dr hab. Piotr Kociumbas, University of Warsaw

Johann Daniel Pucklitz's 'Oratorio Secondo' and its libretto through the eye of a literary historian

When, on the threshold of winter 1747, an announcement was published in the local ‘Danziger Erfahrungen’ about a concert during which the premiere of Johann Daniel Pucklitz’s composition Der sehr unterschiedene Wandel und Tod des Gottlosen und Gottsfürchtigen was to take place, the term ‘Cantate’ was chosen to describe the genre of the work.[1] However, on the title page of a print published at a similar time containing the literary text of this composition, we notice the name ‘Oratorio’. So is this an error on the part of the author of the press announcement? Or is it intentional to use both terms? In order to answer these questions, it is worth looking a little more closely at the poetry underlying Pucklitz’s composition and attempting to assign the literary text in genological terms and to set it in the context of a comparable work in the German language area.

The copy of the print preserved in the collection of the Polish Academy of Sciences Gdansk Library with the anonymous text that is the literary basis of Pucklitz’s work was published in a handy octavo format and has 15 numbered pages.[2] On the title page (see illustration 1) we find the title of the composition (‘Oratorio. Der sehr unterschiedene Wandel und Tod des Gottlosen und Gottsfürchtigen’), an annotation of the author of the musicalisation of the text (‘Jn Music gebracht von Johann Daniel Pucklitz E[ines] Hochedl[en] und Hochweisen Raths Musicus’) emphasising the fact that the composer was a musician of the City Council band. The publisher’s address gives the place of printing (“Dantzig”), the Thomas Johann Schreiber publishing house in which the print saw the light of day (“Gedruckt mit Schreiberischen Schriften”), and the year of publication (“1747”). The graphic design of the printing is very modest: attention is drawn only to the simple vignettes on the first and last pages of the text, the use of which resulted in the lower cost and affordability of the publication: indeed, it was priced at 6 groschen, which was just over one seventh of the concert ticket price of 1 florin and 15 groschen.

Illustration 1: Oratorio. Der sehr unterschiedene Wandel und Tod der Gottlosen und Gottsfürchtigen, Danzig: Thomas Johann Schreiber 1747, print title page. Polska Biblioteka Nauk Biblioteka Gdańska, ref. Ee 2557 8°

The title of the composition Der sehr unterschiedene Wandel und Tod des Gottlosen und Gottsfürchtigen has the character of a supra-confessional thesis, obvious to every Christian, according to which the life and death of an ungodly man and a godly man are different. In marketing terms, this formulation of the title increased the work’s circle of potential audiences and thus ticket-payers: from the predominantly Augsburg Evangelicals to Reformed Evangelicals to Roman Catholics.

A closer look at the content of the literary text reveals that what we are dealing with here are reflections on the themes announced in the title of the work rather than an explicit plot. In keeping with the title, these reflections have been grouped into two halves, marked in print with Roman numerals. The starting point for the reflections in the first half is the image of the disobedience of the first humans towards God as the prime cause of human misery and death. Although the latter affects everyone regardless of social status, the approach to it is individual. For some, the thought of death and parting with mortality fills them with fear and sadness, and their only way of coping with this kind of stress is to live a life of pleasure and unfettered freedom. However, such an attitude entails a gradual distancing from God, which further intensifies their fear, this time stemming from the fear of eternal damnation.

While the reflections of the lyrical subject in the first half of the work focus on the optics of the godless man, the second half is filled with reflections around the attitude of the God-fearing man, following the strategy sketched in the composition’s title. The God-fearing man in the face of death is calm and joyful, looking out with conviction for what lies on the other side. His courage stems from his faith in Christ and his saving passion, which makes him a true Christian. The courage of the godly is also supported by the belief in the resurrection of the body on the Day of Judgement and the conviction of his future participation in the joy of all the saved in the Kingdom of God and the bliss that comes from seeing God face to face. This bliss is a consequence of God’s grace and a proof of God’s love towards man. This is why the pious man looks forward to the day of his death with longing, humbly accepting every decision of the Most High. And when that day comes, the godly man leaves this world with joy, surrounded by the glory of a great hero.

