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Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
#2949807 02/21/20 01:04 PM
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I'm a student who will just begin to study the Well-Tempered Clavier Part I. I did some research on the best editions available, and I've narrowed down my choice to these two editions:

The henle revised edition with fingering by Andras Schiff (does anyone know the publication date):

https://www.henle.de/en/detail/?Title=The+Well-Tempered+Clavier+Part+I+BWV+846-869_14


The Tovey Edition:
https://www.amazon.com/Well-Tempere...ed+clavier&qid=1582303512&sr=8-2

I would appreciate some help with choosing the best one.

Thank you.

Last edited by pianostudent94; 02/21/20 01:09 PM.
Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
pianostudent94 #2949836 02/21/20 02:24 PM
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First, the Tovey edition of the WTC (Dover reprint) has a copyright date of 1924. Whether that makes any difference to your sense of modern scholarship is up to you to decide. The commentaries are always interesting. I have the original and it seems to be close to Urtext in that there seems to be little editing, although there is some fingering. Tovey does add (in square brackets) tempo indications which are not given by Bach, and, following those, might give a different sense to the music than what one might have without those indications.

I have always been very hesitant about Dover editions for the fact that because of the way they are bound those that I have will not stay open on the music stand. Because they are reprints, many Dover editions use very outdated editions and the print is often somewhat difficult to read. I don't think that that is the case with the Tovey and, of course the Tovey original is out of print. In that sense, Dover does offer a valuable service. That said, because I have not bought any Dover recently, primarily because of that, their newer editions may now avoid that problem. I cannot comment, either, on the quality of print or paper in the new Dover editions; perhaps someone else will.

I have always been a staunch fan and admirer of the Henle product. It is always beautifully printed on off-white paper; it is well-bound and it stays open on the music stand without having to fight with it - a large plus in my book. My Henle copy of the WTC is an older edition, edited by Otto von Irmer with fingering by Walther Lampe. I cannot comment, specifically, on the new edition.

If price is a consideration, then buy the Tovey in the Dover reprint.

But if we're talking about "best" editions (what is "best"?) there are other editions, too: Peters, Bärenreiter, Vienna Urtext, etc.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
BruceD #2949849 02/21/20 02:57 PM
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Thank you very much for your response.

I hadn't realized the publication date of the Tovey edition is actually 1929, and that 2014 is just the reprint date. The "newer 2014 publication date" was one of the reasons I was leaning more towards the Tovey edition.

I think I will go with the Henle edition.

Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
BruceD #2949855 02/21/20 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
First, the Tovey edition of the WTC (Dover reprint) has a copyright date of 1924. Whether that makes any difference to your sense of modern scholarship is up to you to decide. The commentaries are always interesting. I have the original and it seems to be close to Urtext in that there seems to be little editing, although there is some fingering. Tovey does add (in square brackets) tempo indications which are not given by Bach, and, following those, might give a different sense to the music than what one might have without those indications.

I have always been very hesitant about Dover editions for the fact that because of the way they are bound those that I have will not stay open on the music stand. Because they are reprints, many Dover editions use very outdated editions and the print is often somewhat difficult to read. I don't think that that is the case with the Tovey and, of course the Tovey original is out of print. In that sense, Dover does offer a valuable service. That said, because I have not bought any Dover recently, primarily because of that, their newer editions may now avoid that problem. I cannot comment, either, on the quality of print or paper in the new Dover editions; perhaps someone else will.

I have always been a staunch fan and admirer of the Henle product. It is always beautifully printed on off-white paper; it is well-bound and it stays open on the music stand without having to fight with it - a large plus in my book. My Henle copy of the WTC is an older edition, edited by Otto von Irmer with fingering by Walther Lampe. I cannot comment, specifically, on the new edition.

If price is a consideration, then buy the Tovey in the Dover reprint.

But if we're talking about "best" editions (what is "best"?) there are other editions, too: Peters, Bärenreiter, Vienna Urtext, etc.

Regards,


For the Tovey edition from Dover, which I own, just take it to Staples or OfficeMax and have them cut off the perfect binding and put in a spiral plastic binding. The cost is about $5, and it is well worth it to not have to fight with it on the music stand.


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Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
pianostudent94 #2949866 02/21/20 04:03 PM
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I use the Busoni edition from IMSLP.

True story: I walked into my first lesson with my Professor, all proud of my fancy clothbound Henle Urtext edition of the WTC. We started the lesson. About ten minutes into it, the Professor said, and I quote exactly: "This is bad edition." I asked her which edition she would recommend, and she immediately said, "Busoni."

My lovely clothbound Henle WTC now sits and gathers dust, while I work from bound printouts of the Busoni edition. (We ignore the pedal markings.)

The Professor is a retired department chair of piano performance from a Soviet conservatory.


