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Arrangements of Bach by other composers

Michael Grover wrote (June 3, 2001):
Another group of arrangements of Bach I heard once and really liked is Respighi's "Tre Corali." It's three chorales that Respighi (re-)orchestrated - the third is Wachet auf. I heard it on the radio once - maybe Karl Haas? - and have been meaning to buy it but haven't gotten to it yet. There is a well-reviewed disc on Chandos with Edward Downes conducting the BBC Philharmonic.

And speaking of Respighi - does anyone else out there love his neo-baroque stuff? I have a recording of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra playing his "Birds" suite and the Ancient Airs and Dances and I think they are wonderful. I wouldn't go so far as to call Respighi Vivaldi's successor, but if you don't like Italian opera (as I don't) you have to skip the entire nineteenth century and get to Respighi to find an Italian worth listening to. (At least that I know of...) Although I do like listening to the William Tell Overture now and then...

OK, now I'm way off topic. Sorry.

 

Alldirect.com / Schoenberg’s Brahms Orchestration

Jim Morrison wrote (March 27, 2002):
[snip] Goodies dropped off today include the recently mentioned on list Kuijken Haydn Syms 88-92 (for 8 bucks!) and Harnoncourt Beethoven 4 and 7 for 11.50. Can't wait to hear them. I'm sure they'll make a refreshing contrast for all the Schoenberg I've been listening to lately. Anyone else out there Schoenberg fans?

I recently heard his Bach transcriptions for the first time and I was surprised by the lushness and richness of them. They remind me very much of the other orchestral transcriptions that I've heard of Bach's music. I wonder what Glenn Gould thought of them.

Trevor Evans-Young wrote (March 27, 2002):
[To Jim Morrison] If you like the Schoenberg Bach then try his transcription of Brahms' Piano Quartet(Quintet?) anyway in g minor. Also, Salonen has a Bach transcription CD that includes a Webern transcription I believe of a Ricercare? Very interesting sonorities for Bach.

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 28, 2002):
[To Trevor Evans-Young] There's a delightful story about this piece in the Vox 3CD set "50 Years of Vox Recordings". 33-year-old George Mendelssohn (head of Vox) is in 1946 trying to get Otto Klemperer to sign up with his label, and he goes to see Klemperer. He walks in and finds that Arnold Schoenberg is also in the room! Klemperer sends Mendelssohn over to the piano and says, "Look at that music. Don't turn a page, just look at the ones that are exposed, and if you can identify the piece I'll agree to record for you." Mendelssohn glances at it and says, "Well, it's the Brahms G minor piano quartet--but someone has made a dreadful arrangement of it for orchestra." Klemperer laughs and pokes Schoenberg, who does not laugh.

-----

OK, I also have to copy this other story from the booklet.

"A chance encounter between Mendelssohn and Klemperer in those early years quickly became the stuff of legend. The story has been told many times, set variously in London, Paris, or the Liberty Music Shop in New York; according to Mendelssohn, the event actually took place in Los Angeles. When they ran into each other there, Klemperer asked Mendelssohn about the sales of his recording of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony; Mendelssohn assured him it was doing quite well, but Klemperer wanted to see for himself and insisted they go to a near-by record shop. There were no browser bins in those days; they approached a clerk, and Klemperer, without identifying himself, asked if he had the Beethoven Fifth conducted by Klemperer. The clerk said he didn't think so, but that he did have the Fifth conducted by Toscanini and Bruno Walter.

"'No, no,' Klemperer said, 'I really want it with Klemperer.'

"'Well, let's see; we have it also by Weingartner and Koussevitzky.'

"Klemperer persisted, and when the clerk ran out of alternatives he asked, 'When we have all these better recordings, why do you insist on Klemperer?'

"The conductor then drew himself up to his very imposing full height, scowled down at the clerk, and declared, 'I want Klemperer--because I am Klemperer!'

"'Of course,' the clerk said sarcastically, 'and I suppose that's Beethoven standing next to you.' 'Beethoven?' Klemperer said, his fierceness dissipated; 'No, that's not Beethoven; that's Mendelssohn.' Whereupon, as George smiled in amazed disbelief, the clerk, suddenly drained of his composure, turned to him and said, 'I've always loved your Wedding March.'"

Neil Halliday wrote (March 28, 2002):
[To Jim Morrison] For those of us who were listening to baroque music in the late 50's and 60's. in pre-HIP days, 'lush' and 'rich' transcriptions, or even straight renditions, of Bach's music, were commonplace. There were great LP recordings of the Art of Fugue and Musical Offering, for example, in orchestral arrangements.

Neil Halliday wrote (March 28, 2002):
In fact, I can see the headlines in 10 or 20 years time: "NEWS FLASH:
BACH SOUNDS GREAT WHEN PLAYED ON MODERN INSTRUMENTS...."

