Aspects of the reception of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier in Chopin’s time: An overview of print and manuscript sources

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Chopin’s deep respect for Bach’s music, especially The Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC), is well known. Yet we are little informed about how and in what form WTC was introduced to him. Eigeldinger’s ground-breaking study (2010) of Chopin’s annotations found in the recently rediscovered printed copy owned by one of his piano students Pauline Chazaren (1828–1899) argues that by 1838 Chopin was thoroughly familiar with the musical text of a Parisian edition which contained the readings that did not originate from J. S. Bach. Eigeldinger concludes that this Parisian edition is issued by Maurice Schlesinger in c.1828, although the evidence is inconclusive in my view.
By 1820s the WTC was widely available in many different shapes. While new editions continued to appear, some claiming their musical text being ‘new and correct’ or ‘carefully revised’, manuscript copies continued to be made and sold as well, adding complexities to the source situation. The editors of the time had very different understanding of the editorial norms and procedures from our 21st century practice. When studying Bach’s influence on Chopin that are reflected in his works themselves, it is a prerequisite to take into account this unique state of sources of Bach’s works available to Chopin at the time.
This paper re-examines the textual evidence, while attempting to revisit the issue of transmission from a broader scene by tracing how the WTC was disseminated and reached Chopin at various stages of his life.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBach and Chopin: Baroque traditions in the music of the Romantics
EditorsSzymon Paczkowski
Place of PublicationWarsaw
PublisherThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9788364823923
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Bach
  • well-tempered clavier
  • chopin
  • Reception History


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