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Topic: Bach's "Coffee Cantata"- Foie Gras and Trumpets-by charles neilson (28 lines)
1) From: susan oppenheim
In 1707 Johann Sebastian Bach,at the start of his musical career,was
employed as town organist in Mulhausen,for which he received an annual
salary of 85 gulden(10.60) together with fifty four bushels of
grain,three pounds of fish,and eight trusses of faggots and wood for
kindling.Twenty-two years later,he was appointed head of the Collegium
Musicum of Leipzig,an association of young musicians who gained
experience by meeting every week to play together in public.Later,on
summer Wednesdays between 4 and 6 p.m. they gave open-air concerts at
Zimmermann's coffee-house on the outskirts of the city.
This experience inspired Bach to compose his nearest attempt at an
operatic work,Opus 211,the "Coffee Cantata" for three
singers,strings,and flute.It is really a sort of humorous oratorio,with
verses by Picander telling how the soprano,Liesgen,has become addicted
to a new beverage popular with young people:coffee.
Her father Schendrian,described as "an old stick in the mud",tries in
vain to make her give up drinking what he loathes by threatening to
confiscate her modish crinoline.But she yields it only when he
promises,as a quid pro quo,to find her a fine husband,and father hurries
off in search of one.
Picander's text ends here ,but Bach adds some amusing further twists to
the plot.In a recitative,Liesgen reveals her intention to insist on a
clause in the marriage contract giving her the right to drink coffee
whenever she wishes.Her parent concedes defeat,and the cantata concludes
with a recitative in which the trio agree that the coffee craze has come
to stay.


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