Hehe.

François Haydon wrote (March 28, 2002):
[To Trevor Evans-Young] The six-part ricercare out of the Musical Offering. I agree it's an interesting take, and somewhat easier to follow than the original version on harpsichord. Mine is on the Sony Webern boxset, under Boulez that is.

François (exploring the chamber music set out of the Brilliant Classics complete set, and rather enjoying it indeed)

 

Lambarena

Bernard Nys wrote (June 12, 2002):
Forgive me if I present a CD that has already been presented to you: Lambarena "Bach to Africa", a very refreshing mix of Bach and Gabon rhythms that took 100 days in the recording studio. The most impressive tracks (2 & 4) come from the SJP, with tam-tam and percussion.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 12, 2002):
[To Bernard Nys] Forgive me if I'm less enthusiastic about this one. Sony Classical 64542. ("Classical," yeah, right.) I've had a copy of it for a few years, but have no idea where or why I got it. Since the first listen it's been sitting in my "we don't need to keep this one" box until I dug it out this morning.

The concept is sort of interesting: it's supposed to celebrate the work of Albert Schweitzer, who founded a hospital at Lambarena in Gabon. The back of the box further proclaims that it's "a fascinating fabric of sound woven together from Gabonese chant voices and the classical melodies of Bach, and permeated throughout by the underlying rhythms of the African forest." Well, it's an uneasy fabric of elements that don't weave together very well.

They picked ten different musical ensembles from Gabon and imported them all the way into Paris for the recording studio. They also brought in Argentinian tango and jazz musicians, as well as a pickup classical ensemble. Everybody's listed in the booklet. The budget for producing this CD must have been astronomical: travel plus the 100 days of studio time. I understand that this must have been a great adventure for some of the people involved. Hey, trip to Paris! But, musically....

The result (in my opinion) is some interesting Gabonese traditional music with snippets of Bach superimposed over it. A hodgepodge. It doesn't add up to more than that, for me. The overdubs fade into and out of each other, and it just sounds like some recording engineer having fun with the board, fussing with the sliders more or less randomly.

I'd much, much, much rather hear an album of justhe real Gabonese music. Bring them into a studio, or take a portable recorder out on location....

And the most straightforward Bach on this CD is a stiffly metric rendition of the "Agnus Dei" of the B Minor Mass: countertenor with electronic organ and a small string ensemble...and then over the ending they dub in a Gabonese women's group singing "a pygmy rhythm" (claims the booklet) for about ten seconds. Hello? Raison d'etre, s'il vous plait? Oh, later on the disc there's also a straightforward rendition of one of the three-part inventions, played on electronic organ. Yecch.

My wife's comment this morning was surprise that the Gabonese musicians went along with this project. It's so imperialistic. "Here, we'll give you a trip to Paris and record you doing your thing, and then we'll fade it into and out of some of the greatest works of our culture. We're just using you for the sounds you make, and so we can put out a multicultural pseudo-classical crossover album and make ourselves look good. Have a nice day." The classical musicians on there sound less than enthusiastic, too...just going through the notes, knowing their efforts will just be cut up and pasted together anyway...long line means nothing.

The way I figure it, if somebody at $ony Classical wanted to go to the time and expense of a tribute album to the Gabonese people (and/or Albert Schweitzer), the project could have shown a lot more respect for that culture, taking it on its own terms, as a real ethnomusicologist would do. What good does it do anybody to record their artistic expression, chop it into tiny bits, and mix it with something else, as if their own effort wasn't good enough to stand on its own? What would Schweitzer himself have said about such an exploitation of Gabonese culture?

According to the booklet, there are at least 42 different ethnic backgrounds among the million inhabitants of Gabon. It seems there could be albums exploring and celebrating this diversity, and that would be a lot more enriching than this disc of commercialized Bach-Schlock. Take that same budget and distribute the money to people in Gabon, or else make a series of Gabonese CDs that present pure Gabonese music....

Or if the idea is to honor Schweitzer, why didn't Sony Classical prepare a nice reissue of Schweitzer's own organ performances of Bach? Some of those Columbia LPs were pretty good.

