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Vocal: Cantatas BWV 1-224 | Motets BWV 225-231 | Latin Church BWV 232-243 | Passions & Oratorios BWV 244-249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Lieder BWV 439-524
Instrumental: Organ BWV 525-771 | Keyboard BWV 772-994 | Solo Instrumental BWV 995-1013 | Chamber & Orchestral BWV 1014-1080

Bach Books

General Discussions - Part 1

 

 

Any Good book on Bach Cantatas?

Chia Han-Leon
wrote (July 21, 1995):
Can anyone recommend me a good book on Bach Cantatas? Then again, has one been written? Thanks!

Frank Eggleston wrote (July 21, 1995):
[To Chia Han-Leon] Albert Schweizer (yes, THE Albert Schweizer) wrote an excellent two volume work on the Canatas. It used to be available as a two volumen trade paperback by Dover (I'm not sure about the publisher). It should be available in a good college library.

Andreas Kopp wrote (July 21, 1995):
[To Chia Han-Leon] There is one very good book on the Bach Cantatas, but unfortunately it's written in GERMAN. The author is Alfred Dürr, the title is "Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach", published by dtv/Baerenreiter (the latest edition was released only some weeks ago). The book contains the complete text, scoring and a description of each cantata. Furthermore there is a book on the Bach family by Chr. Wolff and others, it should at least contain the main cantatas (a listing of the cantatas can be found in the grove and under ftp://ftp.gmd.de/music/lists/bach/jsbach.bwv.gz)

Simon Crouch wrote (July 21, 1995):
[To Chia Han-Leon] There are a few, mostly long out of print but should be in good libraries.

Alec Robertson has written a guide to the church cantatas which I have and like - arranged by church calandar - Good basic useful info. Whittaker wrote a two volume book which many give reference to but I must admit I didn't enjoy it! Westrup has a small book in the BBC music guide series (might be in print) The modern reference is probably Alfred Dürr's book "Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach" - Only in German, I think.

As an Intro, I would recommend Westrup (ISBN 0 563 06784 5) and the follow that with Robertson (Libr of Congress Cat. 70-158094).

If you have the patience, you could collect my own ongoing series entitled "A Listeners Guide to the Cantatas of JSB" which I'm gradually posting to rec.music.classical!! Part 2 will appear in the next few days - I would hestiate to call my meanderings a "good" book, though :-)

Chia Han-Leon wrote (July 24, 1995):
[Regarding Schweitzer’s book] Anyone knows the ISBN number?

Jim Michmerhuizen wrote (July 24, 2001):
[To Chia Han-Leon] I think you guys must be thinking of the biography. Schweitzer wrote a biography and critical study of Bach, which Dover republished. I read it back in high school. Haven't seen it now in a very long time. Along with a lot of other people I've done about a 180degree turnaround regarding Schweitzer's notions about Bach. Wouldn't expect to find much useful in there anymore. --

U. Faigle wrote (July 25, 1995):
There is the standard 2-volume paperback set on Bach's cantatas published by dtv/Baerenreiter in Germany.

Howard Hyten wrote (July 28, 1995):
[To Jim Michmerhuizen] I'm not familiar with Schweitzer's opinions on performing Bach. Please elucidate, if you have the time and inclination.

Harry Collier wrote (August 3, 1995):
There was a scholarly two-volume set by someone called Whitaker to which I used to refer back in the 1960s. I doubt whether it's still around, however.

Bach Compendium

Harry J. Steinman
wrote (March 17, 2001):
(To Thomas Braatz) Thanks, Tom, for the explaination. Just darned careless of me not to check the Companion, whose purpose is to explain just such a reference! I wonder if the Compendium is available for purchase, or if that's too ambitious of a shopping goal...

The book's strength, I agree, is in the insight it gives to the social conditions of Bach's life and work. What was life really (supposedly) like under the regime of the duke of Weimar? What were young Bach's voyages on foot like? (I remember the phrase "strong as an ox" from the book.) Was Bach responsible or irresponsible in his professional duties? That type of thing.

So I put it back on the shelf and bought a different book: Dance and the Music of J S Bach by Meredith Little and Natalie Jenne. Real scholarship about the dance traditions, steps, tempos, and a deep look at Bach's music that is inspired by dance.


Bach Bio for Beginners

Harry J. Steinman wrote (December 5, 2001):
A friend asks for a bio of Bach. Recommendations for musically-aware non-musicians? Something that maybe comments on the mathematical side of JSB's music? Or the spiritual trance into which many of us fall upon hearing JSB?

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 5, 20012):
[To Harry J. Streinman] The Bach Cantatas Website includes page of links to General Sites about Bach & his Music: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Links/Links-General.htm
Some of these sites include a bio of JSB.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (December 5, 2001):
[To Harry J. Steinman] I would recommend the new bio by Davitt Moroney - it is brief and interesting. I don't recall the title offhand; I only read the French translation made by a friend.

Harry J. Steinman wrote (December 5, 2001):
[To Kirk McElhearn] I searched at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, unsuccessfully. Any idea where I might find this?

