For questions about the upcoming conference, please contact Andrew Talle: andrew.talle (at) northwestern.edu
Writings about Bach's concerted vocal music, both for academics and for general readers, often appear to be obsessed with parody-the origin of some of the composer's most famous works in music he had composed for one purpose, then fitted with new texts for another. There are many reasons to study parody, but they are technical and remind us that it is part of the compositional process, not a feature of a performed musical work. When parody is done well it is not audible, and arguably has little to do with the experience of hearing a work either in the eighteenth century or today-not least because no listener in Bach's time could have been expected to know the model for a derived composition.
A focus on parody also has the potential to lead to fallacious understanding: mistaking a work's genesis for its meaning, or imagining we can divine a composer's intent by examining the parody process, both classic errors of interpretation. In movement after movement in works like the Mass in B Minor and the Christmas Oratorio, the knowledge or suspicion of parody appears to help us understand a piece, but actually does not. At best it can direct us to things we should probably have noticed in the first place.
Musical features we can hear, including those that point to particular kinds of compositions invoked in a movement, can indeed help us understand a work by Bach but not because they point to parody origin. Rather, they show us directly how pieces reflect conventions and generate meaning. Movements that behave in strange or unconventional ways (in scoring or formal organization, for example), are often explained in terms of the parody process. But we do not need to invoke parody to understand how they contribute to a work's effect, and we often need to acknowledge that there are parallel instances in newly-composed pieces in which parody played no role.
If we are most concerned with listening (both in Bach's time and in ours), parody is probably overrated.
The St John Passion is Bach's most reworked and modified composition. Arthur Mendel was the first scholar who tried to reconstruct the four different versions Bach performed during his lifetime. His reconstructions were mainly based on the examination of the papers and scribes in Bach's original performance parts. Almost all of these parts were prepared by Bach's students while Bach revised them in several stages. He added an enormous number of headings, text incipits, performance instructions, corrections and further indications. By reconsidering these annotations, it seems that they might represent more stages of reworking and performances of St John Passion than the established - generally accepted ‒ four versions of the piece. My paper will be focused on Bach's emendations to the performance parts, their chronology, and their implications for his process of reworking the St John Passion.
Bach's 1738 harpsichord concertos were long thought to be transcriptions of works originally for violin or oboe before their refashioning, during the third Leipzig Jahrgang, as cantata sinfonias with obbligato organ. But recent research into the early history of these works proposes that a few of them began life as organ concertos in the early 1720s. This paper poses two fundamental questions of these phantom organ concertos: Can plausible musical texts be established? What kind of accompanying ensemble makes the most sense? In addition to the sequences of movements better known as the D-minor and E major harpsichord concertos (BWV 1052 and 1053, respectively), the G-minor keyboard concerto (preserved as BWV 1058) may also have begun life as a concerted organ work: transposition errors in its earlier A-minor version for violin (BWV 1041) suggest an earlier Vorlage for keyboard in G minor. Usefully, the earliest extant layer of the D- minor concerto (BWV 1052a) provides a model for reconstructing the other works: its musical text has more in common with certain 1726 cantata movements than with the eventual harpsichord concerto. My reconstruction of BWV 1053a therefore favors its corresponding cantata sinfonias, whose solo and accompanying parts (like BWV 1052a and its 1726 relatives) are less elaborate than the final version of the work; my reconstruction of BWV 1058a reflects the same priorities. The original ensemble for these concertos may likewise be deduced from scattered clues in the sources. Newly recorded examples from a forthcoming disc will illustrate this presentation's major points.
