Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten, BWV 202

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Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten
BWV 202
Secular cantata by J. S. Bach
  • oboe, violins, viola, continuo

Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten (Dissipate, you troublesome shadows),[1] BWV 202,[a] is a secular cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach.[2][3] It was likely composed for a wedding, but scholars disagree on the dating which could be as early as Bach's tenure in Weimar, around 1714, while it has traditionally been connected to his wedding to Anna Magdalena on 3 December 1721 in Köthen. It is one of Bach's frequently recorded cantatas. The aria "Sich üben im Lieben" ("To practice sweet courtship, to joyously cuddle" or "To cultivate love"[4]) is often performed as a concert piece.

History and text[edit]

The cantata music survives only in a copy from the 1730s, which features a surprising style used by Bach only until around 1714. The librettist is not known with certainty, but Harald Streck suspects Salomon Franck, the Weimar court poet.[4][5] Joshua Rifkin also argues for a Weimar date, rather than the more commonly assigned Köthen period, based on stylistic elements such as the short recitatives ending arioso, the slow–fast-slow tempo of the first aria, which Bach used only rarely after 1714, and the specific relation of voice and obbligato oboe in the seventh movement, which rarely occurs after 1715.[4] More traditionally, the composition was linked to Bach's time in Köthen from 1718, and the occasion a wedding,[4] possibly his own to Anna Magdalena in December 1721.[6]

The text relates beginning love to the arrival of spring after winter, mentioning shooting flowers in the first two movements, the sun climbing higher in the third movement, Cupid searching for "prey" in the following two movements, finally a bridal couple and good wishes for them. The tone is humorous and jesting, which suggests a civil wedding.[4]

The aria "Sich üben im Lieben" ("To practice sweet courtship, to joyously cuddle" or "To cultivate love"[4]) is frequently performed as a concert piece.[citation needed]

Scoring and structure[edit]

Bach structured the work in 9 movements, alternating arias with varied texture and recitative. He scored it for a solo soprano voice (S), and a Baroque instrumental ensemble of oboe (Ob), violins (Vl), viola (Va), and basso continuo (Bc).[4]

In the following table of the movements, the scoring follows the Neue Bach-Ausgabe.[4] The keys and time signatures are taken from Alfred Dürr, using the symbol for common time (4/4).[4] The continuo, playing throughout, is not shown.

Movements of Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten, BWV 202
No. Title Type Vocal Winds Strings Key Time
1 Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten Aria S Ob 2Vl Va G Major common time
2 Die Welt wird wieder neu Recitative S C Major common time
3 Phoebus eilt mit schnellen Pferden Aria S C Major 12/8
4 Drum sucht auch Amor sein Vergnügen Recitative S common time
5 Wenn die Frühlingslüfte streichen Aria S Vl solo E minor common time
6 Und dieses ist das Glücke Recitative S common time
7 Sich üben im Lieben Aria S Ob D major 3/8
8 So sei das Band der keuschen Liebe Recitative S G major common time
9 Sehet in Zufriedenheit Aria S Ob 2Vl Va G major cut time


The first aria, "Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten" (Dissipate, you troublesome shadows),[1] is accompanied by all instruments. The strings play a repetitious motif illustrating the vanishing of winter, while the oboe leads with an expanded melody to the entry of the voice, then playing in duet with it. The opening section is marked Adagio, while the middle section, about Flora's pleasures, of a da capo form is marked Andante.[4] It was described as painting "a sensuous picture of spring's lazy pleasures as the singer invites the depressing shades of winter to depart", a change "from shadow to sunlight, from winter's cold to spring's bursting flowers".[7]

A recitative, "Die Welt wird wieder neu" (The world becomes new again),[1] leads to the second aria, "Phoebus eilt mit schnellen Pferden" (Phoebus hastes with rapid horses)[1] which is accompanied only by the continuo. The trotting of the horse mentioned in the text is illustrated in the continuo.[4] The movement was described as a "vividly melismatic depiction of warm breezes hurrying through the reborn world".[7] The aria shows similarity to the last movement of Bach's Violin Sonata in G major, BWV 1019.[4]

A recitative, "Drum sucht auch Amor sein Vergnügen" (Therefore Love himself seeks his pleasure),[1] leads to the third aria, "Wenn die Frühlingslüfte streichen" (When the springtime breezes caress),[1] with a solo violin, in elegiac mood.[4]

The recitative "Und dieses ist das Glücke" (And this is good fortune)[4] prepares the aria "Sich üben im Lieben, in Scherzen sich herzen" (To cultivate love, to cuddle in playful tenderness)[4] with an obbligato oboe. The melody of the dance-like music in a triple metre alludes to folk music.[4]

A recitative, "So sei das Band der keuschen Liebe" (So may the bond of chaste love)[1] leads to the final aria, marked as a Gavotte, again with all instruments, "Sehet in Zufriedenheit tausend helle Wohlfahrtstage" (May you see in contentment a thousand bright happy days).[4]

The cantata develops from highly artificial composition to popular dance writing.[4]


The cantata is one of Bach's most recorded cantatas.[3]


The cantata was published in 1862 as No. 2 in volume 11 of the Bach-Gesellschaft Ausgabe (BGA), edited by Wilhelm Rust. The New Bach Edition (Neue Bach-Ausgabe, NBA) published the score in 1969, edited by Werner Neumann, in volume 40, Hochzeitskantaten und Weltliche Kantaten verschiedener Bestimmung (wedding cantatas and secular cantatas for different occasions).[2]


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


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 202 – Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten BWV 202; BC G 41 / Secular cantata (unknown purpose)". Bach Digital. 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Cantata BWV 202 Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten". Bach Cantatas. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Dürr, Alfred; Jones, Richard D. P. (2006). The Cantatas of J. S. Bach: With Their Librettos in German-English Parallel Text. Oxford University Press. pp. 892–894. ISBN 978-0-19-929776-4.
  5. ^ Streck, Harald. Die Verskunst in den poetischen Texten zu den Kantaten J. S. Bachs. Dissertation: Hamburg University 1971.
  6. ^ Mincham, Julian (2010). "BWV 202 Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten". jsbachcantatas.com.
  7. ^ a b Johnston, Blair (2017). "Johann Sebastian Bach / Cantata No. 202, "Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten" ("Wedding Cantata"), BWV 202 (BC G41)". Bach Digital. Retrieved 2 January 2018.

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