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Bach’s Manuscripts
Part 2

Continue from Part 1

German researchers find earliest Bach manuscripts

Mathias Hansen wrote (August 31, 2006):
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/08/31/europe/EU_A-E_MUS_Germany_Bach.php

The Associated Press

Published: August 31, 2006

Weimar, Germany German researchers said Thursday they have discovered the oldest known handwritten manuscripts of Johann Sebastian Bach.

The two manuscripts contain copies that Bach made of organ music composed by Dietrich Buxtehude and Johann Adam Reincken, and date from around 1700, said Hellmut Seemann, president of the Foundation of Weimar Classics.

Researchers found the documents in the archives of the Duchess Anna Amalia library in Weimar, where a previously unknown aria by Bach was discovered last year.

The library, housed in a 16th-century palace, was badly damaged by a fire in September 2004. While some 50,000 books were lost, the Bach scripts survived because they had been stored in the building's vault.

The foundation said the discovery provided vital clues about Bach's early development. He was a 15-year-old schoolboy when he copied the two chorale fantasias — "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein" by Buxtehude and "An Wasserfluessen Babylon" by Reincken.

Bach attached a note to the Reincken copy that confirmed he was studying at the time with the organist Georg Boehm in the north German town of Lüneburg, the foundation said.

The manuscripts were found together with two previously unknown fantasias by Johann Pachelbel, copied by Bach's student Johann Martin Schubart.

"Technically highly demanding, these organ works document the extraordinary virtuoso skills of the young Bach as well as his efforts to master the most ambitious and complex pieces of the entire organ repertoire," the foundation said.

It said the find also made clear that Bach went to Lüneburg in order to learn more about the influential North German organ school in Hamburg and Lübeck.

Schubart succeeded Bach as organist at the court of Weimar in 1717, and the newly discovered documents were passed to the library as part of Schubart's estate, the foundation said.

Both the manuscripts and the aria found last year were unearthed by researchers from the Bach Archiv foundation in Leipzig, who have been combing German archives for information about the composer since 2002.

The manuscripts will be exhibited at the library from Sept. 1 and at the Bach Archiv in Leipzig from Sept. 21.

The Associated Press

Published: August 31, 2006

=================================================================
http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=1288762006

Early Bach manuscripts reveal teenage talent
Berlin (Reuters) - Previously unknown manuscripts by Johann Sebastian Bach, recently discovered in Germany, prove that the prolific German composer was a virtuoso even as a teenager, researchers said on Thursday.

The works, one of which is dated 1700 when Bach was only 15 and the other thought to be even older, are copies of other composers' choral pieces, arranged for organ by Bach.

They were found among archives in a library in the eastern city of Weimar.

"We have until now not had anything dated before 1700 and what is particularly important is that these are not just manuscripts but musical arrangements which are particularly demanding," said Christoph Wolff, director of the Bach archive in Leipzig.

"Technically, they are demanding, compositionally they are demanding and they show what the 13- to 15-year-old Bach was capable of," he added. "This is something we have never had any indication of previously."

The two handwritten pieces are copies of "Nun freut Euch lieben Christen gmein" by Dietrich Buxtehude and "An Wasserfluessen Babylon" by Johann Adam Reincken.

The Weimar archives in the Anna Amalia Library have already yielded an unknown early Bach aria, adding to the few surviving pieces which remain from his early career.

Acknowledged by many as the greatest Baroque composer, Bach was born in 1685 and died in 1750. His most famous works include the Brandenburg concertos and the Mass in B minor.

This article: http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=1288762006

Last updated: 31-Aug-06 18:31 BST

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/5303252.stm

New Bach manuscripts found

Experts say the composer's script was quite distinctive
Researchers in Germany say they have unearthed two previously unknown manuscripts written by Johann Sebastian Bach when he was a teenage organist.
The handwritten manuscripts, dating from about 1700, are copies of organ music composed by Dietrich Buxtehude and Johann Adam Reincken.

At the time Bach was 15 - and these are the oldest known manuscripts by him.

They were among archives taken from a library in Weimar, east Germany, which was ravaged by a fire two years ago.

The Bach manuscripts survived because they were stored in the building's vault.

The fire at the Duchess Anna Amalia Library, part of a 16th-Century palace, destroyed about 50,000 books.

Bach's life illuminated

According to Bach experts Michael Maul and Peter Wollny from the Bach-Archiv foundation in Leipzig, the manuscripts shed new light on the career of the young Bach.

They confirm that he was a student of the organist Georg Boehm in the north German city of Lüneburg.

The researchers say the latest find is more significant than the discovery last year of a previously unknown vocal piece by Bach, which was also among the papers removed from the library.

Bach's script was quite distinctive, the researchers said, although there was some similarity to Boehm's.

The organ works that Bach copied were chorale fantasias called Nun freut euch lieben Christen gmein (Be joyful ye Christians) and An den Wasserfluessen Babylons (By the waters of Babylon).

The Bach Archiv foundation said that "technically highly demanding, these organ works document the extraordinary virtuoso skills of the young Bach as well as his efforts to master the most ambitious and complex pieces of the entire organ repertoire".

=================================================================
http://www.welt.de/data/2006/08/31/1018115.html

Musik
Eine Begabung wie Mozart?
Jahrhundertelang waren die Blätter verschwunden. Zwei Forscher entdeckten jetzt in Weimar Handschriften des jungen Johann Sebastian Bach. Der Komponist zeigte schon mit 15 Jahren hohe Fähigkeiten.

