Vierter Theil / der / Clavier=Uebung / bestehend / in einer / ARIA / mit verschiedenen Veränderungen / vors / Clavicimbal / mit Zweÿ / Manualen / Denen Liebhabern zur Gemüths=Ergoetzung / verfertiget / von / Johann Sebastian Bach / König Poln: und Churfürsts. Saechlichen Hof=Compositeur / Capell=Meister, und Directore Chori Musici in Leipizig / non plus ultra. Musical manuscript of the complete Goldberg Variations, BWV988, in the hand of Bach's important and last pupil, Johann Christian Kittel (1732-1809). Erfurt, [?]ca. 1770 or later.

Oblong folio (313 x 222 mm.). Early marbled boards with oval title label to upper titled in manuscript in dark brown ink: "IV Theil der Clavier Uebungen von Joh. Sebastian Bach." [i] (manuscript title), 36 (manuscript music) + 11 (blank) pp. Notated in black ink on 10-stave rastrum-ruled wove paper. No watermark detected. Housed in a custom-made green linen clamshell box with black leather title label gilt to spine.

With an early manuscript presentation inscription in an unknown hand (most likely that of a pupil or friend of Kittel) to foot of title: "Andenken seines besten Schülers / J. Chr. Kittels" [In remembrance of his best pupil / J. Chr. Kittel].

The noted American pianist Peter Serkin (1947-2020)
"The recipient of this manuscript was obviously a great admirer of Kittel, for his inscription refers to him, apparently without the slightest hesitation, as "Bach's best pupil" ... This new owner has not yet been identified. The manuscript then passed into the hands of Franz Hauser (1794-1870) who was one of the 19th century's greatest collectors of Bach manuscripts and the first to attempt a catalogue of Bach's works. The manuscript was later obtained by Dr. Werner Wolffheim (1877-1930) who in his all too short life assembled the greatest private collection of music manuscripts in Berlin. The manuscript was listed in June 1929 in the auction catalogue Wolffheim II by Breslauer-Liepmanssohn in Berlin and was acquired by the great violinist Adolf Busch. After a Berlin recital in which Rudolf Serkin had played the Goldberg Variations, Busch presented the manuscript to the not yet 30-year-old pianist." Herz: Bach Sources in America, p. 245. The manuscript then passed to Rudolf Serkin's son, Peter Serkin.

Binding slightly worn, rubbed and bumped; no free endpapers. Minor offsetting; occasional minor imperfections but in fine condition overall.

The autograph of Bach's Goldberg Variations is lost; the printed edition of 1741, published as Part IV of the Clavier-Übung, is the earliest known source for the work with the exception of the Aria on which the 30 variations are based, found in a manuscript transcription in the Klavierbüchlein of Anna Magdalena Bach of 1725.

It is thought that the printed edition consisted of approximately 100 copies only; of these, only 19 are known to have survived to this day.

Kittel, a German organist, composer, and teacher, "studied with Jakob Adlung, organist in Erfurt, and from 1748 to 1750 was a favourite pupil of the aged J.S. Bach in Leipzig. After serving from 1751 as an organist and teacher in Langensalza he was appointed organist of Erfurt’s Barfüsserkirche (1756); in 1762 he transferred to the Predigerkirche there. Despite a low salary and more favourable offers from elsewhere, he remained in Erfurt for the rest of his life, seldom undertaking concert tours and even refusing an invitation in 1790 from Duchess Anna Amalia of Saxe-Weimar to travel to Italy. His fame as a virtuoso organist brought Goethe, Herder and Wieland to his evening recitals, and drew many pupils to him, of whom the most important were M.G. Fischer (his successor at the Predigerkirche), K.G. Umbreit, his nephew J.W. Hässler and J.C.H. Rinck. In 1800 he made a concert tour to Hamburg, where he remained a year while preparing his new book of chorales for Schleswig-Holstein (Vierstimmige Choräle mit Vorspielen, 1803).

Kittel’s guiding doctrine, as expressed in his influential textbook Der angehende praktische Organist (1801–8), was ‘grounded in the principles of Bach’ and had as its aim ‘to awaken, maintain and heighten feelings of devotion in the hearts of his hearers by means of music’. In keeping with his emphasis on simple forms suited to liturgical practice, his teaching centred on chorale accompaniment, which he required to be simple with inner parts capable of being sung, and on the chorale prelude, which he thought should suitably introduce the spirit and feeling of the chorale but need not adhere precisely to its melody. Although short, ‘characteristic’ pieces determined most of his oeuvre, he also wrote large-scale organ works, including double chorale variations which look back to the style of Bach. In the main, however, his works depart from Bach’s tradition, despite their contrapuntal forms, and give sympathetic expression to contemporary idioms. The 16 Grosse Präludien juxtapose Bach-like counterpoint with galant passages in contemporary symphonic style, the whole being sustained by an emphasis on melody. In his piano sonatas (1789), his art of ‘characterizing’ led to a full working-out of contrasting ideas; thus, his own theoretical requirements approached the Viennese Classical style. Further character pieces for organ include his six variations on Nicht so traurig (1797) and, as implicit in their structure, the Vier und zwanzig Choräle mit acht verschiedenen Bässen über eine Melodie (1811). These works dispense with the chorale as cantus firmus and freely incorporate it into settings in the empfindsamer Stil. Such character pieces became decisively influential in German organ music, and in the 19th century the genre was carried even further by Kittel’s own pupils." Karl Gustav Fellerer in Grove Music Online

A number of manuscript copies based on the printed edition were made after Bach died. Kittel is known to have made two such copies, one in ca. 1750-60 and the present copy, dating from ca. 1770 or later, which appears to have been made from his own first copy. See Herz: Bach Sources in America, pp. 241-245.

The Goldberg Variations, consisting of an aria with 30 variations for two-manual harpsichord, form the fourth and last part of Bach's Clavier-Übung cycle. According to J.N. Forkel, Bach's first biographer, "Bach composed the variations at the request of J.G. Goldberg, who needed pieces to entertain Count Keyserlingk, the Russian ambassador to the Saxon court and a notorious insomniac who desired music during the night. The story has some plausibility given that Bach was a guest of Keyserlingk in Dresden in November 1741, although this is evidence for Bach's presentation of the new publication rather than for the initial impetus for its composition. But even if Forkel's account is not strictly accurate, it may well be that Goldberg, as a talented pupil of Bach and a virtuoso performer, soon gained a reputation as a performer of these pieces ...

... It is not the pacing of the variations, their contrapuntal ingenuity, nor even their virtuosity which is the most striking aspect of the set: it is the fact that Bach uses virtually every stylistic and affective device at his disposal. He provides a comprehensive, encyclopaedic view of his musical world through the narrow focus of a single harmonic form." Butt in J.S. Bach edited by Malcolm Boyd, pp. 195-197.

An attractive manuscript of one of the famous collections of keyboard works in the musical canon, in an excellent state of preservation and with highly distinguished provenance.

Item #38307

Price: $115,000.00  other currencies

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