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#3071304 01/19/21 04:32 AM
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Can anyone recommend a good edition of piano transcription of Bach's Chorales ? I know the Bach Busoni is supposedly very good but I am not sure I'd be up to that. My level is intermediate, I am working through the French suites at this time. Any recommendation would be appreciated.

Thanks you so much.

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I assume you are talking about the organ chorale ? Busoni is the version i have used.

There also plenty of vocal chorale harmonized in 4 voices which one can play on the piano.

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Some of the Busoni are very difficult but others are much easier and definitely doable if you are playing the French Suites.

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If you are playing any of the full French Suites, as opposed to selections from them, you are far beyond intermediate. Another collection you could look through, again with pieces of varying difficulty is the Bach Book for Harriet Cohen, probably available on IMSLP. This contains transcriptions by many different composers so googling it is probably easier than searching on IMSLP. If you look at the Bach-hyphenated thread on the Pianophilia site you will see some more transcriptions of Bach.

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I guess you mean Chorale Preludes, not chorales. A chorale prelude is a particular form Bach utilized which is for organ and consists of the tune of a chorale played above a rather elaborate keyboard accompaniment that can be improvisatory in nature, often polyphonic, outlining some advanced harmonies, etc. A chorale on the other hand is most often a four-part arrangement for a SATB choir (or four performers) of a hymn tune.

That being said, there are some arrangements of chorales too. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring comes to my mind and by searching on the Internet (not sure if IMSLP has those though) you can find various arrangements, and I've seen some that are on a very easy level, although the one from Myra Hess is kind of an established "standard" and IMO is not very difficult.


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You might want to try this one, though I have no idea how difficult they are:

https://www.amazon.com/Bach-Chorale-Preludes-Transcribed-M-Henderson/dp/B000VUCITU


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Thanks all for the suggestions. Yes I do play French suite # 3 and 4 top to bottom, although some of the fast gigues or courante kind of have to slow them down a bit.

Right, I did not think about the Chorale Prelude vs Chorale thing. I guess I meant chorales as in 4 parts SATB arranged for piano. Although I understand many of the chorales prelude are based on Chorales, say Wachet auf as an example. BTW which comes first ?

I don't know that an organ prelude can be effectively transcribed for piano but what do I know ? Such are the Busoni ones right ?

In any case I wanted to get my hands wet on some pure Bach harmony . . .

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Originally Posted by bennevis
You might want to try this one, though I have no idea how difficult they are:

https://www.amazon.com/Bach-Chorale-Preludes-Transcribed-M-Henderson/dp/B000VUCITU
Just discovered that it's free on IMSLP:

https://ks4.imslp.net/files/imglnks/usimg/9/95/IMSLP388998-PMLP629476-Henderson,_Archibald_Martin_-_1879-18-12-1957_-_Arrangement_-_Bach_-_8_Organ_Chorale-Preludes_KML.pdf

Liebster Jesu and Wachet auf looks easy enough for intermediates.


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Originally Posted by marklings
I meant chorales as in 4 parts SATB arranged for piano. Although I understand many of the chorales prelude are based on Chorales, say Wachet auf as an example. BTW which comes first ?

I don't know that an organ prelude can be effectively transcribed for piano but what do I know ? Such are the Busoni ones right ?

In any case I wanted to get my hands wet on some pure Bach harmony . . .
Most of the piano transcriptions by various people of Bach's organ Chorale Preludes don't deviate from Bach's original harmony.

If you just want to play Bach chorales in SATB form, you can easily download them from IMSLP or buy the book of all of them. All you need to do is transpose some notes up an octave if you can't stretch to some of the low bass notes.

The organ chorale preludes of course are based on chorales, some of which are Bach's originals, others not (though he did (re-)harmonize them himself).


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Originally Posted by marklings
Right, I did not think about the Chorale Prelude vs Chorale thing. I guess I meant chorales as in 4 parts SATB arranged for piano. Although I understand many of the chorales prelude are based on Chorales, say Wachet auf as an example. BTW which comes first ?