Charles Francis wrote (December 5, 2001):
[To Harry J. Steinman] I got my copy (in English) from Amazon Germany, so its almost certainly at www.amazon.com.

Harry J. Steinman wrote (December 5, 2001):
[To Charles Francis] What is the name of the book? Do you like it?

Kurt Jensen wrote (December 5, 2001):
[To Harry J. Steinman] Another, lengthy but extraordinarily well written book, is Christian Wolff's Bach: The Learned Musician. Broadly, one thesis he explores is that Bach's music was the result of a fairly intensive "scientific" study of the art of music--Wolff considers him a musical analogue to Isaac Newton in the field of science.

Full discussions of the Cantatas, of the Passions, the keyboard works--all make this an indispensible reference work as well.

Wolff, incidentally, is responsible for the recovery of the "Neumeister Chorales" which he unearthed in a Yale University Library manuscript of Organ Chorales.
He writes in his forward that this volume is intended to provide an overall, general view of the composer, with a more intricate, musically analytical second volume to follow.

Harry J. Steinman wrote (December 5, 2001):
[To Kurt Jensen] Thanks, Kurt. I have "The Learned Musician" and I think it's marvellous...and still looking for more of a primer than a treatise. Happy listening (and reading!)

Charles Francis wrote (December 5, 2001):
< Harry J. Steinman wrote: What is the name of the book? Do you like it? >
Its called "Bach: an extraordinary life", author: Davitt Moroney. You can find the publisher at: http://www.abrsmpublishing.co.uk/index.html

Due to lack of time, I haven't started to read my copy yet, but there's reviews at:
http://www.abrsmpublishing.co.uk/pub/1908.html
http://www.earlymusic.org.uk/archivef/archive00f/bach-anextraordi.html

It doesn't seem to have made it to the US, but you can purchase it from the publisher above (or perhaps through their US agent) or online from UK outlets for around 10 USD:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1860961908
http://www.top-note.co.uk/acatalog/top_note_Text_and_General_30.html

Tom Brannigan wrote (December 5, 2001):
Wouldn't you agree one and all that a "beginner" should start with something like this.............

<A HREF="http://members.aol.com/tjbrann/TomsRecordLabels/goldberg.JPG">
.............as an introduction..........then the books!!


Bach and sacred

Evelyn Lim wrote (December 6, 2001):
I'm wondering if anyone can help me: I will be doinga seminar on Bach's sacred music next semester at a Bible College. Is there a book that focuses on this aspect that is suitable as a textbook for students? My last resort is to suggest Christoph Wolff's "Bach - The Learned Musician". That at least, provides a good overview and list of sources. thanks very much

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 6, 2001):
[To Evelyn Lim] The site 'Listener's Guide to the Cantatas of J.S. Bach':
http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/works/bachjs/cantatas.html
(by Simon Crouch) includes list of books about the subject with short > description of each one of them. The site itself is a good source.

Another site you might want to look into is the 'Bach Cantatas Website':
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/
with a lot of material not only about the Bach Cantatas but also about > Bach's other vocal works. The site includes also many links to other sites about the subject.

Evelyn Lim wrote (December 6, 2001):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks very much for your help! Will check the links.


Best Book on Bach

RWP wrote (December 30, 2002):
Looking for a good book on Bach, any suggestions? Thanks in advance,

Terry Solomonson wrote (December 30, 2002):
[To RWP] Depends on what you want to know.

For my money, the best book about Bach from the standpoint of his music is "J.S. Bach" by Albert Schweitzer. Actually in two volumes, published by Dover Publications of NY.

A fascinating volume showing Bach as the human that he was is "The Bach Reader", edited by Hans David and Arthur Mendel, published by W.W. Norton. It's a collection of his letters to friends, relatives, employers, etc. that really shows some of the trials and tribulations he went through during his career, along with letters to and about Bach by his friends and colleagues.

For my money, the best biography (if they were going to make a movie about the guy) of Bach is by Charles Sanford Terry - "Bach: A Biography", published in London.

Of course there are the great Norton Critical Scores of Bach by Gerhard Herz, my old and most beloved teacher.

Read all of this and you'll know a lot about the guy, that's for sure!

Sybrand Bakker wrote (December 31, 2002):
The best Bach biography based on current research is the work of Christoph Wolff, also published by Norton.

The other works mentioned pre-date the research of Dürr and von Dadelsen on the chronology of Bachs work, and are hence of limited use.

Raymond van der Ree wrote (January 1, 2003):
[To Sybrand Bakker] I agree wholeheartedly on this recommendation of Wolff's monography. In addition I would like to suggest 'Bach. Essays on his Life and Music' by the same author.

Max wrote (January 5, 2003):
[To Raymond van der Ree] True that C.S. Terry's 1930's-era biography has problems with the dating of compositions as great a researcher as he was, but it serves other aspects of Bach's life singularly well. The author has a special empathy for him, conveyed and facilitated by consummate prose. For setting up "sympathetic vibrations" between the reader and the subject, it's unsurpassed imo.

