[J. S. Bach]--P. Spitta and E. Rudorff. Archive of autograph correspondence, 1869-1894
[Bach, Johann Sebastian]--Philipp Spitta and Ernst Rudorff
Archive of autograph correspondence, 1869-1894
comprising c. 153 autograph letters signed by Spitta ("Philipp Spitta", "Ph. S.", "S."), and c. 274 autograph letters signed, and c. 8 letters signed, by Rudorff ("Ernst Rudorff", "E. R.", "Lieber -pp- pianissimo Philipp!"), many very long and highly detailed, some with musical examples, one of Spitta's in verse form; ABOUT BACH and his cantatas, their orchestration, edition, modern-day performance (particularly concerning the role of the cembalo) and chronology, Spitta's Bach study ("Das Bachmanuskript soll in der nächsten Woche nach Leipzig geschickt werden"), many letters asking to borrow from Rudorff autographs in his possession which Spitta would copy carefully if allowed, other letters of Spitta regretting that so many excellent cantatas of Bach are unknown and unperformed, noting his unsuccessful attempt to persuade the Prussian state to acquire Bach's autographs ("Jetzt steht der Abschluß mit Stargardt zuvor"), commenting on Rudorff's performances of Bach, the Bachgesellschaft, the Leipzig Bachverein, the '48', the Passions and motets, asking Rudorff for his opinion on the chapter in his book dealing collectively with the chorale cantatas, and choosing a cantata for himself (Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn, BWV 10) from Rudorff's autograph collection; Spitta's letters also referring to many other composers and musicians, including W. F. Bach, Buxtehude, Leonardo Leo, Handel, Reichardt ("Könnte ich vielleicht erfahren durch Dich, was aus Joh. Fr. Reichardts hinterlassener Bibliothek geworden ist?"), Haydn, Mozart, Weber, Cherubini, Spohr, Brahms ("für Brahms scheint endlich das Eis gebrochen zu sein"), Joachim ("...ich halte ihn für leicht empfindlich"), Bargiel, Max Bruch, making observations on his character and works (" ...[hat] endlich einen guten Opernstoff gefunden"), Radecke, Marschner, and discussing Spitta's Berlin professorship, the Vierteljahrsschrift für Musikwissenschaft, Chrysander, politics, Bismarck, Rudorff's compositions, the Berlin Wagner-Verein ("Eine so nichtswürdige Schwindelei"), plans to move the Berlin Hochschule to Charlottenburg, family affairs, personal matters ("...ganz sonderbar und betrübend war mir die Erfahrung, daß nach und nach - im Laufe der letzten Jahre - die Natur ganz stumm für mich geworden ist..."), and many other matters
...Dieser Meister ist wirklich unergründlich; mit jedem Tage wächst er in der Bewunderung u. Liebe dessen, der sich ihm hinzugeben versteht. Welche ein Schade, daß noch so endlich viel herrliche Cantaten ungekannt u. unaufgeführt daliegen. Das wäre ein großes Verdienst, wenn ein intelligenter Musiker diese durch Verständnisvolle Inscenirung wieder neu belebte...Es kommt nämlich beim Untersuchen von Handschriften sehr viel auf die Vergleichung mehrerer unter einander an; hieraus ergeben sich für den Forscher oft wichtige Resultate und bemerkenswerte Anhaltspunkte...
c. 319 (Spitta) and c. 720 (Rudorff) pages, mostly various 8vo sizes, a few letters on printed stationery of the Berlin Königliche Akademie der Künste, c. 23 of Spitta's letters, and c. 63 of Rudorff's, on postcards or correspondence cards, one letter by Rudorff on his visiting card, two envelopes inscribed by Spitta ("Briefe von Ernst Rudorff Mai 1876-April 1877...1877 und 1878"), with a modern handwritten catalogue, as well as a typed list, of Spitta's letters, contemporary folding maroon card box, Sondershausen, Leipzig, Berlin, Lichterfelde and elsewhere, 1869-1894; and including: a scribal 12-page copy of Spitta's 1880 Grove Dictionary article on Rudorff, inscribed and corrected by Spitta; c. 6 autograph letters signed by Rudorff and one by Gertrud Rudorff to Mathilde Spitta, one telegram from Spitta to Rudorff; an autograph letter signed to Rudorff by Spitta's brother Friedrich, written after Spitta's death; three autograph letters to Rudorff by Mathilde Spitta; one autograph letter to Rudorff by Lisbeth Spitta; and two autograph letters to Frau Spitta and one to Spitta by Josephine von Steinaecker; a black-edged printed death announcement for Dr. Adolph Rudorff (Berlin, 15 February 1873); and a printed engagement notice for Gertrud Rietschel and Ernst Rudorff (Dresden-Berlin, 26 February 1876)
An important archive of correspondence by one of the great heroes of musicology, the towering nineteenth-century Bach scholar Philipp Spitta (1841-1894), and the distinguished Berlin teacher, editor and pianist Ernst Rudorff (1840-1916).
Although this seminal correspondence ranges - on both sides - over a myriad subjects and is of a wide general cultural significance, a centrally important and recurring theme is, of course, Johann Sebastian Bach. The first volume of Spitta's epochal study of the composer appeared in 1873 (four years after the earliest of these letters), the second and final volume in 1880: this remarkable archive permits us a glimpse into the writer's life at all stages of the labours on his famous study, a work whose descriptive methodology, analysis and interpretation of source material set new standards for Bach scholarship, and which remained virtually unchallenged for nearly a century.
The bulk of Spitta's scholarly estate is preserved in the library of the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, the Berlin Staatsbibliothek and the University Library at Lódz.
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