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University of Iowa

Iowa Research Online


Theses and Dissertations

Spring 2013

A study of two organ chorale preludes of Johann


Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) transcribed by
Wilhelm Kempff (1895-1991)
Jung-Ok Lee
University of Iowa

Copyright 2013 Jung-Ok Lee


This dissertation is available at Iowa Research Online: http://ir.uiowa.edu/etd/2564
Recommended Citation
Lee, Jung-Ok. "A study of two organ chorale preludes of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) transcribed by Wilhelm Kempff
(1895-1991)." DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) thesis, University of Iowa, 2013.
http://ir.uiowa.edu/etd/2564.

Follow this and additional works at: http://ir.uiowa.edu/etd


Part of the Music Commons

A STUDY OF TWO ORGAN CHORALE PRELUDES OF JOHANN SEBASTIAN


BACH (1685-1750) TRANSCRIBED BY WILHELM KEMPFF (1895-1991)

by
Jung-Ok Lee

An essay submitted in partial fulfillment


of the requirements for the Doctor of
Musical Arts degree
in the Graduate College of
The University of Iowa
May 2013
Essay Supervisor: Professor Rene Lecuona

Copyright by
JUNG-OK LEE
2013
All Rights Reserved

Graduate College
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa

CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL
_______________________
D. M. A. ESSAY
_______________
This is to certify that the DMA essay of
Jung-Ok Lee
has been approved by the Examining Committee for the essay requirement for
the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the May 2013 graduation.
Essay Committee: ___________________________________
Rene J. Lecuona, Essay Supervisor
___________________________________
Uriel Tsachor
___________________________________
Scott Conklin
___________________________________
Susan S. Jones
___________________________________
Frederick N. Skiff

To My Savior Jesus Christ

ii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my DMA essay adviser and dear
friend, Dr. Rene J. Lecuona, for her tremendous help on this project and her inspiring
musicianship. Also, I would like to convey my sincere thanks to my piano professor, Dr.
Uriel Tsachor for his excellent teaching and my DMA committee, Prof. Susan Jones,
Scott Conklin, and Frederick Skiff, for their support and flexibility. My deep thanks go
to my amazing parents and parents-in-law and extended family in Korea and Chicago. I
would especially like to thank my brothers, Rev. KwangJin and SungJin, for sending me
words of God and prayers. I would also like to mention my late sister, MyungOk, who
was my first piano teacher. I also give thanks to my friends, Pat Lust, Johanna Jones,
Tom Zelle, JinAh, MinJi and Sunghee for their inspiration and endless friendship. And
last but not least, I give my respectful heartfelt thanks to my beloved husband, SangKi,
for his firm faith, undying love, insight, impetus and support for me in everything.
Above all I give all the glory to my Lord Jesus Christ. Without His guidance, I would not
have been here.

iii

TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................................. vi
LIST OF EXAMPLES ...................................................................................................... vii
INTRODUCTION ...............................................................................................................1
CHAPTER ONE: WILHELM KEMPFFS MUSICAL AFFINITIES ................................5
Family Background of Lutheran Church Organists..........................................5
Early Musical Training .....................................................................................6
The Long Absence (1912-1914) .......................................................................7
Professional Career .........................................................................................11
Brendel and Grnzweig Perspectivse on Kempff ...........................................14
CHAPTER TWO: CHORALE PRELUDES AND TRANSCRIPTIONS.........................16
Brief Discussion of the Chorale Prelude ........................................................16
Definitions of the Terms .................................................................................20
Historical Overview of the Piano Solo Transcription ....................................22
CHAPTER THREE: STUDY AND ANALYSIS OF KEMPFFS TRANSCRIPTION:
CHORALE PRELUDE NUN KOMM, DER HEIDEN HEILAND, (NOW
COME, SAVIOUR OF THE HEATHEN), BWV 659a.....28
Background Information about BWV 659a ....................................................28
Transcription method and Performance Suggestions..31
Text, Music and Lutheran Faith......................................................................45
Additional Pedagogical Exercises ..................................................................53
CHAPTER FOUR: STUDY AND ANALYSIS OF KEMPFFS TRANSCRIPTION:
CHORALE PRELUDE ICH RUF ZU DIR, HERR JESU CHRIST,
BWV 639.....57
Background Information about BWV 639: Origin and Purpose ....................57
Transcription Method and Performance Suggestions .....................................61
Music and Text ...............................................................................................71
CONCLUSION ..................................................................................................................72
APPENDIX A: INTERVIEW WITH MAESTRO IDIL BIRET...74
APPENDIX B: MS. ANNETTE VON BODECKER INTERVIEW ................................76

iv

APPENDIX C: PERFORMERS EDITION SPECIFICALLY CREATED FOR


PIANISTS WITH SMALLER HANDS80
BIBLIOGRAPHY..85

LIST OF TABLES
Table 1. Nun komm der Heiden Heiland full text..30
Table 2. The structure of Nun komm der Heiden Heiland...47
Table 3. Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ full text..58
Table 4. The structure of Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ...64

vi

LIST OF EXAMPLES
Example 1. Gregorian Chant Veni, redemptor gentium.....17
Example 2. Nun komm der Heiden Heiland from Gregorian Chant Veni, redemptor
gentium......17
Example 3. Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, the melody from the Weienfels hymnal.....18
Example 4. Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, the melody transposed to G minor..18
Example 5. Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659a, the soprano line with cantus
firmus of Bachs chorale prelude for organ.....19
Example 6. The melody, Nun komm der Heiden Heiland..31
Example 7. Organ score of BWV 659a, mm. 15..33
Example 8. Kempffs Piano transcription of BWV 659a, mm. 15.......33
Example 9. Kempffs piano score of BWV 659a, mm. 21, 29 & 30..34
Example 10. Piano score of BWV 659a, m. 1........35
Example 11. Piano score of BWV 659a, mm. 5, 11, 32, 33, 34, Kempffs pedal
Indications .........37
Example 12. Piano score of BWV 659a, mm. 14, Authors recommended
pedaling..........39
Example 13. Piano score of BWV 659a, mm. 810, mm. 2528.......41
Example 14. Piano score of BWV 659a, mm. 48.........43
Example 15. The soprano line of BWV 659a.....45
Example 16. Piano score of BWV 659a, Introduction, mm. 14.......48
Example 17. Piano score of BWV 659a, mm. 2128.........49
Example 18. Piano score of BWV 659a, mm. 3134.....52
Example 19. Organ score of BWV 659a, mm. 3134....53
Example 20. Dohnnyi, Essential Finger Exercises, no. 2 and 3.......55

vii

Example 21. Ich ru zu dir Herr Jesu Christ, the melody.......59


Example 22. Organ score of Ich ru zu dir Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639, mm. 14b......60
Example 23. Kempffs piano transcription of BWV 639, mm. 113.....62
Example 24. Piano score of BWV 639, mm. 89...63
Example 25. Organ score of BWV 639, mm. 4b14......65
Example 26. Piano score of BWV 639, mm. 818.....66
Example 27. Piano score of BWV 639, mm. 818. Authors recommended dynamics.68
Example 28. Piano score of BWV 639, mm. 810. Authors recommended pedaling...70

viii

1
INTRODUCTION

Christianity and classical piano music are two of the main elements of my life. I
have had a desire to bring the richness of classical piano music into church worship
services. Since I believe in the power of beautiful classical music and in the wonderful
and versatile sonority of the piano, I have developed a strong interest in sacred music1 of
the Christian faith for the piano. Through seeking a sacred classical piano repertoire in
piano literature, I have become acquainted with the piano transcriptions of J. S. Bachs
sacred organ music.
As a professional Lutheran church musician for more than forty years, Bach
composed over eighty organ chorale preludes. These works were based on sacred texts,
and they were all intended for liturgical purpose. In the late nineteenth and twentieth
centuries, in order to play these organ chorale preludes on the piano, many composers
and pianists transcribed them for solo piano. Since the most well-known
pianist/composer who transcribed J. S. Bachs music for solo piano was Ferruccio
Busoni, the first piano solo transcription of Bachs chorale prelude that I learned and
included in a 2006 recital was the one by Busoni. As much as I enjoyed the Busoni
transcriptions, I was drawn more to Bachs original organ chorale preludes.
In 2008 I listened to a recording of Kempffs performance of his own Bach and
other Baroque music transcriptions.2 As a long time fan of Kempff through listening to
the recordings of his Beethoven and Schubert piano sonatas, I was completely enthralled

Sacred music: Music composed or performed for religious purpose.

Wilhelm Kempff, Eloquence, 2000 Universal Music Australia 457 624-2, Compact disc.

2
by the transparency of textures in his spiritual and ethereal performances. From this
introduction I began to research these works.
Throughout my research I was surprised at the paucity of English sources about
Kempff and his transcriptions, because he was featured in the Greatest Pianists of the
20th Century CD series and is as much appreciated as Arrau, Brendel, Gilels, Horowitz,
Richter and Rubinstein. The English sources that I found were very brief and too general
to use, and the articles from these research engines showed only cursory descriptions of
particular pieces of Kempffs Bach transcriptions.3 The only Ph.D. dissertation in
English that I could find containing references to Kempff in the title was James Martin
Clarks Celebrating Music: Wilhelm Furtwngler, Edwin Fisher, Wilhelm Kempff and
the German Romantic Performance Tradition.4 In the appendix Clark added the excerpt
of the translation of Kempffs autobiographical novel, Unter Dem Zimbelstern: Das
Werden eine Musikers (Under the Cymbal Star: The Development of a Musician)5, a
Bildungsroman (education novel)6 published in 1951. There were other sources in
German including Kempffs own writings; however none of them was translated into
English.

Music dictionaries, WorldCat, Proquest, JSTOR, Intl Index to Music Periodicals, InfoHawk catalogue,
and Google search engine, including Google books and Google scholar. One example of the articles
includes: Peter Burwasser, Bachianas and transcriptions, (Fanfare magazine for serious record collectors
review about Bach/Kempff Siciliano, Sep/Oct 2010, Vol.34), 526, 1/3p.
4

James Martin Clark, Celebrating Music: Wilhelm Furtwngler, Edwin Fisher, Wilhelm Kempff and the
German Romantic Performance Tradition (PhD diss., The University of Connecticut, 2005).
http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/pqdtft/docview/305009923/1316E908D916FAC184C/1?ac
countid=14663.
5

Wilhelm Kempff, Unter dem Zimbelstern: Das Werden eines Musikers (Stuttgart: Engelhonverlag Adolf
Spemann, 1951).
6

A popular writing style in Germany in the early 1900s.

3
Thus, for my writings about Wilhelm Kempff, the musician, I have used two
primary sources: The first was Clarks English translation of Kempffs autobiographical
novel, Unter Dem Zimbelstern: Das Werden eine Musikers, and the second was a
German language source: the catalogue from the 2008 Kempff Exhibition, which was
held in Berlin, November, 2008. This exhibition catalogue7 contains information about
Kempffs life, music, and pictures related to Kempff.
Two other sources used for this essay are interviews8 with Ms. Idil Biret, who has
recorded Kempffs complete transcriptions of Bachs music and is a former student of
Kempff, 9 and Ms. Annette von Bodecker,10 the president of the Kempff Foundation
(Wilhelm-Kempff-Kulturstiftung).

The scores which I used are Wilhelm

Kempffs Bach transcriptions for piano published by Bote & Bock, and I was
using Brenreiter editions for organ chorale preludes.11
In this essay, I propose to explore Kempffs background, including his family,
religion, education, and musical influences. I would also propose to explore Kempffs
motivation for transcribing Bachs chorale preludes, based on his background. Secondly,
I have sought to understand Kempffs transcriptions of two chorale preludes of Bach by

Catalogue available from www.amazon.co.uk. Now (March 23, 2012) in America, the University of
Michigan, Princeton University Library, Columbia University in the City of New York, Harvard University
and University of California at Los Angeles have the copy. Hathitrust Digital Library provides partial
pages of the book; full view is not available due to copyright restriction.
8

These interviews are located in Appendices A & B, 74.

Idil Biret, Wilhelm KEMPFF, 1991 by Bote & Bock, 8.223452, Compact disc.

10

In summer 2010, I received funding from the University of Iowa to travel to Positano, Italy, where
Kempffs home and his foundation (Wilhelm-Kempff-Kulturstiftung ) are located.

11

Johann Sebastian Bach, Neue Ausgabe Smtlicher Werke, Herausgegeben vom Johann-Sebastian-BachInstitute Gttingen und vom Bach-Archiv Leipzig, Serie IV: Orgelwerke Bnde 1 & 2: Brenreiter Kassel,
Basel, London, 1958 &1983.

4
thoroughly examining the origins of chorales and Bachs adaptations in relationship to
the text. I will also investigate how Kempffs transcription methods have influenced this
writers performance suggestions and how these are interwoven with this writers
pedagogical suggestions.
In chapter one I will give the reader some information which is not well known in
English speaking countries about Kempff, the musician, and his musical affinities.
Chapter two includes definitions of terms and brief overviews of the piano transcription
as well as the chorale prelude. The third and fourth chapters are analyses and discussions
about both the textual and musical materials combined with brief transcription methods
of Kempff as well as pedagogical and performance suggestions for two chorale preludes:
Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659, and Ich ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639.
In general it is very difficult to find sacred classical music repertoire of the
Christian faith for the piano; however, Kempffs transcriptions of the chorale preludes
represent a smallthough importantcontribution of sacred literature to the piano
repertoire. Overall, this essay is intended to help church musicians and pianists who want
to learn and perform Kempffs piano transcriptions of the Bach chorale preludes. It may
also assist piano teachers who might use Kempffs transcriptions as a teaching repertoire.

