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Arrangements & Transcriptions
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

BCW: Orchestral Arrangements/Transcriptions of Bach's works - Announcemnent & Background

Aryeh Oron wrote (November 24, 2009):
Orchestral Arrangements/Transcriptions - Part 1: Announcement

Over two years ago I informed you of the addition of

Transcriptions of Bach's Works and Bach-inspired Piano Works (PT) to the BCW.

I have started building a similar database for orchestral arrangements & transcriptions (According to Wikipedia: Transcription may mean rewriting a piece of music, either solo or ensemble, for another instrument or other instruments than which it was originally intended. Transcription in this sense is sometimes called arrangement, although strictly speaking transcriptions are faithful adaptations and arrangements change significant aspects of the original piece.). My aim is that this database would have even a larger scope, by including also using of Bach's musical material in orchestral works of other composers, such as Alban Berg's Violin Concerto, or Charles Ives' borrowings (the latter was brought to my attention by Yoël L. Arbeitman).

At this stage the database of orchestral arrangements/transcriptions is presented by Composer/Arranger: each entry includes short bio (if found), page of orchestral arrangements/transcriptions (listed by BWV Number).

This page contains also arrangements/transcriptions for other instruments (except PT). In other words, each composer/arranger would now have two pages on the BCW for his/her arrangements/transcriptions of Bach's works:
a. Piano Transcriptions of Bach's Works and Bach-inspired Piano Works (PT)
b. Other arrangements/transcriptions of Bach's works (OT)
Both pages are, of course, inter-linked.

See, for example, William Walton:
PT page:
OT page:

At a later stage, I intend building Index by BWV Number and comprehensive discographies. See, for example, again William Walton:
Discography page:

I have used every possible source. Aggelos Tsompanidis has been of great help. However, I am quite certain that we have missed many (or at least some). If you are aware of an orchestral arrangement/transcription not listed in these pages, or if you find an error or missing information, please inform me, either through the Bach Mailing Lists or to my personal e-mail address.

If you are aware of an OT not listed in these pages, or if you find an error or missing information, please inform me, either through the Bach Mailing Lists or to my personal e-mail address.

Orchestral Arrangements/Transcriptions - Part 2: Background

On orchestral arrangements of Bach works, from the article "Arrangements" by Michael Musgrave in OCC:
"It becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between goals of enhanced sonority and individual recomposition in the orchestral arrangements of the 20th century, which use the resources for great dynamic contrast and textural differentiation. Keyboard music provides the prime source, stimulating such individual responses as the arrangements by Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977) of the D minor Toccata BWV 565 and Edward Elgar (1857-1934) of the Fantasia and Fugue in C minor BWV 537, as well as Reger's Suite drawn from the keyboard Partitas and English Suites; but orchestral works are also drawn upon, as in the Suite for String Orchestra by Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), based on four movements from Bach's orchestral suites nos. 2 and 3. Although Schoenberg claimed that the purpose of his arrangements of two chorale preludes, BWV 645 and 667, and the E flat major Prelude and Fugue BWV 552 for organ was to reveal the motivic structure in a way impossible for a single player, the sheer size of his orchestra, which includes, in BWV 552, bass wind, a full percussion section, harp, and celesta, brings the music close to some of the aforementioned arrangements in effect (notably to Elgar's final flourish in the C minor Fugue); the 'motivic' scoring of the prelude Schmucke dich, O liebe Seele BWV 654 is accommodated within a very Romantic sonority.

By contrast, the arrangement by Stravinsky of the Canonic Variations on Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her BWV 769 is much closer to the spirit of the original, through the use of an orchestra comprised chiefly of wind (without clarinets), harp, lower strings, and choir. The work might rather be seen as representing a 'commentary' on the original through the composer's extension of its techniques. As well as providing an opening harmonization of the chorale itself (from the Christmas Oratorio), not present in Bach's version, Stravinsky adds two more voices, thus making it possible to add new canons to the texture, though the total harmonic effect is none the less entirely in accord with his style: the arrangement was written as a companion piece to the Canticum sacrum at its first performance in St Mark's, Venice, in September 1956. The most radical treatment of the orchestra is by Anton Webern (1883-1945) in his orchestration of the six-part Ricercar from the Musical Offering (1933-5), in which, like Schoenberg, he sought to reveal the motivic coherence through orchestration. However, by isolating much shorter motifs throughout the entire texture by orchestral means, he created an entirely different effect-one which is intimately related to his own style as it can be observed in the scoring of his Symphony and Orchestral Variations."

As the list of orchestral arrangements/transcriptions shows, this medium was immensely popular in the first half of the 20th century. Numerous orchestrations were played under the world's greatest conductors. Many of them even prepared their own arrangements/transcriptions. Occasionally such arrangements are still revived and now and then new ones appear. But this is the exception rather then the norm. It has been the rise of the authentic performance school that has held sway in recent times, whilst the big symphonic arrangements heard by audiences decades ago are now the exception. They served well the goal of bringing Bach's music into the concert hall, at times when this was the main medium of hearing music. They also exposed Bach's organ works to a wider audience who had not had the option of hearing it played on organ. Many people in the 1930's and 1940's heard Bach's music for the first time in Stokowski's transcription of the Toccata & Fugue in D minor in Disney's movie "Fantasia".

Apparently, orchestral arrangements/transcriptions have lost their appeal and relevance to the contemporary listener, because so many options of hearing "authentic" Bach's music live or recorded are available to us today.