-----

There's a marvelous comedic skewering of this type of multicultural project: the song "Fusion" by John Forster on his album "Entering Marion." Forster condenses most of Paul Simon's "Graceland" album into a few minutes.... http://www.icu.com/johnforster/FUSION.html

Ehud Shiloni wrote (June 13, 2002):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Forgive me if I'm less enthusiastic about this one. Sony Classical 64542. ("Classical," yeah, right.) I've had a copy of it for a few years, but have no idea where or why I got it. Since the first listen it's been sitting in my "we don't need to keep this one" box until I dug it out this morning.
<snip> Well, it's an uneasy fabric of elements that don't weave together very well.
<snip> The result (in my opinion) is some interesting Gabonese traditional music with snippets of Bach superimposed over it. A hodgepodge. It doesn't add up to more than that, for me >
I agree with Brad here 100%, and I wish to add my un-learned opinion to his astute analisys: The Gabonese music-making is beautifully intriguing, and we all know what Bach's music brings into the stew, but the FUSION of both FAILS with two Capital F's in this poor effort. It is quite a shame, as I sense that there could be much better potential for a result with added value if the "cook" was a better one. My clear recommendation about this CD: Avoid.

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 13, 2002):
I concur with both Brad and Ehud. I listened to this CD only once in its completeness and a few more times to the Bach pieces which are included in the programme (excerpts from BWV 147, BWV 208, BWV 232). I see no reason to re-listen to it in the near future.

Fusion is almost always a problem. The whole is smaller than the sum of its parts. Fusion in Jazz (juxtaposion of Jazz and Rock), which used to be very popular during the 1970's, is my least favourite among all Jazz genres (from New-Orleans to Post-Modern). I listen to Jazz CD's of this kind only because Jazz musicians whom I am fond of, as Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, etc., dedicated a signifacant part of their musical output to this style.

Pete Blue wrote (June 13, 2002):
[To Aryeh Oron] I agree with Aryeh that Fusion, the fusion of jazz and rock, has not produced the quality of other jazz genres. Even less successful, I think (am I alone in this opinion?), is the fusion of jazz and BACH. The superficial resemblance between jazz and early European music, like that between jazz and the Indian raga, is based presumably on the fact that both employ improvisation over a harmonic and/or rhythmic pattern. But that's the beginning and end of the resemblance. IMO jazz is jazz and Bach is Bach and never the twain should meet. The stylistic chasm is simply too vast. There is no historical or artistic basis for combining the two, and all the attempts I have heard to do so are mediocre at best and a mere novelty or gimmick at worst. If you have great jazz artists, they always produce something of quality (although not their best work), but my reaction invariably is to want to go back to the originals. It's like having friends you love who don't get along with each other; your efforts to reconcile them rarely work.

Peter Bright wrote (June 13, 2002):
[To Pete Blue] I'm coming into this interesting discussion relatively late, so forgive me if my comments have already been made by someone else. I wonder whether others on this list have heard "Birth of the Third Stream", recorded in 1957. I believe the title was coined by Gunther Schuller who wanted to describe a movement that took elements from the "first stream" (classical music) and married it with the "second stream" (jazz) to produce a new offspring. While the result featured some extraordinary musicians (inc. Charles Mingus, Jimmy Knepper, Bill Evans) and found favourable reviews, I never revisited it after listening for the first time. On the jazz side there was insufficient space to allow these supreme musicians to shine in their "natural habitat" while on the classical side I found the writing dull.

Really, I think when attempts are made to force jazz and classical music together it does become less than the sum of its parts. However, when it occurs more as a natural, less premeditated process (think Stravinsky, Martinu or many others), the results can be daring, and hugely involving. The marriage does seem to work best when approached from a "classical" rather than a jazz orientation.

I also agree that the fusion of jazz and rock is generally horrible - one of those ideas that seemed like a good one at the time but has aged terribly and should be left to fester along with the worst of "prog rock".

 

Max Reger

Bernard Nys wrote::
For a few days I don't receive any mail. No inspiration anymore or do I have a bouncing problem with Yahoo ? That's why I send this mail, to see if it comes back. By the way : babies like the Minuet (track 14) on the Graziano Mandozzi synthesizer Bach - Händel 300 CD as a lullaby. Can anyone recommend me similar synthesizer BACH experiences ?

Trevor Evans-Young wrote (June 22, 2002):
[To Bernard Nys] I recently heard some 'Bach dances from Suite in g minor'Arranged for orchestra by Reger. I don't think that is correct but they were dances from the English and French suites( I think). I kinda liked the orchestration but I don't think the performance or the sound was very good(over my car radio). Are there other recordings of this? What is the correct title?

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 23, 2002):
TreEvans-Young asked:
< I recently heard some 'Bach dances from Suite in g minor' arranged for orchestra by Reger. I don't think that is correct but they were dances from the English and French suites( I think). I kinda liked the orchestration but I don't think the performance or the sound was very good (over my car radio). Are there other recordings of this? What is the correct title? >
There is a "Suite im alten Stil" (1916) published by Bote and Bock (Berlin) by Reger. This has no key indication, nor does it seem to be based directly on Bach's music.

