Video: Gustav Leonhardt Conducts J.S. Bach Coffee Cantata
Coffee first arrived in Europe via Italy—it came to Venice from the Middle East and quickly spread throughout Europe. It got a huge promotional boost around 1600 when the Pope decreed coffee to be a drink for Christians.
By the end of the 17th Century, coffee houses had spread like wildfire, including in places such as Leipzig, Germany, where they were popular venues for live music.
It was this very setting that probably inspired Johann Sebastian Bach to compose his satirical cantata Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht, BW 211, better known as the “Coffee Cantata,” which tells of a young woman’s addiction to coffee and of her father’s futile efforts in getting her to stop drinking it.
Here’s Dutch harpsichordist and conductor Gustav Leonhardt directing a performance of the cantata with soloists Dorothee Mields, Nico van der Meel, and Harry van der Kamp.
The video comes from a Dutch television broadcast of a 2009 concert at Noordeinde Palace in The Hague. The performance begins around 4:15.
As an added bonus, we also get to hear Bach’s burlesque “Peasant Cantata” (begins around 33:00).