Papers, Talks, and Other Writings
This page includes links to papers, talks, and other matter on topics ranging from performance practice and gender representation to attribution and the precise reading of the text in various musical repertories. Items are listed in roughly chronological order, according to their topics. A few items have also appeared in print but are included here for reasons explained below.
Recent publications: English keyboard music ca. 1600 (review)
Commissioned in 2020 and submitted in 2021, this review covers (1) a collection of essays by various authors: Aspects of Early English Keyboard Music to c.1630, edited by David J. Smith (Routledge, 2019); (2) the first volume in a new edition by Desmond Hunter of Byrd’s keyboard music (Bärenreiter, 2019); and (3) most important of all, a new edition by Jon Baxendale and Francis Knights of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (Lyrebird Music, 2020). Because the journal in which this was to have appeared seems to have ceased publication (at least for the time being), and timely issuance of such a review is essential, I am making it available here (at least for the time being).
New Thoughts on an Old Topic: Consistency and Inconsistency in Historical Keyboard Fingering
As a player of historical keyboard instruments, I have devoted much attention to the related issues of ornamentation, articulation, and fingering. One paper on this topic, focusing on Elizabethan music (“Ornaments, Fingerings, and Authorship: Persistent Questions About English Keyboard Music circa 1600″), appeared in Early Keyboard Journal, vol. 30 (2013), pp. 27–51. Another, concentrating on somewhat later Italianate music by Frescobaldi and Froberger, originated as a presentation for the second annual Historical Performance Institute conference at Indiana University (2017). As a promised publication of that paper appears not to be forthcoming, I offer it here. (Brief summaries of this presentation appeared in Tangents and in the Newsletter of the British Clavichord Society.)
What Is a Composer?
Problems of Attribution in Keyboard Music from the Circle of Philips and Sweelinck
Since high school, when I began exploring the volumes of early keyboard music in the Musica britannica series, I have been interested in the works of Byrd, Bull, and their contemporaries. This interest has led to various talks and publications, including this lecture-recital, which I presented during a conference entitled “Networks of Keyboard Music ca. 1600: Focus on Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and Peter Philips,” held at the Schulich School of Music, McGill University, Montréal (February 11–13, 2011). The links below lead to both the lecture and the performance portions of the presentation. I am grateful to Rachelle Taylor of McGill for producing the recording and making it available to me. A formal version of the lecture portion appears in the conference proceedings, Networks of Music and Culture (Ashgate, 2013). The illustrations and tables referred to in the talk are available here.
introduction – – – Toccata di Roma sexti toni, attributed to “Hieromino Ferrabosco” (from the “Messaus” manuscript)
talk – – – John Bull: Fantasia on a “fugue” by Sweelinck
talk – – – Fantazia 3a du Jan Bull (from the “Messaus” manuscript)
talk – – – Bull?: Pavan and Galliard “Symphony” (from the “Messaus” manuscript)
talk – – – Marenzio: Ecco l’aurora, anonymous keyboard intabulation (by Peter Philips?)
talk – – – Marenzio: Che fa oggi il mio sole, anonymous keyboard intabulation
talk – – – Marenzio: Deggio dunque partire, keyboard intabulation by Philips
The Early Baroque Toccata and the Advent of Tonality
This was the first of several papers that I have written on the analysis of early Baroque keyboard music, with particular attention to the question of whether, or to what degree, such compositions are modal, tonal, or some combination of the two. The paper came out in 1992 in Italian, and although a number of writings on the same topic have been issued since then, the original English version may still be of interest for some points that have not, I think, been made anywhere else.
Two Quadricentennial Talks on Froberger:
Between Frescobaldi and Froberger: From Virtuosity to Expression
Expression and Discrétion: Froberger, Bach, and Performance
During 2016 I had the opportunity to speak and perform at several gatherings that commemorated the four-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Johann Jacob Froberger. One talk, primarily musicological in nature, examines aspects of Froberger’s stylistic development in the light of recent manuscript discoveries and the attribution of several contested pieces to his teacher Frescobaldi. A second talk is more performance-oriented and considers the meaning of the term discretion. The latter term is attached to many compositions by Froberger (and to one by Bach), evidently with some significance for expression, tempo, or rhythm. Both talks are illustrated by numerous music examples, the second also by recordings of the pieces under discussion. I summarized both talks and performed further pieces by Frescobaldi and Froberger in a lecture-recital on this topic given in 2017 for the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music; the program for the latter and links to recordings are here.