Für den Laien sehen sie aus wie Hieroglyphen, dem Fachmann offenbaren sich die verblassten Zeichen auf den bräunlichen Blätter als fachmännische Noten-Abschriften von der Hand des jungen Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Die Wissenschaftler Michael Maul und Peter Wollny vom Bach-Archiv Leipzig entdeckten die beiden Dokumente in der Mittelalter-Sammlung der Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek in Weimar. Damit kann das Team erneut einen Erfolg verbuchen. Seit Jahren forscht das Archiv in einem groß angelegten Projekt nach unbekannten Dokumenten der weit verzweigten Musikerfamilie Bach in Thüringen, Sachsen und Sachsen-Anhalt. Im vergangenen Jahr hatte Maul bereits die Bach-Arie „Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn’ ihn“ aus dem Jahr 1713 in Huldigungsschriften der Weimarer Bibliothek gefunden.

„Es ist ein schöner und unerwarteter Fund“, sagte der Direktor des Bach-Archivs Leipzig, Christoph Wolff, bei der Präsentation in der Klassik Stiftung Weimar. „Für die Bach-Forschung ist es wichtig, die alten Dokumente nicht nur immer wieder neu zu interpretieren, sondern durch neue Fakten zu bereichern.“ Die Blätter von der Hand des 15 Jahre alten Bach zeigen Abschriften von Dietrich Buxtehudes Choralfantasien „Nun freut euch lieben Christen gmein“ und Johann Adam Reinkens „An Wasserflüssen Babylons“. Nach diesem Fund muss für Wolff die Biografie des Barockmusikers zwar nicht umgeschrieben, aber überarbeitet werden.

„Wir können unserem Bach-Bild ein weiteres Mosaik hinzufügen“, sagte Wollny. „Die Daten aus der Jugendzeit Bachs sind an einer Hand abzuzählen.“ Rund zehn Monate haben die beiden akribisch die Handschrift mit den wenigen erhaltenen frühen Belegen von Bach verglichen. Wichtige Eigenheiten wie das P im Wort Pedal belegten eindeutig, dass es Bachs Handschrift sei. Zudem ergaben Nachforschungen im Archiv Lüneburg, dass der junge Musiker auf Papier mit Wasserzeichen des Lüneburger Organisten Georg Böhm (1661-1733) geschrieben hat.

Die beiden Forscher sehen darin den ersten dokumentarischen Beleg, dass der 15-Jährige ein Schüler von Böhm war und wahrscheinlich in dessen Haus wohnte. Darauf deutet auch eine Notiz auf der Reinken- Abschrift. „Wir glauben, wir haben neben dem älteren Bruder Johann Christoph Bach in Böhm einen sehr wichtigen Lehrmeister von Johann Sebastian gefunden“, sagte Wollny. Ob Bach nach kurzer Zeit in Lüneburg als Lateinschüler die Schule verlassen hat, ist nicht bekannt. Die Forscher schließen jedoch nicht aus, dass Johann Sebastian damals schon genau wusste, was er wollte: Orgel spielen.

„Das ist kein Kind, das hier schreibt“, sagte Wollny. Bach habe die schwierige Buchstabenschrift für Noten, auch Tabulatur genannt, beherrscht. Deshalb gehen die Wissenschaftler davon aus, dass er bereits früh eine hohe virtuose Fähigkeiten besaß und vom Blatt spielen konnte. „Hier zeigt sich eine Begabung, die vielleicht nur mit Mozart vergleichbar ist“, sagte Wollny. Ob der Forscher aber hier nicht ein wenig übertreibt, um zu Mozarts 250. Geburtstag auch noch gehört zu werden? Die Begabungen beider Komponisten lagen sicher auf unterschiedlicher Wellenlänge und vom kindlichen Bach sind keine Kompositionen bekannt.

Als bereits 18-Jähriger startete Bach freilich in Thüringen seine Karriere, zunächst in Arnstadt, dann in Mühlhausen und Weimar. Die beiden jetzt entdeckten Werke haben die Residenzstadt Weimar vermutlich nie verlassen. Als bisher unbekannter Anhang klebten sie an Notenpartituren von Johann Pachelbel, die im Tresor im Stadtschloss aufbewahrt werden. Deshalb waren sie auch nicht vom Brand der Bibliothek vor zwei Jahren betroffen, sagte Bibliotheksdirektor Michael Knoche.

Ab Freitag sollen die Schätze im Rahmen des Kunstfestes in der Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek gezeigt werden.

dpa/Welt.de

Artikel erschienen am Do, 31. August 2006

=================================================================
http://derstandard.at/?url=/?id=2570856

Frühe Bach-Handschriften entdeckt
Abschriften von Orgelwerken belegen außergewöhnliche Begabung des jungen Komponisten
Weimar - Leipziger Forscher haben in der Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek zwei Musikhandschriften des jungen Johann Sebastian Bach entdeckt. Der Präsident der Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Hellmut Seemann, und der Direktor des Bach-Archivs Leipzig, Christoph Wolff, bezeichneten den Fund am Donnerstag in Weimar als "Sensation". Damit würden der bisher kaum bekannten Jugendzeit Bachs (1685-1750) wichtige Facetten hinzugefügt.

Bei den Blättern handelt es sich um Abschriften von zwei Orgelwerken von Dietrich Buxtehude und Johann Adam Reinken, die der knapp 15 Jahre alte Bach in Lüneburg anfertigte. "Wir sind absolut sicher, dass es sich um die frühesten Schriftzeugnisse Bachs handelt", erklärten die Forscher Michael Maul und Peter Wollny vom Bach-Archiv Leipzig. "Nunmehr können fundierte Aussagen über die ersten 20 Jahre in Bachs Leben getroffen werden", betonte Maul. Bisher seien seine Jugendjahre fast ein weißer Fleck, allenfalls nur mosaikhaft vorhanden, ergänzte Wollny.