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Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
Dr. Rogers #2949875 02/21/20 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
True story: I walked into my first lesson with my Professor, all proud of my fancy clothbound Henle Urtext edition of the WTC. We started the lesson. About ten minutes into it, the Professor said, and I quote exactly: "This is bad edition." I asked her which edition she would recommend, and she immediately said, "Busoni."

While I don't really like the old Henle edition of the WTC, I must say it's leaps and bounds better than the Busoni. Yikes. What is your professor's justification for using such a deplorable edition? It's just one step better than the Czerny edition.


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Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
pianostudent94 #2949880 02/21/20 04:43 PM
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There was a time when the Busoni edition of Bach was strictly forbidden for use by examination students of the RCM (Toronto). It is heavily edited and Busoni adds post-Romantic "improvements" to what Bach wrote. Look at what he does to measures 11 and 12 of Prelude 21 from Book I:

[Linked Image]

Bach didn't "double" the descending passage in those measures. There are other instances where Busoni adds dubious editorial comments, doubles the bass line and adds notes that Bach never wrote. In his defense - if, in our time, one can defend Busoni - he was adding what many pianists may have done to Bach in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This sort of embellishment of the text is seriously frowned on today.

I have difficulty imagining that any teacher in our day with good credentials would recommend Busoni other than as a curiosity of what liberties were taken by previous generations of pianists.

Regards,


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Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
pianostudent94 #2949903 02/21/20 05:47 PM
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In some of the Fugues in the Busoni edition of the WTC, Busoni prints the score on three staves. This certainly facilitates reading of the score and it helps sort out the various voices as they play against each other. This could be considered a decided advantage in some instances over the traditional printing of these particular passages.

Regards,


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Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
pianostudent94 #2949913 02/21/20 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by pianostudent94
I'm a student who will just begin to study the Well-Tempered Clavier Part I. I did some research on the best editions available, and I've narrowed down my choice to these two editions:

The henle revised edition with fingering by Andras Schiff (does anyone know the publication date):

https://www.henle.de/en/detail/?Title=The+Well-Tempered+Clavier+Part+I+BWV+846-869_14


The Tovey Edition:
https://www.amazon.com/Well-Tempere...ed+clavier&qid=1582303512&sr=8-2

I would appreciate some help with choosing the best one.

Thank you.



I have the Henle editions among several editions. It is an urtext edition (with fingering) with the benefits and the disadvantages of the urtext. I have nothing to add about the Tovey. THE ABRSM edition by Richard Jones has the original comments of Tovey in appendix with some indications on how to play the ornaments which can be usefull. The print is fine, not quite as luxury as the Henle but quite good. The other reference edition is the Barenreiter.

Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
BruceD #2949916 02/21/20 06:48 PM
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The Busoni edition is far superior to the Czerny as Busoni was a great musician. His edition is dated and it is not an uxtext by our modern standards. Musicology has made a lof of progress and our versions are more accurate. Many errors in old editions have been corrected. That said in the example of prelude 21, Busoni printed the additions in small characters showing that it is an editorial addition. Busoni was a fine musician and his comments should always at least be seriously considered.

His editions has errors but the additions are marked in small characters, most of the time. Busoni was not trying to make an urtext but to present his view of these pieces. Obviously his view is dated and it is his personal view, but nowadays there are just as many different interpretations of Bach as there are pianists. Gould took also a lot of liberties with the text. If you take a simple piece like invention 1, there are completely opposite versions out there, in style, tempo, accentuation, .... so assuming one of them is pretty close to what Bach intended, all the others must be completely wrong. I think Busoni version and comments are much more reasonable than many pro interpretations.

I certainly recommend to everybody to look at Busoni comments as they always are fine musical suggestions, and then reject them if they think it is not how they want to play Bach. I am not saying his edition is the best one as it is an old edition but it is worth looking at.

Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
pianostudent94 #2949919 02/21/20 06:58 PM
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The Bärenreiter "Urtext" edition. Figure out your own fingerings.

Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
rmns2bseen #2949938 02/21/20 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by rmns2bseen
The Bärenreiter "Urtext" edition. Figure out your own fingerings.
I think that good fingerings are, by far, the most valuable part of any good edition.

Unless one is a great pianist like Schiff and plays a lot of Bach figuring out good fingerings can be a Herculean task in Bach and discourage learning this repertoire. Even if one figures out reasonable fingerings there is a good chance that a good edition will include fingerings superior to those most pianists can figure out. Many of these pieces are suitable only for advanced pianists but despite this most/many of the editions include fingerings. To me, this indicates fingerings are generally valuable even for advanced pianists.

Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
pianostudent94 #2949953 02/21/20 09:28 PM
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I would suggest getting a very clean urtext edition (hopefully without any fingerings) and work out the fingerings on your own. Learn the piece thoroughly on your own. Then, after all that, consult the older editions for ideas about phrasing, dynamics, fingering, etc. And maybe one of those editorial additions (like slurs) might be insightful.

