Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/129

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BACH.
117
 

the death of the Electress of Saxony; 5 Passions; the Christmas Oratorio (in 5 parts); the Grand Mass in B minor, and 4 smaller do.; Motetts; 2 Magnificats, 5 Sanctus, as also many Secular Cantatas, including two comic ones, a 'Bauern-Cantate' and a 'Coffee-Cantate.'

2. Instrumental Works. A vast number of piano pieces of all kinds—Inventions, in 2 and 3 parts; Suites (6 small, called 'French Suites,' and 6 large 'English Suites'; Preludes and Fugues, amongst them the 'Wohltemperirte Klavier' in two parts, 48 Preludes and Fugues in all keys; the 'Kunst der Fuge'; Sonatas for piano with one or more instruments, amongst them the famous 6 Sonatas for Piano and Violin; Solo-sonatas for Violin and for Violoncello; Solos, Trios, etc., for different instruments in various combinations; Concertos for 1 to 4 pianos; Do. for violin and other instruments with orchestra; Overtures and Suites for orchestra; lastly an endless quantity of organ compositions—Fantasias, Toccatas, Preludes, Fugues and arrangements of Chorales. Of this almost inexhaustible mass a few only were printed during Bach's lifetime. These were—the 'Klavier-Uebung,' or Clavier practice, a collection of pieces for piano and organ, in 4 parts (1731-42); the 'Musikalisches Opfer,' dedicated to Frederic the Great, and a few organ arrangements of chorales; and shortly after his death the 'Art of Fugue' (1752), engraved by Bach himself, and a collection of Chorales selected by Emanuel Bach from his father's Cantatas, and published in two volumes (1765-69). These were afterwards reprinted in a more complete form by Breitkopf & Härtel, and in 1843 a 4th edition in score, specially arranged, was published in Leipsic by C. F. Becker.[1] The great mass of Bach's MSS. however lay untouched and unknown for many years; the vocal works seem to have been more especially ignored. The time immediately following Bach had no sympathy with the depth and individuality of his genius. True, his pupils and sons revered him as a consummate and inimitable contrapuntist and a masterly composer, and with true instinct set themselves to collect and copy all his existing works for piano and organ which they could procure. But with their generation all real interest in this mighty genius vanished, and it is not too much to say that within forty years after Bach's death, his fame, though still unapproachable, had become a mere historic tradition. How quickly and how generally this was the case is evident from the fact that the works of his son Emanuel were esteemed at least as highly as his own,[2] and that even a man like Adam Hiller, one of the most prominent and influential musicians of Bach's school, and one of his successors as Cantor at St. Thomas', Leipsic, in his 'Lebensbeschreibung berühmter Musikgelehrten und Tonkünstler' (Leipsic, 1784) chiefly admires his counterpoint and part-writing, and finds his melodies 'peculiar' (sonderbar).

It was the revolution produced by the composers of the classical period succeeding that just mentioned which first paved the way back to the understanding of Bach; at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries the music publishers began to recollect the existence of these forgotten works. The 'Wohltemperirte Klavier' was published by Kollmann in London in 1799, and was soon followed by the firms of Nägeli at Zürich, Simrock at Bonn, Kühnel (now Peters) and Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipsic, with a number of piano and organ works. The six[3] unaccompanied motets, for 5 and 8 voices, edited by Schicht, were published by Breitkopf & Härtel as early as 1802. In 1809 the performances of Bach's Fugues and Trios by Samuel Wesley and Benjamin Jacob on the organ of Surrey Chapel, London, (one of the very few pedal organs at that time in England,) caused an extraordinary sensation, which was followed up by the publication of the 48 Preludes and Fugues (Birchall, 1809) and the 6 organ trios, all by Wesley and Horn. But it was Mendelssohn who gave the permanent impetus to the growing worship of Bach in Europe by the performance[4] of the Matthew Passion in Berlin, March 12, 1829, exactly one hundred years after its production. A powerful excitement seized the musical world; people began to feel that an infinite depth and fulness of originality united with a consummate power of formal construction was lying hidden in these neglected works. Performances of the Passion and of other vocal music of Bach took place in Berlin and elsewhere—e.g. in Breslau by the 'Sing-akademie,' under Mosevius—the editions increased in number and began to include the vocal works. The most important of these is that of Peters (dating from 1837), 'Gesammt Ausgabe der instrumentalen Werke Bach's,' edited by Czerny, Griepenkerl and Roitsch, with whom Hauptmann, David, Dehn, etc., were afterwards associated. This edition is still in progress, and includes 13 volumes of pianoforte works, 13 for pianoforte with accompaniment, 18 for other instruments, 9 for organ; and an excellent thematic catalogue by A. Dörffel (1866), specially referring to this edition. The same firm has begun an edition of the vocal works, and besides full and compressed scores of the Matthew and John Passions, the Christmas oratorio, the B minor Mass, and 4 smaller ditto, the 6 Motets, the Magnificat and 4 Sanctus, has published 10 Cantatas with piano accompaniment—all at the well-known low prices of this firm. Mention should be made of 4 Kirchengesänge, published in score with pianoforte arrangement by J. P. Schmidt (Trautwein; of 'Ein' feste Burg,' and the 117th Psalm, and 'Lob, Ehre, Weisheit' (8 voc.), issued by Breitkopfs, and of two comic Cantatas, edited by Dehn and published by Crantz—all harbingers of the edition of the Bach-Gesellschaft.

Mendelssohn was not content with the revival

  1. This edition contains the Chorale which closes the original edition of the 'Art of Fugue.'
  2. See, for example, Burney's 'Present State,' etc. ii 245.
  3. The 3rd of these, 'Ich lasse dich nicht,' is now known to be by J. Christoph Bach.
  4. See Devrient's 'Recollections,' p. 38, etc., etc.