Bach schrieb die Orgelwerke nachweislich auf Papier mit dem Wasserzeichen des Lüneburger Organisten Georg Böhm (1661-1733). Maul und Wollny sehen darin den ersten dokumentarischen Beleg dafür, dass der junge Bach ein Schüler Böhms war und wahrscheinlich in dessen Haus wohnte. "Wir müssen die Bach-Biografie zur Jugendzeit überarbeiten und ergänzen", sagte Wolff.

Bachs Abschriften von Buxtehudes Choralfantasien "Nun freut euch lieben Christen gmein" und Reinkens "An Wasserflüssen Babylons" fanden Maul und Wollny in den Mittelalter-Handschriften der Forschungsbibliothek. In der Nacht des Großfeuers in der Weimarer Bibliothek im September 2004 wurden sie als Anhang bekannter Notenpartituren von Johann Pachelbel im Tresor im Stadtschloss aufbewahrt, wie Bibliotheksdirektor Michael Knoche erklärte.

"Das ist kein Kind, das hier schreibt", sagte Wollny. Bach habe die schwierige Buchstabenschrift, Tabulatur genannt, nicht nur beherrscht, sondern es sei davon auszugehen, dass er bereits früh hohe virtuose Fähigkeiten besaß und vom Blatt spielen konnte. Es entstehe das Bild eines jungen Erwachsenen mit großem Sachverstand für die polyphone Musik, der als Zwölfjähriger schon weiter im Orgelspiel gewesen sei als die meisten Organisten seiner Zeit. "Hier zeigt sich eine Begabung, die vielleicht nur mit Mozart verbleichbar ist."

Im vergangenen Jahr hatte das Bach-Archiv bereits eine Arie von Bach in der Weimarer Bibliothek aufgespürt, die durch Zufall ebenfalls nicht dem Brand zum Opfer gefallen war. Das Bach-Archiv durchforstet derzeit Archive und Bibliotheken in Sachsen, Thüringen und Sachsen-Anhalt nach bisher unbekannten Dokumenten der Bach- Familie. Laut Wolff wurden seit 2002 mehrere Dutzend Dokumente über die Musikerfamilie gefunden. Sie sollen ab 20. September in einer Sonderschau in Leipzig präsentiert werden. (APA/AP/dpa)

New Bach Mansucripts

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 31, 2006):
From the BBC today: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/5303252.stm

New Bach manuscripts found

Signature of J S Bach on original handwritten music script found in Weimar Experts say the composer's script was quite distinctive Researchers in Germany say they have unearthed two previously unknown manuscripts written by Johann Sebastian Bach when he was a teenage organist.

The handwritten manuscripts, dating from about 1700, are copies of organ music composed by Dietrich Buxtehude and Johann Adam Reincken.

At the time Bach was 15 - and these are the oldest known manuscripts by him.

They were among archives taken from a library in Weimar, east Germany, which was ravaged by a fire two years ago.

The Bach manuscripts survived because they were stoin the building's vault.

The fire at the Duchess Anna Amalia Library, part of a 16th-Century palace, destroyed about 50,000 books.

Bach's life illuminated

According to Bach experts Michael Maul and Peter Wollny from the Bach-Archiv foundation in Leipzig, the manuscripts shed new light on the career of the young Bach.

They confirm that he was a student of the organist Georg Boehm in the north German city of Lüneburg.

The researchers say the latest find is more significant than the discovery last year of a previously unknown vocal piece by Bach, which was also among the papers removed from the library.

Bach's script was quite distinctive, the researchers said, although there was some similarity to Boehm's.

The organ works that Bach copied were chorale fantasias called Nun freut euch lieben Christen gmein (Be joyful ye Christians) and An den Wasserfluessen Babylons (By the waters of Babylon).

The Bach Archiv foundation said that "technically highly demanding, these organ works document the extraordinary virtuoso skills of the young Bach as well as his efforts to master the most ambitious and complex pieces of the entire organ repertoire".

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 31, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< New Bach manuscripts found (...)
At the time Bach was 15 - and these are the oldest known manuscripts by him.
(...)
They confirm that he was a student of the organist Georg Boehm in the north German city of
Lüneburg. (...) Bach's script was quite distinctive, the researchers said, although there was some similarity to Boehm's. >
An important additional detail, from some of the other news stories: these manuscripts are in keyboard tablature, not score. Letters crammed onto a page, not musical notes.

It's a form of notation that packs a lot of detail into a small space, but isn't always perfectly clear as to which octave we're in, or where any rests or breathing-spaces are located in the melodic lines, or how long any of the longer notes are to be sustained. Note releases are to be figured out from context and from knowing what sounds good, within improvisatory practices and style.....

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 1, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>these manuscripts are in keyboard tablature, not score. Letters crammed onto a page, not musical notes. It's a form of notation that packs a lot of detail into a small space, but isn't always perfectly clear as to which octave we're in, or where any rests or breathing-spaces are located in the melodic lines, or how long any of the longer notes are to be sustaind. Note releases are to be figured out from context and from knowing what sounds good, within improvisatory practices and style.....<<
If Bach had intended this type of notation to serve in supporting artistic license while supporting improvisatory practices and style, why is it that he left no body of compositions of his own in this form, and why is there no evidence that he taught it to his sons and other pupils?

