BWV 211 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Shunske Sato
Radio Kootwijk

  • Menu
  • Distrait
  • 1. Schweigt stille (Rezitativ)
  • 2. Hat man nicht (Arie)
  • 3. Du böses Kind (Rezitativ)
  • 4. Ei! wie schmeckt (Arie)
  • 5. Wenn du mir nicht (Rezitativ)
  • 6. Mädchen, die von harten (Arie)
  • 7. Nun folge (Rezitativ)
  • 8. Heute noch (Arie)
  • 9. Nun geht (Rezitativ)
  • 10. Die Katze läβt (Terzett)

Behind the music


What a delicious cup of coffee!

In Bach’s day, drinking coffee was not without controversy

Coffee is inextricably linked with the Netherlands. From the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Dutch East India Company set up its own coffee plantations in Java, as an alternative to importing coffee from Yemen. This meant that the Dutch were the main suppliers of coffee to Europe around 1720.

The culture of drinking coffee, which was originally an Arab custom, spread all over Europe from the beginning of the eighteenth century, first to the noble elite and then to the middle classes. Coffee houses sprang up everywhere. In Leipzig, there were more than ten. From 1723, the coffee house of Gottfried Zimmermann was the regular performance venue for the best amateur music ensemble of the city. In 1729, Bach became the leader of this ensemble, called Collegium musicum. The coffee cantata was created around 1734 for the concerts in Café Zimmermann.

In Bach’s day, drinking coffee was certainly not without controversy. The effects of the beverage were unknown as yet. The text by Bach’s librettist Picander tells of a girl who is addicted and of women who know their own mind, and sexual innuendo is never far away. The main character Liesgen is prepared to give up parties and fashionable clothing in order to sustain her coffee-drinking habit, but when her father says she will never get a husband, she appears to give in. “Ah, a husband!”, she swoons. “So that at last, before I go to bed, I could get a lusty lover”. But actually, of course, she makes sure that she gets both: a lover and a cup of coffee.

As early as 1860, in his novel Max Havelaar, Multatuli uses Javanese coffee to denounce the colonial exploitation of the Dutch East Indies. And our performance of the coffee cantata also has a link to this Dutch colonial past. It was recorded in the headquarters of Radio Kootwijk, the early 20th-century broadcasting station in the Hoge Veluwe national park, which provided the radio link between the Netherlands and its colonies. “Hello Bandung, can you hear me?”, asked Queen Mother Emma at the opening in 1929, when huge quantities of coffee were still coming from Java.

Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht
The words of the first two movements are by Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander). We do not know who wrote the words for the last two movements. It may have been Bach himself.
Special notes
The director has chosen to begin this performance with music from Telemann: the movement Distrait from his quartet in E minor TWV 43.

With support from

Eleven Floawers Foundation

Extra videos

Vocal texts


1. Rezitativ, Tenor
Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht
Und höret, was itzund geschicht:
Da kömmt Herr Schlendrian
Mit seiner Tochter Liesgen her,
Er brummt ja wie ein Zeidelbär;
Hört selber, was sie ihm getan!

2. Arie, Bass (Schlendrian)
Hat man nicht mit seinen Kindern
Hunderttausend Hudelei!
Was ich immer alle Tage
Meiner Tochter Liesgen sage,
Gehet ohne Frucht vorbei.

3. Rezitativ, Sopran (Liesgen), Bass (Schlendrian)
B: Du böses Kind, du loses Mädchen,
Ach! wenn erlang ich meinen Zweck:
Tu mir den Coffee weg!
S: Herr Vater, seid doch nicht so scharf!
Wenn ich des Tages nicht dreimal
Mein Schälchen Coffee trinken darf,
So werd ich ja zu meiner Qual
Wie ein verdorrtes Ziegenbrätchen.

4. Arie, Sopran (Liesgen)
Ei! wie schmeckt der Coffee süße,
Lieblicher als tausend Küsse,
Milder als Muskatenwein.
Coffee, Coffee muss ich haben,
Und wenn jemand mich will laben,
Ach, so schenkt mir Coffee ein!

5. Rezitativ, Sopran (Liesgen), Bass (Schlendrian)
B: Wenn du mir nicht den Coffee lässt,
So sollst du auf kein Hochzeitfest,
Auch nicht spazierengehn.
S: Ach ja!
Nur lasset mir den Coffee da!
B: Da hab ich nun den kleinen Affen!
Ich will dir keinen Fischbeinrock nach
itzger Weite schaffen.
S: Ich kann mich leicht darzu verstehn.
B: Du sollst nicht an das Fenster treten
Und keinen sehn vorübergehn!
S: Auch dieses;
doch seid nur gebeten
Und lasset mir den Coffee stehn!
B: Du sollst auch nicht von meiner Hand
Ein silbern oder goldnes Band
Auf deine Haube kriegen!
S: Ja, ja! nur lasst mir mein Vergnügen!
B: Du loses Liesgen du,
So gibst du mir denn alles zu?

6. Arie, Bass (Schlendrian)
Mädchen, die von harten Sinnen,
Sind nicht leichte zu gewinnen.
Doch trifft man den rechten Ort,
O! so kömmt man glücklich fort.

