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Johanne Sebastian Bach and the Coffee Cantata

It was the 1730's and Bach was living and working in Leipzig, Germany. He was a teacher and music director at St Thomas School, a boarding school for boys, and was director of a certain Musica Collegium that met and performed at Zimmermann's Coffee House on Fridays each week. Coffee and coffee houses were popular in Germany at that time, and Picander (the pseudonym of the poet Christian Friedrich Henrici who wrote the words for many of Bach's Cantatas) had written a satire about a young woman, her love of coffee, and her father's attempts to keep her from drinking it. In about 1734, Bach set Picander's libretto to music and created the Coffee Cantata (BWV 211) Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht (Be still, don't talk).

Ah! How sweet the coffee's taste is,
Sweeter than a thousand kisses,
Milder than sweet muscatel.
Coffee, coffee, I must have it,
And if someone wants to treat me,
Ah, my cup with coffee fill!

You can download a pdf of a modern score here, and the complete text in English and German is here.

Zimmermann's coffee house at Katharinenstrasse 14. The Coffee Cantata was probably performed here first, in about 1734,by Bach and his Musica Collegium. It may have been an "advertisement" for Zimmermann.

There are many resources on the internet for Bach and the Coffee Cantata. Some engravings of Leipzig in Bach's time can be found here, an excellent summary of the Cantata is here, a chronological biography of Bach is here, and a detailed essay on Bach's life in the Leipzig years starts here.