J.S. Bach's Well-tempered Clavier, Book II : a study of its aim, historical significance and compiling process
J.S. Bach's Well-tempered Clavier, Book II (WTC II) is one of his works whose authoritative text is yet to be established. For this kind of popular COrf1)Ositionone may find it particularly strange that no two editions give identical texts. Apart from the Interest of pubUshers, there has been no further exhaustive survey of this Issue since the work of Franz Kroll (1866) and Hans Bischoff (1884) in their respective editions. It appears that Bach's autograph In the British Ubrary, Add.35021 does not contain Bach's final authoritative text in every detail. From the evidence In some of Bach's students' copies. It has been generally assumed that Bach made a subsequent fair copy, which is now lost. My study of the manuscript copies, printed editions and other scholars' treatises in the past suggests that the lack of our understanding could be ascribed partly to the complexity In Bach's compiling and copying process, but especially to the lack of thorough and objective scholarship in manuscript study. This study focuses on Add. 35021. The aim was to reconstruct Bach's compositional activities and habits, how he drew his staves with a rastrum based on his plan of layout, how he repeatedly revised his original text, and how, when he found It Impossible to make further revisions on the same sheet, he prepared a new sheet and made out his revision on it. This process went on until he was satisfied or until he thought he would leave It for the time for future amendments. It is especially Important to distinguish Bach's initial entries from his later additions, because this is normally the only evidence of the previous state of the work. One way of doing this is to classify the types of Ink and pen used by Bach at the time. The other possible method is to note the calligraphic distinction between Bach's fair copies and his composing scores, and also the way Bach planned his layout With care from the beginning or he compressed his notations Into smaller spaces when he came towards the end. When compared with Add.35021, some of the non-autograph sources represent a unique reading of Add.35021 at a particular moment In time. By referring to such secondary sources, we can see clearly Bach's continuous revision activities on Add.35021. In other words, we can reconstruct a time-table of the order of compositions In the compilation and the multiple layers of later revisions. From the study, I have found that long before the presumed lost authoritative version would have been completed, Bach had already shown to his pupils his continually revised autograph as if it were the final revision.