The Merits of Archival Research in Music

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Waterloo]On: 28 November 2014, At: 09:18Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Musicology AustraliaPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rmus20

    The Merits of Archival Research in MusicDorottya FabianPublished online: 24 Nov 2011.

    To cite this article: Dorottya Fabian (2005) The Merits of Archival Research in Music, Musicology Australia, 28:1, 127-130,DOI: 10.1080/08145857.2005.10415282

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08145857.2005.10415282

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  • i c A r t i c le

    The Merits of Archival Research in Music

    Michael Kassler (ed.) The English Bach Awakening." Knowledge of J. S. Bach and his Music in England I75o-z83o Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2oo4, 478 pp. ISBN i 84oi 4 666 4

    Musical Entries at Stationers' Hall i7zo-z8x8 Compiled by Michael Kassler from lists prepared for William Hawes, D. W. Krummel and Alan Tyson and from other sources, with a foreword by D. W. Krummel Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2oo4, 764 pp. ISBN 0 7546 3458 2

    DOROTTYA FABIAN

    In current post-modern rimes and in the wake of Joseph Kerman's crlticxsm of doc- umentary musicology, it is a brave act on behalf of the editor and his authors as well as the pubhsher to produce a volume the aim of which is to provide a correct account of how Bach's music was introduced to England The English Bach Awakening Is dense, and often there are more footnotes on a page than mare text, but the reader can feel assured page after page that no relevant document has been left unturned and that nothing that lacks ewdence is presented as fact. It is not only the overbearing sense of ethical research that impresses; the sense that the authors have followed up to the utmost all possible dues and references to clarify dates, sources, ownerships and the roles of various players. There as also cri6cal appraisal, analysis and even conjecture, but never stretching the evidence beyond reason graded by mttmate knowledge of time and place. Bach researchers and scholars of musical culture in nineteenth-century Britain can thank the editor, Michael Kassler, and Yo Tomita for this mint scholarshtp as they contributed all but one of the book's nine chapters (five were written by the echtor, three by Tomita and one by Samuel Wesley expert, Philip Olleson).

    True to its nature, the volume starts with a 'Chronology of the Enghsh Bach Awakening' (compiled by the editor), some thirty pages listing documents men- tloning Bach's name or bearing on the English 'Bach Awakening' in some other way. A short summary is provided together with the date and source (in footnote) of evidence. More often than not the footnote also includes additional commen- tary and/or explanatton. Thus the listing that embraces the period between i754

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  • 128 Musicology Austraha ~ao/. 2.8

    and i829 enables a fascinating context of musical life in early nineteenth-century Britain to come to the fore. The notes also inform about minor factual errors (or conjectures masquerading as facts) in other publications of Bach documents (e.g., in the N e w Bach Reader revised by Christoph Wolff m i998) 1 and refer to develop- ments in Bach reception elsewhere that resulted from events or comments made in England. This broad approach ensures that the reader is provided with a rich per- spective of the documents and their significance.

    The chapters written by Yo Tomita focus on various aspects of Bach's '48': the sources in England at the time (chapter i); stages of revision of the Wesley/Horn edition of the forty-eight Preludes and Fugues (chapter 6); and Wesley's analyses of Bach's fugues (chapter 7)" Those written by Michael Kassler study particular projects or people: the English translauon of Forkel's L/fi (chapter z); Kollmann's music theory (chapter 3); the Bachists of I8io (chapter 5) and portraits of Bach before x83 o (chapter 8). The key figure and in many ways catalyst of the English Bach awakemng, Samuel Wesley, is discussed in a separate chapter (4) by Philip OUeson. There is also an appendix in which Kassler considers Horn's and Wesley's other publishing venture, the edition of Bach's organ 'Trio' Sonatas.

    Given this structure and the apparent desire to make each chapter sell-- contained, there is some overlap of material. Not just repeated (extended) citations of documents but explanations and discussions as well. Furthermore, Wesley seems to be in the centre of almost every chapter. Whether it is an accurate result of Wesley's unique role in promoting Bach's music in England or a by-product of available documents at the authors' disposition (as well as their own interests m, for example, documenting editions of particular works), overall one cannot help but feel that the book is as much about Wesley and his activities as J. S. Bach's early reception in England. For instance, I, for one, would have been fascinated to read more about Johann Peter Salomon's performances and the reception of Bach's works for violin (solo or with obbligato harpsichord). Salomon is often made out to be a key figure in disseminating and keeping Bach's viohn works in the reper- toire (e.g., his alleged role m Jean Bapttste Cartter's decision to include the C major Fugue for solo vlohn from BWV ioo 5 in his L'~trt du violon pubhshed in i798). It seems like a missed opportunity that his name appears only sporadically in the cur- rent volume (mostly in chapter 4) and one wonders how many other potentially important clues might have been explored if the focus was not on editions of key- board works and/or Wesley's seemingly single-minded and single-handed role m introducing Bach to Enghsh audiences. Perhaps nothing more could be found, but the reassuring footnotes to that effect that pop up in every turn regarding the deal- ings of Wesley and his associates are copiously mtssmg from the discussion of Salomon. The mention of 'private parties' and Bridgetower's performance of movements from the solo violin works (by the way, the Chaconne xs not from Partita i but Partita 2, correctly identified as BWV IOO4, see p. 3o5) is similarly sig- nificant, given his acquaintance with Beethoven at around the same time. It would have been fascinating to learn more about his views on the music, what scores he used and whether they are still available.

