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Cantata No. 211 Coffee Cantata

Cantata No. 211, Coffee Cantata

The Coffee Cantata is among the most popular of Bach’s secular cantatas. He composed it for the Collegium Musicum, a musical organization in Leipzig which he led from 1729 to 1741. The ensemble performed at Gottfried Zimmerman’s coffee house, offering a wide variety of vocal and instrumental music. In tone, scenario and cast of characters, this cantata resembles the contemporary form known as intermezzo, a one-act comic opera performed between the acts of longer, more serious operas. Coffee had recently become popular in Germany, so the choice of text, the work of Picander, the pen-name of author Christian Friedrich Henrici, offered a most appropriate topic for satire (and what better place to perform it than Zimmerman’s!). Picander and Bach poke equal fun at coffee’s new-found fans (represented by the vivacious young woman, Liesgen), and the stuffy elders who oppose it, her father, Schlendrian, for example.

Program Notes Don Anderson 2012

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