7. Rezitativ, Sopran (Liesgen), Bass (Schlendrian)
B: Nun folge, was dein Vater spricht!
S: In allem, 
nur den Coffee nicht.
B: Wohlan! so musst du dich bequemen,
Auch niemals einen Mann zu nehmen.
S: Ach ja! Herr Vater, einen Mann!
B: Ich schwöre, dass es nicht geschicht.
S: Bis ich den Coffee lassen kann?
Nun! Coffee, bleib nur immer liegen!
Herr Vater, hört, ich trinke keinen nicht.
B: So sollst du endlich einen kriegen!

8.Arie, Sopran (Liesgen)
Heute noch,
Lieber Vater, tut es doch!
Ach, ein Mann!
Wahrlich, dieser steht mir an!
Wenn es sich doch balde fügte,
Dass ich endlich vor Coffee,
Eh ich noch zu Bette geh,
Einen wackern Liebsten kriegte!

9. Rezitativ, Tenor
Nun geht und sucht der alte Schlendrian,
Wie er vor seine Tochter Liesgen
Bald einen Mann verschaffen kann;
Doch, Liesgen streuet heimlich aus:
Kein Freier komm mir in das Haus,
Er hab es mir denn selbst versprochen
Und rück es auch der Ehestiftung ein,
Dass mir erlaubet möge sein,
Den Coffee, wenn ich will, zu kochen.

10. Terzett, Sopran, Tenor, Bass
Die Katze lässt das Mausen nicht,
Die Jungfern bleiben Coffeeschwestern.
Die Mutter liebt den Coffeebrauch,
Die Großmama trank solchen auch,
Wer will nun auf die Töchter lästern!


1. Recitative
Be quiet, do not chat,
And listen to what happens now:
Here comes Mr. Schlendrian
with his daughter Liesgen,
He grumbles like a grizzly bear;
hear for yourselves, what she has done to him!

2. Aria
With children, aren't there
a hundred thousand aggravations!
Whatever I, all the time and every day,
tell my daughter Liesgen,
slides on by with no effect.

3. Recitative
B: You naughty child, you wild girl,
ah! When will I achieve my goal:
get rid of the coffee for my sake!
S: Father sir, but do not be so harsh!
If I couldn't, three times a day,
be allowed to drink my little cup of coffee,
in my anguish I will turn into
a shriveled-up roast goat.

4. Aria
Ah! How sweet coffee tastes,
more delicious than a thousand kisses,
milder than muscatel wine.
Coffee, I have to have coffee,
and, if someone wants to pamper me,
ah, then bring me coffee as a gift!

5. Recitative
B: If you don't give up coffee for me,
you won't go to any wedding parties,
or even go out for walks.
S: Okay then!
Only leave my coffee alone!
B: Now I've got the little monkey!
I will buy you no whalebone dress
of the latest fashion.
S: I can easily put up with that.
B: You may not go to the window
and watch anyone passing by!
S: This too;
but be merciful
and let my coffee stay!
B: You'll also not receive from my hand
a silver or gold ribbon
for your bonnet!
S: Sure, sure! Just leave me my pleasure!
B: You naughty Liesgen,
you grant all of that to me?

6. Aria
Girls of stubborn mind
are not easily won over.
But if the right spot is touched,
Oh! Then one can happily get far.

7. Recitative
B: Now do what your father says!
S: In everything
but coffee.
B: All right then! So you will have to content yourself
with never having a husband.
S: Ah yes! Father, a husband!
B: I swear that it will never happen.
S: Until I give up coffee?
All right! Coffee, lie there now forever!
Father sir, listen, I won't drink none.
B: So finally you'll get one!

Even today,
dear father, make it happen!
Ah, a husband!
Indeed, this will suit me well!
If it would only happen soon,
that at last, instead of coffee,
before I even go to bed,
I might gain a sturdy lover!

9. Recitative
Now old Schlendrian goes and seeks
How he, for his daughter Liesgen,
might soon acquire a husband;
but Liesgen secretly spreads the word:
no suitor comes in my house
unless he has promised to me himself
and has it also inserted into the marriage contract,
that I shall be permitted
to brew coffee whenever I want.

10. Terzetto
Cats do not give up mousing,
girls remain coffee-sisters.
The mother adores her coffee-habit,
and grandma also drank it,
so who can blame the daughters!

translation © Pamela Dellal


  • Release date
    17 October 2019
  • Recording date
    16 May 2019
  • Location
    Radio Kootwijk
  • Violin and direction
    Shunske Sato
  • Sopran
    Lucie Chartin
  • Tenor
    Jan-Willem Schaafsma
  • Bass
    Mattijs van de Woerd
  • Violin
    Pieter Affourtit, Lidewij van der Voort
  • Viola
    Femke Huizinga
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts
  • Double bass
    Robert Franenberg
  • Traverso
    Marten Root
  • Harpsichord
    Siebe Henstra
  • Theatre concept, direction and design
    Marc Pantus
  • Film director
    Bas Wielenga
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee, Lucas van Eck
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Gijs Besseling, Onno van Ameijde, Nina Badoux
  • Camera assistant and data handling
    Indra Besenbun
  • Lights
    Zen Bloot, Henry Rodgers, Fiona Verkleij
  • Assistant film director
    Ferenc Soeteman
  • Video editing
    Onno van Ameijde
  • Assistant music recording
    Marloes Biermans
  • Producer concert
    Imke Deters
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh
  • With support from
    Eleven Floawers Foundation

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