The lack of precision in notating his own compositions may be the main reason why Bach rather quickly abandoned this type of notation in favor of a standard, more precise method. The only purposes which organ tablature served in Bach's life seem to be

a) antiquarian: being able to read and play compositions from an earlier period that used such a notation method. Samuel Scheidt in his "Tabulatura nova (1624)was one of the first composers to replace this antiquated and imprecise musical shorthand used in writing out organ music with the same notation as used in vocal music. As better methods of copper engraving became possible, the printing of music in organ tablature (which was, in fact, easier to print and hence less costly than the standard vocal type) was soon abandoned with the last such printed volumes appearing in 1645 (J. E. Kindermann, "Harmonia Organica" and Christoph Michel, "Tabulatura auf dem Klavier"). It was still in use in restricted parts of Germany and Scandinavia until c. 1700 after which it quickly died out.

b) shorthand: being able to use far less costly paper and being able to squeeze in additional notes in the margin in order to avoid an awkward page turn or to indicate a missing bar/measure of music. The examples of Bach's use of organ tablature in this manner are quite rare and served more as a note to himself so that he could quickly explain to his copyists or publishers what he actually wanted. It is quite unlikely that Bach's copyists or publishers had any facility in reading this type of notation correctly.

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 1, 2006):
New Bach Mansucripts - a Buxtehude example of tablature

I wrote earlier today:
<< At the time Bach was 15 - and these are the oldest known manuscripts by him. (...) Bach's script was quite distinctive, the researchers said, although there was some similarity to Boehm's. >>
< An important additional detail, from some of the other news stories: these manuscripts are in keyboard tablature, not score. Letters crammed onto a page, not musical notes.
It's a form of notation that packs a lot of detail into a small space, but isn't always perfectly clear as to which octave we're in, or where any rests or breathing-spaces are located in the melodic lines, or how long any of the longer notes are to be sustained. Note releases are to be figured out from context and from knowing what sounds good, within improvisatory practices and style..... >
This bears a direct example, to show how much music can be packed into a small space by using late 17th century notational conventions of keyboard tablature.

I have uploaded the original manuscript format of an Allemande and Courante by Buxtehude, all fitting onto a single page: and then the modern transcriptions of those same two dances into score notation. These transcriptions are from Klaus Beckmann's edition of Buxtehude's harpsichord music, for Breitkopf & Haertel.

These examples are in the Files section for the group: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/files/keyboard_tablature/

The tablature's notation is in letters, not notes, written onto blank paper and without staves. This is one of the notational styles Bach learned as a teenager. Pack in those letter-names of the notes, and then some scratch-marks above these show how fast the notes go, as a group. This style of notation tends to work especially well for music that has a fairly constant flow of the same note speeds. The speed continues, implicitly, until changed by the next set of scratches. When there is blank space on the page, the notes might be resting or they might be held across; decided only by context and listening.

I did some work on this area in grad school and later, trying to understand for myself the compositional process that leads to such notation. A useful exercise is to take a finished piece, in notation, and transcribe it back to a hypothetical 17th century German tablature version after first learning to play it...to see how tablature works in practice, as notational shorthand. Also I set myself the task of learning some lute and vihuela music to play it on keyboards, from the different tablatures that they use.

Apparently in this mode of learning the musical craft, one learns or composes the piece first by working it out at the instrument, in memory or by rote (often arising from an improvisation), and then writes down the minimal details necessary to play it back. The tablature merely indicates when the pitches begin, and a suggestion of the voice-leading or figuration of the parts, as a reminder. It does not say much about either articulation or the length of sustaining those notes. Rests are rarely indicated, if at all. One decides the proper lengths per occasion by listening to the acoustics, during the blank spaces on the page, and by figuring out harmonic relationships and progressions....

A similar process obtains for the published piece by Francois Couperin (published 1716-7) that JSB hand-copied (or arran) into Anna Magdalena's notebook, dated 1725. Even though that composition was written out in notation, both in the original and in Bach's copy, the note-values still don't indicate that some of the pitches should really be held out longer than it says in the notation--if we are to get a similar sound to Couperin's more painstakingly notated original, with two voices happening in the same staff. The Bach version simply indicates when the notes begin, and the player is to figure out by sound and taste how long the notes should go, to make the right effect.

All of this is more familiar to lutenists than to keyboardists: as to the use of tablature, and non-specific note-lengths....

Ed Myskowski wrote (September 1, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< This bears a direct example, to show how much music can be packed into a small space by using late 17th century notational conventions of keyboard tablature. >
The essentials of this post (abstract below for reference) are so clearly stated that I can grasp and enjoy them. Even if many of the details exceed my abilities (or time) to pursue.

Why try to separate musicology from listening? Unless you are one of those musicologists who never bothers to enjoy listening to music. Or a listener who considers knowledge a bother.

I am just now listening to Leusink, BWV 99. It reminds me of one of those Polish-American dances we used to call a Scottische. A definite respite from doom and gloom. Music unites us.

Riccardo Nughes wrote (September 1, 2006):
Some photos here -> http://www.repubblica.it/
then click on "MUSICA
Manoscritti di Bach
scampati alle fiamme
ritrovati in Germania "
[a java script in the middle of the page on the right]

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 1, 2006):
[To Riccardo Nughes] Thanks! A more direct link to that newspaper's eight photos of these fascinating manuscripts (getting around the javascript popup windows): http://www.repubblica.it/2006/05/gallerie/esteri/bach-inediti-ritrovati/1.html

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 1, 2006):
< These examples are in the Files section for the group: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/files/keyboard_tablature/ >

I have added three pages from the Buxtehude piece that Bach copied, "Nun freut euch" BuxWV 210. These are pages 10-12 of 12, in a score-notation format from the Spitta/Seiffert edition of 1903. (Some newer editions are better, but this one is at least decent and out of copyright....)

