Non sa che sia dolore, BWV 209

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Non sa che sia dolore (He knows not what sorrow is), BWV 209,[a] is a secular cantata composed by Johann Sebastian Bach and first performed in Leipzig in 1747.[1]

History and text[edit]

Bach likely composed this cantata as a farewell for Lorenz Albrecht Beck (1723-1768). The librettist for the work is unknown.[1]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The piece is scored for solo soprano voice, flauto traverso, two violins, viola, and basso continuo.[2]

The cantata has five movements:

  1. Sinfonia
  2. Recitative: Non sa che sia dolore
  3. Aria: Parti pur e con dolore
  4. Recitative: Tuo saver al tempo e l'età contrasta
  5. Aria: Ricetti gramezza e pavento


Bach may have derived the opening sinfonia in B minor from a previous concerto. It includes a prominent "baroque 'weeping' figure". The first recitative uses tonality to underline the meaning of the "quasi-philosophical" text. The following da capo aria is in E minor and features a flute obbligato. The second recitative is short and secco, contrasting sharply with the final "ebulliently major" da capo aria.[3]


  • Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Neville Marriner. Bach Cantatas. EMI, 1973.
  • Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, Ton Koopman. J.S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 4. Erato, 1996.
  • The Bach Ensemble, Joshua Rifkin. J.S. Bach: Weichet nur betrübte Shatten "Hochzeitskantate". Decca, 1989.
  • Cologne Soloists Ensemble, Helmut Müller-Brühl. Maria Stader singt Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach. Pelca, 1965.
  • Orchestra of the Bach Guild, Anton Heiller. J.S. Bach: Cantata Nr. 51; Cantata Nr. 209. Amadeo, 1952.


  1. ^ "BWV" is Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis, a thematic catalogue of Bach's works.


  1. ^ a b Schulze, Hans-Joachim (2010), "Rätselhafte Auftragswerke Johann Sebastian Bachs : Anmerkungen zu einigen Kantatentexten", Bach-Jahrbuch, 96: 69–93 
  2. ^ "Cantata BWV 209 Non sa che sia dolore". Bach Cantatas. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Mincham, Julian. "Chapter 101 BWV 209". jsbachcantatas. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 

External links[edit]