5
CHAPTER ONE: WILHELM KEMPFFS MUSICAL AFFINITIES

Family Background of Lutheran Church Organists


Wilhelm Kempff was born on November 25, 1895, in Jterbog.12 He came from
a very distinguished family of Lutheran church musicians. His father was a royal music
director and organist of the St. Nicolai Church in Potsdam, his grandfather a certified
church musician, Kantor (cantor), and his brother, Georg, was the director of church
music at the University of Erlangen, Germany.13
In his autobiography, Unter Dem Zimbelstern: Das Werden eines Musikers14
(Under the Cymbal Star: The Development of a Musician) Kempff describes the
environment in which he grew up as an environment steeped in music and Protestantism.
Within this strong family tradition of church organists, he heard Bachs organ repertoire
daily, as well as the conversations among family members about Bachs organ chorales
and the Lutheran faith.15 His family background was strongly linked to Kempffs
musical life.
Furthermore, the educational reform that occurred in the State of Prussia at the
beginning of the nineteenth century had an impact on Kempffs family. As a part of the
12

Jterbog is in the former German region of Prussia, and is located about forty miles soutwest of Berlin.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%BCterbog
13

The Pianist Wilhelm Kempff is Dead: the friend of Leonard Bernstein died at 95 [sic]. He played often
in the United States, May 24, 1991, John Zavrel, accessed March 30, 2010,
http://www.meaus.com/KEMPFF.html.
14

Wilhelm Kempff, Unter dem Zimbelstern: Das Werden eines Musikers (Stuttgart: Engelhonverlag Adolf
Spemann, 1951).

15

James Martin Clark, Celebrating Music: Wilhelm Furtwngler, Edwin Fisher, Wilhelm Kempff and the
German Romantic Performance Tradition. (PhD diss., The University of Connecticut, 2005.) ProQuest
(305009923), 237-238. (Clarks translation of Kempffs Unter dem Zimbelstern). This is one of two
sources which this writer used for Kempffs biography.

6
new education system, music was emphasized as a core and mandatory subject for
preparation of the sacred service. With this educational reform system, church music and
public school education were closely connected.16
Kempffs paternal grandfather used the opportunities of the Prussian educational
reform which improved the training of elementary school teachers and general public
school curriculum. As a result, his grandfather became the first member of the family to
move out of the peasant class and to become a certified church musician (Kantor).17
In addition, the political and cultural atmosphere of Prussia in the nineteenth
century provided a rich appreciation of music, music education, and music
performance.18 Thus, Kempffs family background, along with the Prussian political and
educational system, naturally placed him within the tradition of northern German
Lutheran church music and the northern German organ school.

Early Musical Training


Enchanted by Mozarts Sonata in G Major, K. 283, which his father played in
their home, young Wilhelm Kempff taught himself to play the piano. He wanted to copy
his father and started playing the beginning measures of the sonata, still unable to read
musical notes.19 After a short time he was able to reproduce the entire theme. His father
recognized the musical potential and consequently taught him both piano and

16

Werner Grnzweig et al., I am not a Romantic - The pianist Wilhelm Kempff (1895 1991) (Berlin: the
Academy of Arts, 2008), 107. This is the second source which this writer used for Kempffs biography.
17

Ibid.

18

Ibid.

19

Ibid., 114.

7
composition.20 Wilhelms first composition was written when he was five; thus, Kempff
experienced the interconnections among the various steps of music making. Like Mozart,
Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt and Brahms, Kempff grew up in the tradition of becoming a
pianist/composer.
As a young piano student Kempff showed superior ability in music. He was not
only able to play all forty-eight preludes and fugues of J. S. Bachs Well-Tempered
Clavier at the age of ten by memory, but he was also able to transpose these pieces to any
key. At the age of eleven, Wilhelm Kempff gave his first solo piano recital in 1907 at the
Palast Barberini in Potsdam (near Berlin).21 Furthermore, Kempff started to play the
organ at the Nikolai Church of Jterbog on various occasions and accompanied the
church choir (conducted by his father) during concerts since the age of ten.22

The Long Absence (1912-1914)


While his father continued to teach and mentor him, Wilhelm Kempff also began
to study piano with Ida Schmidt-Schlesicke. In 1906, Kempff began to study
composition with Robert Kahn23 and in 1909 he began to study piano with Heinrich
Barth.24 Heinrich Barth (1847-1922) was the premier piano and organ pedagogue in
Prussia at that time.25 In 1912, Barth insisted that Kempff leave the Royal Victoria

20

Grnzweig, 114.

21

Ibid.

22

Ibid.

23

Johannes Brahms pupil.

24

Karol Tausig and Hans von Blows pupil.

25

Barth taught the children of Emperor Wilhelm II.

8
Gymnasium26 in order to focus exclusively on piano performance, but Kempffs father
wanted his son to remain in the Gymnasium, where Wilhelm could receive a good
general education.
Wilhelm Kempff described the conflict between his father and teacher in his
autobiography. He writes that Barth expressed this desire in strong terms: Barth told
Kempffs father, And if you are not willing, I will use force.27
But Father was by no means terrified. He knew very well, after all, what the task
is of the fully educated musician, who is an instrumentalist and a composer and a
conductor for whom a good general education would be barely adequate. It was
characteristic of my father, the practical church musician, that all the objections of
the Erlknig bounced right off him.28

Due to this conflict between Barth and his father, the piano lessons with Barth stopped in
1912. Kempff himself called the period from 1912 to 1914 The Long Absence,
because he did not take regular piano lessons during this time.29
After his graduation from the Royal Victoria Gymnasium in Potsdam in 1914,
Kempff completed musical training at the Hochschule fr Musik Berlin (Berlin
Conservatory), 1914-1917. Despite the strained relationship between his father and Barth,
Kempff studied piano with Barth at the conservatory, while concurrently studying
philosophy and musicology at the University of Berlin.30

26

Equivalent to high school currently in the United States of America.

27

Clark, 242-243.

28

Ibid.

29

Ibid, 240.

30

Traditionally music performance and pedagogy were only taught in conservatory-like settings such as the
Hochschule while the academic fields of musicology and music theory were taught at universities.)
Robert Philip, Kempff, Wilhelm,, accessed January 12, 2011,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/14874

9
In addition to his formal studies, Kempff benefited from his familys proximity to
Berlin. In 1900, Kempffs family moved from Jterbog to Potsdam.31 Berlin was the
center of Prussian culture, so naturally Kempff was exposed to many aspects of Prussian
cultural life (chamber music, opera, operetta, church music, symphony orchestra).
Kempffs father planned two things in order to continue his sons musical education
during the time of the Long Absence. One was an attempt to awaken his [young
Kempffs] ambition through attendance at concerts by the most famous pianists of the
day; the other was to arrange for him a personal encounter with a musical
phenomenon.32 Kempffs father brought his son to world-renowned musicians
concerts and introduced him to important musicians of the early twentieth century such as
Ferruccio Busoni, Eugen dAlbert, and Edwin Fischer.33 Kempff wrote about dAlbert
and Busoni in detail in his autobiography. These two great pianists, both of whom
transcribed Bachs organ chorale preludes for solo piano, were important musical
influences for Kempff.
Eugen dAlbert was the first pianist about whom Kempff wrote in his
autobiography. Wilhelm attended a concert with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,
where dAlbert played Beethovens Emperor Concerto and Liszts Piano Concerto No.1,
as well as a Chopin Nocturne. Kempff wrote about the night he listened to dAlberts

31

His father was appointed Royal Music director and cantor of the Church of St. Nicolas in Potsdam.
Kempff, Wilhelm, accessed June 15, 2011,
http://uiowa.naxosmusiclibrary.com.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/composer/btm.asp?composerid=23991.

32

33

Clark., 243.

Ibid., 243-256. Edwin Fischer (1886-1960) was Wilhelm Kempffs godfather,Patenonkel. This was
told to me in person by Ms. Bodecker, the president of the Kempff foundation, when I talked with her in
Positano, Italy in September, 2010.

10
performance34: "For this was no mere piano playing, but rather a creator who seemed
to be creating a whole new world, a world built of tones."35 Kempffs love for the piano
was reaffirmed by dAlberts recital:
Through this experience [dAlberts performance] I had been given the gift of a
new relationship with my instrument. In all the family of keyboard instruments,
there was none that offered the full range from thundering fortissimo to the
lightest breath of the Aeolian harp, and I saw anew that the piano had a special
relationship to these gradations of tone and I came to appreciate the importance of
great dynamic contrast.36
After the concert Kempff encountered dAlbert and had a personal conversation with him
about piano technique. DAlbert told Kempff that the piano technique must be joined
with the soul and fused into an inseparable union.37
The second musical figure that Kempff identifies in his autobiography as an
important influence is Ferruccio Busoni. Kempff encountered Busoni on three occasions:
First, he attended Busonis concert, which strongly impressed Kempff. Secondly,
Kempffs father brought his young son to Busoni for private lessons more than once.38
And finally Kempff admired Busonis transcriptions of Bachs music. Kempff described
Busoni as a musical Leonardo.39
Throughout his life, Ferruccio Busoni was preoccupied with transcribing J. S.
Bachs organ works for piano. In general Busoni is more widely known for his piano

34

Clark, 244.

35

Ibid., 245. again the pianists hand hovered over the mysteriously gleaming black key, and the
pianists hand reminded me of the Spirit of God as it passed over the waters at the creation of the world.
36

Ibid., 246.

37

Clark, 247.

38

Ibid., 253-254.

39

Ibid., 249.

11
transcriptions than for his own compositions. Kempff wrote that the reason why Busoni
was a great Bach transcriber was because of Busonis sublime spirituality.40
In Kempffs private lessons with Busoni, Busoni discussed many aspects of
performing piano transciptions of Bachs organ works, such as the voicing of the cantus
firmus and the various ways of handling texture.41 Kempff wrote about this experience:
[Busoni says] Our organ [piano] has only one keyboard, but it can sound like it
has many manuals! I am even such a heretic that I believe that most of Bachs
chorale preludes sound better on our contemporary piano than they do on the
organ he [Busoni] brought the chorale Now, Good Christian Men Rejoice to
life. I [Kempff] dont say that he played, because it was much more than that. I
was hearing three voices becoming a unified whole, As Busoni ended the
chorale, the boy [Kempff] nodded very quietly. He had understood42

Idil Biret, Kempffs student, recalls, Wilhelm Kempff admired the great musician that
Busoni was and would often mention[ed] his name.43 In addition, Kempff mentioned,
I have always been drawn especially to his [Busonis] arrangements of Bach.44

Professional Career
Kempffs professional life consisted of three main activities: piano performance
including touring, composition and teaching. At the beginning of his career Kempff was
wavering between composing and performing. As a pianist, Kempff built a reputation as
an international concert pianist, traveling to all major concert halls in the world from
1916 until his retirement in 1981. Although he is now regarded primarily as having been
40

Ibid., 249.

41

Clark, 254-255.

42

Ibid.

43

sic from Appendix A, Jung-Ok Lee, 74.

44

Winfried Jacobs, Wilhelm Kempff Bach Transcriptions for Piano: trans by Lynn Matheson. (Berlin: Bote
& Bock, 1954), 5.

12
a top-tier pianist and influential teacher, Kempff did have some early success as a
composer. However, Kempff himself believed that his abilities as a composer never
reached his abilities as a pianist and performer.45
As a composer, in 1915 and 1917, Kempff was awarded the prestigious FelixMendelssohn-Bartholdy-Staatsstipendium (Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy State
Fellowship).46 In his application for the fellowship, Kempff was able to list these genres
among his own compositions: art songs, piano solo pieces, variations, organ fantasies,
organ fugues, orchestral suites, symphonic poems, three string quartets, one violin sonata,
trios, and sacred choral pieces.47 The inventory of the compositions by Wilhelm Kempff
in the Archive section of the Kempff exhibition catalogue consists of six pages, pp. 303308. It is evident that he had some success as a composer, because his second symphony
was premiered by Furtwngler and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1924.48
In 1924 when Kempff was twenty-nine years old, he was appointed the director of
the Wrttembergischen Hochschule fr Musik (Wurttemberg Conservatory of Music) in
Stuttgart. He also taught piano classes and conducted his own compositions from 19241929. In addition, Kempff also implemented a new department for church music.49
Kempffs work with his piano class at the Wurttemberg Conservatory was highly
successful from the very beginning. The friendly and relaxed relationship with his
45

Grnzweig, 98 &145.

46

This elite fellowship was awarded to highly gifted composers. Grnzweig, 145.

47

Grnzweig, 98 & 145.

48

Ibid., 145.

49

This proposal was presented by Kempff at the 1928 South German Congress for Music Education
(Sddeutsche Tagung fr Musikerziehung), held in Stuttgart. The title of the paper was The intellectual
and social challenges of the modern musician (Die Geistige Und Soziale Not Des Musikers der
Gegenwart). Ibid., 19-24.

13
students was a precursor for the way he would later conduct his summer courses, first in
Potsdam, and after World War II, in Positano.50
After his directorship at the conservatory in Stuttgart, Kempff began teaching and
directing the summer courses for piano in Potsdam, Deutsche Musikinstitut fr Auslnder
Sommerkurse in Potsdam, (German Music Institute for ForeignersSummer Course in
Potsdam). The summer courses allowed him to teach advanced students from around the
world. In the summer course Kempff worked with colleagues such as Edwin Fischer,
Eugen DAlbert, Leonid Kreutzer, and Walter Gieseking as well as other musicians.51 In
1957 Kempff founded the Fondazione Orfeo in Positano, Italy; today it is called the
Wilhelm-Kempff-Kulturstiftung (Wilhelm-Kempff-Cultural Foundation). The
foundation is located in southern Italy on the Amalfi Coast. Since Kempff had an
amazing skill in performing Beethovens complete sonatas and concertos, classes in the
interpretation of Beethovens music were offered.52 These courses were offered annually
until 1982 by Kempff, and after Kempffs death in 1991, Gerhard Oppitz and John
OConor took over the courses.53
Idil Biret, Kempffs former student, talks about lessons with Kempff and about
Kempff as a teacher.

50

Ibid., 149 & 155.

51

Ibid., 155.

52

Grnzweig, 89. All 32 [sic] Beethoven sonatas were included in each course, with each course lasting
14 days [sic]. There were no concerts during these courses. At first Kempff allowed listeners, but he later
decided against having any non-participating auditors.

53

Both Oppitz and OConor were previous participants of Beethoven interpretation courses in Positano.
Inspired by Kempffs performances of the complete Beethoven and Schuberts sonatas, the participants are
required to prepare five Beethoven sonatas and two concertos by memory. They accept about eight
participants. The classes last for eleven days.

