Nicolaus Simrock of Bonn was one of the first publishers who engraved and marketed Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. One of the most notable features of his edition was that his WTC II volume (plate number 138) appeared before WTC I (p/n 166), effectively swapping the volumes. The WTC II volume presumably appeared between February and 6 June 1801 (from the date of the advertisement published in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung and Nägeli's letter to Breitkopf in which he commented on the Simrock edition -- See Refardt, p. 397). As neither Nägeli nor Forkel appears to have managed to publish their respective editions by this time, I believe Simrock's WTC II was the first that appeared in print.
Today Simrock's edition of WTC II is known in many different shapes, which can be distinguished by the different designs of title-page and the engravings of the musical text. (NB. WTC I is much simpler.) One of my aims of this website is to share the information with other scholars and librarians, so that we can learn a complex history of Simrock's business activities.
Simrock's musical text originates from the manuscript (now lost) prepared by Neefe who died in 1798. This was in fact the main sale's point in Simrock's AMZ advertisement in February 1801; but there were others who did not share his view. Nägeli was one of these, as we learn from his letter to Breitkopf dated 18 March 1801. This may have been one of the reasons why Simrock produced a newly engraved edition (with very light corrections) in short space of time. He had two business locations, Bonn and Paris (managed by his brother Henri), which may also account for the production of a new set of plates. At some point in time, Simrock appointed Schwencke to carry out thorough revision. Few details are known as to how and when Schwencke was recruited, and much research still remains to be done. Curiously, this heavily revised edition scarcely survives, implying that Simrock did not like Schwencke's work after all.
I have examined the text of the following editions for this study:
If you own a copy, please let me know.
My examination of the above copies shows that the Simrock edition of WTC II can be classified into one of the following groups:
This grouping follows my current theory of the chronological order in which the edition was produced and sold. But I still do not have sufficient information to be able to explain why Simrock issued the WTC II volume in so many different shapes. I am therefore looking forward to hearing from you about your copy. Thank you!
I am indebted to the private owners and music librarians who either facilitated my examination of the sources in their possession or provided information by answering my enquiries.
Together three different designs of the title-pages are known to me. The last type has some variants by double impression using colour ink.
Type 1: presumably the initial design. Simple design. Price is not printed. Some surviving copies have hand-written prices. It was used for the first edition as well as some of the later issues when the printout of Type 2 design presumably run out of stock.
Type 2: second design, engraved by Sampier in Paris. An elaborate, decorative design. Volume number and price are supposed to be added by hand or stamp.
Type 3: third design (?), returning to simpler design. Price is printed in French currency (12 Francs). It is also possible that it was the initial design made in Bonn (on the evidence of Source 17 -- see below)
Type 3a: a revised design of Type 3, using light blue ink to enhance the design of radiance.
Type 3b: a revised design of Type 3, using light green ink to enhance the design of radiance. Note also that the patch of unpainted area is smaller than Type 3a.
Normally, title-page use different paper from the main body of the edition, and when this is the case, the verso side of the title-page is blank (and the recto side of the first music plates is also blank). Exception to this is Source 17: was it the case that Simrock initially designed this title-page with fixed price, but soon decided to promote his editions by affiliating it with Paris Conservatoire, prompting him to create different designs?
Type 1 is the initial design. There is space between the brace and clefs.
Type 2 is the 2nd engraving (= WTC I engraving). There is no space between the brace and clefs. Musical text received corrections mildly.
Type 3 is the 3rd engraving of this opening page (page 2) only, accommodating the title of the work in the head margin.
In addition to the shape of braces and clefs, the engraving types 1 and 2 can also be distinguished by the shape of ornament. The following images are taken from page 4.
|vertical "tr" used in Type 1 engraving.|
|slightly slant "lr" used in Type 2 engraving.|
Plate numbers are printed uniformly at the centre of the bottom margin as .
In Type 1 engraving, the plate was incorrectly numbered as "183" ().
In Type 2 engraving, this mistake was noticed, and somehow left this place blank. (It is possible that the wrong number was once engraved but subsequently removed.)
In Type 3 engraving (or more accurately, it is the correction to Type 1 engraving), the number was re-engraved as , which stands out as the type-face is clearly different from the type used in the other pages.
This sequence of corrections corresponds to the sequence of musical text being corrected from Type 1 to Type 2.
The easiest place to check if the Neefe's text (based on M B/1974) is revised by Schwencke (using his own manuscript P 204) is the tenor line of the Prelude no.3 in C# major, page 10. Use the following as a guide:
These watermarks are always found at the edge of the paper where it was cut into halves. These pictures attempt to put the watermarks back by placing the marching halves found on different pages.
There is a report that this watermark also appears in wove paper. (Source 11)
Type 2 [wove paper] title-page
| This mark is found in the title-page of my
copy. A wreath with something inside (letter "R"?), with letters
Kenney 2443 does not show any watermarks, but the paper is wove, and possibly the same paper as that of my copy.
[added in 5 July 2008]
Found in Source 16:
[added on 16 August 2016]
Found in Source 17: