Chapter

The Genesis of the Collection

Russell Stinson

in J. S. Bach's Great Eighteen Organ Chorales

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780195116663
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199848959 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195116663.003.0002
The Genesis of the Collection

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This chapter considers the autograph manuscript. Bach began around 1740 to compile the “Great Eighteen” into a collection that is documented by the autograph manuscript of the set. The focus of the discussion is on the autograph of the Great Eighteen and the Canonic Variations. In addition, it also observes how Bach complied the manuscript from one piece to the next, emphasizing on compositional process, since the autograph shows that most of Bach's entries contain compositional revisions and not merely corrections of copying errors. It is infinitely more important, though, to realize that in no instance was Bach content just to copy a work: some inner force drove him as well to revise every one of the 15 chorales he entered. Consequently, the revised versions of the Great Eighteen chorales merely promote the music toward its ultimate goal.

Keywords: autograph manuscript; Bach; Great Eighteen; compositional process

Chapter.  7681 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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