WTC II: Brief Summary of Bach's Revisions

Notes:

  • Early models of WTC II (E) are known in pupils' copies, and not in Bach's autographs.
  • Bach's revisions in London Autograph (L) can be classified chronologically by studying the copies made from it at various times. This can be roughly classified as
    1. at copying stage;
    2. at proof-reading stage;
    3. through usage sometime after L was copied.
  • Many inspired readings of Altnickol Tradition (A) are found in the copy made by Bach's future son-in-law, Johann Christoph Altnickol, partially being recorded in the form of subsequent revision in Bach's handwriting.
  • The character of A is normally one of the following:
    1. the version faithfully attesting the exemplar of L;
    2. the version replacing the older version. A complexity is added to the picture when we find evidence either that Bach revised the exemplar of L independently of L subsequently, or that Bach revised Altnickol's manuscript directly, or both.
  • In general, it is not possible to say which version (i.e., either A or L) is the latest version
  • In the following description of revisions, the term updated refers to the changes made to incorporate revisions made to the other score, while revised simply refers to the activity improving artistic quality of the music. The term corrected is specifically used for removing grammatical errors.
WTC II Early versions (E) London Autograph (L) Altnickol Tradition (A)
Mvt BWV Date Features NBA V/6.2 Features Later Revisions Main Features
Pr.C 870a/1 early 1720s 17 bars 307; 310-311 based on E, extended to 34 bars; composing the new extensions on the score (bb.15-19 & 28-35); many details also altered replacing bb.15-19 with improved texture; minor harmonic alterations newer than L; bb.15-19 reworked once again; numerous minor details also reworked
Fg.C 870a/2 early 1720s , 34 bars (68 in 2/4) 308-309; 311-313 based on E, extended to 83 bars by composing the new extension (bb. 69-83) on the score early revisions made only to bb.69-83 newer than L; bb.69-83 are reworked
Pr.c
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copied by Anna Magdalena; minor corrections only no later revisions derived from the same exemplar as L; later revision of b.12
Fg.c
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ca. 1738? many minor variants n/a copied by Anna Magdalena; minor corrections only pitch correction at b.9: T,1/2 derived from the same exemplar as L; minor variants only
Pr.C# 872a/1 ca. 1738 (but possibly originates in 1720 or earlier) C major; non-arpeggiated chord texture 344-345 revision based on E (potentially carried out while copying): all the individual chords in bb.1-24 systematically arpeggiated in sophisticated fashion; minor textual modification to fugato (bb.25-50) added ornaments in bb.29-30 newer version than L; having more inspired tenor line in bb.1-24; change of figuration at b.34
Fg.C# 872a/2