There is always some editorial judgment required in choosing a reasonable octave, note-lengths, etc for the music when transcribing tablature into score. It's also not always clear, in organ music, which parts (if any) should be played by pedal as opposed to the manuals.

At least this score is good enough to illustrate some of the difficulty in this flashy piece. The other pages have additionally fun bits such as hands crossed, quick echoes from one manual to the other (or out to a third manual), lots of leaps, meter changes, little fugatos, and the right hand reaching over to play a bass line while the left hand and pedal are occupied playing something else.... (Assuming that Spitta/Seiffert got the parts disentangled reasonably correctly when making their score, of course!)

Rick Canyon wrote (September 1, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
<< These examples are in the Files section for the group: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/files/keyboard_tablature/ >>
Very interesting. The tablature looks almost like a series of mathematical formulas.

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 1, 2006):
[To Rick Canyon] Yup. That's also part of the reason why I take one of Bach's other manuscripts as a tablature (or shorthand) for his tuning method. Step-by-step sequence to set up the notes, like the way tablature notation is step-by-step hitting the notes in the right order, to play a composition.

I believe it's a way of jotting down a concept one knows, without having to waste a lot of effort or page space on symbols, or any effort on calculation. Just draw a picture of the thing, elegantly.

Details, second little section on this page: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/larips/faq3.html

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 1, 2006):
BWV 1121 Only Extant Composition by Bach in Organ Tablature

To view a detailed facsimile of the only extant complete composition by J. S. Bach in organ tablature (estimated date anywhere from 1706-1713):

Go to Files in the Yahoo Group Bach Cantatas
Open folder BWV 1121
Click on BWV1121T.jpg in folder

I had wanted to include for comparison a copy of the modern notation NBA printing of the same but the Files section of the BCML does not allow another upload (no available space since the maximum has been nearly reached!).

There are no upside-down letters to be found anywhere on this page.

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 2, 2006):
Aryeh Oron has kindly placed both the facsimile and the transcribed version (modern notation courtesy of the NBA) of the first portion of BWV 1121 at the following address on the BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV1121-Tablature.htm

Bach's manuscript legacy - why so small? [BMML]

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 19, 2009):
This is a completely whimsy post and I'm just thinking out loud and hoping others on the list will share their ideas or thoughts on the subject.

I get the impression for Bach's instrumental music, there aren't many sources, especially the concertos and orchestral suites. This seems odd to me, because Fasch and Telemann and Stölzel had many scores distributed through Germany-- in fact Fasch had placed an advertisement in a Hamburg newspaper trying to create a clearing-house for composers to swap their compositions-- all in an effort I suppose to ease all of their workloads and to also get a sense of what was the latest trends in new music.

There are a multidude of Telemann compositions in Dresden as well as Fasch-- but (correct me if I am wrong)-- only one Bach concerto and the B minor Mass (BWV 232). Given how frequently the Dresden court heard Bach's music in Leipzig (some of it composed unique for the royal family) and Bach's frequent visits to Dresden, you'd expected more manuscripts or interest by musicians at the court.

Given Bach's long term engagement with the Leipzig Collegium Musicum, there would have been some chance that musicians would have copied out favorite pieces for themselves-- they were just as starved for material to perform as was Fasch.

I don't believe Bach was preventing it's copying for sale-- if anything he would have welcomed the extra income for a large family. So that makes you wonder was there that much of a lack of interest in what he wrote? That seems unlikely as well, given the commissions we know about from Dresden.

I wonder if a interested party had come knocking on Bach's door in 1749 offering to pay him for copies of any of his music, would he have accepted?

Julian Mincham wrote (January 19, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Continuing the theme of whimsy I connected this post (in my mind) with the Count's comment to Mozart, 'Very nice but too many notes'.

Bach didn't publish much (unlike CPE who really got a handle (Handel??--sorry that was an Ed Joke!) on the publishing business. So mostly JSB's music had to be copied out. Might it have been a factor that, when pieces were needed quickly that the sheer complexity and number of notes in his music lead people to turn to scores that could be copied in half the time? If you examine the chorale fantasias for example there are as many notes often within one chorus as there often are in complete works of other composers. People copied to learn of course--that's principally how JSB did it. But then the majority of Bach's works produced for pedagogical purposes does seem to have survived.

Just a thought

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 19, 2009):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Bach didn't publish much (unlike CPE who really got a handle (Handel??--sorry that was an Ed Joke!) on the publishing business. So mostly?JSB's music had to be copied out. >
Well I was thinking primarily for manuscript copies-- which were a brisk business for many copyists through Europe right up to the 19th century.

Might it have been a factor that, when pieces were needed quickly that the sheer complexity and number of notes in his music lead people to turn to scores that could be copied in half the time?

But that wouldn't be an issue in someone selling copies of manuscripts really. For engaving purposes, it's a nightmare. I can tell you Christoph Graupner was very fond of using "grace notes" all over his music, and it's a time consuming factor in engraving his music (for me at anyrate). Telemann hardly uses them. I'm not sure Bach uses them frequently at all, but his music notation is sophisticated, no doube.