Reger's orchestral arrangements of Bach's music include: J.S. Bach's Suiten (Ouvertüren) Nos. 1-3 (1915-16); Brandenburg Concerto No. 5; Clavier Concerto in d minor, 2 Clavier Concerti C major and c minor (1915); Violin Concerti in a minor and E major (1911); Triple Concerto in a minor (1916); and "Suite in g minor" (consisting of instrumental mvts. taken from the Clavier Partitas and the English Suites) Leipzig, 1916, Peters Edition.

This information is from the MGG.

Now you have the title, "Suite in g minor." Perhaps someone else can help you locate the recordings of this music.

 

Es Ist Genug--& other bits of Bach quoted in later pieces

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 26, 2004):
< Bach's harmonization of "Es Ist Genug", which Berg used as the basis of his Violin Concerto, is somewhat different in that Bach is really flirting with non-diatonic harmonies that really can't be explained as "chromatic". >
Yes, that spot in the Berg concerto where the Bach chorale comes in is such a shattering moment...and the way the concerto's material has been based all the way through on those four rising notes. (I especially like the harrowingly intense performance by Louis Krasner, with Anton von Webern conducting the BBC orchestra, 1936.)

Then there's George Crumb's "Ancient Voices of Children" where at a quiet moment the toy piano plays "Bist du bei mir" (from the Magdalena book)...wow.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000005IY6

I found another such Bach quote in a CD that just arrived: Dimitri Yanov-Yanovsky's "Music of Dreams" for harpsichord, chang, and tape. [A chang is a hammered dulcimer from Asia; played here by the composer, who is from Uzbekistan.] A dreamy landscape has been set up by the first half of the piece, and then the harpsichordist plays some disconnected fragments from Bach's G minor fugue, WTC book 1. Quite a powerful effect. The CD is Elisabeth Chojnacka's "Energy"
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00004ZBL6

On that same CD is "Cabala del Caballo" by Mauricio Sotelo, for harpsichord and flamenco guitar. That one includes some broken-up bits from Scarlatti sonatas.

There's also a delightful piece called "Penetration of eS" by Enid Sutherland (not recorded, but I played the premiere of it about 10 years ago)...for a Baroque string ensemble and harpsichord. She took several Scarlatti sonatas and shuffled their themes into one another, along with quite a lot of free and barely-tonal material, to explore Scarlatti's extremely colorful world of sound. Entertaining and surreal at the same time. A very imaginative composer, with a terrific sense of humor and wry ironic twists everywhere...serious music built up from shatteringly funny bits. Then she went on apply this to a much bigger piece, "Daphne and Apollo Remade": which is about the unjust and oppressive treatment of women over the centuries.
http://www.orchestralist.org/registry/ol/Enid_Sutherland.html
http://www.umich.edu/~irwg/events/calendar/daphne_apollo.html
(I haven't seen the production, but I saw that it's a powerful piece even from merely looking at the score, and asking her to explain what she envisions there. I especially remember a scene where Elvis comes in and says some very rude and chauvinistic things to a female character...a dramatic gesture that would not work if the poetry and music had been written by men!...but the point of the piece is to expose that outrage, outrageously.)

Some more conservative (less cubistic) arrangements of Scarlatti and Bach: Avison's concerti grossi arranged from Scarlatti themes; or Tommasini's "Good Humored Ladies"; or William Walton's ballet "The Wise Virgins" arranged from parts of Bach cantatas. Or that Vanguard album of the orchestra "Il Novecento" playing Scarlatti sonatas, arranged by Groslot.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000005IY6

And then there's the Poulenc organ concerto: a take-off of Bach's G minor Fantasia BWV 542. Anybody here have a favorite recording of that? I've heard the old LPs with Preston and Duruflé, but am looking to get one on CD.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (February 26, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< And then there's the Poulenc organ concerto: a take-off of Bach's G minor Fantasia BWV 542. Anybody here have a favorite recording of that? I've heard the old LPs with Preston and Duruflé, but am looking to get one on CD. >
The Marie-Claire Alain recording with the Rotterdam Phil and James Conlon is rather good, to my mind, but the other concerto performances on the discs (its an Ultima twofer) are weirdly balanced (over-prominent piano(s)) which is a shame as the performances are equally good.

 

Arrangements

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 29, 2006):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< Come on, guys, such items are not Mahler or Bruckner. They suited the group and time for which they were created. >
I've always held that an "arrangement" is a genre in itself which is more about the arranger than the source composer. Bach's organ arrangements of Vivaldi Concertos tell us more about Bach than Vivaldi -- some might even say that Bach misunderstood Vivaldi's music and destroyed its lightness and delicate textures.

I love the Mozart arrangements of "Alexander's Feast" and Mendelssohn's "Matthew Passion" with its piano and clarinets. Brahms' arrangement of the D Minor Chaconne for left hand alone is rivetting in performance. And Stowkowski's arrangement of the D Minor Toccata is a much better Introduction to the Orchestra than the Britten or the Prokofiev "Peter and the Wolf" because the latter two have so much talk, talk, talk.