Artistes in Rome: Froberger, Poussin, and the Modes of Music and Painting
I presented a version of this paper at the meeting of the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music at Houston in 2010. The paper takes a skeptical view of how well a painter such as Poussin and even a musician such as Froberger understood a theoretically complex term such as mode. I argue that the term, which had been important for musical humanists such as Zarlino, and which became important in later French writings on painting, was used essentially as a metaphor, and that together with other terms, such as subject and capriccio, we should not expect to find it being used very rigorously either in the visual arts or by practicing musicians. Click here for the paper.
Seventeenth-Century Keyboard Music in Dutch- and German-Speaking Europe
Around 1998 I was asked to contribute to a volume of essays on various repertories of late Renaissance and Baroque music. My chapter, on keyboard music in northern Europe, eventually appeared in 2006 in a simplified version. The latter lacked observations about style and stylistic development in the music of Hassler, Sweelinck, and others that were included in my original version, here lightly updated to reflect recent scholarship.
Partes feminarum: Gender Representations in Baroque Music
This paper, presented at a conference at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in 1997, remains, surprisingly, one of very few feminist discussions of the music of Barbara Strozzi, as opposed to biographical studies. Moreover, it seems to have been the first to consider Bach’s Coffee Cantata from the perspective of feminist theory or gender studies. Click here to read the paper. For a more recent discussion of Bach’s work that takes up some of the themes introduced here, see David Yearsley, “Hoopskirts, Coffee, and the Changing Prospects of the Bach Women,” Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 17 (2013): 27–58.
Bach: Online Supplement to the Life-and-Works
The biography of Bach published by Oxford University Press in 2020 is a drastically abbreviated version of the comprehensive critical life-and-works that I originally wrote. The “Master Musicians” series in which it appeared included several large studies, notably Donald Burrows’s book on Handel, that served as models for my Bach book, and when I was first approached about the latter the publisher did not make it clear that new titles in the series were to be shorter and simpler. Although I was initially given to understand that the publisher would consider eventually issuing the full version, this is not to be. As no other publisher could be expected to produce the complete book while the shortened version is in print, I have therefore chosen to make the deleted portions of my work available as an online supplement to the print volume.
This supplement takes the form of segments or blocks of text that are to be virtually interpolated into the print version. Much larger than the book as published, the supplement includes not only detailed commentary on events and issues in the composer’s biography but fuller coverage of his music. One will find, for instance, thorough consideration of such controversial matters as the existence of a so-called Weimar passion and Bach’s use of “proportional parallelism” in assembling his famous collections of compositions. In place of short capsule descriptions of selected cantatas is a chronological survey that shows how these crucial works developed rapidly during the brief periods of Bach’s life when he devoted himself to them.
These interpolations are included within a single supplement file. A heading for each segment indicates where that segment belongs within the printed book. One can read each segment individually, on a given topic or group of compositions, or one can proceed from page 1 of the printed book, turning to the supplement wherever the latter contains additional matter. Included within the online material are links to numerous music examples that were also deleted from the print version, as well a more complete bibliography and other end matter.
This online version represents only a preliminary version of the book as originally envisioned. Bach scholarship and interpretation does not sit still, and any future edition of the complete volume in printed form will be thoroughly revised to reflect ongoing work on the composer and his music. The present supplement will be periodically updated to incorporate essential corrections or clarifications.
Bach Completions and Reconstructions
Elsewhere on this website are my attempts to complete or reconstruct a number of works by Bach (and other composers) that survive in fragmentary form. Most of these are accompanied by brief explanations of some sort. I attached a more extended discussion to my reconstruction of the first movement of the A-major flute sonata BWV 1032, responding to problems addressed by previous commentators.
Bach and the Seventeenth Century
This paper originated as a talk for the 2019 meeting of the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music in Durham, North Carolina. I wrote it while completing my book on the life and works of J. S. Bach, published in 2020 by Oxford University Press. The paper was meant to show how Bach, although composing after 1700, drew on music written during the previous century. The paper incorporates quite a lot of material that could not be included in the book as published; this version includes matter that I left out from the talk in the interests of time.