14
From these lessons which started then and continued through the years I have
learnt so much; the real legato playing, the subtle art of pedaling, the sense of
simplicity and economy, never to exaggerate and never to lose the musical line.
Initially I wanted to write down all his precious advice but he did not want this; he
said that one should only remember what came naturally and each pianist having
different priorities the student should never copy the master.54

She continues,
A lesson with Wilhelm Kempff was not simply a lesson in music but also an
educational course in humanism and culture. With his vast knowledge of the
German, English, French and Italian Literatures, as well the ancient classics of
Rome and Greece, he made a fascinating synthesis of music and literature.55

The Brendel and Grnzweig Perspectives on Kempff


Wilhelm Kempff was one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century, and his
interpretation of Germanic piano literature has been honored in Europe, Africa, Asia, and
America by many distinguished musicians and music lovers. Alfred Brendel
acknowledges, I return again and again to Kempff, because he is a pianist who seems
frequently underestimated today a view that should now be corrected by the recently
released series Greatest Pianists of the 20th Century: listening to these six CDs, it should
become clear that he was, at least in the fifties, one of the greatest pianists.56
In 2008, a Kempff exhibition was held in Berlin an exhibition by the Academy
of Arts in collaboration with the house of Brandenburg-Prussian History. It was
commissioned by the Academy of Arts and edited mainly by Werner Grnzweig, the

54

Idil Biret, On Wilhelm Kempff, http://www.idilbiret.org/ENG/Ibe08frame.htm. Accessed January 12,


2011.
55

56

Ibid.

Alfred Brendel and Martin Meyer, Me of All People: Alfred Brendel in Conversation With Martin Meyer,
trans. Richard Stokes. (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2002), 38

15
director of the Academy of Arts in Berlin. The title of the exhibition was I am not a
Romantic. The pianist Wilhelm Kempff (1895-1991) documents from his life and
works. In the introduction of the catalogue to the exhibition, Dr. Grnzweig states
While Kempff is considered one among the gods of the piano, playing in countries such
as France and Japan, he is hardly known by the broader listening public in the US.57
And in the Grnzweig interview with Ms. Annette von Bodecker, the president of
the Kempff Foundation, one of the questions was His name is bigger in France than
Germany? Bodecker answered:
Yes, that is true. This can be partly explained by the inability of the Germans to
embrace their own identity. After the war they did not want any German artists,
no German music and particularly no romantic music. This explains the
difficulty in reintroducing Schubert and Schumann into the concert programs or
recording catalogues. Liszt was even less liked. Kempff sometimes played Liszt
in concerts, but it was difficult. And when Kempff played Beethovens E-flat
Major Concerto in Sweden, the critics remarked, Now the Germans are getting
bold again.58

Kempffs debut in England and America happened during the later years of his
life. His London debut was in 1954, when he was fifty-nine years old, and his American
debut in New York was in 1964 at the age of sixty-nine.

57

Werner Grnzweig et al., I am not a Romantic - The pianist Wilhelm Kempff (1895 1991) (Berlin: the
Academy of Arts, 2008), 9.
58

Grnzweig, 95.

16
CHAPTER TWO: CHORALE PRELUDES AND TRANSCRIPTIONS

Brief Discussion of the Chorale Prelude


Martin Luther (1483-1546) and musicians who wrote for the new Lutheran
Church reshaped and translated Roman Catholic chants to create hymns, called
Chorales in German. Chorales were melodies based on Catholic chants, secular songs,
or German traditional melodies sung in unison and unaccompanied by Lutheran church
congregations. One example of a Lutheran church chorale is Luthers adaptation of the
Gregorian hymn Veni Redemptor gentium as the chorale Nun komm der Heiden Heiland.
This is one of the chorales Bach borrowed for his organ chorale prelude. According to
Burkholder, in the early sixteenth century after Luthers Reformation, new sacred music
genres using Lutheran chorales were established. Chorales were used in various
polyphonic settings in different styles, including the chorale prelude.59 Example 1 shows
the Gregorian chant Veni Redemptor gentium, and the Lutheran hymn Nun komm der
Heiden Heiland (example 2).

59

J. Peter Burkholder. "Borrowing." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,


http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/52918pg6
(accessed December 8, 2011).

17
Example 1. Gregorian Chant Veni, redemptor gentium.

Example 2. Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland from Gregorian Chant Veni,
redemptor gentium.

________________________________________________________________________
Source: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Nun-komm.htm Sources: NBA, vols. III/2.1 & 2.2 in particular
[Brenreiter, 1954 to present] and the BWV ("Bach Werke Verzeichnis") [Breitkopf & Hrtel, 1998]
The PDF files of the Chorales were contributed by Margaret Greentree J.S. Bach Chorales Prepared by
Thomas Braatz & Aryeh Oron (May 2006).

According to Marshall, in mid- and late-seventeenth century, north German


composers, notably Buxtehude and later J. S. Bach, used chorales from the Lutheran
hymnal to create organ chorale preludes, which were solo organ works played in the
church service to introduce that Sundays chorale tune to be sung by the congregation.60
The chorale melody was presented with expressive ornaments over two-voiced
polyphonic accompaniment. Generally, the chorale melody flowed without any interlude
separating the individual chorale phrases. However, on occasion, composers wrote organ
interludes between verses. In Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659, there are
interludes between phrases.

60

Robert L. Marshall. "Chorale prelude." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/05661 (accessed
December 8, 2011).

18
Example 3 shows the chorale, Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, as it appears in the
Weienfels hymnbook.61 This source, which was almost certainly known by Bach, very
well might have been his source for the chorale prelude, BWV 659.62 Since Bachs
chorale prelude, BWV 659 is in G minor, this writer transposed the chorale from A minor
(Example 3) to G minor (Example 4).

Example 3. Nun komm,, der Heiden Heiland from the Weienfels hymnal of 1714.

_______________________________________________________________________
Source: The PDF files of the Chorales were contributed by Margaret Greentree J.S. Bach Chorales
Prepared by Thomas Braatz & Aryeh Oron (May 2006).

Example 4.. Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland transposed to G minor

61

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Nun-komm.htm Sources: NBA, vols. III/2.1 & 2.2 in particular


[Brenreiter, 1954 to present] and the BWV (Bach Werke Verzeichnis) [Breitkopf & Hrtel, 1998]
The PDF files of the Chorales were contributed by Margaret Greentree J.S. Bach Chorales
Prepared by Thomas Braatz & Aryeh Oron (May 2006).
62

Ibid.

19
Example 5 shows how Bach re-composed his chorale prelude borrowing the
original chorale tune. 63 This example shows the soprano line with the cantus firmus in
red notes, and the interludes are excluded (Interludes are mm. 810, mm. 1718, and mm.
2527).

Example 5. BWV 659 Nun komm, the soprano line with cantus firmus (red notes) of
Bachs chorale prelude for organ.

________________________________________________________________________
Source: The PDF files of the Chorales were contributed by Margaret Greentree J.S. Bach Chorales
Prepared by Thomas Braatz & Aryeh Oron (May 2006).

As is evident when comparing Examples 3 to 5, BWV 659, Nun komm der Heiden
Heiland became a completely new piece. According to Christoph Wolff, Bach modified

63

Ibid.

20
pre-existing material and created a new musical piece.64 Bachs recomposition is very
closely related to the theological meaning of the text. The relationship between the text
and Bachs chorale prelude will be discussed in chapter three.
Although the initial purpose of the chorale prelude was to help the congregation
learn the chorale tune to be sung, later in the eighteenth century chorale preludes were
used as independent pieces, and from the late nineteenth and twentieth century pianists
began playing them for recitals and recordings. According to Yearsley, It [the chorale
prelude] could, however, particularly by the eighteenth century, take on an independent
role, allowing for domestic study and enjoyment for professionals and amateurs alike.65
J. S. Bach was the most prolific composer of chorale preludes for solo organ,
composing more than eighty pieces. There are four collections of chorale preludes:
Bachs catalog: Orgelbchlein BWV 599644, Schbler chorales BWV 645650, The
Eighteen or Liepzig chorales BWV 651668, chorales from Clavierbung III BWV
669689. There are also chorales formerly called The Kirnberger Collection and
miscellaneous chorales.

Definitions of the Terms


A piano transcription is a piano piece originally composed for instruments or
voice other than the piano. It is a re-composition of borrowed music. There are three
terms in the piano transcription category: transcription, arrangement, and paraphrase.
64

Christoph Wolff, et al. "Bach." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/40023pg10
(accessed November 11, 2011).
65

David Yearsley, "chorale prelude." In The Oxford Companion to Music, edited by Alison Latham.
Oxford Music Online,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/subscriber/article/opr/t114/e1368 (accessed
December 8, 2011).

21
However, authors, publishers and recording companies of piano transcriptions often use
the terms transcription and arrangement interchangeably.
Maurice Hinson summarizes the definitions of transcription, arrangement and
paraphrase based upon the definitions in The New Harvard Dictionary of Music. He
writes, The transcription is the closest to being a literal treatment of the original, the
paraphrase is the freest, and the arrangement is somewhat in between.66 And Liszt
defined the term transcription in one category and paraphrase in another kind. Alan
Walker states Franz Liszts own definitions of transcriptions and paraphrases in Grove
Music Online:
They [keyboard arrangements] fall broadly into two catagories: paraphrases and
transcriptions. These terms were coined by Liszt himself and their meanings
are distinct. In a paraphrase the arranger is free to vary the original and weave his
own fantasy around it. A transcription, on the other hand, must be a faithful recreation of the original.67

Malcolm Boyd mentions that, It should be added, though, that the distinction
implicit here between an arrangement and a transcription is by no means universally
accepted.68 It is quite ambiguous to discuss the difference between arrangement and
transcription; thus it is acceptable to put the transcription and the arrangement in one
category. Paraphrases are obviously distinct from the other two terms. Paraphrases are
virtuoso solo pieces that are elaborations of generally famous melodies such as Liszts

66

Maurice Hinson, The Pianists Guide to Transcriptions, Arrangements, and Paraphrases (Bloomington
and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1990), x.

67

Alan Walker, et al. Liszt, Franz. In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/48265pg10
(accessed October 8, 2009).

68

Malcolm Boyd. Arrangement. In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,


http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/01332 (accessed
October 24, 2011).

22
paraphrases of operas as in Rigoletto: Paraphrase de Concert.69 For our purposes, the
terms transcription and arrangement will be used interchangebly.

Historical Overview of the Piano Solo Transcription


In this section, there will be a brief historical summary of the traditions of
transcriptions in general and of Bach transcriptions in particular. Maurice Hinsons brief
and clear explanation of the origin of the piano transcription is well said:
As new instruments were invented and developed, composers naturally took
advantage of their new colors and ranges, readapting their works and those of
others. With the modern piano being the single most versatile instrument in
Western European music, it is understandable that we probably have more
transcriptions for it than for any other instrument. 70

The genre of piano transcriptions has been a very important part in the history of
keyboard literature. Hinson emphasizes that every great pianist included piano
transcriptions of Bach in recitals when he was a boy.
Transcription is a time-honored art. Its tradition flourished under J. S. Bach,
continued with Liszt, Busoni, and Ravel and even lives today. There was never a
recital by a great virtuoso that did not feature some transcriptions, especially of
Bach, when this writer [Hinson] was a boy. In fact, earlier in this century, and
especially in the nineteenth century, important artists performed transcriptions of
all sorts on their programs, and critics and the public unquestioningly accepted the
practice. The piano transcription contributed a great deal to the musical life of the
Romantic era and has been a significant factor in developing the full potential of
the piano.71

69

Don Michael Randel, ed. The New Harvard Dictionary of Music (Cambridge, Massachusetts; London:
The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1986); s. v. Paraphrase.

70

Maurice Hinson, The Pianists Guide to Transcriptions, Arrangements, and Paraphrases.


(Bloomington; Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1990), ix.

71

Ibid., ix.

23
During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries many pianists and composers made
transcriptions of J. S. Bachs music. Maurice Hinsons book, The Pianists Guide to
Transcriptions, Arrangements, and Paraphrases, contains an annotated list of Bach
transcriptions, ranging from those made by Bach himself to transcriptions made by the
eminent Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt (b. 1958). Others include:
Charles Gounod (French, 1818-1893), Camille Saint-Sans (French, 1835-1921),
Edward MacDowell (American, 1860-1908), Alexander Siloti (Russian, 18631945), Isidor Phillipp (French, 1863-1958), Leopold Godowsky (Polish
American, 1870-1938), Max Reger (German, 1873-1916), Harold Bauer (British,
1873-1951), Alfred Cortot (Franco-Swiss, 1877-1962), Egon Petri (German,
1881-1962), Myra Hess (British, 1890-1965), Dmitri Kabalevsky (Russian, 19041987), Dinu Lipatti (Romanian, 1917-1950).72

This writer will now briefly review a few composers who made transcriptions. In
chronological order they are J. S. Bach (1685-1750), W. A. Mozart (1756-1791), Liszt
(1811-1886), Busoni (1866-1924), and Kempff (1895-1991). The how and why they
adapted the tradition of transcriptions will be discussed below.
Bach made keyboard transcriptions of the music of famous composers from his
day: Bach himself wrote keyboard transcriptions of a series of concertos by
contemporary composers such as Vivaldi, Alessandro Marcello, Telemann and even the
talented young Prince Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimar. Arrangements of this kind offer a
further insight into the works on which they are based.73
According to Wolff, J. S. Bachs compositional principles are related to other
compositions of his own and of other musical works:
72

Maurice Hinson, The Pianists Guide to Transcriptions, Arrangements, and Paraphrases (Bloomington
and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1990), 4-19.

73

Keith Anderson, Johann Sebastian Bach: Transcriptions for the piano by Saint-Saens, Siloti, Reger,
dAlbert, and Kabalevsky.
http://uiowa.naxosmusiclibrary.com.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/blurbs_reviews.asp?catNum=553761&filetype=A
bout+this+Recording&language=English accessed Oct. 19, 2011.