< But then the majority of Bach's works produced for pedagogical purposes does seem to have survived. >
Well a majority of Bach's organ music survived thanks to the copys by his students (from what I have read), is that what you meant? I've asked a friend if any Bach music was in Zerbst for the big inventory of the 1740s (Zerbst is the court where Fasch worked). This maybe inmportant because Bach and Fasch worked in some fashion together when Bach was in nearby Köthen; and Fasch was a candidate for Leipzig in 1722, but declined to audition for the position.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 19, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Well I was thinking primarily for manuscript copies-- which were a brisk business for many copyists through Europe right up to the 19th century.
Might it have been a factor that, when pieces were needed quickly that the sheer complexity and number of notes in his music lead people to turn to scores that could be copied in half the time?
But that wouldn't be an issue in someone selling copies of manuscripts really. >
Manuscripts still have to be copied. I was hinting at a difference in approach (possibly) between music copied for study (organ and general keyboard pieces here predominating--and largely surviving as a consequence) and music copied for particular (and possibly immediate) usage where the fewer the notes the faster the process.

Bach (Cantata) Autographs scores online?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 22, 2009):
Would any list participants have links to PDFs of Bach autograph scores that are online? Cantata scores/parts would be great, but any Bach autograph would be appreciated. I know years ago, IBM sponsored a website for Bach autographs, but that web portal was taken down quite sometime ago.

Evan Cortens wrote (January 22, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] I know there is a project being undertaken jointly by the Bach-Archiv Leipzig and the Berlin Staatsbibliothek which aims to digitize all of the sources and make them available online. The initial announcement is here: http://tinyurl.com/d8wvgk

The home page, which as of now contains only a brief description of the project and three pages of facsimile for demonstration is here: http://www.bach-leipzig.de/index.php?id=52

I'm afraid I don't know of any other way to get Bach manuscripts online, nor or any other digitization project. If you do hear of anything else though, I'd love to know about it!

OT: Gotthold collection / University of Königsberg Music library partially recovered

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 17, 2010):
The Königsberg University music library held a vast collection of music that was thought to have been completely destroyed during the Allied bombing raids, and Soviet's siege of the city in 1945. Königsberg has a long, and very rich cultural heritage. While Berlin may have been Prussia's political capitol, Königsberg was its spiritual center (e.g. the coronation of Prussian kings and their burial tombs were held in the city's Dom) for all things Prussian, and was of supreme importance symbolically for the Soviet's: there wasn't a single structure left intact in the Old City at the end of the war, and the city itself was the only area of Germany annexed into the Soviet Union and completely renamed.

This music collection held over music 25,000 (!) vols, and that's not including the other larger collection of assorted books and papers ( a large holding of Kant materials). Personally, I've been trying to locate another surviving print of Telemann's fantastic Heldenmusic ("12 Heroic Marches") which was edited only as an arrangement for piano and treble instrument in 1949 in Berlin (the Telemann print was issued as parts for trumpet, oboe, and ab lib horns with basso continuo), then reissued in France for organ and treble instrument (i.e. trumpet) in the 1950s. I'm assuming the edition was prepared before the library was destroyed and only published after the war ended. But it has long been assumed that the only surviving print was destroyed. That could change hopefully ;)

Of course, this discovery could be a potential boon to Bach scholarship and early music. While a complete index was made in 1869, and I don't have access to it, I do know the collection was vitally important to early music, and the editors of the DDT issued two vols from the holdings of the library in the early 1900s.

Evan Cortens wrote (January 17, 2010):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Wow, this is very exiting! Thanks for bringing it to our attention, Kim!

VDMA 1580 wrote (January 18, 2010):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Pardon me, but could somebody explain the nature of this good news?

Has a portion of the long-thought destroyed library collection been recovered somehow?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 18, 2010):
[To VDMA 1580] Yes, it has.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 18, 2010):
[To VDMA 1580] Allow me. (I see your point, BTW!)

(1) Identification of lost material opens new vistas of scholarly hypothesis (not to say speculation)

(2) It clearly identifies materials, which may ultimately be found in other sources.

More?

VDMA 1580 wrote (January 18, 2010):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Would somebody kindly provide a web site link to where I can read more details about this discovery (rediscovery)? Many thanks. I am happy to hear of this news, but would like to learn more details.

VDMA 1580 wrote (January 18, 2010):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Would you be so kind as to point me a web site where the details are available? A news story? etc.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 18, 2010):
[To VDMA 1580] Thereisn't a URL, at least one that I know about I was told about this discovery via E-mail from some researchers in Germany.

VDMA 1580 wrote (January 18, 2010):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Thank you for the clarification. I'll keep on the look-out for further information on this development.

Preserving Bach: Bach's Original Manuscripts are in danger!

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 6, 2011):
Interesting photos of the deterioration of Bach manuscripts: http://raptusassociation.org/bachoriginals_e.html

Evan Cortens wrote (February 6, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] Thank you for this link; agreed, this is a very serious problem. I grant of course that high quality, colour scans are a step in the right direction, but the originals themselves will always remain valuable and irreplaceable.

I've heard tell that when one picks up a sheet of manuscript, the noteheads will, from time to time, literally fall into your lap, due to the acidity of the ink.

One wonders about the state of manuscripts for non-Bach eighteenth-century composers. Similar inks and papers were used, and thus they are susceptible to similar deterioration. However there is no money to perform the elaborate restoration process described in this article. For that matter, for many of them, there isn't even money for high quality colour scanning. I wonder also, what of the manuscripts which are not fortunate enough to be perserved in museums? One hears now and again of manuscripts being found in musty church basements. Surely such manuscripts are deteriorating even more quickly.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 6, 2011):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< One wonders about the state of manuscripts for non-Bach eighteenth-century composers. Similar inks and papers were used, and thus they are susceptible to similar deterioration. >
Well, the issue for Bach, was the ink he used in Lepizig? I think the issue was the high levels of iron?