The history of the Advent cantata Schwingt freudig euch empor (BWV 36) reflects Bach's characteristic manner of utilizing music from one work multiple times in different contexts and on different occasions. The original secular version of the work (BWV 36c), written in the spring of 1725 for the birthday of Johann Heinrich Ernesti (at the time rector of the St. Thomas School) was transformed by Bach into a birthday composition for Princess Charlotte Frederike Amalie, second wife of Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Köthen (BWV 36a) and performed at the prince's castle in Köthen on 30 November 1726. Bach revisited the score of his cantata for Ernesti on the first Sunday of Advent, 2 December 1731. At that time, he performed it with a new religious text, but utilizing only the music of the opening chorus and three arias; at the end, on the other hand, he added a setting of the last stanza from the chorale 'Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern'. Instead of the recitatives, however, he inserted settings of the first, sixth and eighth stanzas of the chorale 'Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland'. In 1735, he used the original secular form of the cantata yet again, adapting it for the birthday of the rector of the University of Leipzig at the time - Johann Florens Rivinius (BWV 36b). The aim of this paper is to present the properties of the music to the introductory chorus of BWV 36 at successive stages of parody. The key to understanding the essence of the transformation process will be Bach's utilization here of the so-called Polish style. We shall show the reasons for its use and, consequently, explain why Bach found it extremely easy to retain agreement of affect between the different texts and the same music in all versions of the work.
Nuremberg sources from the second half of the 18th century show an organist's highly pragmatic usage of Bach's organ chorales. It is Leonhard Scholz (1720‒1798), organist at Nuremberg's main churches St Lawrence and St Sebaldus, who probably arranged several pieces from Bach's Leipzig collections (among them "Clavier-Übung III" and "18 Leipziger Choräle", some of them also in their original versions) as well as other individually transmitted pieces for use on his old and very specific church organs. As the archival records from these churches show, the instruments ‒ most of them from the early 16th and early 17th centuries ‒ lack a range that allows an organist to play those choral pieces by J. S. Bach. As Leonhard Scholz was obviously very fond of Bach's organ music, he adjusted it to be playable on his instruments. Scholz' manuscripts nowadays constitute the largest Bach collection of Southern German provenance, also including keyboard compositions by other composers. The question is whether this usage of Bach's music is a singular phenomenon or an example for a more typical usage in the 18th century. In other words: is this a phenomenon which is more common than we tend to think, due to our 20th-century process of struggling for an 'Urtext'? Did organists of the 18th century regularly improvise on Bach's music? The paper will also focus on some very special details of Scholz' biography. He started his career in 1766 as an assistant organist at St Giles, where the old Lorenz Sichart (a student of Wilhelm Hieronymus Pachelbel) was organist, and where Christoph Birkmann (Bach's recently identified Leipzig librettist in 1725–27) was Diaconus until 1772.
How did Bach influence his students' musical principles, especially in regard to their compositions? It is an alluring question and yet hardly possible to answer in detail. Older studies often avoid answering the question by speaking of "Bach's spirit". This paper seeks to give an overview of the compositional output of Bach's students and to outline some general characteristics. It will address the works of famous Bach enthusiasts like Johann Ludwig Krebs and Johann Friedrich Agricola, who achieved considerable success as musicians and composers in their own rights. The focus, however, will be on musicians who have attracted little attention as composers so far, among them Heinrich Nicolaus Gerber, Johann Georg Schübler, Christian Friedrich Penzel, and Johann Caspar Vogler. Some of their little-known works have recently been re-discovered in connection with new source studies on Bach's students. The origin and transmission of these works need to be explored before the musical structure can be analyzed. Here, it is the aim to uncover Bach's more or less subtle traces as precisely as possible. In a wider sense, this arouses another question: to which degree was Bach's music of importance and relevance for a generation which followed aesthetic ideals clearly different from his own? It seems that Bach, in the eyes of his students, was a "classical" composer, an example of a historical period and of historical genres, rather than as a resource for up-to-date composing techniques.
It is generally known that Philipp David Kräuter in 1712/13 received a scholarship from the Augsburg town council in order to study with J. S. Bach in Weimar. After his return to his hometown he became Lutheran music director of Augsburg and held this position until his death in 1741. Due to an outstandingly good archival situation in Augsburg, we can reconstruct many sides of Kräuter's activities as music director, including his performance practice, his own compositions, his repertory of church music by other composers, his fights with the Augsburg authorities, etc. In short: The archival holdings of Augsburg provide a fascinating picture of Kräuter's tenure and decisions as music director in this cultural center of Southern Germany. Some of his characteristics as a performer and leader of the municipal church music seem to be far from an adaption of what his famous teacher did in Weimar and Leipzig, and this raises the question of Kräuter's true relationship to J. S. Bach.
