The Rust Variant BWV 903a

by Rosalyn Tureck, edited by Xoán Elías Castiñeira Varela

Table of Contents

1. Editor’s Praeambulum
1.1. Editorial Principles and Acknowledgements
2. Source, Provenance, Acceptance
2.1. Introduction
2.2. History of the Reception of the Rust Variant BWV903a
2.3. The Rust Variant: Its Appearance and Disappearance


1. Editor’s Praeambulum

The following essay on the Rust Variant BWV 903a is a thought-provoking article that, written with the conviction and rigor characteristic of Dr. Tureck’s personality, attempts to invalidate the authenticity of the Variant by providing a wealth of historical and analytical evidence finely thread throughout three extremely detailed sections. Its main hypothesis—that the Variant is not only unauthentic, but also the daring creation of Wilhelm Rust—is already established in its opening part and further developed in Parts II and III.

The essay presented here is the most recent and complete version of Dr. Tureck’s study of BWV 903a and corresponds to material typed in July 1991. In Part I (‘Source, Provenance, Acceptance’), Dr. Tureck surveys the reception of the Variant and summarizes how it was approached by important editors throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Part I also investigates the historical circumstances surrounding the lives and work of the Rust family, in whose estate the supposedly putative Bach manuscript originated. In the light of this research, and particularly of data concerning Wilhelm Rust’s corrupt editorial practices and the stylistic unfitness and compositional weakness of the Variant within the context of the entire Fantasia, Dr. Tureck advances her hypothesis that BWV 903a must be a passage actually composed by Rust rather than an earlier version of BWV 903.

Dismissing the idea that “progress to a better state necessarily and universally moves from a vacuous simplistic form to a highly charged complex one”, Dr. Tureck then proceeds, in Part II (‘Bach’s Early Composing Procedures in Relation to BWV 903a’) to a comparative analysis between the Rust Variant and the compositional techniques featured in various organ works, mono-figural preludes, toccatas and other pieces including two of the Brandenburg Concerti. This examination, which throws light onto Bach’s “inborn capacity for integrated structuring”, forms the backbone supporting Dr. Tureck’s criticism of the Variant—which she regards as an incongruous, weak passage with little, if any at all, relatedness to Bach’s creative mind. Part III (‘Comparative Structural Analysis of BWV 903 and BWV 903’), finally, is a comprehensive, measure-by-measure comparative account of the structural features of both BWV 903 and BWV 903a concluding that, even if the latter was a sketch, an early version by Bach, consideration of its reception and musical substance should reveal enough evidence as to approach the Variant with a great amount of caution and skepticism.

While Part I provides much historical information on the appearance, disappearance and reception of the Rust Variant, parts II and III are of analytical nature. Dr. Tureck’s analytic style is profusely descriptive and extremely oriented to detail; it relies heavily on verbal depiction of compositional features and procedures. The reader will not find here graphs in the Schenkerian manner or in any other of the perhaps more ‘scientific’ fashions favored by contemporary approaches to musical analysis. However, it is not difficult to acknowledge certain similarity between Dr. Tureck’s approach and some of the Schenkerian principles, particularly in its insistent attention to structure, revealed by analytic language such as “reduced to its innermost harmonic core, the Fantasia may be said to be based in a seventh and its resolution” (p. 83).

In essence, the comparative analysis employed by Dr. Tureck confronts BWV 903 and BWV 903a in a number of structural minutiae: BWV 903 is based on a principle of floridity, and is rich in variety of contours, inversions, diminutions, changes of direction (alternation of ascending and descending designs), polyrhythmic figurations, harmonic subtlety and sustained integrated relationships. By contrast, BWV 903a, in its adherence to a continuous triplet figure, is based on a repetitive, unvaried motive, thus resting on a compositional principle of duplication alien to the floridity prevalent in Bach’s music and, as a result, lacking structural linkage to the Fantasia as a whole.

Due to a number of practical reasons, it has not been possible to enhance the essay’s text with musical illustrations and examples. Reading Parts II and III therefore requires an attentive attitude, and their understanding will be greatly enhanced if any recent edition of BWV 903 and BWV 903a can possibly be available while reading in order to locate musical illustrations at a glance.

When considered within the framework of both past and recent scholarship on the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, it seems appropriate to acknowledge that Dr. Tureck’s vision of the Rust Variant, condensed in this essay, is subjective in nature and extraordinary in its conclusions. To our knowledge, no single edition of the work (including the recent and reputable Wiener Urtext and the Urtext of the Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke (Bärenreiter), both from 1999), and no scholarly publication have expressed a view similar to Dr. Tureck’s. All academic research on, and all published editions of, the Chromatic Fantasia accept the BWV 903a as an early version of BWV 903. Moreover, many editions provide the note-text of the Rust Variant as a viable, performable first section of the Fantasia. For instance, in the prefatory ‘Notes on Interpretation’ of the Wiener Urtext Edition, Michael Behringer explicitly states that “the versions published in this edition should not only be considered as editorial groundwork but also made practical use of” (Behringer, ‘Notes on Interpretation’, Chromatische Fantasie: XII).

In the insightful article “‘This fantasia… never had its like’: on the enigma and chronology of Bach’s Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 903”, George B. Stauffer affirms that “the surviving copies point rather unambiguously to three stages of development” … in the first of which, “represented in the early variant BWV 903a found in Darmstadt Mus. MS 69 (and the now-lost J. L. A. Rust manuscript, whose text served as the basis for BWV 903a as printed in the Bach-Gesellschaft and elsewhere, the Fantasia had a different incipit.” (Stauffer, ‘Enigma’: 173)

Dr. Tureck’s unique opinion of the Rust Variant may cause surprise to performers, scholars and students alike. However, the posthumous appearance of this essay should, at least, reignite the debate on authenticity, hopefully promoting a more critical approach to the indiscriminate acceptance of this version of the Fantasia. Dr. Tureck, whose scholarly authority has been admired as well as criticized [1], manifested also a powerful dislike of the idea of an ‘intermediate’ version corresponding to the copies of Mus. MS P803, in Johann Tobias Krebs’s and Samuel Gottlieb Heder’s hands. In a letter to dated July 1996, Dr. Tureck’s states:

Whether or not approved by scholars of posterity, those two measures in P803/122 do not justify categorizing this manuscript as an ‘intermediate’ stage. The forcing into neat cubbyholes of ‘early’, ‘intermediate’ and ‘final’ as assigned to Johann Sebastian Bach’s creative stages in this composition, does not rest on a strong enough foundation.

(Personal communication with Oxford University Press, July 31, 1996)

As I also indicate in my preface to the ‘Critical Notes on Text and Interpretation’, Dr. Tureck’s research finished before the 1999 Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke of the Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Institut Göttingen and Bach-Archiv Leipzig (Uwe Wolf, editor), and before the discovery in the United States of a previously unknown manuscript fragment in the hand of Bach’s second youngest son, Johann Christoph Friedrich, copied in the late 1740s with the authentic Latin title ‘Fantasia chromatica.’ [2] Although it is difficult to assess what version was transmitted in this manuscript, the music notated thereon seems to correspond to the main version contained in BWV 903, rather than to BWV 903a.

Whether or not Dr. Tureck’s essay on the Rust Variant arrives to a definitely true conclusion may be less important an issue as it is to acknowledge that, perhaps even more urgently today than throughout the years during which Dr. Tureck researched the mysteries of BWV 903 and BWV 903a, modern performers could highly benefit from critically questioning the many assumptions that prevail in the domain of musical interpretation. If ‘authentic’ and meaningful performance is to occur, it is fundamental to encourage a healthily inquiring attitude toward musical compositions of previous historical eras. Dr. Tureck’s study of the Rust Variant is no doubt a brave and commendable example of a legendary performer’s and a scholar’s commitment to this ever-evolving approach to the performance of Bach.

1.1. Editorial Principles and Acknowledgements

The original material revised and presented here is archived in the Rosalyn Tureck Collection at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University. The editor wishes to acknowledge his gratefulness for the assistance provided by its staff in the preparation of this project.

Abbreviations used:

  • Fn.: footnote.
  • M., m., Mm., mm.: measure, measures.
  • Mus. ms., Mus. MS: manuscript.

Footnotes and endnotes: There are two sorts of notes in the following essay, footnotes and endnotes. Footnotes are flagged by a superscripted number and are always entered by the editor. Endnotes are signaled as bracketed roman numerals and are Dr. Tureck’s original notes.

Although the original 1991 essay is a very advanced version, I have occasionally deemed it necessary to add further information to Dr. Tureck’s original text. This is the case of the brief commentary on two recent editions of BWV 903 in Part I. References and quotations have been rechecked and corrected inasmuch as the sources have been available. In those cases where quotations lacked a matching reference to the original sources, alternative passages have been provided, and their sources, acknowledged. Furthermore, certain citations from old dictionaries have been replaced with the most up-to-date versions thereof, and they have been indexed accordingly.

