The Bach Cantatas -Testimonials.
There are many advantages in putting research out directly on the internet; it reaches many more people, allows for updating and editing, provides opportunities for sound links etc. However it bypasses the traditional peer review process. To compensate for this I have copied a selection of testimonials below, mostly from eminent musicians and academics.
(From Professor John Butt, organist, conductor, academic and renowned Bach scholar)
I am delighted to write in support of Julian Mincham. He has produced a range of distinguished work relating to J.S. Bach over the last few years, but the online guide to the cantatas is truly a world-leading landmark in providing an introduction to these works that is scholarly, informed and suitably detailed; indeed, there is no more extensive study available, not even Alfred Dürr's magisterial book on the subject. It's difficult to overstate the significance of Mincham's achievement: here is a resource that will be the first port of call for scholars and performers of this music; yet it is also of seminal value for the general public, for whom it opens up a world of knowledge and insight in language that is accessible yet also highly evocative. I'm amazed by the care that has gone into both the individual entries and the design of the site. I have no doubt that this will become the 'industry standard' for many other sites of this kind, dedicated to significant figures in the western arts.
John Butt, FBA, FRSE Gardiner Professor of Music University of Glasgow Musical Director, Dunedin Consort
(From Anthony Rooley, performer, director and early music scholar).
To whom it may concern: In my estimation, this is a most valuable piece of reference work to come our way in many a long year! It is soundly based, indeed a model of its kind; it is easily accessed in its layout; it encourages musicians to ask questions and find answers not normally 'part of their repertoire'; it brings light and therefore guidance where there have largely been 'mists' before. Clarity, accuracy and completeness make a potent advocacy. Very highly recommended.
Director of the Consort of Musicke and the new AVES Masters programme at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis (Advanced Vocal Ensemble Studies)
(From Graham Abbott, conductor, music educator and broadcaster:- Australia).
Dear Julian, Congratulations on your utterly extraordinary site. I will certainly make a post regarding your site on my blog (http://blogs.abc.net.au/keystomusic/) and if I decide to do more on the cantatas I'll make further mention of it. The depth of material available is truly amazing. Thank you for providing a long-overdue resource.
Extract from Graham’s blog:- His site is The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach, which is described as a listener and student guide to Bach's complete cantatas. On this site you'll find an essay on every one of Bach's 200+ cantatas, an extraordinary resource for anyone wanting to delve into this still largely unexplored goldmine of incredible music. But be warned: once you start exploring you may lose several hours without realising it. Julian's site is completely personal undertaking which he has made available free of charge to music lovers online. I am staggered at the amount of work that has clearly gone into writing the 200+ essays alone, and I know I'll be using it myself!
(From Andrew Massey, freelance conductor, based in the USA, has worked with major orchestras around the world for the last four decades).
Julian Mincham’s website devoted to the Cantatas of J. S. Bach is one of those extraordinary phenomena that it is hard to imagine not existing. Yet it is only the recent development of the internet that has made something like this both possible and instantly accessible. Having been a conductor for more than 40 years I have of course seen an enormous amount of music, but the scale of the wealth and magnificence of the Bach Cantatas is still, for me, an area largely unexplored. Julian’s website is a revelation. There are essays on every one, filled with insight and information. His site links to others so that the actual scores are only a click or two away, so you can check his assertions immediately. I haven’t found anything yet that has been missed by his eagle eyes, (or owl’s ears.) A treasure trove.
Andrew Massey. Middlebury College VT.
(From Evelyn Tubb, a prolific performing artist and an expert in various fields of ‘early music’. She has made many recordings with a wide range of conductors and has toured all over the world; last year alone in Holland, USA, Germany, Finland, Latvia, England and Japan. She is also the Vocal Professor at the internationally acclaimed Schola Cantorum in Basel, Switzerland.)
