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Christ lag in Todes Banden, BWV 4

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Christ lag in Todes Banden
Chorale cantata by J. S. Bach
engraving of the risen Christ
Resurrection of Jesus on the title page of a Luther Bible, 1769
Occasion First Day of Easter
Performed 24 April 1707 (1707-04-24)[1]
Movements 8
Chorale "Christ lag in Todes Banden
by Martin Luther
Vocal SATB soloists and choir
  • cornetto
  • 3 trombones
  • 2 violins
  • 2 violas
  • continuo

Christ lag in Todes Banden (Christ lay in death's bonds[2]), BWV 4,[a] (sometimes Christ lag in Todesbanden) is a cantata by the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach. One of his earliest church cantatas, it was probably intended for a performance in 1707, an early work in the genre to which he later contributed complete cantata cycles for all occasions of the liturgical year. It was related to his application for a post at a Lutheran church at Mühlhausen. John Eliot Gardiner describes it as Bach's "first-known attempt at painting narrative in music".[3]

Christ lag in Todes Banden is a chorale cantata, a style where both text and music are based on a hymn. In this instance the basis was Martin Luther's hymn of the same name, the main hymn for Easter in the Lutheran Church. The composition is based on the seven stanzas of the hymn and its tune which was derived from Medieval models. In the format of chorale variations "per omnes versus" (for all stanzas), Bach used in each of the seven vocal movements the unchanged words of a stanza of the chorale, and its tune as a cantus firmus. After an opening sinfonia, the variations are arranged in symmetry: chorus – duet – solo – chorus – solo – duet – chorus, with the focus on the central fourth stanza, about the battle between Life and Death. Although all movements are in the same key of E minor, Bach achieves variety by many musical forms and techniques which intensify the meaning of the text.

Christ lag in Todes Banden is Bach's first cantata for Easter, his only extant original composition for the first day of the feast, and his earliest surviving chorale cantata. He later repeatedly performed it as Thomaskantor in Leipzig, beginning in 1724 when he first celebrated Easter there. Only the performance material from Leipzig is extant. It is scored for four vocal parts with a choir of one cornetto and three trombones doubling the voices at times, plus a string section of two violins, two violas and continuo. This exemplifies a 17th century "Choralkonzert" (chorale concerto) style; the lost scoring of the earlier performances was perhaps similar.

Gardiner calls Bach's setting of Luther's hymn "a bold, innovative piece of musical drama" and observes "his total identification with the spirit and letter of Luther's fiery, dramatic hymn".[3]

Composition history[edit]


Interior of a church, facing the rear with the organ on the third tier. The organ prospect is decorated with small Baroque golden ornaments.
The restored Wender organ which Bach played in Arnstadt

Bach is believed to have written Christ lag in Todes Banden in 1707. He was a professional organist aged twenty-two, employed from 1703 in Arnstadt as the organist of the Bonifatiuskirche (also New Church, today known as the Bach Church).[4] At age 18, he had inspected the new organ built by Johann Friedrich Wender (de), was invited to play one Sunday, and was hired. The organ was built on the third tier of a theatre-like church.[4] Bach's duties as a church musician involved some responsibility for choral music, but the exact year he began composing cantatas is unknown. Christ lag in Todes Banden is one of a small group of cantatas which survive from his early years.[5]

In Arnstadt, the Kantor (church musician) Heindorff was responsible for church music in the Upper Church (Liebfrauenkirche) and the New Church, where Bach was the organist. He typically conducted music in the Upper Church and would appoint a choir prefect for vocal music in the New Church. Wolff notes that "subjecting his works to the questionable leadership" was not what Bach would have done. Therefore most cantatas of the period are not for Sunday occasions, but restricted to special occasions such as weddings and funerals. Christ lag in Todes Banden is the only exception, but was most likely composed not for Arnstadt but for an application to a more important post at the Divi Blasii church in Mühlhausen.[5]

Bach's early cantatas[edit]

disputed portrait of the young Bach, with brown curled hair, dressed festively
Portrait of the young Bach (disputed)[6]

