Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay?

Posted by: kcostell

Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/14/13 05:20 PM

As far as I can tell, the "standard" edition of C.P.E. Bach's "Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments" (the Mitchell translation) is still under copyright, but I'm curious if there's some other public domain translation in existence somewhere online.

Is anyone familiar with such a thing, or able to point me to a link?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/14/13 05:26 PM

(deleted -- see below)
Posted by: beet31425

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/14/13 05:32 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
This page supposedly has a free-download button. It didn't work for me, but it might for you. (It seems I just don't have a needed 'plug-in.')

That just links to the Mitchell translation, which the OP said was under copyright. Don't worry, Mark: You're not really missing an important plugin. Everything about that page, from "Download the Password" to "Just Complete a Survey, Win Free Books," screams SCAM.


kcostell, I looked for a while, and I couldn't find one. Is it possible that Mitchell's is the first English translation? imslp has the original German and a French translation.


-J
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/14/13 05:42 PM

My goodness gracious.

Sorry to have linked to anything like that! Let's see if I can delete it.... (and maybe then take it out of the above post too!)
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/14/13 07:11 PM

I have the Norton edition of this book in paperback, but I don't remember paying $53.00 for it, as I see it listed on Barnes and Amazon. Maybe I have just mercifully forgotten.

There is the public library; there are inter-library loans. All, free of charge, except that you have to give the books back. They could make the obstacles in your path melt away, like snow in July.

Let's face it, building a music library costs some bucks--- but who can deny that the wisdom of C.P.E Bach is worth that much sticker shock, and maybe more.

Secondhand bookstores could relieve your purse of some of its distress. They can also surprise the browser with some excellent works which are now out of print. Quite a few appear never to have been opened. (Not mine--- I get my money's worth out of them, even if it comes to the point of scotch tape).

Some of these days, I would like to find a bookstore which specializes in music: books, scores, and CDs. A pipedream, I suppose.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/14/13 08:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
Some of these days, I would like to find a bookstore which specializes in music: books, scores, and CDs. A pipedream, I suppose.

It just so happens that many such bookstores exist, one of the most famous being the Juilliard Bookstore, towards which a larger percentage of my income goes than I'd probably care to find out. I'm sure that you can find one in your area, or if not, you can always order things online from Juilliard.
Posted by: stores

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/14/13 10:37 PM

Did someone say $53?! When Border's was still around I saw it on their shelves for much less. That can't be right. Surely, it can be found on amazon more cheaply?
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/14/13 11:40 PM

How do you know that translation is still under a valid copyright?
Posted by: wr

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 02:47 AM

Originally Posted By: stores
Did someone say $53?! When Border's was still around I saw it on their shelves for much less. That can't be right. Surely, it can be found on amazon more cheaply?


The publisher's website lists it at $49.25 retail and $39.40 wholesale to bookstores. Barnes and Noble has it for sale online at $30.41.

Posted by: beet31425

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 09:54 AM

So there's no public domain English translation? I find that remarkable for a well-known 18th century text.

-J
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 10:51 AM

Hi J,

That's my point. Nobody seems to have checked out whether or not this or any translation is under a valid copyright.
Posted by: beet31425

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 11:05 AM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Hi J,

That's my point. Nobody seems to have checked out whether or not this or any translation is under a valid copyright.


No, we have different points. smile

Mitchell's translation is from 1948, which is modern for a work written in the mid-18th century. I'm perfectly willing to believe that this translation is still under copyright. My question is: where are the previous English translations?

-J
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 11:57 AM

You're right, there must be other earlier translations available. Even still, copyright endures for the life of the author + 50 years. When did the translator die? If he passed before the mid-60s, you're in luck.
Posted by: sandalholme

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 01:54 PM

Th paperback Eulenberg Mitchell edition came out in 1974. Cost me £1.50, probably not long after it was published. Still have it of course.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 03:02 PM

Why must there be other translations? It has not been a standard treatise on the subject for 200 years, so the main interest would have been to scholars who would have understood German already.

In any case, if you cannot find another translation easily, if one did exist, it would likely cost a lot more than the readily available one.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 03:49 PM

Hi BDB,

" It has not been a standard treatise on the subject for 200 years.."

You lost me. The essay has been around that long in print.

I think the OP is just asking if anybody knows of previous translations to the one made in the 1940s, which is quite late for a published work of that age.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 03:58 PM

When did you read it? I tried reading it, but most of it is outdated, and has been for 200 years. It is hardly standard reading these days.

I think the OP is saying that he or she wants to read the book, but does not want to learn German or pay for the English translation.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 05:00 PM

Hi B,

I read it for the first about 35 years ago.