872b

early 1720s

ca. 1738

19 bars, C major

30 bars, C major

358

352-353

revised version based on BWV872b, worked out here - improved texture and the inserted new section bb.25-29 (containing 2 augmented entries) later addition of demisemiquavers in bb.8 - 29 newer than L; further furnishing with demisemiquaver figures in bb.15-16, 19-20 and 26-27
Pr.c#
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presumably an revision score based on the same exemplar as A., improving many minor details while copying out - thus Bach eliminated some of the trace of an earlier readings added accidentals (melodic revision) in bb.20, 22, 30, 44 and 47. derived from the same exemplar used for L; fully written out appoggiatura notation; some ornaments added subsequently
Fg.c#
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as above; number of variants are fewer a few added accidentals (notational updates) only derived from the same exemplar used for L; updated and revised again by Bach (e.g., bb.26 and 54), giving mixed state of readings
Pr.D
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as Pr.c#; noteworthy inspired readings are thickened texture at bb.20 & 40; chromatic shade at b.27; melodic shape at b.36: B,4 a few minor notational corrections only derived from the same exemplar used for L; subsequent pitch revision at b.52: B,3/2 and added ornament at b.45: B,2
Fg.D
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as Pr.c#; notable early revisions includes the introduction of semiquaver figuration at bb.22 and 44 early revisions only derived from the same exemplar used for L
Pr.d 875a early 1720s 43 bars 346-347 copied by Anna Magdalena from the exemplar which was extended to 53 bars (see NBA V/6.2, pp.348-349); many ornaments are added on to this score inserting two new sections (bb.10-17; 37-38), becoming total length of 61 bars; improved figuration of bb.18-25, 43-49 stemming from the lost autograph containing almost identical revisions entered in L (except those in bb.18-25 and 40)
Fg.d
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ca. 1738 simpler figuration in places 356-357 copied by Anna Magdalena (but her exemplar was presumably revised by Bach based on E) octave shift up at the stretto entry, bb.13-14 derived from the revised autograph (similar to L post correcturam)
Pr.Eb
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ca. 1738? 6 bars fragment XIV
(facsimile)
composing score revealing Bachs various compositional tactics early revisions only more mature version, using semiquavers in b.46; later revision, inserting a new voice in b.5
Fg.Eb
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ca. 1738 in D major; stricter contrapuntal writing in bb.30,47-53 354-355 fair copy by Bach in Eb major; free contrapuntal writing in bb.30, 47-53 early corrections only very similar to L, but possibly earlier (e.g., b.58: B,1/4)
Pr.d#
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fair copy by Bach; some passages are presumably revised while being copying out one accidental (b.23, S/1/4) added basically the same version as L (but older in minor details: fewer ornaments, etc.)
Fg.d#
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fair copy by Bach; some passages are revised while being copying out (e.g., b.18: B,3/2; b.19: B,2/3; b.36, A,1-2; b.43: T,1-2; b.45, 4b t) early revisions only based on the exemplar of L, containing many earlier readings; separate later revisions in minor details (b.14: S,2)
Pr.E
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copied by Anna Magdalena with a few errors remained uncorrected spurious revision at b.50, B. updated version of L (e.g., final cadence)
Fg.E
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copied by Anna Magdalena a few minor details almost identical with L
Pr.e
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fair copy by Bach; many ornaments are presumably added here no later revisions derived from the exemplar of L; later inserting demisemiquavers at bb.3, 4, 12 and 22
Fg.e
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71 bar version; some minor details presumably revised while copying (e.g., b.68, S,4/2); some ornaments added no later revisions 86 bar version (revised on the exemplar of L); added ornaments and slurs; later pitch revision of b.27: A,4/3
Pr.F
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first page copied by Anna Magdalena, then Bach took over (and presumably revised some minor details at this stage, e.g., b.50, T and b.66 ornament) added performance marks (slurs) derived from the exemplar of L; later revised by Bach? (b.28)
Fg.F
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Bach presumably revised the minor details while copying (fuller application of accidentals and thicker voice texture at bb.86-87) accidental in b.74, A,2/2 derived from the exemplar of L; Bach revised some details independently in bb.90-93 (added slurs and notational refinement)
Pr.f
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thinner voice texture towards local cadence (bb.39, 54-56); stricter thematic figuration at b.50; less well-defined L.H. figuration at bb.20-23; bb.63-65 replaced leaf (a fair copy?, very close to A) thicker and more fully realised texture; detailed R.H. figuration at bb.57-58; added ornaments in bb.1-2
Fg.f
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stricter thematic figuration at b.53; somewhat adventurous voice-split in b.22 replaced leaf (but music is basically the same) minor improvements making the musical discourse richer and more powerful (e.g., faster figuration in bb.50 & 61 and suspensions in bb.78 & 83)
Pr.F#
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Bach presumably revised the minor details (adding ornaments and the use of more refined rhythmic notation at bb.6 & 73) while copying from his exemplar no later revision derived from the exemplar of L; later updated and revised by Bach independently; pitch revision of b.71: B,1/2
Fg.F#