Bach's early cantatas are "Choralkonzerte" (chorale concertos) in the style of the seventeenth century, different from the recitative and aria cantata format associated with Neumeister which Bach began using for church cantatas in 1714.[7] Commentators find parallels in the music of composers such as Henry Purcell.[3] Some of these parallels may be accidental, as Bach would not have known the music in question. Other parallels suggest a direct influence: Bach's cantata shows similarities to a composition of Johann Pachelbel based on the same Easter chorale.[7] Although there is no evidence that Bach and Pachelbel met, Bach grew up in Thuringia while Pachelbel was based in the same region, and Bach's elder brother and teacher Johann Christoph Bach studied with Pachelbel in Erfurt.[8] Another of Pachelbel's works appears to be referenced in the early Bach cantata, Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich, BWV 150, and recently there has been speculation that Bach wished to pay tribute to Pachelbel after his death in 1706.[9][10] Wolff points out the relation to works by Dieterich Buxtehude with whom Bach had studied in Lübeck.[5]

The texts for the early cantatas were drawn from biblical passages and hymns.[11] Features characteristic of his later cantatas, such as recitatives and arias on contemporary poetry, were not yet present,[12] although Bach experienced them in oratorios by Buxtehude, or even earlier.[11] Instead, these works included seventeenth-century elements such as motets and chorale concertos.[13][14] They often begin with an instrumental sinfonia or sonata (sonatina).[11] The following table lists the seven extant works composed by Bach before he moved on to the Weimar court in 1708.[15]

Bach's early cantatas
Date Occasion BWV Incipit Text source
1707? Penitence 150 Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich Psalm 25, anon.
1707? Funeral 106 Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit
1707? Easter 4 Christ lag in Todes Banden Luther
1707? Penitence 131 Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir Psalm 130
1707? Wedding? 196 Der Herr denket an uns Psalm 115
1 January 1708? New Year's Day 143 Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele Psalm 146
4 February 1708 Inauguration of the town council 71 Gott ist mein König

Bach uses the limited instruments at his disposal for unusual combinations, such as two recorders and two viole da gamba in the funeral cantata Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, also known as ''Actus Tragicus. He uses instruments of the continuo group as independent parts, such as a cello in Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich and a bassoon in Der Herr denket an uns.[11] Wolff notes:

The overall degree of mastery by which these early pieces compare favourably with the best church compositions from the first decade of the eighteenth century ... proves that the young Bach did not confine himself to playing organ and clavier, but, animated by his Buxtehude visit, devoted considerable time and effort to vocal composition. The very few such early works that exist, each a masterpiece in its own right, must constitute a remnant only ... of a larger body of similar compositions.[11]

Readings and chorale[edit]

Portrait of Luther by the painter Lucas Cranach the Elder
Portrait of Martin Luther, c. 1529. Luther wrote the text of the hymn and derived the melody from a traditional older tune.

The prescribed readings for the feast day were from the First letter to the Corinthians ("Christ is our Easter lamb" – 1 Corinthians 5:6–8) and from the Gospel of Mark (the Resurrection of Jesus – Mark 16:1–8).[16]

The reformer Martin Luther wrote several hymns in German to be used in church services. His hymn "Christ lag in Todes Banden"[17] was based on the Latin hymn "Victimae Paschali Laudes", and first published in 1524.[18] It became the main Easter hymn in German Lutheranism, similar in importance to Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ for Christmas. The hymn stresses the struggle between Life and Death. The third stanza refers to the "sting of death", as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15. The fifth stanza relates to the "Osterlamm", the Paschal Lamb. The sacrificial "blood" ("Its blood marks our doors")[7] refers to the marking of the doors before the exodus from Egypt. The final stanza recalls the tradition of baking and eating Easter Bread, with the "old leaven" alluding again to the exodus, in contrast to the "Word of Grace",[19] concluding "Christ would ... alone nourish the soul."[19] In contrast to most chorale cantatas that Bach composed later in Leipzig, the text of the chorale is retained unchanged, which he did again only in late chorale cantatas.[20]


Photo of interior of the church with organ featured prominently
Organ of the Divi Blasii church in Mühlhausen, where the cantata was possibly first performed

