Written By: Matthew Sprosty
First off, how’s your Odd Dog Coffee? What flavor did you decide to go with today? Me? Today is a Just the Beans day. Black and hot.
Second, we all know who Johann Sebastian Bach is, right? Or J.S. Bach, for short? Or just simply Bach as there has never been a more famous Bach before nor after, right?
A brief introduction to J.S. is that he was a german composer who, ironically, only had portraits painted of him that made him look like he just decreed that music and therefore dancing were illegal like Lithgow in the movie Footloose. He is generally regarded as the greatest composer of all time (which, I’ll agree, since “Air” from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 is one of my favorite pieces, and is prominently displayed in my favorite movie of all time, Se7en. Scroll down for Melvin Oatmeal’s amusing blog about his experience with my favorite movie.)
Somewhere between 1732 and 1735, Bach composed Schqweigt Still, Plaudert Nicht (Be Still, Stop Chattering) or what is commonly referred to as the Coffee Cantata, an Opera buffa which amusingly tells the story of a girl being addicted to coffee. If you’re like, “what is an Opera buffa?” I totally get it, we’re all not opera experts here (is being an “operaologist” a thing? Quick fact check? No.) An opera buffa is a genre of Italian opera originating in the 18th century... And now you know.
Today, I’m going to tell you how the “Coffee Cantata” goes so you can tell our your friends at dinner parties with your pinkies and noses in the air, pontificating over 18th century opera cantatas! Won’t you seem fancy?!
In the “Coffee Cantata,” a narrator comes out to tell everyone to be quiet in order to listen to his story. He introduces the two main characters, a father (Schlendrian; which translates to “Stick in the Mud”; played by a bass or “buffo") and his daughter (Lieschen; who is a soprano.) Schlenderian sings how children are so very frustrating, and how his daughter never listens to him. To prove his point, he turns to her and tells her to stop drinking coffee.
Lieschen tells her father that if she does not have coffee “at least three times a day” she will “turn into a shriveled-up roast goat.” Then, in Movement #4 in a beautiful Aria, Lieschen sings her love for coffee which, I am surprised, is not used regularly in most advertisements:
A Translation from german:
Ah! How sweet coffee tastes,
(If you listen to the original German, you can make out all off the “Coffee”s quite clearly.)
Schlendrian and Lieschen go back and forth. The father telling his daughter she will never go to any parties, he will cut her off financially, and he will even forbid window gazing into stores. To all these things, the daughter doesn’t care as long as he leaves her coffee addiction alone. The father, perplexed at what to do, knows there has to be something his daughter would want over the magical elixir we all know and love.
He finally thinks of it, and in a sign of the times, tells her she will not be allowed to wed if she doesn’t give up the drink we all love. Aghast, she immediately gives up coffee, and demands that her addiction to the drink be satiated by a lover that night. When Schlendrian goes out to find the suitor, Lieschen secretly puts a footnote in her marriage contract, without her father knowing, that she be allowed to drink coffee whenever she wants.
In the final movement it is declared that:
Cats do not give up mousing,
In fitting fashion, the Coffee Cantata was first performed where Bach regularly directed an ensemble of musicians in Leipzig, Germany at the Zimmermannsches Kaffeehaus. Or, as we say in English— the Zimmerman Coffeehouse.
Raise a cup of Odd Dog Coffee to the greatest coffee loving composer of all time!