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Bach Perspectives VOLUME SEVEN J. S. Bach's Concerted Ensemble Music, The Concerto
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS PRESS Copyright © 2008 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
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Chapter One Bach the Cobbler
The Origins of J. S. Bach's E-Major Concerto (BWV 1053)
In an earlier study on Bach's reception of the mature concertos of Tomaso Albinoni, I established that the ritornello as well as certain compositional procedures in the third movement of J. S. Bach's Concerto for Cembalo Concertato and Strings in E Major (BWV 1053) were modeled on the third movement of Albinoni's Concerto for Two Oboes, op. 9 no. 4 (1722), music that Bach is unlikely to have encountered before he moved to Leipzig in May 1723. My findings appeared to confirm the position of scholars espousing the theory that a rather substantial portion of Bach's concerted chamber music had its origins during the Leipzig years, particularly after 1729, when he took over the direction of the Collegium Musicum. Some scholars advocating pre-Leipzig origins for this music have glossed over my findings. Partly because of the demonstrably late date of composition of the Urform of this movement during the period 1722-26, but also as a result of my analytical studies, I began to question the assumption that all three movements originated concurrently as the three movements of an earlier chamber concerto for solo melody instrument. In the following study, I will call on source studies as well as analytical evidence to shed light on the origins of the movements of this concerto.
Single movements or, in some cases, pairs of movements from the seven concertos and torso of an eighth preserved in the autograph score, p 234, exist in earlier versions scored for obbligato organ as sinfonias, arias, or choruses in cantatas, primarily those from the third and fourth yearly cycles. BWV 1053 is a case in point; its three movements are also transmitted as cantata movements with organ obbligato-the first and second movements as the "Sinfonia" and aria "Stirb in mir, Welt" of the cantata Gott soll allein mein Herze haben (BWV 169), performed on the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity in 1726 (October 20), and the third movement as the "Sinfonia" that opens the cantata Ich geh und suche mit Verlangen (BWV 49), performed two weeks later on the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity (November 3). BWV 169/1 is in D major and BWV 169/5 is in B minor, whereas BWV 49/1 is in E major, the same key as BWV 1053. In both sinfonias, woodwind instruments augment the ripieno strings-in BWV 169/1, two oboes d'amore and taille and in BWV 49/1, a single oboe d'amore.
Ulrich Siegele established that the cantata movements and the movements of the concerto, although they shared a common Vorlage, were independent of one another. His argument that this common Vorlage was a three-movement concerto for solo melody instrument, widely accepted by Bach scholars, is perpetuated in the two most recent discussions of the source history of this work. Siegbert Rampe and Dominik Sackmann begin by stating categorically: "The Vorlage for the E-major harpsichord concerto is one of Bach's concertos which has disappeared," and in the recently published critical notes to the Neue Bach-Ausgabe edition of the concertos for solo cembalo, the editor, Werner Breig, concludes that "BWV 1053 on the one hand and the cantata movements BWV 169/1,5 and BWV 49/1 on the other, independently of one another, go back to a solo concerto for concertising melody instrument which has disappeared."
Siegele's conclusion that this putative concerto was in the key of E[flat] major was based largely on such mechanical elements as range of the solo parts and failed to take into account important source evidence such as the transposition errors in the autograph scores of the two cantatas in question. This evidence is most unambiguous in the case of the aria "Stirb in mir, Welt," the version of the slow movement preserved in the autograph score of BWV 169, p 93. The organo obbligato part is notated in A minor, a tone lower than the other parts, and all four corrections of transposition errors in the organo obbligato bass/continuo part are of notes originally notated a step too high down by step. In the same part, for the first note in m. 4, Bach initially entered an A#. When he subsequently entered the correct pitch, G#, he neglected to transpose the sharp sign down by step. Further, at the beginning of m. 16, where there is a change of system in the autograph score, Bach originally entered a key signature of two sharps on the staff for the organo obbligato bass/continuo part and subsequently crossed it out. All indications are that at least the continuo part in the Vorlage from which this movement was transcribed was notated in B minor.