Christ lag in Todes Banden survives in a version from the 1720s when Bach held the position of Thomaskantor (director of church music) in Leipzig.[10] There is documentary evidence suggesting that this Easter Sunday cantata was premiered in 1707. It is known that Bach performed a cantata of his own composition at Easter in 1707 as a part of his application for the post of organist of Divi Blasii church in Mühlhausen, and this may have been Christ lag in Todes Banden.[1][11] At this time, Bach was already demonstrating ingenuity in keyboard music, but Christ lag in Todes Banden is a significant milestone in his vocal music. It was completed seven years before his sequence of Weimar cantatas, begun in 1714 with Himmelskönig, sei willkommen, BWV 182,[21] and seventeen years before he started a complete annual cycle of chorale cantatas in Leipzig in the middle of 1724 with O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort, BWV 20.[22]

Mühlhausen was attractive for Bach, as a free imperial city with several churches and a tradition of vocal music. Wolff notes that Bach possibly sent two other cantata scores with his application, and composed Christ lag in Todes Banden in addition once he knew the date of the audition. A month after Easter, on 24 May 1707, an agreement was reached to hire Bach who seems to have been the only candidate considered seriously.[23]

Bach performed the cantata again while Thomaskantor in Leipzig, notably at his first Easter there on 9 April 1724.[24] He performed it also the following year on 1 April 1725,[24] in his second cycle of Leipzig cantatas, the so-called chorale cycle based on Lutheran hymns.[10] This early work fits the cycle in the sense that it is based on a chorale, but its style is different from the others.[7]


Scoring and structure[edit]

Bach structured the cantata in eight movements: an instrumental sinfonia and seven vocal movements corresponding to the stanzas of the hymn. The duration is given as 22 minutes.[25]

The title of the original parts of the first Leipzig performance reads: "Feria Paschatos / Christ lag in Todesbanden / a.4. Voc: / Cornetto / 3 Trombon. / 2 Violini / 2 Viole / con / Continuo / Di Signore Joh.Seb.Bach",[26][b] In this late version, Bach scored the work for four vocal parts (soprano (S), alto (A), tenor (T), and bass (B)), and a Baroque instrumental ensemble consisting of strings (in a combination described by Richard Taruskin as "archaic")[27] and brass:

The vocal parts can be sung by soloists or a choir; for example, Hier ist das rechte Osterlamm, described as a bass aria, is sometimes performed by the basses of the choir rather than a soloist. The exact scoring of the first version is unknown, but it may have been similar to the surviving version.[1][7] The string accompaniment is in line with the limited instrumental forces which Bach had at his disposal early in his career. Unlike some early cantatas by Bach (for example, Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir, BWV 131), no woodwinds are featured. The brass parts, a choir of cornetto and three trombones reinforcing the voices, may have been added in the 1720s. They may also possibly represent the original scoring, in the style of the 17th century polychoral tradition.[7] One of Bach's other early cantatas, Gott ist mein König, BWV 71, is also richly scored, evoking the type of choral writing which Heinrich Schütz developed from the Venetian polychoral style.[29][30]

In the following table of the movements, the scoring and keys follow the Neue Bach-Ausgabe. The keys and time signatures are taken from the book on all cantatas by the Bach scholar Alfred Dürr, using the symbol for common time (4/4) and alla breve (2/2).[25] The continuo, played throughout, is not shown.

Movements of Christ lag in Todes Banden, BWV 4
No. Title Type Vocal Brass Strings Key Time.
1 Sinfonia 2Vl 2Va E minor common time
Versus 1
  • Christ lag in Todes Banden
  • Helleluja
Chorus SATB Ct 3Tb 2Vl 2Va E minor
  • common time
  • cut time
Versus 2 Den Tod niemand zwingen kunnt Aria Duetto S A Ct Tb E minor common time
Versus 3 Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn Aria T 2Vl E minor common time
Versus 4 Es war ein wunderlicher Krieg Chorus SATB E minor common time
Versus 5 Hier ist das rechte Osterlamm Aria B 2Vl 2Va E minor 3/4
Versus 6 So feiern wir das hohe Fest Aria Duetto S T E minor common time
Versus 7 Wir essen und leben wohl Choral SATB Ct 3Tb 2Vl 2Va E minor common time