Wolff's is also excellent and indispensable, bringing together the most interesting facts of up-to-date research. Cultural contexts are fleshed out, small details are thoroughly explored from various angles, and most importantly it's all kept fascinating. It's presentation is so refreshing that the events seem like they happened only ten years ago, if not yesterday. See especially Wolff's description of the politics and diplomacy surrounding Bach's visit to Potsdam. It's as alive and immediate as anything happening in the world today.

Beth Diane Garfinkel wrote (January 10, 2003):
And for a view of Bach put toether by someone who had access to people who knew him, although it has its inadequacies and inaccuracies, there's also the biography by Forkel--which I was lucky enough to fin in translation at a used bookstore a couple of weeks ago.

Thomas Wood wrote (January 16, 2003):
[To Raymond van der Ree] Absolutely: the Wolff books supercede all the earlier works, which are now fatally out-of-date in regards to the chronology of Bach's works.


Reference books
Thomas Braatz
wrote:
[To Bradley Lehman] Brad, you asked:
>>How could such a venerable and supposedly comprehensive source as
the MGG omit JKF Fischer?<<
Connecting the section I quoted with the material on the preceding page (it happens when selections are made on the fly - sorry about that), you will find the following:

In 1689, J. H. d'Anglebert was the first to transcribe (not compose!) overtures by Lully for the keyboard. J.S. Kusser (in 1682) published a work containing 6 theatrical overtures in which he tried to imitate Lully. Ten years earlier A. Steffani (isn't he very important for Bach's knowledge of this earlier period?) published overtures and dances from his operas under the title "Sonate da camera." The same type of procedure was followed by Cl. H. Abel (1687); R. I. Mayr (1692); Ph. H. Erlebach (1693), J. C. F. Fischer (1695), B. A. Aufschnaiter (1695), G. Muffat (1695), K. K. Schweitzelsperger (1699), J. Fischer (1700), J. J. Fux (1701), J. Ph. Krieger (1704). The rest of this quote from the MGG was covered yesterday, but is included to show the entire text.

"J. H. d'Anglebert war der erste, der »chaconnes, ouvertures et autres airs« Lullys 1689 auf das Kl. übertrug (s. Titel- S. in MGG I, 481). Lullys persönlicher Schüler J. S. Kusser hat 1682, »suivant la Méthode françoise«, Six Ouvertures de Theatre accompagnées de plusieurs airs veröff., indem er sich bemühte, »ce fameux Baptiste« nachzuahmen. Schon zehn Jahre zuvor hatte A. Steffani unter dem Titel Sonate da camera frz. Ouvertüren und Tänze aus seinen Opern veröff. Ouvertüren mit folgenden Tänzen unter dem Titel (pars pro toto) Ouvertüre veröff. Cl. H. Abel 1687, R. I. Mayr 1692, Ph. H. Erlebach 1693, J. C. F. Fischer 1695, B. A. Aufschnaiter 1695, G. Muffat 1695, K. K. Schweitzelsperger 1699, J. Fischer 1700, J. J. Fux 1701, J. Ph. Krieger 1704. G. Böhm hat wohl vor 1700 die Ouvertüre auf das Kl. übertragen (eine von elf Suiten). Weiterhin wurde die Ouvertüre gepflegt von Telemann, Heinichen, Schiederdecker, J. Schneider, Wiedner, J. Fr. Fasch, J. Chr. Förster, Endler, Pez, Niedt, Schaffrath, K. F. Abel, Stölzel, Pfeiffer, Graun, Tischer, Graupner, von J. S. Bach und Händel."

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 31, 2003):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thanks for clarifying this.

If you're interested in some more up-to-date reference books than MGG, take a look at:

- Beverly Scheibert, Jean-Henry d'Anglebert and the Seventeenth-Century Clavecin School
- David Ledbetter, Harpsichord and Lute Music in 17th-Century France
- Stewart Carter, ed. A Performer's Guide to Seventeenth-Century Music
- Robert Marshall, ed. Eighteenth-Century Keyboard Music
- Meredith Little & Natalie Jenne, Dance and the Music of J.S. Bach

(Among others; those are some that I have here on my shelf and find especially good.)

Also, the authoritative reference work for French harpsichord music (which I unfortunately don't have a copy of) is A catalogue of French harpsichord music, 1699-1780 by Bruce Gustafson and David Fuller.

In grad school I used the MGG often, but found it to be not always reliable (with scholarship sometimes 50+ years out of date), and heavily biased toward German sources while overlooking others. In the new CD-ROM version of it, have they updated the articles, or just reproduced all the old text?

And, to me, as useful as it is to look up musicological references about music, it's even more useful to study the music itself and play through it, for a sense of style and technique. (That's my bias....) For a while I was in two graduate programs simultaneously: performance, and historical musicology. I kept finding that my fellow students in the musicology program (and some of the professors), while brilliant at looking up things or comparing extant resources, would sometimes overlook the content of the music among all the facts about the music. That dismayed me that they were missing things I thouwere obvious. Musicology is a science about music; a valuable one, to be sure, but a layer of abstraction away from the music itself. (And I trusted my performer's intuitions too much to remain in the musicology track; they expected a type of positivistic rigor that I felt killed the music, and we mutually parted company...I went on with the performance side, to a degree that I found much more satisfying.) The rigor of scholarship turns up plenty of interesting and relevant facts, but I believe it should never be applied as a rigor mortis strangle-hold around the music!