24
He [J. S. Bach] was concerned to try out, to develop and to exhaust specific
principles of composition. There are practically no completely isolated
compositions. Relationships, correspondences and connections with other works
can constantly be found. This approach to the procedure of composition is at
once deep and yet of great natural simplicity; and it never results in mere
repetition Bach always modified so that the end-product represents a fresh
stage in the development of the original composition.74

W. A. Mozart, like J. S. Bach, borrowed movements from other composers, such


as Raupach, Honauer, Schobert, Eckart and C. P. E. Bach, and arranged them for use in
his own piano concertos. 75
Unlike Bach and Mozart, Liszts purpose for piano transcriptions was to make
music more accessible to the public. Liszts days were very different from today; there
were not many orchestras, and traveling was difficult. Thus, the genre of transcription
played a vital role in the dissemination of music. Wilde expressed Liszts heartfelt belief
in the importance of exposing the public to great music. David Wilde wrote:
As Liszt often said more than once, Genie [sic] oblige! Genius has its
obligation, Liszt importantly contributed to make accessible great music to the
public. The music-making situation in the nineteenth century was far different
from today. The audience at those days had so many limits to hear live
performances, especially large ensembles and travel time was not like today.
Liszts transcription works helped audiences hear the music again and also could
play them on piano His [Liszts] burning desire to bring inaccessible music to
the people was nevertheless an important motivating factor. In the preface to his
74

Christopher Wolff, et al. Bach. In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.proxy.li.uiowa.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/40023pg10.
(accessed November 11, 2011).

75

Mozarts piano concertos K. 37, 39, 40, and 41 were written in Salzburg in 1767. These concertos are
arrangements based on movements by other composers and were used for Mozarts tours. K. 37 is an
arrangements (sic) of sonata movements by Raupach and Honauer. In the same manner, sonata movements
by Raupach and Schobert were used for K. 39; sonata movements by Honauer, Eckart, and C. P. E. Bach
for K. 40; sonata movements by Honauer and Rachpach for K. 41. Three piano concertos of K. 107,
written in 1765, are based on J. C. Bachs piano sonatas Op. 5/2, 3, and 4. <span
class="hit">Clark</span>, <span class="hit">Solee</span>. 2008. "Franz Liszt's Pianistic Approach to
Franz Schubert's Songs: "Muellerlieder" LW. A128."West Virginia University.
http://search.proquest.com/docview/304448259? accountid=14663. P.18.

25
sober and respectful transcriptions of the Beethoven Symphony, Liszt makes this
quite clear. He writes, The name of Beethoven is sacred in art. His symphonies
are now universally acknowledged to be masterpiecesFor this reason every way
of manner of making them accessible and popular has a certain merit76
Liszt wrote one hundred and ninety-three transcriptions for the piano, of which
forty-eight were re-arrangements of his own music. The rest were derived from various
sources from Bach to Wagner.77 Busoni thought that transcription was an important part
of piano literature. Busoni said:
Transcription has become an independent art; no matter whether the starting point
of a composition is original or unoriginal. Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, and Brahms
were evidently all of the opinion that there is artistic value concealed in a pure
transcription; for they all cultivated the art themselves, seriously and lovingly. In
fact, the art of transcription has made it possible for the piano to take possession
of the entire literature of music.78
Busoni wrote to his wife that, It [a Bachs Chaconne] always sounds best transcribed for
the piano79
Wilhelm Kempff transcribed ten pieces by J. S. Bach, and one piece each by
Gluck, Handel and Mozart for piano solo.80 Winfried Jacobs writes in the introduction of
the score, the Wilhelm Kempff Bach Transcriptions for Piano, that J. S. Bachs music
influenced Kempffs artistic development both as performer and composer. Kempffs
transcriptions of works by Bach for solo piano demonstrate Kempffs preoccupation with

76

Alan Walker and David Wilde, Franz Liszt: The Man and His Music (New York: Taplinger Publishing,
1970), 168-169.

77

Ibid.

78

Ferruccio Busoni, Letters to his Wife: trans by Rosamond Ley. (London: E. Arnold, 1983), 229.

79

Ibid., 252.

80

Gluck: Balletmusik aus Orpheus und Euridike, Georg Friedrich Hndel: Menuett g-moll aus der
Suite de Pices, and Mozart: Pastorale varie KV. Anhang 209b.

26
Bach.81 Bote & Bock published them in the 1930s and 1950s, but Kempff had already
played them in concerts before the publication.82
This writer did a personal interview with Ms. Bodecker, the president of the
Kempff Foundation, in Positano in 2010 and one of the questions concerned what
motivated Kempff to make transcriptions of Bachs music. Ms. Bodeckers answer was
clear and simple: Kempff was an excellent organist, he was a Christian, and Bach was
the symbol of his parental home. Also Kempffs former student, Ms. Birets answer to
the same question was as follows: Kempff was an organist. His knowledge of Bachs
music was deeply rooted in his Christian faith and the respect he felt for all religions as
well as all the other forms of mysticism in any civilization.83 Jacobs continues:
In this respect Kempff participated in the common practice during the 1920s
and 1930s of including works by Bach in concert programmes, either in free
improvisations or in the form of transcriptions by Liszt, Busoni and other
arrangers.84

Winfried continues, Kempff saw the justification for his transcriptions in the fact that
Bach himself had time and again arranged his own music for other instruments or even
transferred it to other musical genres.85
This writer shares Liszts desire to bring ennobling music to a wider audience.
What Liszt said about Beethoven, this writer would like to say of Bach: The name of

81

Winfried Jacobs, Wilhelm Kempff Bach Transcriptions for Piano: trans by Lynn Matheson. (Berlin: Bote
& Bock, 1954), 4-5.
82

Ibid.

83

Jung-Ok Lee, Appendix A, 74.

84

Jacobs, 4.

85

Ibid., 5.

27
Bach is sacred in music. Bachs keyboard works are treasures of keyboard literature.
Regrettably, unless one has access to a cathedral church or can attend an organ recital in a
large concert hall, it is impossible to hear live performances of Bachs organ chorale
preludes. It is unfortunate that these magnificent works are not more widely heard.
One solution to this problem is to perform the works on the modern piano. Piano
recitals are significantly more common than organ recitals. Moreover, many churches
that do not have organs do have pianos. Kempffs piano transcriptions of Bachs chorale
preludes serve as beautiful contemplative pieces with sacred text in worship services.
Therefore, in this writers opinion, this is perhaps one of the reasons many great pianists
have transcribed Bachs music for solo piano works.
In summary, piano transcriptions of Bachs music can be used for Christian
worship services, for recitals in concert halls and in piano studios as wonderful teaching
materials. This writer loves both the piano and Bachs music, and the piano
transcriptions of Bach bring the two together. Chapter three and four will offer detailed
studies of Kempffs piano transcriptions of two of Bachs organ chorale preludes.

28
CHAPTER THREE: STUDY AND ANALYSIS OF KEMPFFS TRANSCRIPTION
CHORALE PRELUDE: NUN KOMM, DER HEIDEN HEILAND (NOW COME,
SAVIOUR OF THE HEATHEN), BWV 659a

Background Information about BWV 659a


As mentioned before, Wilhelm Kempff transcribed ten of J. S. Bachs works for
solo piano: three instrumental pieces (the Siciliano from the second flute sonata BWV
1031; the Largo from the Keyboard Concerto in F minor BWV 1056; the Sinfonia from
the Ratswahlkantate BWV 29 and seven chorale preludes: Wohl mir, da ich Jesum habe
Jesus bleibet meine Freude BWV 147, Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ BWV 639,
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme BWV 645, Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland BWV659a,
Befiehl du deine Wege (Herzlich tut mich verlangen) BWV 727, Es ist gewilich an der
Zeit (Nun freut Euch liebe Christen gmein) BWV 307/734, and In dulci jubilo BWV 751.
Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland BWV659a, the subject of this chapter, is a
chorale prelude from the set of The Eighteen or so-called Leipzig Chorales for organ,
written between 1711 and 1713 in Weimar and revised later in Leipzig between 1739 and
1742.86 Kempff transcribed it for solo piano, and Bote & Bock of Berlin published the
transcriptions in 1932.
The text of Nun komm der Heiden Heiland is Martin Luthers translation of
Ambroses87 Advent88 hymn Veni redemptor gentium; Luthers German chorale text first
appeared in Erfurt, Germany in 1524. This hymn was the principal and most popular
86

Peter Williams, The Organ Music of J. S. Bach. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 337338

87

88

Ambrose of Milan (c. 340-397), Saint Ambrose, a bishop of Milan.

Derives from Latin word Adventus, means to come. The term refers to the season when Christians
eagerly await the celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus. The Advent is celebrated four Sundays before
Christmas.

29
hymn for the first Sunday of the four Advent Sundays from around 1600, given both in
Latin and German in several Leipzig hymn books.89 Consequently, this hymn is often
associated with the opening of the Lutheran liturgical year. The text is a song of praise,
the Lutheran doxology,90 expressing gratitude for the journey of Christ from God the
Father, to human form, to his descent into hell, and finally back to God the Father. The
verses are:

89

90

Peter Williams. The Organ Music of J. S. Bach. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 238.

Doxology is a short hymn of praise to God sung during worship services in the Christian church. Ibid.,
239.

30
Table 1. Nun komm der Heiden Heiland Full Text
German Text (verses in bold print set English Translation by Francis Browne
by Bach)
1
Now come, Saviour of the gentiles[sic],
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,
recognised as the child of the Virgin,
Der Jungfrauen Kind erkannt!
so that all the world is amazed
Dass sich wundre alle Welt,
God ordained such a birth for him.
Gott solch' Geburt ihm bestellt.
2
Not from mans flesh and blood
Nicht von Mann's Blut noch von
but only from the Holy Spirit
Fleisch,
has Gods Word became man
Allein von dem Heil'gen Geist
Ist Gott's Wort worden ein Mensch and flourishes as the fruit of a
womans body.
Und blht ein' Frucht
Weibesfleisch.
3
Der Jungfrau Leib schwanger ward, The virgins body was pregnant,
but her chastity remained pure,
Doch blieb Keuschheit rein
in this way her many virtues shine
bewahrt,
clearly,
Leucht't hervor manch' Tugend
God was there on his throne.
schn,
Gott da war in seinem Thron.
4
He went forth from his chamber,
Er ging aus der Kammer sein,
from the royal palace so pure,
Dem kn'glichen Saal so rein,
Gott von Art und Mensch ein Held, by nature God and man, a hero,
he hastens to run his way.
Sein'n Weg er zu laufen eilt.
5
His course came from the Father
Sein Lauf kam vom Vater her
and leads back to the Father,
Und kehrt' wieder zum Vater,
he went down to Hell
Fuhr hinunter zu der Hll'
and back to Gods throne.
Und wieder zu Gottes Stuhl.
6
You who are equal to the Father,
Der du bist dem Vater gleich,
be victorious in the flesh
Fhr' hinaus den Sieg im Fleisch,
so that your eternal divine power
Dass dein' ew'ge Gott'sgewalt
may support our weak flesh.
In uns das krank' Fleisch erhalt'.
7
Your crib shines bright and clear,
Dein' Krippe glaenzt hell und klar,
in the night there is a new light,
Die Nacht gibt ein neu Licht dar,
darkness must not overpower it,
Dunkel mus nicht kommen drein,
Der Glaub' bleibt immer im Schein. faith remains always radiant.
8
Praise be given to God the Father,
Lob sei Gott dem Vater g'tan,
praise be to God his only Son;
Lob sei Gott sein'm ein'gen Sohn,
praise be to God the Holy Ghost
Lob sei Gott dem Heil'gen Geist
for ever and always.
Immer und in Ewigkeit.
________________________________________________________________________
Source: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale016-Eng3.htm (Accessed on June 15, 2012). English
Translation by Francis Browne (March 2005). Contributed by Francis Browne (March 2005).

31
The melody, published with the text, simplifies the Latin hymn.91 Example 6
shows the melody with which Bach was possibly acquainted from the Weienfels hymnal
from 1714.

Example 6. The melody, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, from Weienfels hymnal
of 1714.

______________________________________________________________________
Source: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale016-Eng3.htm (Accessed on June 15, 2012).

Bach used the same melody in different settings in the following cantatas: BWV
36 (mvt. 2, 6 & 8), BWV 61 (mvt. 1), BWV 62 (mvt. 1 & 6) and in the following chorale
preludes: BWV 599, 659a, 660a, 661a and 669.92

Transcription Methods and Performance Suggestions


Kempffs piano transcriptions of Bachs organ works are very faithful to the
substance of the original works; the notes and rhythms of the original notes are retained
whenever possible. However, Kempff added93 tempo/timing, expression, articulation and

91

Peter Williams. The Organ Music of J. S. Bach. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 239.
Its form in BWV659a, 660a and 661a is as in the Weienfels hymnbook of 1714 (NBA IV/2 KB p. 76)
and it frequently opened hymnbooks. Set in 659, 660, 661, and 699, also in cantatas for Advent I:36
(1731), 61 (1714, 1723) and 62 (1724 etc.)

92

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Nun-komm.htm. Sources: NBA, vols. III/2.1 & 2.2 in particular


[Brenreiter, 1954 to present] and the BWV ("Bach Werke Verzeichnis") [Breitkopf & Hrtel, 1998]
The PDF files of the Chorales were contributed by Margaret Greentree J.S. Bach Chorales
Prepared by Thomas Braatz & Aryeh Oron (May 2006) (Accessed on June 15, 2012).

32
dynamic indications which seem to be deeply related to the text. Thus, the relationship
between the text and the music with attention to Kempffs added expressive indications
along with performance suggestions and pedagogical suggestions will round out the
chapter.
The chorale is clearly in G minor; the key signature on the organ score has shows
one flat (on B), but almost every E is flattened within the score. Thus, Bachs key
signature is incomplete. J. S. Bach and Vivaldi occasionally used modal or incomplete
signatures: Modal signatures are not at all uncommon during this period; indeed both
Vivaldi and J. S. Bach still used them on occasion.94 In his transcription, Wilhelm
Kempff uses the more modern key signature for G minor, that of two flats (B flat and E
flat).
This organ chorale prelude was written for two organ keyboards and pedals for
the organ, in other words, two manuals (keyboard) and pedals. Each manual is set for
different organ registrations,95 asking for a different sound for each voice. Regarding the
transcription method for the organ pedal part, as can be seen from Examples 7 and 8,
Kempff transcribed the organ pedal notes to the left hand on the piano as octaves
knowing that in the organ chorale prelude the bass line would be doubled an octave
below through customary use of the 16 organ stops (Example 7 and 8).