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Bach presumably revised the minor details while copying (adding ornaments and making concession for the sake of playability at b.52, L.H.) no later revision derived from the exemplar of L, which was later independently revised by Bach; many slurs added presumably by Bach
Pr.f#
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calligraphic, but possibly a composing score, showing many traces of fascinating process of revisions unauthentic addition of accidentals unclear source of origin, partly older than L, partly newer; revised independently by Bach
Fg.f#
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Bach presumably revised the minor details while copying from an exemplar no later revisions derived from an earlier state of autograph; later addition of ornaments by Bach in b.20f.
Pr.G 884/1 ca. 1738? simpler figuration; the lack of ornaments 350-351 copied by Anna Magdalena (her exemplar must have been a revision score) no later revisions derived from an earlier state of autograph; later updated to the state of L
Fg.G 902/2 ca. 1720 60 bars; much simpler texture 332-333 72 bars; copied by Anna Magdalena from a revision score some ornaments added notationally more mature than L, but fewer ornaments
Pr.g
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Bach presumably revised the minor details while copying from his exemplar (b.20-21) no later revisions derived from an earlier state of autograph; updated and revised independently (b.13: T)
Fg.g
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Bach presumably revised the minor details while copying from his exemplar (thickening texture at b.22; improving rhythmic texture at bb.44, 48, 82; written-out ornament at b.83, etc.) no later revisions derived from the same exemplar as L; later updated and revised, improving character at cadence, bb.45 & 49; and other melodic details
Pr.Ab
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a rough revision score, showing some interesting revision process thickened texture at bb.10 and 70 newer than L (esp. bb.53f completely overhauled)
Fg.Ab 901/2 early 1720s in F major, 24 bars 326-327 extended to 50 bars and transposed to Ab major a few corrections and revisions close to L p.corr; a few newer readings (e.g., b.32: S)
Pr.g#
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Bach presumably revised the minor details while copying from his exemplar harmonic revision at b.6, B,2/1 derived from an earlier state of autograph; updated and revised independently by Bach
Fg.g#
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a fair copy by Bach with few revisions no later revisions basically identical with L
Pr.A
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a fair copy with some minor improvements at copying stage added accidental at b.28, B,2/3 derived from the same exemplar as L
Fg.A
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Bach presumably revised some details (b.16: B; b.26: S) while copying from an exemplar early corrections and revisions only derived from the same exemplar as L; updated and revised independently by Bach (bb.3 & 8)
Pr.a
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some chain-reactive corrections on thematic figure, suggesting Bach's composing process early corrections only derived from an earlier draft, later expanded to be the later version; separate further revisions by Bach (bb.24 & 30)
Fg.a
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the revised version of A possibly worked out at copying stage; characterised by bolder, more powerful figuration at bb.6, 15 and 17. no later revisions an early version entitled Fugetta, later updated and revised by Bach
Pr.Bb
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Bach revised some details while copying (e.g., bb.34, 45 & 63); further revisions took before 1742 late, spurious revision on notational matter at b.7: S,4. derived from the same exemplar as L; later separate revisions by Bach
Fg.Bb
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the version characterised by inspired treatment of melodic shapes at bb. 19: S and 38: B,1 pitch revision at b.78, S/6. derived from an earlier state of autograph, which was independently revised later (e.g., bb.5-6, 88-90); further separate revision (b.88: S)
Pr.bb
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Bach revised some minor details while copying pitch (accidental) revision at b.16: B,2/2 derived from the same exemplar as L, which was partially revised by Bach (b.82: S,2)
Fg.bb
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transcribed from 3/4 metre while copying: variants (b.31: S; b.33: T), corrections, revisions stem from this activity updating detailed figuration in b.76: S,1; added accidental at b.79: A,1/3 derived from the same exemplar as L written in 3/4 metre, which was partially revised by Bach (pitch = b.22: T,3; b.77: T,1/2; performance marks; chromatic shade bb.92-93: T)
Pr.B
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Bach revised some minor details while copying (possibly including b.2: B) added rests only derived from the same exemplar as L, revised subsequently (b.35: T and possibly also b.45: B,1); added ornament of b.43: B,2
Fg.B
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a fair copy containing a trace of early readings at b.42, B removed ties over bar-lines, bb.51-52 in S; pitch revision of b.59: S,1/2 derived from the updated exemplar of L (excluding the pitch revision of b.59)
Pr.b
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transcribed from the version written in a half note-value, while introducing many inspired variants (worked out ornament at b.53; fuller voice-texture in b.56; detailed decoration b.57) no later revisions derived from the same exemplar as L, which was partially updated and revised subsequently; added performance marks and ornaments
Fg.b
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Bach presumably revised some details while copying (bb.99-100); the chronological order of two striking variants (viz. bb.16 and 21 on R.H.) is unclear no later revisions derived from the same exemplar as L; separate, later revision (chain-reactive pitch revision at bb.52 and 94; appoggiatura at the final chord

(c) Yo Tomita, 26 March 1996