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A Print of Clavierübung I from J.S. Bach’s Personal Library Andrew Talle O ver the course of his long career in Leipzig, Johann Sebastian Bach saw seven editions of his works into print (Table 1). Each of these publications generated several hundred exemplars,1 most of which were sold to colleagues, friends, students, and the general public (often at the three annual Leipzig trade fairs) or given away as special gifts. Each time Bach issued a publication, however, he seems to have kept a certain number of prints for himself, at least one of which served as his personal copy, or Handexemplar, of the work. Into these prints he often entered, by hand, corrections and small changes to the musical text. In many cases scholars have been able to identify these personal copies from among the surviving original prints preserved in libraries and private collections today. In 1951 Walter Emery identified Bach’s personal copy of Clavierübung II,2 and in the late 1970s Christoph Wolff was able to identify the Handexemplare of Clavierübung III and the Schübler Chorales.3 Most spectacularly, Wolff identified Bach’s personal copy of Clavierübung IV (Goldberg Variations), which included fourteen canons on the opening bass notes of the work’s aria.4 Only two of the canons had been known previously. By contrast, the identity of the Handexemplar of Bach’s first keyboard publication, Clavierübung I, has never been entirely secure. The existence of a personal copy of this print was documented as early as 1774, when Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach mentioned it to the historian (and later author of the first Bach biography) Johann Nicolaus Forkel in a letter from August 9 of that year: From my deceased father’s published music there are no more prints available; also the plates are no longer extant. What I have of these, namely the first and third parts [of the Clavierübung series], I can offer you bound so that you might copy them, or I can even sell them to you. These two prints together formerly cost six Reichstaler; if you don’t wish to make copies I can sell them to you, cleanly bound and very well preserved, for eight Reichstaler. I have the deceased man’s manuscript, which serves my purposes, and you would have the print, which he himself formerly possessed. You need not feel at all awkward about this.5 157 talle 158 The sale to Forkel of both exemplars, along with Bach’s personal copy of the Schübler Chorales, was finalized two weeks later, as revealed in Emanuel’s letter to Forkel of August 26: Herewith you receive the two books; thank you very much for the correct payment. Bound in at the back of the first book [Clavierübung III] you will also find the 6 printed chorales. The manuscript markings in this print are from the hand of the late composer himself.6 When Forkel died in 1818, Bach’s personal copy of Clavierübung I was still in his possession. His estate catalogue of 1819 contains an entry that reads: “Clavierübung best. in Präludien, Allemanden etc. [1]731. in 4. O[pus]. I.” Later in the catalogue the print is described as “des Verfassers eigenes Exemplar” (the composer’s own exemplar).7 In the 1978 critical report accompanying his edition of Clavierübung I for the Neue Bach Ausgabe, Richard Douglas Jones was able to locate twenty-four surviving exemplars of the original print. He noted that among the copies there are five that contain a substantial number of handwritten corrections and revisions dating from the eighteenth century.8 These exemplars are listed here in Table 2, together with their numbering from Jones’s critical report, their present locations, and their call numbers. Jones observed that the corrections in these exemplars overlap in complex ways. Copies G23 and G25 contain the same detailed emendations, some of which concern minute refinements—for example, the same mordent changed into a turn,9 an upward stem added to the same quarter note that already had a downward stem,10 and grace notes added in the same places.11 Similarly, the writer or writers who corrected G23 and G24 decided to correct the same mordent to a turn12 and erase another mordent Table 1. Original Prints Issued During J.S. Bach’s Leipzig Years Date Publication Contents BWV 1726–1731 Clavierübung I Six Partitas for keyboard 825–830...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780252090691
Related ISBN
9780252033445
MARC Record
OCLC
785781251
Pages
232
Launched on MUSE
2012-12-20
Language
English
Open Access
No
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