Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bouts, Peanuts and Bach: Food in Church, Synagogue, Picnics and Coffee House

 litfood art


St.Thomas church, near Bardstown, KY, 1940. Photo by Marion Post Wolcott.


Peanuts by Charles Schulz
(re-run, March 28, 2014)

Charlie Brown:And after church, we're all going on a picnic.
Lucy: I didn't know that you're family belonged to a church.
CB: Sure, don't yours?
Lucy: They used to ... now they belong to a coffee house.


 Paolo Veronese, The Feast at Cana ca. 1563

   A biblical scene within a Venetian banquet.

   In Cana, Galilee, Christ is invited to a wedding feast during which he performs his first miracle. At the end of the banquet, when the wine is running low, he asks the servants to fill the stone jars with water and then offer them to the master of the house, who finds that the water has been turned to wine. This episode, told by the Apostle John, is a precursor of the Eucharist. The bride and groom are seated at the left end of the table, leaving the center place to the figure of Christ. He is surrounded by the Virgin, his disciples, clerks, princes, Venetian noblemen, Orientals in turbans, several servants, and the populace.

 Below:  Coffee House in Leipzig, Austria, where J. S. Bach presented concerts

Zimmerman's Kaffehaus, Leipzig, 1732. The site of many Bach concerts.
Georg Schreiber, etching, 18th century

J. S.Bach composed his secular piece, Kaffekontata in 1732-34 and presented it at Zimmerman's, above. 
 BWV 211 Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht
"Kaffeekantate" Di Johann Sebastian Bach, per Soli,Soprano, Tenore e Basso, Coro Soprano, Tenore e Basso
Flauto traverso, Violino uno e due, Viola, e Basso Continuo (Cembalo)
scritta negli anni 1734-1735
testo di Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander) dall´anno 1732

[footnote: Caarlo Goldoni wrote The Coffee House. A Comedy in Three Acts,1750-51 (Commedia dell Arte style]

     Bach wrote dozens of secular cantatas like this, many of which have been lost. This cantata was quite lighthearted and was designed to be performed in the local coffee house. It is still clever the way it portrays a frustrated father and a daughter who can wrap him round her little finger and finds a a way to pursue her much-maligned "coffee drinking habit.". I don't know how anyone would dare limit what Bach might do with his music if he'd wanted to.

     Understanding Bach’s secular performances primarily as an
imitation of courtly ceremony and protocol, however,
risks ignoring the specific characteristics of Leipzig’s coffee-house
     While Bach’s audience undoubtedly perceived the musical pursuits of aristocratic patrons as socially superior, the close ties
between coffee houses, mercantile enterprise
and Leipzig’s trade fairs may well have created an environment
in which musical expertise and the intellectual exchange of ideas
played a more significant role than they did in the power-driven circles of
the nobility.

  Romare Bearden, Shiloh Church Picnic,1965-66

Dieric Bouts, Feast of the Passover, b. Haarlem, Netherlands, 1464-67

Faith Ringgold, Church Picnic, 1988

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