QUICK KEY TO THE EARLY CHORALE COLLECTIONS

Riemenschneider: Originally published in 1941, Albert Riemenschneider’s edition of the chorales is by far the most widely used edition today. The numbering of the chorales in this edition coorespond to that in the modern versions of the Breitkopf edition and are only slightly modified from the original 18th c. Breitkopf edition.

Breitkopf (F1): Published in four volumes from 1784 to 1787 (one volume per year), the original Breitkopf collection was edited primarily by C.P.E. Bach (though the first two volumes were based on an earlier abandoned publication project by the publisher Birnstiel which was partially edited by Johann Marpurg). Almost all of the individual BWV 253–438 chorales owe their survival to this collection of 371 chorales, which has served as a basis for modern editions of "the 371." A full account of the history of this edition can be found here. The Neue Bach Ausgabe labels this source as "F1" and is presented in volume III/2.2 of the NBA. See bach–digital source info page.

Birnstiel (B1): The Birnstiel edition, issued in two volumes in 1765 and 1769, is the earliest published collection of Bach’s chorales. Only two of the projected four volumes were issued, in 1765 and 1769, before Birnstiel was forced to abandon the project due to poor sales. The two Birnstiel volumes served as templates for volumes 1 and 2 of the Breitkopf, and the complicated history of these two related volumes and the editors involved (Marpurg, C.P.E. Bach, Agricola, Kirnberger, et al) can be found here. The NBA labels this source as "B1" in volumes III/2.1 and III/2.2. See bach–digital source info page.

Dietel (A1): This handwritten collection of 149 chorales is the earliest extant compilation of Bach chorales. Ludwig Dietel sang in Bach’s Thomanerchor from 1727 to 1735 and copied this manuscript during his time in Leipzig no earlier than 1735, based on the dating of chorales in the collection. (The closing chorale from Cantata 14 from January 1735 appears in the collection.) The NBA labels this source as "A1" and is presented in volume III/2.1. See bach–digital source info page.

AmB 46II (A3/C): The copyist for this handwritten collection has been identified as "Anonymous J.S. Bach VI" (Blechschmidt) who has an association with Johann Kirnberger (see NBA III/2.1 KB, p.27). The date of this manuscript has been placed variously at "around 1770" (Kobayashi) and "between 1776 and 1783" (bach–digital.com). In this source, four–part chorales are found in two sections, which the NBA scholars have identified with two separate labels — "A3" (pp. 217–334) and "C" (pp. 65–216). See NBA III/2.1 KB pp.27ff and III/2.2 KB p.15. This source is available for viewing here. See bach–digital source info page.

Levy–Mendelssohn (Spitta) (D): A collection of 72 chorales copied by an unknown Berlin copyist dating from "before 1800". The manuscript passed from the estate of Sara Levy, nee Itzig, the important Berlin patron who was closely connected to the Bach sons and their inner circle, to Arnold Mendelssohn. The NBA labels this source as "D" and is discussed on page 34 of NBA III/2.2 KB. See bach–digital source info page. Note: This source was originally referred to as the "Spitta" collection on this website, as the manuscript eventually came under the estate of Heinrich Spitta. A more proper title for this collection would refer to its earlier owners.

Fasch (SA 818): A 1762 collection of 167 Bach chorales in the hand of Carl Friedrich Fasch who worked as an assistant organist alongside C.P.E. Bach in the 1750s and 1760s in Frederick the Great’s court in Prussia. This collection was considered lost for many years until it was rediscovered in Kiev around 2001. Due to its recent discovery, the NBA commentaries on the Bach chorales (volumes III/2.1 & III/2.2) do not treat this source. The Fasch collection is available for viewing here. See bach–digital source info page.

Penzel (E): A collection of 126 chorales in the hand of Christian Friedrich Penzel, who entered the Leipzig Thomasschule and became one of Bach’s last students. A large percentage of the settings in this manuscript are from the individual BWV 253–438 chorales, and the collection also contains a number of settings the authenticity of which has been doubted. This collection, which is dated c.1780–1799, is labaled "E" in the NBA. See bach–digital source info page.



bach–chorales.com by Luke Dahn. Copyright 2017.