For the concertgoers (and readers of the printed text of the composition), the meaning of this plot, reduced to the bare minimum and reflecting the schematic lives of representatives of two extreme human attitudes, was clear: only the God-fearing and eternity-oriented man is worthy of joy and salvation after death; sorrow and damnation await the godless man living in the cult of mortality. It is worth emphasising at this point that the author of the text put the sign of equality between a God-fearing man and a believer, emphasising faith in Christ – according to the doctrine of the Protestant-Augsburg confession – as the only condition for achieving salvation. It is through faith that one becomes a true Christian. At the same time, the poet emphasised the indispensability of God’s grace, from which God grants forgiveness and justification to believers, although sinful by nature, for free and for Christ’s sake. Here, then, we are dealing with a message readable to and recognised by the Lutherans dominating the Motlawa River at the time, to whom Johann Daniel Pucklitz, after all, also belonged.

The libretto discussed here is a conglomerate resulting from the juxtaposition of forms of expression characteristic of various literary genres and from the integration of texts of various provenance: original poetic texts, songs present on the pages of cancionals (church hymn books) and prose derived from the Bible. It is worth starting the review of the individual components with the recitatives and arias that make up the original poetry, probably written specifically for the Danzig musician.

The printed literary text of the work contains 11 recitatives, five of which fall in the first and six in the second half of the composition. They are each introduced with the abbreviation ‘Recit[ativ]’ (see illustration 2). From the point of view of versification, we are dealing here with stichically juxtaposed iambic free madrigal verses, i.e. verses characterised by a varying number of syllables and accents and a variable rhyme order, which at first glance is intended to give the impression of randomness. These features bring the recitative closer to the natural way of speaking, which corresponds musically to the melodeclamation characteristic of recitatives. In the work under discussion, the ninth recitative is the longest with 16 verses, while the tenth is the shortest with only six verses. The verses with the smallest (2/1) and the largest (11/5) number of syllables/accent are present in the second and ninth recitatives. In the recitatives, the direction of the lyrical subject’s reflections is given, and new motifs and groups of motifs are evoked, all mainly within the framework of a reflective-moralistic monologue. It is noteworthy, however, that in the second (comprising alto and bass), fourth (soprano and bass), fifth (soprano, tenor and bass), eighth (alto, tenor and bass) and ninth (soprano and tenor) recitatives reflections are carried out within several voices, which resembles an exchange between interlocutors within a dialogue or polylogue.

Illustration 2: Oratorio. Der sehr unterschiedene Wandel und Tod der Gottlosen und Gottsfürchtigen, Danzig: Thomas Johann Schreiber 1747, pp. 12-13. Polska Biblioteka Nauk Biblioteka Gdańska, ref. Ee 2557 8°.

An exemplification of the above comments can be found in the ninth recitative, where two voices speak within 16 iambic verses (the second of which has only two syllables and one accent, and the penultimate of which covers 11 syllables and five accents). The first is the tenor, which continues the deliberations of the tenor voice present in the eighth recitative, focused on bringing the listener closer to the heavenly delight awaiting the godly after death. Within the first seven verses, the lyrical subject conveys that the joy of the faithful saved is obvious proof of God’s love, and therefore the godly man scoffs at the futility of this world. The space of the next nine verses is entrusted to the soprano voice to describe how the God-fearing man finds himself in mortality: he is ready to fulfil God’s word and God’s will with all his might, perceives earthly joys as fleeting and fettering to the spirit, and nourishes within himself only pure, and therefore worldly-oriented, desires. The soprano’s final remark accentuates the fact that both body and spirit belong to God:

Tenor: Aus solcher Seligkeit,

die dort die Gläubigen erfreut,

nimmt er

die klaresten Beweise her,

wie herzlich Gott die Menschen liebe.

Und diese Liebe macht,

dass er die Eitelkeit verlacht.

Soprano: Er ist bereit,

des Höchsten Wort und Willen

aus allen Kräften zu erfüllen.

Er sieht die Lust der Welt,

die manchen Geist gefesselt hält,

als etwas an,

so keine Dauer haben kann.

Er hegt in seiner Seele reine Triebe;

kurz: Leib und Geist ist Gott geweiht.