I believe that orchestral arrangements can enrich our listening. Hearing, for example, an organ work in a good transcription might reveal to us certain aspects in the multi-layered music of the master to which we are not always aware when we hear it played on organ. If we hear the work on organ after hearing its orchestration we may discover that we are now equipped with "new ears".

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 25, 2009):
Arrangement (from Grove Music Online)

[To Aryeh Oron] I cannot find the missing items (Goehr, etc.) in the MGG1).
Here is Malcolm Boyd's article on Arrangement from Grove Music Online:

Arrangement (Ger. Bearbeitung).

The reworking of a musical composition, usually for a different medium from that of the original.

1. Definition and scope.
The word ‘arrangement’ might be applied to any piece of music based on or incorporating pre-existing material: variation form, the contrafactum, the parody mass, the pasticcio, and liturgical works based on a cantus firmus all involve some measure of arrangement. In thesense in which it is commonly used among musicians, however, the word may be taken to mean either the transference of a composition from one medium to another or the elaboration (or simplification) of a piece, with or without a change of medium. In either case some degree of recomposition is usually involved, and the result may vary from a straightforward, almost literal, transcription to a paraphrase which is more the work of the arranger than of the original composer. It should be added, though, that the distinction implicit here between an arrangement and a Transcription is by no means universally accepted (cf the article ‘Arrangement’ in Grove 5 and the title-pages of Liszt’s piano ‘transcriptions’).

Arrangements exist in large numbers from all periods of musical history, and though external factors have influenced their character the reasons for their existence cut across stylistic and historical boundaries. Commercial interest has played an important part, especially since the invention of music printing. Opportunist publishers from Petrucci onwards have looked for financial reward either from arrangements of established works or from the simultaneous publication of music in different forms. English madrigals were advertised as being ‘apt for voices as for viols’; Dowland’s songs were published in a form which allowed for performance either as a solo with lute accompaniment or as a partsong; in the 18th century the English market was flooded with arrangements of vocal and other music for the popular and ubiquitous flute; and ever since their composition popular ‘classics’ such as Rachmaninoff’s C minor Prelude and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee have been arranged for almost every conceivable instrument and instrumental combination. Practical considerations of a different kind govern the preparation of vocal scores of operas and choral works, in which the orchestral part is reduced and printed, usually on two staves, in a form more or less playable at the keyboard. Such arrangements require little more than technical competence on the part of the arranger, though creative artists of the first rank have occasionally undertaken the task, often in a spirit of homage to the composer. Bülow prepared the vocal scores of some of Wagner’s music dramas, and Berg did a similar service for Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder. Several composers have arranged the music of others as a means of perfecting themselves in a particular form, technique or medium. Bach and Mozart, for example, both made arrangements of other composers’ concertos before writing any of their own.

A large number of arrangements originate because performers want to extend the repertory of instruments which, for one reason or another, have not been favoured with a large or rewarding corpus of original solo compositions. Until such players as Segovia and Tertis improved the status of their instruments, guitarists and viola players had to rely to a considerable extent on arrangements, and this is still the case with brass bands and (in so far as they exist) salon orchestras. Arrangements of this kind necessarily involve a transference from one instrumental medium to another, but there are also numerous examples of arrangements which alter the layout but not the instrumentation of the original. Virtuoso piano pieces have often been published in arrangements which place them within the scope of the amateur; others, such as Chopin’s Etudes in Godowsky’s arrangements, have been made even more difficult as a challenge to professional keyboard technique. Orchestral works have sometimes been reorchestrated, either to take advantage of improvements in the design of instruments (the brass parts of Beethoven’s Third Symphony, for example, are not always heard as the composer wrote them) or because the original is considered to be in some respect deficient. Mahler’s reorchestration of Schumann’s symphonies and Rimsky-Korsakov’s of Musorgsky’s operas come into this category. There is also a relatively small group of arrangements made to accommodate a player’s physical disability, for example those for the one-handed pianist Paul Wittgenstein, and those for the three-handed piano duo, Cyril Smith and Phyllis Sellick.

In considering all these and other categories of arrangements, any attempt to equate the motives of the arranger with the artistic merits of the result would be misleading. It is, however, possible to distinguish between the purely practical arrangement, in which there is little or no artistic involvement on the arranger’s part, and the more creative arrangement, in which the original composition is, as it were, filtered through the musical imagination of the arranger. Arrangements by creative musicians are clearly the more important kind, both on account of their intrinsic merits and because they often serve to illuminate the musical personality of the composer-arranger; it is therefore towards this second type of arrangement that attention will be mainly directed in the historical conspectus that follows.

2. History to 1600.
Some element of arrangement is present in the medieval trope and clausula, as well as in those early motets where a vocal part is replaced by an instrumental one (or vice versa), but the most important type of arrangement in the period up to 1600 is the keyboard or lute intabulation of vocal polyphony. The earliest examples of such keyboard arrangements (indeed the earliest extant keyboard pieces of any kind) are in the early 14th-century Robertsbridge Manuscript (GB-Lbl Add.28550), whose contents include intabulations of two motets from the musical appendix to the contemporary Roman de Fauvel (F-Pn fr.146). Far from being simple transcriptions of the vocal originals, these intabulations feature a florid elaboration of the upper part which is unmistakably instrumental in conception, and this is something which remains characteristic of all later keyboard intabulations. Ex.1a shows the beginning of the motet Adesta–Firmissime–Alleluya Benedictus, and ex.1b the keyboard version of the same passage. Also from the 14th century are some of the keyboard arrangements in the important Faenza Manuscript 117 (I-FZc), which includes intabulations of vocal music by Jacopo da Bologna, Machaut, Landini and others. The principles governing these arrangements are similar to those of the Robertsbridge Manuscript, but the finger technique required of the performer is more advanced.


