Wo soll ich fliehen hin

Wo soll ich fliehen hin

BWV 646 performed by Wolfgang Zerer
St. Catherine's Church, Hamburg

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Echo with no source

Odd one out or the trace of a lost cantata?

‘Whither shall I flee, troubled as I am by so many sins?’, asks a Trostgesänglein from 1630, to a melody regularly used by Bach in his cantatas and organ music. The hymn of faith is a rather businesslike encounter between the two keyboard parts set in the tenor in the pedal (the publication explicitly states ‘Ped: 4 Fuss.’, above the bass in the left hand). The flight or maybe the flow of Christ’s sacred blood is heard in the opening motif, a small group of seven quick notes, which recurs throughout the piece. But was this originally a cantata aria, like the five other Schübler Chorales, and was it then also arranged by a third party on the basis of a score? Or maybe there was no original and the composer wrote this work especially for the occasion. The two outer parts feel very keyboard-like in all respects; more so than in the other chorales. We will never know, until a ‘new’ cantata turns up somewhere in a dusty corner of the library.

Schübler Chorales, BWV 645-650
They may have a number and an epithet, but that does not necessarily mean that Bach wrote the six enchanting Schübler Chorales himself. Five of them are arrangements of known cantata movements – and the sixth may well be an arrangement too, from a lost work. Whereas some people, as organist Wolfgang Zerer, do not doubt the hand of the master and identify a well-considered construction in it, other specialists see a big gap between Bach’s own refined transcriptions and these works that have often been transferred rather literally to the organ. Did the master give this task to his son Wilhelm Friedemann, for example? Did he want to give opportunities to players of more popular music in Clavier-Übung III, as well as to the most virtuoso organists? Were these hits also bestsellers when arranged? Although we do not know the answers, it is a fact that Bach himself owned a copy of Schübler’s publication, which is very interesting for its abundance of improvements and changes by a composer in the latter years of his life.

Wo soll ich fliehen hin oder: Auf meinen lieben Gott
organ works
Schübler-Choräle (organ)
Special notes
Published by Johann Georg Schübler in Zella.

Extra videos

Organist Wolfgang Zerer

“Organist Wolfgang Zerer has always wondered: why those two titles, 'Wo soll ich fliehen hin' or 'Auf meinen lieben Gott'?”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    13 November 2015
  • Recording date
    20 October 2014
  • Location
    St. Catherine's Church, Hamburg
  • Organist
    Wolfgang Zerer
  • Organ
    Various builders between the 15th and 19th century. Restoration: Flentrop 2013
  • Producer
    Frank van der Weij
  • Film director
    Jan Van den Bossche
  • Director of photography
    Sal Kroonenberg
  • Camera assistants
    Andreas Grotevent, Lucas Lütz
  • Music production, editing and mix
    Holger Schlegel
  • Film editor
    Jasper Verkaart
  • Production assistant
    Hanna Schreuders
  • Interview
    Onno van Ameijde
  • Acknowledgements
    Vadim Dukart, Andreas Fischer

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