Gregory Butler. Bach's Clavier-Ubung III: The Making of a Print. With a Companion Study of the Canonic Variations on "Vom Himmel Hoch," BWV 769.

Stauffer, George B.

This article discusses Gregory Butler's Bach's Clavier-Ubung III' The Making of a Print and the authors thoughts on Bach. At the conclusion of a round table on post-World War II developments in Bach research, a long session in which the manuscript studies of Alfred Durr, Georg von Dadelsen, and Robert Marshall were discussed in some detail, Mendel quipped, with a wry smile: "And if the original manuscripts have revealed a lot about Bach's working habits, wait until we take a closer look at the original prints!" The remark drew laughter, as Mendel intended, and struck one at the time as facetious, for how could the prints of Bach's works ever show as much about chronology and the compositional process as the manuscripts? The surviving manuscript materials, written by Bach and his copyists, display a wealth of information that can be unraveled through source-critical investigation: revisions, corrections, organizational second thoughts. The prints, by contrast, appear inscrutable. Uniform and definitive in appearance, made by engravers rather than Bach or his assistants, they seem to be closed books, telling little-if any thing about the genesis of the texts they contain.



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Columbia University
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January 26, 2015