Performance Composition of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Motets: Hypotheses and Discussions




Motets of Johann Sebastian Bach, historically informed performance, baroque choral music, music editions


Relevance and scientific novelty of the selected topic of the research. The issues of the performance of J. S. Bach's motets has not been considered in Ukrainian musicology before, and in creative practice it has been decided unequivocally: choirs sang motets a cappella. However, in the world practice of motets today there are three variants of performance: in addition to singing unaccompanied, motets are performed with basso continuo (organ), as well as with basso continuo accompanied by instruments that duplicate choral parts (colla parte). The revision of performance approaches in world concert practice took place in parallel and, apparently, due to scientific achievements in the history of music, source studies and related fields. Cognitive was the discussion of the performance of Bach's motets, which for a long time (since 1904) unfolded in the Germanspeaking musicological environment. A thorough analysis of the historical context, the text of the motets, the connection with the performing practice, and on the other hand — the limited opportunity to get acquainted with German-language materials determine the relevance of this article, which systematizes the arguments and counterarguments of this controversy.

The aim of the article is to consider the arguments of German scientists (Konrad Ameln, Klaus Hofmann, Alfred Heuss and others) on the tradition of performances of motets by J. S. Bach, to draw the attention of the performing and scientific community to the possibility of the existence of different versions of the performing composition in these works; emphasize the need for a performing search in the field of baroque music, in particular, in those aspects, which in the classicalromantic tradition are considered unambiguously fixed in the musical text.

The following methods were used in the study: historical (analysed the dynamics of changes in the performing tradition of Bach's motets), the method of generalization (based on the study of musicological literature generalized arguments in favour of three types of performing motets).

Main results and conclusions. Based on the analysis of information from German-language musicological research, it is stated that in the time of Bach there were three types of performance for his motets: 1) a cappella, 2) with basso continuo, 3) with basso continuo and instruments colla parte. Arguments for each type are systematized depending on whether they come from the study of historical context (external) or based on the study of the original musical text of motets (internal). It is noted that the plurality of variants of the performance composition allowed in today's practice should be realized by the conductor, who should not unconditionally accept the performance version proposed in the motets edition as the only correct one. The choice of performance is made by the conductor depending on the specifics of the performance situation.


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