After the recitative, the next component of the work’s literary text is the aria, introduced in print with an identical-sounding heading (see Figure 2). Its manifestations can be found here in a total of 11, including five in the first half and six in the second. Metrically, the arias here are filled with verses based mainly on iambic flow (arias: third, fourth, fifth, sixth, ninth and tenth), although – unlike the recitative – there are also texts based on trochee (arias: first, second and seventh) and amphibrach (arias: eighth and eleventh). In the latter case, the dance-like character of the amphibrachic sequence, resulting from its tripartite nature, was used to emphasise the enthusiasm inherent in texts describing heavenly delight and singing together with the multitude of the saved. Let us mention that this treatment was used only in the second half of the work, creating an attitude of godly living. Another feature distinguishing the aria from the recitative is the metrical regularity characteristic of strophic poetry, manifested in a more orderly use of rhyme (with a predominance of even and circumflex rhymes), as well as the even length of the verses, which translates into a similar number of accents contained in them. The four arias (third, fourth, fifth and sixth) show a three-part structure with an ABA scheme called da capo in Italian and marked in the printed text with the letters ‘V[on] A[nfang]’. This notation informs the reader that the words of the first verses of this part of the composition, together with their musicalisation, require repetition at the end of the work. In the case of the remaining seven arias, we are dealing with a da capo substitute (without repetition of musical material), manifested in a literal repetition of the first line at the end of the text (arias one, eight and nine), in an inaccurate repetition (arias two and seven) or in a partial repetition of the first two lines (arias ten and eleven). The purpose of the aria was to reflect on a motif or group of motifs present in the preceding recitative.

As an exemplification of the above remarks, let us refer to the ninth aria (see Illustration 2) , filled with reflections on the contents of the previous part of the work, the tenor-soprano recitative discussed above. Eight iambic verses of similar length, each containing four accents, are linked by rhymes in circumflex (the first four verses) and even (the remaining four). Described in the ninth recitative, the godly man’s aversion to the pleasures of mortality is highlighted already in the first verse of the aria with an exclamatory “away!” addressed directly to the fleeting joys of this world. The lyrical subject points to the anxiety accompanying worldly pleasures and, at the same time, emphasises the impossibility of satisfying with them his desires directed towards heavenly matters and abiding by God. These desires can only be quelled by what assures God’s favour, i.e. by living as a God-fearing and true believer:

Soprano: Weg kurze Freude dieser Welt!

Du kannst mich zwar in Unruh’ setzen,

mit nichten aber recht ergötzen.

Ich wähle das, was Gott gefällt.

Ich will beständig an Ihm hangen;

nichts stillt mein eifriges Verlangen,

as was mir Seine Huld erhält.

Weg kurze Freude dieser Welt!

The repetition of the initial “away!” in the final verse by the lyrical subject again rhetorically highlights the godly man’s disapproval of worldly pleasures.

An overview of the components of original poetic creation present in the text of the composition closes with an arioso, marked in print with an identical-sounding heading (see illustration 2). It appears twice and fills the last two lines of the second and tenth recitatives each time. Metrically, it resembles more a fragment of strophic poetry (which brings it closer to an aria) due to the similar length of the verses and the presence of even rhymes. It is linked to the recitative by the occurrence of iambic flow. The arioso, whose affinity to the aria – which is also clear at the level of nomenclature – is underlined by the singing rather than declamatory presentation of the text, highlights particularly significant passages within the recitative. As an example, consider recitative ten (see Figure 2), in which the lyrical subject continues the considerations present in the recitative and aria cited above. The aversion to earthly joys entails in the God-fearing Christian not only a desire to embrace God, who is the source of all love, but also a desire to die as soon as possible to enter the multitude of the saved. With the arioso, the benefit of being in that august company is accentuated – no human weakness will be able to tear the pious man away from God and His love any longer:

Alt: Es wünschet sich ein Christ,

aus heiligem Verlangen

Den zu umfangen,

der aller Liebe Ursprung ist;

nur bald in Friede zu den Scharen

erlöseter Gerechten hinzufahren.


Wo keine Schwachheit mehr den Geist

von Gott und seiner Liebe reißt.

With reference to the characterisation of the arioso from the point of view of versification presented above, it is worth noting that the two lines of this component, joined by an even rhyme, here each count four accents, while the number of accents in the recitative varies between two and five.

In addition to the original poetry, most likely written specifically for Pucklitz, foreign texts were included in the libretto, as already mentioned, i.e. by other authors, indicating on the one hand the intertextual and on the other hand the compilation character of the literary layer of this composition. The first group of these texts consists of stanzas of church songs customarily referred to as chorales, which are preceded in the printed libretto by the heading ‘Choral’. The libretto discussed here contains 13 such chorales, with five in the first half of the work and eight in the second half. The second, third, sixth, tenth and twelfth chorales each use two strophes of song, while the remaining chorales use only one. The songs included in the text must have been familiar to most of the concert attendees, as they can be found on the pages of Lutheran canciones of the time, including those published in Gdańsk.

