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Title: Johann Sebastian Bach: The Organist and His Works for the Organ

Author: André Pirro

Author of introduction, etc.: Charles-Marie Widor

Translator: Wallace Goodrich

Release date: March 18, 2019 [eBook #59085]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by David Newman, Chuck Greif, Linda Cantoni, and
the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at


Transcriber's Notes: Obvious printer errors have been corrected without note. Click on the [Listen] link to hear the music in MP3 format, or on the [MusicXML] link to download the notation. These links may not work if you are reading this e-book in a format other than HTML. The Errata have been incorporated into the music files. Any additional corrections to the music are noted in the MusicXML files.



Johann Sebastian Bach







Authorized Translation

Copyright, 1902, by




Table of Contents

The Precursors of Bach.—Frescobaldi—Froberger—Pachelbel—Buxtehude1
The Preludes and Fugues of J.S. Bach.—Toccatas—Fantasies—Passacaglia—Sonatas25
The Chorale.—Preludes—Trios—Fantasies—Fugues58
The Registration and the Ornaments of the Organ Works of J.S. Bach69
Appendix. A Succinct Biography of J.S. Bach93
The Catalogue of His Complete Works101
Index of References To Works of J.S. Bach114



"If Beethoven appears to our generation as a Greek statue, Bach, on the contrary, impresses us as one of those Sphinxes of Egypt whose towering head commands the wide expanse of the desert."

The comparison is imaginative, but seems to me only partially just.

Sphinx in vastness of proportions, I admit; but the image is destroyed when character is taken into consideration. Bach is indisputably the mightiest of musicians; one is seized with awe in perusing the extraordinary catalogue of his works, so seemingly impossible are its dimensions; in casually looking over those forty and more folio volumes; in pausing for an instant to examine more closely any one of the pages, where the smallest detail seems to have been long considered and predetermined, while over all soars the essential thought, always profound and original. But was there ever a thinker less enigmatical?

Surely this majestic figure dominates his surroundings; but that frank look, those luminous, kindly eyes, are hardly those of a Sphinx. It is rather the heroic statue of Common Sense.

An eminent virtuoso recently declared to me that he should be more or less uncomfortable in dining alone with Beethoven; "but with 'Father Bach,' how different! With him I see myself perfectly at home, pipe in mouth, elbows upon the table; chatting informally about a thousand and one interesting things, over a big stein of beer, as in the good old days." How true!

Bach was a good citizen, an admirable father, as M. Prudhomme would say, a devoted friend; socially affable, and possessed of a rare artistic modesty. Were he asked how he had attained such heights,-vi- he would answer: "I was obliged to work; whoever will strive as I did, will succeed as well." He availed himself of every opportunity to become familiar with the works of other composers; Händel he esteemed highly, Couperin interested him; when accorded three weeks' leave that he might hear Buxtehude, Bach so far forgot himself as to allow three months to go by while listening, from a secluded corner of the church, to the justly celebrated organist of St. Mary's in Lübeck.

Bach was a great and good man; never did a more marvellous mechanism perform the functions of a human brain; never has been known a mind that was sounder, better balanced, contained in a more robust body; never were a musician's nerves better controlled.

It required the atrocious harmonizations of Görner to cause Bach one day to turn upon him and hurl his wig at the face of the poor accompanist: "Sie sind ein Schuster" (You are a bungler)!

These fits of anger were, however, rare, despite the astonishing vitality of his constitution; for Bach was naturally patient and kind-hearted.

Note him with his pupils; during the first year nothing but exercises—trills, scales, passages in thirds and sixths, practice in changing fingers—work of every description to insure the equability of the hand. He supervised everything, devoting the minutest attention to the clearness and precision of the touch. If one pupil or the other became discouraged, he good-naturedly wrote little pieces containing in a disguised form the difficulties to be surmounted.

When Bach became organist of the New Church in Arnstadt—he was very young, but eighteen years of age—he had studied the compositions and methods of the following celebrated clavecinists of his time:

Froberger (1615[?]-1667), a protégé of Emperor Ferdinand III., by whom he had been sent, in early life, to study with Frescobaldi in Rome.

Fischer, Capellmeister to the Margrave of Baden.


Johannes Caspar Kerl, a rival of Froberger, also under the protection of Ferdinand III., and entrusted to the care of Carissimi in Rome.

Pachelbel (1653-1706), formerly assistant organist of St. Stephen's in Vienna, then successively organist at Eisenach, Erfurt, Stuttgart, and Nuremberg.

Buxtehude (1637-1707), the celebrated organist at Lübeck.

Bruhns, his pupil.

Böhm, organist of St. John's Church in Lüneburg.

It was through Froberger and Kerl that Bach became acquainted with Frescobaldi's works, and the Italian school; the sonata form was revealed to him by the French "suites" played by the orchestra of the ducal court at Celle, an organization which greatly interested him; but the greatest influence upon his youth was exercised by Buxtehude. It was from him that Bach learned in their integrity the old German traditions.

When, at Hamburg, the aged Reinken heard Bach improvise for more than a half-hour upon the chorale An Wasserflüssen Babylons, he cried out, embracing him, "I thought that this art were dead; but I see that in you it still lives."[1]

These traditions he handed down later to his two oldest sons, Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel—two musicians whose merit is universally recognized,—and to a whole galaxy of brilliant pupils:

Johannes Caspar Vogler, a musician whom Mattheson considered more able than Bach himself. Vogler was organist at Weimar. Some preludes of his are published and written in the form of chorales for two manuals and pedal.

Homilius, of Dresden, a composer of church music.

Transchel, of Dresden, a distinguished clavecinist.

Goldberg, of Königsberg, composer of pieces called "Bagatelles pour dames," which no one could play, such was their difficulty. (He-viii- frequently found amusement in playing music of every variety from the inverted score.)

Krebs, organist at Altenburg; not only a performer of the first rank, but a prolific composer. For nine years he enjoyed the invaluable supervision of Bach.

Altnikol, organist at Naumburg; Bach's son-in-law.

Agricola, composer to the King of Prussia, known through his theoretical works.

Müthel, of Riga.

Kirnberger, court musician at Berlin. "He loved his art with a fervor at once enthusiastic and sincere," says Forkel. "Not only has he informed us in detail as to Bach's methods of teaching composition, but the musical world is still his debtor for the first logical system of harmony, founded upon the works of his master. The first of these sources of information is his book, Die Kunst des reinen Satzes; the second, Grundsätze zum Gebrauch der Harmonie. He furthered the interests of musical art by other treatises as well as by his compositions. Particularly charming are his works for the clavecin. Princess Amelia of Prussia was one of his pupils."

Kittel, organist at Erfurt. He was the only one of Bach's pupils still living at the time Forkel, himself an organist and the director of music at the University of Göttingen, wrote his Ueber J.S. Bach's Leben, Kunst und Kunstwerke (Leipzig, 1802). [The Life, Art, and Works of J.S. Bach.]

Forkel was intimately associated with Wilhelm Friedemann and Philipp Emanuel Bach, and with Agricola, Kirnberger, and several others of Sebastian Bach's illustrious pupils. He collaborated with Schicht, a man of education and a distinguished harmonist, who later became Cantor of St. Thomas's Church. With him Forkel undertook the publication of works by Bach for organ and for clavecin, an enterprise to which frequent allusion is made in his book. Forkel had accumulated a fine musical library; with the aid of this and of that of the University of Göttingen he was enabled to procure a considerable amount of material for his Geschichte der Musik [History-ix- of Music], which was to comprise six volumes; of which, however, only the first two appeared.

Forkel reserved for the last volume of this compilation the memoranda concerning Bach and his works; but "foreseeing the impossibility of completing during his life this veritable encyclopædia of music, he appears, at least in his book upon the life and works of Bach, to have been desirous of losing no time in rendering to that great man a sincere and merited tribute of homage and gratitude...."

Kittel (1732-1802) was Rinck's teacher; the latter relates that his master invariably ended his conversations upon Bach with the words Ein sehr frommer Mann, "a very good man."

Dr. Fétis, of Brussels, while teaching me the principles of counterpoint and fugue, often spoke of Rinck, whom he had visited; of Kittel, his musical father, and of their great common ancestor, Sebastian Bach. Rinck, when asked the cause of his neglect of the fugue form, would reply: "Bach is a Colossus, dominating the musical world; one can hope to follow him in his domain only at a distance, for he has exhausted all resources, and is inimitable in what he has done. I have always considered that if one is to succeed in composing something worthy of being heard and approved, one's attention must be turned in another direction."

Poor Rinck!

We are to study in this work only the organist Bach. Since M. André Pirro has so conscientiously analyzed the specific work of the master, I have to concern myself only with his technique as a virtuoso.

Bach played the clavecin in the following manner: "The five fingers so curved that their tips fell perpendicularly upon the keys, over which they formed a parallel line, ever ready to obey. The finger was not raised vertically upon leaving the key, but was drawn back, almost gliding toward the palm of the hand; in the passage from one key to another this sliding motion seemed to impart to the succeeding finger exactly the same degree of pressure, thereby ensur-x-ing perfect equality; a touch neither 'heavy,' nor yet dry (sec)." This we learn from Philipp Emanuel.

Bach's hand was comparatively small; the movement of his fingers was hardly perceptible, extending only to the first joints. His hand preserved its rounded shape even in the most difficult passages, Forkel tells us; the fingers were raised very little above the keyboard, hardly more than in a trill; as soon as a finger was no longer needed, he took pains to replace it in its normal position.... "The other parts of his body took no part in the performance, contrary to the habit of many people whose hands are incapable of sufficient agility."

To-day we no longer play the harpsichord; and the pianoforte, which has happily replaced it, makes demands never dreamed of in those days.

As to the character of organ touch, no change has taken place in two centuries. Possibly at the time of Bach the keys of the pedals were slightly different from those of our day; undoubtedly in his youth he made much less use of the heel than of the toe, since the pedal-keys were extremely short. But he soon recognized the necessity of perfecting the bass keyboard of the organ both by extending its compass and by lengthening the pedal-keys to their present dimensions.

He played with the body inclined slightly forward, and motionless; with an admirable sense of rhythm, with an absolutely perfect polyphonic ensemble, with extraordinary clearness, avoiding extremely rapid tempi; in short, master of himself, and, so to speak, of the beat, producing an effect of incomparable grandeur.

His contemporaries speak enthusiastically of his exquisite taste in the combination of registers, and of his manner of treating them, at once so unexpected and original.

Nothing could escape him which was related to his art, adds Forkel. He observed with the most minute attention the acoustic properties of the room where he was to play. On his visit to Berlin in 1747, he was conducted to the auditorium of the new opera house. He recognized at a glance the advantages and defects of this monu-xi-mental edifice, in its relation to music. He was shown the grand foyer adjacent. Standing in the mezzanine gallery, he glanced up toward the ceiling and remarked immediately, without giving himself the trouble of further examination, that in it the architect had constructed "a work of great merit," perhaps unawares.

The foyer was in the form of a parallelogram; if a person standing in a corner of it, face toward the wall, spoke a few words, another person standing in the same position in the corner diagonally opposite could distinctly hear them, while the public, scattered here and there through the hall, would be unable to catch anything of this dialogue.

When distinguished strangers asked to hear Bach at the organ, at times other than during services, he usually selected some theme and amused himself by treating it in various ways, perhaps playing without interruption for over an hour. First he made use of the subject for a prelude and fugue, upon the foundation stops of the chief manual, thereafter deftly varying his registration through a series of episodes in two, three, or four parts. Then came a chorale, the melody of which was interrupted here and there by fragments of the original subject; and he finally concluded with a fugue for full organ,[2] in which "he contented himself with treating the subject either alone, or in combination with other themes derived from it."

And if he tried a new organ? He first drew all the registers and played upon the principal manual (with all couplers), "in order to test the lung-power of the instrument," as he laughingly expressed it. Then he proceeded to a detailed inspection of every part of the organ. This expert examination once over, he gave free rein to his fancy. And now he showed himself truly "the prince of all virtuosi of the universe, upon the harpsichord and organ," as he was one day hailed by his amazed colleague, the organist Sorge, of Lobenstein, in an outburst of enthusiasm.

No, the art of organ playing has not changed since Johann Sebastian Bach; but, on the other hand, our organs are growing distinctly better.-xii- Go and listen to those of Saint-Sulpice, of Notre-Dame, in Paris; hear the instrument of Saint-Ouen, at Rouen!

In the organs of Bach's time the reeds were scarcely used except in the capacity of basses, reinforcing the pedal; or as solo registers, for instance, hautbois and cromornes; our profusion of sonorous clarions, trumpets, and bombardes was totally unknown. Organo pleno did not signify a full battery of 4, 8, 16, and 32-foot stops, but simply the combination of some prestants and mixtures with a diapason or a bourdon.[3] As for a means of varying the intensity of the same tone, such a thing was never thought of.

As I have said elsewhere, it is hardly farther back than to the end of the last century that we trace the invention of the "swell-box," the English contrivance which the aged Händel pronounced admirable, and which Abbé Vogler recommended to the German builders some years later.

To-day, to non-professionals, our instruments appear to have become capable of nearly as much expression as the orchestra.

But this is a serious error. I repeat here: that expression which is a characteristic of the modern organ can but be subjective; it is born of mechanical means and possesses nothing of spontaneity. While the stringed and wind instruments of the orchestra, the pianoforte, and the voice, hold sway only by their instantaneity of accent, by the unexpectedness of their attack, the organ, limited to the confines of its own inherent majesty, speaks with the voice of philosophy. Of all instruments, it is the only one which can indefinitely prolong the same volume of sound, and thus create the religious impression of the infinite.

A serious organist will never avail himself of these means of expression, unless architecturally; that is to say, by straight lines and by designs. By lines, when he passes slowly from piano into forte,-xiii- by a gradient almost imperceptible, and in constant progression, without break or jolt. By designs, when he takes advantage of a second of silence to close the swell-box abruptly between a forte and a piano.

Seek to reproduce the expressive quality of an E-string, or of the human voice, and we shall no longer hear an organ; it will have become an accordeon.

The most striking characteristic of the organ is grandeur; that is to say, determination and power. Every illogical variation in the intensity of the sound, every nuance which, graphically, cannot be represented by a right line, is a crime, the offence of artistic lèse-majesté.

In fact, we should declare to be criminals, and hold up to the contempt of the public, those who make an accordeon of the organ; those who arpeggiate, who do not play legato, whose rhythm is but passable.

With the organ, as in the orchestra, precision must rule; the perfect ensemble of feet and hands is absolutely necessary, whether in attacking or leaving the keyboard. All notes placed in the same perpendicular by the composer must be made to speak and to cease speaking at the same time, obedient to the bâton of a single conductor. Here and there are still seen unfortunates who suffer their feet to trail along the pedals, and who forget them and leave them there, although the piece is long since finished. It reminds us of the old viola player at the Opéra, who regularly went to sleep during the fourth act, to be charitably wakened by his comrades at the end of the evening. It was a tradition. But one fine day the management changed hands; tradition had to change, too, and it was forbidden to waken the sleeper. They were giving "The Prophet." Neither the crash of the introduction, the collapse of the Palace blown up with dynamite, the din of the orchestra, nor the tumult of players and audience leaving the theatre, could cut short his dreams. When he finally opened his eyes in the profound darkness, he believed himself, like Orpheus, in the infernal regions, and on attempting to make his exit pitched head-foremost into the kettledrums, which collapsed. The next day his eligibility to retirement was recognized.


I should like to know what an orchestral conductor would say, after having given the last stroke of his bâton, if his third trombone player should permit himself tranquilly to continue to prolong his note? From what savage cave can such a barbarous custom have emerged? Yet some years ago it was a generally prevailing fashion, a veritable epidemic.

Culpable are the organists who do not play the four parts of the polyphony with a rigorous legato, tenor as well as soprano, the alto like the bass. Examine Bach's gigantic series of works; in them all you will find but two or three passages, but two or three measures exceeding the limitations of the hand. But admire the skill of the great man; an instant before, a second after, pauses are cleverly inserted; that is, opportunities to withdraw and then again to add the 16-foot registers of the pedal, in order that in the interim the notes which cannot be played smoothly by the hands may be performed by the pedals, coupled to the manuals. Save for these two or three exceptions, which themselves are fully justified by the progression of the parts, all of Bach's works are admirably written, from this point of view as well as from others.

Here begins a parenthesis; it concerns the Phrasing.

A pianoforte hammer may strike a string ten times per second, and our ear will still easily perceive the ten attacks, the sound immediately decreasing in intensity; with the organ, that we may clearly hear the repetitions of a note in a quick movement, or even in moderate tempo, there must intervene between the repetitions periods of silence equal to the duration of the sound; from which we may formulate this law: every repeated note loses one-half of its value.


[Listen] [MusicXML]


[Listen] [MusicXML]


The periods of silence have a time-value exactly equal to that of the sixteenth-notes.

With regard to notes of larger value, in slow movements, it is clear that the spirit rather than the letter of our law is to be regarded.

In the following example:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

it would obviously be absurd to shorten the first dotted note by one-half; this rendering seems to me the proper one:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

taking great pains to allow to rests of equal value uniform duration.

The free staccato is not admissible upon the organ. Here every detached note becomes a staccato one, as in the case of instruments played with a bow; that is to say, a series of equal tones separated from each other by rests of like duration. The staccato is executed by holding the fingers as near as possible to the keys, the wrist slightly depressed.


[Listen] [MusicXML]


[Listen] [MusicXML]

When one part succeeds another upon the same note, the note is held and not repeated.


[Listen] [MusicXML]


[Listen] [MusicXML]

A moment ago, in my category of crimes against Art, I included that of indifference to rhythm.


What is rhythm?

The constant manifestation of determination, or will, upon the periodical recurrence of the accented beats. It is only by rhythm that one wins attention. Particularly with the organ, all accents, all effects are dependent upon it. You may bear upon the keyboard with the weight of pounds, with all the strength of your shoulders—you will gain nothing by it. But delay by a tenth of a second the attack of a chord, or prolong this same chord the very least, and judge of the effect produced! Upon a manual not provided with a swell-box one may obtain a crescendo without the aid of a mechanism of any kind: by the simple augmentation of the duration allowed successive chords or detached phrases.

To play upon an organ is to deal with chronometric values.

Woe be unto you if your tempo is not absolutely regular, if your will does not manifest itself at every breathing-point of the phrase, at every "lift"; if you unconsciously permit yourself to "hurry"!

Would you like a lesson in rhythm? Listen to those immense locomotives dragging behind them tons of merchandise; admire the formidable piston stroke which marks every recurrence of the accent, slowly but relentlessly; well may you believe that you hear the march of Fate itself. It causes one to shudder.

To be master of one's self it is necessary to abstain from every superfluous movement, from any displacement of the body. A good organist sits firmly, well-balanced upon his bench, inclining slightly towards the manuals, never permitting his feet to rest upon the frame which surrounds the pedals, but letting them glide lightly along over the keys; heels and knees riveted, so to speak, together.

Nature has vouchsafed us two guides of the greatest value; with the heels pressed one against the other, the maximum separation of the other extremities of the feet gives us a fifth; with the knees held similarly together, the maximum interval obtainable should be an octave.

Precision and confidence will never be obtained except by adopting this method; holding the two limbs as if bound together, the two feet unceasingly in contact with each other.


The foot should not attack the pedal vertically, but from well to the rear towards the front, as close to the key as possible; gliding slightly, or "skating," the toe to within a half-inch of the black keys.

Considering the degree of perfection attained in our contemporary manufacture, we must be careful not to become dazzled in the midst of the wealth of resources thereby offered us, and thus led far astray from the right path. Let us not forget that upon the organ, as in the orchestra or chorus, all music is based upon the quartet. It is the true foundation of the language. With the organ, our quartet is embodied in the noble and flowing sonority of the 8-foot foundation stops. The basso continuo of certain organists, who have fallen asleep over their pedals, soon becomes an intolerable nuisance for the audience. We should go wild at a performance of a symphony in which the double-basses played uninterruptedly from the first note to the last. Plain-song itself, thus interpreted, loses its eloquence; although the apparent monotony of its design, closely confined within the limits of an octave, would, above all, seem to be better adapted than any other form of music to a continuous bass.

But not at all! This apparent monotony exists in reality only for those who see not with their eyes, neither hear with their ears.

Plain-song is of a complex species; it has two faces, like Janus.[4] To be understood, it must be listened to at once from a literary and a musical standpoint. It is this synthesis which the "decadent" poets or musicians have, in late years, striven to revive.

The superb rhythm of the pedal when the organ responds to the choir[5] should emphasize the text, sustain it in outbursts of exaltation, and not vulgarize it by a continual and unintelligent abuse.


The organ is a wind instrument; it requires opportunity to take breath. Like the literary sentence, the musical phrase has its commas, its periods, its paragraphs. As a speaker changes his intonation, so must the organ vary its "designs." Is anything more exasperating than an improvisation in four parts, wandering now here, now there—monotonous in color, devoid of determination, repose, contrast, or purpose, having neither beginning, middle, nor end? A veritable macaroni au fromage!

Cornets and mixtures, and the other registers of the organ of Bach's time—these furnish the proper tone-material for Plain-song, assimilating perfectly with the polyphony of the masters of the sixteenth century.

Distributed to a certain extent over all lands, coming originally from Athens, Jerusalem, and Rome, Plain-chant is our heritage from the Middle Ages, assiduously cultivated within that sunny domain of counterpoint, of which Palestrina was the last custodian. As it has been bequeathed to us by the old masters, so must we preserve it for our descendants. The teachings of the Paris Conservatory during the past fifty years will always be perpetuated; the treatment in florid counterpoint, be the melody in soprano or bass, or the accompaniment in strict counterpoint, note against note, as in the Church.

Some of our contemporary organ builders in France have made a serious mistake in regarding as a foregone conclusion the undesirability of perpetuating the characteristics of registration of earlier days, and in thus considering them hardly worthy of further notice. What a pity!

In July of this year at Notre-Dame, whose superb instrument has just been restored by Cavaillé-Coll, we admired the effect produced by different specimens of those mutation stops, producing in the Pedal a fundamental of 32, upon the Bombarde one of 16, and upon the Grand-Chœur one of 8-foot pitch. Indescribable is the effect of-xix- the Chorales of the great Sebastian Bach, reverberating with crystalline sonority under those wonderful arches.

The days of "deluges" upon the organ are over; of thunder and tremulants, of choruses of goats called the vox humana, and all such childish trifles. "At the opening of the organ in X, Mr. Z. contributed to the programme a tempest, which he really should have prefaced by a few flashes of genius!..."

For the great advancement achieved by French workmanship in our day, we are indebted to Cavaillé-Coll and his masterpieces, which lend themselves to the perfect expression of any idea, be it of the past or of the present.

Since Cavaillé-Coll, the study of Bach has begun. Will you believe that sixty years ago one would have searched Paris in vain to find two organists who knew the fugue in B minor? I know of none but conscientious Boëly, of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois; the published compositions bear witness to the ideal of those times, an ideal without a name.

Finally becoming disgusted with this state of affairs, a few young men, more curious than their elders, began to inquire into the contents of the dusty volumes of the great Sebastian; they seemed to them at first somewhat dry, although interesting, at least in point of execution. One might learn something in that direction! And soon they were greatly surprised to find their souls touched, while working with their fingers. And when, acquiring a taste for further search, they went through the volumes of Chorales, and finally arrived at the Cantatas...!

I shall never forget the hours devoted by the Concordia, whose conductor I was, to the study and performance, at the Conservatoire, of that splendid series of lyric works, which we crowned with the "Passion according to Saint Matthew...."

In justice to our elders it must be said that in Germany as well Bach had been long neglected. All honor to Mendelssohn, who conducted this prodigious work at the Singakademie in Berlin, March 29, 1829; it had been sleeping in the depths of a library for just one-xx- hundred years, the first performance of the work having been on Good Friday, 1729, in Leipzig.

In 1840 Mendelssohn gave an organ concert in St. Thomas's Church upon the instrument which so long before had been played by the great Bach himself; the object of the concert was the augmentation of the subscription for a monument to his memory.

The following was the programme:

April 4th of the following year, in the same church, Mendelssohn conducted the St. Matthew Passion, from the same spot where Bach himself had directed it, 112 years before.

Finally, on March 23, 1843, a great symphony concert was given:

The subscription had resulted successfully, and the monument had been erected.

Following the concert, the draperies were withdrawn which concealed the bust of the master of masters.

Ch.-M. Widor.



The author of this study does not assume to have discovered Bach, of whom the world has already heard; but of such men there is always something to be learned; many new facts of interest concerning the great Cantor of Leipzig will be brought out by others after us. What we here wish to consider is the compositions of Bach for the organ.

If, perhaps, we have confined ourselves to æsthetic considerations of a nature which may appear general, we trust that we may be pardoned; a perusal of this little book will demonstrate that it is not the fault of the man who suddenly surpassed all that had been done before him, while at the same time anticipating all that was to be written in the future.

Bach was not without predecessors; we may not ascribe to him the honor of having invented an alphabet, but it must be recognized that he was the author of a grammar. This conclusion is apparent upon a study of "Johann Sebastian Bach, the Organist"; it would undoubtedly be no less convincing upon the consideration of all his works as a whole.

Since we must confine ourselves to observation from a particular point of view, we shall indeed be happy if our labor, based entirely upon recognized authorities, shall make easier to the student the task of playing Bach "in the Bach spirit."

A. Pirro.

Wüstweiler, September 27, 1894.


Page 6, second brace, meas. 2, upper part: First half-note d″ should be c″.

Page 8, meas. 3, upper part: Add tie between third and fourth notes from end.

Page 16, second brace, meas. 2, upper part: Third 16th-note a′ should be c″♯.

Page 18, second brace, meas. 1: Add tie between last note (f) in third part and the following note.

Page 32, Example 2, last meas. et seq. should read thus:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

Page 43, Example 2, meas. 2, upper part: The sixth note (g′♯) should be an eighth-note.

Page 44, Example 1, meas. 2, second part: Last note should be g♮.

Page 47, Example 1, meas. 2, upper part: First note, e″, should be f″.