And you get Mickey Mouse too!

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 29, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< the Britten or the Prokofiev "Peter and the Wolf" because the latter two have so much talk, talk, talk. >
Right, save the talk for BCML

< And you get Mickey Mouse too! >
On BCML, as well!

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (July 29, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I've always held that an "arrangement" is a genre in itself which is more about the arranger than the source composer. Bach's organ arrangements of Vivaldi Concertos tell us more about Bach than Vivaldi -- some might even say that Bach misunderstood Vivaldi's music and destroyed its lightness and delicate textures. >
Obviously I have neither the desire nor the interest in banning any of the above or the below.

< I love the Mozart arrangements of "Alexander's Feast" >
I find it strange when WAM arrangement of Handel are done in English.

< and Mendelssohn's "Matthew Passion" with its piano and clarinets. >
Historically important but do we need concert performances of that?

< Brahms' arrangement of the D Minor Chaconne for left hand alone is rivetting in performance. And Stowkowski's arrangement of the D Minor Toccata is a much bettIntroduction to the Orchestra than the Britten or the Prokofiev "Peter and the Wolf" because the latter two have so much talk, talk, talk.
And you get Mickey Mouse too! >

I adore Prokofiev but not Peter. Stokie's monstrosity doesn't ever enter my ears. I don't know who Mickey mouse is.

 

Arrangements

Julian Mincham wrote (November 22, 2006):
Rob writes:
< I response to " always interested in soloists playing Bach other than plinking pianos, warbling vocalists, and screeching violinists. Bach certainly deserves more....hence, I look forward to hearing your interpretations.
Ah, I am just doing the final preparations for my next CD release That will include an arrangement of Cantata
BWV 82 "Ich Habe Genug" & Motet "Siget dem herrn ein neues Lied" arranged for horn ensemble >
Well, I'm not sure I'd go along with the above description which seems a tiny bit biased to me. My feeling is that what Bach deserves in the first place is honest and engaging performances on the instruments for which he wrote!

It seems to be the case, however, that no composer's music is able to survive transcription and arrangement, however bizarre, better than Bach's---and perhaps no composer has been more widely arranged than he? (leaving aside ridiculous door bells and mobile phones--I am thinking of complete movements in which the essential structures remain intact---from the Swingles to the Moog)

Dick C. wrote (November 23, 2006):
[To Julian Mincham] Thanks Julian, I meant no malice; just refreshing to hear someone doing something different. After 200+ years we may starting to discover other 'voices'. Could be an exciting future, but at near 70, I'll just keep 'strummin' away like I am! Think I'll work up an arrangement of Chaconne for the Banjo, or maybe the Ukelele!!! LOL

Julian Mincham wrote (November 23, 2006):
[To Dick C.] Hi Dick--no offence taken at all---I'm not keen on warbling sopranos (with too much vibrato?) myself. Actually I agree with you that anyone who gets enjoyment a fufillment by playing Bach on any instrument is ahead of the game so go for it!

I once had a colleague who arranged part of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring for guitar, banjo and ukelele (he played the first instrument and the other two were his students). It lacked a bit of the impact of the original but the students certainly learnt a bit about Stravinsky's music and complex rhythms. I have arranged Bach for all combinations for students for similar reasons.

Richard Burdick wrote (November 24, 2006):
I too like to hear all the attempts at authentic practice. I am currently listening to the complete Cantatas in numeric order comparing what I have of the Teldec Harnoncourt set with the Brilliant classics set. I am only up to #25. Really enjoying them!

BUT isn't the biggest selling Bach recording ever made "Switched on Bach" with Wendy (Walter) Carlos?

If I am wrong I would really like to know what is the best selling recording of Bach!

Maybe E. Power Biggs?

Gerd Wund wrote (November 24, 2006):
[To Richard Burdick] What about bourre´ in e minor with yethro tull?

Shelly wrote (November 24, 2006):
[To Gerd Wund] Found it played it -- !!!! ????
But, there is no bad Bach!
Thanks,

Pius Cheung wrote (November 24, 2006):
My name is Pius Cheung. I had posted a message on this group earlier about my new album of Goldberg Variations on solo marimba. I am so glad there are so many discussions on arrangements of Bach, and most of it is very positive. Gives me an encouragement on what I do on marimba, which is a lot of arrangements, mostly Bach. I have tried Chopin and Stravinsky on marimba too, but those didn't work as well as Bach.

Please allow me to share my thoughts about Bach arrangements. Please give me some feedbacks on what you think. Here is a little writeup about Bach on marimba which I put in my Goldberg CD booklet. Enjoy. Please let me know what you think.