Among the authors of the songs present here we find Heinrich Albert (1604-1651; first chorale: Ich bin ja, Herr, in deiner Macht and third chorale: O! wie mögen wir doch unser Leben), Ämilia Juliana von Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt (1637-1706; fourth chorale: Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende), Johann Rist (1607-1667; fifth chorale: O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort), Johann Friedrich Mayer (1650-1712; sixth chorale: Meinen Jesum lass ich nicht , meine Seel’), Johann Quirsfeld (1642-1686; seventh chorale: O Tod, was willst du schrecken?), Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676; eleventh chorale: Warum willst du draußen stehen) and Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608; thirteenth chorale: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme). In the case of three songs, the authorship of the poetic layer is uncertain: Luisa Henrietta von Oranien (1627-1667) is credited with the song Jesus, meine Zuversicht (eighth chorale), Johann Georg Albinus (1624-1679) or Johann Rosenmüller (1619-1684) function as the authors of the songs Alle Menschen müssen sterben (ninth and tenth chorales), while the authorship of the hymn Den die Engel droben mit Gesange loben (the twelfth chant) is linked to the persons of Caspar Ziegler (1621-1690) and Johann Anastasius Freylinghausen (1670-1739). Most of the authors mentioned are classified by hymnological research as representatives of the wider Thirty Years’ War era (Albert, Albinus, Gerhardt, Luise Henriette von Oranien , Quirsfeld, Rist, Rosenmüller, Ziegler and Ämilia Juliana von Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt as a precursor of pietism), in addition authors from the period of orthodox-Pietist dualism are present (Freylinghausen as a Pietist and Mayer as a representative of orthodox and non-Pietist authors) and the period of the Lutheran response to the Counter-Reformation (Nicolai).

The author of the libretto selected the individual stanzas of the ecclesiastical songs in such a way that they comment on, enhance or introduce the content contained in the recitatives and arias. As an example, let us use chorale eleven (see illustration 2), which contains the fifth stanza (noted as ‘v[ersus] 5.’) of Paul Gerhardt’s song Warum willst du draußen stehen from 1653. It can be found among the Advent repertoire even in the pages of the – obsolete, but still in use in Pucklitz’s time – first official Danzig cancion from 1719[3] , where it appears under the number 5. With this choice, the nothingness of worldly pleasures was emphasised, thus alluding to the immediately preceding chorale and the ninth aria quoted above:

In der Welt ist alles nichtig,

nichts ist, das nicht kraftlos wär’.

Hab ich Hoheit, die ist flüchtig,

hab ich Reichtum, was ist’s mehr

as a Stücklein armer Erd’?

Hab ich Lust, was ist sie wert?

Was ist, das mich heut erfreuet,

das mir morgen nicht gereuet?

Also worthy of note is the use of the ninth chorale, namely the fourth stanza of the song Alle Menschen müssen sterben by Albinus or Rosenmüller a, in the official Danzig cancion of 1719 under number 391 (in the section with songs treating of death), combined with the immediately preceding recitative. The common ground here is the description of heavenly joys (as a consequence of longed-for death) and the singing of praise intoned by hosts of angels in honour of the Most High:

TenorWie billig ist die Sterbenslust,

die einen Gläubigen entzücket.

AltEr kennt die Seligkeit,

wohin ihn Gottes Huld versetzet.

Bas: Er schmecket die Zufriedenheit,

die den erlösten Geist ergötzet.

Tenor: Ihm ist bewusst,

dass er ein Reich erblicket,

wo man nichts als nur Ruh’ und Friede,

nichts als Vergnügen sieht;

wo kein mit Not umschränktes Leben,

wo sich des Himmels Heer bemüht

in einem neuen Liede,

des Höchsten Güte zu erheben:


SopranoDa wird sein das Freudenleben,

da viel Tausend Seelen schon

sind mit Himmelsglanz umgeben,

stehen da für Gottes Thron.

Da die Seraphinen prangen

and das hohe Lied anfangen:

Tutti: Heilig, heilig, heilig heißt

Gott der Vater, Sohn und Geist.

The way in which the chorale is introduced within the final movement of the composition is also intriguing. In the preceding aria, the collective lyrical subject emphasises the joy of God-fearing man in being among the saved and encourages all members of the Church on earth (including the concert attendees) to intone a song together with the congregants gathering on the other side of life. This song is supposed to be the third stanza of the chorale Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, familiar to all evangelicals, in the official Danzig cancion of 1719 under number 408 (in the section with songs about the Last Judgement) . It describes music resounding to God’s glory in the New Jerusalem, uniting both human and angelic voices. A substitute and anticipation of this communal music-making is to be the laudatory church song performed during the concert (and perhaps sung or at least hummed by the audience) as an exemplification of religious music, the full and perfect realisation of which – according to Baroque-Lutheran musical theology – will only occur after the resurrection.

