Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten!

Johann Sebastian Bach

Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten!

BWV214

About this work

The title of this secular cantata means "Sound, ye drums! Ring out, Trumpets!" It is subtitled "Dramma per musica," and was written for the birthday of the Electress of Saxon, who was also Queen of Poland, and was performed on December 8, 1733. It calls for one of the largest performing forces of any Bach cantata: Soprano, alto, tenor and bass solos, full chorus, and a large orchestra for the time. The author of the text is unknown.

The four singers portray the allegorical figures of Bellona, Pallas, Irene, and Fama. The opening chorus is accompanied by the full orchestra, which naturally enough includes drums and trumpets to add to the call of "Long Live the Queen!" The Queen is extolled as the protectress of the Muses in her lands; the voices of youths pledge to stand ready with their weapons as part of the splendid display.

Similar praise continues. A final recitative proclaims that her fame shall spread to all lands, and the final chorus bids the trees to bloom in her honor, and wishes her long live. In other words, this cantata, splendid though it is musically, is an extended bit of sucking up, but that was life in the eighteenth century.

Later, Bach put much of the music of this cantata to more exalted use as part of his "Christmas Oratorio."

Done