That is, I put at least as much faith in what I find while playing through Boehm, Fischer, Buxtehude, Reincken, Froberger, Scheidt, and the French and Italian and Dutch and English composers, as anything I can read in a book. Sometimes more. The way a piece feels in the fingers is important, but a property that musicologists tend to overlook: either deliberately (as inadmissible evidence) or through ignorance (they don't play any instrument). To me it's important to think as a player, and think as a composer, not just being content with positivistic facts about the music.

Also, the way a piece sounds on instruments contemporary with it is an important consideration (whether "live" or on recordings played by competent musicians)...that's another thing that historical musicology tends to overlook, in the zeal for facts about the music and its reception. One can't put a scientific measuring device around the way the music sounds in a strongly musical performance, or the way it makes listeners or players "feel" in response. One can measure social trends but cannot take the testimony of individual musicians' experience (unless they died 200+ years ago); it's not scientific enough! Therefore, such musical responses are inadmissible evidence for musicology, since they are not "fact." These musical considerations therefore don't make their way into MGG or the NBA or any of the other reference works that are scholarly enough for acceptance in the field. Notions of style are limited primarily to what dead musicians have written about the music in treatises (since they were there at the time, and we are not). Written evidence seems to be the only type of "fact" worth consideration, because it can be measured scientifically.

And that's a deadly omission. If the field doesn't listen to the music as a living art, what's the point?

That's why I'm not a musicological scholar in the field as it exists today: I don't believe that it yields the type of answers that take the music into account deeply enough! (It's fascinating but not satisfying....) Evidence from playing and listening to the music is too important to me. So, I study the reference works as eagerly as anyone, and learn as much as I can to inform my own creative or re-creative reactions to the music, but they are not the end of the truth. To me, the obvious way to find connections between (for example) the Goldberg Variations and Buxtehude's "La Capricciosa" is to sit there and play through them, and that tells me more than any books could do. And it irks me when musicologists do not take that obvious step of playing the music and trusting their own feelings about it. Scientifically admissible inquiry cannot explain everything! [It's a fatal flaw in our modern age, not just in the field of music. It bewilders me that academia can separate itself into fields that supposedly do not overlap, and thereby lose many kinds of truth that is found in the cracks or the synthesis of multiple fields. The human brain is not compartmentalized in the way that scientific/academic inquiry would wish it to be!]

Anyway, I should shut up now and go play some music rather than yakking about it on the Internet.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 31, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] Brad, your points on reference books are well taken, but without them, if, for instance, we had to rely solely upon current recordings of Telemann's concerto(s?) for chalumeaux for our notion of what these instruments sounded like, we would very likely have a very distorted view that would have these instruments sound like rather soft, slightly out-of-tune clarinets. Again, as in everything else, a balance is necessary, a balance which keeps you returning to the most recent references and longing for those which you do not own or have access to.

Of course, playing a keyboard instrument opens up many horizons and insights that are difficult to acquire from relatively 'dry' reference books, but where would we be without them, for instance when considering instrumental and choral musical ensembles. Then, again, the 'proof is in the pudding' if you have recourse to hearing performances or recordings of these works. It is interesting to read the insights and opinions of others on this list and the BCML. Not everything that these listeners have to say is based upon reading reference books or liner notes for the recording(s) that they have. This is the way it should be by training your ear by listening carefully, delving deeply into the music, but also comparing your own insights and responses with those of others and, of course, with those of the musicological experts.

The MGG that I am using is updated only to 1986. In the meantime Bärenreiter is preparing an entirely new edition which will supercede the old version. The NBA varies from volumes appearing in the early fifties to those that are still coming out (I just received another new KB dated 2002: Series III/3 (Motets, Chorales and Songs of doubtful authenticity). Were you familiar with all the points on the Goldberg Variations that I had shared recently?

I still find the MGG useful for gaining perspectives, but also in obtaining some interesting details that I may not be able to find elsewhere. New research may not simply replace the older articles, but it may amplify and extend it.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 31, 2003):
[To Thomas Braatz] No, Tom, I had not seen the recent NBA and MGG articles you've reposted about the Goldbergs; I enjoy reading them here, and thank you again for posting them. All very interesting, although (as I said) I think that such resources can go only as far as musicological positivism does, which is (IMO) often missing many points of the music itself. :)

As for the Goldbergs, I prepared them for several performances in 1985 and at the time I did not have access to either the MGG or NBA. Then, in grad school, we were required to play either the KdF or Goldbergs; since I had already performed those, I picked the KdF for this curriculum requirement and did an independent-study course (with Parmentier) on that: researching and performing the KdF. I never did get back to the Goldbergs seriously during those years when I had access to the grad library.