Comparison of the tunes of three Easter hymns:
"Victimae Paschali Laudes"
"Christ ist erstanden"
"Christ lag in Todes Banden"

Luther's hymn is based on the 12th-century Easter hymn "Christ ist erstanden" (Christ is risen), which relies both in text and melody on the sequence for Easter, "Victimae paschali laudes".[18][31] A new version was published by Luther in 1524 and adapted by Johann Walter in his Wittenberg hymnal for choir, Eyn geystlich Gesangk Buchleyn (1524). A slightly modified version appeared in 1533 in a hymnal by Kluge.[18] This chorale tune would have been familiar to Bach's congregations. Bach composed other arrangements during his career, including the two chorale preludes BWV 625 and BWV 718 and the "Fantasia super Christ lag in Todes Banden", BWV 695. Bach's organ works and the version in the cantata use the passing notes and regular rhythmic patterns of the 1533 version.[18]


Unlike Bach's later cantatas, all movements are in the same key. The cantata begins with an instrumental sinfonia. The seven stanzas are treated in seven movements as chorale variations "per omnes versus" (for all stanzas), with the melody always present as a cantus firmus.[31] All stanzas end on the word Halleluja.[32]

The sequence of the seven stanzas shows symmetry, a feature Bach often used in his mature compositions: chorus – duet – solo – chorus – solo – duet – chorus.[13] The musicologist Carol Traupman-Carr notes the variety of treatment of the seven stanzas, while retaining the same key and melody:[31]

  1. Polyphonic chorale fantasia
  2. Duet, with "walking bass" in continuo
  3. Trio sonata
  4. Polyphonic and imitative, woven around chorale melody
  5. Homophonic with elaborate continuo line
  6. Duet, using trio sonata texture with extensive imitation
  7. Four-part chorale setting (Leipzig version)
conductor John Eliot Gardiner at work in rehearsal, looking to the left. Photo credit Maciej Goździelewski.
John Eliot Gardiner, who conducted the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, in 2007

John Eliot Gardiner, who conducted the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in 2000, calls Bach's setting of Luther's hymn "a bold, innovative piece of musical drama", observing that Bach was "drawing on medieval musical roots (the hymn tune derives from the eleventh-century plainsong 'Victimae paschali laudes')" and noting Bach's "total identification with the spirit and letter of Luther's fiery, dramatic hymn".[3] Bach could follow "Luther’s ideal in which music brings the text to life". The musicologist Julian Mincham remarks: "The variety of ideas and range of inventiveness is incredible but never disguises the presence of the chorale."[33]


The cantata begins with an instrumental sinfonia a work in the style of an overture to a contemporary Venetian opera, with chordal passages and occasional polyphony.[7] It introduces the first line of the melody,[34] The mood is sombre, recalling the "Death's bonds" of the first line of the hymn: Christ's death on the cross and burial.[31]

Versus 1[edit]

The opening stanza, "Christ lag in Todes Banden" (Christ lay in death's bonds)[2] is treated as a chorale fantasia. Without instrumental opening, the movement begins with the chorale tune, sung by the soprano in very long notes, with all other parts entering later.[31] The alto line is derived from the chorale tune, while the viola parts principally reinforce the alto and tenor voices. The violin parts are independent and, as Traupman-Carr notes "further activate the texture with a virtually continuous exchange of sixteenth-note snippets".[31] The figure in the violins known as suspiratio (sigh) reflects "Christ’s suffering in the grip of death".[35]

The final Halleluja is faster, giving up the fantasia format for a four-part fugue and in motet style, with all instruments doubling the voices.[31][36] The style of the movement recalls the 16th-century stile antico, although the harmony and orchestral writing is of Bach's time.[27]

Versus 2[edit]

The second stanza, Aria Duetto, is a duet of soprano and alto, "Den Tod niemand zwingen kunnt" (No one could defeat death),[2] over an ostinato continuo.[36] It deals with "humanity helpless and paralysed as it awaits God’s judgement against sin". Bach has the music almost freeze on the first words "den Tod" (death), and the word "gefangen" (imprisoned) is marked by a sharp dissonance of the soprano and alto.[37] In the Halleluja, the voices imitate each other on long notes in fast succession, creating a sequence of suspensions.[31]