93

Adagio and Sehr ruhig (very calmly) in the beginning of the piece; ritardando with decrescendo in the
end; tranquillo (mm. 8 and 9); dolce (m.14); breit (wide, broadly) and allargando (m.16); espressivo
(mm.16, 24 and 25); dolce, molto sostenuto (m.32); dynamic marks such as pp, p, mp, mf, f and crescendo,
diminuendo (mm. 1, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32, and 34); cantus firmus, cf,
markings (mm. 4, 11, 19, and 28); and hand indications (mm. 5, 29 and 30).
94

Henry Burnett and Roy Nitzberg, Composition, Chromaticism and the Developmental Process: New
Theory of Tonality. (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007), 136.

95

The technique of choosing and combining the stops of a pipe organ in order to produce a particular
sound. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Registration_(organ).

33
Example 7. Organ score of BWV 659a, Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland, mm. 15.

________________________________________________________________________
Source: Johann Sebastian Bach, Neue Ausgabe Smtlicher Werke, Herausgegeben vom Johann-SebastianBach-Institute Gttingen und vom Bach-Archiv Leipzig, Serie IV: Orgelwerke Band 2: Brenreiter Kassel,
Basel, London, 1958.

Example 8. Piano score of BWV 659a, Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland, mm. 15.

____________________________________________________________________________________
Source: Wilhelm Kempff, Bach Transcriptions for Piano. (Berlin: Bote & Bock, 1932)

Kempff arranged for the organ scores pedal notes to be played by the left hand
on the piano except in mm. 5, 21, 29, and 30 (Example 9) in which the left hand also

34
plays a few notes from the tenor line due to the large intervals between soprano and tenor
lines. In other words, the right hand plays three voices soprano, alto and tenor except
in m. 5, 21, 29, and 30. As can be inferred by the note stems, the circled notes in
Example 9 are the tenor notes played by the left hand.96

Example 9. Piano score of BWV 659a, Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland, mm. 21, 29
and 30.

Kempff indicates legato for the left hand of the pedal notes on the organ in the
piano transcription (Example 10). Concerning the legato, Kempff wrote in a footnote in
the score: The pedal must [be] used sparingly and should not be used for the production
of a pseudo-legato.97 Kempff probably mentioned this to caution against any kind of
pedaling which would create a blurry haze of harmonies.
96

This writers performance suggestions for smaller hands may be found in Appendix C.

97

Wilhelm Kempff, Bach Transcriptions for Piano. (Berlin: Bote & Bock, 1932), 16.

35
In the organ, the bass line is sounded in a legato manner by engaging the 8 and
16 stops of the organ pedals, creating legato octave sonority. But on the piano the player
needs to use the proper fingerings and pedal techniques in order to produce legato
octaves.
As can be seen in Example 10, finger legato sometimes entails the silent changing
of fingers while holding a note, commonly referred to as finger substitution. The most
common finger substitution is from the fourth finger to the fifth finger for ascending
motion and from the fifth finger to the fourth finger for descending motion. It is also
sometimes possible to cross fingers under or over one another in order to produce finger
legato (Example 10). In general, the use of finger legato helps the pianist experience in a
tactile manner the connection he or she is listening for.

Example 10. Piano score of BWV 659a, Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland, m. 1.

Kempff wrote legato quite often in his transcriptions and also emphasized legato
playing to his students. Although Kempff insisted that the pedal be used sparingly,

36
Kempff does indicate several relatively longer pedal markings in m. 5, 11, 32 and 33.
Before discussing these pedal indications in detail, it may be helpful to explore the
broader issue of pedaling in the works of Bach piano transcriptions.
Busoni explains the use of the pedals while playing Bach piano transcriptions in
the article Using pedals when playing Bach transcriptions.98 Busoni mentioned that
using the pedal is absolutely essential in organ transcriptions while trying to use the
fingers to play legato.
While the pedal (damper pedal) is sometimes necessary in Bachs piano-works, it
is absolutely essential in these transcribed organ-pieces. True, in the piano-works
the inaudible use of the pedal is the only proper one. By this we mean the
employment of the pedal for binding two successive single tones or chords, for
emphasizing a suspension, for sustaining a single part, etc.; a manner of treatment
by which no special pedal-effect is brought out Wherever possible, sustain the
tones with the hands rather than with the pedal.99
With the piano it is sometimes necessary to use the pedal to connect musical
events that cannot be connected by the fingers only, for example, in playing four-part
chorales. To achieve this result one needs to use legato pedal or so-called syncopated
pedaling. For most of this chorale prelude a performer can change the pedal every
eighth note () following the rhythmic motion of the walking bass line. The legato of the
walking bass line can also be achieved through the use of a half pedal or vibrato pedal.
This writer strongly believes that this kind of pedaling, which produces a smooth
connection between the voices and not a hazy wash of sound, is precisely what Kempff
might had in mind when he recommended the sparing use of pedal and the avoidance of
pseudo-legato.

98

99

Joseph Banowetz, The Pianists Guide to Pedaling. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992).
Ibid., 131.

37
Let us now return to Kempffs specifically-indicated pedal markings in mm. 5, 11,
32 and 33, as previously mentioned (Example 11). These markings reflect Kempffs
artistic choice to sustain the relatively long note in the soprano line, even if this creates
some melodic and harmonic blurriness. Kempffs former student, Biret, mentions how
Kempff treated the pedal in playing legato: Kempff taught the real legato playing, the
subtle art of pedaling, the sense of simplicity and economy, never to exaggerate and
never to lose the musical line.100 In mm. 32 and 33, this writer recommends a
performer use half pedals between the full pedal changes so that the rich and mysterious
sonority can be projected.

Example 11. Piano score of BWV 659a, mm. 5, 11, 32, and 33. (Kempffs
pedal indications)

100

http://www.idilbiret.org/ENG/Ibe08frame.htm (Accessed 1/12/2011).

38

Example 12 shows this writers recommended pedaling, except where Kempff


indicated longer pedals to sustain notes in the soprano line. Along with this
recommended pedaling, this writer finds a subtle upward rolling motion helpful to the
production of a quiet yet warm sound for the octaves in the bass. The movement may be
described as follows: Starting on the surface of the key, move the hand, wrist and forearm
in a gentle upward roll, analogous to an upbow motion; after the note has sounded, the
hand, wrist and forearm can gently fall back into a lower position in order to prepare for
the next upward motion. This motion should be extremely subtle. Of course, keeping the
wrists supple and the arms unlocked is recommended.

39
Example 12. Piano score of BWV 659a, mm. 14, This writers
recommended pedaling.

As a skillful organist and a world-renowned concert pianist, Kempff was wellsuited to undertake the task of making piano transcriptions of Bachs chorale preludes.
As Jacobs states:
It was thus logical that the pianist Kempff (who also played the organ) should
adapt Bachs works for the piano not only to make them available to pianists,
but to take up the challenge of transcribing the music for the modern concert
grand piano and doing pianistic justice to the special textural demands it makes.101

Pipe organs have two or three keyboards (manuals) and a pedalboard, all of which
can be set with various combinations of organ stops102 producing the sounds of different

101

Winfried Jacobs, Wilhelm Kempff Bach Transcriptions for Piano: trans by Lynn Matheson. (Berlin:
Bote & Bock, 1931-1954), 5.

40
instruments. For example, there are string stops, flute stops, reeds stops, and principal
stops. Thus, texture and timbre are closely related in organ playing. On the organ, the
tone color is set up by the combination of the stops or registration. The piano, however,
has its own wonderful qualities: It is touch sensitive. On the piano one is able to create
an amazing array of inflections by means of articulation and dynamic gradations.
Therefore, textural complexity is the greatest challenge, and at the same time the greatest
pleasure for the performers on modern piano in playing polyphonic literature.
Another important difference between the organ and the piano is that the sound of
a note on the organ continues at a relatively unchanged level until the key is released (the
pipe is open), while the sound of a note on the piano rings, blossoms and decays (the
string which was struck by the hammer, stops vibrating after a relatively short time).
Kempff meticulously retained the exact note values of the organ work in the piano
transcription, even though the sound of some of the long notes may fade away on the
piano. Example 13 shows the voices with long tied notes in mm. 8, 9, 16, 17, 24, 25, and
etc

102

On organs provided with stops, each separate rank would be controlled by a wooden slider with holes
drilled into it corresponding with each pipe-foot and terminating (by means of rods, trundles, and levers) in
a stop-knob at the side of the instrument. When a stop was pulled out, it would move the slider so that each
of the holes came under the foot of a pipe, allowing air access to a particular rank of pipes.
Jeremy Montagu, "organ." In The Oxford Companion to Music, edited by Alison Latham. Oxford Music
Online, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/subscriber/article/opr/t114/e4876
(accessed September 29, 2012).

41
Example 13. Piano score of BWV 659a, mm.810, mm. 2528.

In this respect it is easier to play a polyphonic texture on the organ than on the
piano; the continuing sound of the long notes makes it easier for the performer to keep
track of each voice, while the decay of long notes on the piano forces the performer to
imagine voices whose notes may have faded away. Nonetheless, holding the long notes
physically down and imagining the sustaining of the long notes helps the pianist create a
coherent polyphonic texture. In Example 13, mm. 8 to 10, the pianist should listen for
the tenor voice, mentally connecting the notes in the line, even though the longer notes

42
may decay to the point of inaudibility (Example 13). This gives clarity between the
textures, or in other words, layers of voices.
The cantus firmus, in the soprano, is played with the right hand usually on the
lower manual of the organ, and the accompaniment parts, in alto and tenor, are played
with the left hand, usually on the upper manual of the organ. On the organ, the chorale
melody103 is customarily played with stops which produce a penetrating sound. Thus, on
the piano the cantus firmus line demands a much heavier touch than the other voices. For
the sound of the accompaniment lines (alto and tenor), played by the left hand on the
organ, very soft and soothing-sounding stops are usually used.104 Thus, on the piano a
softer toucha half touchis needed for these inner voices.
The voices in this chorale prelude may be imagined in several different ways:
different instruments in an orchestra, different organ stops or different voice types of the
human voice (soprano, alto, tenor, bass). Kempff himself clearly felt the inspiration of
string instruments in Bachs chorale preludes, as can be seen in his comments for the first
edition of his Bach transcriptions, The opinion that Bachs chorale preludes [] may be
played only on the organ is questioned here: several of them seem almost to demand a
stringed [sic] instrument105 Here Kempff shows himself at home with the Baroque
musical mind; in his compostions for keyboard, Bach was constantly referencing other

103

The organ stops used for the chorale melody are generally 8, 4, 2 2/3, and 1 3/5. Also there are
other cantus firmus registrations common for the organ, for example, 8 + 2 leaving 4 out.
104

The registration for accompaniment lines are a combination of stops of flute 8 and 4 avoiding principle
stops.

105

Winfried Jacobs, Wilhelm Kempff Bach Transcriptions for Piano: trans by Lynn Matheson. (Berlin:
Bote & Bock, 1931-1954), 5.

43
genres (arias, trio sonatas, concertos) and other instruments (string instruments,
woodwinds, trumpets, the human voice).
Thus, the balance between voices is crucial. The cantus firmus, which Kempff
identified in the score, should be clearly brought out by using more hand and arm weight
to support the finger. It is particularly important to engage a substantial cantabile touch
because the piano notes in the higher registers do not sustain as well as the notes in the
lower registers (Example 14). Thus, the soprano notes will not last as long as tenor notes.
As mentioned above, on the organ the inner voices are played on the accompaniment
manual, producing a very soft sound, even to the point where the pitches are slightly
muffled. Therefore, there must be a special treatment in voicing for the layering of
timbres. For example, in m. 4 the alto and tenor notes should be played with a light and
soft touch so that the cantus firmus will be heard clearly.

Example 14. Kempffs Piano score of BWV 659, mm. 48.

44

In some situations it is critical that the inner notes be performed at a dynamic


level at which they will not be conjoined with the melody. When looking at the first
phrase of the chorale (mm. 4 and 5 in Example 14), the cantus firmus consists of the
following pitches: G-G-F#-G-A-Bb. If the pianist plays the tenor voice too loudly in mm.
4 and 5, the listener will hear a distorted version of the melody: G-G-A-G-F#-G-A-Bb-GF# (Italic letters are for the tenor). Furthermore, the sixteenth and the thirty-second notes
after a tied note should not be accented through the use of half touches (Example 14).
That way the phrasing will not be disrupted.
Kempff provides more interpretative information through his additions of tempi,
dynamics or expression marks. The additions Kempff added in his piano transcription
will be discussed the next section of this chapter.

45
Text, Music and Lutheran Faith
As previously mentioned, Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, BWV659a, is an
ornamented chorale in which the chorale melody is hidden by the ornamentation. This
veiled chorale melody projects, according to Stinson, [a] deep sense of mysticism
quite in keeping with the theme of Christs incarnation.106 Example 15107 shows the
melody and ornamentation; the original chorale is circled in red and ornamentations are
in black.

Example 15. The soprano line of BWV 659a

106

Russell Stinson, J. S. Bachs Great Eighteen Organ Chorales. (New York: Oxford University Press,
2001), 87.
107

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Nun-komm.htm. Sources: NBA, vols. III/2.1 & 2.2 in particular


[Brenreiter, 1954 to present] and the BWV (Bach Werke Verzeichnis) [Breitkopf & Hrtel, 1998]
The PDF files of the Chorales were contributed by Margaret Greentree J.S. Bach Chorales
Prepared by Thomas Braatz & Aryeh Oron (May 2006) (Accessed on June 15, 2012).

