Geist und Seele wird verwirret, BWV 35

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Georg Christian Lehms, author of the cantata text

Geist und Seele wird verwirret (Spirit and soul become confused), BWV 35, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed the solo cantata for alto in Leipzig for the twelfth Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 8 September 1726.

History and words[edit]

The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, the ministry of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:4–11), and from the Gospel of Mark, the healing of a deaf mute man (Mark 7:31–37). The cantata text was written by Georg Christian Lehms and published in Gottgefälliges Kirchen-Opffer (1711).[1][2]

Because of the requirements that "new music" be composed as often as possible, Bach seldom chose older poems for his cantatas;[3] consequently, conductor Craig Smith has suggested that parts of this work may have been composed earlier than the first recorded Leipzig performance.[4] The cantata is one of three Bach cantatas written in Leipzig in the summer and fall of 1726 in which an alto soloist is the only singer, the others being BWV 169 and 170. It seems likely that Bach had a capable alto singer at his disposal during this period.

Furthermore, the work has two large concerto movements for organ and orchestra, probably from a lost keyboard, oboe or violin concerto,[5] perhaps indicating that the cantata was composed for a seasonal choral absentia at Thomaskirche.[6] The first nine bars of the opening Sinfonia are practically identical to the fragment BWV 1059.

Scoring and structure[edit]

The piece is scored for alto soloist, two oboes, taille, obbligato organ, two violins, viola, and basso continuo.[7]

The cantata is in two parts, to be performed before and after the sermon:

Part I
  1. Sinfonia
  2. Aria: Geist und Seele wird verwirret
  3. Recitative: Ich wundre mich
  4. Aria: Gott hat alles wohlgemacht
Part 2
  1. Sinfonia
  2. Recitative: Ach, starker Gott
  3. Aria: Ich wünsche nur bei Gott zu leben


The opening allegro sinfonia incorporates concerto techniques, suggesting an origin in a pre-existing concerto. The organ performs both the solo melody and the continuo line, punctuated by quasi-cadenza passages and interspersed ten-measure ritornellos. The first aria is characterized by a broken ritornello and a sense of confusion and uncertainty.[8] The melody is siciliano-like in character.[9] It is in da capo form and is accompanied by obbligato organ. This is followed by a secco recitative before another aria introduces the major mode with a two-part ritornello and another obbligato organ line.[8]

Part 2 begins with another sinfonia, this time in binary form. A secco recitative leads into the final aria, which is minuet-like and positive in character. It again uses a two-part ritornello.[8]



  1. ^ Christoph Wolff (Eds.): Die Welt der Bach-Kantaten, Metzler/Bärenreiter, Stuttgart und Kassel, 3 Bände Sonderausgabe 2006 ISBN 3-476-02127-0
  2. ^ C. S. Terry and D. Litti, Bach's Cantata Libretti, Journal of the Royal Musical Association 1917 44(1):71–125; doi:10.1093/jrma/44.1.71
  3. ^ David R. M. Irving. Bach cantata cycles. Early Music 2008 36(1):150–152.
  4. ^ C. Smith Geist und Seele wird verwirret at
  5. ^ Laurence Dreyfus. The metaphorical soloist: Concerted organ parts in Bach's cantatas. Early Music 1985 13(2):237–247
  6. ^ Robert Fuchs; Oliver Hahn; Doris Oltrogge: "Geist und Seele sind verwirret...". Die Tintenfraß-Problematik der Autographen Johann Sebastian Bachs. In: Restauro Heft 2/2000, S. 116–121
  7. ^ BWV 35, University of Alberta
  8. ^ a b c Julian Mincham
  9. ^ Simon Crouch


  • Craig Smith, Programme notes – BWV 35, Emmanuel Music.
  • Alfred Dürr: Johann Sebastian Bach: Die Kantaten. Bärenreiter, Kassel 1999, ISBN 3-7618-1476-3
  • Alfred Dürr: The Cantatas of J.S. Bach, Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-19-929776-2
  • Werner Neumann: Handbuch der Kantaten J.S.Bachs, 1947, 5th Ed. 1984, ISBN 3-7651-0054-4
  • Hans-Joachim Schulze: Die Bach-Kantaten: Einführungen zu sämtlichen Kantaten Johann Sebastian Bachs. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlags-Anstalt; Stuttgart: Carus-Verlag 2006 (Edition Bach-Archiv Leipzig) ISBN 3-374-02390-8 (Evang. Verl.-Anst.), ISBN 3-89948-073-2 (Carus-Verl.)
  • Christoph Wolff/Ton Koopman (Eds.): Die Welt der Bach-Kantaten, Metzler/Bärenreiter, Stuttgart und Kassel, 3 Bände Sonderausgabe 2006 ISBN 3-476-02127-0
  • Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini. Studi sui testi delle Cantate sacre di J. S. Bach. Università di Padova, pubblicazioni della Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia, vol. XXXI, Padova & Kassel, 1956, xv–291.
  • Geoffrey Turner. Singing The Word: The Cantatas of J S Bach. New Blackfriars, volume 87, issue 1008, pages 144–154.
  • J. C. J. Day. The texts of Bach's Church cantatas: some observations. German Life and Letters, volume 13 (1960), num. 2, pages 137–144.
  • Harald Streck. Die Verskunst in den poetischen Texten zu den Kantaten J. S. Bachs. Dissertation: Universität Hamburg 1971.

External links[edit]