The second and final manifestation of foreign texts to find their way into the libretto under discussion here is a fragment of biblical prose, or dictum. This short passus, from the Book of the Wisdom of Sirach (Syr 14:17), which is apocryphal for evangelicals, emphasises the characteristic message of the Old Order: every man must die, for death is the wages of sin (cf. Rom 6:23). This message is given an explication in the tenor recitative following the dictum: death is the result of the disobedience of the first humans and all subsequent generations (highlighted by the realisation by all four voices) must suffer the consequence:

Bas: Es ist der alte Bund: Mensch, du musst sterben! [Syr 14,17]

TenorJa, recht ein alter Bund.

Dem ersten Paar, das Gottes Hand erbauet,

dem Er sein Bildnis anvertrauet,

verkündigte sein Mund,

dass Ihm des reinesten Gehorsams Ehre

für seine Huld gehöre.

Er zeigte ihm des Ungehorsams Früchte,

den Stand des Jammers und der Not.


es machte selbst sein Wohl zunichte

und wählete für sich und uns den Tod.

Es kann daher nicht anders sein:

Soprano, alto, tenor, bass: Wir, Kinder, müssen erben

und alle sterben.

 The above review of the work’s literary components (recitatives, arias, church song stanzas and dictum) provides an optimal starting point for the attempt – announced in the introduction – to classify the literary text of Pucklitz’s composition as a whole in terms of genre and place it in the context of comparable works in the German language area.

As already mentioned, the announcement of the concert at which the work was to be premiered, published in a local magazine, used the term ‘Cantate’. In terms of genre, this was justified by the cantata’s characteristic selection of the work’s literary components: alternating passages of free madrigal verse (recitatives) and strophic verse (arias), as well as texts from other sources: a prose fragment from the Bible (dictum) and stanzas of church songs from a cancion (chorale). This variety, known as the mixed madrigal cantata, was perpetuated and disseminated by the later Hamburg pastor Erdmann Neumeister (1671-1756) in his annuals of cantata texts from 1711 (Geistliches Singen und Spielen) and 1714 (Geistliche Poesien). It is worth noting that the volume Texte zur Kirchen=Music…, published in Danzig a few years earlier, in 1708, contains a vintage of cantata texts (musicalised by the then Kapellmeister Maximilian Dietrich Freislich) which for the most part show similar components to those of Neumeister’s poetry. This demonstrates that the literary text of Pucklitz’s composition was, at the time of composition, solidly rooted in the local tradition of the mixed madrigal cantata, a tradition that has lasted for nearly four decades.[4]

In Pucklitz’s time, compositions based on texts displaying the characteristics of a mixed madrigal cantata can be found in the works of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), Johann Theodor Roemhildt (1684-1756), and in the Danzig area – Johann Balthasar Christian Freislich (1687-1764). Pucklitz himself also did not shy away from it in his own cantatas. The division into two halves characteristic of the work in question was also typical of cantatas of a larger scale, both ecclesiastical and secular: the first half was then performed before the climax of the musical event, such as a sermon during a service or an oration during a solemn act, while the second half was performed afterwards. As Pucklitz’s composition, according to the press announcement quoted above, did not celebrate any specific event and was a work purely for concert repertoire, its division resulted on the one hand from the rhetorical need to clearly separate the content concerning the godless from that focusing on the godly, and on the other hand from the natural need to provide musicians and listeners with a moment of rest during a concert lasting at least two hours.

Let us now consider what rationale might have been behind Pucklitz’s use of the term ‘Oratorio’ on the title page of a printed literary text. According to the most capacious definition of early modern oratorio, as formulated by Irmgard Scheitler in her monograph on German-language oratorio libretti of the time, the term covers a dramatic genre with lyrical interludes and a frequently occurring epic mediating instance (and thus with a narrator character). Usually its entire text is sung, usually with instrumental support. Unlike opera and play, oratorio lacks the interplay of acting, stage and costumes, all of which make for a particularly vivid dramatic presentation, which in turn translates into a certain abstractness that characterises many works in this genre. Scheitler also emphasises that a religious plot, in works created in Protestant-dominated areas having its source almost exclusively in the Bible, is admittedly not necessary, but the oratorios displaying it have always formed the largest part of this type of composition.[5] When confronted with the above definition, the literary text that forms the basis of Pucklitz’s work partly fulfils the requirements for oratorios (the text contains lyrical stops in the form of arias and chorales, it is sung with the support of instruments, there is no stage action, the plot is religious), although at the same time it should be emphasised that the aforementioned features are also inherent in a cantata. Only to a limited extent and with a large question mark can we speak here of the dramatic character of the text, potentially manifested in the deliberations carried out within the several vocal voices present in the selected recitatives, which may evoke associations with the exchange of sentences between interlocutors within a dialogue or polylogue. However, we do not find in the printed text any terms indicating that the interlocutors are allegorical figures, in contrast to some of the occasional cantatas written in the 18th century in Gdańsk (for example those composed by the already mentioned M. D. Freislich)[6] . Let us add that the vast majority of oratorios performed in the German-speaking area used well-known stories taken directly from the Bible as the plot. In the case of Pucklitz’s work, the plot is extremely poorly delineated and limited to a schematic description of the course of the life of the godless and the godly, moreover as a lyrical reflection. Moreover, the plot lacks reference to biblical stories.

