Purim/Bach Day/Spring Day post: J. S. Bach, “Peasant Cantata” BWV 212

Happy Purim to all who observe the holiday!

But owing to a calendarial coincidence, 14 Adar II this year coincides with March 21 — both the vernal equinox and the birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach. (Some sources have March 23: that is actually the day he was baptised. I saw the original baptismal register at his birth house in Eisenach.)

Picture of J. S. Bach’s baptismal registration (from the website of the EKD=German Evangelical Lutheran Church). Translation: 4. To Mr. Johann Ambrosius Bach, householder, a son. Godfathers: Sebastian Nagel, householder, and Johann Georg Kochen, forestry official of the principality. Given name: Johann Sebastian

In keeping with the playful spirit of Purim, let’s have one of Bach’s more jocular compositions. The burlesque cantata “Mer hah’n en neue Oberkeet!” BWV 212 —Saxon dialect for “We have a new authority!”—is commonly referred to as the Bauerncantata or Peasant Cantata. It was commissioned and written for the 36th birthday of the Kammerherr (Chamberlain) von Dieskau. The full libretto and its English translation can be read here.

As it happens, the late, great lyrical baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was a descendant of the selfsame Chamberlain von Dieskau on his mother’s side. Here is his performance of Bach’s Peasant Cantata BWV 212. Enjoy!

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