Bach's Signature

The Well-Tempered Clavier. Part I, BWV 846-869
Facsimile of the Autograph Manuscript in the Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz Berlin
Commentary by Christoph Wolff and Martina Rebmann

Documenta Musicologica, II/50. Kassel, 2015. 20 x 32 cm, xxx, 90 pp. Deluxe 4-color facsimile of the autograph score based on newly commissioned photographs. The preludes and fugues of The Well-Tempered Clavier embrace an entire cosmos of compositional devices and musical characters – the ne plus ultra of ‘unity through diversity’. Here Bach not only presented the sum total of keyboard artistry in his day but foresaw its future evolution.  His treatment of the keys marked a turning point in music history. The autograph score, originally a fair copy, contains later revisions and alterations reflecting the composer at work.  Bach authority Christoph Wolff provides a commentary to the work’s genesis and the characteristics of Bach’s handwriting. Martina Rebmann (Staatsbibliothek Berlin) describes the subsequent history of the autograph. Afterword in Eng-Ger. Limited bibliophile edition, binding with leather spine, boards in decorative paper and pasted title etikette.  Out of print.

A note on the MS and its facsimiles:  Previous facsimile editions (1962-1989) exhibit on some pages a "screen" effect, the result of a silk chiffon overlay that curators applied to Bach's MS to prevent crumbling of the paper. Curators discovered that the chiffon was actually damaging the paper more, so in the early 80s the original MS was withdrawn from public view.  To finally solve the problem of deterioration—much of it due to the corrosive quality of the ink—curators turned to a method called "paper splitting", where front and reverse side of each leaf is split, and an alkali-buffered paper laid in between; during the process imperfections in the leaves are repaired with the finest cellulose fibers.  The leaf is also treated with a chemical to stop the process of corrosion; in the end the damaging silk chiffon could be completely removed.  This new facsimile edition presents the MS—for the first time—in its post-restoration state, without silk chiffon, significantly improving the vividness of Bach's handwriting, a true joy for Bach lovers.  
(view other volumes from this series)


Bach, Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, cover

Bach, Well Temperered Clavier, Prelude 15

distributed by:

OMI - Old Manuscripts & Incunabula PO Box 6019 FDR Station, New York NY 10150
tel/fax 212/ 758-1946 • •