Page 47, Example 1, meas. 2: Add tie between last note in third part and the following note.

Page 91, Example 2, second part: Third note from end should be f′♯.


Johann Sebastian Bach,
The Organist



Frescobaldi was born at Ferrara in 1583, and the same year at his baptism in the Cathedral received the Christian names Girolamo and Alessandro.

His first teacher was his father, who was organist at one of the churches in Ferrara. According to his own testimony he afterward studied under the direction of Luzzasco Luzzaschi,[6] to whom Claudio Merulo, himself an excellent organist and thus a competent judge, accorded the title of the "first organist in Italy"; Vincenzo Galilei ranked Luzzaschi among the four greatest musicians of his day. To the instruction given by this master, well known for the clear and thoughtful conception of his works, were added the counsels of Francesco Milleville,[7] likewise an organist at Ferrara. Milleville was of French descent, brought up upon the old traditions of the Flemish contrapuntists, and the part which he played in the musical development of young Girolamo is worthy of emphasis; for this interchange or commerce of ideas between the northern countries and Italy pro-2-duced the greatest musicians of the sixteenth century. Josquin de Près,[8] born at Cambrai in 1445, and a pupil of Ockeghem, completed his education at Rome while he was a member of the papal choir. Willaert, born in Flanders, studied in Rome, and in Venice became the head of the Flemish school. Finally, Palestrina was a pupil of Goudimel, a Frenchman.

Frescobaldi was not destined to depart from the footsteps of such illustrious predecessors; desiring to pursue further the studies for which he had acquired a taste from Milleville, he, too, set out for Flanders while still young.[9] The exact date of that journey has never been determined; it seems probable that it was in the year 1607. For in that year Cardinal Guido Bentivoglio, archbishop of Rhodes and legate of Pope Paul V., was sent to the Netherlands (Guido Bentivoglio was born at Ferrara in 1579); and, moreover, on January 10, 1608, Frescobaldi dedicated to him one of his finest works, a collection of five-part madrigals, which was published by Peter Phalesius in Antwerp. Again, it would not be strange if Frescobaldi, in 1607, had followed to another country a compatriot whom he regarded as his protector. According to Fétis (preface to Trésor des Pianistes, by Farrenc), Frescobaldi occupied from this time the position of organist at the Church of St.-Rombaut, in Malines.

But he did not retain this position long, for in 1608 we find him again in Milan. From this time the events of his life are unknown until 1614, when upon the death of Ercole Pasquini, organist of St. Peter's in Rome, Frescobaldi became his successor. If we may believe Abbé Baini, the fame of Frescobaldi was already so widespread that upon the day when he assumed his new duties he played to thirty thousand people.


Musical criticism at the time, represented by Della Valle and Lelio Guidiccioni, records that while his style was less profound, it was more elastic and agreeable than that of his predecessors. Such a criticism, especially coming from Guidiccioni, who was most exacting upon the subject of technique,[10] would indicate that Frescobaldi possessed a genuine advantage over his contemporaries. At the present day one would say that he played the organ with a pianist's touch; if one replace this criticism in its historic frame, one may imagine the continuous use of trills, scales, mordents and appoggiaturas: an inheritance from the German "colorists." While perhaps a mistaken usage, how else could one have made one's self heard throughout the immense nave of St. Peter's, upon an organ of fourteen registers, with but one manual and an incomplete pedal? Boldness and dash, that which we understand by brio, had to compensate for paucity of tone.

Although he was comparatively sparing of ornaments in his compositions, particularly those destined especially for religious services, he never departed from a florid style in his improvisations, which bristled with feats of skill and agility of technique. Abbé Maugars, who knew him at Rome in 1639, still praised the ornamentation and the marvellous cleverness of his improvised Toccatas.

In 1643 Frescobaldi retired, having already enjoyed leave of absence from 1628 to 1633; these years he spent at Florence, in the service of Ferdinand II., Grand Duke of Tuscany.

He did not long survive his retirement in 1643, which, however, was not absolute, for he took up the position of organist at the little Church of St. Lawrence in montibus. He died March 2, 1644; and was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles.

Frescobaldi's works—which cover the entire period of his life—are very numerous;[11] they were written, as a rule, for organ or harpsi-4-chord indifferently; one of his compositions, published at Rome in 1638, even bears the following title, "Canzoni a 1, 2, 3, 4 voci, written to be sung or to be played by all varieties of instruments." In some of his works a certain predetermination is nevertheless evident, recognizable either through their appropriateness for religious service, or by their obbligato pedal part, as in the Toccatas.

The collection of Fiori musicali[12] belongs to this category, for, with the exception of such pieces as the Bergamasca or the Girolameta, it contains only selections designed for performance during church service.

Apart from their intrinsic value, these compositions comprising the Fiori musicali bear for us this very potent interest: they are, without exception, copied entirely by the hand of Bach;[13] which shows the importance he attached to them and the pains he took to study them.

This collection includes three masses: the Missa della Domenica, delli (sic) Apostoli, and della Madonna, each one consisting of a Toccata for a prelude, of the versets of the Kyrie, and of pieces written to correspond to the various portions of the office, suitably designated; thus (p. 49), Recercar cromaticho post il Credo, or (p. 77), Canzon dopo la pistola (sic).

The versets of the Kyrie, in the three masses, are for the greater part more properly "Ecclesiastical songs without words," as Ambrose said, than compositions of a purely instrumental character; in fact, they are written strictly within the compass of the voice, and only the long duration of single notes (as in the alto on page 7, or in the soprano on page 8) precludes the possibility of their being sung.


Curious is the effect of the pedal notes, sustained from the beginning to the end of a verse; and we find remarkable examples of a polyphonic accompaniment to the text, doubly interesting because of the continual reappearance of the theme, either in its integrity or slightly modified.

Further, while making use of the accidentals required by the modulation of the parts in the counterpoint, and especially in cadences, Frescobaldi respects as much as possible the diatonic character of the Gregorian scale; he adheres to it with as little variation as possible, particularly when he brings it into prominence. The mode, the Dorian, remains uppermost in the mind of the auditor, and the counterpoint is most often derived from the same tone, sometimes in imitation, at others in ingenious inversions of the melody which it accompanies. One of the more elaborate of these versets, the Kyrie ultimo of the Missa della domenica, ends with an allegro, a veritable alla breve.[14]

If in nature these versets partake somewhat of the character of compositions for voices, we find in other numbers of the Fiori musicali a very close affiliation with vocal music. We refer to that grace and flexibility of proportion which prompts us to say of this theme, of that counterpoint, "It is musical!" Especially in the canzoni do we find these expressive qualities.

It is well known that the instrumental fugue was born of this species of composition, which was also called canzon francese; the responses to a subject, sometimes of popular origin, and most often in this rhythm (a traditional one): music [Listen] [MusicXML] became answers, and the alternation of double with triple rhythm gave rise to the fugue in several movements, such as Buxtehude, in particular, often wrote.


The steps of this transformation may be traced in the canzoni of Frescobaldi: the canzone in the fourth mode of the Fiori musicali (p. 66) is an instance of an altered answer to a subject, and the Canzone IV (p. 53) of the second book (Toccatas, Canzoni, etc.[15]) begins like a veritable fugue:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

For us the recercare possess an interest of another kind; Frescobaldi had introduced an innovation in creating the initial form of the fugue, unconsciously guided by the necessity of establishing the modern tonality which forced itself upon his senses; particularly in the Ricercatas and in certain of the Toccatas he contrives to become master of a new resource, which had suggested this tonality to him: the chromatic scale.

This enables him to discover new harmonies, although he is sometimes led astray, and to modulate with endless freedom. The dissonance is no longer a "necessary evil" to him; it is an important factor in new effects. With his absolute command of the instrument and his marvellous facility of improvisation, this ability to distance his contemporaries in a field which up to this time no one had had-7- the courage to explore, places the organist of St. Peter's in a position closely allied to that occupied by the Cantor of Leipzig; at least considering what Frescobaldi was able to accomplish in his time, obliged to create a new language for himself, as it were; and he sometimes lost his way, in propounding to himself problems which were insoluble in the existing stage of musical advancement.

Possibly Frescobaldi realized this impossibility of a personal participation in something which he foresaw, as yet only in a confused way, but whose advent he regarded as a certainty. For since he could neither ordain a "music of the future," to use an expression already more or less familiar, nor define its fundamental principles, he was often obliged to deny himself any part in even the development of his art, confined as he was to the limits of obsolete rules; did he also conclude that his too fertile imagination would lead him into extravagances, and did he voluntarily restrain this creative faculty, confining it to the laborious construction of too subtle enigmas? Certain of his compositions suggest such a condition of mind; above all, the Recercar con obligo di cantare la Quinta Parte senza toccarla (Fiori musicali, p. 84).[16]

At the head of this composition stands the following motive, like a motto:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

upon which, moreover, is based the entire Ricercata.

But this piece is in duple time, and this fifth part is in 3/1, the tempus perfectum of mensurable music, indicated by a circle.[17] Where could the entrances be effected? This the performer must decide for himself, for Frescobaldi never did anything to assist him in his decision; "intenda mi chi può, che m'intend' io" ("let him compre-8-hend me who can, I understand myself"), he tells us. We find the same challenge at the beginning of one of his caprices, the tenth in the first book[18] (pp. 77-86).

This same volume contains a Ricercata upon the hexachord (pp. 1-14), remarkably developed, and exhibiting a determination suggestive of scholastic restraint; and a recercar with four subjects (p. 137).

In the Canzoni, grace and interest of movement particularly are revealed; in some pieces expressive themes of a chromatic character lend a certain sentimental charm, while others, for instance those of which mention has already been made, serve chiefly as examples of ingenuity and cleverness. But the Toccatas of Frescobaldi combine all these characteristics, sometimes contrasted with or dominated by, in addition, a stately dignity, an incomparable breadth. And, moreover, they were conceived expressly for the organ, in their more lofty character, and written upon the staff then in use for that instrument.[19] They display all its resources, within a legitimate compass, although limited by the ability of the executants and by the deficiencies of the Italian organ manufacture of the period; the performers being little accustomed to the use of the pedal, and the Italian manufacture less advanced than that of the Germans. In fact, little could be-9- demanded of the organist beyond long-sustained pedal-notes; and never do these works indicate that organs with several manuals were at that time constructed in Italy.

While in the Toccatas[20] the themes are developed noticeably in what we may term sections or plans, these are strictly contrasts of movement rather than of intensity of sound.

Frescobaldi placed more confidence in the finger dexterity of his pupils than in their facility with the pedals. To the more apt ones among them were addressed these words: "Chi questa Bergamasca sonerà, non pocho imparerà," written at the beginning of his variations upon the popular melody of the "Bergamasca";[21] and, again, at the end of the ninth Toccata in the second book: "Non senza fatiga si giunge al fine."

As examples of another style must also be mentioned the Pastorale, or rather the Capriccio fatto sopra la Pastorale, the themes of which were borrowed later by Händel from the same popular source from which Frescobaldi obtained them; this caprice has a pedal part, which proves it to have been expressly designed for the organ.[22]

The picturesque quality reappears in the imitative trumpet-calls in the Battaglia, while in the numerous partite, or suites upon the-10- Romanesca, the Frescobalda, the Aria di Monicha,[23] the Aria di Ruggiero, Frà Jacopino,[24] Frescobaldi acceded to the demands of the times for transcriptions and variations upon popular tunes.[25]

In several cases Frescobaldi gives us hints as to the execution of his works: "music in this style is not to be performed with invariable strictness of tempo...." he says in the preface to the second volume of toccatas, etc.[26] (1637). "It should be played slowly at the beginning, and in an arpeggiated manner, the tempo then being gradually accelerated. The end of a trill or phrase should be marked by the prolongation of the last note, that one phrase may be separated from the other. Cadences, even though written in short notes, should be retarded more and more toward the end.... If it be necessary to play a trill in one hand against a phrase in the other, the trill should be performed not note against note with the passage in the other hand, but independently; the phrase being played with repose and expression. Passages in eighth- or sixteenth-notes written for both hands must not be taken at a too rapid tempo; of two sixteenth-notes the second should always be slightly dwelt upon. In quick passages for two hands, hold back a little upon the next to the last beat; then finish brilliantly, displaying the agility of the hand. For the Partitas, which are characterized by expressive subjects, it will be well to adopt a broad tempo, as well as for the Toccatas; such of the latter as are not too exacting in their demands upon technique maybe taken faster; here the choice of tempi is left to the ready discernment and good taste of the performer...."

We perceive that Frescobaldi demanded the same qualities of im-11-agination for the performance of his works that he exercised in their composition. They are, in fact, an example of a continual rubato. In the preface to the first book of caprices he gives us similar directions; adding: "movements in 3/1 and 6/2 should be taken adagio (he wrote adasio); those in 3/2 a little faster, those in 3/4 allegro." He also charges the performer to conform to the style of his works; serious in the Ricercatas, more brilliant in the Caprices.

"Frescobaldi marks one of the turning-points in the evolution of Music, and is himself the personification of the successful and unsuccessful endeavors, of the victories and defeats, of these periods of transition. His works, upon which is imprinted the stamp of genius, appear as classics in comparison with the inefficient products of that reign of Monody.... That with one hand they point backward to a great Art-epoch just terminated, while with the other they point forward to the hopeful future of a new Musical Art, lends to them an individual and wondrous charm."

This judgment of Ambros[27] sums up in a remarkable manner the rôle which Frescobaldi fills in the history of music. In the history of organ music, taken alone, he more than represents a period of transition; he stands as a creator, who brought into view, although framed in obsolete mannerisms, a whole hereafter; his inability to partake of which is the cause of the melancholy regret which he often unsuccessfully attempts to cloak under a certain amount of affectation.


Johann Jakob Froberger, the son of a cantor in Halle, was born in that city; the exact date of his birth is uncertain, but may perhaps be fixed at between 1610 and 1620.[28]

A Swedish ambassador, temporarily in Halle, took Froberger with him to Vienna, says Walther (Lexicon, Leipzig, 1732); he was-12- charmed with the fine voice of the youth—who was fifteen years of age—and astonished at his rare musical talent. Soon Froberger became a member of the imperial choir. In the treasury records of the Hofburg we find him designated as organist of the palace from January 1, 1637, to September 30 of the same year.[29] After this he left Vienna for Rome to study with Frescobaldi. This move had previously been decided upon; the records above mentioned contain the following entry upon the subject: "J.J. Froberger requests that he be sent to Rome, to Frescobaldi, as he was promised. The sum of 200 florins is granted him." After four years of study he resumed his service at court, April 1, 1641. In 1645 he obtained leave of absence. Where did he pass this time? Perhaps he remained in Vienna, where his ability as a clavecinist was highly appreciated; at any rate he was there in 1649. William Swann, chevalier lettré et grand amateur de musique, wrote from Vienna, September 15, 1649, to Constantin Huygens,[30] a councillor to the Prince of Orange, that he was sending him "some pieces given me by a Monsieur Froberger, who has great talent for the spinet."[31]

Still further, the manuscript of the second volume of Froberger's compositions is dated "Vienna, li 29 Settembre 1649."[32] This book he dedicated to Emperor Ferdinand III.,[33] his patron; this act of homage-13- perhaps gave him an opportunity to beg for the extension of his leave.[34]

Froberger took this occasion to go to Brussels; witness to his presence there is borne by the following record, found upon one of the Toccatas: "fatto a Bruxellis, anno 1650." This toccata is included in a manuscript collection preserved in Paris, together with other pieces, one of which[35] indicates that he went to Paris at about the same period. His stay there brought him into touch with Galot and Gautier, whose style of playing the harpsichord he acquired, Mattheson tells us. Thus he endowed the German school with that profusion of ornaments which characterized the performance of these virtuosi, renowned for their skill in playing the lute.[36]

April 1, 1653, Froberger again assumed his duties as organist, retaining his position until June 30, 1657. It is said that he was obliged to retire, having fallen into disgrace; the death of his patron, Ferdinand III., which occurred the same year, may also have led him to decide to leave the court, where he no longer enjoyed the favor which he had been accustomed to receive from the Emperor.

Several years were devoted to travels; he visited Mayence and England, being in the latter country at the time of the marriage of Charles II. in 1662.


This journey to England has inspired a certain romance, very free in its details. It may be admitted that Froberger was shipwrecked on the way; but something which passes the bounds of probability and becomes but an absurd fable is the representation that, having been relieved of his money by pirates, he was forced to apply for the position of organ-blower at Westminster—he, who had been organist to the Imperial Court in Vienna! Moreover, Froberger did not fail to establish certain relations in England, particularly through the intermediation of Chevalier Swann, of whom we have already spoken.

His last years were spent with the Dowager Princess Sibylle de Montbéliard,[37] born Duchess of Württemberg. An attack of apoplexy ended his life May 7, 1667, at Héricourt; he was buried at Bavilliers (Department of Belfort).

In his compositions Froberger was the lineal descendant of Frescobaldi; but his conception of his art was not that of his master. Despite his more elaborate style and his more fully developed technique, especially in the fugue form, he never attained the classic beauty, the impressive repose, which characterized the works of the latter. Froberger was essentially a court musician; as such, he strove to please. Furthermore, his musical character was wholly superficial. What he feared above all things was that his music should be tedious, a judgment which has since often been passed upon it. Under his touch the rhythm would become more flexible; he would delight the listener, holding his attention by cleverly combined modulations; but his labors were devoted to the development only of forms already established—at least, upon the organ. The literature of the harpsichord is naturally more indebted to him, considering his temperament. He was one of the first to give to this instrument an indi-15-vidual style, by writing the Suites; an inheritance from the Partitas of Frescobaldi, it is true, but more closely forerunners of the sonata. In general, these suites[38] consist of an Allemande, a Courante, a Sarabande, and a Gigue, sometimes all upon a single theme, and often, as is noteworthy from the standpoint of the development of this style of music, connected simply by their tonality.

From a general point of view, Froberger's importance is due to his having brought into South Germany the style of Frescobaldi, as well as something of French music. And his works are worthy of perpetuation less because of their intrinsic value than for the influence they exercised.

This influence did not make itself felt until long after his death. Save for a few manuscripts (among them those in Vienna and Paris, which were little used, and a few pieces published separately; for example, the caprice upon the hexachord[39] brought out in 1650 by P. Athanasius Kircher in the Musurgia universalis), the "Diverse Ingegniosissime, Rarissime et non may più viste Couriose Partite, di Toccate, Canzoni, Ricercate, Alemande, Correnti, Sarabande et Gigue di Cembali, Organi et Instromenti" were not published until 1693, by Louis Burgeat, in Frankfort.

Of chief interest to us are the Toccatas in this volume, since they were written more specifically for the organ. Froberger here recalls his master only in certain details; it is more the work of a great virtuoso who, when he writes, always keeps in view the display of his own facility of execution.

His ingenious chatter, interesting combinations, and novelty of rhythm and of cadences,[40] attracted even Bach, Adlung[41] tells us:-16- "Bach, of Leipzig, now deceased, always admired the compositions of J.J. Froberger, although they are somewhat antiquated."[42]


We have remarked that Froberger's importance is derived especially from his introduction of the traditions of Frescobaldi, although he impressed upon them the stamp of his own individuality and less exalted ambitions.

Johann Pachelbel was also destined to absorb some of the reflected genius of the great organist, two generations later; but he availed himself of it in a wholly individual manner, imbuing it with his own keen sense of the religious. Caspar Kerl,[43] who had studied in Rome at a time when the influence of Frescobaldi was still potent, gave Pachelbel his first insight into the characteristics of the master's work.

They became acquainted in Vienna; Kerl was organist at St. Stephen's, and Pachelbel was sufficiently advanced in his art to warrant his engagement as substitute for the former. Excepting his stay in Vienna, Pachelbel led a somewhat restless life, although in a smaller circle than that traversed by Froberger. Born at Nurem-17-berg (September 1, 1653), he learned the elements of composition from Prentz, at Regensburg, after which he occupied several positions as organist, the succession of which is not accurately known, as regards dates; we know, however, that he was at Eisenach from 1675 to 1678. The other years were divided between Erfurt, Stuttgart, and Gotha; finally, upon the death of the organist Wecker, he settled in Nuremberg, in 1695. He died there March 3, 1706.

Despite this apparent restlessness, Pachelbel's life was quiet, full of that peace of mind which is characteristic of a profoundly pious nature.

His works betray the influence of such a sentiment, although he did not force upon his compositions that religious tone which a more studied method of procedure would have imparted to them. Their inherent character is purely emotional. To his chorale-preludes he lends a mystical significance, a devotional intimacy which was then unparalleled. While following the example of Scheidt in announcing or accompanying every melodic phrase by a counterpoint based upon a fragment of the phrase itself, he greatly improved the whole by making the movement more flowing; again, by a more intelligent choice of themes he attained the unity of expression demanded by the true sentiment of the chorale. These counterpoints are often symbolic in nature, as is so often the case with Bach; and the harmony is most expressive of that calm and plenitude which suggests the infinite, the essence of all religious music.

Pachelbel rarely varied the melody of the chorale. Heralded by the figuration of the accompanying parts, the cantus establishes itself over all, intensifying in its progression in even notes (for the most part diatonic) the exalted seriousness of the sacred text.

The Chorale is charged with having accustomed the German people, for the past three hundred years, to express their sorrows and their rejoicings in the same tone;[44] especially is ascribed to it that heavy rhythm, which has been likened to a "parade step." But precisely from this contrast between a melody which moves, wholly impersonally, ever onward upon its dignified course, while the sentiments-18- of joy, of sadness are expressed in the embellishing counterpoint, is the inherent grandeur of such compositions derived.

The versets of Frescobaldi alone succeeded in suggesting to Pachelbel the idea of this form; up to this time none of the German organists had understood how to give such importance to a liturgical melody, despite the resources of their instruments with several manuals; the chorale-preludes of S. Scheidt (1587-1654) were of an analogous character, it is true; but they lacked the serenity of Pachelbel's compositions in this form, and most of the other musicians were still under the influence of the bad taste of the "colorists," seeking to impart to the melody, by means of diminutions and florid ornaments, the very expressiveness which they were incapable of taking away from it.

The following is an example of the manner in which Pachelbel wrote his chorales; it is the beginning of the first verse of "Vater unser im Himmelreich,"[45] the melody of which was used by Mendelssohn as the subject of his sixth organ sonata. Each verse is similarly introduced by a few measures in fugued style, the subject of which was borrowed from the corresponding portion of the melody.

When, in connection with Bach, we speak of Chorales conceived in the style of Pachelbel, it is to this type that we refer:

[Listen] [MusicXML]


For the last verse:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

Pachelbel preludizes in this manner:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

In addition to numerous chorales we have quite a number of fugues by Pachelbel.

Here is noticeable this great advance step: the majority are tonal. Their subjects are broader, and of a melodic character which distinguishes them from the themes of their contemporaries, which were simple phrases, or parts of a progression, with no "respiration."

Thus, while in the sixth Toccata of Muffat,[46] one of the most remarkable composers of his time, we find this scanty theme (we have chosen it from among the better developed ones of that epoch),

[Listen] [MusicXML]


we encounter this in Pachelbel:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

or this:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

The developments, too, are more consistently polyphonic in nature; they are more extended, by the simple logic of musical speech, without having recourse to foreign devices.

In his Toccatas, Pachelbel generally presents to us passages in sixths or tenths for the hands, firmly sustained by pedal notes of long duration, sometimes with changes of rhythm of extremely happy effect. One among others[47] contains a pastoral theme; and this is not an isolated example, for Pachelbel seems to have been fond of popular melodies. Some of these subjects, with their 12/8 rhythm, express the good-nature and simplicity of rustic tunes.

The greater part of Pachelbel's compositions may be found in the first volume of the Musica sacra. Others are published in various collections; we would mention in particular a Toccata and a Ciaccona, until now never published, which G.A. Ritter presents in his work Zur Geschichte des Orgelspiels.

Thanks to these publications, we may form an opinion of Pachelbel's music, always conservative and markedly religious in character.

Pachelbel had many pupils; so great was his fame that many organists, desirous of making a name for themselves, claimed to have been under his tutelage; but "every one cannot have been a pupil of-21- Pachelbel," said Mattheson in the course of a celebrated discussion with one of them, the organist Buttstedt.[48]

This honor (of so much importance to us is this fact) did fall to the lot of Christoph Bach, elder brother of Johann Sebastian, and from whom the latter received his first lessons.


In bringing to a close this study of the precursors of Bach, it remains for us to speak of Buxtehude, the master of his choice.

Dietrich Buxtehude was a Dane. He was born in 1637, at Helsingör, where his father was organist to the Church of St. Olaf, and also was probably his only teacher. At about the age of thirty years the younger Buxtehude went to Lübeck, where he succeeded Tunder, organist of the Marienkirche.[49]

The organ of St. Mary's was one of the most famous of that time; its specification comprised fifty-four stops, divided among three manuals and the pedals, and the position was lucrative. And Buxtehude did not seek to exchange for another place a post so favorable; he retained it until his death, the 9th of May, 1707.

Thanks to the edition of Philipp Spitta,[50] Buxtehude's works have been brought within the reach of all; it is thus possible for every one-22- to consult them at leisure, and to make one's own technical analysis of them. But meanwhile I shall endeavor to establish the affiliation between Buxtehude and Bach through a study of certain characteristics of their works.

And this we will not attempt to achieve through the medium of a general comparison from all points of view, which at best is but vague and indefinite. That Bach was richer in inspiration, that his work in point of breadth and imagination stands upon a relatively higher plane, are facts universally recognized, even though they are difficult to define, to prove specifically; we will concern ourselves only with the matter of structure. Take, for instance, the second chaconne of Buxtehude.