During those years of grad work I did pick up some things from some of my classmates who worked on the Goldbergs; and of course also from things I've done since grad school, but again without access to MGG or NBA. More reading, listening to lots of recordings, and working on some of the variations again for fun, but not up to performance shape (and I don't currently have a two-manual harpsichord; only a single). If I did work it up again now, I think I'd play a lot better than I did in 1985, as I hadn't met Parmentier or done any of this other background work at the time; I was playing mostly intuitively back then. (My teacher at that time was pretty good, but not as good as Parmentier....)

=====

As for chalumeaux: I put more faith in this CD of Graupner than I do in the one of MAK playing the Telemann concerto (which I also have). Rene Gailly 92 009, Graupner Ensemble/Igor Bettens. This disc has two Ouvertures for 3 chalumeaux (otherwise unaccompanied), and a trio for one chalumeau + bassoon + hpsi, and an Ouverture for 3 chalumeaux, 2 violins, viola, bc. There are NO balance problems with the strings or bassoon. (Obviously one can never trust any recording completely as to balance, as things can be miked separately, but this sounds like a straightforward recording with no funny business in the mixing. There is no hint here that chaluare too loud.)

Also during grad school I was for two years an assistant curator of the school's musical instrument collection: over 1000 instruments. I don't remember that we had any chalumeaux, unfortunately, but it was an enjoyable assignment. They had a lot of exotica, and some rare keyboard instruments as well. Harpsichords, clavichords, a mellotron that used to belong to the Bee Gees, a Buchla, and the very first Moog synth....

Finally, I have here a folk chalumeau of my own: a "bamboo sax" that I bought some years ago from an art fair booth. I play it. It is not loud at all; nothing like a shawm. I've also played a bagpipe chanter, and a bagpipe practice chanter; this folk chalumeau is about the same volume as the practice chanter, and nowhere near the volume of the regular chanter. :)

So, you're going to have a VERY hard time convincing me that the chalumeaux of the 17th century were louder than bagpipes.

As for bagpipes, I remember playing a wedding a couple years ago where they had the bagpiper inside the church. I was the organist for this. Even playing pieces with full organ, I was not louder than the bagpiper. Fortunately they did not want us to do any pieces together. She sounded fine, it was just too #$*%@(#*&% loud for indoors!

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 1, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] Brad, it is clear from your observations that we are speaking of two different chalumeaux. You stated:
>>As for chalumeaux: I put more faith in this CD of Graupner than I do in the one of MAK playing the Telemann concerto (which I also have). Rene Gailly 92 009, Graupner Ensemble/Igor Bettens. This disc has two Ouvertures for 3 chalumeaux (otherwise unaccompanied), and a trio for one chalumeau + bassoon + hpsi, and an Ouverture for 3 chalumeaux, 2 violins, viola, bc. There are NO balance problems with the strings or bassoon. (Obviously one can never trust any recording
completely as to balance, as things can be miked separately, but this sounds like a straightforward recording with no funny business in the mixing. There is no hint here that chalumeaux are too loud.)<<
In the following quote from the MGG which I will not translate directly, it is clear that the instrument maker Denner made some major improvements to the chalumeau near the beginning of the 18th century and that these changes radically transformed the original chalumeau into a proto-type of the clarinet which was much closer to that which you will hear on your recordings and which begin to sound more like a clarinet also in volume. These Denner instruments were produced in a number of different ranges - a bass chalumeau is mentioned, one that, at least on paper, we know that Telemann and Graupner mentioned and possibly also used in their compositions.

"Es muß auffallen, daß die frühesten Literattur-Belege für dieses Instrument erst aus dem 18. Jahrhundert stammen (M.A. Ziani, Caio Pompilio, 1704; A.M. Bononcini, Conquista delle Spagne, 1707; A. Ariosti, Marte placato, 1707; R. Keiser, Croesus, 1710). Daraus resultiert, daß es sich in allen diesen Fällen schon um das von Denner verbesserte, mit zwei diametralen Klappen versehene Instrument handelt, nicht um den klappenlosen Typ. Auch für das Baß-Chalumeau sind Literatur-Belege bei Telemann und Graupner vorhanden."

The following pieces by Graupner are listed among his works:

"Sonata für Viola d'amore, Chalumeau und Bc.; Sonata für Fagott, Chalumeau und Bc."

There is no way that a viola d'amore or bassoon (the bassoons of that period were softer, had less volume than those today have) could participate in a trio sonata with a pre-Denner chalumeau and be heard properly.

What you hear on your recordings are the Denner clarinet prototypes, not the chalumeaux that had existed mainly as a folk instrument for centuries before that time.


HELP!!!!!! / Finding hard-to-find books

Are Soholt wrote (March 20, 2003):
I am looking for two books in English, but they are not available at Amazon or other shops I have tried. Do any of you got one or both of these books, and perhaps want to sell them to a good prize?

Please let me know!

The books are:

1) Dreyfus, Laurence: Bach's continuo group : players and practices in his vocal works / Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1987.