Intabulations are also to be found in the Buxheimer Orgelbuch (D-Mbs Cim.352b), which dates from about 1470, as well as examples of a rather different type of arrangement (if it can be called that) which occurs in several other German organ books of the 15th century, including Conrad Paumann’s Fundamentum organisandi (D-Bsb 40613) (1452). Where the original vocal source is a monody, this is often made to serve as cantus firmus in the left hand, supporting what is presumably a free and often very florid part in the right. The technique had been applied in the Faenza Manuscript to plainsong Kyries and Glorias, but is here used for secular melodies also. Ex.2 shows topening of the song Ellend du hast: (a) from the Lochamer Liederbuch (c1450, D-Bsb 40613); (b) from Paumann’s Fundamentum, with the melody in the left hand; and (c) from one of the six versions in the Buxheimer Orgelbuch (no.50). Clearly such pieces as these, and similar ones based on basse danse melodies, should be regarded as variations rather than as arrangements.


With the introduction of music printing and the wider dissemination of instruments in the 16th century, intabulations proliferated not only in Germany but in Italy, Spain and France as well (see BrownI for a list of all printed arrangements with their sources). To those for keyboard must be added a vast literature of similar pieces for lute and vihuela, beginning with Francesco Spinacino’s first book of Intabulatura de lauto, published by Petrucci in 1507. Lute intabulations have a particular interest for the scholar since the tablature does not directly indicate pitch but tells the player which fret to use for each note; consequently lute arrangements can assist in determining the application of musica ficta to 16th-century vocal polyphony. Among the most famous examples is the arrangement for vihuela by Luys de Narváez of Josquin’s motet Mille regretz as Canción del emperador. Here melodic elaboration is not confined to the top part (see ex.3). The lute’s function as an accompanying instrument is exemplified in numerous arrangements of polyphonic music in which all voice parts but the top one are transcribed for the instrument, resulting in a solo song with lute accompaniment. Such arrangements were important in preparing for the new monodic style that emerged towards the end of the 16th century.


3. 1600–1800.
The practice of transferring vocal music to instruments continued during the next two centuries and beyond. Among the many keyboard arrangements of vocal pieces in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (GB-Cfm) is one by Peter Philips of Caccini’s well-known song Amarilli mia bella. Philips repeated the first part of the song as printed in Caccini’s Le nuove musiche (Florence, 1601–2) and gave a different version each time, so that the result is both an arrangement and a variation of the original (see ex.4). Arrangements of this kind are to be found throughout the Baroque period; the six ‘Schübler’ organ chorales by Bach (bwv645–50), at least five of which are transcriptions of movements from the cantatas, are much later examples in the same tradition.


However, the surge of interest in instrumental music of all kinds that characterizes the Baroque period brought with it a new type of arrangement in which vocal music was for the first time not involved. Transcriptions from one instrumental medium to another were particularly cultivated in the period (late 17th century and early 18th) which saw the rise and dissemination of the concerto. Francesco Geminiani, as well as arranging his own music for the harpsichord, adapted Corelli’s opp.3 and 5 violin sonatas as concerti grossi, and some of Domenico Scarlatti’s harpsichord sonatas were turned into highly successful string concertos by Charles Avison. At Weimar J.G. Walther and J.S. Bach adapted concertos by Albinoni, Torelli, Telemann, Vivaldi and others for the organ and for the harpsichord, almost certainly at the behest of their patron Prince Johann Ernst. In many cases Bach made an almost literal transcription of the original, but often he subtly altered the harmony or filled out the texture with new counterpoints. In ex.5b, from the slow movement of bwv975 (arranged from Vivaldi’s op.4 no.6), he elaborated Vivaldi’s straightforward violin melody (ex.5a) and enriched the harmony with a totally chromatic bass line, while replacing the original bass suspensions with others in the middle of the harmony. Bach’s later arrangements include one of Vivaldi’s Concerto for four violins and strings op.3 no.10 as a concerto for four harpsichords (bwv1065), and most of his other keyboard concertos with accompaniment are similarly arrangements of earlier works by himself or others.


Another aspect of Bach as arranger is his practice of re-using material from earlier, and sometimes quite different, works; the Mass in B minor furnishes several familiar examples. This practice, usually referred to as ‘parody’ (see Parody (i)), was fairly widespread in a period when themes were largely fashioned on prototypes and when originality was measured as much in terms of craftsmanship as of melodic invention. Schütz incorporated music by Andrea Gabrieli, Alessandro Grandi and Monteverdi into his own compositions, and Francesco Durante transformed recitatives from Alessandro Scarlatti’s secular cantatas into chamber duets; Handel’s habit of re-using old music of his own, as well as appropriating music by other composers that suited his needs, is well known. The practice was justified by the extent to which the ‘borrowed’ material was refashioned. In the case of Handel this amounted often to a complete recomposition which entirely transformed the original.