Versus 3[edit]

The third stanza, "Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn" (Jesus Christ, God's Son),[2] is a trio of the tenor, two obbligato violins and continuo. The tenor sings the chorale melody almost unchanged.[36] The violins illustrate first how Christ slashes at the enemy. The music stops completely on the word "nichts" (nothing). The violins then present in four notes the outline of the cross, and finally the tenor sings a joyful "Halleluja" to a virtuoso violin accompaniment.[37]

Versus 4[edit]

"Es war ein wunderlicher Krieg, da Tod und Leben rungen" (It was a strange battle, that death and life waged),[2] is the center of the symmetrical structure. It is sung by the four voices, accompanied only by the continuo. The alto sings the cantus firmus, transposed by a fifth to B-Dorian,[36] while the other voices follow each other in a fugal stretto with entries just a beat apart, until they fall away one by one. In the final Halleluja in all four voices, the bass descends nearly two octaves.[38]

Versus 5[edit]

Stanza five, "Hier ist das rechte Osterlamm" (Here is the true Easter-lamb),[2] is sung by the bass alone, accompanied at first by a descending chromatic line in the continuo which has been compared to the Crucifixus of the Mass in B minor, but changing to "a dance-like passage of continuous eighth notes" when the voice enters.[31] For every line of the stanza, the bass sings a chorale tune, then repeats the words in counterpoint to the part of the tune repeated in the strings, sometimes transposed.[36] Taruskin describes this: "With its antiphonal exchanges between the singer and the massed strings ... this setting sounds like a parody of a passacaglia-style Venetian opera aria, vintage 1640".[27] The bass sings the final victorious Hallelujas, spanning two octaves.[38]

Versus 6[edit]

"So feiern wir das hohe Fest" (So we celebrate the high festival),[2] is a duet for soprano and tenor accompanied only by the ostinato continuo.[36] The chorale is shared by the voices, with the soprano singing it in E minor, the tenor in B minor.[31] The movement is a dance of joy: the word "Wonne" (joy) is rendered in figuration that Gardiner finds reminiscent of Purcell.[38] Bach incorporates the solemn rhythms of the French overture into this verse, reflecting the presence of the word feiern (celebrate) in the text. It may be the first time that Bach used these rhythms.[27]

Versus 7[edit]

Tune of stanza 7

Bach's original setting of the final stanza, "Wir essen und leben wohl" (We eat and live well),[2] is lost; it may have been a repeat of the opening chorus.[1][27][36] In Leipzig, he supplied a simple four-part setting.[38]


The original autograph parts are kept in the Bach-Archiv Leipzig. They were copied from the lost autograph score by six scribes, four of them known by name including the composer.[39]

A manuscript score by Franz Hauser, dating from c. 1820–1839, is held by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz. It bears a comment on page 178: "Nach den auf der Thomasschule befindlichen / Original / : Autograph: / Stimmen in Partitur gebracht. / Lp. d 16. Oct. 33. / fHauser" (After the original autograph parts in the Thomasschule, rendered in a score, Leipzig, 16 October 1833).[40]

The cantata was published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 1851 under the auspices of the Bach-Gesellschaft, which was responsible for the first edition of Bach's complete works. The cantata was edited by Moritz Hauptmann, one of the founders of the Gesellschaft, and was included in volume I of the complete works.[41]

In the 1980s, the cantata was published in the Neue Bach-Ausgabe, the second complete edition of Bach's works. In this historical-critical edition, Dürr presented the cantata in both the early version[1] and the Leipzig version, both published in 1985, with a critical report following in 1986.[24]

Orchestral transcription[edit]

There is a 1930s arrangement for orchestra by Leopold Stokowski of Movement 4 of the cantata, "Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn". This version is one of a number of Bach works which Stokowski transcribed for symphony orchestra. His orchestrations are notable for their bold use of instrumental colour and his version of the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, used in the film Fantasia is particularly well known. He appears to have made a second Christ lag in Todesbanden arrangement from one of the chorale preludes.[42] Stokowski's own recording of the cantata excerpt has been followed by recordings from José Serebrier and Matthias Bamert, both of whom studied with him.[c]


photograph of Nadia Boulanger
Nadia Boulanger directed two of the earliest recordings of the cantata

