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On-line Book Review



Dimension: 22.7 x 15.2 x 2.9 cm

TITLE The Keyboard Music of J. S. Bach, Second Edition by David Schulenberg.
PUBL. DETAILS New York: Routledge, 2006. viii + 535. Price: £22.99 (paper back)
ISBN 0-415-97400-3
TO ORDER Taylor and Francis Group, Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London, W1T 3JH.
DESCRIPTION The second revised edition of an important monograph discussing Bach's early keyboard works, originally published in 1992.
WORKS COVERED BWV 533a, 588, 590, 592a, 772-801, 806-23, 825-33, 839, 841-44, 846-96, 899-908, 910-19, 921-23, 944-61, 963-98, 1000, 1006a, 1079-80.
READERSHIP Students and scholars studying Bach's keyboard music.
RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION Essential companion for performers and students of Bach’s keyboard music.


he revised edition of Schulenberg’s seminal work The Keyboard Music of J. S. Bach, fourteen years after the first edition appeared in print, is a necessary response to recent developments in Bach scholarship, the most notable of which is the completion of the Neue Bach-Ausgabe.

The book is addressed to a broad readership (“student, teacher, listener, or scholar”), but is primarily orientated towards performers. In essence, this expanded edition retains the same structure as the first, although some reshuffling of material reflects new knowledge about the authorship and chronology of several works; more works have been consigned to the appendix ‘works of uncertain authorship’, and the discussion of several ‘peripheral compositions’ has been discarded.



  1  Bach's Keyboard Music: An Introduction

  2  Some Performance Issues

  3  Bach's Style and Its Development in the Keyboard Works

  4  The Early Suites

  5  The Early Fugues

  6  Miscellaneous Early Works

  7  The Manualiter Toccatas

  8  The Concerto Transcriptions

  9  The Virtuoso Fugues

10  The Clavier-Büchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach

11  The Well-Tempered Clavier, Part 1

12  The Well-Tempered Clavier, Part 2

13  The English Suites

14  The French Suites

15  Clavierübung, Part 1: The Six Partitas

16  Clavierübung, Part 2, and Other Works

17  The Clavierübung Continued

18  The Musical Offering and the Art of Fugue

Appendix A   Works of Uncertain Authorship

Appendix B   The Clavier-Büchlein vor Anna Magdalena Bach




providing a succinct synthesis of an impressive spectrum of literature
The Keyboard Music of J. S. Bach, Second Edition by David Schulenberg.
New York: Routledge, 2006. viii + 535. Price: £22.99 (paper back)

Other notable amendments include biographical details and their impact on Bach’s compositional processes, summative critical commentaries and a considerably extended bibliography, although it might have been more beneficial to the reader to append the relevant literature to the discussion of individual works (as in the Bach- Werke- Verzeichnis: kleine Ausgabe). Interestingly, in this edition the discrimination between ‘harpsichordists’ and ‘pianists’ is not so prevalent, and matters such as instrumentation, registration, rhythm and tempo are presented in easily-digestible introductory sections. The errata in the first edition to which reference is made in the preface have largely been corrected (one exception being No. 29 in the Clavier-Büchlein vor Anna Magdalena Bach being erroneously identified as the C-major prelude from WTC2, as opposed to WTC1 on p.448). A welcome amendment is the omission of some superfluous technical details, for example lists of less relevant secondary sources.

Although Schulenberg’s focus remains the same as in the first edition, his style is altered; the same commendable clarity and concision is maintained, but his personal opinions are expressed more eloquently. Where space limitations place constraints on the discussion of complex issues, Schulenberg opts for posing provocative questions rather than risking over-simplifying arguments. His ‘holistic’ yet concise approach to the formidable topic of Bach’s keyboard works distinguishes this book from other noteworthy contributions available in the English language, such as Paul Badura-Skoda’s Interpreting Bach at the Keyboard (1993), which is exclusively devoted to performance practice, and it complements Peter Williams’ multi-volume work The Organ Music of J. S. Bach (1980). His expertise as a practising musician illuminates his discussion of musicological issues and an abundance of musical examples, such as textual variants and possible solutions for unfinished compositions, facilitate interpretation. Schulenberg’s revised companion to Bach’s keyboard works is an ambitious venture which, despite the caveats concerning the scope of its contents pointed out in the preface, succeeds in providing a succinct synthesis of an impressive spectrum of literature whilst simultaneously contributing to ongoing scholarly debate.

Published online on 20 May 2009