From the very first measures polyphonic interest asserts itself; the pedal, although impassive, so to speak, with its half- and quarter-notes, progresses in the dignified manner peculiar to the chaconne, the upper parts accompanying it in a timid figuration; sometimes leading it, sometimes characterized by clever retardations in dotted notes, unobtrusive and thoughtful in their imitative response, ... and that the theme may be well established in its progression and in the general plan, the sixty-four measures, less one note, transposed with such charm, are repeated like an echo, in the exquisite puerility of a design at once simple and devoid of affectation. Later on, toward the end of this little poem, the continuity of this angular theme is broken; it appears in fragments in the upper parts, affecting cleverness, and always easily recognized by an ear ever so little attentive, ... but, before he allows himself to indulge in such boldness—for boldness it was at that time—Buxtehude exhausts to a certain degree in the other parts every resource of movement and of melody; and it is when their voices subside to little more than whispers or subdued murmurs that the bass makes itself heard, forgetful of the quiet hitherto enjoined upon it, and becomes more free and animated, almost to the point of becoming divided into sixteenth-notes; striking tones which are repeated, and are no longer sustained, as if this sudden power were the product of its long restraint or the force of a malicious will....


We can hardly justify ourselves in designating as variations the changes undergone by the chaconne after this new exposition of the fundamental theme; the tie which binds its different portions is too inflexible. Try to take one of them away, attempt an interpolation, and you will be unsuccessful. While the various sections are distinct from each other, it is like a gradation of colors whose harmony arises only from the order of their selection. This series of strokes produces something more than the feeling of continuity, it frees itself of an intensity of expression which is increased at every measure; but the climax is attained with stately chords, in five real parts, the bass emphasizing them by a quarter-note upon each beat.[51]

The following page contains rapid and brilliant passages of many notes, which the pedal, at present omitted, could not follow, until finally the pace is slackened, and the movement becomes quiet; a plaintive harmonic progression is welcomed as a peaceful, serious word, when suddenly the movement is again quickened, even involving the pedal, then abandoning it, only to take it up again just before the cadence in major, which is now awaited.


By the side of a study of this little lyric, for such the chaconne is, together with the Passacaglia, we must point out the exuberant imagination displayed in the preludes and fugues. These compositions, moreover, partake of a definite design, evolved from the canzone in so far as that the same subject serves for various developments, clothed in different rhythms. Often even the various themes succeed each other, leaving to the ensemble only unity of tonality. Thus the fugue in E minor has successively three themes:[52]

[Listen] [MusicXML]


[Listen] [MusicXML]

and finally

[Listen] [MusicXML]

Each of these fugues is connected with the others by those brilliantly florid interludes for which Bach derived a taste, at least in his earlier years, from the influence of his studies of Buxtehude.

In the chorale, Buxtehude does not interest us in so great a degree as does Pachelbel; he is another of the "colorists." Furthermore, he was always more worldly than religious, even transforming St. Mary's Church into a concert-hall—for sacred concerts, if you will. But churches are not temples erected to the Fine Arts; while it may be true that the latter approach most closely the divine spirit, yet it must be recognized that pantheism, a philosophic teaching, has never been followed as a religion.[53]




The organ compositions of J.S. Bach (especially such of them as are free in style, and in which he made no use of the chorale) may be classified under three chronological periods, according to their structural characteristics.

It is of great interest to note the continued conquests which Bach placed to his credit; his first productions saying little that had not been said by others, but establishing, as it were, the specification of actual resources of which he might avail himself. The latest works, on the other hand, complete and final in their authority, demonstrate the prodigious career based upon that beginning, and thus define the exact measure of all that properly may be attributed to the author of Die Kunst der Fuge.

It would be puerile to ask one's self if Bach proposed to create, or even to reform; these chronological periods, which prescribe for us the limits of an historical and æsthetic analysis, are but the expression of our own conception. Although in the beginning Bach imitated his contemporaries or his precursors, he was unable to produce at once positive results in a branch of art in which technique alone holds so important a place. Besides, let us suppose that he had retained in his own possession these first attempts, permitting us to become acquainted only with his greater compositions, in which he could appear in his full strength—the earlier works being regarded as mere studies or sketches—then undoubtedly we should behold a spectacle which would astound the historians: the sudden production of such works in a state of perfection. Bach did not gratify his amour propre in this manner, he never dreamed of doing so; we realize that this little German organist, who was content modestly to produce-26- a chorale or a fugue each Sunday, simply did the best he knew, always happy and interested in his work; and one day we see his genius fully established, as the result of all this previous and conscientious labor, together with something which he added to it—something of himself. With this element, which is characteristic of genius, we wish to become more intimately acquainted; but alas! as in every analysis, we cannot penetrate its being, and we must be satisfied to regard it from an objective point of view.

During the first period Bach assembled his resources; of his fellow-countrymen he acquired, from Buxtehude some characteristics of movement, his picturesqueness of rhythm, from Pachelbel that personal quality which is not unlike what we describe as "German" in speaking of certain popular Lieder. From the French he borrowed the ornaments, more artificial than spontaneous, and that splendor, often majestic, which recalls, in this case as well, the "Grand Roi"; from the Italians, gracefulness and perfection of proportions: the invaluable inheritance from antiquity, never cut off.

We repeat that these first productions are in nature a sort of assembling of resources; it matters little whether they be considered as pasticcii or as centoni;[54] as little, perhaps, as to know that the child Michael Angelo often copied this or that antique statue; although with this difference, that the latter may have despaired of attaining such heights, while Bach, for aught we know, may have considered that what had already been achieved in his art was, after all, little more than so many sketches.

To Buxtehude, Pachelbel, Froberger, F. Couperin, Frescobaldi, and still others—why name them all here?—belongs the proud distinction of having provided a medium for Bach; and still their importance is not lessened by such a fact any more than is Bach's; in any case, it is very difficult to judge a man of genius without reference to chronological succession. Neither in the domain of art nor of science is furnished an example of a man creating a standard, of which his original conception has not been aided by one influence or-27- another. Did Aristotle invent the syllogism, or did he not merely gather from about him some fragments of rudimentary procedure? And is not Bach the Aristotle of music, the master of musical reasoning, giving speech to his syllogisms in a form beautiful in itself, without taking into consideration the thought which it clothes? And is a fugue anything but a syllogism? Jenner (and we voluntarily take as examples fame become banale) did not intuitively discover vaccine. By a happy chance he established the fact that certain herds were immune from small-pox; accidentally hit on the truth, by following his conclusion to its cause. The man of genius is undeniably Pasteur, who generalizes a century later, assisted by the addition to the literature upon the subject of a mass of treatises, those of Davaine, of Villemain.... To cite Jenner in connection with our subject is more than amusing; but consider Frescobaldi—is he not the Jenner of the Fugue?...

But let us avoid the necessity of classifying great men in the order of their merit; it is the evolution of Bach's genius which we wish to study. There is in this field an aspect of psychological analysis which we trust will prove of interest; but it is by no means our wish that any inference shall be drawn from the foregoing which could lead to an undervaluation of the originality of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Now as to the first period. Bach studied daily the technical methods of Buxtehude, or those of Pachelbel. He availed himself of these methods, he copied Pachelbel, he copied Buxtehude; furthermore, he imitated their pupils, and even those of lesser ability among them. He did not yet generalize. If at this moment he should disappear, should cease to write, his work would present no other characteristic than the decided manifestation of a temperament remarkably capable of assimilation. This interest will become augmented, if we scrutinize what comes later; therefore we may legitimately consider as embryonic that which, at this epoch, proceeds from his individuality.

The second period is one of formation; Bach begins to generalize. One of the compositions of this epoch, taken by itself, will not-28- so strongly recall the work of his forerunners. Imitative in nature as they are, drawn from such various sources, and so composite, containing in one mosaic nuances of such different character, yet the whole is moulded by a hand whose touch is already characteristic, and over which skill is dominant. What Bach has dissected, he now reconstructs after a diathesis of his own. As an artist exhumes the fragments of an ancient reredos, primitive in sculpture, his personality betrays itself in the new connection which he establishes between these relics of a past age, which dictate to him no relationship incapable of alteration. And thus with Bach.... Still more, as the painter who would wrest from every form of human beauty whatever it possesses of the superhuman, seeking absolute beauty as his aim in the selection of a type.

Was Apelles able to portray a divine image, working upon human lines? His contemporaries claim that he was; and we know nothing about it, so subjective is history, reduced to testimonies from various sources. We have to go but a step further, and we find in the works of Bach, particularly in those of the last period, the evidence that from all these sources he evolved at least that which no one else could wrest from him, for since his time no one has been able even to follow him in his own domain, I will not say to equal him. As with the symphonies of Beethoven, he himself closed that particular way, and forced his disciples who would be masters in their particular realms to develop other lines.

We will proceed by chronological analysis, as far as it is possible to fix the succession, to demonstrate to the reader the ground for the classification of Bach's works which we are now to study; it being fully understood that these limits are in no way absolute, serving rather as dividing points in our work.


While the first period apparently ends during the early years at Weimar, about 1712—later we will explain why—it is difficult to fix definitely the date of its commencement, which perhaps takes us back-29- to the years of study at Lüneburg. To this witness is borne by a prelude and fugue in C minor.[55]

The inexperience of the young composer betrays itself in every measure; the timidity with which he availed himself of the resources of the organ indicates even more the fear of venturing beyond the limits of a virtuosity which, while perhaps precocious, was not yet master of the instrument. Observe the treatment of the pedal, the touchstone of an organist; in the prelude it serves only as a foundation for the harmony, often doubling the notes given to the left hand. And truly is it not a weak artifice, this recitative upon which reliance is placed from the beginning, as if to attract notice to a certain technical dexterity which is suddenly forced to labor strenuously, as soon as the attention is distracted by the entrance of the other parts? And likewise in the fugue; the pedal does not take up the theme (truly one of a funeral march, with its doleful recurrence of the same figure, now interrupted, now repeated in different positions) until after the entire polyphony is at an end; it seems to appear only as an indication of the conclusion, which is, moreover, retarded by a sort of ill-timed coda. As to the workmanship of the fugue, it is far from perfect; the parts are built up one upon the other, the subject always being allotted to the higher part, thinly accompanied by the others; without being long, it is wearisome, and interest is awakened only by the entrance of the pedal, when the fugal character is no longer predominant.

The tonality of C minor, expressive of profound sadness, was apparently a favorite one with Bach at that time; another fugue in the same key[56] appears to be contemporaneous with the foregoing.

The same general characteristics are noticeable; the pedal is even more insignificant; but in the poetical conception of the piece, even in its incompleteness, there is a world of meaning.

While leaving to Schubert the "Signification of Tonalities," and-30- not without distrusting this hobby—so absurd at times are the results of the analysis of every piece of music by reducing it to its exterior characteristics—still we cannot deny that to a certain extent this fugue is the reflex of everything of indecision in the life of Bach up to this time. The rhythm of the theme is established only at the end of the third measure, and each of its fragments serves to mark the close of a harmonic progression, despite the fact that the general tonality does not make itself plainly felt. This twofold ambiguity lends to the whole a touch of undefined regret, of a desire whose very existence is not suspected. Is this not wholly characteristic of the temperament of a youth?

We are reminded of Pachelbel by these two works, in their general lines, through this same exaggeration of an innate emotion into a condition of melancholy, a tendency peculiar to Bach. In point of technique the works sustain this reminiscence: the counterpoint is not yet fully developed. Further, compare them (particularly the second fugue) with certain of Pachelbel's compositions, especially with the fugue in E minor, whose theme we cited in our chapter upon this musician.

Other similarities appear in the variations in tempo with which these works are brought to a close; these new forms were of the North German school, whose illustrious representatives were Reinken and Buxtehude.

Bach had obtained of Boehm the key to their style; no composition of Pachelbel did he ever imitate with the zeal with which he set out to copy the preludes and fugues of Buxtehude; perhaps because he was already more like the former in point of natural qualities.

Even before his journey to Lübeck Bach began to write pieces in this style of several movements. We will examine a prelude in G major,[57] and a fugue in A minor accompanied by a prelude in the same key.[58]

The prelude in G major seems to us to date further back than-31- Bach's study of Buxtehude, from the fact of its evident inspiration by a prelude of Bruhns, written in the same key.[59]

It is true that Bruhns was one of Buxtehude's best pupils, but he was nothing more; it would seem as if Bach, appreciating the value of the master, did not gauge with sufficient accuracy the capabilities of the pupils.

We find the same spirit, the same cheerfulness as in Bruhns's compositions; but the piece is less abrupt, and, by way of contrast, is interrupted by moments of sadness. In the expression of joy, was it Bach's intention to remind us that happiness is never complete, that it is always accompanied by mourning?

These few measures, in a minor and not even the relative tonality, in syncopated rhythm, come suddenly upon us in the midst of all this joyfulness, like a memento mori; and they suffice to alter the effect of the second part of this work, to the benefit of a more lofty ideal. When the joyous motive reappears, it is no longer with the same worldly bearing; restricted to a series of imitations which only render it indefinite, moderating the swiftness of movement in favor of breadth of tone, it seems rather to be proclaiming a peace which will know no end.

This prelude is already of much importance from an artistic standpoint; but we cannot say as much of the prelude and fugue in A minor which we mentioned at the same time. There is no doubt that it also dates back further than the journey in 1705; Bach must have sadly misconstrued the true significance of Buxtehude's works to have indulged in plagiarism so unskilfully.

He reproduced only the faults of his model; he followed him only into the by-ways, augmenting his mistakes by the awkwardness with which he set about his task. In fact, the work is little more than an omnium-gatherum of ideas picked up at random and strung together upon the mere excuse of a tonality. After a short prelude devoid of interest, we find the theme of the fugue to be of peculiar dryness,-32- supported by equally barren counterpoint. The interlude which follows is a succession of incorrect harmonic progressions, peculiarly disagreeable in effect;—even as he thought to imitate Buxtehude's freedom of movement[60] in the restlessness of the prelude and fugue, so Bach hoped to acquire the expressiveness of his harmonic progressions, so audacious for their time[61]—and introduces a new treatment-33- of the fugue, monotonous, but finally coming to a close in a more interesting fashion.

More happily inspired in his emulations, or better served by his talents, we behold Bach in a composition in three movements, little known up to this time: a "Fantasie" in G major.[62]

The first two movements are still rather weak, perhaps influenced by the Italian music heard and played during the few months preceding, when Bach was a violinist in the orchestra of Prince Ernest of Weimar.

The third movement is remarkable, at least with regard to its depth of thought, and to its adoption of all that was most to be desired in Buxtehude's style. The upper parts cross each other upon the scale given out by the bass, as in a Chaconne; it is the resistance of surging waves to the slow rising of the stream, expressed by the implacable repose of the fundamental theme, whose intensity, with its own imperturbable repetitions, overcomes all resistance.

In many of Bach's works we encounter these ascending and descending scales, but they are of varying significance. We find them again in a piece closely allied to the foregoing: a Fantasia,[63] also in G major, where the diatonic scale serves as the foundation of harmonies, whose interest, cleverly held in check, is augmented by the uninterrupted progression of five real parts.


These works are no longer mere plagiarisms; a glimmer of individuality discloses itself. For example, let us look at the prelude and fugue in E minor.[64] If Buxtehude is here brought in mind, it is because of that quality of his which is most neutral, and no longer through his peculiar originality, his personal resources; in trying to avoid which a mere imitator must always come to grief. Many a detail in construction is derived from the Lübeck organist; for instance, those detached chords, which so successfully set off that plaintive syncopated progression, the sobbing of whose notes is thereby rendered always more intense; the last sections repeating the first, now broken into two still more earnest entreaties.

And of this fugal theme, beginning in two separate fragments upon the dominant, we have seen examples in Buxtehude; but there this repetition of the subject expressed in its intensity a joyous declaration.[65]

It is here a tremulous, hesitating interrogation, which seems to dread its answer; the prelude is full of lonely sadness, as deep as it is despairing; in the fugue it converses in dialogue with itself, one might say in accents which proclaim a public misfortune.

But if one may not seek "in a musical work the expression of any condition of the soul, or the narration of any story of the heart,"[66] one can hardly deny that music expresses "the being, even the personal will"[67] of psychological phenomena, at least in the sense that the interest of certain works of art, aside from every æsthetic consideration, is correlative to the mental condition in which one receives them. This may explain the position occupied among the works of Bach by this piece, whose many weaknesses are revealed to us by a technical analysis.


This intimate nature finds an antithesis in the Toccata and Fugue in D minor,[68] which belongs chronologically to the same period; it is still Buxtehude, but it is conceived throughout in a picturesque style. It lacks only an argument to establish by every right its character as "program music." The two rapid and dazzling flashes, a peal of thunder, rumbling heavily in the reverberations of a chord slowly broken, and above the vibration of the deep pedal, augmented in intensity by its duration; wind, then hail;—we are in the midst of the classic tempest. Entirely a thing of virtuosity, appreciated even by those who take account of nothing in the arts but the illusion gained, the Toccata earned brilliant success for Bach upon his journey to the smaller German courts, and contributed in large measure toward the extension of his fame.

This composition belongs to a whole series of virtuosic works, as well as the prelude and fugue,[69] in E major in the edition of W. Rust (Bach-Gesellschaft), and in C in Griepenkerl's (Peters); and, above all, the celebrated fugue in D major.[70]

Despite the advance in technique, this prelude and fugue are still in the earlier manner; certain characteristics, such as the division into several movements, indicate that the early influences which governed Bach are still potent. Nevertheless, there is in the stately prelude something of the dignity of the French overture; in the Alla Breve[71] a recollection of the Italian compositions of the same name is natural. Thus later studies betray themselves more in certain details than in the work as a whole; the subject of the fugue reveals its similarity to Buxtehude in its general style, and in its movement (see the theme in F quoted previously).


Another inheritance from Buxtehude is the prelude and fugue in G minor;[72] especially the prelude, with its wealth of harmonies suddenly broken off, hardly to be employed again; the fugue, with the repeated notes in its subject. An advance over all the fugues of which we have thus far spoken, this one is notable for its strict maintenance of four-part polyphony; the facility and the spirit which we observe in the counterpoint, especially at the entrances of the subject, and the flexibility of the imitations, indicate the presence of a new wealth of resource, and a surety of technique which is master of itself.

We must also include in the product of this period a set of eight preludes and fugues,[73] which, although very simple, are already the work of a fine hand. They are undoubtedly compositions which Bach destined for his pupils.

Bach is now about to cast himself free from the restrictions placed about him by the study of his first masters; finally in possession of all their resources, he will acquire those of others, enlarging his field of vision, already marvelously well-prepared by his earlier labors to make room for the results of his search after new conquests.


During Bach's first years in Weimar a new factor enters into his evolution, or rather forces itself upon it, quite without seeking on his part; it is simply the result of the experience gained in the fulfilment of his new duties.

Ever since this epoch Weimar has been distinguished among the German courts by a more refined culture, a taste for art which up to the present time has never diminished.

In this instance the impetus did not emanate from the reigning prince. Wilhelm Ernst was a man of education, it is true, and in his-37- service were good artists; but, absorbed in a solitary life[74] of exceeding piety, and occupied with good works, the duke entrusted to his nephew, Johann Ernst,[75] the duty of encouraging his musicians. Johann Ernst was skilled in music, playing the harpsichord and the violin; he had even studied the elements of composition with Walther;[76] music was made to cater to his sickly constitution, especially the Italian chamber music, for solo instruments and orchestra, whose subtle charm was well suited to this invalid; for he himself could take part in its performance.

Bach's temperament, so entirely different, was certain to draw its lesson from association with such works; the precise moment has now arrived when, by his own determination, he shall profit by it; he is master of his own virtuosity; and both his manual dexterity and his present position make it possible for him to choose what-38- he will retain of the ideas which crowd upon his imagination in such profusion. To succeed in such a choice were already to produce a work of art; but to bring these ideas into their proper relative order, the selection once made, is the achievement of a great artist.

The Italians had for a long time possessed precisely this sense of correct succession; this architectural aspect of the art could not fail to attract, by its harmony of proportions, those who had always displayed so much taste in works of sculpture.

It is particularly to be noted that what the Germans were able to acquire from these composers, they derived from the concerted music for stringed instruments. In fact, it may be said without exaggeration that, while the Germans were well-informed, not only upon organ composition, but upon vocal writing as well, still they possessed no violinists,[77] in the sense that among them there was no one who wrote for that instrument with the clearness or sentiment which it demanded. The Italians brought them something more, if not something essentially different: the interesting and varied movements, the perfect balance between the musical phrases, the elaboration and refinement of design for which they always strove; for it was with them that monody first dawned, and was afterwards developed. It is easy to conceive that with instruments the conditions are varied; although that is not saying that a manner of writing suited to one instrument may not also be fitted to another; in writing for strings the same style recommended itself to the Italians as that which had enriched the-39- school of organ composition. We refer particularly to the sonatas and concertos.

While the sonata still lacked that unity resulting from the development and ingenious combination of two themes of necessary co-relationship, which P.E. Bach was to impart to it later, it already possessed three well-defined divisions at least, as is indicated by the variety of the movements: the first one rapid in tempo, assertive; the second slow, full of sentiment; while the third finished gaily, often recalling the rhythms of popular dances.

As to the concerto, it was on the whole nothing more than a sonata for one, sometimes for more than one solo instrument, accompanied by the orchestra, whose interludes produced new effects through the contrast between the soli and the tutti.

The facilities offered by the organ, with its several keyboards, for the delineation of these designs, rendered it particularly appropriate that they should be transcribed for that instrument. This Bach did. In addition to sixteen transcriptions for the harpsichord, he left us arrangements for the organ of three of Vivaldi's[78] concertos, and the first movement of a fourth.[79] They are arrangements, rather than integral reproductions; and if we take a certain interest in this transcription for the organ, by special methods, of works not originally-40- intended for that instrument, it is an interest like that inspired by a well-made translation.

Possibly Bach regarded it in another light; for him it may have been a means of penetrating to the core of such compositions, of analyzing their inherent qualities.

We now see him quite preoccupied with this three-movement form; take, for instance, the Toccata in C major.[80]

The Prelude itself is subdivided. First we find an introduction,[81] free in style; then an Allegro, built, as is very important to notice, upon two different and well-defined themes.[82]

An Adagio follows; a sort of instrumental solo sustained by a homophonic accompaniment, examples of which are comparatively rare in Bach; and accentuated by a continuo, like the pizzicato of the orchestra. A short succession of chords à la Buxtehude and quasi-recitativo-41-[83] separates this Adagio from the fugue; the rapid tempo of this latter is still of the earlier period, and recalls, in its progressions in thirds, various subjects of Buxtehude.

Bach was not content with writing in the Italian forms. In the fugue in B minor[84] he borrowed themes from the Corelli[85] sonatas, and in the one in C minor[86] he levied tribute upon works of Legrenzi; upon which one of the latter is not definitely known.

In this connection we see what further profit Bach derived from his study of Italian chamber music, not only in the logic of composition in general, but in certain species of writing, particularly in that in three parts.

But all this did not satisfy him; he wished to know the organ works of Italian composers. We have seen that he copied with his own hand the Fiori musicali of Frescobaldi.

This copy is dated 1714; it thus belongs to the Weimar period. The canzona in D minor[87] must have been written shortly after the completion of this task; at any rate, it is interesting to trace the characteristics of this piece to that source.

Notice first of all the theme; it is found in the Canzon Dopo la Pistola (sic), on page 77 of the Fiori musicali (edition of 1635), where it appears as the answer to the principal subject. Frescobaldi presents it in this form:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

The chromatic countersubject is also found in the Fiori musicali, in the fifth verse of the Kyrie delli Apostoli (Christe, p. 38).


[Listen] [MusicXML]

Further, in comparing the sixth measure of this Christe with the tenth part of the Canzona of Bach, we see why these two themes, although quite in the style of Bach, still are obviously the result of his study of Frescobaldi; in fact, this measure contains a fragment of the theme just quoted, with the very alteration afterwards made by Bach.

In this present case of the employment of a chromatic countersubject Bach evidently had Frescobaldi in mind; considering, and rightly, the frequent use of motives of this kind to be characteristic of the latter. But while Bach believed himself in so far indebted to an Italian master, he was in reality only following the traditions of Sweelinck,[88] who had already furnished him noteworthy examples of this style.

In fact, Frescobaldi acquired these resources during his stay in Flanders; perhaps he obtained them from Sweelinck himself, whom he undoubtedly knew in Amsterdam. A Fantasie by Sweelinck, edited-43- by R. Eitner,[89] is written wholly upon this form of the Ionic tetrachord:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

We may compare the counterpoint which accompanies it with those of Frescobaldi and of Bach:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

These characteristics of treatment found great favor with Flemish organists, by whom they were introduced. Peter Philipps, an organist of Soignies, makes use of them in a "Gagliarda," and in the "Pavana dolorosa"; composed in prison, according to an addition in a strange hand in the manuscript. S. Scheidt, a pupil of Sweelinck, avails himself of them in various instances (Fantaisie super "Io son ferito casso", "Fuga quadruplici," etc.).

This mannerism prevailed for some years; we again find it in the works of Froberger (Toccata fatto a Bruxellis Anno 1650) and in a fugue in E flat by Christopher Bach, of which the following is the subject:

[Listen] [MusicXML]


Finally, to illustrate the employment of this sort of theme, we will quote the beginning of a "Point d'orgue sur les Grands Jeux," by Grigny.[90]

[Listen] [MusicXML]

In secular music composers exhibited the same fondness for this chromatic style of progression, employed to express sorrow or dread (it is interesting to note that at every musical epoch this or that motive or chord, later certain instruments, express certain definite emotions).

Thus, in the following example from G. Andrea Bontempi, taken from the opera "Paride" produced at Dresden in 1662:

[Listen] [MusicXML]


Già trafitto ha il mesto seno,
chi soccorso, o ciel, mi da?


In the second Sonate à Programme of Kuhnau this phrase must impress one with the depth of Saul's melancholy:[91]

[Listen] [MusicXML]

Purcell,[92] in the "Orpheus brittanicus" (London, 1706) gives us still further examples of this character. Among others, "O let me weep" (Book I, p. 171),

[Listen] [MusicXML]

and "Here the Deities approve" (Book I, p. 206):

[Listen] [MusicXML]

We repeat, it is undoubtedly in intentional recollection of the "Fiori musicali" that Bach here makes use of a mannerism which, moreover, was so familiar to him; it is through details of this sort that one is able to gain the mastery of a style which one desires to imitate. As for that, we must not forget that Bach wrote after nearly a century had elapsed. If you will, it is like an ancient painting copied by a modern master, who, although able to correct the perspective, would cause the picture to lose none of its archaic charm, while he would impart to it a certain quality of warmth. Thus, in the canzona, notice that progression of the soprano (beginning at the-46- 48th measure) which ascends like the broad sweep of violins, then falls gracefully back upon a well-rounded line—a contrast expressing great tenderness, compared with the austere rigidity of the scholastic rhythm with which the countersubject at the same time pursues its heavy course, in an obsolete style of counterpoint.