I don't know that an organ prelude can be effectively transcribed for piano but what do I know ? Such are the Busoni ones right ?

You can play the satb chorales directly on the piano, except maybe some occasional fingering issues which are not too difficult to solve and you can find them on imslp. Wachet auf as is initially a cantata which has been then arranged by Bach for the organ and by Busoni for the piano. Which come first , i dont get your question. The chorale is a melody with text which already exist. They can be harmonized in various ways, in satb form or for keyboard.

Why would it be not possible to arrange an organ prelude for the piano ? Busoni did quite a few.

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Do you mean this? https://www.amazon.co.uk/Harmonized-Chorales-Johann-Sebastian-Bach/dp/0793525748 Every student of Bach should have one. It's known as the Riemenschneider.

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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Do you mean this? https://www.amazon.co.uk/Harmonized-Chorales-Johann-Sebastian-Bach/dp/0793525748 Every student of Bach should have one. It's known as the Riemenschneider.

It is the same as the breitkopf given by Carey, revised by another editor. The 371chorales are based on CPE Bach manuscript. There are other editors as well.

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Exactly what I was looking for !
Tx a lot !
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The Riemenschneider can teach any young composer how to write for orchestra. The three major sections of an orchestra are WW's (four part) Brass (four part) and strings (four part) Learn the Bach chorales and you'll have a head-start writing for orchestra.


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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Do you mean this? https://www.amazon.co.uk/Harmonized-Chorales-Johann-Sebastian-Bach/dp/0793525748 Every student of Bach should have one. It's known as the Riemenschneider.

It is the same as the breitkopf given by Carey, revised by another editor. The 371chorales are based on CPE Bach manuscript. There are other editors as well.
The Riemenschneider also has 69 2 part chorales with figured bass which you don't get with carey's link. A great learning tool.

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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
The Riemenschneider also has 69 2 part chorales with figured bass which you don't get with carey's link. A great learning tool.

Yes it is a good tool. You can find those melodies also in other publications like this one on imslp with the text as well,

https://imslp.org/wiki/Special:ImagefromIndex/04156/sevqs

That said, one has to know how to read the figured bass and know thoroughbass and counterpoint to actually realize the bass line.

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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
The Riemenschneider also has 69 2 part chorales with figured bass which you don't get with carey's link. A great learning tool.

Yes it is a good tool. You can find those melodies also in other publications like this one on imslp with the text as well,

https://imslp.org/wiki/Special:ImagefromIndex/04156/sevqs

That said, one has to know how to read the figured bass and know thoroughbass and counterpoint to actually realize the bass line.
Thorough bass is figured bass. Also, you don't need to know counterpoint you can just realize them as chords. Often the Baroque keyboard player would only use a 3 part texture. The figures in the 69 chorales are not simple beginner ones though.

Sidokar, your link doesn't work.

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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Thorough bass is figured bass. Also, you don't need to know counterpoint you can just realize them as chords. Often the Baroque keyboard player would only use a 3 part texture. The figures in the 69 chorales are not simple beginner ones though.

Sidokar, your link doesn't work.

Not exactly. Thoroughbass, also called basso continuo is a bass part accompanying a piece of music. Figured bass is a method of indicated the bass part with numbers giving the intervals to be played. The thoroughbass can be notated as figured or unfigured.

The chords played in the thoroughbass, if one wants to stay within the baroque style, still need to respect the counterpoint rules, like avoiding parallel fifth or octaves, and so on... there are also different typical sequences of chords and resolutions which were taught to students. The texture of the chords can vary, added dissonance or full chords played both hands are usual, it all depends on the melody, the style, the mood of the piece and the context. Playing the bass line with a small ensemble implies some adjustments vs playing it with a singer.

People interested can read different texts like Heinichen, CPE. Bach, ..

You can use this link and take the edition of Wullner.
https://imslp.org/wiki/Songs_and_Arias,_BWV_439-518_(Bach,_Johann_Sebastian)

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