Dr. Tureck’s original writing uses both British and American spelling. For the sake of consistency, all original essays have been edited in American English.

Xoán Elías Castiñeira Varela

2. Source, Provenance, Acceptance

2.1. Introduction

A central issue in any exploration of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue is the authenticity of those measures that have come to be known as the Rust Variant, BWV 903a. The first appearance and comment on this material, mm. 3–24, appears in the Griepenkerl/Peters Edition, 1843/44, forty-one to forty-two years after the first printing of the work in 1802. The music of these particular measures was accepted at the outset as originating from Johann Sebastian Bach and became certified by its inclusion in the Bischoff/Steingräber Edition of 1880 and the Bach Gesellschaft/Naumann Edition of 1886. It has been universally agreed that, because of their simplicity, these measures are an early version of that contained in BWV 903. Following a search of primary sources in the reception of the throughout over a century and a half, and conscientious examination of the structure of BWV 903a and BWV 903, it is my profoundly considered opinion that the simplistic section is utterly incongruous in partnering the treatment of the rest of the Fantasia and further, that it must be seriously questioned as to whether or not it emanated from the brain of Bach and that its inclusion in the Fantasia, either in print or performance, represents a genuine disservice to the composer.

The basic harmonic outline of these measures is, indeed, clearly similar to what is regarded as the later version. However, when compared with Bach’s structuring in sections of his early compositions that contain an appearance of simplistic treatment, the cast of mind revealed in this examination of BWV 903a appears to be one that is incapable for the structuring native to that of Johann Sebastian even in his earliest years. It has been recognized by everyone for a century and a half that the Rust Variant did not possess the qualities of BWV 903, but its weakness has been excused on the assumption, virtually universally accepted, that it was an early version.

The Rust Variant thus constitutes an indispensable adjunct to the study of the Fantasia. Its interest lies in a passage of twenty-one measures—mm. 3–24. Although the basic harmonic outline of these measures is similar to what is regarded as the later version, all of the latter’s rhythmic variety is absent; the figuration appears in the Rust Variant as a single sixteenth-note triplet figure, repeated invariably until mm. 21–24 when an abrupt change to thirty-second notes takes place. Moreover, the subtlety of harmonic relationships and treatment of BWV 903 is non-existent, neither stated nor implied. The rest of the Fantasia in BWV 903a, following m. 24, contains only comparatively minor variants. What is striking, then, is the incongruous content and style of the passage in question, and its conjunction, side by side, with the brilliance of the diversified figurations, harmonic treatment and subtle structural devices present in the surface texture, as well as secreted within the passages in the rest of the Fantasia (1).

No extant manuscript associated with Bach’s circle shows this version, nor, with one exception, does it appear in other extant sources and their branches (2). The exception is a manuscript whose scribe, source and provenance are not known (3). The prestige of BWV 903a is founded not on this manuscript but on the now lost manuscript allegedly in the hand of Friedrich Wilhelm Rust, whose elder brother, J. L. A. Rust was, indeed, of Bach’s circle, and whose rather dim history shall presently be traced.

The Rust Variant has been judged to be an “early” version (4) due chiefly to the simple triplet figure and its unvarying repetitive treatment throughout eighteen of its twenty-one measures. This view has retained its grip upon all editors and authors who acknowledge the dissimilarity between the measures in question and the rest of the Fantasia. The disparity is accounted for by attributing it to a first, less developed stage. However, no hard, documentary evidence has emerged in support of this hypothesis.

A simpler version is not necessarily a first stage. Yet, the assumption has been made, almost universally, that BWV 903a is an earlier version. No consideration has been given as to whether Bach’s own judgment would admit coupling a glaringly discrepant version as the Variant’s mm. 3–21 with the rest of the Fantasia, which is so rich in its rhythmic figurations and so imaginative in its shifting relationships. Also, when coupled with the Rust Variant, the irrelation of mm. 3–21 to the density and subtlety in the largest portion of the Fantasia from m. 24 to the end at m. 79 has received neither comment nor questioning except for a complacent supposition that first thoughts are simple and complexity is the result of revision.

What is responsible for this assumption of the chronological priority of BWV 903a, and its general acceptance right up to, and including, the Henle edition of 1969/1970? [3] Demonstrably, it is the nineteenth-century positivist style of thought, which applies the operation of linear evolution not only to all manifestations of like as a blanket rule, from the simple to the complex, but to the creative process as well. In the twentieth century, this linear mode of thought has lost its credibility. The evaluation of simple/early, complex/late is based on an outdated position. It has been applied to BWV 903a through a hundred and fifty years. At the end of the twentieth century, a fresh analytic scrutiny is long overdue.

2.2. History of the Reception of the Rust Variant BWV903a

The history of the Rust Variant’s reception may be surveyed from the following chronological conspectus of its transmission and reception from the mid-nineteenth century through the late twentieth century. It will be seen that, throughout almost a hundred and thirty years of publications, the assumption of a nearly version is virtually unanimous.

2.2.1. Friedrich Konrad Griepenkerl, 1843/44 (5)

The first mention of the Rust Variant is made by F. K. Griepenkerl 25 years after his original edition of 1819.

The following opening paragraph of the Preface to the third issue, 1843/44, of the Griepenkerl/Peters Edition of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, refers to a “manuscript in the possession of Rust”:

Nach den gedruckten Ausgaben von J. N. Forkel und F.K. Griepenkerl (letzere v. J. 1819), womit noch sieben andere, teils ältere, teils neuere Handschriften verglichen wurden. Die älteste Form, in Bezug auf die Fantasie, scheint sich in der Handschrift bei Rust, v. J. 1757, zu finden, welche im Anhange No. 1 als Variante mitgeteilt ist. Die (…) unter No. 2 mitgeteilte Variante ist das Ergebniss einer Abschrift aus dem Nachlassse von Krebs… (6)

After the printed editions by J. N. Forkel and F. K. Griepenkerl (the latter in the year 1819), which have been compared with seven other manuscripts, some earlier, some more recent. In respect to the Fantasie the oldest form appears to be that of the manuscript in the possession of Rust, dating from the year 1757, which can be seen in the Appendix No. I containing the variant. The other, under No. 2, is a copy received from the estate of Krebs…

(Translation by Rosalyn Tureck)

The Rust Variant is contained in this issue. Note that Griepenkerl does not single out an specific Rust. He mentions solely “Handschrift bei Rust, v. J. 1757, zu finden”. His reference is apparently to the provenance of the manuscript. Ambiguity emerges from the absence of Christian names or initials. This Rust would have to be Wilhelm Rust, descended from the well-known musical Rust family, and later to become the “chief of the Bach-Gesellschaft”. Since at least three different Rusts are involved, the omission is significant: it adds to the difficulties that will be seen to arise in identifying the precise Rust (7).

2.2.2. Hans Bischoff, 1880 (8)

In 1880, Hans Bischoff cites the manuscript by referring to its printing in Peters editions. He mentions no provenance; no specific citing of a Rust is made. Bischoff does not include the Rust Variant in his edition.

… endlich die alte Rust’che Handschrift vom Jahre 1757 deren Abdruck bei Peters S. I, C.4 zu finden ist. (9)

… (I have compared)… finally the old Rust manuscript from the year 1757, which is found printed in Peters S.I., C.4.”

Bischoff makes no further comment on the Rust manuscript; his reference, Peters S.I., C.4. (Peters, Series I, Cahier 4), is to the 1866/67 reprint of the 1843/44 Edition quoted above (10).

2.2.3. Philipp Spitta, 1880 (11)

Griepenkerl hat zu seiner Ausgabe der chromatischen Fantasie und Fuge (P.S.I, C.4 Nr 1) zwei Varianten gefügt, von denen die zweite keine selbständige Bedeutung hat, die erste aber, nach einer Handschrift des Dessauer Capellmeisters F.W. Rust vom Jahre 1757, das Werk in älterer, vermutlich ursprünglicher Fassung zeigt. (12)

Griepenkerl has added to his editions of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue (P.S.I, C.4, No. 1-207) two variorum readings, the second of which has no independent value, but the first, which is derived from a manuscript of the Dessau Capellmeister F. W. Rust from the year 1757, shows an earlier and possibly original form of the work.

(Translation by Rosalyn Tureck)

Contrary to his generally pervasive zeal, Spitta relies on the printed edition alone and does not reach beyond it to check the manuscript itself, although he was writing at the time that Bischoff, Naumann and Wilhelm Rust were alive, and presumably the manuscript was available for perusal. The Rust Variant, then, escapes his direct personal examination. Note that Spitta does not mention a lost cover. However, he is the first to pinpoint a specific Rust—F. W. Rust.