Please let me gently correct you. Everybody refers to this book, even singers. My first piano teacher had me read the chapters on ornaments when I did my first Bach suite. It was discussed at length during a class I took on harpsichord literature and performance in college.

I thought the OP might actually try to get sections of it to use somehow.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 05:29 PM

I think that you and I have different understanding of "everybody". I doubt that singers like Lady Gaga or Beyonce have ever referred to it.

In any case, it is available online in German. Anyone who cares much about it should learn German, anyway.
Posted by: sandalholme

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 06:01 PM

BDB:The Bach Versuch is quite useful for people who want to play music that was written 200 or so years ago. Reading treatises written last year on music from the classical period to the present day will not help anyone play any music of the Baroque and Galant period.

As for your comment about learning German, presumably you yourself read everything of interest in the original language?
Posted by: BDB

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 06:38 PM

I am sure that there are a great many treatises written recently that would give them more useful to most people playing music of the Baroque and Galant period today than their own efforts trying to understand the literature of that period. Even among the tiny minority of people who play any of that music, I would suspect that very few read any literature about it, though. It would take rather dogged determination to slog through any 200 year old technical German treatise even in translation. People who do read it today do not read it for the reasons that Bach would have expected the people who were reading it then to have had. Bach was writing for the wannabe Beyonces and Lady Gagas of his time, who are decidedly not the people who read it today.

I can afford to buy a translation if I am interested enough to read something in a language that I do not know. I was curious enough about that book to buy a copy years ago when it showed up at a used book store. My skills with foreign languages are not as sharp as I might like, but I do have a little familiarity with some of them, including German. If I were a scholar in early 18th century music, though, I would want to be better at the German of that time, and the French, Italian, and English as well.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 07:43 PM

Hi B,

I think we wouldn't agree about who is actually a singer. Beyonce has a lovely voice but doesn't sing all that well or seriously. Lady Gaga has no voice and is no singer at all, and so the comparison is not apt.
Posted by: wr

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 08:12 PM

Originally Posted By: sandalholme
BDB:The Bach Versuch is quite useful for people who want to play music that was written 200 or so years ago. Reading treatises written last year on music from the classical period to the present day will not help anyone play any music of the Baroque and Galant period.

As for your comment about learning German, presumably you yourself read everything of interest in the original language?


I have the impression that there are some relatively recent books on Baroque performance practice. I don't think the Bach is the only source of information available for those who are interested in the subject.
Posted by: wr

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 08:19 PM

Originally Posted By: beet31425
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Hi J,

That's my point. Nobody seems to have checked out whether or not this or any translation is under a valid copyright.


No, we have different points. smile

Mitchell's translation is from 1948, which is modern for a work written in the mid-18th century. I'm perfectly willing to believe that this translation is still under copyright. My question is: where are the previous English translations?



I thought I had posted something about this, but something happened to my post and it got lost.

In a review of the Mitchell translation I found in a musicological journal (from shortly after the translation was published), it said it was the first complete English translation.

People need to remember that the HIP thing really got going in earnest around the middle of the 20th century, and so finding translations of source materials from before that time is going to be hit and miss.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 08:26 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
I think that you and I have different understanding of "everybody". I doubt that singers like Lady Gaga or Beyonce have ever referred to it.....

If anything you understate it. Relatively few people have ever referred to it -- pianists, singers, whatever.

Presumably he didn't mean "everybody" literally, so I'm not complaining that it's not literally accurate. But it's not close.

I'm a very serious pianist who has studied music and pianism way more than the average bear ha .....and I've never referred to it (and have never seen it). The only way I know anything of what's in there is that I've seen portions quoted occasionally, including a couple of times on this site. BTW I don't disagree that it's a historically significant work.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 09:07 PM

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: sandalholme
BDB:The Bach Versuch is quite useful for people who want to play music that was written 200 or so years ago. Reading treatises written last year on music from the classical period to the present day will not help anyone play any music of the Baroque and Galant period.

As for your comment about learning German, presumably you yourself read everything of interest in the original language?


I have the impression that there are some relatively recent books on Baroque performance practice. I don't think the Bach is the only source of information available for those who are interested in the subject.


Hi Wr,

That's very true. And those more contemporary works all reference C.P.E. Bach and his essay.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 09:17 PM

Hi BDB,

"Even among the tiny minority of people who play any of that music, I would suspect that very few read any literature about it, though. It would take rather dogged determination to slog through any 200 year old technical German treatise even in translation."

That "minority" is not so tiny, considering just how many other works use this essay as a source, and how many people play or listen to Bach in the world.

Look, if you want to justify your willful ignorance on this count by not picking up a book which you seem very proud not to have read, have at it. I guess playing music of this period is not important to you. Your disdain for such an effort is very well expressed.

