Talk:The Musical Offering

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Quotation from D minor Fugue, WTC Bk II[edit]

Have any authorities commented that the first section of the MO, The Ricercare a3, quotes almost verbatim the (highly chromatic) subject from the D minor fugue from Book II of the WTC? This seems significant, and I would be interested to find an explanation. (talk) 19:36, 12 June 2011 (UTC)


According to the press of the day, Bach succeeded pretty well in producing an instant fugue, allthough he must have confided afterwards he felt not very much at ease playing the new type of instrument.

Did he or didn't he confide it? This reads like speculation. 11:01, 26 Jun 2005 (UTC)
It is speculation. Removed. EldKatt (Talk) 19:37, 29 November 2005 (UTC)


"Frederick was reputedly not fond of complicated music, and soon after Bach's visit he was on his next war campaign, so it is possible it was not well received."

I find this sentence delightful. Kudos to whoever wrote it. Adso de Fimnu 18:20, 3 June 2006 (UTC)
Hilarious. :) —Viriditas | Talk 11:57, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I would most like to buy a drink for whoever wrote that. The WP needs more bits like that. (talk) 23:57, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
Delightful, but almost certainly apocryphal. Prussia was at peace from 1745 to 1756, Frederick having abandoned his French and German allies once he had convinced Maria Theresia to cough up Silesia. He may have gone out on maneuvers, an inspection tour, or some other peacetime military duty, but he couldn't have been campaigning. --KenMacLennan (talk) 18:37, 4 January 2010 (UTC)


The article says:

Frederick wanted to show the elder Bach a novelty: the pianoforte had been invented some years earlier, and the king now owned several of the experimental instruments.

It sounds as though this is the first time Bach heard the pianoforte. This is very untrue. Here's part of the Grove's biography of Bach which is definitely rellevant here: "He had also taken a critical interest in the pianos that Gottfried Silbermann was building during the 1730s, proposing alterations in the mechanism which Silbermann evidently adopted. At all events, Bach praised Silbermann’s later pianos and promoted their sale (a receipt for one sold to Poland, dated 6 May 1749, survives). On his visit to Potsdam in 1747 he played on a range of Silbermann pianos of the newer type which had been purchased by the Prussian court."

CHRISTOPH WOLFF (I–II; III, 1–6, 7 (§7–21), 13, work-list, bibliography), WALTER EMERY/CHRISTOPH WOLFF (III, 7 (§1–6)), PETER WOLLNY (III, 8, 10), ULRICH LEISINGER (III, 9, 11, 14), STEPHEN ROE (III, 12): 'Bach: III (7)', Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 10 October 2007), <>

By the way, I have a dynamic IP, so please reply to this message on this page. Thank you! 21:54, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Image copyright problem with Image:Webern's Ricercar arrangement opening.PNG[edit]

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Schiller Institute[edit]

I can't help but notice that one of the links is to a Lyndon LaRouche thinktank. It's undeniable that the LaRouchites are huge classical music buffs, but they're also lunatics. Is it good to be linking to them? (talk) 15:49, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

Canon per tonos[edit]

Who wrote such humorous nonsence in the Endlessly Rising Canon section? Please rewrite the section (English is not my mother tongue, that’s why I refuse). Ledgers to the moon, bats’ perception of sound—looks like someone has watched Monty Python’s shows for too much and he is not a bona-fide article writer. (—Fifis (Russian)—) 10:54, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

Six-part ricercare[edit]

I have nothing but respect for the late Charles Rosen, but this is the first time I've come across a suggestion that the 6 part ricercare is a piano composition, rather than just playable on the piano.(It's more common to hera the 3 part ricercare on the keyboard - as it is in the first recording you list, for example). I also have the maximum allowable respect for the New York Times. But it would be useful to know how far the idea has been accepted in performance since 1999. I can't say I've ever heard anyone play it as a keyboard solo of any kind, but.... (talk) 08:03, 19 July 2014 (UTC)

The 6-part Ricercare has always been considered a keyboard composition and is most frequently performed on a keyboard. The composer's manuscript is laid out in two staves for keyboard: Couch (talk) 00:39, 18 April 2016 (UTC)

Music files[edit]

We have some quality music files available for this article, including the following:

These are old recordings, as the recordings are from Paris in the 1930s, so there is some static. The static might eventually be addressed using GoldWave. But in the mean time, I think these files would be good additions to the Wikipedia article.Anythingyouwant (talk) 15:58, 14 October 2015 (UTC)

"Possible origin of the King's Theme" section is just about one person's poorly supported assertions[edit]

This section also includes the provocative and unsupported assertion that Handel's impressive A minor fugue (HWV 609) was "a structural model or guide" for Bach's Ricercar a 6. That assertion is based on what I would (very charitably) describe as a very weak source, which happens to have been written by Humphrey F. Sassoon, a fruit farmer, agriculture scientist and self described "former music director of the town of Washington Grove, Maryland." I found him online, sounds like he was a great guy, very kind and a "Rennaissance man", but his article has not been cited (as far as I can tell) by any serious musicologist since and it is utterly unconvincing.

I agree with Sassoon that the theme (which Bach did not choose) bears a (very) vague similarity to the Handel theme. Handel himself re-used the theme and a bunch of the music in "Israel in Egypt". Other seekers over the centuries have tried without much success to find a precursor to the royal theme. (Mary Oleskiewicz has suggested Quantz and Zelenka sources.)

But Sassoon's other proposal, that Bach used the Handel fugue as a model or guide, utterly lacks credible evidence. To summarize his points [and my responses] about the relationship between the Handel fugue and Bach ricercar: 1) they are both in 6 parts [but Handel's is not; although it does have a 6 voice exposition]; 2) both expositions occupy about a quarter of the length of the entire piece [true, but not a surprising ratio], and 3) the order of the voice entries in the 2 pieces are [um] similar [but not really! Sassoon's explication shows Handel=Alto2,Alto1,Sop2,Tenor,Bass,Sop1 and Bach=Alto,Sop2,Tenor2,Tenor1,Sop1,Bass... Uh, not very similar! Handel doesn't even give the last entry to an outer voice (which Bach does, characteristically). Mr. Sassoon also makes no comparisons re harmonic structure, use of particular contrapuntal devices, role of the "episodes" (which are the sections between theme entries; in Bach's ricercar these are incredibly complex in use of subsidiary and theme-derived motives) -- or anything else that suggests a model. As if Bach needed a model! (well, I do concede that he did at times use other composer's works as models in one sense or another.)

And note that Sassoon's proposal suggests that Bach went out and chose (or recognized?) as a model the very same fugue from which the King's theme -- which Bach did not choose --came. (one could go on, but i won't)

If we are to have a section with this title, it should at least include the efforts others have made. . In the meantime, if somebody can't defend this section soon, I will probably delete the entire section but certainly the mention of Handel's a minor fugue being a model for the ricercar. David Couch (talk) 00:39, 18 April 2016 (UTC)

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