This conclusion is borne out by clear instances in both the continuo and cembalo concertato bass parts in BWV 1053/2, the version of this movement in C# preserved in p 234, of the correction of notes originally entered a step too low up by step. This evidence is at its most graphic in the correction of the cembalo concertato bass part in the second half of m. 16. (See Examples 1a and 1b.) In the ante correcturam reading given in Example 1a, in the second half of m. 18 in the cembalo concertato bass part, Bach originally continued with the unvarying rhythmic pattern of eighth rest and two eighth notes established at the beginning of the movement, here clearly notated a step too low in B minor. He subsequently corrected his transposition error and in the process revised the passage, giving the post correcturam reading in Example 1b. This bears out the evidence presented with regard to the organo bass/continuo part in BWV 169/2, namely, that the common Vorlage from which Bach was transcribing both it and this version of the movement must have been pitched in B minor, and not C minor as Siegele argues.
The corrections of transposition errors or the lack of same in the ripieno parts and keyboard treble parts of BWV 169/5 and BWV 1053/2, although not quite so overwhelming, nevertheless point to a Vorlage in B minor. In the ripieno string parts in BWV 169/5 (notated in B minor), there is a single correction of a transposition error. This is of a note originally entered a step too high down by a tone, whereas in the organo obbligato treble part, only one correction can be interpreted as a transposition error, and it is of a note originally entered a step too high down by tone. In the ripieno string parts of BWV 1053/2, most of the corrections involve tinkering with voice leading, but the two corrections of transposition errors are of notes originally entered a step too low up by step.
A correction in the autograph score of BWV 169/5 supports the general assumption that the original solo instrument in the common Vorlage from which this movement and BWV 1053/2 were transcribed was a melody instrument notated in the treble clef. Bach, in setting down the clefs at the beginning of the first system in the autograph score, originally entered a treble clef at the beginning of the viola staff instead of the alto clef. This implies that in the source from which he was transcribing the top three clefs (in systems of five staves) were all treble clefs, the first for the solo instrument and the next two for the ripieno first and second violin parts. Thus the viola part occupied the fourth staff down in the Vorlage instead of the third, as it does in BWV 169/5.
Both the key of B minor and the range of two octaves from B to b' in the solo melody part of BWV 169/5 supports the oboe d'amore as the logical candidate for the solo melody part in the Urform of this movement. The range corresponds well with that of the oboe d'amore (A-b') but excludes both the oboe and transverse flute from consideration because the lowest note, B, exceeds the lowest playable note on either instrument. The restricted upper range, along with the fact that the Urform has been transposed up rather than down by a whole step in BWV 1053/2, argues against the violin as a candidate for the solo melody instrument.
If one had only the ripieno string parts in the autograph score of BWV 169/1 at one's disposal, one would be forced to conclude that Bach had transcribed the movement from a Vorlage in the key of D major, for these parts are clean in appearance-in fact, virtually free of corrections. But interestingly, when one examines the ripieno wind parts, one encounters a clear preponderance of corrections of transposition errors of notes originally notated a step too high down by step. In fact, these account for no fewer than sixteen of the twenty-one corrections of transposition errors in the ripieno parts as a whole.
The unusual concentration of corrections of transposition errors in the ripieno wind parts can be explained by Bach's having transcribed the oboe 1, oboe 2, and taille parts as the top three staves of the autograph score of BWV 169/1 directly from the ripieno string parts in the Vorlage as the first stage in the process of adaptation. The errors in the ripieno wind parts made in the course of transcription were then corrected and the post correcturam readings were duplicated with minor adjustments in the three staves below as the violin 1, violin 2, and viola parts as a second, separate stage in the transcription process. Bach's adoption of this expedient for transcription from the Vorlage would explain the relative paucity of such corrections in the ripieno string parts.
In a very few cases, Bach neglected to correct a transposition error in one of the ripieno wind parts and the transposition error was duly duplicated in the corresponding ripieno string part. For example, two notes originally entered a step too high in oboe 1 at mm. 30,7-31,1 went uncorrected during the first phase of the transcription process. Subsequently, when Bach came to enter the reading in violin 1 during the second phase, he entered the first note incorrectly but noticed the error immediately and corrected it before entering the correct reading for the second note. He must then have corrected the ante correcturam reading in oboe 1. From the foregoing, it is clear that the ripieno string parts in the Vorlage from which Bach was transcribing the ripieno wind parts in the autograph score of BWV 169/1 must have been pitched in E/E[flat] major.
The organo obbligato treble and organo obbligato bass/continuo parts of BWV 169/1 were entered into the autograph score after the ripieno wind and string parts as a unit. This is clear from Bach's having ruled the vast majority of the bar lines only through the upper six staves (those for the ripieno wind and string parts) and then continued them downward only later as he entered the organo obbligato treble and organo obbligato bass/continuo parts. In many cases, as, for example, in the bar lines at mm. 87-88 and 88-89, those for the lowest two staves bulge out noticeably to accommodate the thirty-second notes in these measures.