But you're not impressing me or anyone. And it's not charming.

And don't compare the Bach family to Lady Gaga. Comparing one of the great seminal geniuses of the last 1,000 years of European Art music to idiots who can't sing, and wear cone bras and panty sets to sell tickets, shows that your opinion is worthless.
Posted by: beet31425

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 09:31 PM

Originally Posted By: wr
In a review of the Mitchell translation I found in a musicological journal (from shortly after the translation was published), it said it was the first complete English translation.

Ah: This is the single most relevant piece of information to the OP's original question! Thanks.

-J
Posted by: BDB

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 09:34 PM

I am sorry, but did you read where I said that I own the book?
Posted by: wr

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 09:35 PM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: sandalholme
BDB:The Bach Versuch is quite useful for people who want to play music that was written 200 or so years ago. Reading treatises written last year on music from the classical period to the present day will not help anyone play any music of the Baroque and Galant period.

As for your comment about learning German, presumably you yourself read everything of interest in the original language?


I have the impression that there are some relatively recent books on Baroque performance practice. I don't think the Bach is the only source of information available for those who are interested in the subject.


That's very true. And those more contemporary works all reference C.P.E. Bach and his essay.


Of course. And they reference other material as well, which provides a broader outlook than a single source can.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 09:39 PM

Who would have ever guessed that this subject would cause a war.....

It shouldn't.
Posted by: stores

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 10:38 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
I am sure that there are a great many treatises written recently that would give them more useful to most people playing music of the Baroque and Galant period today than their own efforts trying to understand the literature of that period.


Name one. Why one wouldn't want to take the time to read the words of one C.P.E. Bach, himself, on the matter is beyond me. Then again, as usual, no one wants to do the homework. Cmonnnnnnn...make it easy for meeeeee.....
Posted by: stores

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 10:40 PM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg


... don't compare the Bach family to Lady Gaga.


+1 Thank You!
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 11:13 PM

Hi Mark,

Actually, yeah, it should in this day and age. The mediocrity of pop culture, its inexorable dumbing down, and the arrogant, self-reinforcing ignorance that allows it to flourish, has never been put to such a display of venality as it has these days.

It's enough to make even a saint vomit.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 11:19 PM

HI BDB,

"I am sorry, but did you read where I said that I own the book?"

Great! Care to explain then, why you've spent so much time on this thread belittling and marginalizing both the source and its meaning? I call that last post back-pedaling. Not to mention that you still haven't read the book, by your own admission, even though you own it.

As I said before, it's not charming, that attitude-thing you've got going on there.

And since you brought up Lady Gaga (and Beyonce, even though I like her voice), it has become impossible to take any concern you have seriously.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 11:21 PM

Hi Wr,

Apparently you don't consider the value of a so-called "primary source" in your estimation. Or did you read the preface or bibliography that far down?
Posted by: wr

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 11:40 PM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg


Apparently you don't consider the value of a so-called "primary source" in your estimation. Or did you read the preface or bibliography that far down?


If you are into reading the primary source, fine. It's not essential (and, I might add, those that do read it don't necessarily do as it says).

After all, prior to this translation, those pianists who didn't read German didn't even have the opportunity to read it, but many still managed to play the music from C.P.E.'s era and earlier, somehow.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/15/13 11:56 PM

My Point, Wr,

Is that all the newer works are based on this, and a few other documents extant from that period.

Since that's the case, why not just read the original since the new works are going to quote it anyway?
Posted by: wr

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 12:05 AM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
My Point, Wr,

Is that all the newer works are based on this, and a few other documents extant from that period.

Since that's the case, why not just read the original since the new works are going to quote it anyway?


I'm not sure that "all" of the newer works are based on it, for one thing, but more importantly, they incorporate research that will be missed if one just reads the Bach essay and nothing else. Plus, I think there is an advantage to be had in modern writers writing for modern performers in modern language. And, in my case, I don't read German, which is the language of the original. I have no idea of how dependable the Mitchell translation may be. And even if it is a really fine translation, it is still a translation and not the original.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 01:27 AM

Most people who know about it do not understand the most important points of the Bach essay, anyway. If they did, there would be no discussions about whether the score is sacred. They would know he felt the score is just a crutch for those who need it, and even if they were using it, they would be expected to add to it.

It is true that the essay is important to those few people whose view of the world has shrunk to the point that they themselves are even less important than what the book means to almost everyone else. People like that have lost touch with the way the world is today.

