|BWV 201 Geschwinde, ihr wirbelnden Wind
(Der Streit Zwischen Phoebus und Pan)
Specific occasion unknown, probably for Zimmermann's Coffeehouse.
Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander), Ernst-Schertzhaffte und Satyrische Gedichte, Teil III (Leipzig, 1732); Facs: Neumann T, p. 346.
1729, Leipzig; also 1749; Parody: 7 ---> BWV 212/20; 15 ---> VIII/9 (BWV Anh. 19) and cf. VII/7 (BWV Anh. 10).
BG 11, 2; NBA I/40.
A Drama in Music
Phoebus (B1), Pan (B2), Tmolus (T1), Midas (T2), Mercury (A), and Momus (S)
1. Chorus (S, A, T, B) Tutti
2. Recit. (B1, B2, S) Phoebus, Pan, Momus
3. Aria (S) Momus
My lord, this is mere wind.
That one that as truth doth hold
Which the eyes alone behold,
That the fools are keen of mind,
That good fortune, too, is blind,
My lord, this is mere wind.
4. Recit. (A, B1, B2) Mercury, Phoebus, Pan
5. Aria (B1) Phoebus
Filled with longing,
For they are my stars of morning
And my spirit's very sun.
6. Recit. (S, B2) Momus, Pan
7. Aria (B2) Pan
For dancing, for prancing now quavers my heart.
And the mouth in bondage sing,
It will waken nought for sport.
8. Recit. (A, T1) Mercury, Tmolus
9. Aria (T1) Tmolus
Phoebus, of thy melody
10. Recit. (B2, T2) Pan, Midas
11. Aria (T2) Midas
Pan's the master, let him reign!
12. Recit. (S, A, T1, B1, T2, B2) M
13. Aria (A) Mercury
Puffed-up, swollen fervor,
14. Recit. (S) Momus
Good fellow Midas, get thee hence
15. Chorus (S, A, T, B) Tutti
Soothe the heart, ye noble strings now,
1. This story is based upon Ovid, Metamorphoses 11. Momus, the Greek god of ridicule, is not found in Ovid's version. Midas is the King of Lydia who befriended Dionysus and became a patron of the music of the reeds. Tmolus is a mountain of Asia Minor. Phoebus Apollo is the patron of the lyre while Pan favors the aulos, the pipe. It is probably significant that Phoebus' contest aria is accompanied by strings, reeds (oboe d'amore), and flauto traverso while Pan's aria is accompanied by violins alone. Even though the final chorus hails the noble strings and in the final recitative Momus bids Apollo pick up again his lyre, the implication of the orchestration of Phoebus' contest aria may be that his musical powers are more universal than Pan's. Whether Picander and Bach were aware that in historical fact there was in antiquity no exclusive association of the lyre with Apollo or the aulos with Dionysus, we cannot say, but Ovid does make clear that Orpheus the lyre-player was associated with both Apollo and Dionysus.
4. The Schellenmütze is a cap of bells or fool's cap. The translation is rhymed to emphasize the closely spaced and amusing rhyme of the original. Grütze 'grits' is a delightful colloquialism for 'brains' or 'wit.'
5. These three lines are variants in a Ms of the text and in the OP, and the last line is corrected
again with Birolius und ein Hortens. Quintus Hortensius Hortalus (114-50 B.C.) was a prominent
orator known for his use of the new florid (Asianic) style. He was defeated in his defense of
Verres by Cicero in 70 B.C. "Orbil" is Lucius Orbilius Pupillus, a grammarian at Rome in the
time of Cicero. Amongst his pupils was Horace (65-8 B.C), who immortalizes him as the "Flogger"
(plagosus) in Epistles 2. 1. 69 ff. In an anecdote told in defense of modern poetry, Horace recalls
that Orbilius thrashed his students for the slightest of errors in reciting from the old Latin poet
Livius Andronicus (3rd c. B.C.). It may be of interest that Picander quotes from this same Epistle
in the PT to BWV 193a. In the second variant in the OP "Birolius" appears to be a clever anagram
for "Orbilius." The names Hortensius and Orbilius are associated with the kind of stylistic
controversy which must lie behind the Picander-Bach satire.
© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose