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Bach's Incomplete Organ Works


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Several of Bach's Organ works exist only in fragmentary form. The only effort of which I am aware to round them off and therefore render them playable was that by Wolfgang Stockmeier (published by Kistner and Siegel in Cologne in 1969). Do any contributors to the Forum have opinions as to the result? And have any other composers tried the same venture?

In my view the Fantasie in C (BWV 573), of which only 12 splendid bars survive, was Stockmeier's best effort: the fragment ends in A minor, and he added six bars to bring it back into C. Unfortunately he then went on add several pages more which I find less inspired. Stockmeier also made a brave effort to complete the choral "O Traurigkeit,O Herzeleid" (unnumbered) of which only two bars are known; the completed piece is well worth playing.

He tackled several other pieces, but the outcome suggests in my view that they could better have been left alone.

 

Graham Dukes

Oslo

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Several of Bach's Organ works exist only in fragmentary form. The only effort of which I am aware to round them off and therefore render them playable was that by Wolfgang Stockmeier (published by Kistner and Siegel in Cologne in 1969). Do any contributors to the Forum have opinions as to the result? And have any other composers tried the same venture?

In my view the Fantasie in C (BWV 573), of which only 12 splendid bars survive, was Stockmeier's best effort: the fragment ends in A minor, and he added six bars to bring it back into C. Unfortunately he then went on add several pages more which I find less inspired. Stockmeier also made a brave effort to complete the choral "O Traurigkeit,O Herzeleid" (unnumbered) of which only two bars are known; the completed piece is well worth playing.

He tackled several other pieces, but the outcome suggests in my view that they could better have been left alone.

 

Graham Dukes

Oslo

 

 

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This is quite amusing for me, because I started work on the Fantasia (BWV 573) about twenty years ago or so, and got to bar 26 or so before running out of steam and/or patience.

 

It still lurks there,,,, grinning at me from a drawer. I hate it, and I'll tell you why.

 

I worked out a structure, worked out invertible counterpoint, developed a strategic approach to a circle of related keys.....quite a mathematical undertaking in many ways.

 

It was only when I set to work that I began to appreciate the true genius of Bach. My progress was grindingly slow, with many changes in the process, but in fairness to what I achieved, it was rather a good result with real counterpoint.

 

The problem is, when you've modulated to A minor and then gone back again, the intial cedent, with the added antecedent, just grinds to a conclusion.

 

What do you do next? Simply going over the same material again is a folly too far. It needs something new, like the concerto style that it is, which is where I threw it in a drawer. I'd worked out that it would take me 73 years 12 days 3 hours and 16 seconds to finish at the rate of progress I had achieved.

 

Since then, I have asked myself how it was that Bach (and Reger for that matter), could write a whole Fantasia & Fugue between the cornflakes and the bacon of a morning, and still have time to hug the kids on the way to school and stroke the dog before setting off to St.Thomas's.

 

Handel's another one that should have been shot at birth....and Mozart......and Prokofiev.....

 

Kill them all, I say!

 

MM

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In my view the Fantasie in C (BWV 573), of which only 12 splendid bars survive, was Stockmeier's best effort: the fragment ends in A minor, and he added six bars to bring it back into C. Unfortunately he then went on add several pages more which I find less inspired.

I play the Hermann Keller completion of BWV 573 and I think it's excellent. 36 bars in total and just right for a short voluntary. (I'd wanted to get a copy ever since hearing Thalben Ball's recording in the 60s. but only got round to getting it a few months ago!)

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