Accident or Design? New Theories on the unfinished Contrapunctus 14 in JS Bach's The Art of Fugue BWV 1080
Divided into two parts, the thesis first considers some of the evidence contained within the manuscript itself, up to and including the final written bar, and then in the second part goes on to consider two essential aspects of the completion.
By way of introduction, the first chapter surveys the controversial area of Bach’s use of numbers in his music and draws attention to the number of the final bar, which can be interpreted as a clue to the fact that Bach expects the music to be continued.
Chapter Two invites a reconsideration of Christoph Wolff’s famous “Fragment X” theory, which suggests that the continuation of the final fugue was written on a separate, now lost, piece of paper. Many inconsistencies and details in the manuscript suggest strongly that Wolff’s theory is incorrect. As part of this theory, the author reports on his own examination of the original manuscript in Berlin.
Chapter Three, through a detailed study of the architecture of the final fugue, makes the bold claim that the author has definitively proved the exact number of bars required to complete the music in accordance with Bach’s intentions: this theory develops and refines the work of Gregory Butler in this area, and, to corroborate the theory, presents a possible interpretation of the unusual markings at the end of Bach’s score and of a significant correction made by Bach in his manuscript.
Finally, in Chapter Four, the question of the proposed inverted combination of all four fugue subjects is revisited – a combination that several writers have claimed to be impossible – and a new and convincing solution to this problem is presented and justified.
Advisor:Dr Fiona McAlpine; Dr John Wells
School Location:New Zealand
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:bach art of fugue counterpoint
Date of Publication:01/01/2006