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Bach Musical Estate Surfaces in Ukraine
The long lost musical estate of Johann Sebastian Bach's second son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, has been rediscovered in Kyiv, Ukraine, where it is preserved as part of the music archive of the Berlin Sing-Akademie. The Sing-Akademie's archive, with one of the world's most important collections of 18th-century music including significant and largely unique Bach family materials, had been evacuated from Berlin to Ullersdorf Castle, Silesia (now Polish, Oldrzychowice Klodzkie), in 1943 during World War II, but then disappeared. With no information available about its postwar fate, it has been missing for over half a century and long feared destroyed.
Christoph Wolff, professor of music at Harvard University and dean of its Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, whose new biography of J. S. Bach will appear early next year at W. W. Norton, has been following several leads to the whereabouts of the material for more than two decades in connection with research on the musical sources of the Bach family. Dr. Patricia Kennedy Grimsted, an associate of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University, who directs a project on Russian and Ukrainian archives, has been searching in Ukraine in connection with her book now in press at Harvard, Trophies of War and Empire. The close collaboration between Professor Wolff and Dr. Grimsted at Harvard University, together with Professor Hennadii Boriak, Deputy Director of the Institute of Ukrainian Archaeography and Source Studies of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, led to the recent discovery. Earlier last month Professor Wolff, Dr. Grimsted, and Barbara Wolff, music cataloger of Harvard's Houghton Library identified and examined the Sing-Akademie collection in the Central State Archive-Museum of Literature and Art of Ukraine in Kyiv. The Berlin Sing-Akademie, founded in 1791 by Carl Friedrich Fasch (a colleague and friend of the younger Bach) and directed from 1800 to 1832 by Carl Friedrich Zelter, presented a celebrated performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion in 1829 under the direction of Zelter's pupil, the young Felix Mendelssohn. Its music archive contains well over 5,000 items (mostly manuscripts) that have been preserved in excellent conditions.
Even before its wartime disappearance, as a private collection without a professional archivist, the materials were largely inaccessible to scholars, and its only provisionally catalogued holdings have never been systematically studied.
The estate of C. P. E. Bach (1714-1788) which forms a central portion of the Sing-Akademie archive includes music by his father and brothers, a collection of works by his father's ancestors called "Old Bach Archive" (many in copies from J. S. Bach's hand) and, most important, the bulk of his own compositions in autograph or authorized copies, among them 20 Passions, 50 keyboard concertos, and many other vocal and instrumental works. Most of the compositions, including all the Passions, more than two thirds of the keyboard concertos, many chamber works, and songs are unpublished and have never been available for performance or study. Led by a team of scholars at Harvard University and the Bach Archive in Leipzig, Germany, The Collected Works of C. P. E. Bach are currently being edited under the auspices of the Packard Humanities Institute, with Christopher Hogwood as chair of the editorial board. In addition to important 17th- and 18th-century manuscripts, the Sing-Akademie Library also contains substantial holdings (in part stemming from the Bach estate) of works by Georg Philipp Telemann (220-plus cantatas), Carl Heinrich and Johann Gottlieb Graun (more than 150 vocal and 420-plus instrumental sources), Johann Adolf Hasse (ca. 130 vocal and 80 instrumental sources), Franz and Georg Benda (ca. 120 works), and compositions by many musicians from 18th- and early 19th-century Berlin, most of them associated with the Prussian court. Goethe's letters to Zelter, from the famous Goethe-Zelter correspondence, also form part of the archive.
Trophy art, library books, and archives from Western Europe transferred to the former USSR after World War II were for the most part kept in hiding throughout the Soviet period. But since its independence, Ukraine has led former Soviet republics in restitution efforts and signed a cultural agreement with Germany providing for the mutual return of wartime cultural trophies. A number of symbolic acts of restitution have taken place in recent years, including the 1996 return to the Dresden Art Gallery of valuable albums of drawings and lithographs found in Kyiv and the return of three drawings to the Bremen Kunsthalle from private sources in 1997. Ukraine has simultaneously received from the Germany some important cultural treasures that had been seized by the Nazis during the war.
The over 5,000 music scores from the Sing-Akademie Library in Berlin identified this summer in Kyiv undoubtedly represent the most valuable trophy collection to have surfaced in Ukraine. The Main Archival Administration of Ukraine and the Central State Archive-Museum of Literature and Art are closely cooperating with the Harvard specialists and agreed to planning a collaborative project with Harvard University and the Packard Humanities Institute to make these uniquely important materials available for research and performance. A catalogue of the Bachiana in the Sing-Akademie Archive is projected as part of the Bach Repertorium series, a research project on the music of the Bach family jointly undertaken by the Harvard Music Department and the Leipzig Bach Archive.
It is hoped that the Academy of Music in Kyiv will be able to participate. The project will also be closely coordinated with the Sing-Akademie of Berlin, one of Germany's oldest continuing performing organizations, and there is hope that the priceless musical sources will eventually be returned to their original home.
For further information, please contact:
Dr. Patricia Kennedy Grimsted
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