The usage of “des” in Spitta’s attribution “nach einer Handschrift des Dessauer Capellmeisters F. W. Rust…” again conveys some ambiguity to modern interpretation and our contemporary need for finely focused meaning in language. Although “des” represents ownership or possession, it may also carry the connotation of F. W. Rust as scribe. If Spitta is implying that the manuscript is in the hand of F. W. Rust, then this is the first scribal assignment so far encountered. However, a precise, unequivocal interpretation seems unattainable.

2.2.4. Ernest Naumann, 1890 (13)

In his edition of 1886, Ernest Naumann refers to the cover as lost, adding that it contained the names of J. L. A. Rust and the date, 1757 (14). How did Naumann know, if the cover was lost, that it contained this signature and date? How and from whom did he receive this information? This is the first mention of a cover and of J. L. A. Rust in that connection. Had Naumann seen that cover? He offers no further comment as to that, and no information on the scribe, noting only that the manuscript is in the possession of “Herrn Prof. Dr. Rust”, who is, of course, Wilhelm Rust. Naumann, curiously enough, omits any mention of F. W. Rust.

Since this Variant was printed initially in a Peters edition well before that of the Bach Gesellschaft (15), the note-text was already available in printed form. Naumann includes the Rust Variant in his edition. Was this printing in volume 36 of the Bach Gesellschaft Edition taken from the original Rust manuscript, from the 1843/44 Peters Edition, or from the 1866/67 Peters edition?

The question as to Naumann’s source arises inevitably when he states that the Variant is in the possession of Dr. Rust, his active chief in the production of the Bach Gesellschaft Edition. The initial assumption is that Naumann would have had easy, unobstructed access to the Variant manuscript itself, in preference to consulting and reproducing a twice-printed source in his Urtext edition. But Naumann contributes no enlightenment to posterity on this matter.

Altere Gestalt der Fantasie

Alte Handschrift im Besitz des Hernn Prof. Dr. Rust, mit dem Titel: ‘Fantasie Chromatique pour le Clavecin del Sigre. J. S. Bach’. Auf dem verloren gegangenen Umschläge derselben hat ‘J. L. A. Rust, Bernburg, 1757’ gestanden. Die Fantasie ist ohne, die ‘Fuga Chromatica’ mit Vorzeichnung des b, di r. H. im Discantschlüssel geschrieben.” (16)

Old manuscript in the possession of Hernn Prof. Dr. Rust, with the title: ‘Fantasie Chromatique for the harpsichord by J. S. Bach’. On the lost cover was written ‘J. L. A. Rust, Bernburg, 1757’. The Fantasia is without, the ‘Fuga Chromatica’ with, the key signature of b, the right hand is written in the soprano clef.

(Translation by Rosalyn Tureck)

2.2.5. Heinrich Schenker, 1910 (17)

Takt 3. In der sogennanten Rustschen Handschrift erscheinen die Takte 3–20 in anderer Fassung. Dieselbe findet man mitgeteilt in der Ausgabe B.G., Anhang I, Seite 219 und bei Pt., I. Es wird—vielleicht für immer—leider völlig unaufgeklärt bleiben müssen, welche Bewandtnis es damit eigentlich hat. Soviel ist jedenfalls klar; die Fassung bei Rt. Steht, da ihr alle Mannigfaltigkeit in den Figuren fehlt, eben vom rein künstlerischtechnischen Standpunkt aus betrachtet, tief unter der in den übrigen Handschriften und auch hier im Texte mitgeteilten Fassung. Es mag geboten sein, daraus zu schliessen, dass möglicherweise ja Bach selbst bei einer späteren Bearbeitung von der ursprünglich noch starren und monotone Haltung zur freieren und mannigfaltigeren Fortschritt—ähnlich wie z.B. Beethoven, freilich in grösserem Umfang und Stil von der Leonoren-Ouverture Nr. 2 sich zur technisch verbesserten Ouverture Nr. 3 erhob—, da es doch kaum anzunehmen ist, dass sonst angesichts der schönen Vollendung der im Texte mitgeteilten Fassung es gerade den Verfertiger der Rt.-Handschrift gelüstet hätte, sich noch auf eigene Rechnung in einer minderwertigen Gangart der Motive zu versuchen. Wer wollte indessen der Einsichtslosigkeit so mancher Abschreiber und Herausgeber eine Grenze setzen! (18)

Measure 3. Mm. 3–20 appear in the so-called Rust Manuscript in a variant. This Variant is also to be found in the B.G. Edition, Appendix I, p. 219 and in Peters, Variant I. It must unfortunately remain completely unclear, perhaps forever, what the situation here actually is. This much is clear, at any rate: the Rust Variant, lacking as it does in variety in the figures, is inferior from a purely artistic-technical viewpoint to the Variant given in the other manuscripts as well as in this text. It may be proper to conclude, therefore, that possibly Bach himself, on the occasion of a later reworking, proceeded from the originally stiff and monotonous attitude to a freer and more varied one—as for example, did Beethoven, to a greater extent and style, when he went from the Leonore Overture No. 2 to the technically improved Overture No. 3—since one can scarcely assume, confronted with the beautiful perfection of the Variant in the text, that the scribe of the Rust Ms. would have wanted to try his hand himself at an inferior structure of the motifs. Indeed, who would want to set a limit to the lack of understanding of some copyists and editors.

(Translation by Rosalyn Tureck)

Schenker voices the opinion that the situation of the Rust manuscript remains “unclear, perhaps forever”. However, he is still bound to the notion that the simpler version must be an earlier one, that “it may be proper to conclude” that the more complex one was the harvest of a “later reworking”. Schenker’s broad statement comparing Beethoven’s composing process with that of Johann Sebastian is rather wide of the mark. In these two minds and temperaments, so differently attuned in form, structure and cultural roots this process was not equivalent. We know that although at times Bach did revise, as in the Cantatas (19), there is no likeness to Beethoven’s composing process involving revisions. Bach’s revising procedures are not comparable to those multiple stages of labor found in Beethoven’s sketchbooks. These written out stages, left unpremeditatedly to posterity, represent the more modern—that is, the nineteenth-century sense of labor and progress, struggle and resolution, expressed, perhaps unconsciously, in his working out processes. On another level, these multiple steps are tantamount to Beethoven’s thinking aloud (20). Moreover, the sketches do not necessarily show a consistent growth in complexity. On the contrary, simplicity sometimes was Beethoven’s final choice (21).

Schenker is the only editor who adds repeat indications with a double bar to the Rust Variant (22). There is not the slightest indication, historically, formally, or structurally, that these 21 measures call for a repetition. It is remarkable that Schenker, who so rails against the “liberties” and “lack of understanding” of others, throughout the encompassing thirty-eight pages in his edition (23), should himself presume to insert repeat marks. Furthermore, he offers no explanation for these extraordinary additions to the Rust Variant. Hans David cites Schenker´s repeat marks and invalidates them (24).

2.2.6. Hans David, 1926

Hans David, in his seminal essay on the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue from 1926 (25), writes of the Rust Variant:

Wir haben hier offenbar eine frühere, eine erste Fassung der Fantasie vor uns. Der Sinn der späteren Umarbeitung ist unschwer zu erkennen. Bei der Besprechung des Werkes zeigte sich in hohem Mass ein Fortschreiten des Geschehens, eine musikalishce Entwicklung. In den späteren Teilen der Komposition stand solche Zielstrebigkeit offenbar bereits zur Zeit der ersten Niederschrift fest. Der erste Teil hingegen war hier in die allgemeine Bewegung noch nicht einbezogen; die stetige Achtelbewegung etwa—um einen markanten Zug herauszugreifen—machte die Empfindung einer Stufenfolge, eines Fortschrittes geradezu unmöglich. Dieser Teil hatte nicht den Grad von Singularität, den die späteren Abschnitte bereits besassen: es blieb ein Missverhältnis. Bach tilgte es, indem er die Stücke des Teiles als verschiedenartige Abschnitte, denen jeder eine höhere Stufe, ein späteres Stadium als der vorangegangene erreicht, fühlen liess, auseinanderlegte. Jetzt erst wurde die Fantasie ein homogenes Gebilde. (26)

We obviously have an earlier, first version of the Fantasia before us here. It is easy to see the reasons for the later reworking. In the discussion of the latter we have noted a steady musical development. In the later parts of the composition this tendency was already true of the first version. But the first continuous eight-note movement—to mention such a noticeable feature—makes this kind of steady forward progression impossible. This section did not have the unique characteristics of the rest of the work: it remained a disproportional relationship. Bach remedied this by presenting the sections as separate units and by making sure that each section became a further stage of development than its preceding one. Only then did the Fantasia become a homogeneous entity.

