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J. S. Bach: “Coffee” Cantata, Mvt. 4

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: a Baroque “buzz”…

While Bach is better-known for his sacred cantatas, he wrote several secular ones, including this amusing satirical work. The plot of the so-called “Coffee” Cantata, by Picander (who also wrote the text Bach used for the St. Matthew Passion), tells of a young lady hopelessly addicted to coffee. In despair her father threatens to prevent her from marrying unless she gives up the java. Coffee, first introduced to Europe in the seventeenth century through the Muslim world, had made its way to Bach’s Leipzig home by the 1730s, and the propriety of its consumption had become a matter of some controversy. All satire aside, Bach owed quite a bit to the caffeinated beverage. During the winter months his ensemble, the “Collegium Musicale” frequently performed at Zimmerman’s, the local coffee house.

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