Concertos by C. P. E. Bach

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Keyboard Concertos
W. 4 in G (Berlin, 1738)
W. 5 in C minor (Berlin, 1739; revised 1762)
W. 6 in G minor (Berlin, 1740)
W. 24 in E minor (Potsdam, 1748)

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714–88), the second of J. S. Bach’s four composer sons, was one of the leading composers of mid-eighteenth-century Europe. His fifty-two concertos for keyboard and strings are the first significant group of original works of this type (his father’s keyboard concertos are probably all arrangements of works originally for other solo instruments). Through study of C. P. E. Bach’s concertos, composed over a period of more than fifty years, one can trace not only the evolution of the composer’s personal style but the emergence and early development of one of the principal genres of Western concert music. Moreover, through the composer’s frequent revisions of individual works one can see how certain concertos, particularly those written early in his career, were transformed to reflect changes in his style and in the concerto as a genre.

Thus it is of great value not only to have reliable editions of these works, but to be able to study their early versions in conjunction with their successive revisions. A long-time student of the music of C. P. E. Bach, I happen to have been involved in editing several works whose compositional histories are unusually well documented. My editions of W. 6 and 24 were initially prepared in the mid-1980s for volumes in The Carl Philipp Emanuel Edition, whose organizers cancelled the series after issuing just four volumes. In 2005 I published the present online version of the edition of W. 24. Since then the Packard Humanities Institute has published my updated versions of my editions of both W. 6 and W. 24, as well as of W. 4 and 5. I am nevertheless continuing to make the present version of my edition available online, as it includes material that was excluded from the printed version.

The concertos W. 4; 5, and 6 were the first three such works that the composer wrote after his arrival at Berlin in 1738. For the general introduction to the edition of W. 4–6, please click here. For the introduction to W. 24, please click here. At the end of this file are links to the scores, critical apparatus, and audio files for each version of each concerto.

Few would argue that these four works are the composer’s greatest achievements in the concerto genre—a pinnacle more convincingly reached in such works as the D-minor concerto W. 23 of 1748 and the double concerto for harpsichord and fortepiano, W. 47 in E-flat, composed forty years later. But W. 4–6 are of singular importance as the first concertos composed as Bach began his professional career after student years in Leipzig and Frankfurt-an-der-Oder. All three, particularly W. 4 and 5, underwent significant revision. So did the E-minor work W. 24, which immediately followed the great D-minor concerto, evidently exceeding the latter in popularity and in the number of revisions that it underwent. Hence these particular concertos provide a unique opportunity for studying the ways in which Emanuel Bach updated the texts of his early works.

Until recently, C. P. E. Bach has not been well served by the musicological establishment. A short-lived project intended to publish his complete works foundered in the 1990s. The Packard Humanities Institute, whose Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: The Complete Works was launched in 2000, excluded the early versions of the present works from the relevant volumes (for W. 4–6, see vols. III/9.2 and III/9.8). I  offer the present editions for the use of musicians and scholars interested in understanding how C. P. E. Bach’s music evolved during his lifetime.

To facilitate study, the scores present early and late versions of each movement simultaneously. (Please contact me directly if you would like performing material or scores for individual versions.) For those wishing to hear the works, synthesized midi files of each movement in both versions are offered. For actual performances I recommend the ongoing complete series of recordings of C. P. E. Bach’s keyboard concertos by Miklós Spányi with Concerto Armonico, on the Bis label, as follows (in general, these are performances of the late version of each work):

Concerto   volume in series    BIS catalog number
W. 4          2                            CD-708
W. 5          9                            CD-868
W. 6          3                            CD-767
W. 24        7                            CD-857

Each of the present online scores is accompanied by a detailed critical apparatus (textual commentary) containing information about the works’ compositional history and textual variants. Those seeking only an uncluttered text of the final revised version of each work may prefer the printed editions of these works, although the printed editions make numerous small alterations of the original notation that could influence the performer’s interpretation of articulation and other details in the music. In particular, the printed editions often revise the composer’s beaming of small note values, substituting arbitrary groupings based on modern printing conventions. In addition, his contrapuntal keyboard notation, with separate stems for most notes, is often simplified. Practically minded musicians may regard these as minor notational matters that have little bearing on how they understand or perform this music. But C. P. E. Bach, like other eighteenth-century composers, was generally consistent in his notation, and although autograph sources are largely missing for the present works, the extant copies continue on the whole to make the types of notational distinctions that characterize the composer’s own writing. Errors in all of the sources nevertheless have made it necessary to emend their readings (details are given in the lists of variant readings). Accidentals, ornament signs, and other symbols given in brackets are entirely editorial, that is, found in no source. Readings from the principal source of a work but present in one or more secondary sources appear in parentheses, and the sources giving the parenthesized readings are identified in the list of variant readings.

The critical apparatus and scores presented here are my own work and do not incorporate ideas or editing provided by the staff of the printed edition. I gratefully acknowledge assistance provided by the latter, including the provision of copies for several sources. I am grateful as well to the present holders of the sources for facilitating access to them and for not preventing the online publication of the present editions. This online edition brings me no financial return and is intended solely to further interest in this wonderful music, to the ultimate advantage of the libraries, performers, and future editors that preserve it and bring it to the public.

List of files with links
General preface (this file)
Introduction to W. 4–6
Plates for W. 4–6
Score for W. 4/i                      midi: early version      midi: late version
Score for W. 4/ii                     midi: early version      midi: late version
Score for W. 4/iii                    midi: early version      midi: late version
Score for W. 5/i                      midi: early version       midi: late version
Score for W. 5/ii                     midi: early version       midi: late version
Score for W. 5/iii                    midi: early version       midi: late version
Score for W. 6/i                      midi: early version       midi: late version
Score for W. 6/ii                     midi: early version       midi: late version
Score for W. 6/iii                    midi: early version       midi: late version
Critical report for W. 4–6: introduction
Sources for W. 4
List of variant readings for W. 4
Sources for W. 5
List of variant readings for W. 5
Sources for W. 6
List of variant readings for W. 6
Abbreviations used for W. 4–6, including source sigla
Introduction to W. 24
Score for W. 24/i                    midi: early version      midi: late version
Score for W. 24/ii                   midi: early version      midi: late version
Score for W. 24/iii                  midi: early version      midi: late version
Sources for W. 24
List of variant readings for W. 24
Abbreviations used for W. 24, including source sigla
All contents copyright (c) 2013 by David Schulenberg. All rights reserved
Last updated: Jan. 4, 2013