Here is truly the cantable,[93] as Bach called it, never hesitating to coin French words; the second part of the Canzona which follows this species of march is written in 3/2 time, after the established rule; it is more abstract, and not without prolixity.

If all the grace, the melodic freedom of the Canzone of Frescobaldi are surpassed in this work, an Alla Breve[94] in D major reminds us more of the studied style, of the continuous movement of the Ricercare, with some reminiscence of a piece which Pachelbel wrote under the same title and in the same key.[95]

The Passacaglia[96] again exemplifies the discreet cleverness which Bach henceforth displays in his imitations; he realizes that he has risen above his models, and he now chooses his colors with a critical eye. In this instance he takes us back to Buxtehude.

Among the works of the latter are various pieces of this same order, Passacaglias or Chaconnes, written over an ostinato; which is not necessarily confined to the bass in its original form, but which modulates here and there into closely related keys, or appears in other parts.

The seriousness of the beginning of the Bach Passacaglia cannot-47- cause us to forget that calm entrance, in its very reserve so sad, of the Passacaglio (sic) of Buxtehude (ed. Spitta, No. I, p. 1):

[Listen] [MusicXML]

or the profound melancholy of the commencement of the Ciacona (ibid., No. II, p. 6):

[Listen] [MusicXML]


The majority of the details of the Passacaglia, moreover, establish its relationship to the two works which we have just cited.

For example, the broken chords (beginning with the 113th measure), which remind us of the following (Ciacona, p. 10):

[Listen] [MusicXML]

Also the rapid progressions accompanied by solid chords (Ciacona, p. 11):

[Listen] [MusicXML]

finally the sixteenth-notes in triplets (Passacaglio, p. 4).

The idea of joining a fugue to the Passacaglias was also derived from Buxtehude, who united a chaconne and a fugue (ibid., No. V).

All this is only incidental, it is true; and we recognize Bach in the length of the work (293 measures) and especially in the skilful counterpoint of the fugue.

From our point of view, the Passacaglio and the Canzone express the whole philosophy of this second period. Bach attains, in these two works, the highest point which it was then possible for him to reach; he comes into his first maturity in treating, it is true, established forms, through which he acquires the necessary mastership for the exploration of new fields.

From this moment progress is manifest. Take the prelude and fugue in F minor;[97] no more superfluous ornaments in the prelude,-49- and, what is especially noteworthy, it is founded entirely, not yet upon a clearly defined subject, but still upon a figure which affects the whole ensemble, imparting to it added coherency.

Up to this time Bach had not achieved such unity, such directness of meaning; and the rapid, stormy passage at the end is more than a mere brilliant cadence: it bears the musical distinction of adding to the dignity of the peroration by emphasizing the tonality, the threads of which are thus united.

In the two preludes in C minor which bear the title of Fantaisies[98] these characteristics are still more pronounced; it is from a veritable subject that they derive the somewhat elegiac character common to both, as well as certain details and even the general outlines; the one is, nevertheless, somewhat more individual because of the use of two themes. Less varied, the character of the other is more intimate, although more uniform.

To the three fugues which we have mentioned must undoubtedly be added two others, from a chronological point of view, belonging to preludes of a later date; they are the fugues of the Toccata in F major,[99] and of a prelude in C minor.[100] There is truly a remarkable analogy between these five fugues, both in the character of their themes—no longer agitated in movement, but approaching in a slight degree the melodious seriousness of the chorale—and in their treatment. In each of them the interest increases with the development, and the introduction of an accessory subject toward the middle portion (afterwards related to the principal theme), either as a countersubject or for the purpose of preparing the reëntrance of the principal theme, is common to them all.

The Toccata[101] in the Dorian mode and the accompanying fugue-50- are perhaps contemporary; this imposing composition still partakes of that character of studied virtuosity which Bach was destined completely to abandon in his later years.


After resigning his post at the palace in Weimar, Bach never again occupied an official position as organist. Not that he renounced the instrument which he so loved to play, but he was no longer obliged to fulfil the requirements of regular service; his earlier compositions he could gather together and correct at his ease, and finally bring out no new ones that were not thoroughly in accordance with his ideals.

The number of these new organ compositions also diminished in an extraordinary degree; for from all the thirty-three years embraced in this last period, but about twenty works exist for our study.

Although Bach no longer bore the title of organist while at Cöthen, it must not be inferred that access to the organs of the town was denied him; for instance, to the instrument in the St. Agnuskirche, the pedal of which was unusually extended in compass. We learn, in fact, from a work of C.F. Hartmann's,[102] published at the beginning of this century, that the pedal of this organ was two and a half octaves in range, extending up to f'[103] inclusive, while the organs of that period usually possessed but two octaves in the pedal, from C to c', with sometimes c'♯ and d' in addition.

This instrument, although of modest dimensions, responded to-51- the touch with remarkable precision and promptness. And we have good reason for believing that Bach had it in mind when he wrote the Toccata in F major;[104] this piece has always been played, traditionally, at a very rapid tempo; and one encounters at various points high f's and e's in the pedal part. If Bach, who was continually seeking new instruments or improvements hitherto ignored, had not had at his disposition a pedalier upon which he could play this pedal part, he undoubtedly would have so written it as to make it generally practicable for performance. It seems evident, on the contrary, that he composed this work only in order to take advantage of a resource which he had not encountered before; thus the date of this Toccata appears to be between the years 1717 and 1723, the period of Bach's residence in Cöthen.

While remarkably brilliant, this work bears the stamp of a certain dryness; it is somewhat too much of a "show-piece,"[105] perhaps the best one of this type which Bach wrote; quite different, in so far, from the fugue in A major joined to the prelude in the same key.[106]

This fugue (also from the Cöthen period, as well as the prelude, to judge them by the pedal, which extends to e') occupies an entirely individual position among the works of Bach—one which is shared by no other work. One would say that in writing this fugue he had relaxed from the severity which the grandeur of the instrument inspired in him, lending to the work the intimate charm of a somewhat effeminate grace of movement.

The elusive rhythm of the subject, and even the theme in its entirety (though a different way), bear a strange resemblance to this fugue subject:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

given out by the oboe, repeated first by the flute, then by the viola-52- d'amore, and finally by the viola da gamba, above the continuo in the cantata "Tritt auf die Glaubensbahn."[107]

Certain portions of the fugue in A major, further, produce the effect of concerted music, conceived for different tone-colors, rather than that of a polyphony of like sounds, especially where broken chords occur in the counterpoint. At other times, when the pedal is silent, a trio-sonata is suggested. This does not surprise us; Bach was still preoccupied with the forms of Italian chamber music. We have noted the transformation which his preludes underwent under this influence, they now being constructed upon distinct subjects; and we have seen in the Toccata in C how Bach sought to write a work in three movements, each one of a different character and tempo, in imitation of the concertos and sonatas. Here and there again, as in this instance, we find attempts at three-part writing clearly defined;[108] not merely because the pedal remains silent, but by reason of a plainly indicated design.

Bach aligned these endeavors in definite order, classified their essentials, and embodied them in the sonatas, or rather trios, for two manuals and pedal.[109]

Play these trios upon the organ, and you will divert them from their original destination. Bach composed them for the clavecin with two manuals and pedal, between the years 1722 and 1727,[110] for the purpose, Forkel tells us, of instructing his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann, in organ-playing, through their use in home practice.

The structure of these sonatas is analogous to that of the six violin-53- sonatas of Bach with clavecin accompaniment; they still lack the definite form of the modern sonata;[111] they are more, as has been said, "lyric pieces."

If Bach wrote these trios to accustom his son to the technical difficulties of the organ, perchance considering them only a set of studies, and for himself an interesting occupation by which he might profit, his motives in writing the Fantasie and Fugue in G minor[112] were, apparently, very different, and may be definitely connected with the journey which he made to Hamburg in 1720. This is an hypothesis which is sustained by a whole chain of circumstances.

First of all, Mattheson, in his treatise upon thorough-bass,[113] furnishes the ground for our premise; he cites the following fugue subject as having been given to a candidate who was undergoing an examination for an organ position:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

with this countersubject:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

He adds that this theme was well known, and that it had been chosen to assist the candidate in his task, since he would already have had an opportunity of hearing it treated; he says, further, that its origin was not unknown, and that it was well known who had been the first to make use of it with success.

Mattheson, who wrote this about 1725, seems to be speaking of a-54- theme unusually familiar. Was it not from Bach himself—the examination took place at Hamburg—that the candidate, who was from that city or a neighboring locality, would probably have heard a fugue composed upon this same subject?

Moreover, an examination of the prelude will confirm this opinion. Through his study of the works of Buxtehude and of Reinken, the venerable organist, Bach had possessed himself of all their secrets. The opportunity had come for him to demonstrate to the organists of Hamburg how, in imitating them, he could surpass them on their own ground.

For the characteristics of the prelude resemble those of the works of these men; recitatives, rapid passages which cover the entire compass of the manuals; chord progressions with bold, unforeseen modulations; subjects treated in imitation. But the recitatives are of an expressive, declamatory character which was then unheard of; the rapid passages are the forerunners of "those scales, those tremendous ascending and descending scales which rise and fall like the waves of the sea in a storm,"[114] which Mozart wrote in the overture to Don Giovanni; the chord progressions, with a daring which had never been exceeded, leading to that gigantic passage (measures 31 to 40), a veritable orchestral crescendo, where all resources of sonority deploy themselves in radiation, taking on new force with each strong beat; it serves also as an example of the crescendo which may be obtained upon the organ without recourse to modern appliances. Finally, the motive treated in imitation (measures 9 to 13) vouchsafes us a period of repose, corresponding to a point of temporary rest in the midst of chaotic agitation; it is the calm supplication of prayer which alternates with the power of the elements freed from their fetters.

The opposition of these varied means of expression imparts to this piece a value which the works of Buxtehude, despite their valuable qualities, will never possess. I refer to those designs, in the absence of which music stifles, giving the impression of a drawing without perspective; such qualities are essential, especially in music com-55-posed for the organ, whose manuals, of different intensity, so easily accomplish the display of the various phases, emphasizing one subject while leaving another in the background.

Pölchau, in the 18th century, declared that the fugue accompanying this prelude was the "best work with pedal ever written by Bach." It is rarely allowable to pronounce such absolute judgments, or even to subscribe to them; that it is one of the best, however, there can be no doubt; still greater through that unity of opposition, through the effect of continuity which it produces, like the uninterrupted course of a great river, contrasted with the boiling torrent which terrifies our imagination.

It now remains for us to speak only of the prelude and fugue in E flat major, and of the six preludes and fugues which have been surnamed "the great." These latter, which are found together in the manuscript, were, perhaps, assembled by Bach for publication; that was not, however, accomplished.

Of all the compositions which we have cited thus far, only the prelude and fugue in E flat were published during the composer's life.

The prelude stands at the head of the third part of the Clavierübung[115] and the fugue ends that volume. In any case, there is no doubt that these two pieces belong together. Griepenkerl, who in his edition[116] united them for the first time, declares that he did not do so arbitrarily, but that he was justified by Forkel, who in turn derived his authority from Bach's sons.

Moreover, a comparison of these two pieces will show their similarity; while the prelude is more grandiose, the character of the fugued portions is quite the same in the one as in the other; more-56-over, the polyphony, in each case in five parts, indicates an evident unity of composition.[117]

The publication of the Clavierübung may be fixed at about the year 1739. The prelude and fugue in E minor[118] are probably anterior to this work; a minute study of the autographs has given Ph. Spitta reason to place the composition between 1727 and 1736.

In the strict succession broadly established by a prelude developed at length (137 measures), follows the fugue, of still greater dimensions (231). It is the longest of all the Bach fugues, but, despite its proportions, the interest does not flag for a moment. Here again Bach constructed his subject upon that same chromatic progression to which he already owed so many expressive combinations; but the theme soon retires into the background of this fugue; it is but the excuse for a counter-theme of singular pathos, which assumes the importance of a symphonic subject, freely treated.

We should place by the side of this masterpiece the prelude and fugue in B minor.[119] The beauties of this composition are of a character quite as lofty, to which no analysis can do justice. It is a sort of soul-language, of which Hegel says, in his Aesthetik: "If we consider all intercourse of the soul with the beautiful as a deliverance, as a release from all trouble, it is in music that we must seek the completeness of that liberation."

Undoubtedly it is also "that internal harmony which lifts us for an instant out of the infinite depths of longing, which delivers the soul from the oppression of the will, which diverts our attention from all that is importunate, showing us things divested of all the influences of anticipation, of every personal interest, becoming objects of disinterested contemplation, and not of covetousness; thus this repose, vainly sought along the open paths of desire, but which has always eluded us, appears to us, as it were, of its own volition, and vouchsafes the realization of peace in plenty. This free condition of sad-57-ness Epicurus pronounced the chief of all good, the happiness of the gods."[120]

To the six greater preludes and fugues also belong the prelude in C major[121]—which, reproduced in an altered form by Bach himself upon another occasion, recalls in both its forms the beginning of the Concerto in C major for two clavecins—and the prelude in C minor,[122] the fugue of which (as we have already seen) must be earlier in date. Otherwise the great fugue in A minor,[123] the prelude of which, included with the fugue in this series, is still replete with souvenirs of Buxtehude, and would thus revert to the Weimar period.

Finally, we would mention the prelude in C major in 9-8 time[124]; it recalls in its movement a fantasia by Froberger.

It is curious to observe that the fugue which follows it played a part in the inspiration of Die Meistersinger, in its analogous figures, and in resuming the subject at the close, this time in augmentation, like a chorale melody.

Is it not of some interest to see brought together, in a work of Bach's, these extremes in music? Froberger, with all his inheritance of past centuries; Wagner, proclaiming the dawn of a new art?




We have seen to what an early period of Bach's life his first free compositions revert; perhaps of still earlier origin are the works which the Chorales inspired in him.

Liturgical in character, and thus all the more closely identified with the popular sources from which he sometimes drew his own inspirations in order to idealize them mystically in a sort of "procession en Dieu," the chorale is the soul of Lutheran religious music. Far more; this universal prayer, the spiritualized communion of the faithful (their sole participation, really, in a dogma freely interpreted), passed from the inner temple to the outer court, like the reading of Holy Writ; the Bible was the book of the family, the volume of chorales its musical breviary.

The very first arrangements of chorales made by Bach convey a little of that intimate charm, of that impression of "home" and its domestic circle, where in the evening the hymns are sung between the reading of two chapters from the Evangelists; it would seem as though the young man, an orphan, in imparting to them their expression of quiet sympathy, desired that they should take the place of those same intimate pleasures which had been denied him.

In fact, the "Partite," these two sets of variations upon "Christ, der Du bist der helle Tag" and "Gott, Du frommer Gott,"[125] lend themselves but poorly to the somewhat formal solemnity of a public service.

The influence of the style of G. Böhm, which betrays itself from one end to the other of these compositions, and their resemblance to-59- clavecin pieces, would seem to indicate that they belong to the Lüneburg period, when Bach had but rarely, at best, an organ at his disposal. Here we find heavy, solid chords, undoubtedly intended to augment the tone of the weak instrument, as the profuse ornaments were to prolong it. They are written without pedal, or, at most, in one variation, for the pedal of a clavecin; for the pedal part of this last variation of Christ, der Du bist der helle Tag cannot be played upon the organ as it is written; the whole design of the sixteenth-notes in the left hand would be covered up. On the contrary, entrusted to the basses of the clavecin, which do not prolong the tone, they merely serve to accentuate the rhythm.

The chorale Christ lag in Todesbanden[126] is analogous in character, and doubtless belongs to the same period.[127]

Among the chorales of the earlier years should be included a prelude in G major upon Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern.[128] This work dates, perhaps, from Arnstadt; three other chorales, published by Commer,[129] and similar to those of Christopher Bach, are of still earlier origin.

Aside from these chorales, which are separate, and a few others equally isolated, of which we shall speak in their proper place, the greater part of the Bach chorales have been brought together in various collections, although some have been published separately.


In chronological order, the first of these collections is the Orgelbüchlein.[130]


Because this collection was made at Cöthen, it must not be supposed that the chorales which it comprises were composed only during the period of Bach's service to Prince Leopold of Anhalt; Bach rather made a practical arrangement of them, whereby they might serve as a useful work for his pupils.

It comprises forty-five chorales, of which a goodly portion undoubtedly belong to the years in Weimar—perhaps to a still earlier period.

These chorales are generally written after the models furnished by Pachelbel; but where Pachelbel is merely calmly devout, or placidly harmonious, Bach, with a more exalted piety and distinctly more poetic, lends to them whatever of mystic character he could derive from the text of the hymns; in addition, he imbues them with all the picturesqueness suggested by the sense of the words.

And what variety in the choice of means to be employed! Sometimes there are progressions which fairly chill us, simply the result of a note purposely prolonged, or a succession of chords strikingly disjointed, which seem to clash with incompatible harmonies, as at the close of Alle Menschen müssen sterben; or a false relation seems fraught with fatality, as well as with complete desolation, as in O Mensch, bewein' dein' Sünde gross. At other times will be found motives whose symbolic character is not the result of chance; for example, all the irreparability of the primeval fall of man[131] is symbolized by diminished sevenths, pitching obliquely downwards, as if in a veritable vertigo; or the gliding of scales in opposite directions depicts the balancing of a flying object hovering in space—skimming over the earth, and already out of range, while, in the repetitions, the flapping of wings emphasizes the rhythm.


Certain rhythms also assist Bach in his task; to express the fulness of joy in the chorale In Dir ist Freude, Bach constructed his prelude upon a chaconne movement, a carillon theme, repeated unceasingly by the bass; the sole subject perceptible, of which the other parts are but an indistinct reflection; even the melody of the chorale is lost sight of in the vibrations of the bass, but, nevertheless, it presents itself in the voices, which repeat it in fragments, sometimes with elaboration, like the hum of a great people celebrating a festival, who emerge in vast throngs from the church whence the final reverberations of the organ still voice its rhythm,[132] and who betake themselves, thenceforth busy with their pleasures, to the sunny square now invaded by the sound of the bells ringing their full peals.

Certain chorales are expressive enough to pass as paraphrases; Bach did not err in judgment, and reserved for them a discreet accompaniment, which is sustained very softly, asserting itself only to provide for the melody a "breathing space," as it were, after which it may reappear with increased breadth.

This is exemplified in Herzlich thut mich verlangen, a favorite chorale with Bach, with its gloomily suspensive ending, expressive of desire or of doubt in its employment of the Phrygian mode, which supports the harmonies, delicately ambiguous in the irresolution of a petition.

This mystical fervor, intensified by Bach, was foreign to the conception of the composer of this melody; Hans Leo Hassler, as he wrote it, saw in it nothing of a chorale, still less of a hymn, but designed it simply for the words of a five-part madrigal:[133] Mein G'müth ist mir verwirret, a poem dedicated to a certain "Maria," the initial letters of the five verses forming the acrostic of her name.

Meanwhile, the producers of religious songs soon laid hold of this-62- one; to this secular music was adapted, in 1613, the translation made by Paul Gerhardt of the Salve caput cruentatum,[134] written by St. Bernard; it thus became the hymn of Holy Week. During the century, certain publishers (Rhamba-Görlitz) still further distorted its meaning; it was henceforth heard at funerals, expressing the longing to leave the earth, whereas formerly it had served to salute the bloodstained face of the Saviour, while, in the by-ways, amorous lute-players languished to its tones in "courtly diminutions."

But had not Luther said, "Why should the Devil have all the best tunes?"

The canon form inspired Bach to compose some curious arrangements of chorales. He commanded so many artifices, could devise such ingenious counterpoints with which to create interest, to overcome the rigidity of scholastic practices, and in addition could clothe the composition in so rich an "orchestration," that it becomes a pleasure to play something so erudite, so natural does it sound to the ear. This double interest offered to the mind and to the ear is exemplified in a canon upon Hilf Gott, dass mir gelinge, where, interlacing itself amid the imitations in the fifth, a sustained movement in triplets runs through the entire compass of the keyboard. In In Dulci Jubilo, similar triplets, liquidly intangible, imperceptibly disintegrate the rhythm, soften its somewhat harsh character. This chorale recalls Bach's stay in Cöthen by the unusual compass of its pedal part, which extends upward to F sharp; so, for the same reason, does the chorale Gottes Sohn ist kommen, also written in canon.

Of the other chorales in the Orgelbüchlein, a small number, it is true, recall chorales by the organists of the North German school; as examples of this style we would cite Wenn wir in höchsten Nöthen sein and Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten, both, in the ornamentation of their melodies, characteristic of the Reinkens and Buxtehudes.

Finally, we would call attention, in Ich ruf' zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ, to a form of writing truly instrumental, at the same time as analogous to the style of the Adagio (in A minor) of the Toccata-63- in C major, as the repetitions of notes are characteristic of G. Böhm.[135]


The chorales of the Orgelbüchlein were compiled by Bach for purposes of instruction, as we have seen. It is not known whether it was his intention to publish them, or the eighteen Choralvorspiele[136]—sixteen autographs and two copies in Altnikol's hand—the MSS. of which are preserved in Berlin. In any case, these latter would have been rather for personal use than to serve as exercises for his pupils.

In this collection a form of chorale arrangement is found which we did not encounter in the Orgelbüchlein, the trio.[137] From a subject taken from a chorale melody, Bach forms a figure, which he develops-64- in three parts in the style of the sonatas for two manuals and pedal; fragments of the cantus firmus recur in these arabesques, sometimes repeated upon one after another of the manual keyboards, as an echo; or perhaps the pedal finally lays hold of them, entirely reconstructing the chorale—a stately cadence. What Bach calls a "Fantasia"[138] is of analogous character; the difference being, that the parts are more numerous, and no longer confined to a strictly continuous design.

A fusion of Pachelbel's style with that of the organists of the North, although modified, furnishes a new type: the melody is figured, it is true, but very discreetly; and the phrases of which it is composed are treated separately, each being preceded by a counterpoint derived from itself. The chorale An Wasserflüssen Babylons[139] (super flumina Babylonis), for example, is thus written. The cantus firmus is sustained by the tenor, almost without elaboration, supported by rich polyphonic imitations of these various motives.

In the same style of composition, born of a poetic imagination, is the chorale-prelude Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele.

"Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele!" Adorn thyself, O dear soul; be full of virtue, to please God; yet, however pure, may thy virtue be-65- natural and effortless! Be full of grace, and may thy virtue be a very beautiful thing; doubtless thou hast never sinned, and thus there is no question of repentance ... that would evoke some feeling of sadness, and no sadness whatsoever can exist here; thou art already very noble, and thou must become still more noble; already very limpid, thou must become still more limpid; although far from the earth, arise now towards the heavens.... Sublime as thou art, thou must become divine. Let thy virtue be a very beautiful thing!

"Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele!" Adorn thyself, O dear soul! And Johann Sebastian treats a single line of the very calm and too austere chorale. Its robes of sackcloth being somewhat too severe, he bedecks it with simple and suave ornaments, like lilies which would live on a plain and naked altar. So might a learned and holy priest speak those words which at once charm and sanctify; and his hands do not remain crossed upon his breast, but his gesture mounts upwards towards God, scarcely saddened by a separation which soon will cease ... virtue is a joyful thing!

"Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele!" Adorn thyself, O dear soul. And now, suddenly, upon a distant manual, the calm and less severe chorale is heard. Do those voices mount towards God, or do they call from heaven? Is it a prayer which rises, or the dew of a grace which softly falls like the rain? And the suave ornaments of a simple melody thus live like lilies, and breathe no sadness. For virtue is beautiful and joyous.... "Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele!" Adorn thyself, O dear soul!

Bach wrote this chorale on a Sunday, as a pious man conceives in his heart a beautiful and childlike prayer, for the heavens are very pure on that day, and one's soul is wholly sincere.[140]


At the end of this volume are the variations in canon form upon the Christmas hymn Vom Himmel hoch da komm' ich her.[141] The combinations in which Bach involves this chorale melody, already often treated by him, might well dismay a contrapuntist; we wish to note here only that original melodic richness, often touching, under which is concealed such arduous labor leading to inconceivable results. Fatigued in following their intricacy, powerless to unravel the inextricable network, the mind clings to these threads, though still indefinite—music now superhuman in the swishing of invisible wings as they fold, or rustle like silk in their contact;—or gliding, rather, without conjuring up any special sound, but leaving to the fancy the whole halo of harmonies; or like an echo, as if fragments caught here and there repeated the song which spirit-voices pray—the white souls of the pure in heart—these voices in peaceful chords, strangely sustained, or so gently persistent that the saints must hear them, in ecstasies which one feels as in a dream; the song which the stars revealed, murmured to the Child, who was lulled by the incommensurable rhythm of the universal concert emanating from God.[142]


The Third Part of the Clavierübung contains twenty-one arrangements of chorales.[143] The "Hymns of the Catechism" and the Creed-67- furnish twelve of them, each melody treated twice, with or without pedal. These chorales may be cited as examples of certain well-defined types; it is unnecessary to identify each one of them separately, rather will we leave to the reader the task of such a classification. Some of them, however, are deserving of special mention; the Vater unser im Himmelreich (treated in canon), for its extended proportions, for the fulness of its harmony; the Aus tiefer Noth (de Profundis) in six parts, with double pedal, noteworthy in that it appears to have been written for two pedal-keyboards of different intensity, the melody dominating by its power, crying out amidst the symbolical chaos of this gigantic polyphony.

We shall not again touch on that faculty which Bach possessed of translating into music the words of the chorales, whether in their most obscure meaning, or in their most obviously picturesque significance. Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott, "A mighty fortress is our God," sings Luther, and Bach emphasizes the suggestion of impregnability by supporting the melody upon the deepest basses of the organ; but this firmness reveals itself only after the repulse of an attack, after the warring of the counterpoints below the ramparts.

