Funeral of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Funeral of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen

On this day (and the day before) in 1729 Prince Leopold from Anhalt-Köthen was buried. Although Bach lived in Leipzig at the time, he worked at the Prince's court between 1717 and 1723, and retained the title of court composer. So when the Prince passed away, it was fitting that Bach would write a funeral cantata, now known as the Köthener Trauermusik.

Sadly the music of the cantata was lost, but extensive studies by different musical scholars show that he reused music from the St Matthews Passion and from funeral music for the Electress of Saxony (BWV 198, Laß, Fürstin, laß noch einen Strahl), both written in 1727. Bach often reused earlier compositions. That technique is called parody in classical music.

Andrew Parrot and his Taverner Consort and Players made an elaborate study and reconstruction of this funeral cantata, so I used his 2010 recording for today's playlist.

Cantatas

  • Klagt, Kinder, klagt es aller Welt, BWV 244a
    (first performance 24 March 1729, Leipzig period)

Playlist

WBCF0324-Funeral of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen

Playlist cover on Spotify

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Image of the day

Schlossanlage Köthen, home of the princes of Köthen, around 1650 in a copper etching by Caspar Merians (Bach-Archiv Leipzig).

Schlossanlage Köthen, home of the princes of Köthen, around 1650 in a copper etching by Caspar Merians (Bach-Archiv Leipzig).