Christ lag in Todes Banden was recorded early, and has been recorded often; as of 2016, the Bach-Cantatas website lists 77 different complete recordings, the earliest dating from 1931.[16] Before the Second World War, when there were few Bach cantatas on disc, it was recorded twice under the direction of Nadia Boulanger, a 1937 version recorded in Paris and a 1938 version recorded in Boston.[16]

There are a number of recordings from the decades immediately after the war. Robert Shaw recorded the cantata in 1946 and again in 1959. Günther Ramin conducted the Thomanerchor in 1950, the anniversary of Bach's death. The same year, Fritz Lehmann conducted the choir of the Musikhochschule Frankfurt with soloists Helmut Krebs and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Karl Richter and his Münchener Bach-Chor first recorded it in 1958.[16]

Nikolaus Harnoncourt recorded Christ lag in Todes Banden in 1971 in a historically informed performance with original instruments and male singers (the upper two parts are sung by boys and the countertenor Paul Esswood). This was at the start of the first project to record all Bach's sacred cantatas, "J. S. Bach - Das Kantatenwerk" on Teldec.[16] Christ lag in Todes Banden has since been included in the other "complete sets", conducted by Rilling, Gardiner, Koopman, Leusink, and Suzuki (details of these recordings are given in the table below).[16]

The entries in the following sortable table are taken from the listings by Aryeh Oron on the Bach-Cantatas website.[16] Some recordings rely on choir without (or with few) solo voices. Choirs are roughly marked as large by red background to one voice per part (OVPP) by green background, orchestras from large (red) to period instruments in historically informed performances (green).[16]

Recordings of Christ lag in Todes Banden, BWV 4
Title Conductor / Choir / Orchestra Soloists Label Year Choir type Orch. type
J. S. Bach: Das Kantatenwerk – Sacred Cantatas Vol. 1 Thomas, KurtKurt Thomas
Teldec 1959 (1959) Boys
Les Grandes Cantates de J. S. Bach Vol. 8 Werner, FritzFritz Werner
Heinrich-Schütz-Chor Heilbronn
Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra
Erato Records 1961 (1961) Chamber
Bach Cantatas Vol. 2 – Easter Richter, KarlKarl Richter
Münchener Bach-Chor
Münchener Bach-Orchester
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau Archiv Produktion 1968 (1968) Bach Bach
J. S. Bach: Das Kantatenwerk – Sacred Cantatas Vol. 1 Harnoncourt, NikolausNikolaus Harnoncourt
Concentus Musicus Wien
Teldec 1971 (1971) Boys Period
J. S. Bach: Cantatas Gardiner, John EliotJohn Eliot Gardiner
Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
Stephen Varcoe Erato 1980 (1980) Period
Die Bach Kantate Vol. 13 Rilling, HelmuthHelmuth Rilling
Gächinger Kantorei
Bach-Collegium Stuttgart
Hänssler 1980 (1980) Bach
J. S. Bach: Oster-Oratorium Parrott, AndrewAndrew Parrott
Taverner Consort
Taverner Players
Virgin Classics 1993 (1993) OVPP-RP Period
J. S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 1 Koopman, TonTon Koopman
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir
Antoine Marchand 1994 (1994) Period
J. S. Bach: Cantatas Vol. 1 Suzuki, MasaakiMasaaki Suzuki
Bach Collegium Japan
BIS 1995 (1995) Period
J. S. Bach: Christ lag in Todesbanden; Lobet den Herrn; Himmelskönig sei willkommen Pierlot, Philippe Philippe Pierlot (de)
Choeur de Chambre de Namur
Ricercar Consort
Ricercar 1995 (1995) Chamber Period
Bach Edition Vol. 20 – Cantatas Vol. 11 Leusink, Pieter JanPieter Jan Leusink
Holland Boys Choir
Netherlands Bach Collegium
Brilliant Classics 2000 (2000) Boys Period
J. S. Bach: Actus Tragicus – Cantatas BWV 4, 12, 106 & 196 Junghänel, KonradKonrad Junghänel
Cantus Cölln
Harmonia Mundi France 2000 (2000) OVPP Period
Bach/Webern: Ricercar Poppen, ChristophChristoph Poppen
Hilliard Ensemble
Münchener Kammerorchester
ECM 2001 (2001) OVPP Chamber
Aus der Notenbibliothek von Johann Sebastian Bach, Vol. II Hengelbrock, Thomas Thomas Hengelbrock
Hänssler 2001 (2001) Period
J. S. Bach Early Cantatas Volume I Purcell Quartet Chandos 2004 (2004) OVPP Period
Bach J. S: Cantatas Vol 22 Gardiner, John EliotJohn Eliot Gardiner
Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
Soli Deo Gloria 2000 (2000) Period