(Translation by Rosalyn Tureck)

In this study of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, David, repeats the opinion, initiated by Forkel in 1802, of Bach laboring step by step (27). For Forkel, in his biography of Johann Sebastian, writes:

We have several times spoken of the great care with which Bach endeavored all his life long to improve his works. I have had opportunities of comparing together many copies of his principal works, written in different years, and I confess that I have often felt both surprise and delight at the means which he employed to make, little by little, the faulty good, the good better, and the better perfect… (28)

However, twenty-one years later, in 1945, the footnote in the Bach Reader to Forkel’s assertion reads as follows:

Forkel happened to know a number of Bach’s compositions in various readings. Taking all of them for authentic (although some of them were not), and generalizing from what he had seen, he arrived at an impression that was not quite correct. The majority of the works by Bach remained unchanged after their original composition, and even such changes as Bach did make were usually of minor extent and importance. (29)

This later opinion is likely to have been based on the famous article published in 1938, by Richard S. Hill (30), in which Hill points out that Forkel erred in his chronological assumptions, as well as in several of the evaluations of the manuscripts that he had acquired. Hill writes:

Cahier 2 (Hoffmeister and Kühnel Collected Keyboard and Organ works, S. Bach’s sammtl. Klavier- und Orgelwerken) follows Forkel’s advice and makes use of what Forkel thought were late revised editions of Bach’s works—in reality these were the earliest manuscripts… The errors [in the publisher’s announcement for Cahier 2 (31)]… are all so typical of Forkel that there can be no doubt that the information—as well as the faulty manuscripts—came from him… (32)

Hans David recognizes, as does everyone, the disproportion between mm. 3–24 and the rest of the Fantasia. He perceives that it “did not have the unique characteristics of the rest of the work” (33). He goes so far as to say that the continuous eight-note progression “makes it impossible to relate to the rest of the Fantasia”.

Yet these perceptions did not provoke the deeper question—does this incongruous, simplistic section, tacked on to the rich texture and imaginative structuring of the main body of the Fantasia, really emanate from the same brain? David perpetuates the view in his imaginative compounding of Forkel’s thoughts—derived from a mistaken chronology—about Bach’s style of creativity. Hans David writes: “Bach remedied this by building the varied sections by making sure that each section became a further step of development. Only then did the Fantasia become a homogeneous entity.” (34)

But creative minds do not work in this plodding, linear style. Although Bach was not a total stranger to revision, he was not the type to rework “to make sure” (35) that each section became a further stage of development than its preceding one. This style of step-by-step labor belongs in the schoolroom.

Hans David condemns Schenker’s repeat marks: “Schenker places repeat indications for mm. 3–24; he has not support for this in any manuscript.” (36) David is correct; he goes on to say: “…such deviations must be strongly condemned…” However, in his effort to perceive some reason for Schenker’s imposition upon the Variant, he hits upon the hope that it is due to its weakness: “Certainly the development is so weak that a repeat might work; … even if the repeat were musically justified, one would have to ask for distinct proof of the origin of the idea.”

A query comes to mind here: Does a weak section become stronger by repetition? Such an assumption is, in itself born of weakness. In actual fact, a repetition of a weak section simply emphasizes its weakness.

The plate number of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, as quoted in David´s article is incorrect. “.. Peters Plate number 1512. The greatest section of the Fugue was made from the old plates, PN 72, printed on pp. 9–12.” (37) PN 72 is the plate number for the fifth Partita in G-major, BWV 829, Cahier Six in the Hoffmeister & Kühnel Bach Series (38). The original number of the old plates is PN 74; these do not make up the “greatest section of the Fugue” (39). They represent four pages, exactly the first half of the movement. The succeeding four pages of the Fugue are made from the new plates, PN 1512, necessitated by Griepenkerl’s changes in the text (40).

2.2.7. Wolfgang Schmieder, 1950 (41)

903a Fantasie d-moll
(Variante zu Nr. 903)

BGA XXXVI, 219 – EZ Kothen etwa 1720.
Vermutlich die Urform der Fassung No. 903

(Presumably the original form of the setting No. 903)

Abschrift. 11 Seiten Hochformat (“J. L. A. Rust, Bernburg, 1757”) aus d. Nachlass Wilh. Rusts. Letzter bekannter Besitzer: Karl v. Vietinghoff, Berlin.

(From the estate of Wilhelm Rust. Last known owner: Karl v. Vietinghoff, Berlin)

Schmieder is somewhat more cautious than his predecessors: he begins his chronological assessment of the Rust Variant with the word “presumably”.

The major interest in Schmieder here is his identification of the provenance of BWV 903a. He also pinpoints the last known provenance to Karl v. Vietinghoff. I traced Vietinghoff and learned that he was deceased (ca. 1936), but that a daughter was reported to be alive. I followed the trail but it led nowhere: she was not to be found. [4] Schmieder does not attempt a scribal identity nor does he mention the lost cover.

2.2.8. Hermann Keller, 1962 (42)

Die wohl älteste Gestalt der Fantasie findet sich in einer Handschrift F. W. Rusts, die sich dieser im Jahr 1757, also im Alter von 18 Jahren angefertigt hat. Sie ist in unserer Ausgabe im Anhang I ganz mitgeteilt. Der Anfang ist von der späteren, hier im Hauptext mitgeteilten Fassung völlig abweichend, von T. 21 ab aber nur in Einzelheiten anders. (43)

What is likely to be in the oldest form of the Fantasia can be found in a manuscript of F. W. Rust produced by him in the year 1757, that is, when he was 18 years old. It is reproduced in full in our edition, Appendix I. The beginning diverges completely from the later version, reproduced here in the main text, but from bar 21 it diverges only in details.

(Translation by Rosalyn Tureck)

Keller offers no support for his ascription. He, also, assumes that the Rust version is “likely to be the oldest form” and that BWV 903 is the “later version”. At no time has any clear evidence been produced that the Rust Variant is an early version. The notion, rightly or wrongly initiated by Griepenkerl, has become fixed by the repetitions of posterity into an unquestioning acceptance, emerging here with Keller, well over a century later, into a concrete attribution.

No report based on the investigation of the Rust manuscript has surfaced from the period when the manuscript was available for a proper investigation. Moreover, it is not clear, according to the editors previous to Naumann who, if anyone, did actually see the original cover containing the name of J. L. A. Rust. It is not even clear who saw the music text of the Rust manuscript. One deduction seems appropriate—Griepenkerl, who was the first to include the Variant in his edition, would surely have seen the score, in preparation for his edition of 1843/44. It is to him that we owe the opinion that this Variant is the “oldest form” of the opening two pages of the Chromatic Fantasia (44). That this opinion was repeated by following editors does not establish unequivocal verification founded on the document itself and on an investigation of the circumstances of its appearance. Numerous instances of repetition throughout history based on assumptions, or even mistaken information originally put forward, have occurred in other branches of study and it may well be that this is such an instance.

Considering all the facets of the case, the ascription of F. W. Rust as scribe for BWV 903a remains in the area of subjective assumption.

2.2.9. Georg von Dadelsen and Klaus Rönnau, 1970 (45)

Eine andere Fassung der Fantasie (BWV 903a) bot die verschollene Hs. aus dem Besitz von F. W. Rust, die “Bernburg 1757” datiert war. Ihre Abweichungen betreffen im wesentlichen die 18 Takte 3–20, wofür sie 21 ganzlich andere Takte bringt. Wir teilen diesen Schnitt nach BGA 36 als Variante im Anschluss an die Fuge mit. Die betreffenden Takte sind gradliniger, weniger abwechlungsreich als der entsprechende Abschnitt der Hauptfassung, aber dennoch von grösser Wirkung. Da man sich die bekannte Fassung sehr wohl als Weiterbildung dieser Variante vorstellen kann, das Umgekehrte jedoch kaum möglich ist, gilt diese Fassung als die früheste Form des Werkes. Allerdings stützt sich diese Ansicht nur auf diese Partie. Die übrigen Sonderlesarten der Rustschen Hs sind dagegen in keinem Fall als Frühfassungen zu interpretieren. (46)

Another version of the Fantasia (BWV 903a) existed in the lost manuscript dated ‘Bernburg, 1757’ belonging to F. W. Rust. Its variants concern mainly bars 3–20, instead of which it gives 21 totally different bars. We give this Variant from B.G.A., 36 in our appendix to the Fugue. The bars in question are more direct and less complex than the corresponding section in the main version, but nevertheless of great effect. Since it is easy to imagine the well-known version as a further development of this Variant, and the opposite is hardly possible, this Variant must be the earliest version of the work.

(Translation by Rosalyn Tureck)

Georg von Dadelsen and Klaus Rönnau are also bound to the traditional notion that the Variant is the “earliest” version written by Bach. Their deduction that the simper version can hardly have followed BWV 903 is arrived at through the same linear process of thought that produced the assumptions of the nineteenth century editors. But they are alone in their assessment of the Rust Variant as being “von grösser Wirkung”—greatly effective. [5]

2.3. The Rust Variant: Its Appearance and Disappearance

As has been seen, the Rust Variant first appeared in the appendix to Griepenkerl’s edition of 1843/44 (47), but Griepenkerl, in the preface to this edition, does not name a specific Rust nor inform us as to a source for the 1757 dating. Moreover, he does not contribute any information about the historical circumstances of the Variant or enlightenment as to its provenance before 1843/44. We learn from Naumann, 43 years later, of a cover containing a name and date, but then it is reported as lost (48).

