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Steigt freudig in die Luft, BWV 36a

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Title: Steigt freudig in die Luft, BWV 36a  
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Subject: Die Freude reget sich, BWV 36b, Schwingt freudig euch empor, BWV 36, Schwingt freudig euch empor, BWV 36c
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Steigt freudig in die Luft, BWV 36a

Steigt freudig in die Luft (Soar joyfully in the air), BWV 36a, is a lost secular cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig and probably first performed it in Kothen on 30 November 1726.

History and text

Bach composed the cantata while living in Leipzig. He retained a role as court composer to Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen, for whom he had worked full-time in the period 1717–1723. The cantata was written for the 24th birthday of the prince's second wife, princess Charlotte Friederike Amalie of Nassau-Siegen on 30 November 1726, the likely date of the work's premiere, albeit undocumented.

The text, divided into nine movements, is by Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander),[1][2] who published it in his Ernst-Schertzhaffte und Satyrische Gedichte, Teil I of 1727.[3] The text is adapted from an earlier congratulatory cantata, presumably authored by Picander, for which Bach's music survives.

  1. Aria: Steigt freudig in die Lufft zu den erhabnen Höhen
  2. Recitativo: Durchlauchtigste
  3. Aria: "Die Sonne zieht mit sanfften Triebe
  4. Recitativo: Die Danckbarkeit
  5. Aria: Sey uns willkommen, schönster Tag!
  6. Recitativo: Wiewohl das ist noch nicht genung
  7. Aria: Auch mit gedämpfften schwachen Stimmen
  8. Recitativo: Doch ehe wir
  9. Aria: Grüne, blühe, lebe lange

Scoring and structure

Although the cantata is lost, we have some idea of what it sounded like. When Bach wrote for a one-off occasion such as a birthday, he sometimes recycled the music in another composition. In this case there appear to be several related works. The numbering of Steigt freudig in die Luft in the standard catalogue of Bach's works, the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis, reflects a presumed relationship to extant cantatas, which use variants of Picander's celebratory text.

The extant cantatas use woodwinds and strings, and it is possible that that the lost cantata was similarly scored, although the permanent band at Köthen was a small one.

The piece has been reconstructed by Alexander Ferdinand Grychtolik, who has worked on other lost works by Bach such as Klagt, Kinder, klagt es aller Welt, BWV 244a. Grychtolik adapted the music from BWV 36c and composed new recitatives. He performed his reconstruction at Köthen's Bach Festival in 2012, and released a recording (see recordings section below).


  • Mitteldeutsche Hofmusik, Alexander Grychtolik. Ruhm und Glück. Rondeau, 2012. This album takes its title from the other work recorded, the birthday cantata of 1718, Der Himmel dacht auf Anhalts Ruhm und Glück, BWV 66a.



The first source is the score.

General sources are found for the Bach cantatas. Several databases provide additional information on each single cantata:

  • Cantata BWV 36a Steigt freudig in die Luft history, scoring, sources for text and music, translations to various languages, discography, discussion, bach-cantatas website
  • Steigt freudig in die Luft history, scoring, Bach website (German)
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Alberta
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