Neue Bach-Ausgabe

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The Neue Bach-Ausgabe (NBA, in English: New Bach Edition) is the second complete edition of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, published by Bärenreiter. The name is short for Johann Sebastian Bach: Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke (Johann Sebastian Bach: New Edition of the Complete Works). It is a historical-critical edition (German: historisch-kritische Ausgabe) of Bach's complete works by the Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Institut Göttingen and the Bach-Archiv Leipzig.

When Bach died most of his work was unpublished. The first complete edition of Bach's music was published in the second half of the nineteenth century by the Bach Gesellschaft. The second complete edition includes some discoveries made since 1900, but there are relatively few such scores. The significance of the NBA lies more in its incorporation of the latest scholarship.[1] Although the NBA is an urtext edition rather than a facsimile edition, it includes many facsimiles of Bach manuscripts.


The edition contains in eight series 96 Notenbände (music volumes), in addition Kritische Berichte (Critical Reports) and Supplementbände (supplementing volumes):[2]

I. Cantatas (46 volumes)
II. Masses, Passions, Oratorios (9 volumes)
III. Motets, chorales, Lieder (4 volumes)
IV. Organ works (11 volumes)
V. Keyboard works and lute works (14 volumes)
VI. Chamber music (5 volumes)
VII. Orchestral works (7 volumes)
VIII. Canons, The Musical Offering, The Art of Fugue (2 volumes)
IX. Addenda (approximately 7 volumes)
Supplement, Bach Documents (9 volumes)

Each volume of music contains a preface and a selection of facsimiles of its sources. For each such volume, a separate Critical Report describes all sources of a work and their interdependence, presents all reliable information about the history of a composition and discusses editorial issues. Fragments of compositions were published along with complete works.[2]


The celebrations in 1950 of the bicentennial of Bach's death in Göttingen and Leipzig led to the initiative to publish his complete works in a critical scientific edition. Musicologists such as Friedrich Blume, Max Schneider, Friedrich Smend and Heinrich Besseler, and sponsors such as Bernhard Sprengel and Otto Benecke made the project possible, supported by the editor Karl Vötterle.

The Neue Bachgesellschaft recommended to pursue the project as a joint venture of musicologists in Göttingen, then West Germany, and Leipzig, then East Germany, in order to stress that the common cultural heritage was undivisible. The Bach-Archiv Leipzig and the Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Institut Göttingen collaborated, their directors Werner Neumann and Alfred Dürr made the new edition their life's project. The publishers were Bärenreiter in Kassel, chosen in 1951 by the Federal Government, and from 1954 the Deutscher Verlag für Musik, a new publisher in Leipzig which was involved until the unification of Germany.

Initially the duration of the edition was estimated as 15 to 20 years, but the scientific work with the sources required much more time than anticipated. The first volumes appeared in 1954. The edition was completed in June 2007.[2][3][4]


The Neue Bach-Ausgabe presents a reliable version of Bach's music for both scientists and performers. Its strict philological methods were exemplary for critical scientific editions in the second half of the 20th century.

In preparation for the NBA, lost compositions were found, whereas some known compositions proved to be not Bach's works. The examination of the sources corrected the chronology of his compositions.[2][3]


In February 2010 the Bach-Archiv Leipzig and the publisher announced a revision of single volumes, in order to include new sources and findings. The first to be published was the Mass in B minor (updating the second volume of the NBA). Approximately 15 more volumes are planned, including Weimar cantatas (five works), the St John Passion, the motets, the violin sonatas, the cello suites and others.[5]


In 2001 the German Association of Music Publishers (Deutscher Musikverlegerverband) awarded a special prize to the New Bach Edition in recognition of editorial achievement.[2]


  1. ^ Melamed, Daniel (1998). "Joahann Sebastian Bach: Ratswahlkantaten, II.(Review)". Notes. Music Library Association via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved September 26, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Johann Sebastian Bach / 1685-1750 / New Edition of the Complete Works". Bärenreiter. Retrieved 7 January 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Volker Tarnow (12 June 2007). "Präludium zur Deutschen Einheit" (in German). Die Welt. Retrieved 9 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "Neue Bach-Ausgabe". University of Cincinnati. Retrieved 9 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "New Bach Edition – Revised (NBArev)". Baerenreiter. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 

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