Most people today who want to play late baroque music would be better off reading something more contemporary, like Kirkpatrick's introduction to his edition of 60 Scarlatti sonatas. What he writes there, in far easier to understand terms, is also applicable to music from many more periods.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 02:07 AM

BDB, mon Chér et Vieux,

Conventions have changed. You should be aware of that (as a musician of any moderate stripe), and note the difference. And Kirkpatrick relies heavily on CPE, if you'd bother to read the bibliography.

I find it hard to believe that we are having this turn in the discussion, and I have no intention of leaving it alone.

Oh and BTW, your obvious contempt for the scholarship that goes into understanding the period, and your continual belittling of the vast numbers of people who take this seriously, makes me want to reach for an airsickness bag....

...please...among others...

... as I said earlier, it's neither charming nor persuasive...
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 02:16 AM

Hi wr,

"I'm not sure that "all" of the newer works are based on it, for one thing..."

If you'd read the source materials at all, or even looked at the bibliography closely, you'd KNOW instead of guessing. Since you haven't, I guess we can all ignore what you're saying here...
Posted by: BDB

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 03:11 AM

I have no idea where someone would get the idea that I have contempt for scholarship of any sort other than that of those who do not want to put their effort or money into it, and rely on others to do it for them.

Bach's essay was an important work of its time. But its time has passed, and today it is no more necessary for most musicians, let alone all people, than is learning Morse code if you want to use a cell phone. If you are a historian of the subject, or someone dedicated to historical performances, it should be read. Otherwise, it is just a curiosity.

I would be interested if anyone posting here has read more than, say, half of it, unless it is your area of scholarly study.
Posted by: sandalholme

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 03:22 AM

If C P E Bach writing about performance practice is a curiosity, presumably you would regard a similar work by his father, if it were to turn up, in a similar vein.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 03:39 AM

Absolutely. There is some documentation of how J S Bach performed, and his methods are curiosities today, ignored by most performers, mostly because they would not be practical under modern circumstances.
Posted by: stores

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 04:18 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB


Bach's essay was an important work of its time. But its time has passed, and today it is no more necessary for most musicians, let alone all people, than is learning Morse code if you want to use a cell phone.


Ummm... no. In a day and age when the vast majority of educators have no idea what to do when it comes to Bach and the baroque in general, the essay needs to get into more hands. Clearly, you don't teach.
Posted by: wr

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 07:39 AM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Hi wr,

"I'm not sure that "all" of the newer works are based on it, for one thing..."

If you'd read the source materials at all, or even looked at the bibliography closely, you'd KNOW instead of guessing. Since you haven't, I guess we can all ignore what you're saying here...


Okay, I'll say it differently: not all of the newer books on performance practice of the time are based on the Bach essay. And having it as one of multiple sources in a bibliography doesn't mean it can be said that the book is based on it, any more than one would say the book was based on any other single source listed.

But anyway, the points I made aren't dependent whether I have some comprehensive knowledge of the last 50 years worth of books and other writings on Baroque performance practice (I don't). I think most people here can understand why it might be more useful to spend time reading a comprehensive current overview instead of just Bach's essay. Of course, it's still there for anyone who might want to read it.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 11:12 AM

Wr,

" And having it as one of multiple sources in a bibliography doesn't mean it can be said that the book is based on it, any more than one would say the book was based on any other single source listed."

Is that how you do research, do you? Really? You just list books with incomprehensible titles but don't read, analyze or quote them?

"I think most people here can understand why it might be more useful to spend time reading a comprehensive current overview instead of just Bach's essay."

I agree with you that people ought to read widely in a subject, especially one where so much forensic reconstruction has been done as the late Renaissance. Let's consider some of the problems of preparing such work.

First, there are very, very few primary sources that have survived to this day. C.P.E. Bach's "Essay" is one of the oldest, most comprehensive and authoritative that we have. Aside from the (relatively) few J.S. Bach autographs that are held in archive, the Essay is the only direct insight available into how J.S. actually performed his music. After all, the son was taught by the father. He learned it directly from him. And there are no other written sources available to compare it to in regard to J.S.'s playing.

Second, the reason we have so few written sources from this period and before, is because at the time music teaching was done by apprenticeship, often from father to son. There were no music schools, nor private lessons, nor "music teachers", nor textbooks as we think of them today. All teaching was done by the master to the apprentice, with the aim of producing professionals. And these were mostly singers, not instrumentalists. The reason the Essay seems incomplete in its thoroughbass instructions, for example, is because it was written to document a particular style of improvisation for other professionals, not as a teaching course for beginners or amateurs. Rudimentary teaching materials were written out by the master on the spot, as needed. Very, very few of those survive.