2) harris, Ernest C.: Johan mattheson's Der vollkommene Capelmeister, A Revised Translation with Critical Commentary, UMI Research Press, Ann Arbor 1981.

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 20, 2003):
[To Are Soholt] I got my copy of Dreyfus' book from somebody on EBay several years ago; you might watch there for it.

An even better place to find older books is: http://www.abebooks.com/
which coordinates thousands of sellers. I recently bought a 1955 French-language hymnal through them, for a very low price. And a few months ago I bought some other books I hadn't been able to find anywhere else, at any price.

And try also: http://www.powells.com
which is a large store in Portland Oregon, with extensive mail-order business as well.

Pete Blue wrote (March 21, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] Yes, abebooks is great, also powells. Another useful website for locating books (used, of course) is www.isbn.nu.

Gene Hanson wrote (March 21, 2003):
[To Pete Blue] Also http://www.alibris.com

Pete Blue wrote (March 21, 2003):
[To Gene Hanson] Of course, alibris, I forgot. And another one I forgot, maybe the most useful of all, because it's a meta search engine -- www.addall.com.


Books on historical performance and listening

Uri Golomb wrote (November 24, 2003):
<< What you are saying is that the performance practice intended for 'modern listeners' is the performance practice originally intended for the listeners before the 1960's. Who is 'modern', then, the listeners who still like the style of performance before the 1960's or those who prefer a performance in line with the most recent musicological findings? >>
< And on that question (and its history and philosophy), some essential reading is:
<snip>
Those are the ones I've found most enlightening, during and after grad school. Uri will probably have some to add to this list, from his bibliography.... >
A few years ago, I wrote a review of three important books on historical performance -- and historical listening -- one of which Brad has mentioned (Taruskin's Text and Act). I sent a revised translation of that review to Aryeh, and he kindly posted it on:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Books/Book-Authentic[Golomb].htm

One very good -- and highly accessible -- introduction to the impact recordings have had on performance and listening alike, and to research into these issues, is Timothy Day's A Century of Recorded Music: Listening to Musical History: http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0300094019/ref=rm_item

Another good resource:
John Rink (editor), Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding (http://books.cambridge.org/0521788625.htm) -- especially essays by Colin Lawson, Peter Walls, John Rink, Eric Clarke and Peter Johnson.

A good survey of philosophical approaches to the topics of performance, authenticity and listening can be found in Stephen Davies, Musical Works & Performances: A Philosophical Exploration (http://www.oup.co.uk/isbn/0-19-924158-9, including link to a sample chapter). Whereas Kivy presents a philosophical argument which is largley critical of historical performance, Davies's arguments are more supportive of this enterprise.

Finally, really off the beaten track yet still relevant to some of the discussions that are raised on this list: The Modern Invention of Medieval Music by Daniel Leech-Wilkinson (http://books.cambridge.org/0521818702.htm, including link to a sample cha). The subject is the modern reception of medieval music, not of Bach; but there are some general lessons to be learnt there, about the strengths and weaknesses of historical musicology (and several of the musicologists involved contributed to Bach studies as well). The book also includes interesting discussions on hisotrical listening, and on the role of personality and authority in scholarship and performance.

One more book

Uri Golomb wrote (November 24, 2003):
In my previous list, forgot to mention one important book that recently came out,and which is of potential interest to anyone on this list:

Dorottya Fabian's Bach Performance Practice, 1945-1975: A Comprehensive
Review of Sound Recordings and Literature
. https://www.ashgate.com/shopping/title.asp?key1=&key2=&orig=results&isbn=0%207546%200549%203

(if that link doesn't work, try: http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0754605493/ref=rm_item)

The book has two main disadvantages: it is prohibitively expensive, and it covers a limited period. Otherwise, it should be of great interest to many members of this list: it provides fascinating insights into the formative years of HIP, and the relations between performance and scholarship. Hopefully, the book will be purchased by libraries, if not by individuals, allowing people access to it; or maybe it will be issued on paperback... If that happens, I'll let the list know.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (November 24, 2003):
Uri Golomb wrote: < The book has two main disadvantages: it is prohibitively expensive, and it covers a limited period. Otherwise, it should be of great interest to many members of this list: it provides fascinating insights into the formative years of HIP, and the relations between performance and scholarship. Hopefully, the book will be purchased by libraries, if not by individuals, allowing people access to it; or maybe it will be issued on paperback... If that happens, I'll let the list know. >
I've received a review copy of this book. I haven't looked at it yet, but will post my review on the list.

One thing to note: it includes a CD with excerpts that correspond to her discussions of performances.

Otherwise, I agree with your two disadvantages.