The very omissions provoke some questions: How and through whom did the Rust Variant come to Griepenkerl’s notice? He did not know of it in 1819 when he so proudly produced this first edition of the work. Did he receive the loan of the manuscript from Wilhelm Rust for this later publication? It is conceivable that one of F. W. Rust’s sons, perhaps Wilhelm Karl Rust (1787–1855), the youngest son of Friedrich Wilhelm Rust, and a close contemporary of Griepenkerl (1782–1849), may have been the owner having received it from his father. In this case, the manuscript could have been put at the disposal of this nephew, Wilhelm, and, on the uncle’s death, come into Wilhelm Rust’s possession. So much for speculation! The main evidence to be gleaned from the parade of successive editions and documents in the nineteenth century pertaining to the Variant’s existence merits further consideration. The next stage is therefore the examination of the personages and circumstances of the Rusts whom we know to be associated with the Variant.

2.3.1. Wilhelm Rust
The “Herrn Prof. Dr. Rust” in whose possession the manuscript was, according to Ernest Naumann in the Bach Gesellschaft edition in 1886 (49), is, of course, the Wilhelm Rust (1822–1892) who became a distinguished participant in the Bach renaissance. He was of the third distinguished generation of an illustrious musical family and, as indicated above, a grandson of Friedrich Wilhelm Rust who was a brilliant musician and the younger brother of J. L. A. Rust. Wilhelm Rust became known as an organist, teacher and editor, and, in his lifetime, also enjoyed a substantial reputation as a composer (50). His increasing distinction is exemplified by the successive positions that he held. According to Grove Music Online “from 1849 to 1878 he was active in Berlin, where he became organist at the Lukaskirche in 1861, directed the Bach-Verein from 1862 to 1875, and taught at the Stern Conservatory from 1870. He was an editor of the Johann Sebastian Bach Werke (Leipzig, 1851–99) from 1853, in 1858 becoming chief editor. In 1878 Rust was appointed organist of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, and he became a teacher at the Leipzig Conservatory at the same time. The climax of his career came with his appointment as Kantor of the Thomasschule in 1880”. [6] Almost by the time the Rust Variant was re-published in the Bischoff edition (1880), he had produced as editor, 26 volumes of the Bach Gesellschaft edition (1855–1881). He was, therefore, among the leading authorities of Bach scholarship in the mid-and-late nineteenth century. His scholarly editing of the music was supplemented by prefaces to the volumes. These were highly valued but the latter editions came under some strong criticism in his own lifetime. For instance, George von Dadelson, who wrote of him: Er war der grösste Kenner des Bachschen Werkes vor und neben Ph. Spitta, “He was the greatest authority on Bach’s works prior to and in addition to Ph. Spitta.”, also commented about his “editorial idiosyncrasies” (51). [7]

It has been noted that Griepenkerl, in 1819, knew nothing of the Rust manuscript’s existence when he published his first edition of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, which was replete with copious notes, performance indications and references to Bach’s original intentions according to his memories of his teacher, Johann Nicolaus Forkel (52). Had he any awareness of such a variant, it would have received significant treatment in his edition. He had added an alternative performance text for the Fantasia’s Coda, based as he says, on Forkel’s memory of it, and it is, therefore, inconceivable that he would have totally ignored an authentic version of any section of the work in both his Bemerkungen and the note-text.

Another issue of Griepenkerl’s edition followed in 1839 reproducing identically the 1819 text but with the addition of Czerny’s fingering (53). No mention of BWV 903a is made until the Variant is printed in the Anhang to the third Griepenkerl edition of 1843/44, which here retains only an abbreviated form of his original Bemerkungen of 1819: Die älteste Form, in Bezug auf die Fantasie, scheint sich in der Handschrift bei Rust, v. J. 1757… (54), “The oldest form appears to be that of the manuscript in the possession of Rust, dating from the year 1757…”.

Griepenkerl’s first reference to the Rust version does not allude to the circumstances of its sudden appearance. At a time when historical consciousness was in full bloom and manuscripts were dutifully reported and treasured as priceless testimonies of the past, due to the growing discipline of what came to be the field of musicology, the significance of Griepenkerl’s omissions as well as his additions, deserve more critical attention than they have received heretofore.

Six years previous to the publication of Naumann’s Bach Gesellschaft Edition, Hans Bischoff in 1880, alludes to “… the old Rust manuscript from the year 1757, which is found in Peters S. I., C.4…” (55). It is unusual for Bischoff to refer to a printed edition rather to the manuscript source itself as he does in citing the other sources. Further, he mentions no provenance, but he does do so in citing his other Ms. Sources. Bischoff was not prone to neglect these aspects relating to each of the manuscripts examined in preparation for his edition. Where was this manuscript at the time that he was ready to edit the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue? In 1886, Ernest Naumann writes: “Old manuscript in the possession of Hernn. Prof. Dr. Rust, with the title: ‘Fantasia Chromatique pour le Clavecin del Sigre. J. S. Bach’. On the lost cover was written ‘J. L. A. Rust, Bernburg, 1757’.” (56)

This is the first mention of a cover, now referred to as “lost”. Here the manuscript is attributed, for the first time specifically, to Wilhelm Rust’s possession. No impression of the manuscript itself is conveyed; presumably it is still extant in the hands of its owner. Therefore, it should have been available for perusal by the editor of the edition of which Wilhelm was chief, and to Bischoff, a distinguished colleague.

BWV 903a surfaced, then in the mid-nineteenth century, its provenance unequivocally ascribed to Rust: “scheint sich in der Handschrift bei Rust, v. J. 1757 zu finden.” (57) Wilhelm Rust was very much alive and active at the time of the 1845 publication and held the highest of positions when Bischoff and Naumann did their research and published their findings. As the figure closest to this manuscript, he is the best suited to solve the various riddles its appearance and disappearance present. But, first, his connection with J. L. A. Rust and F. W. Rust must be reviewed.

2.3.2. Johann Ludwig Anton Rust and Friedrich Wilhelm Rust

Friedrich Wilhelm Rust, Wilhelm’s grandfather, was born in 1739 and died in 1796 (58). At Bach’s death in 1750, he would have been only eleven years old, in the year of the Rust manuscript dating, 1757, eighteen. We are told that the cover of the Rust manuscript contained the name of J. L. A. Rust, not F. W. It may be useful to examine the circumstances of J. L. A and F. W. Rust’s relationship to Johann Sebastian.

Johann Ludwig Anton Rust was Friedrich Wilhelm’s elder brother. He is claimed to have had direct contact with Bach:

In den Jahren 1744 und 1745 studirte er in Leipzig und wurde hier, nachdem J. S. Bach seine gute musikalische Bildung und Begabung erkannt hatte, von diesem zu den üblichen musikalischen Aufführungen als Violinist mit herangezogen. Im J. 1750 lebte er in Dresden und im August 1751 wurde er in Dessau in die Zahl der ordentlichen Regierungsadvocaten aufgenommen. In demselben Jahre starb sein Vater und ihm fiel nunmehr die Sorge für die weitere Ausbildung und Erziehung seiner drei jüngeren Brüder, besonders des jüngsten, Friedrich Wilhelm Rust. (59) [8]

Between the years 1744 and 1745 he studied in Leipzig and, after J. S. Bach recognized his very good musical education and his talent, he was invited by him to partake of the usual musical performances as a violinist. In 1750 he lived in Dresden, and in August of 1751 he became part of the body of regular government lawyers. In the same year, his father died and, from then on, he became responsible for the further education and raising of his three younger brothers, and particularly of the youngest, Friedrich Wilhelm Rust.

The young Friedrich Wilhelm “learnt to play the violin, encouraged by his elder brother Johann Ludwig Anton, who was himself considered an excellent violinist. He also learnt the piano, and according to his own account in his autobiography could play the first part of J. S. Bach’s Das wohltemperirte Clavier from memory when he was 16.” [9] The performance of the “48” strongly suggests J. L. A.’s influence in initiating repertory assignments for his gifted younger brother. By 1757, Friedrich Wilhelm, at the age of 18, surely would have been well equipped for copying out a work such as the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue.

Fresh questions now emerge. From what manuscript would BWV 903a have been copied? It is possible that J. L. A. brought a manuscript with him on this return from Leipzig, and in 1757 decided to make a copy for himself and/or his younger brother. On the other hand, J. L. A. may have received a copy in that year from a friend or colleague, from which he may have made a copy. In that case, such a variant may have proceeded from a source unknown or unnamed. In any case, the source itself for BWV 903a remains curtained to posterity.