This paper explores the two American premieres of Johann Sebastian Bach's Passions: the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston's performance of the St. Matthew Passion in the Boston Music Hall on April 11, 1879, and the Bethlehem Choral Union's performance of the St. John Passion in the Bethlehem Parochial School on June 5, 1888. Even in Europe, these works had lain dormant in the years following J. S. Bach's death. The St. Matthew Passion was first revived by Felix Mendelssohn in a concert setting in 1829 in Berlin, but neither the St. Matthew nor the St. John Passion had been performed in their entirety in America until these two ensembles in Boston and Bethlehem took on the task. By comparing and contrasting these performances, I will explore how the Passions were considered adaptable to specific contexts. The instrumentation, the amount of the work performed, and the performance language, were all varied. Further, the two American premieres were strongly influenced by their respective place environments and reflected the particular ideologies of the premiering ensembles. By studying historical documents such as newspaper ads, concert reviews, programs, and ensemble financial records, as well as the conductors' personal papers, I will compare and contrast the performances in order to understand how elements of the sacred are still inherent in the Passions even when performed in secular environments for diverse audiences. Ultimately, I will argue for the importance of these American premieres in setting the stage for a broad reception of Bach's music in America.
This paper does not touch on Bach's adaptations but addresses his reception of other composers. I investigate Bach's stylistic development over 20 years in the realm of counterpoint. The canons in the Weimar cantatas are far more complex than those in the earlier cantatas. The inversion methods in the imitational sections, which have been categorized as "permutation fugues", gradually changed, particularly in regard to their treatment of dissonance. These changes might be attributed to Bach's exploration of contrapuntal techniques together with Johann Gottfried Walther. In Weimar, Walther and Bach copied "strict" compositions by Palestrina and Frescobaldi. Palestrina pursued the techniques of canons in masses and Frescobaldi looked into the contrapuntal possibilities of one theme in Fiori musicali. In 1708, shortly before Bach came to Weimar, Walther compiled Praecepta der musicalischen Composition based on theoretical materials by seventeenth-century composers. He was clearly well acquainted with contrapuntal theories from Italy and northern Germany. In one of these theoretical texts, there were two types of inversion depending on the rigorousness of dissonance treatment; I will argue that Walther followed this distinction in his Praecepta. Although there is no direct evidence that these theoretical materials attracted Bach's notice, they certainly could have, given the circumstantial evidence.
In the preface to his edition of J.S. Bach's Aria mit 30 Veränderungen [Goldberg-Variationen], BWV 988 (1915) for solo piano, Busoni called the piece the most "copious" and "ingenious" of Bach's sets of variations. Yet, he believed the composition could not be performed successfully on the piano for 20th century audiences without adaptation. His edition, as he stated, set about to "rescue this remarkable work for the concert-hall." Busoni's modifications included shortening the piece from 30 to 21 variations, creating an overall sense of architectural form by grouping the variations into three main sections, and adapting the composition for the modern piano by changing time signatures, redistributing notes between the hands, altering rhythmic values, and even changing notes. Scholars have mentioned Busoni's adaptation of the "Goldberg Variations" in passing, while reserving more detailed analyses for his arrangement of the Chaconne from the Partita No. 2 for Solo Violin in D Minor, BWV 1004 and his edition of the Well-Tempered Clavier, BWV 846-893. This neglect can perhaps be attributed to the liberal way he adapts Bach's "Goldberg Variations." Yet, although not necessarily reflective of Bach's intentions, Busoni's edition of the "Goldberg" Variations" represents an important early attempt to resurrect this work in an age in which it was rarely performed. By contextualizing an analysis of Busoni's edition and performances of the "Goldberg Variations" within a reception history of the piece, the essay contributes to ongoing discourse about the performance of Goldberg Variations in the early 20th century.
