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BACH, J. S.

developed it in a great variety of ways, while retaining even the minor details of what in other hands had long before become its conventional form; but the one thing he did not do was to abuse it according to time-honoured custom as the staple form for opera. For that he had too much dramatic insight. His treatment of other important art-forms is illustrated in the articles on Contrapuntal Forms; Concerto and Instrumentation. Here we may attempt to illustrate his methods by such forms and characteristics as cannot be classified under those headings.

1. The toccatas of Buxtehude and his predecessors show how Illustrations of Bach's method. an effective musical scheme may be suggested by running over the keyboard of an organ as if to try (toccare) the touch, then bursting out into sustained and full harmony, and at last settling down to a fugue. But before Bach no one seemed able to keep the fugue in motion long enough to make a convincing climax. Very soon it collapsed and the process of quasi-extemporization began again, to culminate in a new fugue which often gave the whole work a happy but deceptive suggestion of organic unity by being founded on an ingenious variation of the subject of the first fugue. But in Bach's hands the toccata becomes one of the noblest and most plastic of forms. The introductory runs may be disjointed and exaggerated to grotesqueness, until the gaps between them gradually fill out, and they build themselves up into grand piles of musical architecture, as in the organ toccata in C; or they may be worked out on an enormous scale in long and smooth canonic passages with a definite theme, as in the greatest of all toccatas, that in F for organ, which is most artistically followed by a fugue unusually quiet for its size. In one instance, the toccata at the beginning of the E minor clavier-partita, the introductory runs, though retaining much of the extempore character from which the form derives its name, take shape in a highly organized and rounded-off group of contrasted themes. The fugue follows without change of time, and is developed in so leisurely a manner that it is fully as long as a normal fugue on a large scale by the time it reaches what sounds like its central episode. At this point some of the introductory matter quietly enters, and leads to a recapitulation of the whole introduction in the key now reached. The obvious sequel would be a counter-development of the fugue, at least as long as what has gone before, as in the clavier-toccata in C minor; but Bach does not choose to weary the hearer and weaken the impression of breadth he has already made here. Instead, he expands this restatement of the introduction, and makes its harmonies deliberately return to the fundamental key, and thus in an astonishingly short time the toccata is brought to a close with the utmost effect of climax and finality. The same grasp of all the possible meanings of an artistic device shows itself in his treatment of the other features of toccata form. With his variety of proportion and flow he has no need to break off the fugue like earlier composers: but all the old devices by which the division into sections was managed are turned to account by him, and almost every toccata has its own scheme of contrasted movements, always based on the old natural idea of the growth of an organized music from a chaos of extemporization.

If this is Bach's treatment of a comparatively small and specialized art-form, it is obviously impossible to reduce the scantiest account of the rest of his work into practical limits here, nor is there as yet a sufficient body of accepted criticism of Bach for such an account to carry further conviction than an expression of individual opinion. Fortunately, however, Bach was constantly re-arranging his own compositions; indeed he evidently regards adaptability to fresh environment as the test of his finest work: and we cannot do better than review the evidence thus given to us,—evidence which only Beethoven's sketch-books surpass in significance.

2. The successful transplanting of a work of art to a fresh environment is obviously a convincing test of our definitions of the art-forms concerned, if only we take care to distinguish between the alterations produced by the change of environment and those that imply the composer's dissatisfaction with the original version. In Bach's case this seldom causes much difficulty; his methods of adaptation are so logical and so varied as to form a scheme of musical morphology with all the interest and none of the imperfections of the geological record; and the few cases in which a work owes its changes to the need for improvement as well as adaptation cause no confusion, but rather form a link between the pure adaptations and the numerous revisions of his favourite works without change of medium. There is, for example, no difficulty in separating the element of corrective criticism from that of the impulse to give an already successful composition a larger or more permanent form, in such cases as the transformations undergone by the movements of the birthday cantata, Was mir behagt ist nur die muntre Jagd, during their distribution among the church cantatas, Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt and Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg. The fine bass aria, “Ein Fürst ist seines Landes Pan,” was obviously ill-proportioned, with its breakneck return to the tonic and its perfunctory close; and Bach's chief concern in adapting it for its place as the aria, “Du bist geboren mir zu Gute,” in Also hat Gott, was to remedy this defect. On the other hand, the use of the delightful ritornello for violoncello from the little aria, “Weil die wollenreichen Heerden,” in the birthday cantata, and the restoration of the rejected long instrumental fugato that was to follow, were obviously brought about by the conception of the entirely new material for the voice in the famous aria, “Mein gläubiges Herze.” And when the last chorus of Was mir behagt became the first chorus of Man singet mit Freuden, it was expanded to the proportions necessary for a triumphant opening (as distinguished from a cheerful finale) by the adroit insertion of new material between every joint in the design. This material, being new, could not produce the effect of diffuseness that would result from the expansion of the old material already complete in its simplest form, and thus this instance does not imply criticism.

A highly interesting example of pure self-criticism is the Passion according to St John, which was twice revised, and each time reduced to a smaller scale by the omission of some of its finest numbers. The final result was a work of perfect proportions, and of the rejected numbers one (a magnificent aria with chorale) remained unused, two were replaced by finer substitutes, others took shape as one of the most complete and remarkable of the church cantatas, Du wahrer Gott, while the greatest of the figured chorales was transferred to the Passion according to St Matthew, of which it now crowns the first part.

3. Such instances of self-criticism might be paralleled in the works of other composers; but there is no parallel in music to Bach's power of reproducing already perfect works in different media. Here Bach reveals to us identities in difference which we should otherwise never have suspected. Of course it is possible to arrange works in different ways without illustrating any profound identities at all. Handel, for instance, collected several of his favourite choruses in an enormous instrumental concerto (see vol. 46 of the Händel-Gesellschaft), and the result in the case of a chorus like “Lift up your Heads” was ridiculous. Bach, however, does not arrange old work merely to please a court where it was already admired. He never leaves it in a state of mere make-shift, though he cannot always attain his evident aim of a new originality. His methods of orchestration and the profoundly significant identity of certain forms of chorus with certain concerto forms may better be described under their proper headings (see articles Instrumentation and Concerto). Here we will attempt first to show, by illustrations of Bach's power of adding parts to already complete harmonic and contrapuntal schemes, what was his conception of the nature of an art-form, and secondly, by means of a short analysis of cases in which he adapts the same music to different words, to define his range of expression.

Bach arranged all his violin concertos for clavier, including two that are lost in the original version. Here his power of providing new and apparently necessary material for the left hand of the cembalist (or, in the double concertos, two left