-Pius
www.piuscheung.com

My Thoughts about Bach on the Marimba

Playing Bach is one of the most controversial subjects for performers today. There are constant arguments about what the 'correct' way to play Bach is. In recent years, many people seem to be very concerned with whether or not a Bach performance is 'baroque', and if it is not, it is bad. The issue of whether or not it is justifiable to perform Bach on modern instruments seems to be never resolved. On one hand, there are the music purists who believe it is an absolute sin to play Bach on anything but 'authentic' period instruments, and that it is crucial to play Bach in a 'baroque' way; but on the other hand, there are those who believe one could only do Bach's music justice by performing them on modern/more developed instruments, and takes more flexibility with the performance style. To me it is very hard to define what is 'baroque' and what is 'romantic'. These terms were created mainly for the purpose of keeping clarity for studying music history. Of course, it is crucial to research about the composer's era and its performing traditions, but I think it is also very important to keep in mind that for a performer, research is for the sake of performance. One should be careful not to cross the line when you are playing in a way just to be 'correct' or to make a point that you have done your homework.

Though I very much respect performances of the 'authentic' or 'baroque' Bach interpreters, I have to be honest that I am more moved emotionally by performances or recordings that are more flexible or less 'correct' in accordance to modern day scholarship. Interpretations of Bach by those such as Edward Aldwell, Pablo Casals, Glenn Gould, Mstislav Rostapovich, and András Schiff, all of whom I think has/had (some of the above mentioned has already passed away) very deep understanding of Bach performance traditions, but are/were willing to occasionally step over the line and risk being scholastically 'incorrect', has touched me the most.

Part of the reason why I think performing Bach is so controversial is that the music itself is very controversial. He belonged to a time when music was very diatonically contained, and yet at times, he was using composition techniques that are far more advanced/complex than anyone of his era, such as Vivaldi or Telemann. Take Variation 25 from the Goldberg Variations for instance. This variation is essentially in g minor, but by the second bar, Bach already modulated into f minor. Chromaticism and complexity in tonality like that did not exist until composers like Chopin or Wagner. In fact, during his time Bach's music was sometimes criticized for being too complicated, and that one cannot follow what key or meter the music is in; and also there are too many voices happening at the same time. I suspect that is why nowadays there are constant disputes about Bach interpretations. Inside the 17th/18th century shell of Bach's music, there are elements that belong more to the 19th century.

As far as arranging Bach's music for the marimba, I dare not say something like, "I believe if the marimba existed in Bach's time, he would have written music for it.", or "If Bach was arranging his own music for the marimba, this is what he would have done..."; but I do believe it is justifiable to play Bach on modern instruments.

If I were to break down music into five elements, they would be: Form, Rhythm, Counterpoint, Harmony, and Sound. Form, the general contour or structural blueprint of an entire piece. Rhythm, music in the horizontal sense time-wise. Counterpoint, music in the horizontal sense pitch-wise. Harmony, music in the vertical sense. Sound, meaning orchestration/instrumentation, dynamic, tempo, articulation, etc. Form is of utmost importance to all composers, but as for the other four elements, different composers streon them differently. To me, Bach stresses on rhythm, counterpoint, and harmony, more than on sound. His music is compositionally perfect in an architectural or mathematical sense. Though Bach definitely had thorough knowledge of orchestration/instrumentation techniques, if one were to compare his music with the works of composers such as Stravinsky or Debussy, the element of tone/instrument color is not as important in Bach's music. Also, although markings of dynamics, articulations, tempi, etc., are minimal mostly because it is the common compositional practice of his time, I cannot help but think that Bach in a way did that intentionally to give performers more flexibility. In music that is so perfect formally, rhythmically, contrapuntally, and harmonically, I feel it will always be able to shine in different tone colors, dynamics, tempi, articulations, and phrasings.

Also, let us not forget Bach himself arranged his own music for different instruments frequently. For example, his keyboard concertos (BWV 1052-1057) were originally violin concertos. His violin sonata in a minor, BWV 1003, and Adagio from his violin sonata in C major, BWV 1005, were later arranged for the keyboard by Bach himself. His lute suite in g minor, BWV 995, is a transcription of his cello suite in c minor, BWV 1011. There is also the Art of Fugue which he did not even specify what instrument(s) it is intended for.

In a way, I think Bach's music does not belong on any real instruments. I feel it is so 'pure' that it goes beyond the reality and actuality of sound.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 25, 2006):
Pius Cheung wrote:
>>Gives me an encouragement on what I do on marimba, which is a lot of arrangements, mostly Bach.<<
More power to you! The more arrangements we have of Bach's music, the better.

