Ghosts from the past

I have a large library of musical scores, thanks in part to the foresight and generosity of my parents during my teens, and after that to the foresight and generosity of Visa and MasterCard. Now that so many useful scores (and quite a lot of useless ones, too) are available as free downloads from the International Music Score Library Project, many musicians’ libraries are chiefly composed of pieces of 8.5 x 11 photocopy paper. Leaving aside the issue of how important it is to use good scholarly editions, one of the problems with this is that regular paper degrades far faster than the high-quality paper used by music publishers, but what does it matter, as long as we can continue to replace it with another print-out?

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Not written by Mrs. Bach

Since my last post about the British-Australian professor Martin Jarvis’ claims that Bach’s cello suites might have been the work of Anna Magdalena Bach, I’ve done a bit of reading on the subject. I came to the conclusion that Jarvis’ ideas, though provocative, didn’t seem to have taken into account a tremendous amount of existing Bach scholarship, including forensic analysis, by leading academics. So it was interesting to read this well-reasoned rebuttal of Jarvis’ thesis by Tim Cavanaugh in The National Review. One of his interviewees, the distinguished Bach expert Christian Wolff, observes “There is not a shred of evidence, but Jarvis doesn’t give up despite the fact that several years ago, at a Bach conference in Oxford, a room full of serious Bach scholars gave him an embarrassing showdown.” (I don’t know about you, but I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall at this event.)

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