This is an amazing resource, for professionals, students and amateurs alike. I am so glad that Julian has found the time to create this incredibly useful work. When I was one of his students in the late 70's, he would inspire and tantalise us with his passion and love for Bach's genius, guiding us through his musical architecture and setting up contexts for his masterworks. We were lucky to have him. Now this excellent work is available for all to benefit from. I will certainly be using this site a great deal and hope that in time it will be translated into other languages thereby allowing many more to be initiated into the exquisite music world of JS Bach.
In the beginning, I wanted to sort of work my way into your essays and explore them for a bit before
responding. After awhile, I just got into the habit of reading them first and moving on from there, and I never commented on the consistency of their efficacy and utility. They have become my primary source; I keep a print copy to hand as I listen to each week's selection. The content is invaluable, the musical insights stimulating, and the easy flow of the writing makes them a pleasure to read. What more can one ask! The content is invaluable, the musical insights stimulating, and the easy flow of the writing makes them a pleasure to read. What more can one ask! …an act of complete dedication and passion – truly a labour of love! Many thanks for posting your extensive, articulate reflections on this inexhaustible treasure-trove.
Having just discovered your website, I am truly staggered! Some might call it a mountain of impressive comprehensive information and scholarship: I call it a whole mountain range! As a non- musician, non-singer, but committed music-lover, I only wish that I had known about this website before I joined the Bach Tours. What Ihad found useful were the internet organ recordings but, while very useful and informative, they can in no way compare to the depth and breadth of your scholarship. Thank Heaven you turned your mind and energies to Bach - who knows what considerable mischief you might have got into, had your mind been turnedin another less benign direction! Speaking for the World, ( I am nothing if not presumptuous )we are thankful that you did not turn your energies to international espionage; here I am only guessing, of course. Now I am planning to study one cantata a week until I hear them all. Then it will be time to take another Bach tour,where Iwill be able to smile knowingly when cantatas are mentioned. So much to hear and learn and so little time.......
Hope you are well - just wanted to mail you to congratulate you on your magnum opus - almost as thorough as Bach's!! Awesome scale of project, well done - I'm sure it will be of great interest to a range of people who love this music, and would like to know more. I know from the book I did what hours of work it must have taken you - but what a lot of pleasure too. Very rewarding. Ilove the idea of playing or listening to some Bach every day - not a bad idea that.... I must try it! Good luck with the next stage of the project as you tackle the secular ones. Ilike your site very much and it is easy to access and navigate compared to the tomes now accumulating. It acts in a different way, a balanced consensus view of the works as against the various biases in the existing magna opi, if my Latin is correct.
I’ve at last managed a quiet few minutes on your website. It’s really wonderful. I know nothing about Bach. But I know what websites should be: easy to navigate, friendly, clear and informative. It’s all of those things and more. It’s also full of beautifully written text. My word, the work involved in this….. it’s a tremendous achievement. Your new website is wonderful -- attractive, easy to navigate, and unbelievably informative. Congratulations!
Some people would call this a life's work. I had this idea you were a pilot, but I can't see that you would have time for anything else if you were going to follow through what you have done.
It makes it much easier for the lazier ones to pick up the BCML, and your site and I dare say a few others. Yes, as you say, if I read all the essays (and if I retained what I read) I would become an expert.
Anyway, good for you! I certainly intend to pass on next week the accessibility of your site as a source and recommend it to members. Thanks for alerting me and good luck in building up the rest of the information.
Please forgive the familiar greeting, but I feel that I know you, having followed your posts for years as a lurker on the Bach Cantatas website. Your posts have of course been a highlight for me on the website, combining musical insight, passionate interest, and good humor and tolerance. Yet I believe, unless I have missed something, that you have kept secret your labor of love, or at least the full extent of it, which you have now made available on your own website. While I am not a professional musician, I share your passion for these works, and they have been my joy for many years now. I grab every book I can get a hold of, and numerous (but far from all) recordings. For me, these works are above all spiritual practice, in the broadest and best sense as you so eloquently express in your introduction. Well, enough. I don't want to be mawkish. This is simply to express heartfelt thanks for your astonishing contribution to the literature, which is gratefully appreciated by those like me who ever seek a better understanding of these sublime works. I'm sure you will give us all plenty of notice when publication gets nearer. Please don't delay!