Recent performances[edit]

In 2000 the cantata was performed at Eisenach, in the church where Bach was baptised, as part of the Monteverdi Choir's Bach Cantata Pilgrimage (the live recording was released in 2007). The Monteverdi Choir also performed the cantata in 2013 in the Royal Albert Hall. This performance, which had audience participation, was part of a nine-hour "Bach marathon".[43]

The cantata was successfully staged by English Touring Opera in 2012.[44] It was paired with the opera The Emperor of Atlantis and arranged by Iain Farrington for the same instrumental forces as the opera (chamber ensemble including instruments not available to Bach such as saxophone).[45]


  1. ^ "BWV" is Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis, a thematic catalogue of Bach's works
  2. ^ The title of the parts in English: Feast of Easter Christ lag in Todesbanden for 4 voices, cornetto, 3 trombones, 2 violins, 2 violas with continuo.
  3. ^ Bamert's 1993 recording with the BBC Philharmonic described the piece as "Chorale from the 'Easter Cantata' BWV4".


  1. ^ a b c d e Bach digital 1707 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Dellal 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d Gardiner 2007, p. 4.
  4. ^ a b Gardiner 131 2007, pp. 12–13.
  5. ^ a b c Wolff 2002, p. 99.
  6. ^ Towe, Teri Noel. "The Portrait in Erfurt Alleged to Depict Bach, the Weimar Concertmeister". The Face Of Bach. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Dürr 2006, p. 264.
  8. ^ Walter Emery, Christoph Wolff. Article "Johann Sebastian Bach" in Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy. (see under Bach. – III. Individual members – (7) Johann Sebastian Bach – 1. Childhood.). Subscription required.
  9. ^ Geck 2006.
  10. ^ a b c Isoyama 1995, p. 6.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Wolff 2002, p. 100.
  12. ^ Dürr 2006, p. 11.
  13. ^ a b Dürr 2006, p. 12.
  14. ^ Wolff 2002, p. 158.
  15. ^ Wolff 2002, pp. 162–163.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h Oron 2015.
  17. ^ Browne 2005.
  18. ^ a b c d Braatz & Oron 2011.
  19. ^ a b Dürr 2006, p. 263.
  20. ^ Dürr 2006, p. 266.
  21. ^ Dürr 2006, p. 258.
  22. ^ Dürr 2006, p. 387.
  23. ^ Wolff 2002, p. 102–103.
  24. ^ a b c d Bach digital 1724 2014.
  25. ^ a b Dürr 2006, p. 262.
  26. ^ Grob 2014.
  27. ^ a b c d e Taruskin 2010, p. 343–347.
  28. ^ Bischof 2015.
  29. ^ Bischof 2016.
  30. ^ Dürr 1971, p. 581.
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Traupman-Carr 2002.
  32. ^ Dürr 1971, p. 232.
  33. ^ Mincham 2010.
  34. ^ Dickey 2015.
  35. ^ Gardiner 2007, p. 5.
  36. ^ a b c d e f g Dürr 2006, p. 265.
  37. ^ a b Gardiner 2007, p. 6.
  38. ^ a b c d Gardiner 2007, p. 7.
  39. ^ Bach digital parts 2014.
  40. ^ Bach digital score 2014.
  41. ^ Heidelberg 2014.
  42. ^ Transcriptions 2015.
  43. ^ Hewett 2013.
  44. ^ Church 2012.
  45. ^ ETO 2013.


General sources


Online Sources

External links[edit]