Darmstadt manuscripts are almost in pristine condition:

Endler symphony: http://oi53.tinypic.com/21cy2ax.jpg
Graupner symphony: http://oi53.tinypic.com/11iek2q.jpg

but here are some other samples

Telemann Ouverture held in Dresden: http://oi52.tinypic.com/ip9x8l.jpg
Telemann: Ouverture held in Schwerin: http://oi55.tinypic.com/1zyk5s4.jpg
Telemann: Cantata TWV 1:720 held in Frankfurt http://oi52.tinypic.com/dfwolt.jpg

Stölzel Concerto a quadro chori held in Gotha: http://oi52.tinypic.com/28gqdqg.jpg

But it's true there are many music collections that are not in state libraries and unless every effort is made to have the music kept in dry and cool storage, they will eventually turn into dust. And Dresden has a lot damaged manuscripts from the bombing raid in 1944, with severe water damage.

There was of course major losses from WW2, and a gentleman I know is preparing a sort of reverse RISM-- a complete listing of all lost music in major European libraries as a result of WW2. according to him: Zerbst and Darmstadt suffered the worst—100 percent for Zerbst and nearly 90 percent for Darmstadt. Zerbst was important due to the connections Bach and Fasch had. Hamburg as well.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 7, 2011):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< One wonders about the state of manuscripts for non-Bach eighteenth-centurycomposers. Similar inks and papers were used, and thus they are susceptible to similar deterioration. >
Reminds me of the story of colleague who is an historian of 18th & 19th century Canadian naval history. He had done extensive research in London about shipbuildng contracts, but discovered that the British government was "deacquisitioning" ( = tossing out ) many of the records because of curatorial cost. He was able to convince them to donate them to Canadian libraries.

The story of the destruction of German libraries and the Nazi despoliation of European libraries is a tragic story.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 7, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] Rather as when in the 1970s the BBC wiped much of the vintage drama and comedy of the 1950s and 60s from their tapes because it was cheaper to reuse them and they were bulky to store. Only later when they realised the popularity continuing commercial value of such programmes as Not only but Also (Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore) Steptoe and Son and Hancock's Half Hour did they acknowledge the error and requested that anyone who may have personal recordings give them back. A number of priceless programmes were located but many had been lost for ever.

We never seem to lear the lessons! Although now that so much can be stored so effeiciently things might be different---although I guess that most of what we do keep for future generations will be trivial rubbish---like the stylophone playing (!!!!) Bach fugues.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 7, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Rather as when in the 1970s the BBC wiped much of the vintage drama and comedy of the 1950s and 60s from their tapes because it was cheaper to reuse them and they were bulky to store. Only later when they realised the popularity continuing commercial value of such programmes as Not only but Also (Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore) Steptoe and Son and Hancock's Half Hour did they acknowledge the error and requested that anyone who may have personal recordings give them back. A number of priceless programmes were located but many had been lost for ever. >
That happened here in the United States with "The Tonight Show" hosted by Johnny Carson. All the tapes prior to about 1970 were wiped. A lot of historical interviews (as well as a lot of crap too) was lost. Such a pity.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 7, 2011):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Evidently there is an institute in Washington DC which curates all old recording technologies, so that if a wax cylinder or a quadraphonic LP has to be digitized, the original machinery is ready.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 7, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] The Library of Congress working with researchers, has developed a way to image a record groove using a laser. It doesn't damage or wear the groove at all, and the image is used to generate a sound wave that can be cleaned up (remove scratches, ticks and clicks). They are digitizing the older 78s in their collection first, but obviously this is a HUGE project and will take many years. And on a sidebar, the LoC has done pioneering research on how long CD ROM and audio discs will last. Digital images and sound files are already becoming a nightmare, some of the earliest formats for digital photographs are unreadable now because the company that developed that format went out of business. For music, and this is more akin to pop, record labels are discovering they are missing required software for computer generated sounds on albums produced in the 1980s, when they go to remix these for new packaging. The same issue is also happening with classical music, as in no one stores on reel-to-reel tape anymore.

The storage issues are truly a nightmare.

Interesting thread ;)

Fingerprints on the manuscripts ...

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 25, 2012):
Just listened to a fascinating CBC Radio interview with a medievalist who is studying reading habits in the 15th century by examining the discoloration on manuscripts pages from greasy fingerprints to indicate frequency of use. She quite convincingly is able to cite favourite passageand prayers in books of hours, even suggesting that some were just artifacts and never actually read.

Reminded me of the debate of why there are no signs of use on the Bach parts. Were they exemplars from which practical copies were copied? Were they laid on playing desks and not handled by performers?

Has any ever tried to locate a fingerprint of J.S. Bach on his scores?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 25, 2012):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Reminded me of the debate of why there are no signs of use on the Bach parts. Were they exemplars from which practical copies were copied? Were they laid on playing desks and not handled by performers? >
Or a 3rd option, they just weren't performed that often?

< Has any ever tried to locate a fingerprint of J.S. Bach on his scores? >
How would we know definitely he was his fingerprint, and not anyone else?

Claudio Di Veroli wrote (April 25, 2012):
We mostly associated JSBach with very elaborate and beautiful music. But his music has also, as we know, another aspect: a significant amount of it is the most technically demanding Baroque music ever written. Therefore, it was only performed by very proficient musicians. He was also surrounded by a musical entourage where lots of copies were made. Other composers had less copies, and they were handled a lot by amateurs who were easily able to play them. And besides, in many Baroque works (even those where we know were published with hundred of copies made, such as F.Couperin Organ Masses), only two or three copies are extant: in these cases it is difficult to draw significant conclusions from statistically very small samples.

