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Johann Sebastian Bach » Violin Concerto no 1 in A minor

The first edition of Bach's A minor Concerto was published by Peters of Leipzig in February 1852, edited by Siegfried Dehn (1799-1858), the custodian of the Royal Prussian Library. It is based on the primary source for the work, a set of parts compiled by Bach around 1730 with the help of his son Carl Philipp Emanuel, and a pupil, Johann Ludwig Krebs. The solo violin part is in Bach's own hand. Following this publication, several annotated editions appeared; of the ones on the CHASE website, those by David, Hermann, and Alard date from the 1860s and 1870s, while the Joachim/Moser edition is included in their Violinschule (1905). The Bach Gesellschaft Edition, edited by Wilhelm Rust, appeared in 1874. Bach's manuscript solo part is fully bowed, although there is sometimes room for doubt as to how far his slurs extend. This is particularly significant in the Andante, where the autograph bowing is varied and elaborate, and in the finale, where Rust, along with the other nineteenth-century editors, generally extends the slurs over running quavers to three notes (a complete beat) whereas the Neue Bach-Augabe (ed. Dietrich Kilian, Kassel, 1986) interprets the slurs as covering just the first two of each three-note group. The principal interest in the annotated editions concerns the adaptation of Bach's phrasing by the different editors to the demands, as they saw it, of modern violin playing. Bach's bowing frequently asks for a swift, light up bow on an unaccented note in order to bring the bow back towards the heel. The nineteenth-century ideal was to play broadly, with more gradual nuances of phrasing and a more constant bow speed. In the first movement of this Concerto, our editors are happy when Bach marks the last three notes of a group of four with a slur; the first, separate note, which marks the beat, can be played with a swift, accented stroke taking the bow to the point, and the slurred notes can easily accomplish a return to the middle of the bow for the next accent. But where Bach, in order to stress the first beat of the bar, slurs the first three notes, all the editors feel the need to find a different bowing - if the separate semiquavers are to be played with a firm detaché stroke, it will not be so easy to adopt what we can imagine was Bach's solution - a swift, light recovery of the bow before the next stressed group. Where this pattern first occurs at bar 7 of the movement, both Hermann and Joachim/Moser, include the remaining five semiquavers in the bar, as well as the two quavers at the start of bar 8, in a single up bow staccato. [D. D.] 

For further discussion of Alard's edtion, which was evidently based on a copy made for Baillot by Molique in about 1830, see my introduction to that edition. [C. B.]

See also: 

Ossip Schnirlin, Neue Weg (1921), which includes an extract from the first movement and an extract showing the bariolage passage-work in the last movement.

Opus No: BWV 1041

Editions
Editor(s) Title Publisher Publication No. Year
Alard, Jean Delphin Premier concerto en la mineur E. Gérard CM11184 1874 View
David, Ferdinand Erstes Violin-Konzert Rieter-Biedermann 295 1864 View
Hermann, Friedrich Concert A-moll Peters 229 1884 View
Joachim, Joseph; Moser, Andreas Konzert in A moll Simrock 1905 View
Sauret, Emile Violin Concerto no. 1 in A minor Augener 7940 1915 View