BWV 207 Vereinigte Zwietracht der wechselnden Saiten

Promotion of Dr. Gottlieb Kortte to Professor at the University of Leipzig.

Poet unknown (Picander?).

11 December 1726, Leipzig; 1, 5 ← First Brandenburg Concerto, Third Movement and Second Trio, transposed from F to D, BWV 1046; 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9 ---> BWV 207a.

BG 20, 2; NBA I/38.

A Drama in Music

Happiness?(1) (S), Gratitude (A), Diligence? (T), Honor (B)

1. Chorus (S, A, T, B)

United division(2) of strings ever changing,
Of drums ever rolling with piercing report!

    Summon the eminent hearers this way,
    Tell it out, with your triumphant glad music
    And doubled resources' great sound,
    Unto my busy and diligent children,
    What here the prize for virtue is.

2. Recit. (T) Diligence

Whom noble instinct drives to that we honor name,
And whose ambitious, eager soul
Desires in that to glory
Which can through art and mind and talent be accomplished,
May he make bold to tread
My path with ever-quickened strength and power!
What now the youthful hand, the lively foot doth win
Means that the age'd head in no disgrace and anxious want will waste.
For youthful application's humors
Will one day lift old age's wearied powers,
And those who in their strongest years,—
Or so the idle think,—
In nought but endless toil and constant work are busy,
Will then, when once their goal is reached, with honor filled,
In proud retirement flourish;
For they have found in very fact
That one his rest will rightly savor
If it by bitter sweat is sweetened.

3. Aria (T) Diligence

Withdraw your foot though not, retreating,
All ye who do my path elect!(3)

    Good fortune marketh all your traces,
    And honor counts your bitter paces,
    So that, when once the path is finished,
    To you will in surpassing measure / an equal measure /
    The prize by them forthwith be paid.

4. Recit. (B, S) Honor, Happiness

To him alone
Shall this my dwelling open be
Who counts himself amongst thy children;
Who not the primrose path to which him pleasure bids,
But this thy path of thorns electeth.
My laurels shall henceforth alone such heads embellish
In which the signs of ever stirring blood,
And ever-fearless heart and patient fortitude
For every labor are found present.

I too would be with all my treasures
Nigh him, whom thou dost choose, forever present.
I will allot to him a fair and high degree
Of my devotion's honor
Who e'er for self enough, for others ne'er too much
Of all those gifts which are by toil and work accomplished
Doth seek to merit.(4)
If be adorned the tireless hand
According to my colleague's promise (5)
With rank becoming to its deeds,
That hand shall too the fruit of rich abundance gather.
Thus may we those who who make the effor
To wear the laurel's crown with merit
As happy also honor.

5. Aria (B, S) Honor, Happiness

Him shall my laurels give protection,

He shall the fruit of blessing savor,

And through hard work the stars ascend.


    If dew of sweat should bathe the members,
    It falls into the oyster's center,
    Where it the favored pearls creates.(6)


    Where'er those heated drops are flowing,
    There will a spring from them be welling
    And like the streams of blessing flow.

6. Recit. (A) Gratitude

These are not empty words, not vain and groundless expectations,
Which Diligence as your reward hath shown;
Although the stubborn minds of malcontents are hushed
Whene'er, to match their deeds, a just reward confronts them.
Show ye then within Astraea's(7)
Temple, which by Diligence was opened up with understanding,
Towards a so much beloved and valued teacher,
Ye, his so very true and obligated students,
For all to witness, an example
In which all spite
At Honor, Bliss, and Work's united front(8)
Must stand amazed.
We cannot let this day
Just merely pass away!
Let through the glow of all the lighted candles(9)
The flames of these your hearts to him devoted
Well-wishers see, as well as men of spite!

7. Aria (A) Gratitude

Etch ye this great day of honor
In the hardest marble's stone!

    No, for time corrupteth stone.
    Make, instead, through your own actions
    Your professor's work remembered!
    If we from the fruits may gather
    What the nature of their roots was,
    Those roots must immortal be.

8. Recit. (T, B, S, A) Diligence, Honor, Happiness, Gratitude


Ye sleepy-heads, come forth!
Behold in this my so belove'd Kortte
That in the words I've spoken
No vain illusion lies concealed.
His yet so tender foot no sooner learned to walk
Than he did tread upon my path,
And, since he did begin his work so early,
No wonder that he could his goal so soon accomplish!
How much he me hath loved,
How eager he hath been within my service
Is in the scholarship of other nations written.
But then, why do I seek to praise him?
Is he not well enough exalted
Whom e'en our mighty sovereign King,— who, as Augustus, knows the learned, —
Amongst his teachers nameth.

Oh yes, ye noble colleagues, see how close to Kortte I'm connected.
For him, ere this, my kindly hand
So many wreathes hath woven.
Now shall his higher rank
Bring him that laurel's service
Which underneath a patron strong will be forever verdant.

He can as well share in my treasures,
For through your favor he came into my embrace,
When he in proud retirement laughs,
And to his fill takes pleasure.

Thus all is as I hoped fulfilled,
For such unhoped-for happiness,
My ne'er enough exalted Kortte,
Thy friends' good wishes quells.
Thus doth now one and all upon his oath reflect
And seek for thee through his expression
The fruits of his good will to offer.
Now join, whoe'er an honest friend would be,
In this our song.

9. Chorus (S, A, T, B)

Life to Kortte, Kortte flourish!

    Whom my laurels give support,(10)
    He who in my lap doth sit,(11)
    And through me will e'er ascend,(12)
    He to whom all hearts incline,(13)
    He must for unnumbered years yet
    E'er revered midst blessing stand
    And, though he see crowds of envy,
    Never shall a foe behold.

1. In the absence of an extant PT the identity of only two characters is known for certain (the OP refers to Dankbarkeit "Gratitude" and Ehre "Honor").

2. The striking oxymoron Vereinigte Zwietracht "United division" is a gloss on the term "concerto." This term is derived from the Latin for 'contend, compete,' but can also connote 'harmony' as in the English 'to work in concert.' The opening of the text is appropriate to the derivation of this movement from the First Brandenburg Concerto. It also prepares for the theme of contest between academic diligence and sloth (cf. 3 and 4).

3. Cf. the contrasting allurements of Vice and Virtue in BWV 213, Picander's Hercules at the Crossroads.

4. The teacher is more concerned for the success of his students than for his own, referred too as "candles" in movement 6.

5.Translating meiner Freundin, "my female friend," because Ehre "Honor" (though sung by a bass) is feminine.

6. For analogies on the mussel or oyster, cf. BWV 204/5 and 7, a text by Hunold.

7. Kortte was Professor of Jurisprudence. This subject is represented by Astraea's Temple. Astraea was the goddess of justice who abandoned earth for heaven after the fall of the golden age (cf. Ovid, Metamorphoses 1. 150).

8. Here it is necessary for the meter to translate Glück and Fleiß with "Bliss" and "Work" instead of "Happiness" and "Diligence."

9. The "candles" are Kortte's students.

10. The homophony of the chorus is temporarily broken here to distinguish the identity of the four characters: this line is sung by the bass (Honor) alone.

11. This line is sung by the soprano (Happiness) alone.

12. This line is sung by the tenor (Diligence) alone.

13. This line is sung by the alto (Gratitude) alone.

© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose

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