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Wir Glauben All, Bwv 740


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Apologies in advance for what some will find a terminally tedious post, but do we have any Krebs/Bach specialists with views on the authorship of this piece?

 

The version ascribed to Bach is well known (it's the gorgous double-pedal setting in five-part counterpoint). There are, however, four different redactions of it: two with double pedal and the melody in the top part, and two closely related four-part versions (no double pedal) of which one has the melody in the "soprano" and the other in the tenor". All four are printed in vol. 3 of Gerhard Weinberger's edition of J. L. Krebs's complete organ works. I don't have the version with the critical commentary, but in his introduction, Weinberger gives the following information:

 

No manuscript sources survive. The extant sources are all late:

 

1. Four-part version with "tenor" cantus firmus:.

C. Geissler's edition of the complete organ works of J. L. Krebs (1848)

G. W. Körner (ed.), Der Orgelvirtuos (no date given, but presumably similar since Körner began his own complete Krebs in 1848, but never completed it).

This is the version to which Weinberger gives primacy; he relegates the others to the appendixes.

 

2. Four-part version with "soprano" cantus firmus:

G. W. Körner (ed.), Der Orgelvirtuos

 

3. Five-part, double pedal version (I)

Geissler (1848)

 

4. Five-part, double pedal version (II = BWV 740)

Vol. VII of the Peter's Edition of J. S. Bach's organ music. In 1847 Griepenkerl (a pupil of Forkel) had cited a "copy by Gleichauf at Schelble" as the source for this.

 

Weinberger notes that the first five-part version is closer to the four-part versions than to the the one we know as BWV 740, while BWV 740 is several bars shorter and offers smoother contrapuntal solutions. He suggests that the version attributed to Bach may be a first version which Krebs subsequently revised, thereby producing simplified four-part versions of it and that "Seen in this light, all extant versions would have to be ascribed to J. L. Krebs".

 

I wonder. A point in Krebs's favour is the fact that the cantus firmus is un-ornamented, which is not Bach's usual practice when "soloing out" a melody. Krebs at his best was a first-rate composer. Nevertheless, nowhere else in his organ music does he achieve quite the perfection of the BWV 740 version and I really cannot see this being his work. The three other variants are a quite different matter. These, with their occasionally ungainly twists in the counterpoint seem entirely consistent with Krebs's other music.

 

Rather than the "Bach" version being Krebs's first attempt which he subsequently ruined with revisions, I wonder whether it isn't the other way around. Could BWV 740 be a case of Bach showing Krebs how he should have written it after his pupil had had several stabs at it himself?

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Apologies in advance for what some will find a terminally tedious post, but do we have any Krebs/Bach specialists with views on the authorship of this piece?

 

The version ascribed to Bach is well known (it's the gorgous double-pedal setting in five-part counterpoint). There are, however, four different redactions of it: two with double pedal and the melody in the top part, and two closely related four-part versions (no double pedal) of which one has the melody in the "soprano" and the other in the tenor". All four are printed in vol. 3 of Gerhard Weinberger's edition of J. L. Krebs's complete organ works. I don't have the version with the critical commentary, but in his introduction, Weinberger gives the following information:

 

No manuscript sources survive. The extant sources are all late:

 

1. Four-part version with "tenor" cantus firmus:.

      C. Geissler's edition of the complete organ works of J. L. Krebs (1848)

      G. W. Körner (ed.), Der Orgelvirtuos (no date given, but presumably similar since Körner began his own complete Krebs in 1848, but never completed it).

This is the version to which Weinberger gives primacy; he relegates the others to the appendixes.

 

2. Four-part version with "soprano" cantus firmus:

      G. W. Körner (ed.), Der Orgelvirtuos

 

3. Five-part, double pedal version (I)

      Geissler (1848)

 

4. Five-part, double pedal version (II = BWV 740)

      Vol. VII of the Peter's Edition of J. S. Bach's organ music. In 1847 Griepenkerl (a pupil of Forkel) had cited a "copy by Gleichauf at Schelble" as the source for this.