Uri Golomb wrote (November 24, 2003):
Kirk McElhearn wrote: < One thing to note: it includes a CD with excerpts that correspond to her discussions of performances.
Otherwise, I agree with your two disadvantages. >
Yes, I should have mentioned the CD. In fact, I should have noted that did not read the book in its entirety yet -- what I read was the doctoral dissertation it is based on, plus drafts of sections from the final version. I think, however, that this was a sufficient basis for the description and statemetns I gave: the dissertation version was already fascinating, informative and well-argued, and the book is probably better (to judge by the advance drafts I've seen). I look forward to Kirk's review.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 24, 2003):
Uri Golomb wrote: < Dorottya Fabian's Bach Performance Practice, 1945-1975: A Comprehensive Review of Sound Recordings and Literature.
The book has two main disadvantages: it is prohibitively expensive, and it covers a limited period. >
And that "limited period" is a double whammy in this case: the book is (in part) about recordings of the Goldberg Variations, but no recordings before 1975 made use of the discovery of Bach's handwritten corrections of the piece (brought to light by Christoph Wolff in February 1975). Leonhardt in his outstanding third recording (DHM) and Alan Curtis were, IIRC, the first to use it: Leonhardt was in August 1976 and Curtis in September 1976. Strongly musical performances, both of those. They ushered in a new era of playing the Goldberg Variations well.....

I'd still like to read Fabian's book someday anyway; thanks for mentioning it, Uri.

The Henle edition reissued their Urtext of GV in 1979: correcting their 1962 text. The previous editor, Rudolf Steglich, had died, so they enlisted Paul Badura-Skoda in this round of revisions. There have also been other recent Urtext editions incorporating the 1975 discoveries, including of course Wolff's own work for the NBA.

The 1962 Henle edition is the one delivered with literalistic fervor by Karl Richter, in 1970, on DG Archiv. His edition is identified faithfully in the LP booklet. Richter also didn't bother to acquire harpsichord technique; he just used his generic organ skills. Nor did he venture beyond a German assembly-line instrument, a Neupert "Bach" model: http://www.jc-neupert.de/instr_2/bach.htm
This recording is, I suspect, a literalist's dearest dream. All the notes are in place, repeats and everything, and undisturbed by musical decisions such as phrasing or articulation. Grab a couple of pizzas and party! No, wait, not pizzas; that's not a German-enough food! Whether this recording would please anyone else here, it sure sounds awful to me. Especially Variation 10, with the 16-foot stop and the equal temperament and Richter's lumpy way of dealing with trills. Aaaggh. No, I've changed my mind on further listening; Variation 15 is much worse in this rendition than Variation 10.

What does Fabian say about this Richter recording on DG Archiv, a usually reputable label? It seems the ideal Christmas gift for the Thomas Braatzes and David Lebuts and other purists on anyone's shopping list; and a tremendous way to make the unsuspecting listener hate Bach forever. I haven't heard Richter's earlier Telefunken recording, but Don Satz was mostly favorable about it (as Teldec reissue) in his round-up: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/NonVocal/Klavier-Goldberg2-Rec.htm
Maybe that is the one to prefer, as a reliable Urtext delivery of the notes.

One more book (about Urtext Goldbergs)

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (November 25, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] Was it actually a correction, though?

My understanding was that it (the text you mention) was the autograph of the work, which also contained 14 various Kanonen on the 1st 8 notes in the Arie bass.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 25, 2003):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote: < Was it actually a correction, though? >
Yes. A copy of the original printed (published) edition, where Bach wrote his own corrections and clarifications into it.

< My understanding was that it (the text you mention) was the autograph of the work, which also contained 14 various Kanonen on the 1st 8 notes in the Arie bass. >
Well, your understanding is mistaken.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 25, 2003):
To be clear about that:
(1) yes, the 14 canons were newly discovered.
(2) yes, they were found in Bach's personal copy of the Goldberg Variations.
(3) no, that copy of the Goldberg Variations is not an autograph manuscript of the Goldberg Variations. It is the printed book, with Bach's handwritten notes on the pages.

Riccardo Nughes wrote (November 25, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] It is one of the 18 survived printed copies and it belonged to a French pianist ; it contained also a manuscript page that only in 1974 was attribuited to J.S.Bach and that was titled "Verschiedene Canons uber die ersteren acht Fundamental-noten vorheriger Arie , von J.S.Bach". This page, together with the autograph corrections on the printed edition, demostrated that it was Bach's copy, his "Handexemplar" of the Goldbergs. The autograph was bought by Paris National Library for 700.000 French Francs in 1976.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (November 26, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] I would then, if I were you, notify Yo tomita, Ralph Kirkpatrick, etc. That is the source of my information. The notes that these people wrote are to be found on the "Dave's J S Bach Page" site. In addition, there is the New Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 26, 2003):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] David, good luck notifying Ralph .

Your reading of "Dave's Page": http://www.jsbach.net/catalog/03220000000.html
leaves something to be desired, in terms of an accurate reading. "Dave" knows more than you do. And, the Kirkpatrick passage quoted (about the GV) was published in 1938, almost 40 years before the discovery of those 14 canons.

Whom should we notify to suggest a change of medication?