Third, the "amateur player" and the "commercial pop artist" did not yet exist. Those are an invention of the 19th century, along with the conservatory system and all that went with it. At that time, lots of textbooks, manuals and teaching courses and methods were written to support it. These all document the NEW style of playing in imitation of Italian bel canto homophony. They generally avoid discussing the OLD style of contrapuntal playing as it fell completely out of fashion almost the minute J.S. Bach died in 1750. Even after the Paris revival in 1849, later theoretical treatises describe Baroque performance practice in terms of the 19th century, not the 18th or 17th. So we can't trust those sources as an accurate description of the Bach performance style.

Consider that, in the 18th century, there was no commercial or pop music, no amateur players, no sheet music or books about music, no keyboard instruments in middle-class homes, as we have them today. If you were a musician, you were a professional for life. Your employer was the court or the church, and they told you what to sing or play, what kind of music to write, and very specifically how to write it. You learned how from your dad and then, if you were lucky, underwent a long, indentured apprenticeship with a master, usually an organist. There was no music publishing of any kind native to Germany until about the middle of Bach's life. So written sources are very few on the ground.

Those contemporary works you prefer to read are the results of decades of detective work by musicologists, reconstructing practices for which there are almost no primary source materials available. For instance, one of my history professors in college made quite a name for herself when she published a paper describing how a particular Baroque ornament was probably performed, using marginal notes written on a madrigal score she found in a church library in Italy. It took her 3 years of searching to find it, and she only knew it existed because it was part of a large bequest to that church noted in city records. Don't tell her that a contemporary overview is more useful than the "Essay". She'd tell you how stupid that is, and then probably kick you in the shins.

We are very lucky to have such a work as the "Essay" available to us from that period. As far is its influence goes, well, how many people have played, sang or listened to J.S. Bach over the last 170 years? More than have heard Michael Jackson, arguably.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 11:20 AM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Consider that, in the 18th century, there was no commercial or pop music, no amateur players, no sheet music or books about music, no keyboard instruments in middle-class homes, as we have them today. If you were a musician, you were a professional for life.


What an absurd statement!
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 11:26 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
Absolutely. There is some documentation of how J S Bach performed, and his methods are curiosities today, ignored by most performers, mostly because they would not be practical under modern circumstances.


BDB,

You realize you have just nullified the entire period performance movement with that pronouncement? Don't say that to John Elliott Gardiner, or William Christie, or Melvyn Tan, or Rosalyn Turek, or Anonymous 4, or...well, it's a long list, including every living countertenor you've just insulted.

Or better yet, say it and duck. Quickly.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 11:30 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Consider that, in the 18th century, there was no commercial or pop music, no amateur players, no sheet music or books about music, no keyboard instruments in middle-class homes, as we have them today. If you were a musician, you were a professional for life.


What an absurd statement!


It happens to be true.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 11:54 AM

While I probably have more influence on performance practice than most people here, my ability to nullify any aspect of it is exaggerated.
Posted by: chopin_r_us

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 12:32 PM

Haydn says he learned everything he knew from Bach's book. Beethoven was taught from it and he insisted Czerny teach his nephew from it.

While we're on the topic - anyone got Hummel's great tome in an English pdf?
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 01:18 PM

Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Haydn says he learned everything he knew from Bach's book. Beethoven was taught from it and he insisted Czerny teach his nephew from it.

While we're on the topic - anyone got Hummel's great tome in an English pdf?


THANK YOU CHOPIN!
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 02:10 PM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Originally Posted By: BDB
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Consider that, in the 18th century, there was no commercial or pop music, no amateur players, no sheet music or books about music, no keyboard instruments in middle-class homes, as we have them today. If you were a musician, you were a professional for life.


What an absurd statement!


It happens to be true.


For keyboard music, perhaps, although Artaria was making sheet music available in the latter part of the 18th century.

But there was certainly a strong tradition of amateur music making in the 18th century and earlier. Madrigal societies were popular in 17th and 18th century England.

In terms of the heyday of amateur keyboard playing, though, laguna is correct. A unique confluence of events created the opportunity and environment for amateur music making at the piano: The invention of the upright piano at the end of the 18th century, advances in manufacturing in the industrial revolution, and the rise of the middle class after the French Revolution. That Beethoven's genius coincided with these events is not a coincidence. I would argue that Beethoven's genius was enabled by them.

For those who have read Outliers, we could easily see Beethoven as the product of his time in much the same way that Steve Jobs was a product of his.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 03:26 PM

Hi Kriesler,

"But there was certainly a strong tradition of amateur music making in the 18th century and earlier. Madrigal societies were popular in 17th and 18th century England."

Yeah, but that's England. It could be argued that the Lutheran/Calvinist influence in the Reformation had a heavy dampening effect on all popular culture in Germany, the Low Countries and Switzerland, while ultimately enriching the musical tradition within the Protestant church.

