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C.P.E. Bach's Instrumental "Recompositions": Revisions or Alternatives?

Miller, Leta

In 1760, Georg Ludwig Winter published C.P.E. Bach's Seeks Sonaten furs Clavier mit veranderten Reprisen, designed, as the composer notes in his preface, "to provide performers with a simple means of gaining the satisfaction of adding some alterations (Veranderungen) to the pieces they perform, without needing to invent such alterations themselves or rely on others to write something that they will learn only after a great deal of effort..." Bach provided extensively varied reprises for ten movements in the collection: the outer two fast movements of the first four sonatas, the opening movement of the fifth sonata, and each section of the single-movement, multisectional sixth sonata. His alterations read less like ornamental surface decoration than like variations over a given harmonic/melodic structure. The extent of Bach's revisions/alterations/variations should make us take a new look at the role of the performer as collaborator in the compositional process.



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Columbia University
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October 16, 2015