Category Archives: Scholarship

When will it come, this lovely Now!

A few personal notes on Bach’s Cantata BWV 82, Ich habe genug.

Recit. Mein Gott, wenn kommt das schöne: Nun! BWV 82

Mein Gott, wenn kommt das schöne: Nun! (Bach’s handwriting, https://www.bach-digital.de).

A daily dose of Das Wohltemperierte, during many years, has not quite cured me of a mild bachophobia. As much as I enjoy playing Bach, and less frequently, to listen to his music, it still leaves me with a feeling of discomfort.
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*)

*) To a smiley generation this may look like a grin and a black eye. But this is a not a post on faces, but a note on footnotes. A note lacking context, an aside without dialogue.

(Wouldn’t it be wonderful to watch a play of nothing but asides.)

I remember the first time I encountered a footnote, and I remember it, because the fascination I then felt hasn’t gone away. In some children’s book (Dutch, 1930’s, probably, as a child I read a lot of very old stuff), the author explained an unusual word at the bottom of the page. I even think I remember what it was:

*) De motorfiets werd toen, heel zot, “schetenfiets” genoemd.
*) In those days the motorcycle was called, oddly, “farting cycle”.

There may be some involuntary fantasy in this  (I have found no web traces of the word schetenfiets, which however deserves to be remembered — and will be, tagged with this post). Continue reading

The Wötzel Puzzle

The word ‘declamation’ is likely to evoke negative associations — pompousness and a swollen tone. It was no different two centuries ago. At least in the German-speaking world, where, despite a widespread anti-declamatory prejudice (or sensible aversion) declamation as a stage art boomed around 1800.

This has been the subject of my research of the past few months. And that’s how I came across Dr. J.C. Wötzel’s Outline of a General and Comprehensible Doctrinal Edifice or System of Declamation (1814). It took me some time to get through its 840 pages even in hop-skip-and-jump fashion. For Wötzel uses three words were anybody else would use one.

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