Haydn’s three different versions of Die sieben letzten Worte unserers Erlösers am Kreuze (as an orchestral piece, 1786; for string quartet, 1787; and as an oratorio, c1796) provide a locus classicus in the history of arrangement. But the key figure of the late 18th century is Mozart. Mozart is important less for the number than for the nature of his arrangements. His piano concertos k37, 39–41 and 107, based on movements from sonatas by Raupach, Honauer, J.C. Bach and others, are not without interest, but of more far-reaching importance is the rescoring for string trio and quartet of fugues by J.S. Bach (including some from Das wohltemperirte Klavier) and the reorchestration of Handel’s Acis and Galatea, Messiah, Alexander’s Feast and Ode for St Cecilia’s Day. These arrangements, all done for Baron van Swieten, an enthusiast for Baroque music, are significant in representing the attitudes of their time to earlier music; together with the works heard at the Handel commemoration of 1784, they stand at the head of a long line of Bach transcriptions and Handel reorchestrations which continued throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, only to be discredited afterwards.

4. 19th and 20th centuries.
The nature of arrangements during the 19th century was largely determined by two important developments. One was a new interest (already evident to some extent in the late 18th century) in instrumental colour for its own sake; the other was the rise of the piano as both concert and domestic instrument par excellence. The first of these developments brought with it the concept of the composer’s creation as an inviolable entity, so that, while the 19th-century arranger would happily reorchestrate the music of the past, the 19th-century composer would go to considerable trouble to ensure that his own music was played only on those instruments for which it was conceived. It is difficult to find a Romantic counterpart to the Corelli–Geminiani or Vivaldi–Bach concerto. One result of this was that most creative arrangements of contemporary instrumental music were made by the original composer himself. Examples include Beethoven’s arrangements of the Violin Concerto as a piano concerto and of the Second Symphony as a piano trio, and the various versions of Brahms’s Piano Quintet.

The exception to most of these remarks is the piano arrangem, probably the most interesting and the most widely cultivated type of arrangement in the 19th century. Innumerable transcriptions brought the orchestral and chamber repertory into the homes of domestic pianists (or piano-duettists), but more interesting are those with which the travelling virtuoso dazzled and delighted his audiences. Pre-eminent are those of Liszt, whose operatic arrangements range from straightforward transcriptions (the Prelude to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, for instance, presents fewer problems to the pianist than does Bülow’s version in the vocal score) to elaborate paraphrases of enormous technical difficulty, such as those based on Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Verdi’s Rigoletto and several of Wagner’s music dramas. Liszt’s voluminous arrangements also include many Schubert songs, all the Beethoven symphonies and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique; further, he was the first important Romantic pianist-composer to reflect the spirit of the Bach revival in arrangements of the organ music (six fugues), a tradition continued later in the century by Tausig, Busoni and others.

Arrangements of piano music for orchestra have usually been either by the composer himself, or by others working after his death. An example of the former is Brahms’s orchestration of his Variations for two pianos on a theme of Haydn (1873); almost as well known (if less often played) is Joachim’s orchestral version of Schubert’s Sonata in C for piano duet d812 (‘Grand Duo’). Similar orchestral arrangements exist in great numbers in the 20th century. In most cases some attempt is made to match the orchestration to the style of the music (provided this is later than Bach and Handel), but that is less often the case when the arranger was himself a real composer. In Ravel’s orchestral version (1922) of Pictures at an Exhibition, for example, the black-and-white originals of Musorgsky are filled out with colours which are very much Ravel’s own. It is interesting to observe how later composer-arrangers have crossed the stylistic divide between their own work and that of the past. Schoenberg’s arrangement of Brahms’s G minor Piano Quartet op.25 (1937), even more than his earlier ones of pieces by Monn, Bach and Handel, seems to constitute a conscious act of identification with (perhaps even nostalgia for) the past. Schoenberg uses a slightly expanded Brahmsian orchestra in a more or less Brahmsian way. Webern’s orchestral version of the six-part ricercare from Bach’s Musical Offering (1935), on the other hand, sets out with the opposite intention of adapting the past to the language of the present (ex.6). It is instructive to compare it with the version by Igor Markevitch (published 1952), who aimed (but failed) ‘to delve into and absorb as faithfully as possible Bach’s own sonorities’. The parodic element in Webern’s fragmented instrumentation is pursued to the point of distortion in the several arrangements and ‘realizations’ of Peter Maxwell Davies.

Reproduced by permission of Alfred A. Kalmus Ltd, London

A number of external factors have affected 20th-century practice in the making of arrangements. The implementation of copyright agreements has made it illegal to adapt and arrange musical works which are the property of a copyright holder without prior permission. Radio and the gramophone have largely replaced the piano transcription as a disseminator of the chamber, orchestral and operatic repertory, and the Lisztian paraphrase now exists only in isolated examples such as Ronald Stevenson’s Fantasy on themes from Britten’s Peter Grimes. The harmonic crisis of the 1920s led many composers to delve into the past for the seeds of a new musical language, which they did by collecting and arranging earlier music. J.C. Bach, Haydn and Beethoven had responded to a vogue for folksong arrangements in Britain during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but the folksong arrangements of Bartók and Vaughan Williams were directed towards quite different ends. They were a means by which both composers achieved a musical style which was at the same time nationalistic and intensely individual. Similarly, Stravinsky’s move in an opposite direction (away from a recognizably Russian style and towards neo-classicism) was effected with Pulcinella (1920), a ballet based on music by Pergolesi and others. Stravinsky’s lasting obsession with the past was evident in his arrangements of composers as diverse as Gesualdo, Bach, Beethoven, Grieg and Tchaikovsky.