Laurent Plancon wrote (November 26, 2003):
Bradley Lehman wrote: < Your reading of "Dave's Page" http://www.jsbach.net/catalog/03220000000.html
leaves something to be desired, in terms of an accurate reading. "Dave" knows more than you do. >
Somebody should tell Dave that Strasbourg is in France and not Germany.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 26, 2003):
[To Laurent Planchon] Quite so. Anybody have a handy summary of the history, where Strasbourg (as Strassburg) was formerly in Germany? It wasn't so long ago.

Say, did you click through Dave's site to the page about the canons,
http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/fourteencanonsgg.html
? Scores and everything. That page says it's written by a "Timothy Smith" at Northern Arizona University. Hey, that's fairly close to where David Lebut lives! But the connection is probably only geographical. Perhaps David could pop up there to Flagstaff for some lessons in musicology. Looks like hardly more than a two-hour drive from Phoenix.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 26, 2003):
< Say, did you click through Dave's site to the page about the canons, http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/fourteencanonsgg.html
? Scores and everything. That page says it's written by a "Timothy Smith" at Northern Arizona University. Hey, that's fairly close to where David Lebut lives! But the connection is probably only geographical. Perhaps David could pop up there to Flagstaff for some lessons in musicology. Looks like hardly more than a two-hour drive from Phoenix. >
Errrrrrr...never mind. According to Smith's page, "Discovery of BWV 1087. In 1974 the autograph manuscript of the Goldberg Variations was unexpectedly discovered in private possession in France. Accompanying the manuscript was an appendix containing a cycle of fourteen canons upon the first eight notes of the Goldberg ground. The discovery of the hitherto unknown manuscript was immediately hailed as the most important addition of a Bach source in recent decades. Of the fourteen canons, only numbers 11 and 13 had been known before 1974."

Perhaps that page is where David got his mistaken notion that it is a complete manuscript of the GV, and not just a copy of the original printed edition as written-upon by Bach.

Charles Francis wrote (November 26, 2003):
[To Laurent Planchon] In fairness, Alsace was once part of "Germany". Some 15 years ago, the old were typically German speaking: http://www.bartleby.com/65/al/Alsace.html

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 26, 2003):
< http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/fourteencanonsgg.html
Perhaps that page is where David got his mistaken notion that it is a complete manuscript of the GV, and not just a copy of the original printed edition as written-upon by Bach. >
And the error is certainly not Christoph Wolff's, confusing an autograph manuscript with a Handexemplar. Here are Wolff's opening four sentences from the cited article:

"The personal copy of a printed work a composer retained as Handexemplar for his own use must arouse the keen interest of source-critical research. It may contain the only documentary evidence of his later thoughts on, and relationship with, the finished opus, the publication of which ordinarily marks the end of its compositional genesis. Unlike an autograph, the Handexemplar will not reveal any information on the various developmental stages of the work; rather, it exclusively discloses corrections made after publication as well as the composer's afterthoughts of varying degrees of significance. Hence, one might find simple emendations of errors and misprints, supplementary instructions about performance and interpretation, or--in certain instances, perhaps--additions and more substantial changes adjusting or improving the musical text. (...)"

Wolff knows how to do his job.

Stephen Benson wrote (November 26, 2003):
Bradley Lehman wrote: < Whom should we notify to suggest a change of medication? >
Of all the insults I have read on this list, this is the most tasteless and inappropriate.

OT: the summary of books and articles

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 26, 2003):
< And a third reason: whatever summary I would post, you wouldn't believe it (Charles and Tom and other Knights of Ni, etc.), because you're disinclined to trust anything I put up here, even when I'm correct, preferring to argue things into the ground from a proudly naive (dare I say "triumphantly ignorant"?) position. So, what would be the point? >
By the way, it's not just me who is distrusted by the Knights of Ni. A former member of the BachCantatas group, the articulate Andrew Lewis, posted a clear synopsis of the issues as addressed by Laurence Dreyfus' book. And the reactions to Lewis by these same two Knights of Ni are plain to see, in the archive: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV103-D.htm
That's from before I was part of the discussion at all; they're not merely reacting to me, but saying their Ni to any who would present true material.

That is, a fine book has been summarized for these gentlemen, to no avail; they are so disinclined to believe it, due to their foregone conclusions and their obstinacy, there is just no point arguing. The same treatment would befall any summary of Peter Williams' article. We already saw it last night, where Mr Braatz launched his _ad hominem_ attack against Williams, and took a side dig at Gustav Leonhardt!
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/11707
(Leonhardt being a respected expert performer, but--in Braatz' estimation--an advocate of esoteric doctrine and therefore an inferior musicologist. Leonhardt has to be knocked out of Braatz' way, just as everybody else does, so the appropriate shrubberies may be planted.)

The same thing will--very likely--happen to the summary of Owen Jorgensen's tuning book, which I just posted. (Probably wasted effort, on my part.)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/11736
Same Knights, same Ni. Let us see how they react to it. This is a good litmus test. The point of posting a summary is to spark interest in a reader to check out the whole book, not to take the place of consulting it. I wonder what they would do with the material in, for example, Jorgensen's chapter 80 (pp 293-4).

Or, for that matter, Peter Williams' remarks beginning at the bottom of page 237 in the Music and Letters article.



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