>>There are constant arguments about what the 'correct' way to play Bach is.<<
These have little or no bearing whatsoever on making arrangements of Bach's music for marimba or other similar instruments (or any modern instrument, or whistling or singing Bach).

>>The issue of whether or not it is justifiable to perform Bach on modern instruments seems to be never resolved.<<
As far as I know they live comfortably side by side with each side claiming certain advantages but also having disadvantages as well.

>>To me it is very hard to define what is 'baroque' and what is 'romantic'. These terms were created mainly for the purpose of keeping clarity for studying music history.<<
Suggestion: do not include what you do not understand.These definitions need not affect your arrangement or performance in any way.

>> I think it is also very important to keep in mind that for a performer, research is for the sake of performance. One should be careful not to cross the line when you are playing in a way just to be 'correct' or to make a point that you have done your homework.<<
Unless this arrangement/performance is for earning a grade or degree in a music school, it is really not necessary to worry about these things for the type of performance you will be giving. Why cause the audience or listener to be focused on those things which worry you needlessly?

>>[Aldwell, Casals, Gould, Rostapovich and Schiff] are/were willing to occasionally step over the line and risk being scholastically 'incorrect', has touched me the most.<<
There is no line that needs to be stepped over nor is there a risk of being scholastically 'incorrect' when playing an arrangement of Bach's music on a marimba.

>>Part of the reason why I think performing Bach is so controversial is that the music itself is very controversial.<<
Perhaps it has now become so, but during Bach's time the only complaints were that the keyboard music was a little harder to play than that by other composers. Some city officials were worried about too much influence of the operatic style on his concerted sacred music, but generally there were no complaints. There was even some strong approval of his performances. The only serious controversy was fomented by one of his own students who found that Bach's music was out of style (not simple enough).

>>In fact, during his time Bach's music was sometimes criticized for being too complicated, and that one cannot follow what key or meter the music is in; and also there are too many voices happening at the same time.<<
This is mainly the result of the controversy mentioned above. Bach's musicians, generally, had little or no difficulty in performing his music with little preparation to his satisfaction.

>>I suspect that is why nowadays there are constant disputes about Bach interpretations.<<
This reasoning/suspicion does not follow from the single controversy mentioned above.

>>As far as arranging Bach's music for the marimba, I dare not say something like, "I believe if the marimba existed in Bach's time, he would have written music for it.", or "If Bach was arranging his own music for the marimba, this is what he would have done..."; but I do believe it is justifiable to play Bach on modern instruments.<<
Bach experimented with all types of instruments which were either new or improved versions of the older instruments, but he was equally interested in finding out whether a musician could really make 'good music' on it. There is no reason to find justification for playing Bach on modern instruments. If it sounds good, it is good. This truism was also known in Bach's day.

>>To me, Bach stresses on rhythm, counterpoint, and harmony, more than on sound..the element of tone/instrument color is not as important in Bach's music.<<
I disagree with this statement. There are clearly many instances where Bach has the instrument color/sound in mind as he composes the music. Taking a movement where the oboe plays an important part as an obbligato instrument in an aria, for instance, it is possible to give the same part to a violin and it will still sound like Bach because the quality of the music is great, but something is lost in the process: the individual character of the oboe which is unique. Try to have a violin play a part originally intended for a recorder and the loss becomes apparent. Each instrument has unique characteristics that associate it with certain feelings and circumstances. Bach knew this and made use of this as he composed his music. These unique sound characteristics are lost when a different instrument is substituted for the original.

All of this need not deter anyone from playing Bach on a marimba as long as it sounds good. The sound of the marimba is quite unique and listeners who might remember the original orchestration of a Bach piece really do not expect a close approximation of the instrument for which the part was written.

>>Also, although markings of dynamics, articulations, tempi, etc., are minimal mostly because it is the common compositional practice of his time.<<
Bach did not follow 'the common compositional practice of his time'; that is the reason why the controversy about his music also focused on Bach's practice of notating quite precisely what he wanted much to the dismay of some performers who wanted only to use Bach's music as an outline so that they (the performers) could employ as much artistic freedom to Bach's music as they wanted. Bach, however, did not want them to take all these liberties because he knew that he possessed better taste in performance practices than they did.

>>I cannot help but think that Bach in a way did that intentionally to give performers more flexibility.<<
This is a popular misconception nowadays. Read all the details in the Scheibe-Birnbaum controversy referred to above.

>>Also, let us not forget Bach himself arranged his own music for different instruments frequently.<<
Let us also remember that Bach frequently found himself under great pressure to produce music quickly. Realizing that some earlier compositions might otherwise be lost to posterity and realizing that he had a new specific instrumentaliin mind for a repeat performance years later, Bach decided to transcribe the solo parts while often retaining or reusing/recopying the already existing original accompanying parts. Thus he immediately fulfilled a two-fold purpose without making too many additional demands on his time. Some of Bach's music lends itself more easily to this kind of treatment than others without some loss of the original, intended sound.