It is not inconceivable that J. L. A. may have been the scribe for this manuscript: his name was on the cover, not that of F. W. Rust. On the face of it, a name on a cover of a manuscript often signifies no more than the owner of this manuscript. On the other hand, it is more likely than not, that not J. L. A. but Friedrich Wilhelm, the professional performer, made use of the music text. But this does not signify that the younger man was the scribe. Yet, it may indeed be that Friedrich Wilhelm was the copyist for, by the age of 18, having been equal to performing the entire “48” at 16, he would have been easily equal to dealing with such a work as the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue. In this case, it seems unlikely that the elder brother would have claimed the possession of a manuscript copied by his younger brother. We have seen that Griepenkerl, in the first Peters edition containing the Variant, writes, simply, that the Variant is in the hand of Rust, mentioning neither Friedrich Wilhelm nor Johann Ludwig Anton.

Renowned as F. W. Rust came to be as a composer, violinist, director of a music school and a new music theatre, his imprint on musical life can hardly have gone unnoticed by Forkel, Griepenkerl’s teacher, who was a contemporary of F. W. Rust. Therefore, still another question emerges: Did Forkel know J. L. A. and/or F. W. Rust? Was he aware that such a manuscript of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue existed? For, if he knew of it, Griepenkerl would have known of it by 1819.

2.3.3. Forkel and Friedrich Wilhelm Rust

The question as to why Forkel did not report, or possibly did not know of, an additional version of a substantial segment of the Chromatic Fantasia must be addressed. Forkel was, of course, indefatigable in his search for all Bach manuscripts. As so active a protagonist in the cause of Johann Sebastian, it seems more likely than not that he would have been aware of J. L. A. Rust’s contact with Bach in the mid-1740s, and that he would have heard of Friedrich Wilhelm´s tour de force in performing the entire Well Tempered Clavier as well as of his studies with Carl Philipp Emanuel and Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, [10] Forkel being only ten years younger than Friedrich Wilhelm, whose adult career and fame coincided with the period of Forkel’s maturity. J. L. A. Rust played a small part in Bach’s circle for a comparatively short time, but his renowned brother, who had direct contact with two of Bach’s sons, both of whom in relatively frequent contact with Forkel, may indeed have come to Forkel’s attention and/or roused his interest.

Friedrich Wilhelm died on February 28, 1796, when Forkel was 47 years old. Five years later, Forkel had become a chief consultant for the Bach publications of Hoffmeister & Kühnel (61). By this time he had already collected an impressive number of manuscripts attributed to Johann Sebastian. Had he known of the existence of still another manuscript of a work that he so particularly recommended to Hoffmeister & Kühnel for publication, it is inconceivable that he would not have made it known to them or that he could have withheld mention thereof in his biography of Johann Sebastian, where he singles out this work with particular emphasis. (62)

2.3.4. The Rust Family Tradition

Wilhelm Rust was the son of Karl Ludwig Rust and the nephew of Wilhelm Karl Rust, both the sons of Friedrich Wilhelm Rust. Karl Ludwig’s profession was law but, following the tradition of the Rust family, he was also a fine amateur violinist and pianist (63). The Rust family was involved in the music world of Germany for over a century, from the mid-eighteenth century to the late-nineteenth century, and was known to be associated with the music of Bach for three generations, from Johann Ludwig Anton through Friedrich Wilhelm to Wilhelm Rust. It is difficult to reconcile the possibility of a manuscript of a work by Johann Sebastian lying fallow in an attic, or misplaced carelessly within music sheets or elsewhere in an atmosphere such as that of the well-informed amateur and professional musicians of the Rust Family. Therefore, the sudden appearance of a manuscript copy of one of Bach’s works, as late as the mid-1840s, does not synchronize with a hundred years of active interest in Bach’s music on the part of these three generations, including Wilhelm Rust.

2.3.5. The further history of the Rust manuscript

Why was the Rust manuscript so late in making its appearance? Hoffmeister and Kühnel, in the opening years of the nineteenth century, were scouring the musical landscape in their search for autographs of J. S. Bach and were in touch with many musical personages and sources in their assiduous desire to publish his works. With the prominence of the Rust family in the music world, it is difficult to imagine that they would have been unaware of Hoffmeister and Kühnel’s search for publications and that one of the Rusts would not have made known to them possession of such a manuscript.

When did the Rust manuscript disappear? Who, besides Rust, saw this manuscript previous to its first printing in the 1843/44 Peters Edition, except, presumably, Griepenkerl and the typesetters at Peters? As late as 1866, Naumann, who states, as noted above, that the cover contained the inscription of J. L. A., 1757, makes the first mention of the lost cover. He makes no comment as to the scribe of the manuscript but notes that the manuscript is in the “possession of Herrn Prof. Dr. Rust”. Bischoff, in 1880, simply refers to the “old Rust manuscript” with no further identification. At no time has Wilhelm Rust offered comment on any aspect or circumstance concerning it. Since Griepenkerl, in 1843/44 does not mention a cover and no reference to it occurs until it is described by Naumann as “lost”, no concrete evidence exists for the actual existence of such a cover. In view of the distinguished work of Ernest Naumann, his statement may indeed be accepted on faith, but who told him the cover was lost? Is it conceivable that Wilhelm Rust, the chief editor of the Bach Gesellschaft since 1858, and owner of the Variant, as certified by Griepenkerl, since the 1840s, would be so careless with his Bach manuscript as to lose its cover?

It would appear that considerations for the solution to this riddle lie ultimately with the owner of the manuscript. Since Wilhelm Rust continues mute from 1843/44 through 1886, despite the publications of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in Peters, followed by Bischoff and finally, the Bach Gesellschaft edition at the time when it was under his chief editorship, a final subject for investigation must be Wilhelm himself.

The Rust Variant is not the only manuscript associated with his ancestors in the possession of Wilhelm and produced by him for publication. In 1889, when Wilhelm was still alive, Sir George Grove cites the re-publication of compositions by Friedrich Wilhelm Rust:

…his three Sonatas for the violin solo, which have been republished by his grandson (Peters) and are now the only music by which Rust is known; that in D minor has often been played at the Monday popular concerts. His last composition was a violin Sonata for the E string, thus anticipating Paganini… (64)

In 1893, the year following the death of Prof. Rust, the noted musicologist and teacher, Dr. Otto Neitzel appears in performance in Germany featuring F. W. Rust’s compositions (65), as the extended pamphlet on the music of F. W. Rust written by Dr. Erich Prieger in 1894 indicates. This essay’s title conveys the position to which Friedrich Wilhelm had been elevated in the late nineteenth century—ein Vorgänger Beethovens, “a forerunner of Beethoven”. It contains not only an appreciation of the music of F. W. Rust, but also a collection of reviews by critics in Germany and New York as well as a list of Rust’s compositions herausgegeben von Wilhelm Rust (“edited by Wilhelm Rust”). With the addition of a brief biography of Friedrich Wilhelm, it is possibly the most comprehensive overview of the oeuvre of this musical personage according to the information available at that time. M. Krause, in his review of the Leipzig performance, writes of the “Sonata Italiana” that “its first page begins entirely in the character of a Mendelssohn Song without words” (66).

One month later, Dr. Neitzel was in New York performing the same program, of which the reviewer from the Musical Courier writes:

We had a visit from Dr. Otto Neitzel, the eminent music critic of the ‘Cologne Gazette’, who at Bechstein Hall proved that, if anybody, he has a right to wield the pen in so trenchant and, at times, caustic manner as he does… Neitzel played on this occasion an entire Sonata in D flat and two movements from different sonatas by F. W. Rust, the forerunner of Beethoven, and in fact the man with whose musical ideas the giants of Bonn have closest kinship. It is truly astonishing, how Beethovenish these works, written in 1777, 1792 and 1794, respectively, sound at times, and how in many themes they seem to have ‘anticipated’ the grand old man. Well, live and learn. Learn that the fine second theme from the ‘Coriolanus Overture’ is note for note identical with one contained in a violin duo by F. W. Rust, which has never yet been published! (67)

Dr. Prieger in his concluding comments quotes Dr. Max Seiffert, the pupil of Philipp Spitta and distinguished editor in his own right:

In einem mit Portrait erschienen Aufsatze: Friedrich Wilhelm Rust. Von Dr. Max Seiffert: Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung (Charlottenburg) Nr. 27, 7. Juli 1893, Seite 371–374, Nr. 28/29, 14./21. Juli, Seite 283–286 heisst es u. a. (Seite 384 und zum Schlüsse des Aufsatzes): In den Annalen der Forschung wird mit goldenen Lettern Rusts Name als der des letzten Vertreters des einst so blühenden Lautenvirtuosentums vereichnet bleiben. Und was Rust für das Clavier und die Violine schuf, das wird ihn jetzt in die Reihe neben unsere grossen, in der Kunst noch lebenden Klassiker Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven erheben… (68)