If in the Vorlage the solo melody and continuo parts were pitched in E/E[flat] major, as my findings regarding the ripieno strings suggests, then the subsequent transposition of the movement into the key of D major in transcribing it as BWV 169/1 would in turn have necessitated the transposition of both the organo obbligato treble and bass/continuo parts down a major third into C major (D major Chorton). Consequently, one would expect to find in them corrections of transposition errors of notes originally notated a third too high down a third. In fact, there are two such corrections in the organo obbligato treble part.
It is clear from the foregoing that in the common Vorlage from which Bach transcribed BWV 169/1, the ripieno instruments were originally pitched in E/E[flat] major. Although there are three corrections of transposition errors in the ripieno string parts, all of notes originally entered a step too low up by step, not a single correction can be interpreted as the result of a transposition error in either the cembalo concertato treble and bass or continuo parts in the version of the movement preserved in the autograph score of BWV 1053/1 in p 234. All indications are that the original solo melody instrument and basso continuo, like the ripieno strings, were originally notated at the same pitch, E/E[flat] major. In the first of the two corrections of notes originally entered a third too high down by a third in the organo obbligato treble part in the autograph score of BWV 169/1, the F# beside the second of the two notes originally entered a third too high was an A#, and in the second, the E# originally entered was subsequently corrected to C#. The transposition downward, then, was by major third rather than minor third, so that the solo melody part in the Vorlage must have been notated in E major and not E[flat] major.
As in the case of BWV 169/5, a correction of clef in the autograph score of BWV 169/1 offers indirect evidence that the Urform of BWV 169/1 was also scored for solo melody instrument, strings, and continuo. The bass clef mistakenly entered at the beginning of the system for the organo obbligato treble part at m. 103 suggests strongly that in the Vorlage from which Bach was transcribing this movement, the staff directly beneath the viola staff was allocated to the continuo part. This in turn suggests that the solo part in the Urform of this movement must have been for a melody instrument occupying the uppermost staff in systems of five staves.
The autograph score of the "Sinfonia" BWV 49/1 in the autograph score, p 111, presents a rather different picture. The correction of transposition errors in both the organo treble and organo bass/continuo parts in this source are unambiguous: eighteen of the twenty are of notes originally entered a step too high down by step. The Vorlage from which this part was transcribed was clearly notated in E/E[flat] major.
The decipherable corrections of transposition errors in the ripieno parts, virtually without exception, are of pitches originally entered a step too low up a tone. Of particular interest here are the corrections of transposition errors in the oboe d'amore part. That Bach began the process of transcription by entering the top two staves comprising the oboe d'amore and violin 1 parts as a unit before entering the lower staves is clear from his discontinuous drawing of the bar lines in three stages (oboe d'amore + violin 1; violin 2 + viola; organo obbligato treble + organo obbligato bass/continuo). This is most notable when a bar line bulges out below the first two staves as at mm. 225-26, for example. All indications are that Bach followed the same process as he had in the case of BWV 169/1-that is, as the first stage of adaptation he transcribed the oboe d'amore part from the first violin part in the Vorlage and then duplicated it in the staff below as the violin 1 part in the transcribed version. This would explain why there are virtually no corrections of transposition errors in the violin 1 part, whereas there are several in the other two ripieno string parts.
Although the evidence of the correction of transposition errors in the ripieno parts might seem to point toward a Vorlage in D major, the number of corrections is relatively small when compared with that in the autograph score of BWV 169/1, and their interpretation as stemming from transposition errors in transcribing from a D-major Vorlage in every case is open to question, so that the situation here is far from unambiguous.
One possible interpretation of what seems to be conflicting evidence is that this movement was not transcribed from a single Vorlage but rather from two-one pitched in D major from which the ripieno parts were entered and another in E/E[flat] major from which the organo obbligato treble and bass/continuo parts were carried over. If the organo obbligato bass/continuo part in BWV 49/1 represents the continuo part of the Vorlage, then the only good explanation for its not having been transcribed from a D-major Vorlage along with the ripieno strings is that a keyboard part notated in Cammerton as a unit was transcribed from the E/E[flat]-major Vorlage. Although such a conclusion would seem to be counterintuitive, flying in the face of everything we know about Bach's transcription practices, the hypothesis, presented by Christoph Wolff elsewhere in this volume, of a Dresden performance of this movement for solo organ at Cammerton pitch would lend support to this scenario.
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