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Handbook to Bach's Sacred Cantata Texts Hardcover – April 16, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0810829794 ISBN-10: 0810829797 Edition: First

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Handbook to Bach's Sacred Cantata Texts + The Cantatas of J. S. Bach: With Their Librettos in German-English Parallel Text
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 780 pages
  • Publisher: Scarecrow Press; First edition (April 16, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810829797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810829794
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 2.1 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,134,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

...a work that can give the reader a clearer understanding of the meaning of Bach's numerous sacred cantatas...the price is most reasonable for such a substantial work. (Arba)

...attentive to the more difficult turns of phrase that can be disguised or otherwise compromised in 'poetic translations'... (Choice)

To understand the relation between [Bach's cantata texts] and the scriptures--which in Bach's time were common knowledge--is of utmost importance...[Unger's] extensive work is an important source for all who want to further their understanding of Bach's church cantatas... (Helmuth Rilling)

In all, for both its careful translations and exegesis of the Bach texts, this will be a valuable addition to academic and large public libraries serving a specialized music audience. (Rq)

...for libraries, choral directors, music ministers, singers, instrumentalists, and fans, this volume is a wonderful investment...what more can you ask for? ...in a very handy form. Included is a wealth of information that has previously been available only by consulting a number of other books (some in German). The work includes a good selected bibliography and a number of extremely helpful indexes...this is the finest one-volume reference book on Bach's cantatas in English and will do a lot to stimulate both general and scholarly interest in these magnificent works. (American Record Guide)

Unger has provided a reference work of great importance and value...a wide use of this Handbook is warmly recommended. (Alfred Mann)

...this work (book) has inestimable worth. (Karl Hochreiter)

To guide modern performers and listeners towards a better understanding of the theological and liturgical context for Bach's cantatas, a number of reference works dealing with their texts have appeared, beginning with Rudolf Wustmann's Joh. Seb. Bachs Kantatentexte (Leipzig, 1913). Such works have established the sources - biblical passages, chorales, and poetry - of Bach's cantata texts, specified their position in the liturgical calendar, and provided non-German speakers with translations. Melvin P. Unger's Handbook to Bach's Sacred Cantata Texts: An Interlinear Translation with Reference Guide to Biblical Quotations and Allusions, goes a step further by identifying not only specific passages from the bible, but also allusions to other passages an eighteenth-century worshiper, better versed in the bible than his modern counterpart, would have understood. (Eighteenth Century Current Bibliography)

...this comprehensive handbook...tells us what quotations and allusions there are in every cantata movement...a very useful guide... (Bach Bibliography)

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation)
Original Language: German

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mark J. St Hilaire on June 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is unquestionably one of the finest resources for Bach scholarship that I've come across! I cannot praise this book enough--Charles Sanford Terry would certainly have admired this work. The layout of the texts, with its biblical references, is so very helpful when listening to a cantata. As one who has four complete recording sets of these marvelous works, I can honestly express my gratitude for this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Brooks on August 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Phenomenal! I can't imagine a finer gift for any church musician who uses Bach's music. Definitely worth the price.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Paul T. McCain on October 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
For the Bach cantata student, performer or simply listener and lover, this book is essential. So often the 'translations' provided with recordings of the cantatas are horrible, often totally botchin g the translation of words and terribly distorting their meaning. If you love Bach's church cantatas, you must have this book. Period.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By W. Jamison VINE VOICE on May 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The left column is the German text along with the English translation - assuming the intertranslateability of the two (here I am keeping in mind the sort of critique Umberto Eco gives in his book "Experieces in Translation") then in the right column relevant Biblical passages. Still left for the reader the opportunity to elaborate on the deeper interpretations that might be drawn from the text for the sermons these were meant to elaborate in music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dan G. on January 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book will not tell you anything about the music -- but the music speaks for itself. If you want to understand the texts of Bach's cantatas, this is the perfect resource. Not only is the German translated word for word, the relevant biblical texts are cited. Without these references, one can't really understand the sense of what is being sung. I don't believe there's any other book like this, and I am eternally grateful to Dr. Unger for producing this incredible work.

I feel that now that I have this book and recordings of the cantatas (I highly recommend the Bach Collegium of Japan recordings!) I have all the religion I need.
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