46
The disguised chorale melody may represent the mysterious Affekt described in
the chorale text. Although the text of the chorale prelude does not explicitly describe the
place and conditions of Jesus birth, it refers to such a birth, and Christians would
know that these words refer to Jesus humble birth in a stable. Thus, the text of the
chorale alludes to all the essential information about Jesus: he was sent from God the
Father to be the Savior, but his human life would begin in a lowly place, a stable. So the
incarnation story is understood as mysterious and mystical.
As can be seen in Examples 4 and 15, Bach retained the notes of the original
chorale melody, but transposed it from A minor to G minor. However, he introduced an
F# in the cantus firmus making a chromatic melody (G-G-F#-Bb) in place of the Fnatural which is in the original chorale tune (G-G-F-Bb). This change reflects the
eighteenth century preference for the raised seventh scale degree (the leading tone of G
minor), but it also creates a more expressive melodic movement an ascending
diminished fourth from F# to Bb, setting the tone for the somber mood of the piece. The
pathos of this chorale will be discussed in more detail below.
Kempff included the text of the first stanza of the original chorale on the top of
the first page of his piano transcription. According to Stinson, Bach may also have had
in mind the text that concludes the first stanza: All the world is amazed that God gave
him such a birth.108 The statement of the choral melody, used as a cantus firmus, is
presented one phrase at a time, and in this way the structure of the chorale melody
determines the structure of Bachs chorale prelude. This piece is a throughcomposed
and its structure is clear.

108

Stinson, 87.

47
Table 2. The Structure of Nun komm der Heiden Heiland
Measure #

Words

Parts

# of Voices

Organ Manual

1- 4.1

None

3 voices:
pedal, alto &
tenor

Pedal & one


manual
(accompaniment)

4.2- 8.1

Come now,
Saviour of the
heathen
None

Introduction:
vorimitation of
the cantus
firmus.
cantus firmus
on soprano.

4 voices: Sop,
Alto, Tenor &
Bass.
3 voices:
pedal, alto &
tenor
4 voices: Sop,
Alto, Tenor &
Bass.
3 voices:
pedal, alto &
tenor
4 voices: Sop,
Alto, Tenor &
Bass.
3 voices: pedal
alto & tenor
4 voices: Sop,
Alto, Tenor &
Bass.
4 voices: Sop,
Alto, Tenor &
Bass.

Two manuals &


Pedal.

8.2- 10

11- 16.3

16.4- 18

19- 24.3

24.4- 28.1
28.2- 32.1

32.2-34

acknowledged
Child of the
Virgin
None

At whom all
the world
marvels [that]
None
God provided
him with such
a birth.
None

Interlude.

cantus firmus
on soprano.
Interlude

cantus firmus
on soprano.
Interlude
cantus firmus
on soprano.
Coda

Pedal & one


manual
(accompaniment)
Two manuals &
Pedal.
Pedal & one
manual
(accompaniment)
Two manuals &
Pedal.
Two manuals &
Pedal.
Two manuals &
Pedal.
Two manuals &
Pedal.

As seen from the table above, this chorale consists of an introduction, four
phrases, three interludes between each phrase and a coda. In Example 16, the
introduction begins with a walking bass in the pedal, and the tenor joins by imitating the
chorale melody immediately; then the alto comes in, and finally the melody, cantus
firmus, appears from the second beat of m. 4. Vorimitation109 occurs in the introduction.

109

Vorimitation (Ger.: prior imitation). The process whereby a principal theme, stated in long note
values in one part of a polyphonic texture, is anticipated by an imitative section in the other parts, usually
based on a rhythmic diminution of the theme. In certain of Bachs chorale preludes, for instance (e.g. Vor
deinen Thron tret ich BWV 668), a Vorimitation of each line of the chorale melody precedes the section of
which that line is the dominating part. "Vorimitation." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/29687 (accessed
June 22, 2012).

48
Example 16. Kempffs Piano score of BWV 659, Introduction, mm. 14.

Most of the chorale preludes by J. S. Bach were composed without interludes, but
this chorale prelude was written with three interludes, one after each phrase. Perhaps,
Bach added the interludes to convey the idea of waiting implied in the text. The
walking bass sounds like the footsteps of the komm (coming). Kempff specifically wrote
legato, piano for the left hand and above the measure, Adagio (), Sehr ruhig very
calmly. These indications are not in Bachs organ score. The baby Jesus coming was
very serene, mysterious, humble, and not majestic or celebratory.
The most emotionally involved and harmonically complicated phrases in this
piece are the third line (mm.1924.3) and the interlude between the third and fourth
phrases (24.428.1). The words are, line 3, All the world is amazed that, line 4, God
provided such a birth.) Bach used a particular motive and harmony here, with the word

49
marvels or amazed. Bach used a halting two-note ascending and descending step
figure (Example 17, mm. 2127), the flattened second degree chord (Example 17, mm.
22, 23, 26, and 27), and a sigh figure (Example 17, mm. 2528) rather than overtly
celebratory gestures such as a trumpet fanfare. Why?

Example 17. Piano score of BWV 659, mm. 2128.

50

Reflecting the sombre and pathetique character of this interlude, Kempff adds
many expressive markings. He indicated dynamic contrasts in each voice from p to f, and
there is a hairpin crescendo marking for the six-note motive passed between the alto and
tenor voices (Example 17, mm. 2427). There is a modulation from G minor to C minor,
that is, the sub-dominant of G minor from mm. 2628.3. The key of C minor has a
pathetic character and is associated with a tragic and suffering Affekt. Furthermore, the
introduction of the pitch Ab as well as the passing Ab major chords (Example 17, m. 23,
m. 26 and m. 27) may be heard as the Neapolitan (flat two scale degree and the chord
built on the scale degree) in G minor.
For Christians, Jesus incarnation was inextricably linked to his death. According
to Leahy: Neapolitan harmony was often frequently used by Bach when there was a

51
reason in the text, such as Passion110 or suffering. 111 Leahy also states, The same
combination of Neapolitan harmonies with the sighing motive can be found in the
Agnus Dei of the B Minor Mass. In the case of the Agnus Dei, the reference to the cross
of Christ is clear: the Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world by his death on the
cross (John 1: 36). 112 The use of the sighing motive, the Neapolitan chord and the
chromaticism113 imply an interpretation of suffering and Christs Passion in Bachs
music.114 Whether one considers the A flat as a Neapolitan chord or the VI of C minor,
this passage is very tragic and dramatic. According to Christian Schubart, the A flat
major is the key of the grave Death, grave, putrefaction, judgment, eternity lie in its
radius.115
In m. 31, Kempff wrote out the trill on the last quarter note writing only a 5
notes trill with diminuendo leading to the ethereal G major chord on the downbeat of
m. 32 that is the end of the last line of the text. This writer believes that Kempff wrote
out this trill and indicated a diminuendo to prepare for the sublime G major chord. By
banning a more virtuoso, extravagant execution of the trill, Kempff points the way
110

The Passion is the Christian theological term used for the events and suffering physical, spiritual,
and mental of Jesus in the hours before and including his trial and execution by crucifixion. The
Crucifixion of Jesus is an event central to Christian beliefs.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passion_(Christianity) (Accessed November 4, 2012).

111

Anne Leahy, J. S. Bachs Leipzig Chorale Preludes: music, text, theology: edited by Robin Leaver
(Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2011), 151.

112

Ibid., 150.

113

M. 23: Ab-G-F#-G.

114

Leahy, 147.

115

Christian Schubart's Ideen zu einer Aesthetik der Tonkunst (1806),


Translated by Rita Steblin in A History of Key Characteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries. UMI
Research Press (1983). http://www.wmich.edu/mus-theo/courses/keys.html (Accessed July 6, 2012).

52
toward a simpler, more humble arrival at the heavenly G major chord. Though the
texture of G major chord in the first two beats of m. 32 is thick and the spacing is wide,
the expression markings Kempff chosen here are pp, dolce, molto sostenuto. Kempff
enhances the hushed fullness of m. 32 by adding notes to the texture. He repeats the bass
Gs from the lower octave to the higher octave in eighth notes (m. 32). For this writer, the
repeated Gs suggest the sound of bells from a church far away (Example 18).
The final coda is the most heavenly and mysterious place in this chorale prelude.
In explicitly indicating a pianissimo approach to the relatively thick texture of the first
two beats of m. 32, Kempff emphasizes the complexity of the chorale text. Jesus birth
paves the way for salvation, and hence the G major chord. But Jesus birth also will set
in motion his suffering and Passion; hence, the G major chord is almost immediately
reinterpreted as a G dominant-seventh chord of C minor (m. 32, the second eighth note),
taking us back to the key of pathos before ending on a heavenly final G major chord in m.
34 which is anticipating the resurrection and the second coming of Jesus as the
triumphant King implied meaning of Advent.

Example 18. Piano Score of Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, mm. 3134.

53

Example 19. Organ Score of Nun komm, mm. 3134.

Additional Pedagogical Exercises


There are several benefits a student can gain by playing this chorale prelude.
These include learning about phrasing, cantabile playing, practice for various layers of
timbre or orchestrations, refinement of touch for clarity of voicing, study of Affekt116,

116

It would be nice to discuss the Baroque Affektenlehre with students: doctrine of the affections, also
called Doctrine of Affects, German Affektenlehre, theory of musical aesthetics, widely accepted by late
Baroque theorists and composers, that embraced the proposition that music is capable of arousing a variety
of specific emotions within the listener. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/7687/doctrine-of-theaffections. (Accessed on August 31, 2012).

54
sensitive pedal practice, and finding meaning by playing different articulations.
Although the author has covered a little bit about pedagogical suggestions earlier,
there will now be a brief discussion about additional pedagogical practices.
The chorale prelude is a song with stanzas and phrases. There are fermatas
indicating the phrases and breathing in German chorales. In general, it is not easy for
students to recognize phrase structure in piano music at first sight, but here the phrasing
is already established by the text. Students can read the actual words before playing the
melody or even singing the chorale. It makes a natural study of phrasings. Through
singing the chorale tune, students can learn how to phrase the melodic lines, or even the
accompaniment lines, in a vocal manner. There are parts as bass, tenor, alto and soprano
parts in the chorale prelude; thus all four parts become human voices or other instruments.
There are at least three different layers of timbretenor and alto go together as
the accompanimentin chorale preludes because chorale preludes were origianlly
conceived for perfprmance on the organ: hence, for two keyboards and pedalboard. To
begin with, a student may listen to a recording of an organ performance; then, he or she
should listen to a recording of the piano transcription. The next step is to study each line
voice by voice, keeping in mind whether a layer belongs to the melody or the
accompaniment. Then let the student play and listen to each line, imagining the colors of
a particular orchestration or voice type. Through this realization of each voice on the
organ, the student will understand more clearly the layers of different timbre on the piano
and will more easily decide which touch should be applied on the piano. With this
roadmap of touch in mind, students can save time by playing correctly from the
beginning of their learning process.

55
A piano technique that will help voicing should be developed in order to play
piano transcriptions of chorale preludes, because there is an obvious chorale tune. The
voicing is not an easy thing to achieve at all. Only through finger independence is it
possible. For example, to play the cantus firmus (the soprano) one should know how to a
cantabile sound, but with absolutely no harshness. How can one achieve the finger
independence? One suggestion is to give students the Dohnnyi exercises which entail
two differentiated voices in one hand.

Example 20: Dohnnyi, Essential Finger Exercises, no. 2 and no. 3.

Source: Ern Dohnnyi, Essential Finger Exercises for Obtaining a Sure Piano
Technique. (Milano: Edizioni Suvini Zerboni, 1950), 10.

As can be seen in Example 20, one plays the long notes loudly with heavier arm
weight and the short notes softer with a lighter touch, in other words, half touches.
Dohnnyi suggests practicing these same exercises in various keys.117 It is important to
keep the wrists and arms relaxed.118

117

Ibid., 10. Keys of Db, D, Eb, E, F, F#, Bb, and B majors; C, C#, Eb, E, F, F#, Bb and B minor.

118

Brahms Fifty-One Exercises for Piano are also very helpful.

56
Another suggestion in helping students play a chorale tune as a distinctive melody
is to show students how to use arm weight to support the finger tips, especially when
using the fourth and fifth fingers. This writer usually demonstrates the arm and finger
weight on students open palms, where students can feel the heaviness necessary for the
melodies. Arms should to be loose from the shoulders; forearms and wrists should be
supple; and fingers should be firm enough to transmit the weight of the arm. Meanwhile,
the accompanimental inner notes should be played with a gradual swing off motion of the
arm away from the piano, producing half touches.
The next pedagogical step is to teach the character of the piece more easily based
on the words and stories used in the chorale. Linking the meaning of the text to the
musical sounds often fuels the imagination and helps bring the music to life. For
example, slurs on repeated notes, called sighing motives, greatly contribute to the
telling of the deeper meaning of this chorale: Jesus suffering. Students tend not to
overlook the articulation if they associate a meaning with it.
Finally, students who play piano and other instruments can be inspired to
transcribe their own band or orchestra pieces to piano, just as Liszt transcribed
Beethovens symphonies and Schuberts songs.

57
CHAPTER FOUR: STUDY AND ANALYSIS OF KEMPFFS TRANSCRIPTION,
CHORALE PRELUDE: BWV 639, ICH RUF ZU DIR, HERR JESU CHRIST

Background Information about BWV 639

BWV 639, Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ (I call to you Lord Jesus Christ), is
from the collection entitled Orgelbchlein. The organ pieces in Orgelbchlein were
written late in Bachs Weimar period (1708-17), when he was the court organist.
According to the famous Bach biographer of the nineteenth century, Philipp Spitta, only
the title page of the book was written in 1722 or 1723 when Bach was Kapellmeister in
Cthen. 119 Bach stated his purpose for the book on the title page of Orgelbchlein:
Little Organ Book, in which guidance is given to an inquiring organist in how to
implement a chorale in all kinds of ways, and at the same time to become
practiced in the study of pedalling [sic], since in the chorales found therein the
pedal is treated completely obbligato.
For the highest God alone to Honour,
For my neighbour to instruct himself from it.120

Bach composed Orgelbchlein for use by organists during church services and as
teaching materials for his students.121 As mentioned in chapter two, the duties of
organists in the Lutheran church were not only to accompany the hymns on organ, but
also to create solo organ pieces at worship services by improvising on chorale tunes.
According to Stinson, The Orgelbchleins highest purpose, however, like that of
Bachs music in general, is of a religious nature: Service to God and the edification of
humankindIn Praise of the Almightys Will, And for my Neighbours (Dem Nchsten)
119

Russell Stinson, Bach: The Orgelbchlein. (New York: Schirmer Books, 1996), 12.