Composed at a time when Vienna was precariously poised between historicist tendencies on the one hand and attempts at a radical reformation of the past on the other, Anton Webern's Passacaglia (1908) denotes a critical contribution to turn-of- the-century modernism. Based on the manuscripts, sketches and biographical documents archived at the Paul Sacher Foundation (Basle, Switzerland), this paper explores the elements of Webern's early (re)imagination of Bach. I will argue that the young Webern, to a large extent, reads Bach, as well as Heinrich Isaac's Choralis Constantinus, in light of the aesthetic premises of the New Symbolism and Jugendstil architecture, assigning contrapuntal techniques with the capability of conveying "presence-effects" and "atmospheric qualities" (Stimmungsgehalte). One of the earliest self-conscious manifestations of Webern's modernist physiognomy, during his studies under Schoenberg's tutelage this aesthetic concern would gain further refinement, in the way Webern (i) conceives of Bach's contrapuntal techniques as a device of developing variation, as is evident in three hitherto unpublished contrapuntal studies that Webern produced prior to composing the Passacaglia, M. 124-126 (and which I will provide in transcription); (ii) overtly models the Passacaglia after the final passacaglia movement from Brahms's Fourth Symphony op. 98 (1885), which was a "catalyst for early modernism" (W. Frisch); and (iii) brings the formal type of the passacaglia into dialogue with the sonata paradigm, creating a fusion that August Halm in his monograph on Brucker (1913) famously described as the "third culture." In illuminating the historicist ideas and discourses that gesticulate through Webern's Passacaglia, this paper is as much a study of a key work from the composer's tonal repertoire as it is a study of a critical moment in Bach reception.
A quarter-century after Bach's death, his son Carl Philipp Emanuel wrote to Johann Nikolaus Forkel: "Besides Froberger, Kerll, and Pachelbel, he heard and studied the works of Frescobaldi, the Baden Capellmeister Fischer" and others. Some results of these studies can be found in the fugue themes of the "Well-Tempered Clavier" which are drawn in part from Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer's "Ariadne Musica", a collection of twenty short preludes and fugues in major and minor as well as church modes, which was published in 1702. While the formal relationship between Fischer's "Ariadne Musica" and Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier" has been discussed in the past, it is a little known fact that in composing these works Fischer himself drew from the music of Johann Jacob Froberger. My paper will show that numerous composers of the 17th and 18th centuries used and modified these simple "archetypes" in creating their demanding fugues.
In fashioning his 21 liturgical Passions for use in Hamburg's main churches, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach drew upon various sources of music, some borrowed or arranged, and some newly-composed for the occasion. One might assume that borrowing existing movements involved less work on his part than writing new ones. Indeed, though it may have reduced the compositional burden on Bach, this process often involved considerable creative input. This paper examines changes made to the texts and musical settings of borrowed free poetic insertions in Bach's Passions. The models considered originate in Passions, cantatas, and other works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, Gottfried August Homilius, Georg Anton Benda, Johann Gottlieb and Carl Heinrich Graun, as well as the composer himself. This study concludes that certain patterns emerge in the methods Bach used for revising borrowed movements of this type. Some correlate with the model's genre and therefore also the necessity to employ parody procedure. Other techniques are linked to the model's composer, whose style may or may not have aligned with Bach's own taste. Still others correspond to how early or late in his Hamburg tenure the revision took place and evince a gradual shift away from idioms associated with the Baroque. Bach's compulsion for revising his own works has already been recognized and well-described in scholarship from the last few decades. His penchant for tinkering with others' compositions has received comparably less attention, though. This paper provides a substantial contribution to the latter topic by focusing on a single genre over a span of two decades.