In an essay, including a portrait: Friedrich Wilhelm Rust, by Max Seiffert. Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung (Charlottenburg) Nr. 27, 7 July 1893, pages 371–374, Nr. 28/29, 14/21 July, pages 282–286 (and also pages 384 and up to the end of the essay). In the annals of research Rust’s name will be etched in golden letters among the last representatives left in a once so blooming era of ringing brilliant virtuoso. And what Rust accomplished for the piano and the violin now ranks beside our greats in the art of the still living classical Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven…

(Translation by Rosalyn Tureck)

Wilhelm Rust had arranged with Peters to publish his grandfather’s compositions. From 1885 until the year of his death in 1892, Wilhelm Rust produced thirteen sonatas and a set of variations for publication by Peters. He also wrote what M. D. Calvocoressi later termed “flaming prefaces” (69) in these publications. For example, referring to the Sonata in C-major, Wilhelm writes of his grandfather’s work: “Here music rises to the height of a contest between Titans; we acknowledge the heroic victor by the reminiscences of motives, which are engraved on his shield.” (70) Another sample of Wilhelm’s Prefaces:

Here the fancy of the style, now free, now severe, takes its flight and reaches heights almost never touched at that period. The idiom in its brilliancy, the poetic ideas in their profound pregnancy, burst forth under the influence of egregious events in the life of the composer. (71)

A good part of the music world accepted the music in these publications unquestioningly, as composed by Friedrich Wilhelm as well as the prefaces with the hyperbolic claims by Wilhelm Rust. This, despite the fact that Dr. Prieger notes differences “Unterschiede” (72) to the original music of Friedrich Wilhelm. [11]

In 1912, Dr. Ernst Neufeldt published an article in Die Musik, entitled Der Fall Rust (“The Case of Rust”). His opening sentence provokes attention: “I must here tell a small story, which may not be uninteresting to readers.” (73) A hoax by Wilhelm Rust is then explicitly recounted, one of the most extraordinary in music history. Two articles in The Musical Times written by Michel-Dimitri Calvocoressi followed this. It is well known that this hoax became a cause célèbre, the discovery of Wilhelm Rust’s extensive alterations and additions to his ancestor’s compositions being proven beyond the slightest doubt by careful investigation into the original compositions and those given out by Wilhelm as composed by his grandfather.

In the first of his articles on Wilhelm Rust, Calvocoressi describes the steps and the denouement of this drama. He relates that, in 1912, Dr. Ernst Neufeldt, as “president of a ‘Rust-Gesellschaft’, having bethought himself of examining Rust’s manuscripts with the hope of discovering more masterpieces by Rust, gave the startling results of his investigations in the German periodical, Die Musik.” (74). Calvocoressi continues:

All the feats of daring harmonization and novel architecture upon which the eighteenth century Rust’s new-fangled glory rested, belonged to the nineteenth-century Rust. The clever, intricate variations, the ‘thematic unity’ of the Sonata in C, its ‘recitative’, its suggestions of pageants, its triumphant march, were additions to the original text, which consists of 286 bars in all, whereas the Sonata as published in 1891 comprised no fewer than 500. Likewise, the ‘Titanic contest’, the ‘reminiscences engraved upon the hero’s shield’ are not Friedrich Wilhelm’s but Dr. Wilhelm’s. ‘Now that the true facts are known’, Dr. Neufeldt concluded, ‘Rust the giant returns into nothingness; and the true Rust, and interesting, graceful, shrewd and sensitive artist shall endure, our sympathy for him resting on more normal and firmer foundations…’ In short, the whole of Dr. Rust’s doings has resulted in one of the most striking hoaxes to be found in the whole history of musical erudition. (75)

Vincent d’Indy was one of Rust’s greatest champions. He was aware of the additions by Wilhelm but waived their importance with a depreciating remark about German practice: “In the works edited by his grandson appear a few reprehensible attempts at modernization according to a practice of which Germany seems to enjoy the monopoly.” (76) But d’Indy continued to believe in the prospicience of Friedrich Wilhelm. In Calvocoressi’s words:

Rust’, says this celebrated composer and theorist, in the second book of his Treatise of Composition, is the connecting link between Haydn and Mozart on the one hand, Beethoven on the other… One must consider him as the necessary vinculum between the tradition of Bach and the master of Bonn’s novatory imagination. (77)

D’Indy continued to believe in the fantasy of Wilhelm Rust. Following and despite the exposure of the later Rust by Neufeldt, d’Indy took it upon himself to prove the authenticity of the compositions ascribed to F. W. Rust. Therefore, he announced his intention to “publish the Rust Sonatas in their true form, and then all musicians would be able to judge between his theory and Dr. Neufeldt’s” (78). The second article by Calvocoressi (within one month), in the issue of February 1, 1914, entitled “The Rust Case: Its Ending and Its Moral”, opened with the following paragraph:

M. Vincent d’Indy’s edition of twelve pianoforte Sonatas by F. W. Rust, accurately transcribed from the original manuscripts, has appeared. Doubt is no longer possible. All Dr. Neufeldt’s assertions as to the falsifications introduced by Dr. Wilhelm Rust in the works of this grandfather were strictly founded on facts. And the admiration bestowed upon Rust’s Sonatas, until the recent date when the truth was discovered, went to works grievously adulterated both in form and style. (79)

The case is closed. The drama now ends. It is now definitely established that as many as thirteen works, based on original compositions by Friedrich Wilhelm, were altered and extended by Wilhelm. In the case of the Sonata in C for instance he added 214 measures to a work of, originally, 286 measures.

With this capacity for falsifying the talent and achievement of his grandfather, it must give one pause, in accepting unquestioningly from Wilhelm Rust the manuscript attributed to his grandfather as scribe. Moreover, its appearance is late, sudden, and unexplained by Wilhelm or anyone else. Equally so is the announcement of the “lost cover”. When the Variant appeared, the proclivity of Wilhelm to falsify was not perceptible. There may have been a predisposition toward this kind of activity, which comes to full fruition in later life.

I realize that it is a very grave step to question the authenticity of the Rust Variant and to admit suspicion into the case of Wilhelm Rust in this connection as well. However, mine is not the first since the exposure by Dr. Neufeldt supplemented by others in the early twentieth century. In 1983, Professor Robert Marshall, distinguished Bach scholar and authority on original Bach sources, questioned the authenticity of articulation instructions added in the sources for Cantata BWV 102, from which Wilhelm Rust worked in his edition for the Bach Gesellschaft in its Volume 23:

The facts, then, [1] that Rust not only not consulted the Hering parts but used them as the Muster for his edition, [2] that he felt free to make notations on the original title page of the source and [3], that the source contains far-reaching, carefully drawn, and musically subtle slurrings that were clearly later additions and are found nowhere else but in the BG edition—all these considerations suggest that it was Rust himself who actually entered the new articulation in the Hering parts. This in turn leads to the suspicion—which one mentions with considerably more hesitation—that it may have been Rust himself who added the (far less numerous) supplemental slurs and staccato dots in the autograph score. The evidence for this assertion is [1] their agreement with those in the Hering parts and [2] the fact that they almost certainly were added not only after 1800 (the time of the Schwencke copy) but indeed after 1841, the year in which the autograph was acquired by the Prussian State Library from its previous owner, the autograph collector Georg Poelchau, and became—for the first time, really—generally accessible. Other considerations leading to this suspicion are the absence of any other person known to, or even likely to, have examined both the autograph score and the Hering parts in the nineteenth century and, finally, and admittedly subjective impression that the handwriting of the slurs in both sources is not dissimilar (see the plates). But, once again, it is a difficult matter indeed to identify with certainty the hand that drew a slur.

It must be emphasized that the previous discussion falls far short of conclusive proof that it was Wilhelm Rust and no one else who entered and altered articulation marks not only in an important secondary copy but even in an autograph manuscript of Bach himself. The evidence at this point is quite circumstantial. Such an intimation, moreover, must not be made lightly. It is a charge tantamount to falsification of documents and would be an accusation of the gravest sort.

The fact is, however, that Wilhelm Rust’s reputation as a reliable and conscientious editor has been seriously tarnished before—but not with reference to his still monumental achievements as an editor of the works of J. S. Bach. It is known that Rust was the perpetrator of one of the boldest hoaxes in the history of musicology. (80)

Wilhelm Rust was twenty-one years old at the time of the Variant’s first publication in Griepenkerl’s 1843/44 edition. Certainly, his position in his early career would be enhanced by the production of a heretofore unknown original manuscript by J. S. Bach. Moreover, this manuscript bore his own family name, representing a relative as close as his respected grandfather. Forty-four years later, when he occupied the most prestigious editorship in the world of music, he had much less need for elevating his reputation, yet he created boldly fraudulent compositions in a continuous series with propagandizing prefaces and claims of prophetic genius by the same grandfather, which he knew to be false.