 

Weinberger notes that the first five-part version is closer to the four-part versions than to the the one we know as BWV 740, while BWV 740 is several bars shorter and offers smoother contrapuntal solutions. He suggests that the version attributed to Bach may be a first version which Krebs subsequently revised, thereby producing simplified four-part versions of it and that "Seen in this light, all extant versions would have to be ascribed to J. L. Krebs".

 

I wonder. A point in Krebs's favour is the fact that the cantus firmus is un-ornamented, which is not Bach's usual practice when "soloing out" a melody. Krebs at his best was a first-rate composer. Nevertheless, nowhere else in his organ music does he achieve quite the perfection of the BWV 740 version and I really cannot see this being his work. The three other variants are a quite different matter. These, with their occasionally ungainly twists in the counterpoint seem entirely consistent with Krebs's other music.

 

Rather than the "Bach" version being Krebs's first attempt which he subsequently ruined with revisions, I wonder whether it isn't the other way around. Could BWV 740 be a case of Bach showing Krebs how he should have written it after his pupil had had several stabs at it himself?

Vox - only had time for a quick dig in Williams, but he suggests that none of the versions is likely to be Bach - even BWV 740 has some inconsistencies and infelicities which JSB is unlikely to have perpetrated. He also suggests that the cf line may be for violin, to be acompanied by 4pt organ texture - there are of course some other Krebs chorales which use an obbligato instrument like this. There's another article in Bach Jahrbuch 2002, which I don't have access to, which makes a case for the 5 pt version being a 19th century construct.

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Vox - only had time for a quick dig in Williams, but he suggests that none of the versions is likely to be Bach - even BWV 740 has some inconsistencies and infelicities which JSB is unlikely to have perpetrated. He also suggests that the cf line may be for violin, to be acompanied by 4pt organ texture - there are of course some other Krebs chorales which use an obbligato instrument like this. There's another article in Bach Jahrbuch 2002, which I don't have access to, which makes a case for the 5 pt version being a 19th century construct.

 

Stephen, can you recommend a good book, which would give an insight into his organ music, in addition to serving as a biography, please?

 

For that matter, are there in existence good English translations of Spitta's Life of Bach, or the book on Bach (the title of which escapes me) by Albert Schweitzer?

 

Thank you.

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Vox - only had time for a quick dig in Williams, but he suggests that none of the versions is likely to be Bach - even BWV 740 has some inconsistencies and infelicities which JSB is unlikely to have perpetrated. He also suggests that the cf line may be for violin, to be acompanied by 4pt organ texture - there are of course some other Krebs chorales which use an obbligato instrument like this. There's another article in Bach Jahrbuch 2002, which I don't have access to, which makes a case for the 5 pt version being a 19th century construct.
Thanks, Stephen, that's very helpful. I thought Williams might have something to say on it. As you probably guessed I don't have a copy myself! I really should get one.
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Thanks, Stephen, that's very helpful. I thought Williams might have something to say on it. As you probably guessed I don't have a copy myself! I really should get one.

Two birds with one stone...Vox - the first 2 Williams vols are now available in one book revised and enlarged - Cambridge. Worth it. Vol 3 (articles about various general aspects relating the organ works) you'll have to hunt around for - I don't think it's been reprinted. pncd - the Forkel biography is translated in the Bach Reader (David and Mendel, rev. Wolff 1998) - should be easy enough to track down - but the Spitta does not exist in a modern translation that I have heard about. http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Books/Book-Bach%5BSpitta%5D.htm will take you to reprint of the 1880s English version. I don't know off hand of a modern Schweitzer translation, but Breitkopf republished the Newman trans in 1990 - should still be available. There hasn't been a general study of the Bach organ works since Williams that I know of - the best general biography by a mile is the Christoph Wolff (OUP).

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