From the point of view of the poetics of the respected in Danzig Johann Christoph Gottsched (1700-1766), contained in the first edition of his Versuch einer kritischen Dichtkunst vor die Deutschen (1730), oratorios were called church works of a prayerful character, having a structure similar to a cantata due to the arias and recitatives present in them, sometimes enriched with ariosos and fragments of biblical prose in place of recitatives, and using stanzas of church songs. Allegorical characters alluding to religion are also introduced.[7] From today’s perspective, this characterisation generally corresponds to the definition of a mixed madrigal cantata, here dramatically characterised, and is thus broadly in line with the characteristics of the Pucklitz work discussed here.

It should be added that in northern Germany in the first half of the 18th century, oratorios were also called secular occasional works that used aria-recitative structure, contained devotional reflections, biblical quotations and stanzas of church songs, and included allegorical figures associated with religion. This type of libretto was written by Michael Richey (1678-1761), professor of Greek and history at the Hamburg Academic Gymnasium, and collaborated with local composers including Georg Philipp Telemann and Matthias Christoph Wiedeburg (1690-1745).[8] The Danzig anonymous libretto of a 1734 composition entitled ‘Musicalisches Oratorium’, written to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of certain prominent residents of the seaside metropolis, also shows similar components, with the – now lost – music composed by Johann Balthasar Christian Freislich. The dramatic element is marked in it, as later in Pucklitz’s work, by the presence of interweaving various vocal voices within the recitative.[9]

From the perspective of the latter statement, it is also worth recalling the theoretical reflection of Johann Adolph Scheibe (1708-1776) present in his Compendium musices theoretico-practicum (c. 1730) and in the journal Der critische Musicus, which he published in Hamburg between 1737 and 1740. According to this, in a cantata as a work containing chorales, chorales, recitatives and arias (and thus having the character of a mixed madrigal cantata), he recommended including speaking characters and thus introducing dramatic elements, so that the presence of the various alternating vocal voices would seem natural to the listener and attract his or her attention, which in turn would translate into an increased edifying effect of the work. Scheibe saw the difference between a cantata and an oratorio in the larger size of the latter, as well as the possibility of performing it also outside the church.[10] In the context of the above, Pucklitz’s work treated as an oratorio largely fits this definition.

As can be seen from the very cursory overview presented above, it is difficult to speak of a single coherent definition of oratorio functioning both in the theoretical reflection and public consciousness of the time. Therefore, we can only guess at the reasons why Pucklitz’s work was referred to in the press advertisement as a cantata, and on the title page of the printed libretto as an oratorio. The naming of the work as a cantata gave potential ticket buyers an idea of the structure of the work they would be confronted with during the concert (i.e. a composition containing, in literary terms, arias, recitatives, fragments of biblical prose and stanzas of church songs). Let us add that this term functioned, for example, in the funeral music of the aforementioned J. B. Ch. Freislich, which contained analogous components[11] , i.e. the Kapellmeister of the ensemble in which Pucklitz played. We can also consider the possibility that the press announcement was written at Pucklitz’s behest by a person who knew the literary text of the composition and, by way of association with other works of that name, identified it as a cantata. However, as Pucklitz’s work was to be performed in a secular space (in the home of Johann Carl Braunitz, also the musician of the City Council band), was characterised by its considerable size, and its subject matter dealt with religious issues and contained texts characteristic of a Protestant service (passages from the Bible, stanzas of church hymns), the composer eventually decided to refer to the work as an oratorio on the title page of the printed libretto. This was probably also for marketing purposes, as it was in keeping with the growing popularity on the Motlawa River of compositions described as such. This popularity is evidenced, for example, by a press advertisement placed by Pucklitz in the “Danziger Erfahrungen” two years earlier, i.e. in December 1745[12] , encouraging readers to buy tickets for his Christmas oratorio about the incarnation of the Saviour in poetry by the local publisher and bookseller Johann von Waasbergh[13] (possibly also the author of the literary text of the work discussed here). By describing his composition Der sehr unterschiedene Wandel und Tod des Gottlosen und Gottsfürchtigen as an oratorio, Pucklitz also had the opportunity to distinguish himself from the competition: Johann Jeremias du Grain (1700-1756), later organist at the local St. Elisabeth’s Evangelical-Reformed Church, who, for example, gave concerts on the Motlawa River from as early as 1739, was a lively (and, like him, paid) performer. For example, in February 1740 he presented his work Der Winter, based on the poetry of Barthold Heinrich Brockes, in one of the houses on Trzecia Grobla Street[14] . Interestingly, he presented the composition to the public again on 4 March 1747, i.e. three months after the premiere of Pucklitz’s work, incidentally in the same place as Pucklitz[15] .