The late 18th-century practice of reorchestrating choral masterpieces of the Baroque period, especially those of Handel and Bach, was referred to above (see §3), and the provision of such ‘additional accompaniments’, as they are sometimes called, became still more widespread in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Arrangers were motivated no doubt by the practical requirements of large, well-established choral and orchestral societies – there were advantages in adapting the orchestration to the orchestra rather than the orchestra to the orchestration – and perhaps, in the case of mammoth performances, by a desire to magnify the original composer’s reputation; but there was also often a genuine conviction that they were making positive improvements on the ‘primitive’ originals. Mozart’s versions of Handel’s oratorios gained currency (and were further ‘improved’) despite objections from some quarters. Among the objectors was Mendelssohn, who in his young days had provided additional accompaniments for Handel’s ‘Dettingen’ Te Deum and Acis and Galatea and revised Bach’s orchestration for a famous revival of the St Matthew Passion, but who later declined to do the same for Handel’s Israel in Egypt.

I.F. von Mosel, C.F.G. Schwencke, Robert Franz, George Macfarren and Arthur Sullivan were among other 19th-century musicians engaged to provide new orchestrations for choral works by Bach, Handel and others, and their editions continued in use during the early part of the 20th century. However, the concern for historical accuracy in the performance of older music, which has gradually gained ground since about 1950, has profoundly influenced attitudes towards arrangements in general. Both the additional accompaniments of the 19th century and inflated orchestral versions of Baroque instrumental pieces, such as those by Elgar, Beecham, Harty and Stokowski, have been discredited. The ‘edition’ has replaced the ‘arrangement’, in critical esteem at least. Usually the distinction between one and the other is quite clear, but this is dependent to some extent on interpretation of the historical evidence. Raymond Leppard’s versions of 17th-century Venetian opera, for example, purport to be editions, though many musicologists would class them as arrangements.

5. Conclusion.
Few areas of musical activity involve the aesthetic (and even the ethical) judgment of the musician as much as does the practice of arrangement. This involvement is at its most intense in the case of those arrangements which set out to popularize an acknowledged masterpiece, either by adapting it for the stage or film (or, worse still, for the television advertisement), or by ‘jazzing up’ its rhythms and instrumentation. In either case the arrangement will often earn the musician’s disapproval, and even his or her resentment. However, it is clearly inconsistent to deplore solely on aesthetic grounds the arrangements of Borodin’s music in the musical Kismet, or the Bach arrangements made for the Swingle Singers, while using lack of ‘historical authenticity’ as the only stick to beat other, more seriously intentioned arrangements. Every arrangement creates its own historical authenticity, and Mozart’s version of Handel’s Messiah has been accorded the distinction of two scholarly editions and at least one complete, carefully prepared recording. Perhaps one day there will be ‘historically accurate’ performances of Ebenezer Prout’s ve(1902), with ornamentation restricted to frequent use of the portamento.

It would be unrealistic to propose that arrangements should be judged without reference to the original, but it is perhaps only by regarding the arrangement and the original as two different versions of the same piece that a solution to the aesthetic dilemma they so often create will be found.

