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[P xxxv]

BWV2 Preface to the Second Edition

Bach research began making great advances around 1950, the bicentennial of Bach's death and the year that the first edition of the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis was published. It became obvious that the first edition urgently needed to be revised. The editor, however, experienced this necessity with mixed feelings. On the one hand, he had to incorporate an overwhelming mass of data into the Catalogue. On the other hand, he also had to acknowledge the fact that the new entries and emendations of the original entries did not always bring to light the absolute and totally undisputable truth. Although the Catalogue had to be augmented, the editor was intent on preserving its character as a means of communicating major and minor sources to each of Bach's works. Partly because of the time-consuming nature of this task, the editor regrets that the users of this volume have had to wait so long for the thoroughly revised new edition.

We must now broach a topic that is problematic, but paramount to the BWV. As we all know, Johann Sebastian Bach's Oeuvre has not come down to us in its entirety. We can assume that other works once existed, and that the surviving works have not always necessarily been transmitted in their authentic form. Enterprising musicians began long ago drawing new works from this hidden treasure: reconstructions.

At this point, it must be said with all urgency that the quality of all such reconstructions depends on the talent and proficiency of the individual who carries out the experiment, and that a work originating in this manner is not by Johann Sebastian Bach. It is my opinion that the BWV should aim primarily to serve the works written by Bach himself. I do not wish to discuss the question whether anybody has the right or the authorization to tinker with the works of one of the most important composers in the world. But with all due fairness, it must be said that there are some very conscientiously made arrangements among the many reconstructions of Bach's works, and that in a certain sense (see Wilfried Fischer's elucidations), Bach himself even paved the way for certain reconstructions. These results must be respected.

The reconstructions listed in the BWV have been given their own catalogue numbers so as to clearly bring out their particular nature. For example, there is now a BWV 1052 as well as a BWV 1052R. I would be most grateful if this solution found general acceptance.

I would also like to mention a major innovation found in the new BWV. In the first edition, the reader was able to obtain information about the sources of Bach's works from the listing of the autographs. However, the copies had not been listed. The new edition now fills this gap, and presents these additions in a relatively practical and clear manner, with the use of numbers in circles. They begin with (1) as the catalogue number for the autographs, and continue from (2) to (4) which designate copies dating from the first and second halves of the 18th century as well as the first half of the 19th. The manuscripts are arranged chronologically within the text of these four groups. Occasionally, one will encounter combinations of symbols like (2)+(3) or (3)+(4) which mean that the manuscript in question was possibly written around the close of the second period or at the beginning of the third period. The additional numbers (5) and (6) indicate that the manuscripts mentioned here were not consulted by the editor, or that the manuscripts are now lost (also see the table at the beginning of the Abbreviation Index).

In addition, it became necessary to create a more comprehensive system of catalogue numbers that embraces all the newly entered Bach works as well as all the relocations of BWV numbers within the existing systematic order of the Catalogue. This extended numbering system is explained in the respective paragraph of the Remarks (p. XLV).
[P xxxvi]

In the preface to the first edition, I had already touched on the topic of how far the BWV should go in including dubious or non-surviving works, at which occasion I included a series of works that had been omitted (p. XXVIIIff.). Some of them (Nos. 1, 2, 5, 10, 30) have now been included in the Appendix (as new "Anhang" numbers 194, 195, 197, 192, 190; No.28 had already been included as Anh. 131. Also see the table at the close of the Appendices). We have intentionally omitted the other works, as well as a number of other borderline cases that have arisen in the meantime.

I now close this short preface with a matter that is of the greatest importance to me: my acknowledgments for the enormous help and encouragement that I received while working on the second edition of the BWV. The heartfelt expression of my profound thanks deserves a place of its own, here, as my last words in this volume. Since I cannot personally thank all the people who so kindly and selflessly helped me, I must beg those who are not named to apply these words to themselves.

I shall start with the Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Institut in Göttingen, and express my warmest thanks to everyone connected with this institution, in particular to Dr. Alfred Dürr, who was always ready and willing to come to my aid. My thanks also go Out to the two Berlin libraries that harbor the largest amount of Bach manuscripts and that promptly responded to all my questions and fulfilled my wishes to an extent that surpassed the call of duty. On behalf of these institutions, I thank Ms. Eveline Bartlitz and Dr. Rudolf Elvers. I am also greatly indebted to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for having provided me with a permanent assistant for all kinds of practical and scholarly tasks over the years. The tireless commitment of Messrs. Herbert Schiffels, Stefan Koch and Thomas Welke was of inestimable value and did not stop until the manuscript was ready for printing. Many demands of all kinds were made on them throughout the long period of preparation. I also wish to extend my warmest thanks to the publishers, Breitkopf & Härtel of Wiesbaden, for their patience and for the challenging realization of the new edition of the BWV.

I have kept an acknowledgment of a very special nature for the end. About two years ago, my Munich friends Dr. Dorfmüller and his wife asked if they could assist me in the final stages of the project. Considering what still had to be done, I knew this was an offer I could not turn down. Now that the manuscript is completed, I am fully able to appreciate how fruitful and precious this collaboration was. I also wish to thank Mr. Kurt Dorfmüller for preparing the three Appendices and for opening a number of new perspectives in the main part of the book. I say "to thank", and yet these are not the proper words to express the full extent of my gratitude.

Freiburg im Breisgau, September 1985 (the Bach Memorial Year)

Wolfgang Schmieder


The preparation of the new edition unfortunately took much longer than originally planned. Many new scholarly writings on Bach's works have appeared in the meantime, particularly in the context of the 1985 Bach Tricentennial. Only some of these writings and their findings were able to be taken into consideration here.

The author wishes to confirm that he alone is responsible for the necessarily incomplete selection of practical editions of Bach's works contained in the BWV, and that he was not influenced in any way by the copy editors.

Finally, I would like to repeat with renewed emphasis and warmness my thanks to Mr. Thomas Welke, who selflessly and tirelessly assisted me during the last stages of the proofreading and preparation of the indexes, a task he accomplished to a large extent on his own. Through his comprehension and ever knowledgeable advice and help, he has rendered outstanding services to the new edition of the BWV.

Translation by Roger Clement

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