It's just an opinion. Oh yes we all want to see JSBach's fingerprint! Then somebody with lots of imagination will try and deduce from it not only how often the score was handled, but also how old was Bach at the time, whether he smoked tobacco, which fingering system he used on keyboard instruments, or even -- God forbid -- which temperament he employed when he tuned them…
:-)

Julian Mincham wrote (April 25, 2012):
Claudi Di Veroli wrote:
< It's just an opinion. Oh yes we all want to see JSBach's fingerprint! Then somebody with lots of imagination will try and deduce from it not only how often the score was handled, but also how old was Bach at the time, whether he smoked tobacco, which fingering system he used on keyboard instruments, or even -- God forbid -- which temperament he employed when he tuned them . . .
:-) >
Maybe we can get his DNA as well!!

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 25, 2012):
[To Julian Mincham] Can a JSBach clone attempt be long behind?

Thanks Claudio and Julian, a bit of wit and wisdom is always enjoyable.

The fingerprint suggestion is not necssarily out of the question, however. Nicholas Kitchen plays the solo violin works from reproductions of clean scores which are undoubtedly in Bachs hand. How much trouble to start from there?

If a trace of tobacco or beer, so much the better!

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 25, 2012):
Forensic examination of the Bach manuscripts [was: Fingerprints on the manuscripts]

I've seen mention of the forensic examination of the manuscript performance parts, and the apparent lack of "use." Is this from a published study or monograph? Could someone please provide a citation for the source because I'd love to read this: it sounds fascinating. I have read here that JEG had something to do with the original research since he believed it would solve the OVPP debate (or at least help solve it).

Evan Cortens wrote (April 25, 2012):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I've seen mention of the forensic examination of the manuscript performance parts, and the apparent lack of "use." Is this from a published study or monograph? Could someone please provide a citation for the source because I'd love to read this: it sounds fascinating. I have read here that JEG had something to do with the original research since he believed it would solve the OVPP debate (or at least help solve it). >
I don't have a citation for you, but what I've heard suggested in the past is that the parts don't show signs of use because the performers would have marked them up. The trouble is that, as I understand it, pencils weren't in ready use until at least the late eighteenth century, if not the nineteenth century, so the performers would have had no way to easily mark them up, short of sharpening a quill and getting an ink well out.

The parts, even if well-used, weren't likely used more than a handful of times even if they were well used. Off the top of of my head, there are some cantatas for which source evidence suggests they were reperformed four or so times. Even if you assume that they were actually reperformed more than twice that much, and that the evidence is just lacking, this is still less than a dozen times over a multi-decade period. This to say that even a well-used part wouldn't ever show the kinds of discoloration from use that a prayer book would.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 26, 2012):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< I don't have a citation for you, but what I've heard suggested in the past is that the parts don't show signs of use because the performers would have marked them up. The trouble is that, as I understand it, pencils weren't in ready use until at least the late eighteenth century, if not the nineteenth century, so the performers would have had no way to easily mark them up, short of sharpening a quill and getting an ink well out. >
I know from my experience with Endler's music in Darmstadt (pretty much during the same period as Bach was in Leipzig), his orchestral parts would have pieces of paper with inked corrections glued over the wrong bars, and the handwriting is in Endler's hand. I don't know at what point he made these corrections-- was it during the copying out the parts from his composing score (none of the scores survive btw)? Was it after a performance. I was really surprised to see this for a variety of reasons and not least of which-- I'm amazed the glue has held for almost 300 years. Sometimes I will see a mistake (two note heads that are blobs, with Endler marking above (in ink) the correct note as a single letter, but again when did this happen? During the part making process or after a concert). I have NEVER seen any pencil markings on any of these parts.

Evan Cortens wrote (April 26, 2012):
[To Kim Patrick Clow]
I know that at the Paris Opéra, around this same time, it was common to stitch new music into the parts and scores, when corrections were necessary, and that often the stitching is still there today. I hadn't heard about glue before though; fascinating! When C.P.E. Bach wanted to make a correction in his father's manuscripts, he took out a razor and quite simply scraped off the top layer of the paper and wrote something new in. This has been a special challenge in preparing editions of the B minor mass.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 26, 2012):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< I hadn't heard about glue before though; fascinating! >
Here is an image I just grabbed for you: http://i.imgur.com/yeDql.png

Claudio Di Veroli wrote (April 26, 2012):
[To Ed Myskowski & Julian Mincham] Thanks Ed and Julian,

This reminds me of a paper written many years ago where, among other suggestions, it was argued that the technology would soon be ripe for an automaton that would be able to read a Baroque music score and play it on a keyboard instrument following all the stylish prescriptions expected by the author (those known to us, that is). It would NOT be a fully satisfactory performance for many obvious reasons, but it would be interesting as it would tell the scholar and the student what is OBJECTIVELY conveyed to us by current direct and deduced wisdom, as opposed to the things we add nowadays, under the illusion that they are consistent with what we know (though still they could be figments of our imagination) , they make the music more "expressive" (to us) and enjoyable to our (modern) listeners), it is also more comfortable (to modern hands) to play, and to modern ears accustomed to
. . . . and I guethe list could go on.

PS: Just in case, I found the source: the paper was entitled "Musicología y Computación: Pasado, Presente y Futuro" (Musicology and Computers: Past, Present and Future), and it was read to the 3rd Argentine Musicology Symposium, Buenos Aires 1986. I must have a hard copy somewhere (in Spanish). Today it is just a curiosity, in 2016 it will be funny to see what happened 30 years later.

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