The summarizing report by Hermann Kretzschmar in Volume 46 (1899) of the Bach Gesellschaft edition itself refers to Rust’s diminishing reliability as editor:

Arbitrary additions began to appear in the body of the edition itself: citations of Bible passages and identifications of chorale texts were appended to Bach’s music—with or without parentheses. Essential titles and headings, on the other hand, were omitted or banished to the foreword. Complaints from the subscribers arrived at the office of the Board of Directors. Among these angry voices was that of the Bach biographer Philipp Spitta. (81)

The reasons for Wilhelm’s carefully calculated labors in corrupting his grandfather’s music and creating a false prophetic aura around his name couldn’t be explained at this late date. Perhaps the pecuniary gain was tempting, but here again, in his position as performer, teacher, editor, it would seem that his financial situation could not have been so precarious as to impel him to embark on an illegitimate enterprise. Did the power gained through his success enflame his desire for added glories?

Von Dadelsen cites Rust’s sense of power: “Fully aware of his authority, Rust increasingly inclined to editorial idiosyncrasies…” (82). The luster to be shed upon his name as result of the unveiling of a musical prophet in the form of his direct ancestor was, without doubt, elevating beyond his current position as chief editor of the Bach Gesellschaft Edition. The association of his forbears with the music of Bach contributed strength to this position, even in his early life. If he, at that time was falsely representing mm. 3–24 as those of Johann Sebastian, emanating from Friedrich Wilhelm, it was as unnecessary as were his self-aggrandizing adulterations of his ancestor. For Friedrich Wilhelm was honestly worthy of the recognition he received, in his own right and on his own level during his lifetime. A distinguished family background enriched Wilhelm and he was endowed with genuine gifts that earned for him his ascendant position.

Whatever the causes, the fact remains that Wilhelm perpetrated these corruptions in at least thirteen of his ancestor’s works. With such a personal history, and the more recent questioning of his role in the additions on a Bach autograph and the Hering parts, the production of a manuscript through the sole agency of Wilhelm Rust must be viewed with extreme care, if not suspicion.

Capable as a scholar and performer, Wilhelm Rust was learned, but a weak composer on his own. The Sonatas by F. W. Rust proved good basic materials and an outlet for creative fulfillment by way of his addenda and transformations. Earlier, the Chromatic Fantasia may also have provided a tempting model for adulteration. The style of the Variant reflects more the simple “natural” figurations of the latter part of the eighteenth century rather than the florid configurations native to the late Baroque vision of a Johann Sebastian (83). The admission of the Rust Variant to suspicion has been made with great reluctance and a fair degree of hesitation, despite Rust’s proven propensity in the area of falsification. This, however, is not to accuse, but rather to question the association of the Rust Variant with the person who, deliberately and in full awareness of what he was doing, in later life presented false manuscripts to the music world over a period of several years.

Another aspect of this matter is the virtually universal, unquestioning acceptance of the Variant, the weakness of which has been perceived almost unanimously for 150 years. This extraordinary complacency may be attributed, in large measure, to the undeniable prestige of Wilhelm Rust as musician and scholar. The distinguished position held generally by the Rust family, and specifically by Wilhelm in the nineteenth century, may have accounted for the tendency of otherwise indefatigable researchers to be unusually uncritical. To have investigated further the credentials of a manuscript attributed to Rust, which surfaced in the possession of Wilhelm, would have appeared to be quite unnecessary to otherwise conscientious scholars. It is extraordinary, however, that the structural and figurative weakness of this segment has not been investigated heretofore and that following the exposure of the Rust hoax, the authenticity of the Variant continued throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to be accepted at face value.

Its structural inadequacy, its unrelatedness to the multiple structures and compositional processes following this segment are in themselves strong grounds for questioning whether this is, indeed, the product of the mind, even the young mind, of a Johann Sebastian Bach. Coupled with the documented and proven falsifying record of Wilhelm Rust, it is time that this ‘Variant’ be viewed with fresh judgmental values. This exegesis is written solely in the interests of the integrity of a great composition and in the spirit of investigation of a long acknowledged unbalance in the structure of the Fantasia if coupled with this version. On another level, according to the assumption that is being examined here—that a simple (i.e. simplistic), work is an early work—other early works by Bach ought to provide examples of similar simplistic treatment. The next step requires a comparative survey of Bach’s compositional treatment in his early compositions.


[1] Criticism of Dr. Tureck’s editorial work can be found, for instance, in an interview given by Paul Badura-Skoda in the magazine MUSICA, 3, (June 1986). 

[2] This information has been kindly provided by Prof. Christoph Wolff. My thanks are also to Dr. Peter Wollny and Kristina Funk-Kunath, at the Bach-Archiv Leipzig, for their assistance with the manuscript. See also footnote 7 of the ‘Critical Notes on Text and Interpretation.’ 

[3] As well as its more recent revision from 1978. 

[4] Dr. Tureck’s source of information for the date of Vietinghoff’s death as well as for a daughter of his alive at the time of writing is lost.

[5] The 1978 revised Henle Edition of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, prepared also by Georg von Dadelsen and Klaus Rönnau arrives to an identical conclusion without further comment: “Another version of the Fantasia (BWV 903a) was the lost manuscript formerly belonging to F. W. Rust and dated ‘Bernburg 1757’. Deviations in this version primarily affect the 18 measures 3–20 in lieu of which it gives 21 completely different measures. We have reproduced this section in accordance with the old Bach Complete Edition, Volume 36 as variant following the Fugue. This version is considered to be the earliest form of the work” (Dadelsen and Rönnau, eds., ‘Preface’, III). 
Two other recent editions of the work hold similar views of the Variant 903a, which remains being considered as an early version of the BWV 903. Firstly, the Wiener Urtext Edition, edited and commented by Ulrich Leisinger, with fingering and notes on interpretation by Michael Behringer, notes that “there are at least three simpler versions whose authenticity cannot easily be doubted. They may therefore be understood as early stages of the composition” (Leisinger, ed., ‘Preface’, IX). The Rust Variant, identified here as the “earliest” of such stages is provided as the first appendix to the main version—although only the first 31 bars thereof, on the basis that the differences between them are “comparatively small”, and that these “have been documented in a special section of the Critical Notes thus making it possible for the performer to reconstruct completely the early version” (Leisinger, ed., ‘Preface’, X). The other two earlier stages are the versions contained in the manuscript copied by Johann Tobias Krebs and a “collective manuscript compiled by Forkel (source F)” (Leisinger, ed., ‘Preface’, IX).
Secondly, the edition prepared by Uwe Wolf for Bärenreiter states that “the early version of the Fantasia (BWV 903a) is accesible today in a single manuscript prepared in the 1730s for the Darmstadt Court Chapel. Another copy of this version was extant in the nineteenth century and served as the basis of both the Peters edition and that of the old Bach Gesamtausgabe. The early version has a radically different opening section and an unusually large compass, from contra A to d3” (Wolf, ed., ‘Preface’, IV). It also mentions an “intermediate version closely resembling the main version” which “survives in a copy prepared by Johann Tobias Krebs the Elder”, and “in a manuscript copy written in the hand of Samuel Gottlieb Heder” (Wolf, ed., ‘Preface’, IV-V). Editor Uwe Wolf recognizes, in a fashion similar to that of the Wiener Urtext Edition's editors, that “performers will likewise find it interesting to have this famous work available in three self-contained evolutionary layers” (Wolf, ed., ‘Preface’, V).

[6] Buchmann, Lutz: “Rust.” In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed May 3, 2012). In the light of conflicting biographical data between Dr. Tureck’s text and the most recent version of the information source, the editor has chosen to provide here a quotation from the relevant Grove article instead of Dr. Tureck’s original.

[7] The aforementioned Grove Music Online article supports these claims: “In his editions of the works of his grandfather, Friedrich Wilhelm, however, he abandoned this meticulous scholarship, and his attitude to them still casts a shadow over his work as a whole” (Buchmann, Lutz: Ibidem).

[8] The source of Dr. Tureck’s original quotation is unclear. The editor has therefore chosen to replace Dr. Tureck’s quotation with a similar paragraph from an alternative source available at the time of editing this article—see endnote (59).

[9] Buchmann, Lutz: “Rust”, in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed May 4, 2012).

[10] “From 1758 he studied law at Halle-Wittenberg University; he also had lessons with W. F. Bach and in return deputized for him as a church organist. Soon after Rust had completed his studies there, Prince Leopold Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau sent him to Zerbst to study with Carl Höckh, and then to Berlin and Potsdam (July 1763–April 1764) to study the violin with Franz Benda and keyboard instruments with C. P. E. Bach.” (60)

[11] Bei einem systematischen Durchgehen werden dem aufmerksamen Beobachter einige Unterschiede in Bezug auf die Vollgriffigkeit des Claviersatzes nicht entgehen (…) Einzelnes mag sich sogar dabei befinden, das unter den Begriff der “Modernisirung” fallen könnte. (Prieger, Rust, 1*-4) “When systematically studied, a number of differences in regard to the full reach of the keyboard range shall not remain unnoticed to the the aware observer (…) Some of them might even fall under the term ‘Modernization’.”