C. P. E. Bach Pages: Introduction

An Introduction to This Material

C.P.E. Bach’s works have been listed in several scholarly catalogues, most recently E. Eugene Helm’s Thematic Catalogue of the Works of C.P.E. Bach (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989). The present set of bibliographic aids is intended to supplement the Helm catalogue as well as other relevant publications, notably Darrell Berg’s facsimile edition of the composer’s keyboard works (The Collected Works for Solo Keyboard by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach 1714-1788, 6 vols., New York: Garland Publishing, 1985).

C.P.E. Bach’s music has been a focus of specialist interest since the mid-nineteenth century. The 1970s and 1980s saw a resurgence of interest in the composer, particularly among American and German scholars. The result was a series of dissertations, a new biography, and other publications, as well as the publication of the Helm catalog and the initiation of a project to issue the composer’s complete works in a critical edition. Performers also showed increasing interest in exploring the composer’s works, issuing an impressive number of first recordings, notably of the long-neglected vocal works, as well as works for chamber ensemble and for solo keyboard that have long been mentioned in the literature but have gone unrecorded.

Those interested in the composer’s music, however, often find themselves frustrated by an exceptionally confusing situation with regard to the location and cataloguing of the works. Helm’s catalog was meant to supplant the turn-of-the-century catalog by Alfred Wotquenne (Thematisches Verzeichnis der Werke von Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, 1714-1788, Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel, 1905). The Helm catalog surpasses Wotquenne not only in the number of works listed but in the inclusion of listings for modern editions, writings about the music, and musical sources (manuscripts and early printed editions). The Helm catalog assigns new numbers to the works (here designated “H” numbers), and it includes a concordance to the older Wotquenne numbers. Nevertheless, both systems of numbering remain in use. Moreover, neither the Helm catalogue nor the Berg facsimile edition includes a general index, making it difficult to locate matter pertaining to individual pieces.

In addition, neither Wotquenne nor Helm, nor the shortened abstract of the Helm catalog published as the composer’s work-list in the New Grove Dictionary, includes a concordance to a third important numbering system: the so-called Nachlassverzeichnis, a catalogue of the composer’s estate published shortly after his death and containing a nearly complete list of his works–many with dates and places of composition attached (Verzeichniss des musikalischen Nachlasses des verstorbenen Capellmeisters Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Hamburg, 1790; annotated facs. ed. Rachel W. Wade as The Catalogue of Carl Philipp Emanuel’s Estate; New York: Garland, 1981).

The present materials are intended to help rectify the situation. They are byproducts of my own research which I thought others might find useful. In distributing them I have no intention of slighting the work of other scholars, without which I could not have produced them. These indexes are not intended to replace, supplant, or implicitly criticize any existing scholarly work.

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