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Picture of Rethinking J.S. Bach’s Musical Offering

Rethinking J.S. Bach’s Musical Offering

Author(s): Anatoly Milka

Book Description

J.S. Bach’s Musical Offering is a broadly known and extensively studied collection of musical pieces, written in 1747 shortly after his visit to the Potsdam court of Frederick the Great. The composition, however, survived in separated sheets of different formats, and finding the logic of its organization into a cycle became a great challenge for scholars of the following centuries.

Based on ground-breaking findings by Christoph Wolff, who revealed the main principles of the Musical Offering’s structure, as well as those promulgated by Hans Theodor David, and more recently by G. Butler, W. Wiemer, R. Tatlow, and many other scholars, this book develops and revises their ideas, arriving at a unique conception of the possible original structure of the Musical Offering. While the rods of the collection do not provoke disagreements among scholars, the ordering of the ten canons (including the Fuga canonica) remains mysterious in many aspects, and this text gives them a close examination. It considers their kinds (thematic and contrapuntal); textual inscriptions; the canons’ function within the cycle (as vignettes to the main pieces); and their location, among other aspects.

The volume includes profuse references to historical and cultural context; court etiquette; contrapuntal techniques; the history of the ricercar; expertise in Bach’s handwriting and habits of music layout in his manuscripts; and the Baroque principles of organization in arts.


ISBN-13: 978-1-5275-3706-4
ISBN-10: 1-5275-3706-4
Date of Publication: 01/10/2019
Pages / Size: 238 / A5
Price: £61.99


Dr Anatoly Milka is a Professor of Musicology at the St Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory and the St Petersburg State University, Russia. He is the author of Rethinking J.S. Bach’s The Art of Fugue (2016), as well as articles in the Bach-Jahrbuch and other journals. His publications in Russian include Theoretical Foundations of Functionality in Music (1982); Bach’s Musical Offering: Toward Reconstruction and Interpretation (1999); Intriguing Bachiana (with Tatiana Shabalina, 1997; 2001); a facsimile edition of L’A.B.C. Musical by Gottfried Kirchhoff (2004); Bach’s The Art of Fugue: Toward Reconstruction and Interpretation (2009); and Polyphony: A Textbook for Musical Academies (2016).

Dr Marina Ritzarev is a Professor of Musicology (Emerita) at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. She is the author of Eighteenth-Century Russian Music (2006) and Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pathétique’ and Russian Culture (2014), as well as several books in Russian, including monographs on Maxim Berezovsky (1983; 2013) and Dmirty Bortniansky (1979; 2015). She is a translator of Anatoly Milka’s Rethinking J.S. Bach’s The Art of Fugue (2016).