It is the same procedure as in the Reformation Cantata Und wenn die Welt voll Teufel wär', "And were the world of devils full," as Luther's song runs; "on a sudden, figures of infernal aspect, issuing from unknown depths, rush to the assault upon the noble melody of the chorale."[144]

But such agencies partake rather of an instrumental style, interesting in an organ prelude, where they are more in place; in the cantata these counterpoints are entrusted to a bass voice; while putting the singer out of breath, they impress upon the audience a sort of wearisome anxiety; "without doubt," says Hanslick, "Bach obeys a fine symbolic instinct in entrusting the calm and steadfast melody of the chorale to one voice, while the other, in elaborate design, creeps about it; but not everything of symbolic significance must, for that reason, be beautiful in itself."


It is known that the last work of Bach was a chorale-prelude upon the melody of Wenn wir in höchsten Nöthen sein, or Vor deinen Thron trete ich,[145] which he dictated upon his deathbed to his son-in-law, Altnikol. This composition was added to the plates of Die Kunst der Fuge (the Art of Fugue), unfortunately lost, which Bach had had prepared at the time.

"To replace the unfinished portion of the last fugue, the work has for a supplement a four-part chorale, Wenn wir in höchsten Nöthen sein, which Bach dedicated some days before his death to his son-in-law, Altnikol. I will not dwell on the art which he displays here, for the profound science of music had been so mastered by the author that he could exercise it even in illness; but the expression of pious resignation and devotion with which it overflows has touched me deeply every time I have played it; and I cannot say which I would rather do without, this chorale, or the ending of the fugue."[146]

The text of this chorale was, moreover, singularly appropriate to Bach's condition when he composed it, viewed as a lament amid the terrors of death, or as a declaration of readiness to appear before the throne of that God whose aid he invoked at the head of his compositions.[147]

This chorale has been called the "Swan-song."

In completing this study we must mention the chorale-accompaniments which Bach wrote to sustain the singing of the congregation, which are found in a manuscript of Kittel (P. v, Appendix, Nos. 1, 3, 6, 7, and last) and in a copy by Forkel (P. vi, 26).

They are quite different from those which he wrote in 1706, upon his return from Lübeck, and which so scandalized the parish, confusing the congregation by their ornamentation.



It is well known how important is the rôle played in the execution of organ music by the registration, and the skilful combination of the keyboards.

Bach left but few directions upon this subject; but with their aid, and the assistance of other hints derived from tradition or found in works of that period, and by placing before the reader the specifications of the principal organs which Bach may have had at his disposal during his long career, we will try to form an idea of what Forkel calls "the exquisite art with which he combined the various registers of the organ, and his manner of treating them."[148]

And our task is now the more delicate, because we cannot draw our conclusions from expressions which bore, at Bach's time, a significance quite different from that which we ascribe to them to-day. Furthermore, we would not lay down any absolute rules in the matter, which in truth is, above all, subjective, the artistic province of the executant. We shall simply point out what Bach indicated in certain definite instances; and, on the other hand, that which was customary at his time. In fact, in authoritative works of the centuries just past, veritable methods of registration exist; and without reverting to the documentary evidence (valuable, though too concise), inserted ad hoc by Scheidt at the end of his Tabulatura nova (Hamburg, 1624), we often find, at the head of pieces written at the end of the seventeenth, or during the eighteenth century, indications of the registration to be employed; given by composers less discreet than Bach. Among the number are not a few Frenchmen, and those men not to be despised; on the contrary, we shall prove how Bach frequently bor-70-rowed from their highly picturesque art of registration. No wonder if he provoked a renewed interest in their original "mélanges."

He copied a suite in A major by Nicolas de Grigny, organist at Rheims, and a suite in F minor by Dieupart,[149] and added to them a table of twenty-nine ornaments, with their interpretation. And he was acquainted with the works of Marchand, Nivers, d'Anglebert, and particularly of François Couperin. I doubt whether the intrinsic value of these compositions, despite their entertaining nature in some cases (for instance, Couperin's descriptive pieces), succeeded in holding his attention for any length of time; Bach could learn nothing from their technique, so often elementary; but he knew how to draw profit from their accessory qualities. Certain combinations of registers seem to us, in fact, to have been directly inspired by the study of their livres d'orgues, just as certain ornaments appear to have been borrowed from the "Agrémens" of their clavecin pieces.


We have said that one must not invariably interpret, by their present meaning, certain expressions whose significance is no longer the same as when Bach wrote.

First of all, the term Organo pleno, sometimes the sole indication given by Bach for preludes, fugues, or fantasies; one is often tempted to interpret it, on modern organs, by calling into requisition the-71- uproar of all the registers combined, to whatever family they may belong.

Let us see what was understood in Bach's time by organo pleno, or volles Werk. "The volles Werk," says Mattheson,[150] "consists of principals, Sordunen (the bourdons of to-day), salicionals, octaves, quints, mixtures, Scharffen (small-scale mixtures of three ranks), of the quintadena, cymbale, nazard,[151] twelfth, sesquialtera,[152] and of super-octaves; with the Posaunen in the pedal, but not upon the manual; for the Posaunen are reeds, which are not drawn upon the manual with full organ, where, on account of the higher pitch, they would be too rasping; in the pedal, on the contrary, through the sonority of their tones, they produce a majestic effect, especially if the mouths of the pipes are covered, as is desirable."

In a former work, Mattheson had laid down the following rule for omitting the reeds from the ensemble of the registers:[153] "A reed-stop may not be drawn with the flutes upon the same keyboard, unless it be in the pedal." He makes an exception only in case the organ is not sufficiently powerful to keep a choir from wandering from the pitch and into chaos, when advantage must be taken of all resources.

The combination indicated above was, moreover, in accordance-72- with general usage;[154] it corresponded to what the French called the plein-jeu. Nivers,[155] for instance, wrote: "The plein-jeu is composed of the Prestant, the Bourdon, the Doublette, the Cymbale, and the Fourniture; to those may be added the other sixteen- and eight-foot stops, if any there be; if there be no Prestant, the Flute may be drawn."

The same combinations are found in Le Bègue, Clairembault, André Raison. The last-named presents a curious example of the contrast of the plein-jeu to the reeds, in the "Kyrie in the first mode for the plein-jeu accompanied on the pedal by a Trompette en taille."[156]

This absence of the reeds from the volles Werk, to which other writers also bear witness, is, from a practical point of view, worthy of perpetuation, especially if we consider the very considerable place in certain modern organs occupied by this family, and the intensity of timbre due to their harmonic construction.

These registers were not numerous in organs of that time, at least in Germany, and, it must be added, badly voiced; they were often nothing but antiquated imitations of the thin and shrill Regal.

Andreas Werckmeister, known through his works upon the temperament of tones as applied to the organ, wrote (Orgelprobe, 1681):

Ist unterweilen Narrwerk;
Ist es aber frisch und guth,
So erfrischt es Herz und Muth.


In old-fashioned proverbial guise Werckmeister shows us quite well what was expected from this class of stops; slow of speech, of a sharp, cutting timbre, they would not have blended with the foundation stops combined with the mixtures—an ensemble which lends extraordinary harmonic fulness to the polyphony when the combinations are judiciously made. The reeds were fitted rather to voice a serious and quiet melody, as a solo. Thanks to their sometimes strange tones, which seem, as Goethe said, to herald the advent of past centuries, echoes of supernatural voices, where the human voice, with its individual character, would lose the power of expression—the antique chorale-melody is illuminated, detached from the accompaniment, and comes as from on high; it is the gold and scarlet illumination of the missals, whereon the sacred words are brought into relief, themselves devoid of ornament, in their regular lines, but interlaced by ingenious arabesques of a softer tone, almost effaced by the brightness of the whole.

One direction of Bach's proves that he adopted this usage: in No. 2 of the Orgelbüchlein (Gottes Sohn ist kommen) the chorale is played upon the eight-foot trumpet in the pedal; the chorale In Dulci Jubilo, composed about the same time, undoubtedly demands the same registration.

It is well known that these two chorales possess a pedal-part extending unusually high (F and F sharp); this was the Cöthen pedal. In playing them upon an ordinary instrument, Bach undoubtedly played the pedal an octave lower, with a four-foot register. The organs of that period usually contained a four-foot reed-stop on the pedal, called a Cornet (which must not be confounded with the mixture of that name), or a Chalumeau (Schalmey), sometimes even of two feet. This use of stops of a higher pitch in the pedal was an old tradition; Samuel Scheidt availed himself of them in playing the chorale, and we find them expressly called for in several of six chorales published at Zella by Schübler, with the Bach annotations.[158]


Besides the reeds—trumpet, chalumeau, clarion, or vox humana—other combinations were permitted for the execution upon one manual of an accompanied solo. Mattheson (Der vollkommene Kapellmeister) gives us some examples; among others, the viola da gamba played alone, the eight-foot principal, and the cornet, the Flauto traverso, the eight-foot bourdon, and a two-foot Waldflöte.

By their particular qualities, these different combinations of registers, now in higher, now in lower relief, were suited to the performance even of the chorales. In fact, it may be said that without doubt the reeds were reserved, within the limits which we have defined, for the joyous chorales of the feast-days; the organists were governed by the necessity of adapting their manner of playing to the joyful or mournful solemnities of the liturgical year. "One plays much stronger at Easter," says Adlung,[159] "than for the funeral service; for Good Friday one must, if possible, use still more discretion." The employment of softer registers for the more serious chorales, and for funeral chants, is also recommended by Christoph Raupach, of Stralsund.[160]

We know how Bach brought out the significance of these chorales, interpreted with such supereminence, by the deft combination of the parts. The execution of a design did not make him oblivious of the interest attached to the coloring. We have already spoken of the chorale In dir ist Freude; who knows whether Bach did not intend still further to accentuate its joyous character by picturesque registration? Adlung speaks of the carillon (Glockenspiel) as being particu-75-larly fitted to symbolize gladness; and says that use was made of it only at the most joyous festivals. Mark the spiritedness of this chorale; and, further, the repetition of the chaconne subject presented in the bass, singularly suggestive of a chime of bells; and consider the period to which this composition belongs, bearing in its form the distinct impress of the organists of the North. Without serious error, could we not ascribe it to the years 1708 or 1709, the time when Bach, occupied with the restoration of the organ in Mühlhausen, wished to add, in the pedal, a carillon of his own invention? Would not the contrast of those metallic tones of four-foot pitch[161] with the deep resonance of the Untersatz of thirty-two, which he also demanded, have produced all the harmonic overtones of real bells?... But this is only an hypothesis, though a plausible one, and one which it would be amusing to justify by trying its effect in actual performance.

Gathered from the indications of J.G. Walther, the registration of another chorale appears to bear the marks of more positive authenticity. We refer to the Lutheran chorale, Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott, mentioned in a previous chapter. Walther thus annotates it: "Für 3 clav."; for the left hand he directs "Fagotto"; for the right, "Sesquialtera." First of all must we notice this combination of a mutation stop with a reed; it is derived directly from the French organists. In Grigny,[162] for instance—we cite him especially because of Bach's study of his works—may be found in various instances a Bass Trumpet, or Cromorne en taille, accompanied by the Tierce or Cornet.[163] To a certain extent the Fagotto corresponds to the Cromorne, whose tone appeared somewhat veiled. This register, which-76- Adlung tells us bore various names—Portunen, Dulcian, or Basson, among others—was sometimes added to the lower half of the great organ only, and was "of good effect in playing the basso continuo." Moreover, it was of small scale; even on the pedal it was not a noisy stop. As for the Sesquialtera, composed of the fifth and the tenth, it resembled more or less certain mutation stops of old French organs. It is noteworthy that the employment of a reed with a mixture is not mentioned by contemporary German writers; on the other hand, it would seem from the context[164] that this piece was played at the inauguration of the Mühlhausen organ, for whose restoration Bach had prepared the plans. He had demanded, among other improvements, that a Tierce be added to one of the manuals, in order that, by drawing it with a Quint, a good Sesquialtera might be produced; this in order to carry out all sorts of musical inventions of his own.

It is interesting to learn the details of this project, which, it is true, was not realized in its integrity; and it furnishes us with the most curious data upon the subject of Bach's ideas on registration and organ-building, and his own tastes.

Here it is in full:

Disposition of the new repairs upon the organ of St. Blasius.

1. Three new bellows, carefully installed, should insure a sufficiency of wind to feed the great organ, the choir, and the new swell.

2. The pressure should be increased in the four old bellows, to give speech to the new Subbass of thirty-two feet, and to the lower pipes of the other stops.

3. The old soundboards of all the bass pipes to be renewed, and the wind-supply so to be regulated that when playing with only a single stop drawn all the remaining registers may be brought on-77- suddenly without producing unsteadiness, as has been the case up to the present time; this being of the greatest importance.

4. To be added is the Subbass of thirty-two feet, called the Untersatz, which will be made of wood, to serve as the best possible foundation for the weight of the ensemble. These pipes should have a special soundboard.

5. The Bombarde is to be furnished with new and larger resonators, and the mouths of the pipes shaped differently, in order to obtain more roundness in the emission of the tone.

6. As to the new features—the Glockenspiel on the pedal, composed of twenty-six bells of four-foot pitch, desired by the parishioners, who will have them made at their own expense; while the manufacturer must see that they are rendered playable.

As to the great organ, the Trumpet, which is to be removed, will be replaced by:

7. A Fagotto (Bassoon) of sixteen feet, which will permit of all sorts of new combinations, and whose tone is to be very délicat for the musique.[165]

In place of the Gemshorn (Chamois horn) which will also be removed:

8. A Viol da Gamba of eight feet, which will blend admirably with the four-foot Salicional in the choir.

Item, if the Quint of three feet be removed, it may be replaced by

9. A Nassat of three feet.

All the other stops of the great, and all those of the choir organ, may be retained, provided they be revoiced.

10. The new swell is to be arranged as follows:

Three Principalia en montre[166] (im Gesichte).

1. Quint of three feet,}in good tin of 14 "loth" [i.e., 14 parts pure tin to 2 parts alloy].
2. Octave of two feet,}
3. Chalumeau of eight feet,}
4. Mixture of three ranks,}-78-
5. A Tierce, with which can be formed, by adding certain other stops, a fine Sesquialtera.
6. Fleute douce (sic—a soft flute) of four feet; and, finally,
7. Stillgedackt (a species of Bourdon) of eight feet, which will blend perfectly with the "music."[167] As it will be made of good wood, it will be much more resonant than if of metal.

11. Between the swell[168] and the great organ a coupler shall be constructed. Finally, the whole instrument shall be revoiced, and the tremulant made to vibrate regularly.


The document just cited, which is preserved in the archives of Mühlhausen, is full of interest; we will now make a further study of two of its sections, which treat of the same subject.

I refer to the combination of organ with orchestra in the performance of the cantatas.

First, Bach speaks of the Fagotto, whose tone so easily assimilated with that of instruments; here he agrees with his contemporaries, who recommended the use of a sixteen-foot stop of more definite timbre than the bourdons, although not stronger,—it was also called Dulcian,—"dolce suono,"—in performing the basso continuo. The employment of the Stillgedackt, the softest stop in the organ, interests us in its use as a means of filling out this same figured bass. Such a register evidently lacked power, but was sought for that quality of indefiniteness, even of vacuity, which it possessed (still, in German,-79- means quiet); this produced more the effect of diaphony, of a harmonic filling-in, like the sostenuto of certain of our wind-instruments, than of polyphony in real parts, which one could not distinguish.

These lines of J. Th. Mosewius[169] will give us, further, an idea of the rôle which the organ played in the orchestras of Bach and Händel: "It is a widely prevailing impression, and one confirmed by the new instrumentation which Mozart and Mosel made for the Händel oratorios, that by their use of the organ these two masters (Bach and Händel) supplied those features of our instrumentation which were then lacking. Such an opinion is correct, if nothing more is meant than that in concert rooms where no organ is available, it must be replaced by other instruments.[170] It must not be inferred that this new instrumentation maintains reciprocal relations with the original accompaniment. In the former it is the string-quartet which serves as the foundation of the harmony, and it is only the wind-instruments which affect the color. With Händel (and Bach) the organ, which fills out the figured bass, serves as a background for all the other instruments; the color is added by all the other voices of the orchestra, whether strings or wind."

Nothing could be more just than this statement of Mosewius; the organ serves to combine all the parts of the orchestra, unifying them without betraying its agency by any too assertive quality; a gray background, if you will, upon which some livelier colors are displayed, as in paintings of the school of Panselinos.

This testimony of Bach himself, specifying in his plans stops of a very soft and well-rounded quality for the accompanying organ, is corroborated by his contemporaries.

Scheibe, Adlung, and others permitted in the accompaniment of arias and recitatives but a single bourdon of eight feet, called, from its use for such purposes, Musikgedackt. A recitative, especially, was-80- to be sustained lightly, for fear of covering the voice of the singer; a few prolonged notes to guide him, occasional soft chords, and, curiously enough, if one believe in the strict treatment of the organ, arpeggios, as upon a clavecin.

The staccato was generally employed in playing the bass; but this license stopped here, and for ordinary organ pieces Bach exacted from his pupils the strictest legato.

Even in playing in the choruses, and with full orchestra, the organ had to be content with the "half-tone" tint; neither reeds nor mixtures, said Schröter,[171] organist in Nordhausen; Petri[172] made a similar recommendation.

Moreover, the accompaniment, at least such of it as was contrapuntal in nature or consisted of successive chords, was played usually upon the positif (choir), whose pipes were less powerful than those of the great organ; the bass was executed upon the latter manual in the manner already indicated, sometimes also legato. The pedal itself might be added here; in certain passages it only marked the accents with stops of more emphatic quality, when it was desirable to emphasize the breadth of the rhythm, or to avoid confusion, when the movement was too rapid. This is confirmed by Saint-Lambert (Traité d'accompagnement, p. 58): "When the tempo is so rapid," says he, "that the accompanist cannot conveniently play all the notes, it will suffice if he play and accompany only the first notes of each measure, leaving to the basses the task of performing all the notes, which they will be able to accomplish much more easily, having no accompaniment to play in addition. Very rapid tempi are not suited to accompanying instruments; on this account, if particularly quick passages are encountered, even in a slow movement, the accompagneur (sic) may leave them to the other instruments; or, if he play them himself, he may so modify them as to play only the principal notes of such passages; that is to say, the notes which fall upon the principal beats of the measure."


Again, the organist was obliged to take into consideration the small number of orchestral players and of voices. Bach, in a memorandum of August 23, 1730, enumerates twelve singers and eighteen players, besides the organist; the Kapelle over which Gerlach held sway in the new Protestant church at Leipzig, was still smaller: four singers and ten players.

It is true that Bach, first of all an organist himself, did not always bequeath such an ungrateful task to the organ; besides the organ of accompaniment, he gives us examples of what he calls organo obligato. Numerous cantatas furnish such instances; we find one in the Passion according to St. Matthew, with the added interest of an indication of the registration. It is where the chorus, in unison, sings the chorales, O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig, and O Mensch, bewein' dein' Sünde gross.[173] The register which Bach prescribes here is the Sesquialtera, undoubtedly in combination with some foundation stops. The character of this register, thus particularly selected, seems to call for the tasto solo; without doubt Bach demanded it because of its decisive quality, for the purpose of bringing out the chorale sung by the ripieno against the other two choruses and the two orchestras, which he treated independently. The brightness of the Sesquialtera would seem to recommend it also for the sinfonie, or prelude, of the cantata composed for the election of the Council[174] (August, 1731). This idea is supported by the fact that a Sesquialtera was undoubtedly added to the positif of the organ in St. Thomas' Church in 1730 or 1731, by the organ-builder, J. Scheibe.

A register of quite opposite effect was used to support the whole orchestra in the Reformation Cantata[175] (1717). The Luther chorale--82-melody is here entrusted to the sixteen-foot Bombarde on the pedal, accompanied in the orchestra by the violoncello and the violone, a similar instrument.

In these particular instances we see that Bach departed from the general custom of omitting the reeds and mutation stops;[176] but here the organ derived from its own resources sonorities most individual in character, the accompaniment being furnished by a second instrument (the orchestra). Moreover, as W. Rust, the authorized editor of the Bach cantatas, says, "When the organ is obbligato it does not present itself in a polyphonic capacity, for then it would cover up all the other instruments; but it should be treated as a solo part, like a flute or an oboe."[177]

With regard to Bach's orchestra, we should remember that the cantata Die Himmel erzählen ("The heavens declare the glory of God") suggests the registration for the first movement of the sonata in E minor. True, it will be said that Bach wrote these trios for pedal-clavecin; but their performance upon the organ, too, should not be neglected. Certain adagios, by reason of their long-sustained notes, demand an instrument capable of prolonging the tone. This first movement, in fact, is but a transcription of the Sinfonie (adagio and vivace) which serves as an overture to the cantata just mentioned. The instrumentation: Oboe d'amore, Viola da gamba, and continuo. These are timbres to be found in all organs; we may add that the Viola da gamba of the organ was one of Bach's favorite stops. It is not unwarranted to consider that in many chorales the cantus, placed in the tenor, was played with this register upon a separate manual, just as Bach would have given it to the violoncellos in the orchestra.

For we must take into consideration this practice of Bach's of transferring to the organ resources of the orchestra, to the orchestra-83- those of the organ. Thus, in the Pastorale (Hirtengesang) of the Christmas Oratorio, Bach produces the effect of an organ whose manuals respond to each other, the one with foundation stops contrasted with the chorus of oboes upon another.

This passing from one manual to another Bach seldom indicates in his organ compositions; one piece, however, furnishes us with directions which are authentic beyond question, and extremely interesting. It is the great prelude in E flat major, published in Part III of the Clavierübung. On comparing these indications with others, particularly with those in the D minor (Doric) Toccata, one may decide to play upon the great manual (Oberwerk)[178] all that is written with pedal; where the pedal is silent, one may change to the choir (Rückpositif). In carrying this deduction to its limits, one might even formulate the rule that when the parts are reduced to two, they should be played upon the swell (Brustwerk).


In connection with the foregoing it will be interesting to learn the specifications of the principal organs of which Bach was able to avail himself during his long career. We find details concerning them in various works, notably in Adlung (Musica mechanica organoedi), or in the supplement which J.F. Agricola, an esteemed pupil of Bach, added to this work, published after the death of its author; and in the contemporary writings of local historians.

The organ at Arnstadt, the first at which Bach held the position of organist, possessed twenty-four registers, divided among two manuals and the pedal:[179]


Great Organ.

2.Viola da Gamba,8'
4.Gedackt (Bourdon),8'
7.Mixtur, 4 ranks 
9.Cymbel, 2 ranks 

Choir Organ.

1. Principal,4'
2. Lieblich Gedackt,8'
3. Spitzflöte,4'
4. Quinte,3'
5. Sesquialter 
6. Nachthorn (night horn),4'
7. Mixtur, 2 ranks 

Pedal Organ.

1. Principalbass,8'
2. Subbass,16'
3. Posaunenbass (trombone),16'
4. Flötenbass4'
5. Cornetbass,2'[181]

The organ in the palace at Weimar contained the following stops, according to A. Wette:[182]


1. Principal,8'
2. Quintatön,16'
3. Gemshorn,8'
4. Gedackt,8'
5. Quintatön,4'
6. Octave,4'
7. Mixture, 6 ranks 
8. Cymbel, 3 ranks 
9. Glockenspiel 



1. Principal,8'
2. Violdigamba,8'
3. Gedackt,8'
4. Trompete,8'
5. Kleingedackt (small bourdon),4'
6. Octave,4'
7. Waldflöte2'
8. Sesquialtera 


1. Gross-Untersatz,32'
2. Subbass,16'
3. Posaun-Bass,16'
4. Violon-Bass,16'
5. Principal-Bass,8'
6. Trompeten-Bass,8'
7. Cornett-Bass,4'

We have mentioned the special feature of the organ in Cöthen: a pedal which boasted of two octaves and a half, from great C to f' sharp; we should further emphasize in this organ, otherwise not especially noteworthy, the quality of the Principal[183] in the great organ, and of the eight-foot Trumpet in the pedal.

The organ in the University church in Leipzig, of which Bach made an expert examination December 17, 1717, was a remarkable instrument, which he was very fond of playing. It was one of the masterworks of the manufacturer Scheibe. It had the following registers:


1.Gross Principal (of pure tin),16'
2.Gross Quintatön,16'
3.Klein Principal,8'
5.Flûte allemande,8'
12.Grosse Mixtur, of 5 and 6 ranks 
13.Cornetti, of 3 ranks 
14.Zink (a species of cornett), of 2 ranks 



1.Principal (in front),8'
2.Viola di Gamba naturelle,8'
3.Grobgedackt (large scale bourdon)8'
11.Mixtur, of 3 ranks 
12.Helle (bright) Cymbel, of 2 ranks 


1.Leiblich gedackt,8'
3.Flûte douce,4'
4.Quinta decima,4'
5.Decima nona,3'
8.Vigesima nona,1½'
10.Mixtur, of 3 ranks 
11.Helle Cymbel, of 2 ranks 
12.Sertin (serpent?),8'


1.Gross Principal,16'
2.Gross Quintatön,16'
6.Mixtur, of 5 and 6 ranks 
7.Grosse Quintenbass,6'
8.Jubal (open flute),8'
11.Second Principal,16'
16.Mixtur, of 4 ranks 

Finally, the specification of the principal organ in the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, installed in 1525, twice rebuilt during the seventeenth century, enlarged in 1670; and considerably repaired, in 1721, by Johann Scheibe:[185]



1. Principal,16'
2. Principal,8'
3. Quintatön,16'
4. Octave,4'
5. Quinte,3'
6. Superoctave,2'
7. Spielpfeife (a species of flute),8'
8. Sesquialtera 
9. Mixtur, of 6, 8, and 10 ranks 

Echo (Brustwerk).