Bach’s “Triple Concerto” BWV 1044 and Its Models
There has been much speculation about the origin and authorship of Bach’s so-called Triple Concerto, and in this paper I offer the most thorough discussion yet of this unique but problematical work. This is an expanded version of my portion of a presentation given jointly with Mary Oleskiewicz at Yale University during the biennial meeting of the American Bach Society in April 2018. The presentation included performances of the Triple Concerto and the two works on which it is based: Bach’s prelude and fugue BWV 894 and a reconstruction of a movement from a lost trio sonata known as BWV 527a. Recordings of all six movements can be found on my recordings page (search for the BWV numbers). My edition of the concerto (including reconstructions of possible early forms of its slow movement) is also available here.
Bach, Biffi, and the E-Minor Violin Sonata BWV 1023
This is another detailed study of a problematical work whose authorship by Bach has been questioned. In this paper I consider the violin sonata BWV 1023 in relation to a cantata by the little-known Venetian composer Antonio Biffi, of which Bach’s fragmentary manuscript copy survives. I show some surprising parallels between the two works and include an edition (or partial reconstruction) of Bach’s version of the cantata.
Bach and the Beaming of Small Note Values
This presentation originated as a talk which I was kindly invited to give at Madingley Hall outside Cambridge (U.K.) for the Bach Network’s Dialogue Meeting in summer 2017. It is concerned with how, in Bach’s keyboard music, small note values such as eighth and sixteenth notes may or may not be grouped together notationally by beams, and what the latter might mean, if anything. During the same session Yo Tomita gave a follow-up to his “Reading Soul” article mentioned in the paper, and pianist Daniel Martyn Lewis demonstrated alternative ways of grouping notes in performance. Although this may seem an abstruse subject, it is an important one for music editors and anyone who cares about the relationship of notation to performance and interpretation (as Bach, among others, seems to have done).
A review of Peter Williams’s last book (Bach: A Musical Biography)
The English scholar and keyboard player Peter Williams was one of the greatest writers on Bach (and many other subjects), and I was honored to be asked to review the biography of Bach which he completed shortly before his death in 2016. Unfortunately the review as published was shortened and otherwise altered without my agreement, nor was I given the opportunity to fix a few errors. A corrected and updated version of the complete review is included here.
Fugues and Fingering: Scales and Other Technical Devices in Bach’s Contrapuntal Works
This presentation, given at a meeting of the New England Chapter of the American Musicological Society at Providence College on Sept. 30, 2006, offers examples of keyboard pieces in which sophisticated contrapuntal devices are integrated with virtuoso techniques such as hand crossing. The main theme is that Bach drew inspiration simultaneously from intellectual and technical types of musical thought. This is a different paper from one with a similar title and topic – “Fugues, Form, and Fingering: Sonata Style in Bach’s Preludes and Fugues” – which I contributed to Variations on the Canon: Essays in Musical Interpretation from Bach to Boulez in Honour of Charles Rosen on his Eightieth Birthday (University of Rochester Press, 2008), pp. 12–21; click here to order the volume.
Five Bach Motets
This presentation was meant to precede a concert by the Choir of the Church of St. Luke in the Fields in New York, directed by David Shuler, on March 12, 2020. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, I sent this written version which was posted to the church’s website.
A Bach Manuscript Recovered:
Berlin, Bibliothek der Hochschule der Künste, Spitta Ms. 1491
Many manuscripts containing early copies of works by J. S. Bach and other composers disappeared during World War II from the European archives in which they were preserved. Some of these have emerged in subsequent years, to be returned to their rightful owners. In 1998 I had the good fortune to play a role in the retrieval of one such manuscript: the unique source for a collection of organ chorales attributed to Johann Christoph Bach, an older relative of Johann Sebastian. A short version of the paper was published that year in the newsletter of the American Bach Society; click here for the complete paper.
A New Voice for the Clavier:
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and the Changing Idiom of Keyboard Music
Among the observations of C.P.E. Bach’s three hundredth birthday during 2014 was a conference on “The Brothers Bach” at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I am very grateful to Andrew Willis, professor there of piano and fortepiano, for an invitation to give a presentation for the conference that included a lecture-recital on this subject. My introductory talk (which appears in revised form in Bach Perspectives, vol. 11) makes frequent reference to music examples that were displayed on a screen; if you listen to the talk (follow the link below), you may also wish to follow the “handout,” which you can see here. The works on the program illustrated Emanuel’s changing keyboard idiom on three instruments: harpsichord, clavichord, and fortepiano. The score of the Sixth “Württemberg” Sonata with the composer’s variations and cadenza can be seen here. I continued to pursue the subject of “keyboard idiom” in talks given in 2019 (one of them is listed below).
