Handbook to Bach's Sacred Cantata Texts: An Interlinear Translation with Reference Guide to Biblical Quotations and Allusions

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Overview

The German church cantata of the eighteenth century was the culmination of a long tradition of Lutheran "sermon music" that used the proclamation, amplification, and interpretation of scripture to teach and persuade the listener. Bach's cantatas also served this didactic purpose and typically incorporate numerous allusions to scriptural passages or themes in their librettos. Unfortunately, many of these passages remain obscure to the twentieth-century musician because they demand a much closer familiarity with the Bible than is common today. The Handbook to Bach's Sacred Cantata Texts identifies scriptural references for the wording, imagery, and themes that Bach's listeners would have known. In addition, the religious or literary theme of each text is summarized within the specific context of the cantata as a whole. With interlinear translations and a full complement of indexes.
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Editorial Reviews

Eighteenth-Century Current Bibliography
To guide modern performers and listeners towards a better understanding of the theological and liturgical context for Bach's cantatas, a number of reference works dealing with their texts have appeared, beginning with Rudolf Wustmann's Joh. Seb. Bachs Kantatentexte (Leipzig, 1913). Such works have established the sources - biblical passages, chorales, and poetry - of Bach's cantata texts, specified their position in the liturgical calendar, and provided non-German speakers with translations. Melvin P. Unger's Handbook to Bach's Sacred Cantata Texts: An Interlinear Translation with Reference Guide to Biblical Quotations and Allusions, goes a step further by identifying not only specific passages from the bible, but also allusions to other passages an eighteenth-century worshiper, better versed in the bible than his modern counterpart, would have understood.
American Reference Books Annual (ARBA)
...a work that can give the reader a clearer understanding of the meaning of Bach's numerous sacred cantatas...the price is most reasonable for such a substantial work.
ECCB: The Eighteenth-Century Current Bibliography
To guide modern performers and listeners towards a better understanding of the theological and liturgical context for Bach's cantatas, a number of reference works dealing with their texts have appeared, beginning with Rudolf Wustmann's Joh. Seb. Bachs Kantatentexte (Leipzig, 1913). Such works have established the sources - biblical passages, chorales, and poetry - of Bach's cantata texts, specified their position in the liturgical calendar, and provided non-German speakers with translations. Melvin P. Unger's Handbook to Bach's Sacred Cantata Texts: An Interlinear Translation with Reference Guide to Biblical Quotations and Allusions, goes a step further by identifying not only specific passages from the bible, but also allusions to other passages an eighteenth-century worshiper, better versed in the bible than his modern counterpart, would have understood.
American Reference Books Annual
...a work that can give the reader a clearer understanding of the meaning of Bach's numerous sacred cantatas...the price is most reasonable for such a substantial work.
CHOICE
...attentive to the more difficult turns of phrase that can be disguised or otherwise compromised in 'poetic translations'...
Rq
In all, for both its careful translations and exegesis of the Bach texts, this will be a valuable addition to academic and large public libraries serving a specialized music audience.
American Record Guide
...for libraries, choral directors, music ministers, singers, instrumentalists, and fans, this volume is a wonderful investment...what more can you ask for? ...in a very handy form. Included is a wealth of information that has previously been available only by consulting a number of other books (some in German). The work includes a good selected bibliography and a number of extremely helpful indexes...this is the finest one-volume reference book on Bach's cantatas in English and will do a lot to stimulate both general and scholarly interest in these magnificent works.
Eighteenth Century Current Bibliography
To guide modern performers and listeners towards a better understanding of the theological and liturgical context for Bach's cantatas, a number of reference works dealing with their texts have appeared, beginning with Rudolf Wustmann's Joh. Seb. Bachs Kantatentexte (Leipzig, 1913). Such works have established the sources - biblical passages, chorales, and poetry - of Bach's cantata texts, specified their position in the liturgical calendar, and provided non-German speakers with translations. Melvin P. Unger's Handbook to Bach's Sacred Cantata Texts: An Interlinear Translation with Reference Guide to Biblical Quotations and Allusions, goes a step further by identifying not only specific passages from the bible, but also allusions to other passages an eighteenth-century worshiper, better versed in the bible than his modern counterpart, would have understood.
Bach Bibliography
...this comprehensive handbook...tells us what quotations and allusions there are in every cantata movement...a very useful guide...
Choice
...attentive to the more difficult turns of phrase that can be disguised or otherwise compromised in 'poetic translations'...
RQ
In all, for both its careful translations and exegesis of the Bach texts, this will be a valuable addition to academic and large public libraries serving a specialized music audience.
Helmuth Rilling
To understand the relation between [Bach's cantata texts] and the scriptures—which in Bach's time were common knowledge—is of utmost importance...[Unger's] extensive work is an important source for all who want to further their understanding of Bach's church cantatas...
Alfred Mann
Unger has provided a reference work of great importance and value...a wide use of this Handbook is warmly recommended.
Karl Hochreiter
...this work (book) has inestimable worth.
ECCB: The Eighteenth-Century Current Bibliography
To guide modern performers and listeners towards a better understanding of the theological and liturgical context for Bach's cantatas, a number of reference works dealing with their texts have appeared, beginning with Rudolf Wustmann's Joh. Seb. Bachs Kantatentexte (Leipzig, 1913). Such works have established the sources - biblical passages, chorales, and poetry - of Bach's cantata texts, specified their position in the liturgical calendar, and provided non-German speakers with translations. Melvin P. Unger's Handbook to Bach's Sacred Cantata Texts: An Interlinear Translation with Reference Guide to Biblical Quotations and Allusions, goes a step further by identifying not only specific passages from the bible, but also allusions to other passages an eighteenth-century worshiper, better versed in the bible than his modern counterpart, would have understood.
Choice
...attentive to the more difficult turns of phrase that can be disguised or otherwise compromised in 'poetic translations'....
ARBA
...a work that can give the reader a clearer understanding of the meaning of Bach's numerous sacred cantatas...the price is most reasonable for such a substantial work..
Booknews
Identifies the scriptural references for the wording, imagery, and themes in Bach's 200 surviving church cantatas. Offers line-by-line translations, and summarizes the religious or literary themes of each text within the specific context of the cantata as a whole. Includes numerous indexes of movement summaries, chorale stanzas (including those appearing more than once), scriptural quotations and strict paraphrases, librettists, and first performance dates, with indexes of cantatas in chronological and liturgical order. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810829794
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 796
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 1.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Melvin Unger is Director of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute at the Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory of Music (Berea, Ohio), where he also holds the Riemenschneider Chair in Music History and Literature.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 10, 2009

    I'm Grateful This Book Exists

    Finding one's way into the extensive library of Bach's sacred cantatas can be overwhelming. The German language (for those of us who do not speak it) and the several-hundred year cultural gap between us and Bach (and his contemporaries) can limit our appreciation of the subtleties of both the music and the scriptures and hymns that Bach has set.<BR/><BR/>Mr. Unger's text fills the gap. He provides a trustworthy guide to both translation and interpretation, with numerous means of cross-reference, all of which serve to take us further into the beauties of this sublime music.<BR/><BR/>After all, hymn and Biblical references that would have been obvious to Bach's contemporaries elude most of us in the 21st-century. Melvin Unger provides an invaluable service in enlightening us to these manifold dimensions of the cantatas.<BR/><BR/>The text is very clearly written, and while scholarly, easy to understand. I'm deeply grateful for this book and recommend it enthusiastically.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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