Around 1735, Bach was in the middle of writing all his religious church pieces when he decided to switch things up and write a silly cantata (a piece of music with a solo vocalist with instrumental accompaniment telling some sort of story) about a very special beverage – coffee.
The cantata is called “Schweigt Stille, Palaudert Nicht, BWV 211” which translates into English as “Be Still, Stop Chattering” and this mini comic opera was Bach’s way of making fun of how most people feel like they can’t survive without their caffeine.
Here’s the story: a young woman named Aria is obsessed with coffee and her father is trying to stop her from drinking it, to which she argues that if she doesn’t have her caffeine she’ll, “turn into a shriveled-up roast goat” (you can’t make this stuff up). The father then agrees to write into her marriage contract that she must have a guaranteed three cups of coffee a day (the Groom must be a lucky guy).
It’s fun to see classical composers have a sense of humor, especially when it’s something that many of us can relate to. Below is a small section of the 25 minute piece with English subtitles.