Grove6 (‘Additional accompaniments’; J.A. Westrup)
La MusicaE (‘Trascrizione’; G. Dardo)
R. Franz: Offener Brief an Eduard Hanslick, über Bearbeitungen älterer Tonwerke (Leipzig, 1871)
S. Taylor: The Indebtedness of Handel to Works by Other Composers (Cambridge, 1906/R)
E. Friedländer: Wagner, Liszt und die Kunst der Klavier-Bearbeitung (Detmold, 1922)
O.A. Baumann: Das deutsche Lied und seine Bearbeitungen in den frühen Orgeltabulaturen (Kassel, 1934)
A. Mantelli: ‘Compositore e trascrittore’,
RaM, vii (1934), 97–102
E. Howard-Jones: ‘Arrangements and Transcriptions’,
ML, xvi (1935), 305–11
F. Munter: ‘Beethovens Bearbeitung eigener Werke’,
NBeJb 1935, 159–73
F. Ballo: ‘Interpretazione e trascrizione’,
RaM, ix (1936), 190–94
V. Gui: ‘Sull’uso di trascrivere per orchestra’,
RaM, xiii (1940), 353
G. Tagliapietra: ‘Ferruccio Busoni trascrittore e revisore’,
RaM, xiii (1940), 12–18
V. Terenzio: ‘La trascrizione musicale come arte’,
RaM, xxi (1951), 130–33
A. Briskier: ‘Piano Transcriptions of J.S. Bach’,
MR, xv (1954), 191–202
G. Feder: Bachs Werke in die Bearbeitung 1750–1950, i: Die Vokalwerke (diss., U. of Kiel, 1955)
C. Marinelli: ‘La trascrizione come opera d’arte’,
RaM, xxvi (1956), 40–43
R. Craft: ‘Strawinsky komponiert Bach’, Melos, xxiv (1957), 35–9
H.L. Schilling: ‘Igor Strawinskys Erweiterung und Instrumentation der Canonischen Orgelvariationen Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her von J.S. Bach’, Musik und Kirche, xxvii (1957), 257–75
F. Giegling: ‘Geminiani’s Harpsichord Transcriptions’,
ML, xl (1959), 350–52
E.J. Simon: ‘Sonata into Concerto’,
AcM, xxxi (1959), 170–85
A. Holschneider: Händel’s ‘Messiah’ in Mozarts Bearbeitung (diss., U. of Tübingen, 1960)
H.J. Marx: ‘Von der Gegenwärtigkeit historicher Musik: Zu Arnold Schönbergs Bach-Instrumentation’,
NZM, Jg.122 (1961), 49–51
B. Disertori, ed.: Le frottole per canto e liuto intabulate da Franciscus Bossinensis, IMi, new ser., iii (1964)
S. Scionti: ‘Trascrizioni (Sono le trascrizioni un’offesa all’arte?)’, Rassegna musicale Curci xix/2 (1965), 18–20
N. Carrell: Bach the Borrower (London, 1967/R)
J.T. Igoe: J.S. Bach’s Transcriptions for Solo Keyboard (diss., U. of North Carolina, 1967)
K. Morawska: ‘Kompozycje Orlando di Lasso w repertuarze instrumentalnym’, Muzyka, xiii/3 (1968), 3–21
H. Keller: ‘Arrangement For or Against?’,
MT, cx (1969), 22–5
T. Göllner: ‘J.S. Bach and the Tradition of Keyboard Transcriptions’, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Music: a Tribute to Karl Geiringer, ed. H.C.R. Landon and R.E. Chapman (London, 1970), 253–60
H.-J. Schulze: ‘J.S. Bach's Concerto-Arrangements for Organ: Studies or Commissioned Works?’, Organ Yearbook, iii (1972), 4–13
H.M. Brown: ‘Embellishment in Early Sixteenth-Century Intabulations’,
PRMA, c (1973–4), 49–83
U. Siegele: Kompositionsweise und Bearbeitungstechnik in der Instrumentalmusik Johann Sebastian Bachs (Neuhausen-Stuttgart, 1975)
T. Hirsbrunner: ‘Bearbeitungen, Fassungen von Strawinskys Hand’, Schweizer Jb für Musikwissenschaft, iii (1983), 97–104
H. Loos: Zur Klavierübertragung von Werken für und mit Orchester des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts (Munich, 1983)
S. Leopold, ed.: Musikalische Metamorphosen: Formen und Geschichten der Bearbeitung (Kassel, 1992)
M. Sachania: ‘Improving the Classics: some Thoughts on the “Ethics” and Aesthetics of Musical Arrangement’, Music Review, lv (1994), 58–75

Malcolm Boyd

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Bach's Passion and Requiem

Laurent Lehman wrote (November 26, 2010):
So of course, being more than mildly obsessed by Bach, I've seen my share of JSB-related oddities.

But I discovered two more this week.

First : here's a 1904 Mucha poster for "La Passion d'Edmond Haraucourt, drame sacré en six parties, musique de Jean Sébastien Bach, adaptation à l'orchestre de M.Mrs. P.L. Hillemacher"

Haraucourt (1856-1941) was a French writer/poet, who wrote his "Passion - Mystère en deux chants et six parties" in 1890 for Sarah Bernhardt, to be played during Holy Week. State censorship only allowed one play this year. The next year, Gabriel Fauré played organ. Must have been quite something. It was then played each year until 1899, and then episodically until 1906.

I haven't found much information about P.L. Hillemacher (brothers Paul and Lucien Hillemacher) and the work they did on Bach for this passion (Wikipedia gives 1887 for a "Passion - Oratorio", without any mention
of Bach).

Does anybody know more about this ?

And second, this month's Diapason reviews - and utterly pans -
François Panneton's "Bach requiem", a patchwork of Bach pieces re-set in Latin. I think I'll pass.

Ed Myskowsky wrote (November 26, 2010):
Laurent Lehmann wrote:
< First : here's a 1904 Mucha poster for "La Passion d'Edmond >Haraucourt, drame sacré en six parties, musique de Jean Sébastien >Bach, adaptation à l'orchestre de M.Mrs. P.L. Hillemacher" >
Holding that *crown of thorns* like a tambourine? Oddity, indeed! Ascension soon come.

Do we know whether the six parts were a passion only, or a passion, resurrection, and ascension drame sacre? The latter would seem much more appropriate to the illustration, and to my understanding of the impact of the story.

William Hoffman wrote (November 29, 2010):
BCW BWV 109 Discussion 2:

3. "Requiem after JSB (Joseph James), text 1605 Officium Defunctorum; music: Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue, BWV 903; Capriccio BWV 992; 3-Part Inventions, other keyboard music; Philharmonia Orch., London CSociety, Stephen Barlow dir., Black Box CD 98232, 1999. If we can have the 1733 Missa BWV 232I for August III, why not a Requiem for Dear Old Dad, August the Strong; or perhaps Bach contributing a movement to a Dresden composite Requiem in stile misto with Hasse, Zelenka, etc.?, in the manner of Monteverdi, Verdi Manzoni, etc. Maybe a Latin contrafaction of BWV 131, De profundis; altho that cantata is in stile antico.


BWV 248 (XO) for organ and trumpets

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 6, 2010):
I made reference a couple days ago (Fri, Dec 3) to Jauchzet, and my conflating it between BWV 248/1 and BWV 43/1 (Ascension Day) cantata, one of which is appropriate to the current seasonal calendar and the other to our current discussions, especially re cantata texts and translations.