When do you think the female voice became a regular part of the typical Catholic Church choir?

And I agree with you 100% about Beethoven. He couldn't have happened the way he did even 50 years prior.
Posted by: chopin_r_us

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 04:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
The invention of the upright piano at the end of the 18th century,
Dare I be pedantic and point out that really didn't happen till the 1810's and didn't take off (replace squares) till much later.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 04:56 PM

There were amateur keyboard instruments like spinets and clavichords all over Europe in the 18th century, including Germany. C. P. E. Bach published some of his own music, including keyboard works specifically denoted "for connoisseurs and amateurs."
Posted by: chopin_r_us

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 05:14 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
There were amateur keyboard instruments like spinets and clavichords all over Europe in the 18th century, including Germany. C. P. E. Bach published some of his own music, including keyboard works specifically denoted "for connoisseurs and amateurs."
I more or less have his complete oeuvre for keyboard. He took a shine to the piano later in life - much of the "for connoisseurs and amateurs." set are quite pianistic.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 06:12 PM

Yes but BDB, in whose homes do you find those instruments?
Posted by: BDB

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 06:24 PM

Konrad Schneider, Fritz Bauer, Johannes Zimmermann, Adolf Schimpf...
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 06:39 PM

Great. What years were they acquired, and how were they purchased?
Posted by: BDB

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 06:58 PM

With cash, at various dates between 1750 and 1800. Now it is your turn to tell me how you happened to miss them, and all the others when you were doing your inventory of German households of that period.
Posted by: wr

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 07:51 PM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Wr,

" And having it as one of multiple sources in a bibliography doesn't mean it can be said that the book is based on it, any more than one would say the book was based on any other single source listed."

Is that how you do research, do you? Really? You just list books with incomprehensible titles but don't read, analyze or quote them?



I have no idea what that is supposed to mean. You said all the current books were based on the C.P.E.'s essay, and they aren't. They are based on a variety of sources.

Quote:



"I think most people here can understand why it might be more useful to spend time reading a comprehensive current overview instead of just Bach's essay."

I agree with you that people ought to read widely in a subject, especially one where so much forensic reconstruction has been done as the late Renaissance. Let's consider some of the problems of preparing such work.

First, there are very, very few primary sources that have survived to this day. C.P.E. Bach's "Essay" is one of the oldest, most comprehensive and authoritative that we have. Aside from the (relatively) few J.S. Bach autographs that are held in archive, the Essay is the only direct insight available into how J.S. actually performed his music. After all, the son was taught by the father. He learned it directly from him. And there are no other written sources available to compare it to in regard to J.S.'s playing.



How and when did the subject become J.S. Bach's music? It isn't, as far as I am concerned. There are many, many primary sources of all sorts that are used in scholarship regarding the Baroque (and, I suppose, the transitional period right after it that would be covered by C.P.E.'s writing).

Quote:


Second, the reason we have so few written sources from this period and before, is because at the time music teaching was done by apprenticeship, often from father to son. There were no music schools, nor private lessons, nor "music teachers", nor textbooks as we think of them today. All teaching was done by the master to the apprentice, with the aim of producing professionals. And these were mostly singers, not instrumentalists. The reason the Essay seems incomplete in its thoroughbass instructions, for example, is because it was written to document a particular style of improvisation for other professionals, not as a teaching course for beginners or amateurs. Rudimentary teaching materials were written out by the master on the spot, as needed. Very, very few of those survive.



There are all kinds of resources, and lots of them. I know that Bach's essay is one of the major resources (as is the Quantz flute treatise), but that doesn't convince me that it is the first or best thing for a modern pianist to look to for some general guidance on HIP.

Quote:


Third, the "amateur player" and the "commercial pop artist" did not yet exist. Those are an invention of the 19th century, along with the conservatory system and all that went with it. At that time, lots of textbooks, manuals and teaching courses and methods were written to support it. These all document the NEW style of playing in imitation of Italian bel canto homophony. They generally avoid discussing the OLD style of contrapuntal playing as it fell completely out of fashion almost the minute J.S. Bach died in 1750. Even after the Paris revival in 1849, later theoretical treatises describe Baroque performance practice in terms of the 19th century, not the 18th or 17th. So we can't trust those sources as an accurate description of the Bach performance style.

Consider that, in the 18th century, there was no commercial or pop music, no amateur players, no sheet music or books about music, no keyboard instruments in middle-class homes, as we have them today. If you were a musician, you were a professional for life. Your employer was the court or the church, and they told you what to sing or play, what kind of music to write, and very specifically how to write it. You learned how from your dad and then, if you were lucky, underwent a long, indentured apprenticeship with a master, usually an organist. There was no music publishing of any kind native to Germany until about the middle of Bach's life. So written sources are very few on the ground.