Sonata per il Cembalo solo in G (Leipzig, ca. 1731?): Allemande – [Courante] – Polonaise – Menuet
Sonata no. 6 in B minor from the “Württemberg” Sonatas, W. 49/6 (Berlin, 1744): Moderato (with the composer’s variations) – Adagio non molto (with the composer’s variations and cadenza) – Allegro
Sonata no. 3 from the Probestücke, W. 63/3 (Berlin, 1753): Poco allegro ma cantabile (in A) – Andante lusingando (in A minor) – Allegro (in E)
Sonata no. 6 from Zweyte Fortsetzung von Sechs Sonaten fürs Clavier, W. 52/6 (Zerbst, 1758): Allegro – Adagio: “L’Einschnitt” – Allegro di molto
Sonata per il Cembalo solo in C, W. 65/47 (Hamburg, 1775): Allegro – Adagio assai – Andante
Fantasia in F-sharp minor, W. 67 (Hamburg, 1787)
Variationes mit veränderten Reprisen, W. 118/10 (Hamburg, after 1777)
When Did the Clavichord Become C.P.E. Bach’s Favorite Instrument? An Inquiry into Expression, Style, and Medium in Eighteenth-Century Keyboard Music
This paper, written for a symposium on the clavichord that took place in 1999, was subsequently published in modified form in De clavicordio IV: Proceedings of the IV International Clavichord Symposium, Magnano, 8–11 September 1999 (Magnano: Musica Antica a Magnano, 2000), pp. 37–53. A French translation by Jean-Claude Teboul appears in Ostinato rigore 23 (2004): 139–57. Click here to read the paper in its original form. The recordings linked below were made on the Swedish clavichord of circa 1770 at the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota (more information here).
1. Sonata in E minor (W. deest), second movement (Andante)
2. Sonatina in G, W. 64/2 (H. 8), second movement (Largo)
3. Sonata in B minor, W. 65/13 (H. 32.5), first movement (Poco allegro)
4. Sonata in C, W. 90/3 (H. 524), first movement (Allegro di molto)
The Last Bach-Family Engraved Print: The Musical Supplement to C.P.E. Bach’s Versuch
This paper discusses the compositional and publication history of C.P.E. Bach’s Probestücke, a set of eighteen pieces, each in a different key, that accompanied his well-known Versuch (in English, the Essay on the True Manner of Playing Keyboard Instruments). I presented versions of this material at a number of public fora during 2003, including the Clavichord Symposium sponsored by the Boston Clavichord Society during the Boston Early Music Festival. A portion of it was published as part of my edition of the Probestücke in Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: The Complete Works, volume I/3 (Los Altos: Packard Humanities Institute, 2005). The present paper includes otherwise unavailable material on the continuing use of Bach’s Probestücke into the nineteenth century and their possible influence on Beethoven. Click here for the paper.
Critical Editions of C. P. E. Bach’s Concertos for Keyboard and Strings W. 4, 5, 6, and 24
During the 1980s I prepared editions of two concertos by C. P. E. Bach (W. 6 and 24) for publication by Oxford University Press in The Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Edition. The project was halted after issuing just four volumes, leaving my editions of those two concertos unpublished. Subsequently my revised versions of those editions were included, in partial form, in Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: The Collected Works (Los Altos: Packard Humanities Institute), vols. III/9.2 (2009) and III/9.8 (2010; Click here for further information or to order). Those volumes do not include my reconstructions of the earliest versions of W. 4, 5, and 6, and the notation and many other details were altered. Click here for the complete version of each edition, incorporating the full musical text as well as audio files for early and late forms of each concerto, with comprehensive historical and textual commentary.
Haydn, C. P. E. Bach, and the Evolving Keyboard Idioms of the Later Eighteenth Century
During 2019 I gave three public presentations in which I extended my consideration of “keyboard idiom” from C.P.E. Bach to his younger brother J.C. Bach and to Haydn and Mozart. One of these presentations, given at Hong Kong Baptist University, became the basis of an article in Harpsichord and Fortepiano Magazine (vol. 24, pp. 4–7). Another, on J.C. Bach and Mozart, was given for a joint meeting of the American Bach Society and the Mozart Society of America and has been submitted for publication in Bach Perspectives, vol. 14. The third, on Haydn, was presented at a meeting in Boston of another scholarly society, which invited me to submit it to their journal. After thoroughly revised the paper, however, I was informed that they could not tell me when it might be considered for publication. Therefore I offer it here, at least for the time being.
Last updated April 5, 2022