The concerto in A minor for keyboard, flute, violin, and strings BWV 1044 has always been one of Bach's more problematical pieces. Performed less often than his other instrumental works, it was, like probably all his keyboard concertos, a relatively late reworking of earlier music. All three movements exist in other forms, the quick outer ones as the prelude and fugue for harpsichord BWV 894, the central adagio as the middle movement of the D-minor organ sonata BWV 527. The chief questions concerning the work are the identity of the original versions and whether Bach himself was indeed responsible for their reworking as a concerto. Unlike the concertos for a single harpsichord (and one of those for two harpsichords), BWV 1044 survives only in manuscript copies, and these are fewer in number than for the other keyboard concertos, suggesting that it was less often performed. One manuscript, however, is a score by Bach's pupil Agricola, who also copied many other such works, implying their use in the concerts which he was directing at Berlin by 1754. A set of parts by Müthel is the only other source directly from the Bach circle. Both attribute the work to J. S. Bach, but several anomalies raise the possibility that this, like a number of other compositions and arrangements of uncertain origin, was in fact the product of one or more pupils, possibly carrying out the adaptation with the composer's authorization or assistance for concert use during the latter's last decade or two. If so, BWV 1044 would be a further document for Bach's collaborations of various sorts in his later years. The two presenters propose a complete performance of BWV 1044 (with five string players), preceded by talks illustrated by performances of related music including the prelude BWV 894/1 and a reconstruction of the trio movement BWV 527a/2. The talks will consider the sources of the works in question, especially the significance of manuscript copies by Agricola and Johann Bernhard Bach (for BWV 894), as well as musical relationships between the surviving versions of all three movements. In addition, the treatment of the flute in BWV 1044 will be considered in relation to other parts for that instrument by Bach and his pupils.
In 1964 in Spain, a great idea for a record album was discussed with much enthusiasm at the international sales convention of the CBS record companies. Shortly after his return to New York, the president of Columbia Records told the producer who worked with the Dave Brubeck Quartet-the most successful modern jazz combo of that era-that "everyone seemed to think that 'Brubeck Plays Bach' would be a very big album in Europe. I think it would be big in the United States, too." Although Brubeck apparently declined to record jazz adaptations of J. S. Bach's music, one of his closest competitors eventually did exactly that. This paper focuses on Blues on Bach by the Modern Jazz Quartet (Atlantic Records, 1974). The album includes arrangements of five compositions by Bach, in which John Lewis, the group's leader, plays harpsichord rather than piano, along with bass, drums, and vibraphone. The remaining tracks are original blues in B-flat major, A minor, C minor, and B major (H)-i.e., forming the name BACH. Despite the fact that the reviewer in Down Beat, a leading jazz periodical, awarded the album its highest rating and characterized it as "a classic" and "their masterpiece," this project has received hardly any scholarly examination beyond a paragraph or two in Johann Sebastian Bach und die Gegenwart (2007). In addition to considering the prospects and perils of playing Bach's music in the style of 1970s modern jazz, this paper sketches the broader trajectory of the group's devotion to Bach, from the Quartet's "Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise" (1955), which quotes from the Musical Offering, to Lewis's problematic recordings of the Well-Tempered Clavier in the 1980s.
In the 1969 "Bach Transmogrified" episode of the Young People's Concerts series, Leonard Bernstein announces that Johann Sebastian Bach, due to his rediscovered popularity, is "in." Bernstein justifies this statement by performing featured selections from Wendy Carlos' Switched-On Bach, Lukas Foss' Baroque Variations, and the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble's "Brandenburg." In Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution, Bernstein praises rock music's experimentation with baroque elements, playing examples from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Left Banke, and Janis Ian. In both CBS programs, Bernstein highlights baroque rock's stylistic allusions to Bach in order to prove Bach's hipness, make rock palatable to a mainstream adult audience, and grant cultural accreditation to rock. Philosopher Bernard Gendron defines cultural accreditation as "the acquisition of aesthetic distinction as conferred or recognized by leading cultural authorities" (2002). Baroque rock's cultural accreditation is noteworthy because rock's value system represents an inversion of the musical values used to elevate Western art music (Inglis 2000). Baroque rock's incorporation of Bach was perceived simultaneously as a tool to elevate rock's status and an embarrassing stain on rock's harder image. Baroque rock, designed to be esoteric in its ironic commentary about traditional modes of musical and cultural thought, drew the attention of cultural figures who assigned aesthetic value to the genre and explained it to the mainstream adult audience it initially resisted. I argue that baroque rock's transmogrification of Bach led to its cultural accreditation and thus its eventual descent into the forgotten realm of historical narratives.
