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Bach Books



The Organs of J. S. Bach: A Handbook




J.S. Bach Works:

BWV 525-771


Christoph Wolff & Markus Zepf
English translation: Lynn Edwards Butler




1st Edition: April 2, 2012




240 pages




University of Illinois Press


ISBN-10: 0252078454
ISBN-13: 978-0252078453


The Organs of J. S. Bach is a comprehensive handbook to the organs encountered by Bach, whether as organist, concert artist, examiner, teacher, or visitor. Newly revised and updated, the book's entries are listed alphabetically by geographical location, from Arnstadt to Zschortau, and provide an easy-to-reference overview. Detailed information for each organ includes high quality photographs, the organ's history and its connection to Bach, its disposition as Bach would have known it, the architectural history of the church housing the instrument, and an identification of the church's organists. Lynn Edwards Butler's translation of Christoph Wolff and Markus Zepf's volume incorporates new research and many corrections and updates to the original German edition. Bibliographical references have been updated to include English-language sources, and the translation includes a new essay by Christoph Wolff on Bach as organist, organ composer, and organ expert. The volume also includes maps, a timeline of organ-related events, transcriptions of Bach's organ reports, a guide to examining organs attributed to Saxony's most famous organ builder Gottfried Silbermann, and biographical information on organ builders. The Organs of J. S. Bach will be an invaluable pocket reference for everyone who loves Bach's organ music.


See: Review by Thomas Braatz

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Contributor: Aryeh Oron (August 2012)

Book Review: Bach's Organs

Aryeh Oron wrote (April 30, 2012):
Thomas Braatz contributed an article about the book:
The Organs of J. S. Bach: A Handbook, Christoph Wolff & Markus Zepf (University of Illinois Press, 2012)

Linked from:

Thomas Braatz wrote:
Recently there have been a few questions about this book which has just been issued. Perhaps my review will answer a few of the questions that potential readers might have in mind.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 30, 2012):
[To Aryeh Oron] Got it. Thanks.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 30, 2012):
[To Douglas Cowling] See in particular the concluding paragraph of Thomas Braatz review, which indicates that Wolff does not address in any detail the issue we frequently discuss, re organ accompaniment for cantata arias and recitatives.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 30, 2012):
[To Ed Myskowski] Thomas notes that the study focusses on the large instruments, but does not examine the possibility of smaller portative organs in the school and choir loft.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 1, 2012):
[To Douglas Cowling] This morning, I inteneded to cite the paragraph in question, which is brief, but I was unable to do a *cut and paste*, and I am still unable to do so conveniently. The key point is that the Wolff text is not likely to be the final word, or even to add much, to the ongoing and important discussion of organ continuo accompaniement.

One detail which occurs to me in the interim is the question of manpower for organ operation, which was certainly an important consideration in the 18th C, although no longer so 300 years later. Perhaps portative organs were available primarily as back-up, rather than as an alternative for esthetic reasons?

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