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Thread: Zelenka/Bach relationship

  1. #1
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    Default Zelenka/Bach relationship

    With the publication of John Eliot Gardner's "Music in the Castle of Heaven - A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach" and the mention on page 486 of "Bach's Bohemian Friend, Jan Dismas Zelenka" a few interesting points are made.

    There is speculation about whether an embryonic B Minor Mass was performed in Dresden with the conductor being Friedmann Bach, JS Bach himself or Zelenka. [That would have been in 1733 or later, I guess.]

    On page 488, Gardiner suggests that "so far it has not been possible to unravel the chain of influences in the Zelenka/Bach relationship, but it looks very much as though it were two-way traffic; Zelenka impressed Bach with his performances of large-scale Masses by Sarro and Mancini and his own works in a similar style; Bach returning the compliment in the way he styled Missa along Dresden lines; Zelenka then reciprocating with his own tribute, the Missa Sanctissima Trinitatis of 1736, which manifestly owed a great deal to Bach's Kyrie 1.

    [Sarro and Mancici were Neopolitan composers.]

    There is some but not complete duplication here! I see that Skiaouros also has this book but his entry is dated 25 November 2013. Mine was a Christmas present.



    Andrew Hinds
    Last edited by Andrew Hinds; 01-01-2014 at 01:41 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Zelenka/Bach relationship

    This is a subject I am really largely interested in! And so I will post my first question:

    Can someone give me closer information about the fact I heard about, that Zelenka ia supposed to have influenced Bachs subject to the "Musikalisches Opfer"? I read somewhere that there are connections, but I cannot find anymore where I read this and there was no really substancial (i. e. musical) information. I am looking forward to your answers!

    Best greetings,
    Monika
    Last edited by root_admin; 28-02-2014 at 12:25 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Zelenka/Bach relationship

    It is suggested by Mary Oleskiewicz that the so-called "royal theme" in Bach's Ricercare a 3 from the Musical Offering, possibly originates from Zelenka's opening movement of the oratorio I penitenti al sepulchro del Redentore ZWV 63 (1736). See Mary's article "The Trio in Bach's Musical Offering", in The Music of J. S. Bach: Analysis and Interpretation, edited by David Schulenberg.

    Furthermore, it has also been suggested that the series of interval canons in Bach's Goldberg variations, are based on Zelenka's model. See the Main Forum thread "Zelenka and Bach transcriptions - Magnificat in D".

    I think there is little doubt that in the 1730s Bach had access to music in Zelenka's library. But I do hope someone will look into, and support with musical examples, Gardiner's claim that the Kyrie II from Zelenka's Missa Sanctissima Trinitatis ZWV 17 (1736) owes a great deal to Bach's Kyrie I of the B-minor Mass.

    The proceedings of the Belfast 2007 conference on the B-minor Mass were published last year: Exploring Bach's B-minor Mass (Cambridge UP). This includes Jan Stockigt's detailed analysis of the Kyrie and Gloria of Bach's work (presented to the Saxon Elector in July 1733), as seen from the Dresden perspective. This is a good read, although it is a much shorter version than appeared in the original conference discussion book. In essence, she suggests that IF the work would have been performed in the Catholic church in Dresden (as some of the Leipzig scholars have suggested), it would have had to be rearranged by Zelenka in order to meet the specific standards of the Dresden orchestra. This is how the procedure would have been: a new score would have to be made from Bach's set of parts, and from this score a fresh set of parts would then be made for the Dresden court musicians. Since no traces of such a reworking can be seen in the Dresden sources, it is her conclusion that it is unlikely it was performed in the Catholic church.
    Last edited by djdresden; 23-02-2014 at 03:20 PM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Zelenka/Bach relationship

    Quote Originally Posted by djdresden View Post
    It is suggested by Mary Oleskiewicz that the so-called "royal theme" in Bach's Ricercare a 3 from the Musical Offering, possibly originates from Zelenka's opening movement of the oratorio I penitenti al sepulchro del Redentore ZWV 63 (1736). See Mary's article "The Trio in Bach's Musical Offering", in The Music of J. S. Bach: Analysis and Interpretation, edited by David Schulenberg.
    After just listening to the ricerare now, I would definitely support that idea! The melody sounds so similar. Bach does embellish it spectacularly, of course...

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Zelenka/Bach relationship

    I have studied this thoroughly and talked to others about it. Their objection was, that it was usual in the baroque area to use subjects by another composer or that possibly tahis subject was invented for a second time ... and that one cannot really follow, how Friedrich should have come to exactly THIS musical meterial.

    I replied, that it was not Friedrichs main occupation, to compose. And he surely had no time to attend to composing techniques thoroughly. And the only fugue he wrote himself is quite a poor piece. So It seems coherent to me that he had advice from his teacher, Quantz, who of course could have had this subject in mind ....

    How do you think that things worked out ?
    Last edited by root_admin; 28-02-2014 at 12:24 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Zelenka/Bach relationship

    Regarding the Kyries I am really interested in comparing the two pieces. But I will not have access to my Zelenka scores until two weeks. Then I will have a look at them !
    Last edited by root_admin; 28-02-2014 at 12:24 PM.

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