Literature (selection)

  • Długońska, Barbara: Johann Daniel Pucklitz i jego utwory, in: Źródła muzyczne: krytyka, analiza, interpretacja, ed. Ludwik Bielawski and Katarzyna J. Dadak-Kozicka, Warsaw 1999, pp. 145-156.
  • Kociumbas, Piotr: Słowo miastem przepojone. Kantata okolicznościowa w osiemnastowiecznym Gdańsku, Wrocław 2009 .
  • Kociumbas, Piotr: Gdański zbiór librett z 1708 roku jako wczesny przejaw twórczości w zakresie mieszanej kantaty madrygałowej na terenie Rzeczypospolitej, w: Kantata – oratorium – pasja. Odmiany form literacko-muzycznych w kulturze XVIII i XIX wieku, eds Alina Borkowska-Rychlewska and Elżbieta Nowicka, Poznań 2019, pp. 27-42.
  • Michalak, Jerzy Marian: To przy tej uliczce, to przy tamtej… Peregrynacje Polihymnii po Gdańsku w czasach Daniela Chodowieckiego in: Gdańszczanin w Berlinie. Daniel Chodowiecki i kultura 2. połowy XVIII wieku w Europie Północnej / Ein Danziger in Berlin. Daniel Chodowiecki und die Kultur Nordeuropas in der 2. Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts, ed. Edmund Kizik, Ewa Barylewska-Szymańska and Wojciech Szymański, Gdańsk 2002, p. 101-108.
  • Michalak, Jerzy Marian: From Förster to Frühling. Przyczynki do dziejów życia muzycznego i teatralnego dawnego Gdańska. Gdańsk 2009.
  • Paluchowski, Piotr: Danziger Erfahrungen w latach 1739-1793. Studium z dziejów gdańskiego czasopiśnictwa, Warsaw 2013.
  • Scheitler, Irmgard: Deutschsprachige Oratorienlibretti von den Anfängen bis 1730, Paderborn et al. 2005.

[1] “Joh[ann] Daniel Pucklitz, eines Hochedl[en] Hochweisen Raths Musicus, wird künftigen Mondtag über vierzehn Tage den 11 December, eine Cantate, betitult: Der sehr unterschiedene Wandel und Tod der Gottlosen und Gottsfürchtigen, in dem bekannten Braunitzschen Hause, auf dem vierten Damm, aufführen. Er ersuchet alle nach Standes Gebühr Hochgeehrte Herren und Damen ihm die Ehre Jhrer Gegenwart zu gönnen, indem er sich schmeichelt denenselben ein sattsames Vergnügen zu verschaffen: Besonders wird eine Arie mit einem neuerfunden gläsernen Glockenspiel accompagniret werden. Der Anfang wird präcise um 5 Uhr seyn. Die Billete werden bey besagtem J. D. Pucklitz, in der Breitengasse, bey dem Tischler Johann Weber, für 1 fl. 15 gr. ausgegeben: Wo auch die Bücherchen für 6 gr. zu bekommen sind”. “Danziger Erfahrungen” 1747, 47th Woche, k. Aaa2v. Polska Biblioteka Nauk Biblioteka Gdańska, ref. X 358 8 ° .

[2] See Oratorio. Der sehr unterschiedene Wandel und Tod der Gottlosen und Gottsfürchtigen . Jn Music gebracht von Johann Daniel Pucklitz E[inesHochedl[enund Hochweisen Raths Musicus, Danzig: Thomas Johann Schreiber 1747. Polska Biblioteka Nauk Biblioteka Gdańska, ref. Ee 2557 8° .

