Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht, BWV 211

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Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht
BWV 211
Secular cantata by J.S. Bach
Zimmermannsches Caffeehaus.jpg
Zimmermannsches Caffeehaus, 1700s
Known as Coffee Cantata
Performed 1735 (1735)? – Zimmermannsches Caffeehaus, Leipzig
Movements 10
Cantata text Picander
Scoring

Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht (Be still, stop chattering), BWV 211, also known as the Coffee Cantata, is a secular cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it probably between 1732 and 1735. Although classified as a cantata, it is essentially a miniature comic opera. In a satirical commentary, the cantata amusingly tells of an addiction to coffee.

History and text[edit]

Bach regularly directed a musical ensemble based at Zimmermann's coffee house called a collegium musicum, founded by Georg Philipp Telemann in 1702. The libretto suggests that some people in eighteenth-century Germany viewed coffee drinking as a bad habit. However, the work is likely to have been first performed at the coffee house in Leipzig.

The cantata's libretto (written by Christian Friedrich Henrici, known as Picander), features lines like "If I can't drink my bowl of coffee three times daily, then in my torment, I will shrivel up like a piece of roast goat"—a sentiment that would likely have been appreciated by the patrons of Zimmermann's Coffee House.

Bach wrote no operas: the cantata was written for concert performance,[1] but is frequently performed today fully staged with costumes.

Scoring[edit]

The work is scored for three vocal soloists in the roles

  • Narrator, tenor
  • Schlendrian (literally: Stick in the Mud), bass
  • Lieschen, his daughter, soprano.

The orchestra consists of flauto traverso, two violins obbligato, viola and basso continuo.

Movements[edit]

Movement Title Characters Synopsis
1 Recitative: Schweigt stille Narrator The narrator tells the audience to quiet down and pay attention, before introducing Schlendrian and Lieschen.
2 Aria: Hat man nicht mit seinen Kindern Schlendrian Schlendrian sings in disgust of how his daughter refuses to listen to him, even after telling her 100,000 times.
3 Recitative: Du böses Kind Schlendrian and Lieschen Schlendrian asks his daughter again to stop drinking coffee, Lieschen defiantly tells her father to calm down.
4 Aria: Ei! Wie schmeckt der Kaffee süße Lieschen Lieschen sings a love song to her coffee.
5 Recitative: Wenn du mir nicht den Kaffee läßt Schlendrian and Lieschen Schlendrian starts giving ultimatums to his daughter, threatening to take away her meals, clothes, and other pleasures. Lieschen doesn't seem to care.
6 Aria: Mädchen, die von harten Sinnen Schlendrian In this sung monologue, Schlendrian tries to figure out what his daughter's weak spot is, so she absolutely couldn't want to drink coffee again.
7 Recitative: Nun folge, was dein Vater spricht! Schlendrian and Lieschen Schlendrian threatens to prevent his daughter from marrying if she fails to give up coffee, Lieschen has a sudden change of heart.
8 Aria: Heute noch, lieber Vater Lieschen Lieschen thanks her father for offering to find her a husband, and vows to give up coffee if she can have a lover instead.
9 Recitative: Nun geht und sucht der alte Schlendrian Narrator The narrator states that while Schlendrian goes out to find a husband for his daughter, Lieschen secretly tells potential suitors that they must let her drink her coffee if they care to marry her.
10 Trio: Die Katze läßt das Mausen nicht Tutti All three characters sing the moral of the story, "drinking coffee is natural".

Recordings[edit]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

Several databases provide additional information on each cantata: