Urtext for Bach Sonatas and Partitas

July 1, 2005 at 03:21 AM · My daughter is away at a summer program and her teacher there has requested she bring a copy of the urtext for the Bach Sonatas and Partitas to the next lesson. The manuscript at the back of the International Edition isn't enough-- she wants a printed urtext. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Replies (17)

July 1, 2005 at 03:28 AM · Hi there,

I use a copy of 'almost' urtext, edited by Ivan Galamian - it's pretty good with some fingering suggestions by Galamian, plus the manuscripts at the back of the book for reference...can't remember which publisher though, can check and get back to you...

July 1, 2005 at 03:38 AM · I would recommend the Barenreiter Urtext which has no fingering suggestions or anything, but it is taken directly from the manuscript. There are only a couple of editorial things that have been changed just for the sake of convention.

July 1, 2005 at 03:41 AM · I have the Henle edition and it comes with one edited part and one which is urtext. A bit on the expensive side though

July 1, 2005 at 07:01 AM · i have the barenreiter now. when i was younger there was a dover edition with no fingerings or bowings that also included the sonatas for violin and keyboard bwv 1007 - 1012. the barenreiter is better formatted but the dover is accurate and much cheaper.

July 1, 2005 at 02:28 PM · Schott puts out an edition edited by Henryk Szeryng which is an urtext in the sense that it shows what is Bach's and what are Szeryng's suggestions. It is not expensive and has fairly extensive discussions of issues in the pieces and Baroque technique in general. I highly recommend it. If you want a pure urtext for free, go the Werner Icking archive (icking-music-archive.org)and print out a copy.

July 1, 2005 at 03:08 PM · I like the International edition edited by Joachim not Galamian. The Joachim edition has two lines, the top line is edited with performance ideas (many of them good ones) by Joachim, and the bottom line is the original version found in the manuscript.

July 1, 2005 at 11:47 PM · Well, I have three editions. I've got Peter's edition, Galamian's edition, and Szeryngs. Almost without fail, I'm a true lover of Peter's edition, so I was biased in my love, but Galamian had an exact photocopy of the urtext, and that was awesome. Guys, (yankee for "ya'll") you may already know this, but there is a fingering somewhere in the original...sorry, I was just looking and can't find it right away-but isn't that neat? Makes me think maybe Bach played them! Sorry, I'm a huge Bach-fan. I mean, I live Bach. Anyway, I play from Peter's edition, which has the urtext right underneath your line of music.

July 2, 2005 at 04:09 PM · I recomend you get the Urtext (G. Henle Verlang).

It comes with 2 books, one is the unedited version and the other has fingerings, etc, by Schneiderhan. It comes with a grey cover.



July 2, 2005 at 04:53 PM · Carley -- the fingering in is the Gavotte and Rondeau in the Third Partita, around measure 31 or 33. Szeryng's edition flags it.

As usual, we now have at least one vote for almost every edition. I have given my preference in a previous response. One point that is important is that Galamian's has a facsimile of the actual manuscript. I do not like Galamian's edits at all, but it is helpful to have the facsimile, particularly since "urtext" in this case covers a multitude of sins. Many of Bach's slurs are anything but clear, and it is nice to have a facsimile to check the urtext editor's interpretation. That said, I would prefer the editions I stated earlier. If there is some other, cheaper source of the facsimile manuscript, by all means get it.

July 2, 2005 at 11:35 PM · Just play from the manuscript. Why not invent your own fingerings? Surely there wasn't anyone to put fingerings on music in those days.

July 3, 2005 at 12:43 AM · I actually really enjoyed playing from the urtext and doing my own fingerings, and a couple of bowing things--it's really satisfying to try heaps of options and then finally uncover a fingering that really suits you and your approach to bach on the violin. It's also worthwhile I think because in searching for bowing/fingering patterns etc you also discover heaps of phrasing options. It really makes you look closely at the music.

July 3, 2005 at 01:46 AM · I own a lot of the violin and chamber music in the Henle edition. (I have yet to acquire the Bach edited by Ronnau/Schneiderhan.) They have the worst bowing and fingering suggestions I have ever seen.

July 3, 2005 at 09:17 AM · Yeah - invent your own fingerings! And bowings! I do that whilst playing from the Galamian edition - I bought it because of the facsimile manuscript, which is an extremely helpful reference point when in doubt with bowings. Yeah, I agree that some of the bows and fingering suggestions in the Galamian edition's pretty doggy, especially some of the slurs which were, I'm sure, not very popular during the Baroque days!

July 3, 2005 at 12:17 PM · Please forgive my ignorance, but are the facsimile manuscripts included in the galamian edition (and for any edition for that matter), from the actual hand of Bach himself? Or is it a copy made by one of his wife or other transcribers? I'm using the Barenreiter edition.

July 3, 2005 at 04:01 PM · If one of my students told me they were going to make up the bowings as they went along I would give them a swift kick in the pants!

The Galamian edition is WELL researched with few errors and very well thought out additions here and there. There is nothing tasteless or un-baroque suggested in the edition.

The facimile at the back is as far as I know in Bach's hand. However, it IS well known that much of Bach's music was copied by his wife. It doesn't bother me if it is in her hand as she was known to have copied extensively.


July 5, 2005 at 12:00 PM · I didn't say the Galamian edition was ALL bad in terms of bowings and fingerings BUT there were one or two slurs that should really only be a three note slur and not a four, taking into consideration that it just doesn't fit well on a baroque bow and for goodness sake, Bach himself (or whoever copied the manuscript) clearly written out a three note slur and not the four note slur as suggested by Galamian. I have full respect for Galamian - I don't change anything he suggests on paper at all, but that was an exception. Do we even know if those 'suggestions' were truely Galamian's?

When making up bowings and searching for fingerings, one should always take 'style' (not your personal style but musical style) into consideration, not just making up any old bowings and fingerings - I don't encourage that at all.

July 5, 2005 at 02:39 PM · CDSheetmusic.com sells a CD-ROM called "Violin Sonatas". It contains many duo sonatas as well as Baroque sonatas. There is the Urtext Bach Sonatas and Partitas as well as the 'edited' Schirmer edition of the Bach.

If you're interested in the Urtext edition, I'd recommend this CDROM.

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