celestial harmonies
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THERE ARE TWO MAJOR AUTOGRAPHS of Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier BWV 846-869 in existence which have been published here together for the very first time. The earlier one, in the hand of Johann Sebastian Bach, dates from ca. 1720 - 1739. Of this version the Fugue No. 13 and the Prelude No. 14 have been lost; these were set anew for this edition by Johannes Gebauer, based on the best available sources. A second autograph exists in the hand of Müller, Carl Heinrich Ernst (1753–1835), Bach, Anna Magdalena (1701–1760), Agricola, Johann Friedrich (1720–1774), Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann (1710–1784), Bach, Johann Sebastian (1685–1750), and one unknown scribe, dating from ca. 1740 to 1759 with some sources believing it is dating from ca. 1733 to 1775. This version – musicologically referred to as »Müllersches Autograph« – was begun a decade or more before Bach's death but continued for at least another decade afterwards. Due to the fact that the scribes – other than J.S. Bach himself – were members of Bach's immediate family or had been Bach's students, this version has to be considered of equal authenticity; the variations of the text show that the Well-Tempered Clavier is indeed to be understood as a work-in-progress. Parts of the music are also contained in the »Notenbüchlein der Anna Magdalena Bach« (begun 1725) and in the »Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach« (begun 1725-1740?) which is kept at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut. The cover shows the title page of the later autograph; the calligraphy has been attributed to Johann Christoph Altnikol (ca. 1720-1759), Bach's son-in-law. The scribes used different paper and inks which explains the somewhat different color characteristics of each page; the countless spots with their diffuse appearance are caused by ink from the other side of the sheet to bleed through the paper. The iron gall ink which we know Bach used (and which was widely used at the time) contains acidic substances which can deteriorate paper, causing parts to disintegrate or form holes, »Tintenfraß« in German. These effects are problematic when restoring or retouching images of original sheets as the replacement of lost or illegible elements of text can be the cause of major disagreements. As both of the autographs reproduced here have flaws in different locations throughout the work, ambiguities can now easily be resolved by referring to the alternate version. The editors have made a considerable effort to remove stamps, pencil scribbles and other »graffiti of the centuries« which disrespectful individuals with access to the original could not resist to add... Together with the very rare autograph of Book II (ASIN B077TZX4R3), this makes all three autographs of both volumes of the Well-Tempered Clavier easily available for the first time in history.