Though I'm pretty much a Bach purist, I actually don't mind some of the octave additions in the bass. My main problem with the older editions is that sometimes I can't tell what's been added--for example, the infamous "extra notes" that Czerny added.


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Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
AZNpiano #2949956 02/21/20 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I would suggest getting a very clean urtext edition (hopefully without any fingerings) and work out the fingerings on your own. Learn the piece thoroughly on your own. Then, after all that, consult the older editions for ideas about phrasing, dynamics, fingering, etc. And maybe one of those editorial additions (like slurs) might be insightful.

I agree. There's a reason Bach didn't include them. They were written for people aspiring to be musicians, not playback machines.

That said, I do have a fondness for the old Czerny edition, quirky though it may be. Maybe it's nostalgia.

Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
rmns2bseen #2949959 02/21/20 09:58 PM
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Originally Posted by rmns2bseen
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I would suggest getting a very clean urtext edition (hopefully without any fingerings) and work out the fingerings on your own. Learn the piece thoroughly on your own. Then, after all that, consult the older editions for ideas about phrasing, dynamics, fingering, etc. And maybe one of those editorial additions (like slurs) might be insightful.

I agree. There's a reason Bach didn't include them. They were written for people aspiring to be musicians, not playback machines.
I think the idea that those who use fingered editions for these or any other pieces are "playback machines" is completely wrong. Editions of these pieces and most of the most advanced works in the piano literature often included fingerings.The ability to find one's own fingerings is not what makes one a good musician.

Did Bach include fingering for any of his pieces including the easiest like the Notebook for Anna Magdalena or Inventions? I don't think so, and that would mean your reasoning about why Bach didn't include fingerings is incorrect.

If using a fingered edition is not appropriate why do so many editions of this work, which often requires an advanced level of pianistic skill, include fingerings? I think not using a fingered edition would discourage a lot of amateurs from playing much Bach.

Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
pianoloverus #2949966 02/21/20 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus


Did Bach include fingering for any of his pieces including the easiest like the Notebook for Anna Magdalena or Inventions? I don't think so, and that would mean your reasoning about why Bach didn't include fingerings is incorrect.



Actually, he did. BWV 994 and (I think) BWV 930 in the "Clavier-Büchlein" for his son Wilhelm Friedemann.

Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
rmns2bseen #2949972 02/21/20 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by rmns2bseen
Originally Posted by pianoloverus


Did Bach include fingering for any of his pieces including the easiest like the Notebook for Anna Magdalena or Inventions? I don't think so, and that would mean your reasoning about why Bach didn't include fingerings is incorrect.
Actually, he did. BWV 994 and (I think) BWV 930 in the "Clavier-Büchlein" for his son Wilhelm Friedemann.
How about the easy pieces I mentioned? If just those two one page pieces had fingerings by Bach that would still leave 95+% of his easy pieces without fingerings.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 02/21/20 10:45 PM.
Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
pianostudent94 #2949974 02/21/20 10:54 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
How about the easy pieces I mentioned? If just those two one page pieces had fingerings by Bach that would still leave 95+% of his easy pieces without fingerings.
Why did he include them in the very easy pieces I pointed out? Along with the well-known written out explication of ornaments. Maybe he thought that by the time a student could play the Inventions well enough they would've been able to come up with the best fingerings on their own.

Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
pianoloverus #2949975 02/21/20 10:56 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think the idea that those who use fingered editions for these or any other pieces are "playback machines" is completely wrong. Editions of these pieces and most of the most advanced works in the piano literature often included fingerings.The ability to find one's own fingerings is not what makes one a good musician.

It might not be the only or limiting factor, but a good musician should CERTAINLY be able to find good fingerings to use that is specific to his or her hands. The problem with so many editions is that they relegate the fingering job to some third-rate hacks who wrote some fingerings that are completely illogical. My students and I have a very fun time mocking those fingerings.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
If using a fingered edition is not appropriate why do so many editions of this work, which often requires an advanced level of pianistic skill, include fingerings? I think not using a fingered edition would discourage a lot of amateurs from playing much Bach.

I have not seen the fingerings done by Andras Schiff, and it would be interesting to see what he wrote down, since he is certainly an expert. But I would still insist that any student working on the WTC to get an un-fingered edition and work out their own fingering. It is a VERY important skill.


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Re: Best edition of The Well-Tempered Clav
pianostudent94 #2949980 02/21/20 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

I have not seen the fingerings done by Andras Schiff, and it would be interesting to see what he wrote down, since he is certainly an expert. But I would still insist that any student working on the WTC to get an un-fingered edition and work out their own fingering. It is a VERY important skill.
Yeah, and also I don't have András Schiff's hands, or Busoni's or Czerny's. Their insight is interesting -- especially with that tricky first fugue from WTC II -- but I usually leave it more often than I take it.

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