The performance of BWV 248, Part I/1 was a reduction for organ and two trumpets, preceded by an arrangement of the bass aria, BWV 248I/8, for the same instruments. This pairing concluded the first half (before the sing-along) of an Xmas concert at Methuen (MA, USA) Memorial Music Hall. The audience (packed) loved it. To my ears, a musical success as well, but that is probably of secondary importance.

The arrangement was uncredited in the program, so afterward I asked organist Doug Major who did it? <I did>, he responded, <Is that in the program? Thats what I was doing in October.>

Well, no. After you read this, there may be more folks in Israel than in Methuen who are aware of Dougs effort. Nice job, in any case. Jubilation (or rejoicing) in order.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 6, 2010):
[To Ed Myskowski] The performance of BWV 248, Part I/1 was a reduction for organ and two trumpets, preceded by an arrangement of the bass aria, BWV 248I/8, for the same instruments.

Takes me back to the E Power Biggs recordings of some of the choruses and arias for the same combination made, I think in the 1950s. They were my first introductions to cantatas movements.(For this reason I retain quite an affection for Bigg's efforts). It is a combination that works very well. I have a school friend in Australia (also a member of this list) who has an early LP of them dating, I would think from around 1955.

William Hoffman wrote (December 7, 2010):
[To Julian Mincham] See BCW:

A Bach Festival for Brass & Organ; Empire Brass & organist Douglas Major.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 7, 2010):
[To William Hoffman] Thanks for the reminder. The liner notes credit arrangements/transcriptions collectively to members of the Empire Brass. Whether or not that includes Doug Major in this case, I expect the prior experience gave him a good head start. I will *razz* him a bit about what else he was doing in October, this year.


BCW: Vocal Works arranged from Bach's Works

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 18, 2011):
Following a short discussion on the BCML regarding Bach's Passion and Requiem, I have created a page dedicated to Vocal Works arranged from Bach's Works in the section of Arrangements & Transcriptions of Bach's Works on the BCW.
The page aims at listing all the vocal works by composers other than J.S. Bach himself, which are based on Bach's works (Requiems, Te Deums, Operas, Passions, etc).
The list is arranged by composer/arranger and for each work you can find: short description, source of music, text author, and link to recording page/s (if applicable).

If you know of a work missing from the list, or if you find any error, please do not hesitate to inform me.


BCW: Bach Motif - The List

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 21, 2011):
In German usage the note B flat is called B, and B natural is called H. This allows Bach's name to be expressed as a musical motif, B flat-A-C-B natural, and the composer himself used it in one of the fugue subjects of the final (unfinished) contrapunctus in his Art of Fugue BWV 1080. .The motif possibilities were earlier mentioned in Walther's Musicalisches Lexicon (1732).

Probably because of the context in which Bach used it, later composers have mostly regarded this rather intractable motif as a challenge to their contrapuntal skill. Bach's son, Johann Christian, and his pupil, J.L. Krebs, both wrote organ fugues on it, but its wider popularity follows the 19th-century Bach revival and the development of a harmonic vocabulary which could more easily accommodate its tonal ambiguities. Schumann, whose interest in letter-pitch equations is well known, wrote six fugues on B-A-C-H (Op. 60) for organ or pedal piano, and Liszt, Reger and Busoni also used the motif to raise imposing contrapuntal monuments to its originator. Other 19th-century composers who have used it include Rimsky-Korsakov and d'Indy.

The B-A-C-H motif is easily incorporated into a totally chromatic idiom and has been widely used by members and disciples of the Second Viennese School, e.g. by Schoenberg as an incidental theme in his Variations Op.31 for orchestra and Third String Quartet, by Webern as the basic set of his String Quartet, and by Humphrey Searle as a motto in his First Symphony.

With the enormous help of Evan Cortens, Arthur Ness and Thomas Braatz I have compiled a comprehensive and extensive list of Bach motif works, using all the resources at my disposal:

The list has over 600 works, which means about 50% more than previous versions (Prinz, Robinson, OCC).

It seems that almost every significant composer (and many lesser known) since Bach, including Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms up to Arvo Pärt and Krzysztof Penderecki has paid a tribute to Bach by incorporating the BACH motif into one or more compositions. We know that other composers have made their tribute to Bach in other ways, as Mozart's arrangements for strings of Preludes & Fugues from the WTC, Berg's usage of the chorale melody Es ist genug from Cantata BWV 60 in his Violin Concerto, or Shostakovich's 24 Preludes & Fugues Op. 87 for piano, inspired by the WTC.