1. Grobgedackt,8'
2. Principal,4'
3. Nachthorn,4'
4. Nasat,3'
5. Gemshorn,2'
6. Cymbel, of 2 ranks 
7. Sesquialtera 
8. Regal,8'
9. Geigenregal[186] (Violin-regal),4'


3.Lieblich Gedackt,8'
5.Querflöte (Flauto traverso),4'
7.Rauschquinte doppelt 
8.Mixtur, of 4 ranks 


1. Subbass (of metal),16'
2. Posaune,16'
3. Trompete,8'
4. Schalmei,4'
5. Cornett,3'

The St. Thomas church possessed in addition a small organ. This instrument, at one time abandoned, and later again brought into service, stood at Bach's time in a gallery, opposite the large organ. It possessed a stop called Trichter-Regal, a sort of Vox humana. This-88- organ was used in performance of the St. Matthew Passion music, in coöperation with the other.

When Bach played for strangers, he was fond of astonishing them by his originality in registration. "After having first of all censured as ill-advised the combination of certain stops," says Forkel,[188] "the listeners were greatly surprised upon hearing the admirable effect produced by these very combinations, suddenly drawing from the organ a sonority at once original and varied, whose attainment might have been vainly sought by following older methods....

"In trying an unfamiliar organ, his first step was to draw all the registers and to play upon the great manual with all couplers. He was in the habit of saying, jestingly, that he wished at the outset to know if the instrument possessed good lungs."

With this art in registration was combined the greatest facility in improvisation.

"It was often the case," writes Kirnberger,[189] "that friends asked Bach to play to them at times other than during religious service. Then he would choose some theme and treat it in every form of organ composition, playing without interruption for two hours or more, yet without exhausting his resources. Perhaps he made use of his subject first in a prelude and fugue for all the foundation stops. Then his genius in registration was displayed in a movement in three, or in four, parts, always upon the same theme. Now followed a chorale, and the subject served as a counterpoint to the chorale-melody, in ingenious imitations in three or four voices. Finally he concluded by a fugue for organo pleno, based upon the same subject, interweaving the previous variations of it he had made."


In a technical work compiled for his son Friedemann, Bach left us an explanation of the signs employed by him to indicate the various ornaments which he calls Manieren. They are thus illustrated:


[Listen] [MusicXML]

Trillo. Mordant. Trillo u. Mordant. Cadence. Doppelcadence.

idem. Doppelcadence und Mordant. idem. Accent steigend. (rising.)

Accent fallend. (falling.) Accent u. Mordant. Accent u. Trillo. idem.

The greater number of these ornaments,[190] as we see by the table, do not begin upon the given note. However, if a turn occur at the beginning of a piece, or if it ornament a characteristic interval (as, for example, in the fugue in F minor), the essential note should be struck first; even if such a rendering produce a discord with the other parts.

The mordent—it is the pincé simple or the "pluck" of Chambonnières, Couperin, and Le Bègue, who had borrowed it from lute-players[191]—is generally diatonic, although with this exception: if the note which it affects be marked with an accidental in the same measure, the accidental must be observed in executing the mordent.


These ornaments should be played "with regard for their value and upon the beat";[192] however, an excessive rigor in this respect should not be affected; Bach did not exact such precision, and did not attach to these figures such great importance that he did not feel at liberty to substitute for them, in copies of these same pieces made by himself, other and practically equivalent ones. Certain of them are, moreover, quite rare; for example, the accent. We find it employed, at least in the organ compositions, only in an arrangement of the chorale Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr' (Gloria in excelsis). No piece could be more elaborated than this one; and in it are introduced a majority of the signs employed by Bach; we borrow from Mr. E. Dannreuther's interesting work, "Musical Ornamentation,"[193] the transcription of the first six measures of this chorale, fully written out. Such an example will be more instructive than all we could say upon this subject, if the reader will take pains to compare this interpretation with the musical text as found in the well-known editions:[194]



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This is evidently a species of appoggiatura, as also in the chorale Vater unser im Himmelreich (Clavierübung, Part III). But in this case, Bach uses a special notation:

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In his Method for clavecin Ph. E. Bach, in speaking of a similar figure, thus explains it: "The first note of this figure must not be made too short, if the tempo be slow or moderate; for the second would then be held too long. It should be gently dwelt upon, not suddenly hammered."

"Play flautato," says W. Rust[195] upon the subject of such a fugue in an orchestral part; one should thus anticipate the beat with the flutist's stroke of the tongue, according to Quantz (Essai d'une méthode pour apprendre à jouer de la Flûte traversière. Berlin, 1752); that is to say, that the first of the two notes should be considered as written thus:


[Listen] [MusicXML]

In a solfeggio lesson by J.G. Walther,[196] written in 1708, this indication, called punctus serpens, signifies that the notes are to be slurred; that is, bound together, two by two. This is, undoubtedly, the most correct interpretation, which fairly corresponds to what S. Scheidt calls "imitatio violistica."

Analogous notations of Frescobaldi[197] and Muffat[198] indicate a similar manner of execution.



To facilitate the perusal of our work, we will close with a short sketch of J.S. Bach's life.

Bach was born March 21, 1685, at Eisenach. His father, Ambrosius Bach, was a musician of the town; his uncle, Johann Christoph Bach, an organist.[199]

When Bach was nine years of age his mother died; the next year followed the decease of his father, and the boy was taken in by his elder brother, organist at Ohrdruf. Here he attended the Lyceum, where the teaching of music held an important place; the chorus, formed of the pupils, was renowned. Young Sebastian, gifted with a good soprano voice, was a member of this chorus; and in addition studied the clavecin under the direction of his brother, a pupil of Pachelbel. With such zeal did he devote himself to these studies, that he copied by moonlight a volume of pieces which he had been forbidden to play, his brother wishing to reserve for himself the right to conquer their difficulties.

He did not remain long under the charge of his brother, whose family was gradually increasing. In 1700, undoubtedly upon the recommendation of Elias Herda, cantor of the school in Ohrdruf, Bach was admitted to St. Michael's School in Lüneburg; but he was-94- now no longer a pupil, for in return for the general instruction which he received he was obliged to act as a sort of assistant chorusmaster for his comrades; at least as a leader. When his voice changed, which soon came about, he was charged with the clavecin accompaniment at chorus rehearsals, or with playing a violin part in the orchestra. He had, in fact, studied that instrument since his earliest childhood, his father having been a good violinist. He profited in his new surroundings by the advice of Georg Böhm, organist of St. John's Church in Lüneburg, and a musician of merit, whose influence upon Bach is apparent in many of the latter's earlier compositions, especially in the chorales.

The location of Lüneburg permitted him also, from this time on, to make trips on foot to Hamburg, where he heard Adam Reinken and Vincent Lübeck, or to Celle, where the orchestra of the ducal court performed French music; then the fashion, complains Mattheson, not because of a value whose existence this German critic denied, but simply—the final misfortunes of the reign of Louis XIV. had not yet dimmed this glory—because it was French.

In 1703 Bach left St. Michael's School; he had been so busily occupied with music while there, that he very likely had been unable to exhaust the depths of the general curriculum, which in itself was rather limited. Not that they had been satisfied with giving him instruction of a too elementary nature; but Bach, in point of intellectual culture, was much inferior to most of the great musicians of his time, Mattheson and Händel, for instance, both of whom had attended the University.

In any case, Bach's scant means would have forbidden his availing himself of a university education. On leaving St. Michael's School he was obliged to provide for himself; but here his talent for the violin came to his aid, and procured him admission, at Weimar, not only to the court orchestra, but to an orchestra which Johann Ernst, the brother of the reigning Duke Wilhelm Ernst, maintained at his own expense. He did not remain there long; in the summer of 1703, as a result of a journey to Arnstadt, where he was heard upon the-95- organ of the New Church,[200] the position of organist of this parish was offered him. The place was a modest one (seventy thalers salary), but advantageous for Bach, who at his leisure could perfect himself in organ-playing and practise vocal composition, having a choir to conduct; his first cantata dates from Arnstadt.

Besides, meagre as was his salary, he could save enough for a journey to Lübeck to hear Buxtehude, whom he had long desired to know; for while his brother Christoph had taught him Pachelbel's methods, Georg Böhm, of another school, had already impressed on him that dualism whence was born, when another element was added to it, his own originality. Receiving the favor of a leave of absence for one month, Bach betook himself from Arnstadt to Lübeck the last of October, 1705; he did not return until February, 1706. From this journey he brought back a new virtuosity and the susceptibility of a young artist who from that moment felt himself a master; the former singularly disappointed the parish. He now accompanied the chorale with Buxtehude's exaggerated freedom; the ears of the faithful could not follow such elaborations, and, still worse, their voices lost the clue, and the choir fell into confusion. Hence a scandal, and thereupon a reprimand from the vestry. Moreover, had not Bach singularly outstayed his leave of absence? And again, why should he now neglect his choir? Why no more "music"? and still other grievances. Stung to the quick, Bach answered them by thenceforth affecting the very excesses in accompaniment which had met with such opposition, and by leaving entirely to themselves his choristers, whose sottise and coarseness disgusted him. As to the rest, he explained nothing, but sought another place; more than a year passed in these troubles. Upon the death of G. Ahle, organist of the church of St. Blasius in Mühlhausen, he applied for this position; it fell to his lot as the result of a competition, and he entered upon his duties during the summer of 1707. The same year (October 17) he married his cousin, Maria Barbara Bach.


From a pecuniary point of view the situation was not bad,[201] but the organ was detestable. Bach gave himself no rest until he accomplished its restoration by the council; he himself drew up a scheme for this, which was found to be so practical that it was adopted. But scarcely had the work been commenced, when the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Wilhelm Ernst, offered him the position of court organist (1708). Bach accepted; Mühlhausen was then the scene of sectarian dissensions, pietists and orthodox were in open strife, in which were lost the efforts of Bach to establish a "regular style of music wholly to the glory of God,"[202] as he himself said; to which, moreover, the pietists were by doctrine[203] opposed. An aggravating circumstance was that Frohne, the Oberintendant of the church of St. Blasius, was one of the most ardent disciples of Spener, the founder of the pietists' sect; and Bach had chosen, as godfather for his first child, Eilmar, pastor of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was the defender of the older traditions, to which Bach was devotedly attached.

Bach spent nine years at Weimar; for him this period was the complement of his finished years of study, and was the most brilliant in his career as a virtuoso. He played at neighboring courts, and his reputation was sufficiently great to put to flight Marchand (who was called "le grand Marchand"), who had been invited in 1717 to meet him in a sort of musical tournament. Numerous cantatas, as well as some chamber music, date from this period. In fact, during the last years of his residence in Weimar, Bach had undertaken the duties, without the title, of director of chamber music to the court, in addition to his vocation as organist; succeeding the aged Drese, who was too old to fill the position effectively. Upon the death of the latter, late in 1716, Bach expected the appointment; but nothing came of it, and this lack of recognition caused him to accept the offer he received next year from the Prince of Anhalt-Cöthen.


At Cöthen there was no more organ playing to be done; no more church music to direct—the prince was a Calvinist. As to his duties, for which he had been well prepared by his recent experience at Weimar, Bach was content with the composition of most of the suites and sonatas for violin, viola da gamba, flute, and clavecin; further, the first part of the Well-tempered Clavichord dates from Cöthen. This is worthy of note, because of the relationship which can be established between certain organ works and some of those in this volume.

A life which might thenceforward have been so quiet, Bach being treated as a friend by his prince, and having no further care than the performance of music in an intimate manner, was in 1720 crossed by a sudden misfortune; upon his return from a journey to Carlsbad, Bach found his home desolate; his wife, Maria Barbara, was dead.

Despite his grief, Bach recovered himself in a comparatively short time, for in November of the same year he went to Hamburg to conduct the cantata Wer sich selbst erhöhet, der soll erniedriget werden; he drew from Adam Reinken, by his improvisations upon the organ, an outburst of enthusiasm which the old man had never entertained for anyone but himself.

Left alone with his children, who were still young, Bach lost no time in remarrying (December 3, 1721); this time a good musician, Anna Maria Wülken, who acted as his copyist, and for whom he wrote several pieces.

Upon the death of Kuhnau, cantor at St. Thomas' School in Leipzig (1722), Bach advanced his candidacy. He was not unknown in Leipzig, where enough confidence had been reposed in him to cause his summons as an expert, in 1717, to examine with Kuhnau the organ in the University Church.

Meanwhile there were delays; Bach was not installed until May 31, 1723. Beside music lessons, and the direction of the choirs in St. Thomas' and St. Nicholas' Churches, the cantor (the third in the school by order of precedence) was still charged with certain duties-98- of supervision, and in addition had a course in Latin to conduct; the latter Bach avoided as much as possible.

In itself it was not, on the whole, a very advantageous position for Bach, nor one where his independence would be respected; many annoyances, besides an almost overwhelming amount of labor, were caused him by the director, or more indirectly by envious musicians. Despite all these mortifications, and the difficulties of his situation—mitigated, it is true, as long as the celebrated Gessner was at the head of the school—Bach never left it; in soliciting it, he had taken into consideration the advantages it offered for bringing up his family, which was steadily increasing.

We have commented upon the relatively small number of organ compositions which date from this period, but this is not the case with the other religious works; of 295 cantatas, divided among five liturgical years, about 266 were written in Leipzig; five settings of the Passion, the Christmas Oratorio (1734), the Easter (1736), that of the Ascension, and a number of motets, composed between 1723 and 1734—only a few of these are to-day complete; others are apocryphal—four "Missae breves" (short masses), the Mass in B minor, composed between 1730 and 1737, testify to his prodigious activity in this style of music. Further, he did not rest without writing numerous secular works, in particular the concertos for several clavecins; he published some technical studies which he engraved himself; and he completed the second part of the Well-tempered Clavichord. If we add to the time devoted to the composition of these works that given to the duties of his position—to lessons, rehearsals, etc.—and to numerous pupils, we shall realize why this last period is less productive of biographical incidents of note. We may finally mention the famous journey to Berlin in 1740, the last triumph of "Old Bach."

In consequence of this excess of fatigue, Bach was destined to lose his sight during the last years of his life; the unskilfulness of the surgeons did the rest.

Bach passed away July 28, 1750. His remains were interred in-99- St. John's cemetery; but the location of his grave is to-day unknown, because of the transformation which this burying ground underwent at the end of the last century.[204]









Church Cantatas. Vol. I.

No.1.Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern.
"2.Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein.
"3.Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid. (First setting.)
"4.Christ lag in Todesbanden.
"5.Wo soll ich fliehen hin.
"6.Bleib' bei uns, denn es will Abend werden.
"7.Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam.
"8.Liebster Gott, wann werd' ich sterben?
"9.Es ist das Heil uns kommen her.
"10.Meine Seel' erhebt den Herren!


Church Cantatas. Vol. II.

No.11. Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen.
"12. Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen.
"13. Meine Seufzer, meine Thränen.
"14. Wär' Gott nicht mit uns diese Zeit.
"15. Denn du wirst meine Seele nicht in der Hölle lassen.
"16. Herr Gott, dich loben wir.
"17. Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich.
"18. Gleich wie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt.
"19. Es erhub sich ein Streit.
"20. O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort. (First setting.)


Pianoforte Works. Vol. I.

Fifteen Inventions and Fifteen Symphonies.

First Part: Six partitas.
Second  "    A concerto and a partita.-102-
Third Part: Chorale-preludes and duets.
Fourth  "  Aria, with thirty variations.

Toccata in F sharp minor.
Toccata in C minor.
Fugue in A minor.


Passion-music according to St. Matthew the Evangelist.


First Issue:

Church Cantatas. Vol. III.

No.21. Ich hatte viel Bekümmerniss.
"22. Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe.
"23. Du wahrer Gott und David's Sohn.
"24. Ein ungefärbt Gemüthe.
"25. Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinen Leibe.
"26. Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig.
"27. Wer weiss, wie nahe mir mein Ende.
"28. Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende.
"29. Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir.
"30. Freue dich, erlöste Schaar.

Second Issue:

Christmas Oratorio, the Text from St. Luke, ii: 1-21; and St. Matthew ii: 1-12.

FirstPart:For Christmas Eve: Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf, preiset die Tage!
Second"For the day after Christmas: Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend.
Third"For the second day after Christmas: Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen.
Fourth"For New Year's Day: Fallt mit Danken, fallt mit Loben.
Fifth"For the Sunday after New Year's: Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen.
Sixth"For the Feast of the Epiphany: Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben.


The Mass in B Minor.


Church Cantatas. Vol. IV.

No.31. Der Himmel lacht, die Erde jubiliret.
"32. Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen.
"33. Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ.
"34. O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe.
"35. Geist und Seele wird verwirrt.
"36. Schwingt freudig euch empor.
"37. Wer da glaubet und getauft wird.
"38. Aus tiefer Noth schrei' ich zu dir.
"39. Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot.
"40. Dazu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes.



Four Masses, in F major, A major, G minor and G major.


Chamber-music. Vol. I.

Three Sonatas for pianoforte and flute.
Suite for pianoforte and violin.
Six Sonatas for pianoforte and violin.
Three Sonatas for pianoforte and viola da gamba.
Sonata for flute, violin, and figured bass.
Sonata for two violins and figured bass.


Church Cantatas. Vol. V.

No.41. Jesu, nun sei gepreiset.
"42. Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbaths.
"43. Gott fähret auf mit Jauchzen.
"44. Sie werden euch in den Bann thun.
"45. Es ist dir gesagt, Mensch, was gut ist.
"46. Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei.
"47. Wer sich selbst erhöhet, der soll erniedriget werden.
"48. Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlösen.
"49. Ich geh' und suche mit Verlangen.
"50. Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft.


First Issue:

Magnificat in D major.

Four Sanctus, in C major, D major, D minor and G major. Appendix.

Second Issue:

Vocal Chamber-music. Vol. I.


First Issue:

Passion-music according to St. John the Evangelist.

Second Issue:

Church Cantatas. Vol. VI.

No.51. Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen.
"52. Falsche Welt, dir trau' ich nicht.
"53. Schlage doch, gewünschte Stunde.
"54. Widerstehe doch der Sünde.
"55. Ich armer Mensch, ich Sündenknecht.
"56. Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen.-104-
"57. Selig ist der Mann.
"58. Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid. (Second Setting.)
"59. Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten. (First Setting.)
"60. O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort. (Second Setting.)


First Issue:

Marriage Cantatas.

Dem Gerechten muss das Licht.
Der Herr denket an uns.
Gott ist unsere Zuversicht.
Three Chorales.

Second Issue:

Pianoforte Works. Vol. II.

Six greater Suites, known as the "English."
Six lesser Suites, known as the "French."

Third Issue:

Funeral Ode upon the death of the wife of August the Strong, "Christiane Eberhardine," Queen of Poland and Electress of Saxony.


Pianoforte Works. Vol. III.

The Well-tempered Clavichord.
First Part, 1722.
Second Part, 1744.

Appendix. Supplementary Readings and Explanations.


Organ Works. Vol. I.

Six Sonatas for 2 manuals and pedal.
Six Preludes and Fugues. First Series.
Six Preludes and Fugues. Second Series.
Six Preludes and Fugues. Third Series.
Three Toccatas.


Church Cantatas. Vol. VII.

No.61. Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland. (First Setting.)
"62. Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland. (Second Setting.)
"63. Christen, ätzet diesen Tag.
"64. Sehet, welch' eine Liebe hat uns der Vater erzeiget.
"65. Sie werden aus Saba Alle kommen.
"66. Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen.
"67. Halt' im Gedächtniss Jesum Christ.
"68. Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt.
"69. Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele.
"70. Wachet, betet, seid bereit allezeit.



Chamber Music. Vol. II.

Seven Concertos for Pianoforte with orchestral accompaniment:
No. 1, D minor; No. 2, E major; No. 3, D major; No. 4, A major; No. 5, F minor; No. 6, F major; No. 7, G minor.

Triple Concerto for Pianoforte, flute and violin, with orchestral accompaniment.



Church Cantatas. Vol. VIII.

No.71. Gott ist mein König.
"72. Alles nur nach Gottes Willen.
"73. Herr, wie du willst, so schick's mit mir.
"74. Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten.
(Second and more elaborate Setting.)
"75. Die Elenden sollen essen.
"76. Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes.
"77. Du sollst Gott, deinen Herrn, lieben.
"78. Jesu, der du meine Seele.
"79. Gott der Herr ist Sonn' und Schild.
"80. Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott.


Chamber Music. Vol. III.

1. Concerto in F major for two horns, three oboes, bassoon, obbligato Quart-Geige,[205] two violins, viola, violoncello, and continuo.

2. Concerto in F major for obbligato trumpet, flute, oboe and violin, with accompaniment of two violins, viola and continuo.

3. Concerto in G major for three violins, three violas, three violoncellos and continuo.

4. Concerto in G major for obbligato violin with accompaniment of two flutes (flûtes à bec), two violins, viola, violoncello and continuo.

5. Concerto in D major for pianoforte, flute and violin, with accompaniment of violin, viola, violoncello and continuo.

6. Concerto in B flat major for two violas, two gambas, violoncello and continuo.


First Issue:

Church Cantatas. Vol. IX.

No.81. Jesus schläft, was soll ich hoffen?
"82. Ich habe genug.
"83. Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde.
"84. Ich bin vergnügt in meinem Glücke.
"85. Ich bin ein guter Hirt.
"86. Wahrlich, ich sage euch.
"87. Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinem Namen.
"88. Siehe, ich will viel Fischer aussenden, spricht der Herr.
"89. Was soll ich aus dir machen, Ephraim?
"90. Es reifet euch ein schrecklich Ende.


Second Issue:

Vocal Chamber Music. Vol. II.

Drama for the birthday of August III, king of Poland, etc.

Drama for a university festival, upon which Dr. Gottlieb Kortte received the appointment of professor.

Drama for the name-day of King Augustus.


First Issue:

Chamber Music. Vol. IV.

Concertos for violin with orchestral accompaniment.

No. 1, in A minor,}for one violin.
No. 2, in E major,}
No. 3, in D minor, for two violins.
No. 4, in D major. Symphonic movement for obbligato violin.

Second Issue:

Chamber Music. Vol. V.

Three Concertos for two pianofortes, with orchestral accompaniment.

No. 1, in C minor.
"  2, in C major.
"  3, in C minor.

Third Issue:

Easter Oratorio: "Kommt, eilet und laufet."


Church Cantatas. Vol. X.

No.91.Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ.
"92.Ich hab' in Gottes Herz und Sinn.
"93.Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten.
"94.Was frag' ich nach der Welt.
"95.Christus der ist mein Leben.
"96.Herr Christ, der ein'ge Gottessohn.
"97.In allen meinen Thaten.
"98.Was Gott thut, das ist wohlgethan. (First Setting. B flat major.)
"99.Was Gott thut, das ist wohlgethan. (Second Setting. G major.)
"100.Was Gott thut, das ist wohlgethan. (Third Setting. G major.)


Church Cantatas. Vol. XI.

No.101. Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott.
"102. Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben.
"103. Ihr werdet weinen und heulen.
"104. Du Hirte Israel, höre.
"105. Herr, gehe nicht in's Gericht.
"106. Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit.
"107. Was willst du dich betrüben.
"108. Es ist euch gut, dass ich hingehe.
"109. Ich glaube, lieber Herr.
"110. Unser Mund sei voll Lachens.



Church Cantatas. Vol. XII.

No.111. Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh' allzeit.
"112. Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt.
"113. Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut.
"114. Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost.
"115. Mache dich, mein Geist, bereit.
"116. Du Friedensfürst,  Herr Jesu Christ.
"117. Sei Lob und Ehr'dem höchsten Gut.
"118. O Jesu Christ, mein's Lebens Licht.
"119. Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn.
"120. Gott, man lobt dich in der Stille.


First Issue:

Die Kunst der Fuge. (The Art of Fugue.)

Appendix. The Berlin autograph systematically arranged, and supplementary readings.

Second Issue: (Organ works.)

No. 1. Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ-book).
No. 2. Six Chorales (the so-called Schübler chorales).
No. 3. Eighteen Chorales (the so-called great ones with the Swan-song "Vor deinen Thron tret' ich").
Appendix A. Two older readings from Collection I.
Appendix B. Fifteen older readings from Collection III.


Church Cantatas. Vol. XIII.

No.121. Christum wir sollen loben schon.
"122. Das neugebor'ne Kindelein.
"123. Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen.
"124. Meinen Jesum lass' ich nicht.
"125. Mit Fried' und Freud' ich fahr' dahin.
"126. Erhalt' uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort.
"127. Herr Jesu Christ, wahr'r Mensch und Gott.
"128. Auf Christi Himmelfahrt allein.
"129. Gelobet sei der Herr, mein Gott.
"130. Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir.


Chamber Music. Vol. VI.

First Issue:

Six Sonatas for violin.
Six Suites for violoncello.

Second Issue:

Thematic Catalogue of the Church Cantatas, Nos. 1-120.



Church Cantatas. Vol. XIV.

No.131. Aus der Tiefe rufe ich, Herr, zu dir.
"132. Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn.
"133. Ich freue mich in dir.
"134. Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiss.
"135. Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder.
"136. Erforsche mich, Gott, und erfahre mein Herz.
"137. Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren.
"138. Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz.
"139. Wohl dem, der sich auf seinen Gott.
"140. Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme.

Appendix. Two older arrangements of the Cantata No. 134:

(a) Mit Gnaden bekröne der Himmel die Zeiten.
(b) Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiss.


Vocal Chamber Music. Vol. III.

Cantata. "Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd."
Cantata. "Non sa che sia dolore."
Marriage Cantata. "O holder Tag, erwünschte Zeit."
Cantata. "Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest."
Coffee Cantata. "Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht."
Cantata. "Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet."
Appendix I. Gratulations-Kantate (Thanksgiving Cantata). "Mit Gnaden bekröne der Himmel die Zeiten."
II. Cantata. "O angenehme Melodei."
III. Instrumental movement for violin, flute and continuo.


Church Cantatas. Vol. XV.

No.141. Das ist ja gewisslich wahr.
"142. Uns ist ein Kind geboren.
"143. Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele.
"144. Nimm, was dein ist.
"145. So du mit deinem Munde.
"146. Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal.
"147. Herz und Mund und That und Leben.
"148. Bringet dem Herrn Ehre seines Namens.
"149. Man singet mit Freuden von Sieg.
"150. Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich.


