Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: The Complete Works is an editorial and publishing project of the Packard Humanities Institute, in cooperation with the Bach-Archiv Leipzig, the Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, and Harvard University. Its goal is to make available, in both printed and digital formats, a critical edition of the composer’s works.

The edition is organized into eight series:

I. Keyboard Music
II. Chamber Music
III. Orchestral Music
IV. Oratorios and Passions
V. Choral Music
VI. Songs and Vocal Chamber Music
VII. Theoretical Writings
VIII. Supplement

It contains all authentic works by C.P.E. Bach that are known to survive, as well as selected works of uncertain authenticity (incerta); demonstrably spurious works are omitted. Ordinarily, the edition considers the latest known authorized version of a work to be the principal one. Authentic alternate versions of works or movements are printed in full whenever Bach significantly changed the musical substance. Less extensive variants in pitch, rhythm, and duration, as well as substantive variants in articulation, ornamentation, dynamics, tempi, and other details of notation (such as slurring) are described in the critical report. Sketches are printed along with the works to which they are related.

Like most of his contemporaries, Bach arranged and reused existing music for new purposes. Movements originally written for solo keyboard, for example, served as the basis for some of his sonatinas for keyboard and orchestra. Bach arranged much of his chamber music for different scorings, and he wrote alternate solo parts for several of his concertos. In the Hamburg vocal music, he frequently borrowed movements from himself and other composers to produce new works. The present edition treats Bach’s arrangements in the same manner as his wholly original works, publishing the arrangements in the series corresponding to their instrumentation and genre.

Each volume contains a critical report that includes a description and evaluation of all sources used for the edition, as well as shorter descriptions and evaluations of other sources known to date from the eighteenth century but not used for the edition. The critical report also includes a commentary that describes variant readings in the principal sources, as well as editorial emendations.

Although C.P.E. Bach’s notation is basically modern, some aspects of it do not conform to modern engraving standards. The notation of the present edition reflects modern convention while respecting some of the idiosyncratic elements of the original. Generic titles are usually modernized, and spellings found in the sources are described in the critical report. Titles that can be shown to derive directly from Bach are given as they appear in the principal sources. Clefs are modernized and standardized, as are instrument names, dynamic and tempo markings, and the notation of triplets and similar groupings. Accidentals are adapted to modern convention; any departures are explained in the volume in which they occur. Colla parte and other shorthand notations used in the eighteenth century have generally been realized. Beaming and stem direction are standardized according to modern convention, except where the original notation may have a bearing on performance; such cases are discussed in the introduction or critical report. Slurring, the placement of dynamic markings, and the notation of articulation are faithful to the principal sources.

The edition is conservative in its approach to emendation. Within the main musical text of the edition, emendations are distinguished according to the following general principles:

  • Headings, movement numbers, tempo indications, dynamic markings, trills, and other literal directives that appear in the principal sources are given in roman type. Editorial emendations to such markings are given in italics.
  • Pitches, accidentals, rests, fermatas, and ornament signs that appear in the principal sources are printed full size, as are cautionary accidentals. Editorial emendations are given in smaller type.
  • Editorial slurs and ties are given as dashed lines.
  • Emendations to other articulation marks, as well as to clefs, appoggiaturas, and accidentals in appoggiaturas, are not distinguished typographically in the body of the edition, but are described in the critical report.

Alfred Wotquenne’s Thematisches Verzeichnis der Werke von Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1905) has long been the standard catalogue of Bach’s works, and the present edition employs Wotquenne numbers, abbreviated “Wq,” for primary references to Bach’s works. Because many Wotquenne numbers refer to larger groups of independent works, the edition follows conventional practice in appending an additional number to Wotquenne’s original one in order to identify a particular work within the group. (Thus, for example, “Wq 116/12” points to the twelfth independent work listed under Wq 116.) Works not in Wotquenne are referred to by their numbers in E. Eugene Helm’s Thematic Catalogue of the Works of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1989), abbreviated “H.” Works not in Wotquenne or Helm are referred to by their numbers in the Bach Repertorium catalogue Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke (2014–), abbreviated “BR-CPEB.” Whenever appropriate, volumes include concordances of all principal catalogue numbers.

Finally, we want to recognize and thank the institutions, librarians, and individuals whose support has been essential in undertaking a complete works edition for the music of C.P.E. Bach: Helmut Hell and the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin—Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Musikabteilung mit Mendelssohn-Archiv; Johan Eeckeloo and the Koninklijk Conservatorium, Brussels; Jon Newsom and the Library of Congress, Music Division, Washington, D.C.; Otto Biba and the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Vienna; Georg Graf zu Castell-Castell and the board of directors of the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin; and Elias N. Kulukundis, Greenwich, Connecticut.

The Editorial Board