While working on the list many exiting discoveries have emerged, three of which I would like to point out:

a. J.S. Bach used the BACH motif in his Cantata BWV 23, presented in the audition for the post of Thomaskantor in Leipzig. The Cantata has the BACH motif in both Mvt.1 (suggested by Prinz) and Mvt. 3 (found by Tom Braatz). This was an exciting discovery which appears to support the idea that Bach's musical signature was intentionally included in this significant milestone work as Bach prepared to shift from courtly to church/city duties.

b. Franz Schubert used the Bach motif in his last Mass in E flat major, D. 950. The chaconne-like treatment of the last mvt. Agnus Dei points to the beginning measures of his song "Der Doppelgänger" from the song cycle Die Winterreise and to the original/primeval symbol in notes B-A-C-H. It is the shape (Gestalt) of the motif that the listener recognises. This could well be what Schubert learned from his study of Bach's music. There is an extra note between the A and C in Schubert's version that could be considered an embellishment which does not destroy the motif but rather enhances it and makes it usable for the double fugue that Schubert composed in the Agnus Dei. Robert Winter wrote in the Grove: "The awesome modulations of the Sanctus and the anguished chromaticism of the Agnus Dei, based on an adaptation of the C sharp minor fugue subject from the first book of Bach's Das wohltemperirte Clavier, still retain their shock value today. In the E flat Mass Schubert had reached his full stride as a composer of large-scale sacred works." It could easily be that Schubert used the Fuga theme from BWV 849 rather than thinking only of the B-A-C-H motif, but then perhaps he also recognised howBach could modify a subject or theme and still remain within the parameters of the Gestalt..

c. Arrigo Boito: 1888 the Italian magazine Musica Sacra, organised a composition competition for the renewal of the organ world of Italy. They chose Boito's theme, "Fede a Bach" ("Belief in Bach"), whose letters in German tone letters should be used as a fugal subject of 9 notes, which included at the end of it the BACH motif.. Marco Enrico Bossi and Guglielmo Zuelli won the 1st prize with entire fugues based upon Boito's theme. Giovanni Battista Polleri also composed a fugue using Boito's theme.

On the other hand, it is somewhat surprising not to find in the list works by such composers as Wagner, Chopin and Britten, all of whom where Bach admirers.

As comprehensive as the list is now, it still contains some possible duplications, missing details, works that do not belong here, etc. I am sure there are also many omissions. Every comment suggesting corrections to the list would be most appreciated.


BWV 111 transcribed for orchestra

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 4, 2013):
I recently heard a radio broadcast overnight (not part of the Bach hour) of a recording of Bach cantata movements transcribed/arranged for orchestra, including the opening chorale fantasia of BWV 111. I do not recall the exact date, and I cannot recover the recording from the WGBH playlists. Is anyone familiar with this orchestral arrangement? I do not see it in the BCW archives, from a quick look.

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 7, 2013):
BWV 26 [WAS BWV 111] transcribed for orchestra

Sorry for incorrect identification, by ear. The work I heard was most likely BWV 26, transcribed for orchestra by William Walton as the concluding movement of his ballet “The Wise Virgins”, duly listed in the BCW archives.


Encrypting BACH's name in Contrapunctus 8

Joel Harband wrote (November 11, 2014):
[To Aryeh Oron] I wanted to share with you some fascinating findings about how Bach encrypted his name in the music of Contrapunctus 8 of Art of Fugue.

I had heard that the BACH name is encrypted in the Contrapunctus 8 triple fugue. I looked in Tovey's book for more info but finding nothing I went ahead and did my own analysis of the piece.

I found that the BACH name appears many times and in different permutations. It is woven into the counter-subjects and determines their phrasing and rhythm. You could say there is a BACH sub-fugue going on with its own finale - in addition and in parallel to the triple fugue.

I recorded the piece on a German Gebr. Shuetz piano which is seemingly made for playing fugues and put it on YouTube. An annotated score marked with the appearances of the BACH name is displayed during the performance, and afterwards you see a presentation that explains in detail the appearances of the BACH name in the music.

Here is the link:

I am happy to receive comments and suggestions

Aryeh Oron wrote (November 18, 2014):
[To Joel Harband] Thanks for your message.
The BACH motif appears not only in the Art of Fugue, but also in many other works of Bach.
There is a special sub-section on the BCW dedicated to works incorporating the BACH motif:

This is the most comprehensive list of its kind with over 800 works (Wikipedia, for example, mentions only about a half).

Joel Harband wrote (November 15, 2014):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks for your response and the link to your comprehensive Bach site and the info on the BACH motif. You are welcome to add my material if you think it is relevant.

I would like to send my message below also to Thomas Braatz, Evan Cortens, and Arthur Ness who are mentioned as contributors in your article on this subject. Can you please give me their e-mail or some other way of contacting them.


Aryeh Oron wrote (November 18, 2014):
[To Bach ML members] See my correspondence below with Joel Harband.
Any comment would be appreciated.

Arthur Ness wrote (November 19, 2014):
[To For Joel Harband] Sorry, I couldn't reach you directly thru LinkedIN. I would have to pay $575 according to the message I received when I tried to write to you. (honest!).

My contribution was B_A_C_H motives in pieces I discovered in the World Catalog:

I only took a few (about 150) of the some 1000 "hits" I received, because not all would be appropriate. You too can do the same search and get the 1000, and then weed out the inappropriate items. I was surprised to see how many persons looked at my list. You can signup for free and download the titles, as I did. It is a fantastic resource.

Luke Dahn wrote (November 19, 2014):
[To Aryeh Oron] Really a wonderful resource, Aryeh. I appreciated the Contrapunctus 8 video as well.
For what it's worth, here's another passage from the WTC2 D major fugue BWV 874 which features the B-A-C-H motif:

While only the tenor line has the straightforward motif, a series of three consecutive cross relations produces two additional B-A-C-H motifs. I created this image as part of a blog post in which I "fixed" this passage for Bach. I thought he would appreciate me doing him this big favor:


Parodies in Bach's Vocal Works: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
Arrangements of Bach’s Vocal Works:
Part 1 | Part 2

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