First Issue:

Works for Orchestra.

Overtures in C major, B minor, D major, D major; Sinfonia in F major. (With a Supplement to Year XXIX.)


Second Issue:

Das musikalische Opfer (Musical Sacrifice), 1747.

Appendix. Resolution of the Canons in the Musical Sacrifice.

Third Issue:

Chamber Music. Vol. VII.

Two Concertos for three pianofortes, with orchestral accompaniment. No. 1 in D minor, No. 2 in C major.


Church Cantatas. Vol. XVI.

No.151.For thesecond day after Christmas: "Mein süsser Trost."
"152."Sunday after Christmas: "Tritt auf die Glaubensbahn."
"153."Feast of the Circumcision: "Schau, lieber Gott."
"154."first Sunday after the Epiphany: "Mein liebster Jesus."
"155."second Sunday after the Epiphany: "Mein Gott, wie lange."
"156."third Sunday after the Epiphany: "Ich steh' mit einem Fuss."
"157."Feast of the Purification of the B.V.M.: "Der Friede sei mit Dir."
"158."Feast of the Purification of the B.V.M.: "Ich lasse Dich nicht."
"159."Quinquagesima: "Sehet, wir geh'n hinauf gen Jerusalem."
"160."Monday in Easter-week: "Ich weiss, dass mein Erlöser lebt."


Church Cantatas. Vol. XVII.

No.161. Komm, du süsse Todesstunde.
"162. Ach, ich sehe, jetzt da ich zur Hochzeit gehe.
"163. Nur Jedem das Seine.
"164. Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo nennt.
"165. O heil'ges Geist- und Wasserbad.
"166. Wo gehest du hin.
"167. Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Liebe.
"168. Thue Rechnung! Donnerwort.
"169. Gott soll allein mein Herze haben.
"170. Vergnügte Ruh', beliebte Seelenlust.


Vocal Chamber Music. Vol. IV.

Serenata. "Durchlaucht'ster Leopold."
Cantata. "Schwingt freudig euch empor." "Die Freude reget sich."
Dramma per musica. "Lasst uns sorgen, lasst uns wachen."
Dramma per musica. "Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten!"
Cantata gratulatoria in adventum regis (Thanksgiving Cantata upon the Accession of the King).
"Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen."
Appendix. I. Dramma per musica. "Angenehmes Wiederau."
Appendix II. Dramma per musica. "Auf, schmetternde Töne der muntern Trompeten."



Church Cantatas. Vol. XVIII.

No.171. Gott, wie dein Name, so ist auch dein Ruhm.
"172. Erschallet, ihr Lieder.
"173. Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut.
"174. Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüthe.
"175. Er rufet seinen Schafen mit Namen.
"176. Es ist ein trotzig und verzagt Ding.
"177. Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ.
"178. Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält.
"179. Siehe zu, dass deine Gottesfurcht nicht Heuchelei sei.
"180. Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele.


Pianoforte Works. Vol. IV.

Suites. Toccatas, Preludes, Fugues, Fantasies, and other pieces.

Appendix I: Additional versions of the foregoing pianoforte compositions, as well as of some pieces in Vol. III.

Appendix II: Fragments of Suites, various single movements and unfinished pieces.


Church Cantatas. Vol. XIX.

No.181. Leichtgesinnte Flattergeister.
"182. Himmelskönig, sei willkommen.
"183. Sie werden euch in den Bann thun. (Second Setting.)
"184. Erwünschtes Freudenlicht.
"185. Barmherziges Herze der ewigen Liebe.
"186. Ärg're dich, o Seele, nicht.
"187. Es wartet Alles auf dich.
"188. Ich habe meine Zuversicht.
"189. Meine Seele rühmt und preist.
"190. Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied. (Lobe, Zion, deinen Gott.)


Organ Works. Vol. III.

First Part:

Preludes, Fugues, Fantasies, and other pieces.

Second Part:

Concertos, from Antonio Vivaldi.

Appendix I. Supplementary reading of No. XIV, and unfinished pieces.
" II. Compositions whose authenticity is not fully established.
" III. The first movement of the second concerto in Vivaldi's original.



First Part:


No.1. "Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied," for eight voices.
"2. "Der Geist hilft unsrer Schwachheit auf," for eight voices.
"3. "Jesu, meine Freude," for five voices.
"4. "Fürchte dich nicht, ich bin bei dir," for eight voices.
"5. "Komm, Jesu, komm," for eight voices.
"6. "Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden." Psalm 117, for four voices and continuo.


I. Instrumental accompaniment and figured organ part to the Motet "Der Geist hilft unsrer Schwachheit auf."
II. Motet: "Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn," for eight voices.
III. Motet: "Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren," for four voices.

Second Part:

Chorales and Songs.

Chorales for four voices from the collection of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.

Sacred songs and arias with figured or unfigured bass, from Schemell's Gesangbuch and from Anna Magdalena Bach's Notenbüchlein.


Organ Works. Vol. IV.

First Part:

Chorale-preludes in Kirnberger's collection.

Second Part:

Other Chorale-preludes.

Third Part:



I. Supplementary readings and detached pieces.
II. Compositions and MSS. whose authenticity is not fully established.


Church Music. Supplementary Volume.

Cantata No. 191. Gloria in Excelsis Deo.

Three incomplete church cantatas.

No.1. Nun danket alle Gott.
"2. Ihr Pforten zu Zion.
"3. Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe.


Two incomplete Marriage Cantatas.

No.1. O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe.
"2. Herr Gott, Beherrscher aller Dinge.

Single movements.

Appendix I.

Four Church Cantatas, whose authenticity as of Sebastian Bach's composition is not fully established.

No.1. Gedenke, Herr, wie es uns gehet.
"2. Gott der Hoffnung erfülle euch.
"3. Siehe, es hat überwunden der Löwe.
"4. Lobt ihn mit Herz und Munde.

Appendix II.

Catalogue of the Church Compositions of Johann Ludwig Bach in Meiningen.

Supplementary notes and comments.


Pianoforte Works. Vol. V.

Transcriptions of works of Bach's own composition and of that of others.
Various Preludes, Fugues, and other pieces whose authenticity is probable.

Appendix I.

Compositions whose authenticity is not fully established, and some supplementary readings.

Appendix II.

Concerto No. 2 of Vivaldi and Fugue of Erselius in their original form.


First Issue:

Chamber Music. Vol. VIII.

Three sonatas for flute and figured bass.
Sonata and Fugue for violin and figured bass.
Sonata for two pianofortes.
Concerto for four pianofortes, from Antonio Vivaldi.


Concerto for four violins by Antonio Vivaldi in its original form.

Second Issue:

Musical pieces in Anna Magdalena Bach's Notenbüchlein.


Joh. Seb. Bach's handwriting, in facsimile and chronological order.



Part I: English and French Suites (new corrected edition).
Part II: Passion-music according to St. Luke.


History of the German Bach-Society.

Thematic and Alphabetical Indices.



To Works of J.S. Bach.

I. For Organ.

Alla Breve, in D major, 46.

Alla Breve (from P. & F., P. III, 7), 35.

Canzone, 41-45.

Chorales: XVII, 5, 18, 59 et seq.

Chorale Preludes, 63 et seq.
Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr', 63, 90.
An Wasserflüssen Babylons, 64.
Aus tiefer Noth schrei' ich zu dir, 67.
Christ lag in Todesbanden, 59.
Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott, 67, 74.
Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern (Prelude), 59.
Herr Jesus Christ, dich zu uns wend, 63.
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, 63.
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (Fantasie), 64.
Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele, 64, 65.
Vater Unser im Himmelreich, 67, 91.
Von Himmel hoch da komm' ich her (Canonic Variations), 66.
Wenn wir in höchsten Nöthen sein; or, Vor deinen Thron trete ich, 68.
Orgelbüchlein, 59 et seq.
Alle Menschen müssen sterben, 60.
Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt, 60.
Gottes Sohn ist kommen, 62, 73.
Herzlich thut mich verlangen, 61.
Heut' triumphiret Gottes Sohn, 61 (footnote).
Hilf Gott, das mir gelinge, 62.
Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesus Christ, 62.
In dir ist Freude, 61, 74, 76.
In dulci jubilo, 62, 73.
O Mensch, bewein' dein' Sünde gross, 60.
Wenn wir in höchsten Nöthen sein, 62.
Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten, 62.
Christ, der du bist der helle Tag, 58, 59.
Gott, du frommer Gott, 58.

Concertos (Vivaldi), 39.

Fantasie (P. IV, II), 33.

Fantasie (concerto) in G major (P. IX, 6), 33.-115-

Fantasie and Fugue in G minor (P. II, 4), 53-55.

Fugues (see also Preludes and Fugues):
In C minor (P. IV, 6), 41.
In C minor (P. II, 6), 49, 57.
In C minor (P. IV, 9), 29.
In D major (P. IV, 3), 35.
In E flat major (P. III, 1), xviii.
In G minor (P. IV, 7), 52[108].
In B minor (P. II, 10), xvii.
In B minor (P. IV, 8), 41.

Passacaglia, XVIII, 46.

Pastorale, XVIII, 83.

Preludes (see also Preludes and Fugues):
In C major (P. II, 1), 57.
In C minor (P. II, 6), 57.
In C minor (Fantasie) (P. III, 6), 49.
In E flat major (P. III, 1), 83.
In G major (P. VIII, 11), 30.

Preludes and Fugues:
In C major (P. II, 7), 57.
In C major (B.-G. in E major), (P. III, 7), 35.
In C minor (P. IV, 5), 29.
In E flat major (III, 1), 55.
In E minor (II, 9), 56.
In E minor (III, 10), 34.
In F minor (II, 5), 48, 89.
In G minor (III, 5), 36.
In G major (II, 2), 52[110].
In A major (II, 3), 51, 52.
In A minor (II, 8), xviii, 57.
In A minor (III, 9), 30.
In B minor (II, 10), 56.
Eight short Preludes and Fugues, 36.

Sonatas (Trios), 52, 53, 82.
In D minor, 52.
In E minor, 52, 82.

In C major (P. III, 8), 40, 52, 62 (Adagio).
In D minor (P. III, 3) (with fugue), 49, 83.
In F major (P. III, 2) (with fugue), xviii (?), 49, 51.

Toccata and Fugue in D minor (P. IV, 4), 35.

II. Other Compositions.

a. Instrumental.

Capriccio sopra la lontananza..., 45[91].

Chorale-accompaniments, 68.

Clavierbüchlein, 89[190].-116-

Clavierübung, 55, 56, 66.

Concertos, xviii.
In C major (for 2 Clavecins), 57.

Instrumental Chamber Music, 97.

Prelude for violin, xviii.

Suite for orchestra, xviii.

Well-tempered Clavichord, the, 96, 97.

b. Choral.

Cantatas, xvii, 96, 98.
Ach, bleib' bei uns, 74 (footnote).
Die Himmel erzählen, 52[110], 82.
Gott ist mein König, 96[202].
Ich hatte viel Bekümmerniss, 52[110].
Reformationscantate, 67.
Tritt auf die Glaubensbahn, 52.
Wer sich selbst erhöhet, der soll erniedriget werden, 97.
Wer weiss, wie nahe mir mein Ende? 82.
Zur Rathswahl zu Leipzig, xviii, 81.

Magnificat, 74 (footnote).

In B minor, 98.
Et in unum Deum, 91.
Sanctus, xviii.
Missae Breves, 98.

Motets, xviii, 98.

Passions, 97.
St. Matthew, xvii, xviii, 88.
Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachen, xviii.
O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden, 62 (footnote).
O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig, 81.
O Mensch, bewein' dein' Sünde gross, 81.
Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden, 99.

Christmas, 98.
Pastorale, 83.
Easter, 98.
Ascension, 98.

Die Kunst der Fuge, 68.


[1] "Ich dachte, diese Kunst wäre ausgestorben; ich sehe aber, dass sie in Ihnen noch lebt."

[2] See organo pleno, p. 70.

[3] The French are accustomed to group registers of similar quality, but varying in pitch, under a single name; as bourdons (stopped wood pipes), montres (diapasons), anches (reeds), qualifying them by the pitch; e.g., bourdons of 16' and 8' would be equivalent to our bourdon and stopped diapason, or gedackt.—Tr.

[4] Take the most beautiful type of the Plain-chant, for instance: the Te Deum. Simply vocalize it, sing it without words; rhythm, beauty, grandeur, all disappear. Translate it, and sing the same music with either French or German text, it becomes absurd. If the Roman Church had not prescribed Latin as the language of its liturgy, we should have no Plain-chant to-day.

[5] In the larger churches in Paris (and in that city the greatest attention is given to the perpetuation and cultivation of Plain-chant) are usually found two organs; the larger one located in a gallery, or tribune, at the west end of the church; the smaller one, with the choir (invariably of men and boys), being placed behind the altar, between it and the ambulatory. This smaller instrument, often augmented by one or more double-basses, serves only to accompany the choir, while the larger organ, called the Grand-orgue, is treated only as a solo instrument, either antiphonally with the choir and small organ, as in the Kyrie, or in solo selections, often improvisations of great merit, as at the Offertory.—Tr.

[6] Born about 1545 at Ferrara, organist and choirmaster in his native city. The "Transilvano" of Girolamo Diruta contains of his composition a Toccata in the fourth mode, and two Ricercare; one in the first, the other in the second mode.

[7] His father, Alexandre Milleville, was born in Paris about 1509, and died September 7, 1589, in Ferrara, where he was choirmaster. His most distinguished pupil was Ercole Pasquini, the predecessor of Frescobaldi at St. Peter's in Rome.

[8] He died in 1521, in the service of the Emperor of Austria. Luther said of him: "This man is truly a master of notes; they must subject themselves to his will, while other composers are compelled to obey them." And again, "His works express perfect contentment, like the song of finches."

[9] Peter Phillipps and Peter Cornet were the best-known organists in the Netherlands. One may judge of their works by the excerpts in G.A. Ritter's Geschichte des Orgelspiels (Leipzig, 1884), Nos. 28, 30, 31, and 32 (2d part).

[10] Luzzasco Luzzaschi, whose compositions were for that time of great value, was charged by Guidiccioni with inability to play trills and to bring out in relief the details of the counterpoint, which were blurred under a hard, heavy touch.

[11] We will not enumerate here all of Frescobaldi's works; we must be content to mention or analyze only those which from the point of view of our present study are most significant.

[12] The following is the complete title: Fiori musicali di diverse compositione, Toccate, Kyrie, Canzoni, Cappricci, e Ricercare in partitura a 4 utili per sonatori. Autore Girolamo Frescobaldi, organista di San Pietro di Roma. Opera duodecima. Con Privilegio. In Venetia. Apresso Alessandro Vicenti, 1635. The volume bears the arms of Cardinal Ant. Barberino, to whom the work is inscribed (the dedication is dated August 20, 1635). The music is written in score, on four staves, each part with its proper clef; the rests are carefully written out.

[13] This precious copy, of 104 pages (like the original), is dated 1714, and preserved in the library of the Kgl. Institut für Kirchenmusik, at Berlin.

[14] With Frescobaldi we find no final cadence other than a perfect major; at his time the idea of a major or minor tonality was still to be conceived, and even for a long time after this distinction was finally made the custom prevailed of ending a piece written in a minor key by a major chord. Thus, in a collection of 371 chorales by J.S. Bach, of which 113 are in the minor mode, 108 of the latter end with a major chord.

[15] Il secondo libro di Toccate, Canzoni, Versi d'hinni, Magnificat, Gagliarde, Correnti e altre Partite d'Intavolatura di cembalo e organo di Girolamo Frescobaldi. Con Privilegio. In Roma, con licenza de' Superiori. 1627. Da Nicolo Borbone.

[16] Ricercata, of which the fifth part must be sung, without being played.

[17] The circle, possessing neither beginning nor end, conveys the impression of the infinite, of perfection. This perfection is attributed to the number three; according to Franco of Cologne, the chief number, because of the Trinity, "vera et summa perfectio." (Musica et cantus mensurabilis, Chap. IV.)

[18] Il primo libro di capricci, canzoni francese e ricercari fatti sopra diversi soggetti et arie in partitura. Di Girolamo Frescobaldi, organista in San Pietro di Roma. Novamente ristampati. Con privilegio. In Venezia, appresso Alessandro Vicenti, 1642. An earlier edition dates from 1626, and is only the collection in a single volume of the works published in 1615 and 1624.

[19] The following is a facsimile of this tablature, taken from the beginning of the sixth Toccata in the second book (pp. 16-20), per l'organo sopra i pedali e senza:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

[20] According to Michael Praetorius (Syntagma musicum, 1619) the Toccata was a prelude, a trial of the keyboard, as it were; a fantasia wholly devoid of form, where the organist improvised, alternating long-sustained chords with rapid passages. It was something entirely spontaneous in nature, in which every imperfection was pardoned, provided the performance was characterized by sufficient dash. The Toccatas of Frescobaldi, by virtue of their steadiness and of the balance of their parts, rise far above such a definition, which is justly applicable to the Toccatas of Claudio Merulo and of Gabrielli.

[21] This theme was again used by G.B. Fasolo (1645) and Fr. A. Scherer. Fasolo's version reminds us of the fugue in A major of J.S. Bach; it runs:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

[22] The Pastorale belongs to the "Toccate d'intavolatura di Cembalo et organo. Partite di diverse Arie e Correnti, Balletti, Ciacone, Passacagli di Girolamo Frescobaldi. Libro Primo. Stampate l'anno 1637 per Nicolo Borbone in Roma." It is a reprint of works already published in different volumes.

[23] Compare Sœur Monique, by F. Couperin.

[24] Frère Jacques, a popular French tune.

[25] This taste was prevalent at the time; Frescobaldi's rival, S. Scheidt, organist at Halle, gives us numerous examples of it: in the first part of the Tabulatura nova (Hamburg, 1624), two Belgian melodies with variations, and the French song, Es ce Mars; in the second part, the English tune de Fortuna. The Tabulatura nova has been reprinted (Denkmäler der Tonkunst).

[26] Previous editions are dated 1614 and 1616. Each of these directions, addressed "al lettore," is preceded by its number, according to order; there are no less than nine of them.

[27] Geschichte der Musik, vol. iv, p. 438.

[28] The records of the city of Halle, from the year 1620 on, do not contain the name Froberger. It is thus useless to entertain the date 1635, given by some historians.

[29] At first he received twenty-five florins a month. Later his salary was raised to sixty florins, in addition to gratuities and money for clothing, beginning at twenty florins per year.

Two organists were usually in service.

[30] He was the father of the astronomer, Christian Huygens. Himself a composer, he was much interested in music. Curious facts concerning musicians of his time will be found in the work of W. Jonckenbloet and Land: Correspondance et œuvres musicales de Constantin Huygens, Leyden, 1882.

[31] "des pieces que un nommé Mons. Froberger ma donnez, et qui est un homme tres rare sur les Espinettes."

[32] This manuscript, carefully and finely written and embellished with pen-designs, is divided into four volumes, splendidly bound; they are preserved in the library of the Hofburg (the palace of the Emperor of Austria) in Vienna. A large number of the pieces are autographs; Froberger distinguishes these by the words Manu propria.

[33] Ferdinand III. was a musician; still extant are an aria of his composition with thirty-six variations, published by Ebner (Gerber), and some litanies in Kircher's Musurgia.

[34] It is worthy of notice that, save for the few months which preceded his journey to Rome, Froberger appears and departs, alternately, every four years; with the exception of the leave he obtained from 1645 to 1653—undoubtedly one of four years which he had renewed in 1649. The fulfilment of the duties of the position was assumed by rotation among several organists; like the custom established at the court of Louis XIV., where the four titular organists succeeded each other every three months, or every "quarter."

[35] "Allemande de M. Froberger, fait à Paris." It is No. 12 of the manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Vol. 7, 1862. This volume is ornamented with the arms of Bassyn d'Angervilliers and of N. Mothefelon. The title upon the binding reads: Préludes de M. Couperin. Besides these preludes and the Froberger pieces are contained works of Frescobaldi, Labarre, and Richard de Saint-Jacques.

[36] From this vacation seems also to date a journey to Dresden, where he was accorded a magnificent reception by the Elector of Saxony, to whom the Emperor had sent him.

[37] In two autograph letters, of June 25 and October 23, 1667, addressed to Christian Huygens, the Princesse de Montbéliard gives details of Froberger's death, expressing her grief at the decease of the "Chevalier," a true "Patron of noble music." These letters, which were discovered in 1874 by Dr. E. Schebeck, have been published by him, somewhat revised, and by Jonckenbloet and Land in their original form.

[38] These suites are found in the Vienna manuscript and in one of the Spitta collection. (See Franz Beier: Ueber J.J. Froberger's Leben und Bedeutung für die Klaviersuite.)

[39] Unam exhibemus quam D. Io. Jac. Frobergerus organoedus Caesarius celeberrimus olim organoedi Hieron. Frescobaldi discipulus supra UT RE MI FA SOL LA exhibuit. (Musurgia universalis, Vol. i, p. 466.)

[40] He excelled in movements in triplets.

[41] Anleitung zur musikalischen Gelahrtheit.

[42] J.S. Bach is already foreshadowed in Froberger's compositions. Thus, in this double of an Allemande:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

[43] Kerl was sent to Rome by Emperor Ferdinand III. about 1649; he received some lessons from Carissimi.

[44] See Ed. Hanslick: Aus meinem Leben. (Deutsche Rundschau, July, 1894, p. 54.)

[45] "Our Father, who art in heaven." This chorale was one of eight published for Pachelbel by Johann Christoph Weigel at Nuremberg about 1693.

[46] Georg Muffat, born about 1635, was a pupil of Lully, and studied also in Rome and Vienna. For some time he was organist in Strassburg, and about 1667 entered the service of the Bishop of Salzburg. About 1687 he became organist and master of the pages at the court in Passau. He died there February 23, 1714. He published in 1690, at Augsburg, the "Apparatus musico-organisticus" (re-edited by S. de Lange, Leipzig, 1888), which contains twelve Toccatas, one in each of the Gregorian modes, and some pieces of lesser importance.

These Toccatas are a development of the older form of the same name, where brilliant passages, harmonic progressions, or fugal imitations, succeeded each other. From each of these elements Muffat made a whole, developed separately; a similar method suggested in certain Canzoni of Frescobaldi was extended in some of the Capricci of Froberger. Nothing but the too sparing use of the pedal prevents these works from being ranked among the most important.

[47] J. Commer. Musica sacra, vol. i, No. 132.

[48] Following the publication of the "neu eröffnetes Orchester" of Mattheson, Buttstedt had written an essay entitled:

Ut mi sol
re fa la
Tota musica
(Erfurt, 1717),

in which he defended the old solmisation, or system of changes, the si, a changeable note, being disregarded. Mattheson answered it the same year by the "neu beschütztes Orchester" (defense of the new orchestra), with the epigraph:

Ut mi sol
re fa la
Todte (nicht tota) Musica

a bad pun on the words tota, the whole, and todte, dead.

[49] He was installed in this position April 11, 1668, and upon the third of the following August married Anna Margaretha, daughter of his deceased predecessor.

[50] Dietrich Buxtehude's Orgelcompositionen, herausgegeben von P. Spitta. (The first volume contains the preludes, fugues, etc.; the second the chorales.) Leipzig, 1876.

[51] It is curious to notice, even in these surroundings, an example of what was in the middle ages called the "proportio hemiolia," the immediate passage from triple to duple time, which we find as late as in the works of Bach and Händel. (See The Messiah, third chorus, thirty-fifth measure.)

In endeavoring to accentuate the rhythm, Buxtehude unconsciously breaks it. In reality, the pedal brings an accent upon the third beat; and we obtain, by taking as the first beats of measures the chords marked with a sign:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

[52] See Merkel (Johann): "Betrachtungen über die deutsche Tonkunst im 18. Jahrhundert." Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde (School of Philosophy of Leipzig University, 1886).

[53] These concerts were inaugurated in 1673; undoubtedly for one of these, to which the name Abendmusik, evening music, was applied, the Chaconnes and the Passacaglia were written.

[54] Centone (It.): a composition made up of excerpts from other works.

[55] Peters Edition, edited by Griepenkerl and Roitzsch, vol. iv, No. 5.

[56] Peters Edition, vol. iv, No. 9.

[57] P. viii, 11.

[58] P. iii, 9.

[59] Bruhns was born at Schwabstädt (Schleswig) in 1666, and died at Husum in 1697; he was organist there, and had formerly occupied for some time a similar position in Copenhagen.

[60] It will be interesting to compare this piece with the prelude in F sharp minor by Buxtehude, particularly with this excerpt from it (ed. Spitta, xii, p. 68):

[Listen] [MusicXML]

[61] For instance, in the Chaconne (iii, p. 15, from the 8th measure), which we have already analyzed:

music continued
[Listen] [MusicXML]

[62] P. ix, 6. In this edition, this work bears the title of concerto, undoubtedly because of its form in several movements; at least, it was so designated in Griepenkerl's collection. A manuscript which has come down from the organist Westphal, in Hamburg, gives it this title: "Fantasia, clamat in G♮, di J.S. Bach."

[63] P. iv, 11.

[64] P. iii, 10. Bach-Gesellschaft-Ausgabe (W. Rust), year XV, p. 100.

[65] For example, this theme:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

[66] Hanslick: Vom Musikalisch-Schönen.

[67] Schopenhauer: Lichtstrahlen aus seinen Werken (J. Frauenstädt, Leipzig, 1874, p. 128).

[68] P. iv, 4; B.-G. xv.

[69] P. iii, 7; B.-G. xv, p. 276. This work also bears the title of Toccata. It presents the peculiarity of being divided into four movements, whence, possibly, this designation, concertato, which accompanies it in one of the MSS. It is essentially an imitation of Buxtehude's compositions in several movements.

[70] P. iv, 3; B.-G. xv, p. 88.

[71] "It is not necessary," says Mattheson, "to indicate the degree of rapidity of an alla breve; these words suffice to animate the most sluggish brain, to make supple the heaviest of hands. For example, it is like 'clucking' to a horse."—Grosse Generalbass-Schule, Hamburg, 1732.

