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     Posted in 2013 in a forum at AllAboutJazz.com. Here reproduced from the author’s archives.

Bach Goes To Town:
Did two or three bars disappear from the fugue?

Have you ever noticed that one of the Bach imitations in Alec Templeton's fascinating fugue is only half as long as Bach would have written it?

It's the melody in bars 47 – 48, not far from the end of the fugue.  Templeton's original intention must have been to repeat that melody at a lower pitch, because Templeton knew that Bach would have done so.

But it is not done in any of the performances I have heard – and it is not done in the one piano score sheet I have  (Sprague – Coleman 1938)  or in the clarinet arrangements I have seen.

Here is some Aha–insight I got when I took a closer look at the piano score sheet some time ago.  Very briefly:

I believe the melody was originally followed by two bars that repeated it at a lower pitch.

But those two bars were unintentionally left out in the hand–written copy that was sent to the publishing company.  The whole passage was later changed, by someone who noticed that something was wrong and tried to patch the fugue together.  A third bar may have been omitted as part of that repairment.

The passage got playable, but I think it still looks far from authentic.  Bar 51 even has an elementary blunder that Templeton, with his background from the Royal Academy in London, cannot have intended.

I took the freedom to reconstruct the passage into what I believe is close to its original form.  Full story + score examples with bar numbers  here.

And now, my questions.  (I am a Bach player, not a jazz player or a composer.  Regarding Alec Templeton, I know most of what can be found on the Internet.)

(1)  Why wasn't that broken Bach imitation fixed many years ago?  For instance at a time before the first clarinet arrangements were made?  A telephone call to Templeton, and the matter could have been clarified in no time.

(2)  How did Templeton's music get written down?  Did Templeton  (blind from birth)  dictate it to an assistant?  A mistake or two in such a process would be no surprise – but the two bars may equally well have been forgotten because a correct manuscript was incorrectly copied by hand.

(3)  How did Templeton himself play the fugue on the piano?  A recording exists, but it cannot be listened to on the Internet.  A CD from 1995  (Bach Goes to Town – the genius of Alec Templeton – PASTCD 7057)  appears to be out of stock.

If you have that CD – and if it is correct that Templeton plays the piece personally on the piano – perhaps you could listen to it, and tell if Templeton repeats the melody in bars 47 – 48 at a lower pitch?  (If he doesn't, it's probably because he became aware of the error too late for a correction to be practical, then decided to make the published version the official version, and play accordingly.)

Hope someone knows something I don't!
Bjarne Pagh Byrnak


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