Café Zimmermann season opener 1729

Bach Cantata Day Information:
Café Zimmermann season opener 1729

Occurs every October 1st. Not a liturgical day.


Music for this day

  • Geschwinde, ihr wirbelnden Winde - Der Streit zwischen Phoebus und Pan, BWV 201
    (first performance ? Fall 1729, Leipzig period)

Bach also wrote a wide collection of secular cantatas, very many of which where performed by the Collegium Musicum, an ensemble that performed in the Café Zimmermann, at 14 Katharinenstrasse in Leipzig. The ensemble existed already for quite a while; Telemann had directed them when he was a student in Leipzig.

Upon his arrival in Leipzig, Bach, as Thomas Kantor, had been asked as guest director multiple times, before taking the lead of the ensemble in 1729, whereby the name changed to the Bachisches Collegium Musicum.

This cantata, Geschwinde, ihr wirbelnden Winde (Der Streit zwischen Phoebus und Pan), BWV 201, was the season opener in the Café Zimmermann in 1729, so the first season under Bach's direction. It was performed at an unwknown date in the autumn of that year, and I've chosen October 1st just to mark the occasion.

The cantata, with a libretto by Picander (Bach's favourite librettist at that time), uses the ancient myth of a musical contest between Phoebus-Apollo and Pan as a comment to a controversy between Bach's contemporaries about "popular" and "learned" music, the first being represented by Pan, the latter by Apollo. At the end, Pan is defeated completely.

This "battle" structure reminds me of l'Apothéose de Lully by François Couperin, in which the Elysian gods pay homage to Jean-Baptiste Lully, and stage a battle between the French and Italian style of music. Considering that this work was published in 1725, it is not impossible that Bach may have known about it.