Bach Gesellschaft

Bach Gesellschaft


Bach-Gesellschaft_page|thumb|200px|A_page_from_the_Bach-Gesellschaft_edition_of_J.S._BachSt. Matthew Passion," BWV 244, as published in 1856.

The Bach-Gesellschaft was a society formed in 1850 for the express purpose of publishing the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach without editorial additions.

Origins of the Bach-Gesellschaft

The founders of the society were Moritz Hauptmann, cantor of St. Thomas' in Leipzig (and thus a successor of Bach); Otto Jahn, author of a noted biography of Mozart; Carl Ferdinand Becker, teacher at the Leipzig Conservatory; and the composer Robert Schumann.cite book | author = Hans T. David & Arthur Mendel, eds. | title = The New Bach Reader: A Life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents | edition = (Revised and expanded by Christoph Wolff) | location = NY | publisher = Norton | date = 1998 | id = ISBN 0-393-31956-3 | pages = pp. 503–4 ]

Publication history

The Bach-Gesellschaft began publishing Bach's works in 1851 with a volume that started with BWV 1, the cantata "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern."cite book | author = Christoph Wolff | coauthors = "et al." | title = The New Grove Bach Family | location = NY | publisher = Norton | date = 1983 | id = ISBN 0-393-30088-9 | pages = p. 178 (Worklist for J.S. Bach).] It completed publication in 1900 with its forty-sixth volume.cite book | author = Hans T. David & Arthur Mendel, eds. | title = The New Bach Reader: A Life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents | edition = (Revised and expanded by Christoph Wolff) | location = NY | publisher = Norton | date = 1998 | id = ISBN 0-393-31956-3 | pages = p. 504 ] However, the edition of "The Art of Fugue" by Wolfgang Graeser, published in 1926, is sometimes counted as "Volume 47"cite book | author = Johann Sebastian Bach | title = The Art of the Fugue and A Musical Offering | location = NY | publisher = Dover | date = 1992 | id = ISBN 0-486-27006-8 | pages = title page verso and "Publisher's Note" on unnumbered page ] and was issued as a supplement to the Bach-Gesellschaft publication by Breitkopf & Härtel, publishers of the original series.citenews | first=Stephen | last=Tunnicliffe | title= Wolfgang Graeser (1906-28): A forgotten genius |date=Spring 2000 | publisher= | url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3870/is_200004/ai_n8899522/pg_1 | work=The Musical Times | accessdate = 2007-04-27] Additionally, Vol. 45, part 1 includes a revised edition ("Neue berichtige Ausgabe")cite book | author = Ernst Naumann, ed. | title = Joh. Seb. Bach's Clavierwerke | edition = Zweiter Band. Neue berichtige Ausgabe. | location = Leipzig | publisher = Herausgegeben von der Bach-Gesellschaft | date = 1895 | id = | pages = title page ] of the English Suites and French Suites that had previously been published in Vol. 13.

Quality of the edition

The volumes varied somewhat in editorial quality and accuracy; Bach scholar Hans T. David particularly criticized Vol. 31's presentation of "The Musical Offering" for numerous incorrect readings,cite book | author = Hans T. David | title = J.S. Bach's Musical Offering. History, Interpretation, and Analysis | location = NY | publisher = Dover Publications | date = 1972 | edition = (reprint of orig. ed. by G. Schirmer) | origdate = 1945 | id = ISBN 0-486-22768-5 | pages = p. 102 ] and the 1911 "Encyclopedia Britannica" calls the edition as a whole "of very unequal merit." "Britannica" both lauds the editing of Wilhelm Rust for the edition and notes a deterioration of standards after his death, including a volume in which "the bass and violin are a bar apart for a whole line" (apparently a reference to sloppy editing).cite encyclopedia | url = http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Johann_Sebastian_Bach | title = Johann Sebastian Bach | encyclopedia = 1911 "Encyclopedia Britannica" ] In his edition of the "Goldberg Variations," Ralph Kirkpatrick also calls attention to several "mistakes of the Bachgesellschaft edition" that he has corrected, particularly with regard to the presentation of ornaments.cite book | author = Ralph Kirkpatrick, ed. | title = J.S. Bach, The "Goldberg" Variations, Piano or Harpsichord | location = NY | publisher = G. Schirmer Inc. | date = 1938 | edition = | origdate = | id = ISBN 0-7935-2245-5 | pages = p. 82 ] (It is worth noting that the Bach-Gesellschaft volume containing the "Goldbergs" was one of the first to be published--Vol. 3, which appeared in 1853.)

However, the Bach-Gesellschaft's volumes were a groundbreaking achievement and contributed greatly to the study of, and appreciation of, Bach's music. They remained the standard edition of Bach's complete works until the publication of the Neue Bach-Ausgabe, begun in 1954 and published by Bärenreiter.cite book | author = Christoph Wolff | coauthors = "et al." | date = 1983 | title = The New Grove Bach Family | pages = p. 172 (section of J.S. Bach article re: "Bach Revival").]

References

External links

* [http://einam.com/bach/ Bach Gesellschaft Download Page] - the BGA volumes available for download in DJVU format.
* [http://bach-gesellschaft.cygoth.com/ California Bach Gesellschaft Ausgabe Leipzig] - the BGA volumes downloadable in PDF format.
* [http://www.npj.com/bach/BG.html Bach-Gesellschaft Edition] - A complete list of volumes with German titles and publication dates.


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