120

Peter Williams, The Organ Music of J. S. Bach. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 227.

121

Ibid.

58
Table 3. Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ

Verse 1.

Verse 2.

Verse 3.

Verse 4.

Verse 5.

German Text
Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ,
Ich bitt, erhr mein Klagen,
Verleih mir Gnad zu dieser Frist,
La mich doch nicht verzagen;
Den rechten Glauben, Herr, ich mein,
Den wollest du mir geben,
Dir zu leben,
Meinm Nchsten ntz zu sein,
Dein Wort zu halten eben.
Ich bitt noch mehr, o Herre Gott,
Du kannst es mir wohl geben:
Da ich werd nimmermehr zu Spott,
Die Hoffnung gib darneben,
Voraus, wenn ich mu hier davon,
Da ich dir mg vertrauen
Und nicht bauen
Auf alles mein Tun,
Sonst wird mich's ewig reuen.

Verleih, da ich aus Herzensgrund


Mein' Feinden mg vergeben,
Verzeih mir auch zu dieser Stund,
Gib mir ein neues Leben;
Dein Wort mein Speis la allweg sein,
Damit mein Seel zu nhren,
Mich zu wehren,
Wenn Unglck geht daher,
Das mich bald mcht abkehren.
La mich kein Lust noch Furcht von dir
In dieser Welt abwenden.
Bestndigsein ans End gib mir,
Du hast's allein in Hnden;
Und wem du's gibst, der hat's umsonst:
Es kann niemand ererben
Noch erwerben
Durch Werke deine Gnad,
Die uns errett' vom Sterben.
Ich lieg im Streit und widerstreb, Hilf,
o Herr Christ, dem Schwachen!
An deiner Gnad allein ich kleb,
Du kannst mich strker machen.
Kmmt nun Anfechtung, Herr, so wehr,
Da sie mich nicht umstoen.
Du kannst maen,
Da mir's nicht bring Gefahr;
Ich wei, du wirst's nicht lassen.

English translation
I call to you, Lord Jesus Christ,
I pray, hear my lamentation
bestow your grace on me at this time,
do not let me despair;
I think that I have the right faith, Lord,
which you wanted to give me,
to live for you,
to be useful to my neighbour,
to keep your word properly.
I pray still more, o Lord God,
you can indeed give me this:
that I shall never again be mocked,
and along with these things, give me the
hope
assuming now the time when I have to
depart from here
that I may place my trust in you
and not rely
only on my own works,
otherwise I shall regret it for ever.
Grant that from the bottom of my heart
I may forgive my enemies
pardon me also at this hour,
give me a new life;
let your word always be my food
with which to nourish my soul,
to defend myself,
when misfortune comes upon me,
that might soon lead me astray.
Let no pleasure or fear
in this world turn me away from you,
Give me constancy until the end,
you alone have it in your power;
and the person to whom you give it has it for
free:No man can inherit
nor acquire
through his works your grace,
that delivers us from dying.
I lie amidst strife and I resist,
Help me, o Lord Christ, in my weakness!
To your grace alone I cling,
you can make me stronger.
If temptation now comes, Lord, defend me,
so that I may not be overthrown.
You can measure it,
so that it may not bring danger to me;
I know you will not allow it.

________________________________________________________________________
Source: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV177-Eng3.htm (Accessed on July 20, 2012). English
Translation by Francis Browne (May 2002) Contributed by Francis Browne (May 2002).

59
Greater Skill.122 Bach also intended to use the Orgelbchlein as teaching materials for
his pupils.
The text of Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ is from Agricolas123 five-verse hymn
text that was published in 1529. It is a prayer of supplication, and this hymn was usually
sung for various Sundays after Trinity.124
The melody was published together with the text and used in two cantatas for the
fourth Sunday after Trinity, BWV 177 (1732) and BWV 185 (1715) (Example. 21)125:

Example 21. Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, the melody.

122

Russell Stinson, Bach: The Orgelbchlein. (New York: Schirmer Books, 1996), 34. Dem hchsten
Gott alleinzu Ehren, Dem Nechsten, draus sich zu belehren (Which Hans David and Arthur Mendel
poetically translated as In Praise). The scriptural source in question is one that has always occupied
an important position in Christian liturgy. Known as Christs Summary of the law, it reads: Thou shalt
love the Lord Thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and
great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these
two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:37-40). Basically an extension of his
more common slogan Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone the Glory), Bachs little couplet proclaims that his
music has both a divine and worldly purpose, in accordance with Jesus teachings. Ultimately, then, the
Orgelbchlein may be understood as its composers response to the New Testament.

123

Johann Agricola (1492-1566), German hymn writer.

124

Trinity: The Sunday after Pentecost, which is fifty days after Easter.

125

Williams, 307.

60
Bach usually wrote four- or five-voice chorale preludes, but this chorale has only
three voices; each manual plays one voice, and the pedal has the basso continuo line.
The chorale is in the soprano voice and is presented in long notes. The clear use of a
chorale tune in the soprano voice makes this chorale as a cantus firmus chorale (unlike
the ornamented chorale, Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659). The chorale
melody is very clear and simple, and the structure of this chorale is also simple as there is
no introduction, interlude, or coda. This three-voiced polyphonic structure is throughcomposed (Example 22).

Example 22. Organ score of Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, mm. 14b (P stands
for the phrase of the text).

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Source: Johann Sebastian Bach, Neue Ausgabe Smtlicher Werke, Herausgegeben vom Johann-SebastianBach-Institute Gttingen und vom Bach-Archiv Leipzig, Serie IV: Orgelwerke Band 1: Brenreiter
Kassel, Basel, London, 1983, 68.

61
Transcription method and performance suggestions
The organ and the piano transcription scores are the same length, and Kempff
followed the original chorale prelude very closely. Here is a list of what Kempff added
in his transcription of Bachs chorale prelude:
1. Kempff wrote Sehr getragen (very solemn, sustained and slow) at the beginning of
the transcription (Example 23).
2. Kempff marked p and legatissimo in the middle/tenor voice.
3. Kempff wrote out the trills in m. 2, which is not in the organ score, as a measured trill,
and marked pi p when the chorale repeats for the third and fourth phrases (Example
23).
4. In mm. 14, Kempff wrote out the repeated material in his transcription in example 23
(mm. 4.4 to 8.3), while Bach wrote a repeat sign between the first and second phrase (m.
4a & 4b) (Example 22).
5. Kempff generally added a lower octave to the bass line of the organ chorale prelude.
As discussed in chapter three, he did this because it is customary for organists to use 16
organ stops for the bass lines of Bachs organ works. In some places, however, Kempff
did not retain the octave doubling because the left hand was needed to cover notes in the
tenor voice: the anacruses to mm. 1, 3, 5, 7, etc. (Example 23). This writer believes that
rather than sacrificing the octaves in the bass, it is sometimes preferable to move a note
from the middle voice one octave higher, playing it with the right hand. For example, in
the anacrusis to m. 1, one can play the Ab an octave higher, taking it with the right hand.
Kempff probably gave the Ab to the left hand because he was able to reach the minor
tenth from the bass note to the tenor note, thus, avoiding the need for a broken interval;

62
however, for pianists who are not able to reach this interval, the most satisfying way to
avoid the sound of a broken interval is to move the Ab up an octave. This has the added
advantage of allowing the pianist to begin the piece with its characteristic bass octave.126

Example 23. Piano score of Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, mm. 17. Kempffs
indications:

126

This writer is indebted to my piano professor Dr. Uriel Tsachor for this suggestion.

63

___________________________________________________________________________________
Source: Wilhelm Kempff, Bach Transcriptions for Piano. (Berlin: Bote & Bock, 1954), 31.

6. Kempff added mf for the melody in the right hand, and p for tenor and bass in the
left hand in m. 8, which is the beginning of the fifth line (Example 24). This creates the
sense of declamatory strength for the words of the tacit text. The text of the fifth line is
The true faith, Lord, I aspire to.

Example 24. Piano score of Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, mm. 89.

7. Bach used fermatas to indicate new phrases in the text of the organ score, but in the
piano transcription, Kempff used long slurs indicating the phrases (Example 25 & 26).

64
8. At the end of the chorale, in m.18 (Example 26), Kempff added the indication
ritardando. This reflects Kempffs awareness of the different conventions of notation
between the Baroque and post-Baroque periods. Baroque musicians would have
customarily slowed down at the end of a movement. This was understood as a
convention in the Baroque period, and Baroque composers generally did not need to
indicate a final ritardando. In the musical periods following the Baroque period,
composers have used many more expressive indications, reflecting both the wider variety
of musical styles as well as the greater distance between the composer and the performer
brought about by music publishing.

Table 4. The structure of Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ


Line
of text

Text

1.

I call to you, Lord Jesus Christ

Bach measure #s
& phrasing
indications
m. 1 2.3 (w/f)

2.

I beg, hear my complaint;

m. 2.4 4a (w/o/f)

3.

Grant me grace at this time,

m. 1 2.3 (w/f)

4.

Let me not despair.

5.
6.

The true faith, Lord, I aspire


to,
Which you wish to give me

m. 2.4 4b.3
(w/o/f)
m. 4b.4 6.3 (w/f)

7.

[is] to live onto you,

m. 9 10.3 (w/o/f)

8.

To be of use to my neighbour,

9.

To keep your words

m. 10.4 12.3
(w/o/f)
m. 12.4 14 (w/f)

127

m. 6.4 8 (w/o/f)

Kempff measure
#s & phrasing
indications
m. 1 2.3 (w/slur,
w/o/f))
m. 2.4 4.3
(w/slur, w/o/f)
m. 4.4 6.3
(w/slur, w/o/f)
m. 6.4 8.3
(w/slur, w/o/f)
m. 8.4 10.3
(w/slur, w/o/f)
m. 10.4 12 (Line
6 & 7 are
connected with one
slur, w/o/f)
m. 13 14.3
(w/slur, w/o/f)
m. 14.4 16.3
(w/slur, w/o/f)
m. 16.4 18 (slur
& w/f)

Cadence/Key Area

HC in F minor
HC in F minor
HC in F minor
PC in F minor
PC in Ab major
DC in F major & F
minor

PC in C minor
PC in Ab major
PC in F major

________________________________________________________________________
Source: Brenreiter edition.
HC = Half Cadence. PC = Perfect Cadence. w/f = with fermata, w/o/f = without fermata.
127

Peter Williams, 307.

65
Regarding the performance suggestions of the piano transcription of Ich ruf zu
dir, Herr Jesu Christ, structure must be noted first. The table above is provided to
outline the details of each phrase. The table shows Bachs and Kempffs indications, the
cadence and key area of each phrase, and the line of the text.
There are nine lines of text. As seen from the table above, Bach indicated
fermatas at the end of four phrases: the first, the third, the fifth, and the last lines (mm. 6,
8, 10, and 12) (Example 25). Bach connected the second and the third, and the fourth
and the fifth, and the sixth lines of text to the end to make larger phrases. Bach also used
half notes at the end of the sixth line of the text, and dotted half notes at the end of the
seventh and eighth lines of the text to separate phrases in mm. 8, 10, and 12 (Example 25).
As stated previously, Kempff indicated phrases with slurs and only used fermatas for the
last beat of the prelude (Example 26).

Example 25. Organ score of Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, mm. 4b14.

66

Example 26. Piano score of Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, mm. 818.

67

Example 26 shows how Kempff indicated phrases by means of slurs. Kempff


maintains Bachs phrases, except for in mm. 1114, where Kempff connects two phrases
to create one longer thought: the text is, which you wish to give me, [is] to live unto
you. It is interesting to note that there is a deceptive cadence in m. 12, precisely where
Kempff chooses to continue without a pause.
Because this piece is a cantus firmus chorale, it is essential to correlate the text to
the chorale melody. Saying the text out loud may give the performer a good sense for
both the inflection and meaning of the text. Singing the cantus firmus melody with the
words will also give the performer a sense of the appropriate shaping of the melody as it
relates to the text. On the organ, one can express melodic inflection with nuances of

68
timing, but on the piano it is possible to express melodic inflection with both timing and
the subtle dynamic gradation, such as crescendos and decrescendos (example 27).128

Example 27. Piano score of Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ (mm. 818). This
writers recommended dynamic inflections.

In seeking to bring to life a rich relationship between the three parts of the texture,
it may be helpful to envision this chorale prelude as work for a mixed Baroque ensemble.
Because soprano lines in cantus firmus chorales are vocally inspired, pianists should play
the soprano line with a legato singing quality. The tenor line may be imagined as a viola
line and the bass line should bring to mind a basso continuo played by low stringed
instruments such as the viola da gamba, cello, or double bass. Therefore, one of the
performance suggestions is to articulate each voice slightly differently, keeping in mind
that in the Baroque period the mixed ensemble was the favored sound.
128

The dynamic inflections for the inner voice should be executed with subtlety, never disrupting the
simple and continuous flow.

69
As discussed above, the soprano line should be played in a legato singing style;
since many of the notes in the soprano line are long, relative to the more moving bass and
tenor lines, a projecting tone quality is essential. The tenor line, which consists of nearly
constant sixteenth notes and which Kempff marks legatissimo and piano, should be
played in a smoothly flowing manner. As mentioned above, imagining a quiet, wellshaped string line may help the pianist produce the sensitive, fluid motions necessary to
play the tenor line. It may even help the pianist to keep in mind that a string player must
always maintain a supple hand and wrist in the bow arm, particularly when playing
softly. It is essential for the pianist to be aware of the balance between three voices. In
order to project the cantus firmus in the soprano line, the player should play the sixteenth
notes of the tenor voice significantly quieter than the soprano line.
As may be seen in example 28, this writer recommends legato pedaling in this
chorale. The pace of the pedal changes should reflect the pace at which the harmony
changes (Example 28). However, this writer approaches the bass line with a sense of
portato129 rather than a seamlessly smooth legato. In other words, each bass note should
have some gravity and its own distinguishable but subtle gesture. The bass line consists
of many repeated pairs of bass notes; this pattern lends itself to a portato style of
articulation.