>> In a way, I think Bach's music does not belong on any real instruments. I feel it is so 'pure' that it goes beyond the reality and actuality of sound.<<
In arrangements of Bach's music, anything is possible as long as it sounds good. Just remember to put your name next to the name of the composer: "Bach-Cheung" to alert the listener that this is an arrangement.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (December 10, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Some city officials were worried about too much influence of the operatic style on his concerted sacred music, but generally there were no complaints. >
One really wonders what took hold of Bach in his Johannes-Passion Versio II, 1725. That is so operatic that it simply is shocking. As on everything else no doubt much has been written on this.

 

On an Overgrown Path: Review of Bach's "Arabian Passion"

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 8, 2009):
I thought this would very interesting for the list ;)

"The Arabian Passion, which is based on material from Bach's St. Matthew (BWV 244) and St. John Passions (BWV 245), confronts current tensions in the Middle East. It is scored for string quartet, two jazz saxophones and Arab musicians, and has just been released on CD and as an MP3 download . Would Bach have turned in his grave? Read more, and listen to a sample to decide for yourself."
http://www.overgrownpath.com/2009/04/would-bach-have-turned-in-his-grave.html

 

Hatsune Miku does Bach

Chris Kern wrote (August 25, 2009):
I'm going to assume that most of you are not familiar with the Vocaloid software, so before I link these videos some explanation is in order, or simply a trip to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocaloid

Put briefly, it's a program by Yamaha that uses voice samples from actual singers to create synthesized voice "characters". Because the original voices are Japanese, the program is most suited for Japanese songs (mostly pop songs), and it requires a good amount of technical expertise to get the synthesized voice to sound more natural. However, people have been branching out into foreign songs as well, with mixed results. Someone has been doing Hatsune Miku (who is the original vocaloid 2, sampled from Fujita Saki) versions of a number of Bach vocal works.

As examples here is the Et In Unum Dominum from the BMM: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsT4xDVrd98
And the opening of the Matthew Passion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXLHGZpDhFk
The duet/chorus after Jesus' arrest (in the SMP): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PvURGMvQvo

If you've never heard any other vocaloid songs it's probably going to sound rather jarring. Of course they sound synthetic and robotic, but I think they're fairly impressive given the limitations and capabilities of the software. The person who did the MP above has been working through the whole thing -- the recitatives are definitely the weakest aspect since the pronunciation of German is difficult for the software to get right, and the lack of free expressiveness is glaring. I also wish they had used one of the male vocaloids for the bass line (since Miku's voice sometimes sounds odd at very low levels), but having watched a number of other vocaloid songs in Japanese I think this is a good effort. (As the creator mentions in the opening comments, the Latin turns out better than the German.)

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 25, 2009):
Chris Kern wrote:
< I'm going to assume that most of you are not familiar with the Vocaloid software, so before I link these videos some explanation is in order, or simply a trip to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocaloid >
Thanks for those links Chris. I wished I could get my synths of my Sibelius to sound this good ;)

Great stuff,

Glen Armstrong wrote (August 25, 2009):
[To Chris Kern] I can't wait for Henri's reaction.

Chris Kern wrote (August 26, 2009):
Another nice one is this arrangment of the 6 voice ricecar from the Musical Offering: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iCSdZzsARg
The beginning of the fugue theme is sung as "hatsune miku" (whereas the rest of the notes are just "na" or "la") so that you can pick it out pretty easily.

 

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).
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Arran/L-Orchestra.htm

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: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/NVD/PT-Walton.htm
OT page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Arran/OT-Walton.htm

At a later stage, I intend building Index by BWV Number and comprehensive discographies. See, for example, again William Walton:
Discography page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Arran/OT-Walton-Rec.htm

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 disbetween 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 the sense 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) sorchestras. 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.

Ex.1

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 the opening 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.

Ex.2

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.

Ex.3

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.

Ex.4

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 instrumemedium 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.

Ex.5

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 arrangement, 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.

Ex.6
Reproduced by 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 version (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.

Bibliography
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"
http://dirtyriver.tumblr.com/post/1688158227/twink-la-passion-1904-alphonse-mucha-vintage

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" http://dirtyriver.tumblr.com/post/1688158227/twink-la-passion-1904-alphonse-mucha-vintage >
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 Choral Society, 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: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/EmpireBrass.htm

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 Arrang& Transcriptions of Bach's Works on the BCW.
See: http://bach-cantatas.com/Arran/L-Vocal.htm
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:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Arran/L-BACH.htm

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 how Bach 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.

 

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