Those contemporary works you prefer to read are the results of decades of detective work by musicologists, reconstructing practices for which there are almost no primary source materials available. For instance, one of my history professors in college made quite a name for herself when she published a paper describing how a particular Baroque ornament was probably performed, using marginal notes written on a madrigal score she found in a church library in Italy. It took her 3 years of searching to find it, and she only knew it existed because it was part of a large bequest to that church noted in city records. Don't tell her that a contemporary overview is more useful than the "Essay". She'd tell you how stupid that is, and then probably kick you in the shins.

We are very lucky to have such a work as the "Essay" available to us from that period. As far is its influence goes, well, how many people have played, sang or listened to J.S. Bach over the last 170 years? More than have heard Michael Jackson, arguably.


So what? A modern day pianist who is not a specialist is not going to feel obligated to consult primary sources in order to play the single Bach P&F or Handel suite or pair of Scarlatti sonatas they have to prepare for their degree recital or competitions or to round out their touring program or whatever. Do you think Argerich has read the Essay - well, maybe she has, but I wouldn't bet on it. I would expect that Schiff has, on the other hand.
Posted by: wr

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 08:44 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Consider that, in the 18th century, there was no commercial or pop music, no amateur players, no sheet music or books about music, no keyboard instruments in middle-class homes, as we have them today. If you were a musician, you were a professional for life.


What an absurd statement!


No lie. For example, Scarlatti's publication of 30 sonatas in 1738 (falling under the heading of "sheet music or books about music", I would think) specifically mentions amateurs in its preface.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 10:49 PM

Hi BDB,

When you come back with 50,000 similar instruments from households in all strata including farm hands, I would say you may have you may have spotted a trend.

However, the difference in the penetration of keyboard instrument, and especially the piano, into the middle- and low-class household from 1750 to 1850 is so different, I doubt you'll be able to do it.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 11:15 PM

You know Wr, if you don't want to read this book, don't. If you think there are better sources out there, go ahead and use them. If you don't want an argument, keep your opinions to yourself.

If you've forgotten why we're talking about JS as well as CPE Bach, go back and read the 1st or 2nd page of the thread. The subject came up in the course of the discussion.

Of course Argerich has read the Essay. She plays a lot of Bach, and she's won prizes with it very early and recorded some of it very famously. Considering who her teachers were, it's certain she's familiar with it. She speaks a good German, so she may have read it in the original.

" A modern day pianist who is not a specialist is not going to feel obligated to consult primary sources in order to play the single Bach P&F or Handel suite or pair of Scarlatti sonatas they have to prepare for their degree recital or competitions or to round out their touring program or whatever."

If I ever used such a lazy, self-serving excuse with any of my teachers anywhere, they would have boxed my ears. And I wouldn't have gotten either of my degrees. If any of my students tried to pull that on me, I'd feel the need to respond in a similar fashion.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/16/13 11:17 PM

Wr,

"Scarlatti's publication of 30 sonatas in 1738 (falling under the heading of "sheet music or books about music", I would think) specifically mentions amateurs in its preface."

The "amateurs" in question were probably his patrons at the Spanish court.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/17/13 12:00 AM

Then why did he publish them in England? No, on second thought, do not bother with another of your evasions.
Posted by: chopin_r_us

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/17/13 12:30 AM

I think Ravenscroft had a hand in that also, London was probably the publishing capital of the world.
Posted by: wr

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/17/13 06:43 AM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
You know Wr, if you don't want to read this book, don't. If you think there are better sources out there, go ahead and use them. If you don't want an argument, keep your opinions to yourself.


You really didn't need to say any of that, since I am well aware of my options.

Quote:


If you've forgotten why we're talking about JS as well as CPE Bach, go back and read the 1st or 2nd page of the thread. The subject came up in the course of the discussion.



Just because there was some mention of his music earlier in the thread doesn't mean that the entire discussion suddenly must revolve around J.S., just because it is your whim. And since you were presumably responding to my post, and since I wasn't talking specifically about J.S., the sudden restriction of subject matter to the music of J.S. seemed a little...odd.

Quote:


Of course Argerich has read the Essay. She plays a lot of Bach, and she's won prizes with it very early and recorded some of it very famously. Considering who her teachers were, it's certain she's familiar with it. She speaks a good German, so she may have read it in the original.



Your assertions are not exactly what I think of as reliable documentation.

If Argerich plays "a lot of Bach", it's being done in secret, because out of the solo keyboard portion of his works, she has exactly three pieces of his available in recordings. And there's not a great deal of the non-solo works recorded, either.