[72] P. iii, 5; B.-G. xv, p. 112.

[73] P. viii, 5. These works are part of the collection of G. Pölchau, a well-known musician of Hamburg in the last century.

[74] Born in 1663, Duke Wilhelm Ernst reigned from 1683. Early becoming a widower, and left without children, he adopted a somewhat retired mode of life, as we may judge. At the palace, "Wilhelmsburg," everyone had to retire at nine o'clock in summer and eight in winter. He evinced a marked taste for theological studies and discussions; in 1710 he brought together in a synod one hundred pastors, and he built or repaired a number of churches and seminaries. He was also interested in numismatics. This austerity was in some degree tempered by concerts, whose programs were performed (J.O. Köhler tells us, Historische Münzbelustigung, Nuremberg, 1730) by sixteen picked musicians, dressed in Hungarian costume (Bach en tzigane!). Further, the duke built a theatre in 1696; the patronage accorded to the troupe of Gabriel Möller, "Hofcomödiant" (court comedian), was not of long duration; it had already ceased in 1709.

[75] Prince Johann Ernst was of a weak constitution; he died in 1715, at the age of nineteen years, and the only way he could make his insomnia bearable was to keep with him in his room during entire nights Walther, his music teacher, who would play for him his favorite pieces.

[76] Johann Gottfried Walther was born in 1684, and from 1707 held the position of town organist in Weimar. Not only was he a good musician, but he was also a theoretician of merit; while he learned from his friend Bach the principles of the old school of Sweelinck, the traditions of which had descended through the teachings of Reinken and Buxtehude (see J.G. Walther als Theoretiker.—Study by Gehrmann in the Vierteljahrschrift für Musikwissenschaft, 1891), Bach, on the other hand, was able to obtain other advantages from this interchange; Walther was remarkably well-schooled in harmony, and from his thorough knowledge, of long standing, of Italian chamber music, he undoubtedly was not indirectly connected with these new studies of Bach's.

[77] I am not speaking of virtuosos. We know with what astonishment Corelli, the great Italian violinist, listened to the playing of Nikolaus Strungk of Celle: "I call myself arcangelo," said he to the latter, "but you deserve the title of arcidiavolo." And we must not forget the old musician, J. Franz Biber, who was born in 1638 and died at Salzburg in 1698, and who exerted a perceptible influence upon the creation of the violin sonata.

But what the Germans sought was not, let me repeat, within the domain of that expressive instrument; they could not be content with simple melody, they must have complete harmony. And so we learn that Bruhns (the remarkable organ-pupil of Buxtehude, and an exceptionally talented violinist) would seat himself before the pedal of an organ, violin in hand, and would play in four parts—the bass with his feet, the other parts upon his violin.

[78] P. viii, 1-4. Vivaldi was born toward the end of the seventeenth century; in 1713 he was appointed maestro di cappella at l'Ospitale della Pietà, at Venice; later he was for some time in the service of the Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt. He died in 1743.

[79] The title of this last transcription gives us a clue to its date; it reads as follows: "Concerto dell'illustrissimo Principe Giovanni Ernesto Duca di Sassonia appropriato all'Organo a 2 clav. e pedale da Giovanni Sebastiano Bach." So it must have been written before 1715, the date of the Duke's death. Bach was not the only one to make these transcriptions; Mattheson tells us (Das beschützte Orchester): "Compositions of this order (concerti grossi, sinfonie in specie, overtures) may also be played upon a polyphonic instrument, for instance upon the organ or harpsichord; a few years ago the celebrated S. de Graue, the blind organist of the new Dunes Church in Amsterdam, played from memory and with remarkable clearness in my presence, upon the excellent organ in his church, the latest Italian sonatas and concertos in three and four parts."

[80] P. iii, 8. B.-G. xv, p. 253.

[81] This work, perhaps, dates from the journey which Bach made to Cassel in 1714 to examine a recently restored organ. At least the pedal passage in the prelude reminds us of that pedal solo executed during this tour before the Hereditary Prince of Hesse with such virtuosity that the latter drew from his finger a valuable ring and presented it to Bach. "One might have believed," says Adlung (Anleitung an der Musikgelahrtheit), "that his feet were winged, with such agility did they move over the keys which caused the powerful basses to resound. If the dexterity of his feet drew from the Prince so rich a present, what should he have given him in recognition of the genius of his hands?"

[82] It will be interesting to compare one of these themes with the following from the counterpoint of a fugue in A major by Albinoni:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

especially if we remember this first transformation which it underwent at the hands of Bach in a fugue for harpsichord:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

[83] Here are noticeable the pauses Bach contrives to introduce for one of the hands, that it might effect the changes in registration necessary to play the fugue coll'organo pleno.

[84] P. iv, 8.

[85] Corelli was born in 1653, and died in 1713. The theme mentioned is found in Joachim's edition of Corelli's works (Denkmäler der Tonkunst, vol. iii. Bergedorf, near Hamburg, 1871). It is the theme of a fugue, the second part of a "church sonata," opus 3; the fugue is marked vivace, and is but thirty-nine measures in length.

[86] The manuscript of this fugue, coming down from Andreas Bach, bears the following qualification: "Thema Legrenzianum elaboratum cum subjecto pedaliter."

[87] P. iv, 10.

[88] Sweelinck, who was born at Deventer about 1560, studied with Zarlino at Venice, and upon his return home in 1580 occupied (until his death in 1620) the position of organist to the old Protestant Church in Amsterdam (see Max Seiffert: J. Peter Sweelinck und seine directen deutschen Schüler).

[89] It is the third number in the volume entitled, Drei Phantasien, drei Toccaten und vier Variationen, nach einem Manuscript des grauen Klosters zu Berlin aus der Orgeltabulatur übersetzt und herausgegeben von Rob. Eitner (Berlin, 1870).

[90] Livre d'orgue (1701).

[91] Let it be remembered that Bach, imitating these same Sonatas in composing the Lamento of the "Capriccio upon the departure of his most beloved brother" (1704), employs this motif as a basso quasi ostinato, and that in the Easter Cantata written in the same year the viola sorrowfully gives expression to the same theme.

[92] His compatriot, John Bull, who died in Antwerp in 1628, had already written a series of variations upon this subject. (See "A General History of Music," by Charles Burney. London, 1789, p. 115.)

[93] This is the term which Bach employs in the preface to his Inventionen und Sinfonien compiled in 1723, that his pupils might, through their study, acquire un jeu cantable.

[94] P. viii, 6.

[95] Commer. Musica Sacra (Vol. I, No. 123, p. 137).

[96] P. i, 2. B.-G. xv, p. 289. [M. Pirro writes me: "You may state that the theme of the Passacaglia was the composition of the French organist André Raison." To which M. Widor adds: "André Raison, organist of St.-Étienne du Mont in Paris at the time of Louis XIV, left a volume of organ works, now very rare, which I have presented to the library of the Conservatoire. Raison's collection is interesting, in that it gives indications of the registration of his time; the chorale is usually found in the pedal, treated as the tenor, the real bass being played by the left hand. The melody of the chorale is performed upon a reed stop in the pedal, while upon the manuals only mixtures are drawn." Tr.]

[97] P. ii, 5. B.-G. xv, p. 104.

[98] P. iii, 6. B.-G. xv, p. 129, and P. iv, 12 (a 5 voci). Accompanying the latter Fantasia is a fugue of which, unfortunately, only the first twenty-seven measures are extant.

[99] P. iii, 2. B.-G. xv, p. 155.

[100] P. ii, 6. B.-G. xv, p. 218.

[101] P. iii, 3. B.-G. xv, p. 136.

[At the time of Bach it was a frequent usage to omit an accidental from the signature; in the above case the omission of the only flat undoubtedly suggested the appellation frequently given "in modo dorico," although otherwise the composition bears hardly a trace of the Dorian mode. Tr.]

[102] Geschichte der evangelisch-lutherischen St. Agnuskirche in Köthen. Herausgegeben von C.F. Hartmann, Köthen, in der Commission der Huschen Buchhandlung (1802). The organ is described on pages 19 and 20.

[103] [The pedal, even of modern organs, extends upwards only to f'. Since the middle of the last decade, the house of Cavaillé-Coll in Paris, has applied to the larger instruments constructed by it the compass of C to g'. This range was recommended by the translator and adopted for an organ now in process of construction in Boston; it is also a feature of the large organ for Yale University, recently contracted for.]

[104] P. iii, 2. B.-G. xv, p. 155.

[105] The beginning, at least; while the conclusion is characterized by repetitions, this part of the work is not its least imposing portion.

[106] P. ii, 3. B.-G. xv, p. 120.

[107] This cantata, written for soloists, was first performed December 29, 1715. B.-G. xxx, 2.

[108] For example, in the fugue in G minor (P. iv, 7).

[109] P. i, 1. B.-G. xv.

[110] The first part of the sonata in D minor undoubtedly dates from the year 1722; the adagio and vivace of the sonata in E minor are transcribed from the cantata Die Himmel erzählen (1723), B.-G. xviii. The last movement of this sonata was originally intended to serve as an interlude between the prelude and the fugue in G major (P. ii, 2. B.-G. xv, p. 169. The theme of the fugue is, in major, that of the first chorus in the cantata Ich hatte viel Bekümmerniss, performed in 1714), composed, according to the water-mark of the autograph, in 1724 or 1725.

[111] See S. Bagge: Die geschichtliche Entwickelung der Sonate.

[112] P. ii, 4. B.-G. xv, p. 177.

[113] Grosse General-Bass-Schule, oder Exemplarische Organistenprobe (Hamburg, 1731), p. 34. "The subject of this fugue was produced by a facile pen, and, in 1725, presented to a candidate for the position of organist."

[114] Charles Gounod: Le Don Juan de Mozart, p. 5.

[115] Clavierübung.—Dritter Theil der Clavierübung bestehend in verschiedenen Vorspielen über den Catechismus und andere Gesänge vor die Orgel: denen Liebhabern und besonders denen Kennern von dergleichen Arbeit, zur Gemüths-Ergötzung verfertiget von J.S. Bach, königl. Pohlnischen, und Churfürstlich Sächsischen Hof-Compositeur, Capellmeister, und Directore Chori Musici in Leipzig. In Verlegung des Authoris.

[116] P. iii, 1. B.-G. iii, pp. 173 and 254.

[117] It is worthy of note that the fugue, a last reminiscence of Buxtehude, is in three movements of different rhythms.

[118] P. ii, 9. B.-G. xv, p. 236.

[119] P. ii, 10. B.-G. xv, p. 199.

[120] Schopenhauer. Lichtstrahlen aus seinen Werken. J. Frauenstädt, Leipzig, 1874.

[121] P. ii, 1.

[122] P. ii, 6. B.-G. xv, p. 218. Here are noticeable reminiscences from the Recordare in the Dies Irae of Legrenzi, for eight-part chorus, three violes and organ.

[123] P. ii, 8. B.-G. xv.

[124] P. ii, 7. B.-G. xv, p. 228.

[125] These variations are contained in the fifth volume of the Peters edition (Part ii, 1 and 2).

[126] P. vi, 15.

[127] This also must have been written for the clavecin; the right hand passing over the left in order to strike the bass note e, held meanwhile by the pedal, clearly indicates the intention of thereby prolonging the sound.

[128] Published by Ritter: Geschichte des Orgelspiels, part ii, p. 181.

[129] Musica Sacra, vol. i, p. 5.

[130] Orgelbüchlein Worinne einem anfahenden Organisten Anleitung gegeben wird, auff allerhand Arth einen Choral durchzuführen, anbey auch sich im Pedal Studio zu habilitiren, indem in solchen darinne befindlichen Choralen das Pedal gantz obligat tractiret wird. Dem Höchsten Gott allein zu ehren, Dem Nechsten, draus sich zu belehren. Autore Joanne Sebast. Bach p.t. Capellae Magistro S.P.R. Anhaltini-Cotheniensis.

The chorales of the Orgelbüchlein are published in the fifth volume of the Peters, and in the twenty-fifth year of the Bach-Gesellschaft edition. W. Rust, in the latter volume, has preserved the order adopted by Bach in the succession of these chorales, which is according to the church year.

[131] Durch Adam's Fall ist ganz verderbt. Buxtehude employed fifths to symbolize this descent.

[132] Organists often played the sortie (postlude) in the form of a chaconne, with full organ (see Mattheson: "Der vollkommene Capellmeister," and Becker, "Rathgeber für Organisten"). The prelude to the chorale "Heut' triumphiret Gottes Sohn" is conceived in the same manner.

[133] In the collection Lustgarten neuer teutscher Gesänge, Balletti, Galliarden und Intraden mit 4, 5, 6, 7, und 8 Stimmen. 1601, Nürnberg, bei Kaufmann.

[134] O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden.Cf. chorale in St. Matthew Passion.

[135] Compare that chorale with this fragment of a chorale by Böhm, Vater unser im Himmelreich:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

[136] P. vi, and vii. B.-G. xxv, vol. ii, 3rd part.

[137] For example, upon the melodies "Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr'" (several versions), "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland" and "Herr Jesus Christ, dich zu uns wend."

[138] Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland.

[139] Various arrangements by Bach of this chorale are in existence; we would cite in particular the one which he made with double pedal, upon the same harmonic bass as the one already referred to. It was probably composed for the journey to Hamburg (in 1720), when Bach drew from old Reinken the avowal of an admiration which the latter was not wont to lavish, for his improvisations upon this theme. Reinken had also composed a prelude upon it. It is interesting to compare the profusion of ornaments by which he renders the melody almost unrecognizable, with the elegant design in which Bach clothes it. Reinken thus distorts the beginning:

[Listen] [MusicXML]

With a Toccata and another Choralvorspiel, this arrangement is all that remains to us of Reinken's works.

[140] Schumann said of this prelude, by which he himself was influenced in certain compositions (Cologne): "Thou didst play, Felix Meritis (Mendelssohn), a prelude upon one of those figured chorales: 'Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele,' was the text; the melody seemed interlaced with garlands of gold, and the work breathed forth such happiness that you inspired in me this avowal: 'Were life deprived of all trust, of all faith, this simple chorale would restore all to me.' I fell into a revery; then, almost unconsciously, I found myself in the cemetery, and I felt poignant grief at not being able to cover with flowers the grave of the great Bach."—Letters, vol. i. Mendelssohn had played this chorale at a concert given, in St. Thomas' Church, to further the erection of a monument to the memory of J.S. Bach.

The melody of this chorale is found in choral-books since 1649.

[141] Einige kanonische Veränderungen über das Weihnachtslied: Vom Himmel hoch da komm' ich her.

[142] These variations were published separately. Bach had them engraved about 1746 by Balthasar Schmidt in Nuremberg, in order to present them as the work for admission which the "Society for Musical Sciences" founded by Mizler in 1738 imposed upon each of its candidates. Bach was elected in 1747. He must have composed them, however, some years previously. The MS. and the engraved edition present numerous differences of editing.

[143] P. vi, and vii. B.-G. iii.

[144] Cart. Un maître deux fois centenaire.

[145] P. vii, 58. B.-G. xxv.

[146] Forkel.

[147] At the commencement of his compositions he wrote the initials J.J. (Jesu Juva) or S.D.G. (Soli Deo Gloria).

[148] Ueber J.S. Bach's Leben, Kunst und Kunstwerke. Leipzig, 1802.

[149] Dieupart, born in France during the last third of the seventeenth century, was a remarkable violinist and clavecinist. He went to England early in the eighteenth century, and, associated with Clayton, introduced Italian opera at Drury Lane. After disasters similar to those which later befell Händel, he renounced the theatre and busied himself no longer with instrumental music. He died in 1740.

Of his compositions are extant: Six suites for the clavecin, divided into Overtures, Allemandes, Courantes, Sarabandes, Gavottes, Minuets, Rondos, and Gigues, composed and arranged for concert performance by a Violin and a Flute, with a Bass Viol and an Archilute. (See Grove's "Dictionary of Music and Musicians.") The prelude of Bach's first English Suite was inspired by a passage in the A major suite of Dieupart.

[150] Der Vollkommene Kapellmeister, Hamburg, 1739, §69, p. 467.

[151] Mattheson says, à propos of this stop: "The French have given to the Nachsatz (thus named on account of its high pitch, in contrast to the Untersatz of thirty-two feet) of the Netherlanders, the designation Nasard or Nasarde, 'a vulgar expression, of which use is made in comedy or burlesque,' says Boyer's dictionary."

[152] This register, composed of two ranks of pipes of tin or of composition, is a compound stop. The longer pipe gives the fifth of the octave, the shorter the third of the fifteenth; there is thus the interval of a major sixth between the two ranks.

[153] In Das neu eröffnete Orchester (1717). Mattheson was born in Hamburg in 1681; aside from his critical works on music he was an organist of ability; he knew Buxtehude, becoming acquainted with him in 1703. He even expected to succeed him, but renounced his aspirations in this direction upon learning that in accepting the position of the father he would be obliged to marry the daughter, Anna Margaretha, born in 1669, and therefore much too old for him; this was one of the conditions of the place, which also deterred Händel from presenting himself as a candidate.

[154] Certain organists abused this powerful combination; Adlung says, "There are many who, in playing the chorale or music in general, know only the noise of the plein-jeu. One may be content to continually wear the same clothes, but an organist who produces the same sounds every day will render himself insupportable by his monotony. In the chorale, in the last verse, one may play a little louder, to remind the minister to prepare for the resumption of his duties; especially in towns where it is no longer customary (as is still the honored usage in some villages) to rap with a bâton for this purpose, as though one by force would arouse him from slumber." Anleitung zur musikalischen Gelahrtheit, 1758.

[155] Premier livre d'orgue, 1665.

[156] Livre d'orgue, 1688.

[157] "Reed-stops are often Fool-stops; but if they be clear and bright, they are refreshing to heart and soul."

[158] Sechs Choräle von verschiedener Art auf einer Orgel mit 2 Clavieren und Pedal vorzuspielen, verfertiget von Johann Sebastian Bach, königl. Pohln. und Churf. Sächs. Hoff-Compositeur, Capellm. und Direct. Chor. Mus. Lips. In Verlegung Joh. Georg Schüblers zu Zella am Thüringer Wald.

These chorales are taken from the cantatas composed at Leipzig. They are, however, only transcriptions; it is interesting in registrating them to know their orchestration. In the chorale Ach bleib' bei uns! (B.-G. xxv, P. vi, 2) the melody is sung by the soprano, accompanied by a violoncello piccolo, the continuo sustaining the harmony. In Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn (Magnificat, P. vii, 42), the continuo is played by the pedal, the parts entrusted to the left hand corresponding to the duet between tenor and alto, while the chorale (dextra forte) is executed in the score by the first and second oboes and the trumpet.

[159] Musica mechanica organoedi (Langensalza, 1762).

[160] Der vollkommene Kapellmeister, part ii, chap. xxv.

[161] It appears that this carillon was not constructed; it is possible, however, that Bach had it in mind when writing the chorale. Moreover, it was to be found in other organs.

[162] Livre d'orgue contenant une messe et quatre hymnes pour les principales festes de l'année. Par Nicolas de Grigny, organiste de l'église-cathédrale de Reims. À Paris, chez Christophe Ballard, seul imprimeur du Roy pour la Musique. Rue Saint-Jean de Beauvais, au Mont-Parnasse. 1701. Avec Privilège de Sa Majesté.

[163] [The cornet here referred to is obviously a mixture, not the reed of the same name already mentioned.—Tr.]

[164] This organ was the only one with three manuals which Bach could have had in mind while he was in Weimar with Walther; it is natural that in his compositions he should be preoccupied with an organ whose restoration he had planned, and undoubtedly supervised—Weimar being not far from Mühlhausen—and which in all probability he looked forward to inaugurating. This remark, moreover, may apply to the composition of the chorale In dir ist Freude, although here Bach had been disappointed.

[165] That is, for playing the basso continuo of the orchestra.

[166] [En montre signifies literally "on show"; that is, in front. The French designation for a diapason, Montre, is derived from the custom of placing the pipes of that register in an exposed position.—Tr.]

[167] [The filling-out of the figured bass by the organ, made necessary in music with orchestra by the paucity of the instrumental numbers, was referred to as the "music."—Tr.]

[168] [The word swell I have used in the foregoing merely to designate the third manual; and it by no means implies that the pipes belonging to that keyboard were enclosed in a swell-box. Although this invention was applied to an English organ for the first time in 1712 (St. Magnus Church, London Bridge), its adoption in Germany has become general only within comparatively recent years, and then only in newly-built instruments.—Tr.]

[169] J. Th. Mosewius: J.S. Bach in seinen Kirchencantaten und Choralgesängen (Berlin, Trautwein, 1845), p. 25.

[170] This is what was done by Robert Franz. See Offener Brief an Eduard Hanslick (Leipzig, 1873).

[171] Deutliche Anweisung zum Generalbass (Halberstadt, 1772), p. 137.

[172] Anleitung zur practischen Musik (Leipzig, 1782).

[173] B.-G. iv. [The first and last numbers, respectively, of Part I. In the first the chorale is sung by a special chorus of sopranos, usually boys, while the two mixed choruses and the two orchestras are treated contrapuntally. In the other instance the two choruses are united in one, as are also the two orchestras, and the chorale is sung by all the sopranos, the counterpoint being assigned to the remaining three vocal parts, supported by the orchestra.—Tr.]

[174] B.-G. v.

[175] B.-G. xviii, 10.

[176] The organo obbligato was sometimes written with more delicate intentions; for example, in the alto aria with accompaniment of an oboe da caccia, from the cantata Wer weiss, wie nahe mir mein Ende? (B.-G. v.).

[177] We should add here, that the organs were not of the same pitch as the other instruments, for they were tuned to chorus-pitch, a whole tone lower than the normal diapason. The organ at Weimar, on the contrary, was a minor third higher.

[178] Oberwerk means literally the higher manual; in two-manual organs the stronger was, at that time, found above the other. The name Rückpositif came from the custom of placing the pipes behind the back (Rücken) of the organist. Finally, the swell bore the name Brustwerk, the pipes being placed facing the breast (Brust) of the player. In a three-manual organ the great keyboard was situated between the swell, which was above, and the choir, which was below it.

[179] This instrument was constructed in 1701, by J.F. Wender, an organ-builder of Mühlhausen. [The specification as compiled from the existing stop-handles by Mr. C.F.A. Williams ("Bach": J.M. Dent & Co.: London), differs slightly from the above, which is given by Spitta.—Tr.]

[180] A sort of Glockenspiel, which produced l'accord parfait [undoubtedly the major triad].

[181] This was a reed stop.

[182] Historische Nachrichten von der berühmten Residenzstadt Weimar. Weimar, 1737, p. 175, 176.

[183] [The Principal here referred to is undoubtedly the eight-foot Diapason.—Tr.]

[184] Undoubtedly larigot.

[185] Vogel, Leipziger Chronicke. Vol. iii, chap. vi, p. 110.

[186] In combination with the Quintatön of eight feet, says Adlung, the Geigenregal sounds almost like a stringed instrument.

[187] Cromorne. Also called lituus (clarion) by Praetorius (Syntagma musicum), Tome ii, chap. xv, p. 40. Adlung suggests this simple derivation: cor and morne (sad, reserved).

[188] Ueber J.S. Bach's Leben, Kunst und Kunstwerke.

[189] Die wahren Grundsätze zum Gebrauch der Harmonie (Berlin, 1773) p. 53. See also Mizler (Necrolog, p. 171) and Forkel (p. 22).

[190] Clavierbüchlein, vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach angefangen in Cöthen den 22. Januar, anno 1720.

[191] See A. Méreaux: Les Clavecinistes de 1637 à 1790. Tableau synoptique et comparatif de tous les agréments avec leur signes et leur effet. Heugel, Paris.

[192] L. Diémer: Les Clavecinistes français du XVIIIe siècle (Durand and Schönewerk).

[193] This work contains, with numerous examples, a study of ornamentation, from G. Diruta to J.S. Bach in the first part, from Ph. E. Bach to our own period in the second. (London: Novello, Ewer & Co.)

[194] P. vi, 9. B.-G.

[195] B.-G. xiii, p. xvi. We again encounter this grouping in the flute part of the et in unum Deum of the B minor Mass.

[196] The autograph was contained in the collection of Ph. Spitta.

[197] Toccata II (libro i).

[198] Toccata 6a (adagio), and Toccata 3a of the Apparatus musico-organisticus.

[199] Veit Bach was born in Gotha during the second half of the sixteenth century; he is considered the progenitor of the Bach family. He was the first representative of the race of musicians who furnished "cantors" and organists to the greater number of the central German cities. At Erfurt, for instance, the direction of the "council music" was in their hands from 1625 until 1735, and even after their disappearance the town musicians were still referred to as "the Bachs."

[200] This instrument was constructed in 1701 by Wender, an organ-builder in Mühlhausen. Wender had a certain local reputation, but was unskilful and not very conscientious.

[201] Besides a salary of 85 thalers, he had various perquisites "in kind."

[202] One of his cantatas, Gott ist mein König, was engraved in separate parts by Brückner of Mühlhausen.

[203] See Philipp Spitta: Johann Sebastian Bach, vol. i, p. 354.

[204] [Subsequent to the writing of the above, and during the progress of general disinterment incidental to the devotion to other uses of the land occupied by the cemetery, Bach's remains were found and identified by most scientific methods. In August, 1900, took place the official ceremony of reinterment in a stone sarcophagus, contained in a crypt constructed for the purpose at the foot of the chancel steps of the new Johanniskirche (St. John's Church). Upon this occasion the University Gesangverein zu St. Pauli sang. September 2d of the same year, at the close of the weekly "Abend-Motette" (the program on this occasion having been devoted entirely to works of Bach), the solo-quartet of the church sang in the crypt the chorale from the St. Matthew Passion Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden, in the presence of a few other reverent "friends of Bach's music." The following morning the lid of the sarcophagus was permanently closed and sealed.

By its side, enclosed in a similar receptacle, lie the ashes of Gellert, the poet.—Tr.]

[205] A small-sized violin, tuned a fourth higher.