Just wanted to say I love the jsbachcantatas site already - beautifully laid out, easy to follow, easy to use, and useful info! Many thanks.
I finally got around to having a decent browse through your new website. It is a great resource, and must have cost you an unimaginable amount of work. Indeed I am wondering what you have on your plate now that the magnum opus is out for all to enjoy. The links are most helpful. For some reason I always have trouble getting to parts of the BCW that I want, but it now makes sense to go via your site, if indeed I can get past it!
Hi Julian, Thank you for giving me the info on your project. I’m glad that it has at last come to birth! Certainly, I shall be consulting your work frequently over the next few years, and I hope many others will too; it is a most valuable repository of information and easy to access; and easy to understand, too, so in spite of my earlier reservations concerning references, I’m sure you’ve pitched it right and you will find a ready readership. So apart from completing work on the secular cantatas what will you do next?
Just visited your new website. I'm very impressed. What a fantastic new resource for the lovers of Bach's cantatas. Thank you. This is an absolute impressive triumph, well done!!! I have only briefly looked through it all and I will enjoy looking at it again in more detail over the weekend. You have, without doubt, done an enormous amount of work and research and the result seems to me an act of complete dedication and passion. Congratulations and I am sure it will have an appeal certainly to those knowledgeable on the subject but equally to those either making Bach a study or just discovering him. Either way, I am certain this will become a standard and recognised web site for musicians. Congratulations on this magnum opus in extremis!
What a labour of love... I've already started dipping into it, looking up a few of my favourite cantatas: absolutely fascinating and really, really useful. Many thanks for posting your extensive, articulate reflections on this inexhaustible treasure-trove.A beautiful, well-organized, user-friendly web site. I have been listening to the cantatas liturgically for over three years now (this is my fourth time through), and I feel like I am only beginning to understand this life-affirming, soulful music. To help me in my appreciation I have started to keep a Bach Cantata journal -- to record my ideas, impressions, reflections, etc.I do not have much music training.However, I teach literature at university-level, and I am especially interested in Bach's musical exposition of the text.This journaling has been a rich experience thus far (I started with the Christmas cantatas).I expect that, in the years to come, I will continue to add to this journal. What I am trying to say: your essays will help me get closer to the inner-workings of these works.There are few extensive commentaries like yours -- I rely heavily on Duerr, and also consult Gardiner. I just skimmed your essay on "Ich Bin Ein Gueter Hirt" -- you have some most insightful things to say about this incredible piece (one of my favourites).
Julian’s informative site is one of my main go-to places for Bach research, and it truly is amazing; from the clear explanations under the Using this Website tab to the Student and Listener Guide to the Glossary to the detailed cantata descriptions and more, he never fails to delight and inform. He never holds back his opinions (which I always very much enjoy), but his opinions, insights, analyses and explanations are founded on extensive research and written in a pithy style that is accessible to all. The tabs are logically laid out, and I particularly appreciate the Quick Search option, which takes me directly, by BWV number, to the cantata I am researching. This site is the result of many years of careful, thoughtful--dare I say even loving!--work and it shows in every detail. Use with confidence, it will richly reward all readers.
Linda Gingrich (Conductor and adademic)
It brings me the greatest of pleasure to write in support of the work of Julian Mincham and his magnum opus on the Cantatas of J. S. Bach. It is a first-rate resource which deftly combines top drawer academic research with accessible starting points for all who want to deepen their appreciation of Bach's vocal works. There is something for everyone, and Mincham's insights always add something new to established and well-respected scholarship. jsbachcantatas.com is a lavish and richly illuminated inventory of one the most significant and celebrated achievements of Western music.
Tom Hammond-Davies (Director of the Oxford Bach Soloists)