Johann Sebastian Bach: Be silent, not a word

Johann Sebastian Bach

Be silent, not a word

Coffee Cantata

BWV 211, 1734


In 1729 Bach took over the running of the “Collegium musicum” in Leipzig, founded by Telemann, and continued the tradition of giving concerts at least once a week with this ensemble in Zimmermann’s coffee house or, in the summer, in the coffee garden there. The compositions which were probably composed for performance there include Bach’s famous Coffee Cantata. The cantata is only super?cially about daughter Liesgen’s addiction to coffee, in fact it is really about her strict father Schlend rian’s educational efforts, which ultimately remain ineffective – but only in Bach’s cantata. In Picander’s printed libretto it seems as if Schlendrian might prevail, and only in Bach’s cantata, which includes two movements setting additional text, is there a twist to the contrary. Might Bach’s experiences as a father have come into play here?



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