In his 2014 memoir, Brothas be, Yo Like George, Ain't that Funkin' Kinda Hard on You? (New York: Atria), George Clinton, leader of a constellation of bands referred to collectively as Parliament-Funkadelic, specifically identified the contrapuntal style of J. S. Bach as an important musical influence while discussing composition of the track "Nappy Dugout" (Funkadelic, Cosmic Slop, 1973). Even though "Nappy Dugout" itself does not betray any clear debt to Bach or to the compositional procedures of his era, a survey of P-Funk's works reveals that there are indeed other tracks that do overtly reference the style of the Leipzig Thomaskantor. One such is "Atmosphere" (Let's Take it to the Stage, 1975), the music of which is entirely an homage to Bach. The infusion of Bachian and other "classical" textures into P-Funk's eclectic blend was among the essential contributions of Clinton's brilliant keyboardist, Bernard Worrell. The "Wizard of Woo," as Worrell was sometimes known, brought an extraordinarily sophisticated level of musicianship to the band, having trained as a concert pianist at the Juilliard School and then the New England Conservatory. His virtuosic instrumental commentary, encyclopedic command of musical styles, contagious bass lines, and the signature extra-terrestrial soundscape he created with his Moog synthesizer were indispensable to the group's unique sonic identity. This paper marks the first scholarly exploration of P-Funk's debt to Bach and by extension joins an ever-evolving discussion of how his music transcends generic boundaries.
Bach's use of the recently-discovered technique 'proportional parallelism', described in Bach's Numbers: Compositional Ordering and Significance (Cambridge, 2015, 2016), raises many questions about the origins, transmission, and changing significance of numerical ordering in musical composition. New research has shown that while several of Bach's Lutheran predecessors used the technique occasionally, Bach's sons and students seem to have used it more frequently, suggesting that proportional ordering was an important element in Bach's teaching. Did the technique disappear when Bach's grand- students died? Was it given a renewed boost when 19th century composers studied Bach's scores? Did composers such as Chopin and Mendelssohn notice Bach's technique of proportional ordering, and was it of sufficient importance for them to imitate and make their own? If so, what did it mean to them?
At first sight and sound the contrasts between Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier and Chopin's 24 Preludes seem greater than their similarities. Nonetheless, contemporary letters and documents show that Fryderyck Chopin knew Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier intimately, used the two collections in his teaching, and held them in the highest esteem. Furthermore, that when he came to compose his own set of 24 Preludes in the 1830s he had a copy of Bach's preludes and fugues on his desk, and by implication, used them as a compositional model. The aim of this paper is to examine what influence, if any, the structure and proportional ordering of the Well-Tempered Clavier had upon the formation and structure of Chopin's collection of 24 Preludes, Opus 28.
This paper focuses on a neglected Bach source from the early nineteenth century that I will connect to Felix Mendelssohn and his circle. The source in question is a print evidently from around 1831 containing six organ chorales composed by or attributed to Bach (BWV 654, 620a, 740, 614, 622, and 659) and transcribed for piano, four hands. According to the thematic catalogue of Bach's oeuvre prepared by Franz Hauser (1794-1870), the transcriber is Johann Nepomuk Schelble, a good friend of Mendelssohn's who also served as director of the Caecilienverein in Frankfurt. Mendelssohn alludes to Schelble's print in a letter from 1832 that was published for the first time in 2009. It is addressed to Marie Catherine Kiéné of Paris. In this missive, Mendelssohn informs Madame Kiéné that he has just copied out for her two of his "favorite chorales" by Bach, arranged by someone other than himself as piano duets. To judge from how Mendelssohn described one of these works to Madame Kiéné and knowing what we do about his Bach repertory at the time, he copied out Schelble's transcriptions of "Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele," BWV 654; and "Wir glauben all an einen Gott, Vater," BWV 740. I will consider Schelble's transcription methodology as well as the various biographical issues that the letter raises, and I will incorporate a recording of Schelble's transcription of "Schmücke dich." I hope to shed light not only on Bach reception in the nineteenth century, with special respect to the practice of piano transcription, but also on Mendelssohn's life during his grand tour of Europe.