129

Portato (It.). Carried; a kind of bowstroke between legato and staccato.


http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.proxy.lib.uiowa.edu/subscriber/article/opr/t114/e5294?q=portato&sear
ch=quick&pos=2&_start=1#firsthit (Accessed November 7, 2012).

70
Example 28. Piano score of Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ (mm. 810). Authors
Recommended pedaling.

When the soprano is played cantabile style, the player should keep the timing of
the sixteenth notes on the tenor line flowing. No rhythmic fluctuation in the tenor voice
is recommended. It is suggested that only the melody line be played with a slight rubato
while the other two voices maintain a predictable pulse. In other words, each phrase
should flow organically. The uneven sixteenth notes with agogic rubato in the middle
voice would cause the loss of the flow of the phrases. Thus, the pianist needs to plan the
timing cohesively.

71
Music and Text
This modest three-voiced chorale expresses a humble prayer.130 Bach chose
minor keys for the beginning four phrases and phrase seven and major keys for phrases
five, six, eight and nine. Bach used half cadences for the minor key areas and perfect
cadences for the major key areas. Considering the contents of the text, phrases one to
four, in minor keys, express a human perspective, while the second part of the chorale
prelude, which is generally in major keys, expresses human hope in God. Thus, at the
beginning of the prayer, one begins with a desperate heart with many worries, but from
the introduction of Ab major (the key of grave death, grave, putrefaction, judgment,
eternity lie in its radius131), from the fourth beat of m. 8, the fifth phrase, one is handing
over ones burdenshuman instabilityto the perfect God; thus the music moves to F
major.
Bach could have used long notes in the pedal line, but he chose to use repeated
notes. For this writer the walking bass line is suggestive of heartbeats and reflects the
highly charged pathos of this chorale prelude. The bass line also serves as a wonderful
study piece for pedal work. Thus, Bachs repeated pedal notes fulfill both purposes of
Orgelbchlein: for worship service and pedagogy, expressing pathos and practicing
pedals.

130

In Christianity, humbleness is a cherished characteristic. Jesus said, Whoever humbles himself like this
child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:4.
131
Christian Schubart's Ideen zu einer Aesthetik der Tonkunst (1806),
Translated by Rita Steblin in A History of Key Characteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries. UMI
Research Press (1983). http://www.wmich.edu/mus-theo/courses/keys.html (Accessed July 6, 2012).

72
CONCLUSION
While preparing to write this essay, this writer has experienced the contrapuntal
beauty and deep expressivity of both the original organ chorale preludes and Kempffs
piano transcriptions. As a piano student, this writer has been learning from teachers
about articulation, dynamics, timbre and color, phrasing and the layers of texture. Now
after having written about these chorale preludes, the musical facets of the works have
become clearer and more vivid.
Through the detailed study and thorough analysis of two chorale prelude
transcriptions, this writer was impressed by Bachs composition (the beautiful voiceleading, the expressive harmony, the gracious phrasing) and by his sensitive response to
the theological meaning of each chorale prelude based on his solid understanding of
Lutheran theology. Kempff made almost no changes to the musical substance of Bachs
organ chorale preludes, but his score indications are great lessons. Kempffs deep and
spiritual interpretations of the chorale preludes reflect Kempffs own engagement with
the meaning of the texts. As a future transcriber of Bachs sacred music pieces, this
writer was greatly challenged by both Bach and Kempffs deep understanding of the
music, text, and theology.
This writers wish is that more pianists play transcriptions of J. S. Bachs spiritual
music in churches and in concert halls, and piano teachers use them in their piano studios
as teaching materials. The lack of pipe organs and professional organists has created an
environment in which the public rarely has the chance to hear the wonderful organ music
of J. S. Bach. Thus, the performance of piano transcriptions would bring this literature to
a wider audience. Furthermore, this writer hopes there will be more scholarly studies on

73
Kempffs solo piano transcriptions, including not only those of Bach, but also on his
transcriptions of pieces by Handel, Gluck and Mozart.
This writer believes that playing the piano transcriptions of J. S. Bachs music
will be an inspiration to the present and next generations of church pianists. As a
Christian classical pianist, this writer feels a great responsibility to worship God and to
introduce a variety of genres of sacred music to the congregation and does not wish to
yield the ground completely to contemporary Christian music genres.

74
APPENDIX A: INTERVIEW WITH MAESTRO BIRET

Authors on-line (E-mail) interview with Maestro Idil Biret on January 25, 2011
Dear Maestro Biret,
1. Why did you record the Kempff transcriptions? Did you have lessons from Master
Kempff?
These transcriptions are wonderfully well written. The Bach arrangements of
chorales are more faithful to the spirit of the original than the too ornate, baroque
transcriptions of Busoni. I was working on and off with Prof. Kempff since I was 8 years
old. The real lessons however started since I finished the Paris Conservatory at the age of
15.

2. What were Master Kempffs pianistic and musical sources and inspiration?
A profound classical culture which was rooted in the Greco-Roman tradition.
Prof. Kempff would always refer to mythology, to the classical texts that he was able to
cite by heart. A vast knowledge in music which enabled him to indicate the relation
between the works. W Kempff admired the great musician that Busoni was and would
often mentioned [sic] his name.

3. What prompted master Kempff to transcribe Baroque pieces? And what do you
remember of Kempff talking about his compositions and arrangements?
W. Kempff didnt mention often his own works. He would sometimes play them
to show a passage. He was also an organist. His knowledge of Bachs music was deep
rooted in his Christian faith and the true respect he felt for all the religions as well as all
the other forms of mysticism in any civilization. In my opinion, to understand the
uniqueness of his personality, one has to listen to the recording of Liszts Legend No. 1
St. Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds which remains one of the most perfect and
inspired.

4. How would you describe Kempffs playing of his own transcriptions and his own
compositions?
There is a sense of evidency [sic] in W. Kempffs playing: One has the feeling
that it couldnt be played differently: it simply sounds true.

5. What was his philosophy on composition and arrangements?

75
W. K. didnt really enjoy serialism or an aggressive atonalism. What may not be
known is that he admired the French impressionistic music and played it at home for
himself. He was not a believer in an overly calculated way in composing. Music had
first to be innerly [sic] [inwardly] heard as the result of the inspiration.

76
APPENDIX B: MS. ANNETTE VON BODECKER IN INTERVIEW WITH WERNER
GRNZWEIG
He was a man inspired by the moment.132
Q: In the early 60s you accompanied Kempff on his concert tours. What memories do
you have?
A: The German tours were particularly strenuousevery day a new city, parties following
the performance, and at 8 am the next day we would be at the train station. When I
started out with him, he didnt have any idea what program he would play in the evening.
He visited churches, friends and in the evening he would ask for the program and what
they expected him to play. This changed with the later years. It was almost always a
different program. Only years later did he have a specific program for a concert season.
Nearly every artist is doing this today.
Q: Did you always accompany him on the tours?
A: Not always. Sometimes it was me or his wife. His daughter Mechthild, who
accompanied him one time, can tell you how exhausting these trips were. At the railway
station he would say, Please bring me the newspaper. I will sleep until you return. He
was one of those humans who does not need to sleep much.
Q: You mentioned that later on he began to prepare more for his performances. What
was a typical concert day like?
A: He ate banana and yogurt. In the morning he would go to the concert hall, check the
piano and adjust the seat to the correct height, leaving a note for the tuner not to change
the seat. He did not want to make adjustments in front of the audience. Later on he
played part of his program in order to listen to the acoutics of the hall.

Q: You were also responsible for the organization of music courses in Positano. The
theme Kempff as Teacher can be traced back to the 1920s, when he held the position
of director of the Stuttgart Music Conservatory. Later he taught master classes at the
Deutsche Musikinstitute fuer Auslaender (German Music Institute for Foreigners) in
Potsdam. But he never sought a position as professor.
A: The German Music Institute for Foreigners was disbanded during the Nazi era,
toward the end of the war. Right afterwards it was not possible to organize anything
similar. But his desire to teach was still strong. He said he wanted to hand down his own
132

Werner Grnzweig et al., I am not a Romantic - The pianist Wilhelm Kempff (1895 1991) (Berlin: the
Academy of Arts, 2008), Excerpts from 85-99, translated by Johanna Jones.

77
experiences in the music world to a new generation. He didnt want to teach in places
like Salzburg with all its hustle and bustle. He wanted a place where musicians could
meet and fully concentrate only on music. Positano was suggested to him by my mother.
And in 1954 he built the Casa Orfeo.
Q: When was Casa Orfeo completed?
A: In 1957 and the courses started that same year. Pages 88-89 give an interesting
detailed discussion about the construction of Casa Orfeo and Casa Virgilio.133
Q: Was it Kempffs intention from the beginning to deal exclusively with Beethoven?
A: This was his explicit wish from the beginning. He was of the opinion that
Beethovens work needed to be interpreted; it was not enough only to play the notes
according to Beethovens specifications. He wanted to bring the works closer to the
students through his own experiences.
All thirty-two Beethoven sonatas were included in each course, with each course lasting
fourteen days [sic]. There were no concerts during these courses. At first Kempff
allowed listeners, but he later decided against having any non-participating auditors.
Annette Von Bodecker remembers Kempffs last performances. The last concert took
place in Paris in 1981. At the beginning of the tour he became very ill, but his doctor had
misjudged the situation. He had a great sense of responsibility. I have given my word
and I have to do it. In Paris, for the first time in his life, he lost his place in the sonata
and had to leave the stage. He returned and played the piece all the way through. In
Brussels he came down with a fever but carried on to Paris anyway. This was his last
performance.
Q: Were you present during recordings. Did he prepare himself in a particular way for
recordings?
A: For the first recordings he just sat down and played his program. Later on he prepared
intensively for the recordings and also used sheet music. Soon he received requests from
Deutsche Grammaphone. Initially DG didnt want to hear any Schubert pieces, but later
he recorded two sonatas, and they were well received. Somehow Germany didnt want to
identify with romantic music, possibly because of the Nazi era. Dietrich Fischer-Diskau
did a great deal for this kind of music and through his success the German attention was
directed back to Schubert. Later DG offered Kempff the opportunity of recording the
entire Schubert sonatas. He worked on them intensively in Positano and was very
grateful to DG, because they had offered him the opportunity to work on sonatas he
previously had not played. He was particularly fascinated by the incomplete F minor
sonata. When he recorded pieces he worked intensively on the contents. He had
recorded Bachs Goldberg Variations very early on, but he toyed with the idea of playing
133

Casa Orfeo is a house with concert hall, and Casa Virgilio is a house with small resident rooms.

78
them without pedal and leaving out the trills. The preparations usually took place in
Positano, where he had his peace and quiet.
Q: His name is bigger in France than in Germany
A: Yes, that is true. This can be partly explained by the inability of the Germans to
accept their identity. After the war the Germans didnt want any German artists and in
particular no German music, especially no romantic music. This explains the difficulty
in reintroducing Schubert and Schumann into the concert programs or recording
catalogues. Liszt was even worse. Kempff sometimes played Liszt in concerts, but it
was difficult. And when he played Beethovens Eb Major Concerto in Sweden, the
critics remarked Now the Germans are getting really bold again.
Q: Would he have ever considered immigration?
A: No, he would never have immigrated; he felt too German for that His intellectual
upbringing was determined by his parental home, where he learned about Bach and
Goethe. He would not have been able to separate himself from this. He could not have
lived in an American city. Aside from that, he had a large family.
Q: Furtwaenglers pathos moved the people. Was Kempff impressed by this as well?
A: Not at all. Pathos was not in his nature.
Q: Didnt he exude pathos when he was on stage?
A: Some pictures of him might give this impression, but that was not in him. One can
say that he was not a man of pathos; otherwise he wouldnt have been able to laugh about
himself.
Q: But there is a public and a private persona, and they dont have to be identical.
A: Yes, but that was not Kempff. He could not manipulate himself to give a certain
impression. He didnt exert any influence regarding the choice of pictures used for
publication- unlike von Karajan who approved every single picture.
Q: Did Kempff consider himself a chosen one, a man with a mission, a destiny?
A: The idea of destiny has undergone changes over time. In the past it was not
considered a bad concept but today it has a negative connotation.
Q: I dont mean it negatively.
A: Then we have to clarify the meaning. Of course he told himself: I have been given a
gift, and I would like to express to people what I feel about music. He saw himself only
as a middle man, the facilitator for the composer. What he communicated through his

79
music he took very seriously. When one sees oneself as a facilitator then this goes
definitely along with a sense of mission or destiny. But that doesnt mean self-promotion.
Q: How do you see his self-assessment as a composer?
A: As far as I know, he dreamed of becoming a composer since childhood. In the course
of his life he recognized that he was not meant to be a great composer. He said that it
was at least enough to understand the great composers. Once in a while he would play
one of his sonatas, but he had a critical relationship with his work. That part was closer
to him and he knew where he stood just as he knew after a concert how he had played.

Q: When he was described as a Romantic pianist he felt this was not fitting and
considered it too one-sided.
A: Exactly. He was very versatile. He played in equal measure Bach, Mozart and Liszt.
He always said that whichever piece he was working on was his favorite one. He could
feel himself a part of a piece in such a way that you had a sense that the composer was
right in front of you.

80
APPENDIX C: NUN KOMM DER HEIDEN HEILAND, BWV659A

Performers Edition Specifically Created for Pianists with Smaller Hands

The principles this writer followed for the performance suggestions found in this edition
are as follows:

1. Finger substitutions wherever needed are strongly recommended.


2. For most of this chorale prelude a performer can change the pedal every eighth
note; this follows the rhythmic motion of the walking bass line. The exceptions
are in mm. 5, 11, 32, and 33, where Kempff has explicitly indicated longer pedals
in order to maintain the soprano notes. In mm. 32 and 33, this writer
recommends the use of half or flutter pedals.

3. This writer moved large intervals such as the tenth to a higher octave so that the
sonority of the bass octaves is maintained. In this edition, the notes which have
been moved to a higher register appear within a red square.

81

82

83

84

85
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