Quote:


" A modern day pianist who is not a specialist is not going to feel obligated to consult primary sources in order to play the single Bach P&F or Handel suite or pair of Scarlatti sonatas they have to prepare for their degree recital or competitions or to round out their touring program or whatever."

If I ever used such a lazy, self-serving excuse with any of my teachers anywhere, they would have boxed my ears. And I wouldn't have gotten either of my degrees. If any of my students tried to pull that on me, I'd feel the need to respond in a similar fashion.


It seems you have an attraction to potentially violent teachers, what with your imagining of the kicking of shins and boxing of ears - not a very healthy relationship, IMO. And now you are threatening physical violence on your own students. Hmmm...

At any rate, my college teacher, who performed several of J.S.'s suites/partitas, never even so much as mentioned the essay when coaching me on various Bach pieces. He might very well have thought it pretentious if I did read it, since, at the time, HIP was not quite as fashionable as it is now.
Posted by: sandalholme

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/18/13 04:28 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
Absolutely. There is some documentation of how J S Bach performed, and his methods are curiosities today, ignored by most performers, mostly because they would not be practical under modern circumstances.


So my playing of a copy of the 1769 Taskin, which I owned for 20 years, and my playing of various other harpsichords, original and copies, is not practical if guided by eighteenth century methods, as written by those involved in performance practice at the time? Oh yes, and I have also played the original 1769 Taskin, which sounded and responded as if it were my copy.

What modern circumstances - except playing the music on instruments not available at the time and even then an awareness of contemporary methods are useful as a starting point before any changes are made to performing practice, eg on a modern grand - preclude studying and experimenting with the performing practice at the time?

Can you quote any modern harpsichordists, playing in an historically informed manner, who ignore the Versuch as a mere curiosity?
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/18/13 09:48 AM

One issue regarding the Versuch:

We need to keep in mind that J.S. Bach's writing was considered pretty old-fashioned in his day. The Versuch was describing current practice around the end of J.S. Bach's career - not so much baroque, but Stile Galant - more a transitional style of writing than the high baroque or classical.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/18/13 11:57 AM

Originally Posted By: sandalholme
Originally Posted By: BDB
Absolutely. There is some documentation of how J S Bach performed, and his methods are curiosities today, ignored by most performers, mostly because they would not be practical under modern circumstances.


So my playing of a copy of the 1769 Taskin, which I owned for 20 years, and my playing of various other harpsichords, original and copies, is not practical if guided by eighteenth century methods, as written by those involved in performance practice at the time? Oh yes, and I have also played the original 1769 Taskin, which sounded and responded as if it were my copy.

What modern circumstances - except playing the music on instruments not available at the time and even then an awareness of contemporary methods are useful as a starting point before any changes are made to performing practice, eg on a modern grand - preclude studying and experimenting with the performing practice at the time?

Can you quote any modern harpsichordists, playing in an historically informed manner, who ignore the Versuch as a mere curiosity?


Nobody is precluding anything. I said that most performers ignore the early sources.

If someone is interested enough in historical performances, then they should buy and read the book, no matter what it costs, and they should learn German so they can read it in the original language. But the idea that everyone has to read it, as espoused by some people here, is pure hyperbola.
Posted by: drumour

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/19/13 05:07 AM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
One issue regarding the Versuch:

We need to keep in mind that J.S. Bach's writing was considered pretty old-fashioned in his day. The Versuch was describing current practice around the end of J.S. Bach's career - not so much baroque, but Stile Galant - more a transitional style of writing than the high baroque or classical.


Exactly. And it is probably worth considering that CPE was known as the great Bach. He certainly thought that what he was doing was modern and a (evolutionary/improvement) moving on from the old "serious" style.


John
Posted by: FSO

Re: Public Domain translation of C.P.E. Bach's Keyboard Essay? - 07/19/13 09:53 AM

Opinions, bolstered by speculation and truncated by counter-speculation, rarely reveal a truth in the matter. Um...I'm glad, or perhaps merely hopeful, that this thread's chilling out a bit...there's too much unnecessary argument in the world as it is. Sure, I'd love to read it...but if I don't read it, that doesn't automatically invalidate any attempt I make to play Bach. If I write a book on practice, based on this premise, it cannot be related to the essay. That's fine too...I mean, um, you can quibble whether something's more important or less important, more accurate or less so, but this rings very familiarly of "Mozart's better than Beethoven" and "Beethoven couldn't have written X without Mozart's influence"...um...nobody has to like anything, so, please, can't we just enjoy the passions of others, even if we hold them not ourselves, and forgive others who do not share ours?
Xxx