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Bach Editions

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Sk8london

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Bach Editions

PostMon Jun 03, 2013 6:03 am

Hi

So here comes a question that has been on my mind for a while and with me purchasing my first Bach score (even if it is just BWV 565) the time has come to find answers :)

What are people's favorite editions of Bach and why?

I have purchased the Peters Edition of BWV 565 and the main reason is that that is the only edition of it I am familiar with as I used to turn pages for my favorite organist on a few occasions where he played the piece for me. I would imagine the "familiarity" with a particular score/edition can be the main reason for some folk to go for one publisher over the other?

I do have a Breitkopf book of North German Chorals of the 17th Century and find it be "nicely typed", look and feels like a good quality edition, but would not have anything to compare it to.

How do other people feel about the other Bach Editions out there? Breitkopf? Schott? Baerenreiter?
What do you like or dislike about particular ones?
Is any one edition pariculary well laid out for page turns?

Kind regards
Marek
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icrutt

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Re: Bach Editions

PostMon Jun 03, 2013 7:06 am

Hi Marek,

Ah, that's a question. And probably the key for the opening of a can of worms! ;) After all, talking about editions can easily lead to passionate debates about historical accuracy and scholarship... Never mind any discussion about whether BWV565 is by Bach at all.

Anyway, I would suggest that the ideal perfoming edition (of any music) should have these qualities:

  • based on recent scholarship (last 30 years - preferably an edition labeled 'urtext')...
  • ...BUT editorial marks should be unobtrusive
  • laid out in a legible fashion (including page turns).
  • printed on high-quality paper (you will want to use this music for decades)
  • bound so that it will lie flat on the music stand without requiring excessive violence to the spine (of the book)

For Bach, I have a couple of volumes of Baerenreiter, which are excellent in all these respects - along with an inherited collection (almost complete) of Novello. The Novello are useful for reference, but are encumbered with 19th C phrasing and registrations - and lack BWV numbers. If I am learning a piece for performance, I would prefer the Baerenreiter.

That said, it is of course possible to prepare a convincing musical performance from any edition - though it is easier to use a good one. In part, it depends on your budget - the cheapest thing is to download out-of-copyright editions from IMSLP for free.

Have fun choosing!

Ian
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kkiiwwii

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Re: Bach Editions

PostMon Jun 03, 2013 8:12 am

Just a personal issue. I would avoid like the plague any editions that do not use exclusively the bass and treble clefs. Alto and in-between clefs are very difficult to read unless presumably one learnt them when young.
Charles
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SteveW

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Re: Bach Editions

PostMon Jun 03, 2013 8:37 am

I can only echo Charles's preference for avoiding editions that use various C clefs in some of the chorales, unless you're one of the few people nowadays who are completely comfortable with them Having said that, a couple years ago I acquired the complete Bach Edition from Baerenreiter, which, for the most part, I am very happy with. The music is laid out clearly, the scholarship is of a very high level, no C-clefs are used anywhere, and for the most part, they have taken care to also place the page turns in places where at least one hand is free to manage the page turn wherever possible. My only problem with the Baerenreiter edition is that sometimes I find that there are almost too many page turns, due to the large typeface and note spacing that they use...But others may find that to be advantage! But like I said, overall I am extremely pleased with the Baerenreiter edition, which is definitely worth the cost!

I should also mention that Breitkopf is in the middle of publishing their own complete Bach edition, supposedly including the latest scholarship in regards to his works. I think only 4 or 5 volumes have been released so far. I don't own any of them, but based on the sample pages viewable on Breitkopf's website, it looks to also be a very high-quality edition. I believe they are also including CD-ROMs which contain alternate versions of some works, which may be of interest to many people.
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kkiiwwii

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Re: Bach Editions

PostMon Jun 03, 2013 9:40 pm

Just another thought for those who may wish to save money.
Quite a few years ago I bought 2 CDs of Sheet music. One was over 900 pages of the complete organ works of Bach, the other being over 1800 pages of French Romantic organ music.
They each contain printable pages and to best of my memory were about $15 each from somewhere like the Historical Organ Society in one of the eastern US states. Quality was not perfect, and those wretched non treble/ bass clefs were used with some of the Bach chorales, but they were excellent value for money
Charles
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profeluisegarcia

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Re: Bach Editions

PostTue Jun 04, 2013 12:22 am

Hello:
For me, an amateur and with teachers thousands miles away, the best edition -which I looked for years- is one old and out of print:
Joh. Seb. Bachs Werke fur Orgel. Breitkopf, 1902. Ernest Naumann Editor (Nine Vols). Why?

