pioneering effort.

We sang the Cantata 150 at my undergrad college. Even if not by Bach, it is a brilliant, charming work.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by karlhenning » Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:50 am

Heck148 wrote:
ContrapunctusIX wrote: I believe the "Haydn" theme is thought to have been actually composed by Pleyel, although that too is uncertain.
I thought the "St. Anthony Chorale" tune was actually a popular song, a quasi-folk tune, that Haydn used in one of his divertimenti??
I expect that is close to the truth. The tune did not originate with Haydn; we may never be able to track it to a "source-composer"; that fact will not prevent speculation; at any given time, any conceivable speculation on the matter will be taken by some musical enthusiast as sufficiently probable that we can take it for the 'truth'.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by johnQpublic » Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:53 am

Here's what the notes to my Haydn CD of his 6 Feldparthien says:

The 4th piece has the St. Anthony Chorale as its 2nd movement......The melody is probably modelled on an old pilgrims' song - in other words only the harmonization is by Haydn himself"

And here's what my Chandos CD's notes of Pleyel symphonies says:

"Pleyel also probably composed the Feldparthie for wind octet previously ascribed to Haydn"

Hmmmm. Probably....probably
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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by Marc » Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:32 pm

MarkCannon wrote:My first reaction was "That's not true."

I checked it out.
And it is true. But apparently, just sort of:

"......loosely borrowed from Bach's Cantata no. 150, Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich (I long for you, O Lord) [the cantata is no longer thought to be by Bach]....."

Anyway, I imagine that gives you what you were looking for. :)

Source: http://www.cso.org/main.taf?p=5,5,5,9
karlhenning wrote:
ContrapunctusIX wrote:. . . It seems musical scholarship wasn't quite so scholarly in Brahms' day!
Musicology was just getting started then, really. Brahms was a subscriber to the Bach-Gesellschaft, which was a pioneering effort.

We sang the Cantata 150 at my undergrad college. Even if not by Bach, it is a brilliant, charming work.

Cheers,
~Karl
Mmm, AFAIK, it's been a spurious work for a long time, but nowadays is accepted as a youth composition of Bach in his final Arnstadt year (Alfred Dürr is suggesting 1708/1709 btw).
If this (Arnstadt) were true, it would be the oldest surviving cantata of Bach. Some scholars have suggested that it was meant as a tribute to Johann Pachelbel, who died in 1706. They came to this hypothesis because the final Chaconne (the one that inspired Brahms) is more or less inspired by Pachelbel's Ciacona in F-minor for organ.
So Pachelbel may have inspired Bach (?), who may have inspired Brahms.
One thing is certain: there are a lot of uncertainties in this story. ;)

I agree with Karl though: it's indeed a brilliant and charming and also impressive work!
I should say: all three compositions (Pachelbel, Bach (?) and Brahms) are impressive! :)

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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by ContrapunctusIX » Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:29 pm

This place is great. Where else could I get this sort of in-depth explanation about not only the finale of the 4th, but also the Haydn variations?

Thanks everyone!
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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by John F » Wed Dec 30, 2009 4:45 am

Brahms himself was a serious scholar, preparing editions (not adapatations) of early music for performance by the choirs he conducted, and was the general editor of the Schubert complete edition, as well as preparing the editions of the symphonies and some other works. These are still widely used today.

He can hardly be blamed for not spotting the misattribution of the St. Antoni Chorale, nor does it really matter, since he wasn't dealing with the music as a scholar but as a composer. We are still correcting mistaken attributions to famous composers today, and no doubt many more remain to be uncovered, if they ever are. No good reason to feel superior to poor benighted Brahms, then.

As for the supposed source of the 4th Symphony's passacaglia theme, said to be "loosely borrowed" from a Bach or non-Bach cantata - which means that Brahms didn't actually use that theme but composed one similar to it - I don't know that this is any more significant than that Beethoven begins the Eroica Symphony with the same theme as the overture to Mozart's juvenile opera "Bastien und Bastienne." Both themes use such basic musical material in such a straightforward way - Beethoven the notes of the major chord, Brahms the rising minor scale from dominant to dominant - that it shouldn't be surprising to find other composers using the same gambit before them. Frankly, I think the Chicago Symphony's program writer got carried away and overstated the case, without actually illuminating the music.
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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by diegobueno » Wed Dec 30, 2009 6:22 am

Brahms was so totally the stooge of the Haydn industry and the Bach industry that he couldn't see the plain truth before his very eyes: that the figures of "Bach" and "Haydn" are total myths, fabrications fostered by teams of unnamed contributors, a fact well known by any serious scholar today but still clung to by children and the chronically gullible. So outrageously ill-served were the victims of this nerfarious plot that one Romanus Hoffstetter was consigned to a life of total obscurity, though the creator of one of Haydn's most celebrated compositions, the "Serenade" for string quartet. This is but one example out of hundreds, nay, thousands of little deceptions which litter the pages of the Haydn Gesamtausgabe, not that Brahms could ever tell. He could hardly scribble two notes together himself without the aid of Joachim, Remenyi and many others who wrote most of his scores for him.

I'm coming out with a book .....

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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Dec 30, 2009 8:08 am

John F wrote: As for the supposed source of the 4th Symphony's passacaglia theme, said to be "loosely borrowed" from a Bach or non-Bach cantata - which means that Brahms didn't actually use that theme but composed one similar to it - I don't know that this is any more significant than that Beethoven begins the Eroica Symphony with the same theme as the overture to Mozart's juvenile opera "Bastien und Bastienne." Both themes use such basic musical material in such a straightforward way - Beethoven the notes of the major chord, Brahms the rising minor scale from dominant to dominant - that it shouldn't be surprising to find other composers using the same gambit before them. Frankly, I think the Chicago Symphony's program writer got carried away and overstated the case, without actually illuminating the music.
Slightly more remarkable is the use of the motif at the beginning of the hymn tune St. Anne (sol-mi-la-sol-do-do-ti-do) by Bach in his Fugue in E-flat Major BWV the famous one. Bach presumably could not have known that tune (no one has ever suggested he did, even while they call it the "St. Anne's Fugue"), there being no record of British hymn tunes "infecting" the continent in the 18th century. (I doubt that I have ever heard that without singing "O God our help in ages past" in my head.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by diegobueno » Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:06 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Slightly more remarkable is the use of the motif at the beginning of the hymn tune St. Anne (sol-mi-la-sol-do-do-ti-do) by Bach in his Fugue in E-flat Major BWV the famous one. Bach presumably could not have known that tune (no one has ever suggested he did, even while they call it the "St. Anne's Fugue"), there being no record of British hymn tunes "infecting" the continent in the 18th century. (I doubt that I have ever heard that without singing "O God our help in ages past" in my head.)
If I were actually Rob Newman I would say that this just proves that Bach didn't write it, that it was supplied to him by one of his English sources (perhaps the same one who wrote his English Suites) :)

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Re: Question on the passacaglia finale of Brahms #4

Post by Marc » Wed Dec 30, 2009 6:01 pm

Yeah, why don't we all become publishing music scholars?

Was Bastien und Bastienne already published in 1803/1804?
Guess not.
How did Beethoven know that theme?

Well: the young Beethoven worked at the Bonn Court Chapel, where Andrea Luchesi was Kapellmeister. And, as we all know as a fact, Luchesi composed about 75% of both Mozart's and Haydn's oeuvre .... so .... Bastien und Bastienne was composed by Luchesi. And probably also the Eroica, with his dying breath.

EDIT, just because of safety: :wink:

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