[3] See Dantziger Gesang=Buch , Welches/ auff E. Hoch=Edlen Raths daselbst Verordnung/ zur Beförderung der Kirchen= und Hauß=Andacht/ aus Lutheri und anderer bewehrten Autorum geistreichen Liedern zusammen getragen und eingeführet worden, Danzig: [Johann Zacharias Stolle] 1719. Polska Biblioteka Nauk Biblioteka Gdańska , ref. from 15201 8° .

[4] See Piotr Kociumbas: Gdański zbiór librett z 1708 roku jako wczesny przejaw twórczości w zakresie mieszanej kantaty madrygałowej na terenie Rzeczypospolitej, w: Kantata – oratorium – pasja. Odmiany form literacko-muzycznych w kulturze XVIII i XIX wieku,, eds Alina Borkowska-Rychlewska and Elżbieta Nowicka, Poznań 2019, p. 35. Further literature there.

[5] See Irmgard Scheitler, Deutschsprachige Oratorienlibretti von den Anfängen bis 1730, Paderborn et al. 2005, p. 10.

[6] See Piotr Kociumbas: Słowo miastem przepojone. Kantata okolicznościowa w osiemnastowiecznym Gdańsku, Wrocław 2009, p. 353.

[7] Ibid, p. 58.

[8] See Scheitler , pp. 347-348.

[9]  See Kociumbas: Słowo miastem przepojone, pp. 156-158.

[10] See Scheitler, pp. 367-368.

[11] See Kociumbas: Słowo miastem przepojone, pp. 598.

[12] “Der Rathsmusicus, J. D. Pucklitz, ist vornehmens Diensttags, den 21ten December dieses Jahres ein geistl[iches] Oratorio, über die Menschwerdung des Heylandes, nach der Poesie des Herrn J[ohann] v[on] Waasberge, in dem Braunitzschen Hause, auf dem vierten Damm, aufzuführen. Er ersuchet alle nach Standes Gebühr geehrte Dames und Herren, welche ihm alsdenn die Ehre Jhrer Gegenwart gönnen wollen, sich bey Zeiten einzustellen, indem die Music praecise um 4 Uhr anfangen wird. Die Person zahlet 1 fl. 15 gr. und werden von jetzo an bey gedachtem Pucklitz, in der Breitengasse, Wasserwärts, bey dem Tischler Johann Weber die Bilette ausgegeben. Auch werden bey demselben die gedruckten Bücher künftigen Donnerstag zu bekommen seyn”. “Danziger Erfahrungen” 1745, 49th Woche, k. Dddr. Polska Biblioteka Nauk Biblioteka Gdańska, ref. X 358 8°.

[13] See Barbara Długońska: Johann Daniel Pucklitz i jego utwory, in Źródła muzyczne: krytyka, analiza, interpretacja, ed. Ludwik Bielawski and Katarzyna J. Dadak-Kozicka, Warsaw 1999, p. 148.

[14] See Jerzy Marian Michalak: To przy tej uliczce, to przy tamtej… Peregrynacje Polihymnii po Gdańsku w czasach Daniela Chodowieckiego in: Gdańszczanin w Berlinie. Daniel Chodowiecki i kultura 2. połowy XVIII wieku w Europie Północnej / Ein Danziger in Berlin. Daniel Chodowiecki und die Kultur Nordeuropas in der 2. Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts, ed. Edmund Kizik, Ewa Barylewska-Szymańska and Wojciech Szymański, Gdańsk 2002, S. 101-102.

[15] “J. Du Grain wird den 4 März, in dem bekannten Hause bey Braunitz auf dem Damm, ein Drama per Musica, betittult: Der Winter, aus Herrn Brockes Jrrdischem Vergnügen in GOtt genommen, ganz vollstimmig aufführen. Es werden demnach die Liebhaber der Music so wohl Herren als Dames gehorsamst ersuchet, die Aufführung obgedachten Dramatis mit ihrer Gegenwart zu beehren. Der Anfang wird umb halb 5 Uhr gemacht werden. Die Billets wie auch die Exemplaria sind zu bekommen, die erste 1 fl. 15 gr., die letzte 9 gr. bey J. Du Grain in der kleinen Tangneten=Gasse recht in dem Eck=Hause gegen der Johannis=Kirchen über”. “Danziger Erfahrungen” 1748, 7th Woche, k. G2r .Polska Biblioteka Nauk Biblioteka GdańskaSee also Jerzy Marian Michalak, Od Förster do Frühling. Przyczynki do dziejów życia muzycznego i teatralnego dawnego Gdańska. Gdańsk 2009, pp. 74-76.