    The chapter that is not about Wesley's activities in one form or another dis- cusses Kollmann's N e w Theory o f Musical Harmony. Kassler provides an interesting and illuminating exposition of this intriguing document. Extending Karnberger's

    1 The New Bach Reader ~4 Lfe ofJohann Sebastmn Bach m Letters andDocuments, ed. by Hans T Davtd and Arthur Mendel, revised and enlarged by Chnstoph Wolff (New York and London Norton, x998 )

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  • Dorottya Fabzan, The Merits of ~qrchzval Research m Muszc x:z 9

    theory, Kollmann mvesngates the nature of musical grammar and rhetoric orga- nized generatively in several stages. In Ins careful explanation of Its various points Kassler also usefully points out similarities and &fferences between KoUmann's theory and Hemrich Schenker's much later work. Modern researchers of cogmtave musicology may find this chapter particularly inspmng for further investigatmn and explication. On the other hand, thxs chapter is a rather extended detour into contemporary music theory gaven the book's focus on Bach's early receptmn in England.

    'The Bachists of I8io' chapter provides mformauon about subscribers and other supporters of Wesley's endeavours in introducing Bach's music to Enghsh audi- ences. It also includes financial informatton that could be very useful for those interested in the socaal and economm state of music an early modern Britain It would have been helpful, however, to include some explanation of the figures (P. 337) for the uninitiated to clarify how to read and/or interpret the informataon presented (for instance a note explaming the currency divisions and providing headings for the columns).

    The chapters on the sources, echtaons and contemporary analyses of Bach's forty- mght Preludes and Fugues are useful for the many tables, careful hsts and illustrations tracing the genealogy of edatorial stages, and for showing the possible origins of subsequent analytical techmques and terminology. Anyone interested in the develop- ment of musicology as a dlsmphne or wanting to study extent early sources of Bach's Well Tempered Clawer vr find these sect_tons of the book invaluable.

    Readers will also find the nicely reproduced plates of Important documents handy. The quality is very good allowing for first hand study of some of the key sources discussed an the various chapters. The two mdmes (one for persons the other for Bach's compositions) make the volume an amportant reference tool for Bach researchers, especially those with a keen interest in the early history and sources of Bach's fugal keyboard compositaons.

    The book containing musac entries at Stationers' Hall between i7~o and i818 is a sxmllarly useful volume of documents for a varaety of researchers. The compila- tion of entries has a long history neatly expl~uned an the Preface by 1Vhchael Kassler and a Foreword by D. W. Krummel as well as m the Introductaon that sets out the sxgmficance and context of the content and the rationale for editoraal decasions.

    The peraod covered in the book starts at i7xo when an act, commonly regarded as the world's first copyright law, came into force in Britain. This act established a new impetus for registering publicattons because it threatened with monetary penalty those who made unauthorized copying or prmtmg of items but only if these were previously 'entred [sic] in the Register-Book of the Company of Stationers' (p. xvi). The reader also learns that the protection was for twenty-one years for books printed prior to lO April i7xo and fourteen years for those published on or after that date with potential for renewal. Further details and references inform about changing copyright laws and requrrements of registration and under- hne the importance to note that the x7xo act 'did not compel authors, proprietors or anyone else to register publicatmns'. Tins as significant as at explains why certain publications are not listed even though they might claim to have been registered, which, in turn, highhghts the inherent difficulty an compthng an accurate list.

    The enmes are organized chronologically and the table at the end of the Introductxon gives a summary overview of the increasing quantity of registered pubhcatmns containing music notation or other sagnificant reference to music.

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  • 13o 1V[usxcology Australia vol 2g

    What is also very useful xs the reference to library holdings of listed items. Entries from iSii to i818 are listed separately m an Appendix as a 'reprint' of 1terns in a manuscript prepared for the musician and musm publisher Wilham Hawes (i785-i846). As most of this material, as well as the fist of United Kingdom libraries that hold copies of the named items, is available from Copac, the umon catalogue that provides free access to the merged hbrary catalogues of a number of major research libraries in the United Kingdom and Ireland, 2 it is a reasonable solution to provide this information m a compressed form.

    The entries are indexed in four different ways: by authors (e.g., names of com- posers, arrangers, harmonizers etc.); by writers (e.g., names of poets, translators etc.); by performers (e.g., actors, dancers, singers etc.), and by dedmatees. As the editor admits, the 'entries at Stationers Hall of course can be indexed in many adchtional ways' and it is for this reason that one may regret that the compilation is presented in print rather than as a searchable database. Researchers studying par- tmular repertoxres, publisher, places, venues etc. have to sift through the entire hst (or those within a given shorter period) if they want to check whether something relevant is to be found.

    In sum, thxs is a handy reference volume for scholars of diverse interests: those who need dates or particular edmons, who are working on the history of published music or the development and impact of copyright law, and those who are study- ing musical hfe and taste m Georgaan England, to name but the most obwous potential users.

    2 Copac can be accessed at http://copac ac.uk.

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