5.E.4. J. S. Bach’s Chorales: Reconstructing Eighteenth-Century German Figured-Bass Pedagogy in Light of a New Source Derek Remeš - 29 juin 2017, 11h00-11h30, salle 3201


Le 29 juin 2017
de 11h00 à 11h30

Le Patio (université de Strasbourg)
22 rue René Descartes, 67000 Strasbourg
salle 3201

Séance - Teaching and Pedagogy (I)

Pré-acte / Acte

Auteur : Derek Remeš

     According to C. P. E. Bach, J. S. Bach began students with figured-bass chorales before teaching fugue. This ordering implies that harmony was conceptually prior to counterpoint in Bach’s thinking. Therefore, exploring how Bach taught harmony may illuminate his music and inform our own teaching.

     Robin A. Leaver recently discovered a new source which likely originates from J. S. Bach’s students. The anonymous manuscript, called the Sibley Choralbuch, contains 226 figured-bass chorales and likely had a pedagogical purpose, since it matches C. P. E.’s description of his father’s pedagogy. This source also relates to the multiple-bass chorale tradition of Bach’s students, Kittel and Kirnberger, of which new sources have also recently surfaced. I contend that multiple-bass pedagogy, together with the various strategies described in contemporaneous German sources, forms a pedagogical bridge between a simpler, keyboard style of figured-bass chorale realization and the more complex, vocal one.

     Ever since C. P. E.’s publication of his father’s chorales in 1765, music pedagogues have held up J. S. Bach’s vocal style of chorale harmonization as a model. The Sibley Choralbuch implies that a simpler, keyboard style of figured-bass realization was the started point in Bach’s pedagogy. I will attempt to reconstruct how Bach may have led students from the keyboard to the vocal style, based on contemporaneous sources. While the Baroque era is often called the Age of Counterpoint, a harmony-centered perspective, informed by Bach’s teaching, ultimately illuminates our understanding of Baroque music, as well as our own pedagogical methods.

Musées de la Ville de Strasbourg
Opéra National du Rhin
Conservatoire de Strasbourg