Bach Six Suites Manuscripts Edition

Johann Sebastian Bach
Six Suites for Violoncello Solo, BWV 1007-1012 Manuscripts Edition
David Starkweather, editor
Table of Contents. Underlines are hyperlinks to indicated locations.
Suite No. 1 in G Major, Courante; Performing edition. Letters (A,B,C,D,E,H) indicate source manuscripts for trills.
Suite No. 2 in D Minor, Gigue; Performing edition. Sources are indicated for notes in m. 28.
Suite No. 3 in C Major, Prelude; Manuscripts edition.  Asterisk indicates markings not appearing in the other manuscript.
Suite No. 5 in C Minor, Prelude p. 1; Manuscripts edition – includes the J. S. Bach autograph manuscript of the Lute Suite BWV 995 (Source H).  Various comparison markings are in red.
Suite No. 6 in D Major; Manuscripts edition.  Top line is Anna Magdalena Bach, second line is Johann Kellner.

This 288 page edition is available as a pdf, leading to some recommendations for how to use the edition.  An ideal arrangement is to sit with the cello in front of a computer or tablet.  One needs a pdf reader, and ideally a foot pedal for page turns (such as the AirTurn).  The hyperlinks (clickable links that take you to a movement or passage) are a unique feature of this edition.  Alternatively, one can print out the edition on front and back of 8 1/2 x 11 paper, and put a spiral binding on it.

Please click on the example pages above to see the layout.  Clicking on the featured page will enlarge it.

All editions of these six suites are based upon the secondary sources, as the composer’s autograph manuscript is lost. The two most important sources are those written by Anna Magdalena Bach (1701-1760) and Johann Peter Kellner (1705-1772). Both of them copied many of Bach's works, but their copies often have inaccuracies and mistakes. Additional comparison has been made with two anonymous German manuscripts dating from the late eighteenth century (the “Westphal” and “Traeg” manuscripts). While these two sources are quite legible, they frequently are not in agreement with the A.M. Bach and Kellner manuscripts. Reference is also made to the first published edition, and in the fifth suite, to the lute suite manuscript in Bach's hand.

A thorough comparison of pitch and rhythm discrepancies, notation of trills and dynamics, and other points of disagreement are referenced through the use of symbols and letters in the score. This manuscript edition is the definitive tool for study of the suites, making it possible to visually assess the ambiguity of many of the slurs and to reach one's own conclusions. The table of contents, editorial notes, and comprehensive appendix listing 38 disputed entries is enhanced by the use of hyperlinks to each indicated movement or passage.

The preparation of the manuscript lines in this edition started from high resolution scans of the manuscript facsimiles. Each manuscript line has been edited so that line breaks follow the spacing of modern notation and unrelated marks are removed. This is a revision of the first Manuscript Edition, which began in 1995 with a Georgia Research Foundation research grant and was embedded on the 3-DVD set of the six suites released by Starkweather in 2008.

Bernard Greenhouse wrote: “David Starkweather has done a superb job of clarifying many of the disputed elements in the Bach cello suites. I believe it will become the best edition along with a first class performance.”

Pierre Fournier wrote: “Pure talent as an interpreter at the devotion of music and one of the best cellists of his generation.”