-Fingering indications and some mark suggestions for playing
-No C clefs
-God Size (10 x 13 inches) and very easy reading
-Excellent paper ( up to 100 years¡)
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profeluisegarcia

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Re: Bach Editions

PostTue Jun 04, 2013 12:22 am

Hello..,
sorry, the message escaped twice and I do not find how to delete this one
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Doug S.

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Re: Bach Editions

PostTue Jun 04, 2013 11:54 am

As a newer student, I have found Dupre's edited volumes with fingering fantastic.
Doug
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icrutt

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Re: Bach Editions

PostTue Jun 04, 2013 12:29 pm

Editions with fingering are definitely very useful - and these are usually not Urtext.

Perhaps the best answer is to have more than one edition! ;)
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profeluisegarcia

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Re: Bach Editions

PostTue Jun 04, 2013 2:36 pm

Doug S. wrote:As a newer student, I have found Dupre's edited volumes with fingering fantastic.


In fact Doug, I also used to use Dupre edition, but I think it shows TOO MANY fingering indications, marks, brackets... and ...almost appropriate time for coughing, that confuse the main thing -the notes-. That is the reason I looked for a middle-term edition, between Urt-Tex and Dupre´s
Best wishes
Luis
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Doug S.

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Re: Bach Editions

PostTue Jun 04, 2013 8:50 pm

Luis,
I understand, and often deviate from Dupre's explicit direction, bit I shudder to think how much firther behind I'd be if I had to develop my own fingering. That said, I hope Dupre rubs off and the task becomes less daunting over time.
Doug
Doug
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Carlos

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Re: Bach Editions

PostWed Jun 05, 2013 5:55 am

Excellent editions are from Editio Musica Budapest (better than Baerenreiter, IMHO), and the old Widor/Schweitzer Edition.
Regards.
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Sk8london

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Re: Bach Editions

PostThu Jun 06, 2013 5:26 pm

Thanks everybody

I am taking away quite a few usueful points from this discussion.

Some editions people have mentioned I would not ever have heard of, yet warrent some research and "digging" into.

I am also surprised (shocked?) and the mention on C Clef editions????
My natural assumption would have been that these are no longer around today, yet it's a perfectlly valid point to watch out for.
Especially when ordering online one would not even have the slightest idea that C Clefs may be present unless the retailer specifically mentions it, which probably very few would make the effort to do.
Maybe that just goes to see that when it comes to some items, a "hard touch" retailer still beats the online counterpart as you can feel the printed edition and more importanly see every single page and not just the sample few ones that may be uplaoded online.

Thanks for everybody's contributions on this subject.

Kind regards
Marek
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steve till

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Re: Bach Editions

PostFri Jun 07, 2013 1:49 am

I guess it's just because I'm so old.
Or maybe because I studied organ in Germany.
People have mentioned the C clefs and seem to want
you to stay away from them.

But they were not only used in the Chorales.
My edition of the Art of Fugue is first of all on 4 staves,
so that each voice is totally separate from all the others.

But then it also uses C clefs for the alto and tenor lines,
so all 4 staves have a different place for middle C.
Yes it was a little disconcerting at first, but my teacher
just said, Learn it. So I did.

Actually, after about a week, it was just fine.
And anyway, I had already had a class in orchestration,
so I was able to transpose the various lines in an
orchestral score to make sense of them.

It's all in what you get used to. No more difficult really
than playing from a piano score or having to transpose
a hymn or an accompaniment at sight.
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phillyorganist

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Re: Bach Editions

PostThu Jun 13, 2013 4:11 pm

I play a lot of Bach, and I have the Barenreiter collection. What I like about the collection is that the music is in the "landscape" format, thus fewer page turns.

However, I have found from time to time that the left hand and right hand, as printed in the scores, is not always dedicated to the bass and treble clef respectively. This can lead to confusion on occasion. It's infrequent, but maddening. I've looked at other scores where, for example, the left hand is written in a particular passage of music n the bass clef, but in the Barenreiter, it is written in the lower part of the treble clef. When trying to learn the piece, this can be a bit maddening.

My view. I've heard people like Peters better.
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