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Companion volume to Schenker's Phil. Em. Bach: Klavierwerke of 1903, Ein Beitrag zur Ornamentik was published first by Universal Edition in 1903 (widely and incorrectly dated "1904"), and reissued in a revised and enlarged edition in 1908.

Bearing the plate-number UE 812, its full title is: [in highly decorative engraved frame with harps and timbrel:] EIN BEITRAG | ZUR ORNAMENTIK. | ALS EINFÜHRUNG ZU | PH. EM. BACH’S KLAVIERWERKEN, | MITUMFASSEND AUCH DIE ORNAMENTIK | HAYDNS MOZARTS U. BEETHOVENS ETC

(A Contribution to the Study of Ornamentation: As an Introduction to the Keyboard Works of C. P. E. Bach encompassing also the Ornamentation of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, etc.)


The work is structured in two long sections, variously subdivided, and interspersed with music examples. In the synopsis below, the pages of the original and revised editions are given in parentheses separated by "/", to convey an impression of the degree of expansion.

Introduction (Einführung) (pp. 3‒20 / 3‒23)
This is subdivided in both editions into six subsections covering Bach's keyboard style, the artistic basis of his embellishments, musical form, and performance of his works.

The Embellishments (Die Manieren) (pp. 21‒42 / 24‒70) The three subsections are divided into embellishment in C. P. E. Bach's own music (its psychology, its notation, its performance), then (collectively or separately) in those of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

  • I. The Appoggiatura (Der Vorschlag) (pp. 22‒26 / 25‒34)
  • II. The Trill (Triller) (pp. 26‒30 / 34‒44)
  • III. The Turn (Der Doppelschlag) (pp. 30‒42 / 44‒70)

Appendix (Anhang) (pp. 42‒43 / 71‒72)

Publication History

Original Edition
Universal Edition's agreement to Schenker's editing of keyboard works by C. P. E. Bach for its new series of "model editions" occurred in early March 1901 (OC 52/386). Schenker delivered the edited material to the publisher in late December of that year (OC 52/387), initially intending to preface it with an introduction. However, by the following July he proposed to UE that the introduction be published separately, presumably on grounds that it had become more extensive than expected. UE agreed to publish the introduction "in paperback" (in Brochüren-Form) (OC 52/380, July 15, 1902), their intention being that the two should be published simultaneously (OC 52/6, August 26). In saying this, they identified the separate publication for the first time as "Ornamentik" as against "Einführung." Since Schenker continued to work on this document, UE eventually went ahead with printing the keyboard works, and this was released on February 10, 1903 with the following brief prefatory statement: The principles that have guided the editor of this edition of the keyboard works of C. P. E. Bach are set down in a special work that will appear shortly from Universal Edition under the title of "A Contribution to the Study of Ornamentation." / There the performer may seek information on anything here that at first might seem to him unusual or even strange.

The Beitrag zur Ornamentik went to the printers on June 24, 1903. Pre-publication copies were sent to Schenker on July 23 (OC 52/9); UE formally took possession of it from the printers the next day (Verlagsdruckbuch UE 812) in a print-run of 500 copies (matching the German print-run of the edition); and complimentary copies of the edition and its companion volume together were sent to selected people four days later (OC 52/10).

It is noteworthy that, in a list of those to whom complimentary copies of the 1908 revised edition should be sent, the first name after the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Archive was that of Jakob Fischer, with the comment "who was of great service in getting the first edition known."

Revised Edition
Five years later stocks of the original edition must have been running low, because on March 24, 1908, Emil Hertzka wrote announcing that UE was "on the point of going into production with a new edition" (OC 52/383). Schenker responded the next day that he had some "small additions" and "glaring desiderata" (WSLB 1). Working into the night on his revisions (while also trying to finish Kontrapunkt I for Cotta), Schenker delivered the revised Part I on April 8 and the remainder on April 22 (diary, WSLB 3, 4). Having corrected three sets of proofs ("It is turning into such a practical hand-book for student and teacher," WSLB 5, May 21) Schenker gave his imprimatur on June 23. A print-run of 500 copies was delivered on August 24 (Verlagsdruckbuch UE 812), but an error came to light requiring an erratum slip, and release of the edition was delayed until late August and early September.

As can be seen above, in its revision the work was expanded from 43 to 72 pages. The underlying structure was unchanged, but titles were introduced for the subsections, and the text largely retained verbatim, with occasional new paragraphs interpolated and several new music examples. The bulk of the expansion took place in the second section: a system of numbered paragraphs (§1, etc) being introduced within the existing subsections; many new music examples are interspersed among the text; many footnotes, some extremely long, are provided, and also brief marginal annotations. To this Schenker added a Foreword (dated "June 1908") in which he lauded C. P. E. Bach as author of the Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen and reminded the reader of the reverence that Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven had for its author.

Demand for Ornamentik continued after 1908, reissues of 300 copies being made in each of 1914, 1921, 1926, 1930, and 1936, and even larger print-runs from 1954 onward, making a total of well over 4,000 copies before the end of the century (Verlagsdruckbuch UE 812).

Sources and Further Reading

  • Siegel, Hedi, transl. and ed., "A Contribution to the Study of Ornamentation [by] Heinrich Schenker," The Music Forum, iv (1976), 1‒139
  • Bent, Ian, "'That Bright New Light': Schenker, Universal Edition, and the Origins of the Erläuterung Series, 1901‒1910," Journal of the American Musicological Society, 58/1 (2005), esp. 71‒81
  • Felix Salzer, "Über die Bedeutung der Ornamente in Philipp Emanuel Bachs Klavierwerken," Zeitschrift für Musikwissenschaft, 12/7 (April 1930), 398–418; Eng. transl. by Mark Stevens as "The Significance of the Ornaments in Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's Keyboard Works," Theory and Practice, 11 (1986), 15–42.
  • Ernst Oster, "Vom Sinn des langen Vorschlags," Der Dreiklang, 6 (September 1937), 148‒57; Eng. transl. by Robert Kosovsky as "On the meaning of the Long Appoggiatura," Theory and Practice, 7/1 (August 1982), 20–37.


  • Ian Bent with Hedi Siegel

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