A musical 'Notage à Trois'
: the relationship revealed between three manuscript versions of J.S. Bach's unaccompanied violin sonatas and partitas?

  • Penelope Ruth Reiss

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    In addition to what is recognised as Bach’s ‘1720 Autograph’, two known and accepted manuscript versions exist of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Unaccompanied Violin Sonatas and Partitas (BWV 1001–1006). One is believed to be an incomplete copy made by Johann Peter Kellner. This, however, contains numerous unexplained and what seem to be purposeful divergences, such that its authenticity as a copy of the final autograph is questionable. This manuscript is thought to have derived from an early working version of Bach’s, and, as such offers an insight into the compositional origins and history of these works.

    The other version, which musicologists currently claim was made by Bach’s second wife, Anna Magdalena, is traditionally accepted as being copied from the final ‘1720 Autograph.’

    Bach scholars have commented on the divergences between Kellner’s manuscript and the ‘1720 Autograph’. Apart from Jarvis (2007), however, no direct comparison has been made between all three versions of the manuscripts.

    Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to examine all three manuscripts using the techniques of forensic document examination and present a new hypothesis regarding the relationship between these three manuscript versions, and thus determine how this may affect our current understanding of the compositional process involved in the writing of the Unaccompanied Violin Sonatas and Partitas (BWV 1001 – 1006).
    Date of AwardMar 2016
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMartin Jarvis (Supervisor)

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