It is a fact that people like to have a name of the creator to go with a piece of art. Pieces that cannot be attributed to a person, are somehow less valuable. Probably because of the innate desire to admire someone. In music this is espescially true. Anonymous pieces are seldom edited and published, because they don’t sell. Even if the quality of the music is very high, if the manuscript source does not indicate a composer, the music is not published. There are enough examples of hitherto unpublished composition on this website.
Now, suppose you have a piece, not necessarily your own composition, that you want to generate some interest in? It needs a name of a composer to ‘sell’. And if it is organ music, what better name than Johann Sebastian Bach?
That’s probably why there are so many composition attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach, where his authorship is (very) doubtful. The second appendix to Schmieder’s catalog of Bach’s compositions (the BWV Anhang II) lists more than 100 of these spurious compositions, several dozens of which are meant for organ. The index Reinmar Emans compiled, lists another 215 of possible Bach organ composition. The quality of the compisitions on this list is very uneaven as is the style of them and most of them are very probably not composed by Bach.
Since the compilation of the Emans-catalogue a fair number of compositions have been positively attributed to other composers. Another part of the compositions on Emans’ list are tentatively attributed to other composers, based on stylisical grounds.
One of these compositions is number 137 on the list, a chorale prelude to “Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein”. Analysis of stylistical traits seem to indicate that this work might have been composed by Johann Nicolaus Vetter. This claim has not yet been positively proven (and perhaps never will be), but Vetter seems a far likely composer of this work than Bach.
The compositions consists of three different treatments of the choral melody. The first and last of these three are identical for the first 8 bars and feature both a contrapuntal treatment of the choral melody. The second one features the chorale in the upper part, with the pther two parts providing a fast moving accompaniment. To be honest, this variatio could have been composed by Buttstett as well.
The source for this publication is manuscript US-NH LM 4843 [Ma2.Y11.B12], owned by the University of Yale. It is a very difficult to read source, and the musical text is often unclear or erraneous. Voices disappear and reappear at random, and often chords are extended further than just the three or four voices of a particular variatio. In the first variatio of this composition the use of the pedal is indicated once, where it seems likely that at least the last entry of the choral subject is meant for pedals as well. And there is the strange fact that in the manuscript the third variatio is called a fugue, where it is not a fugue at all. The first of the three, however, actually is a fugue on the first phrase of the chorale melody, yet is simply called “Allebreve”.
Usually, I indicate every editiorial decision in the score. This time, however, I did not, because the number of footnotes would take up half the page. The score is more a reconstruction of what Vetter might have written, than a faithfull transcription of the source. Perhaps at a later time I’ll publish an annotated score. For now, I just want to present a playable score. As Christmas is nearing, this compistion could come in handy for any organist who needs something new to play duting the many services around Christmas.
The recording was done on the sampleset, made by Voxus, of the Matthijs van Deventer-orgel in the Grote Kerk, Nijkerk.
Tag, Was Gott tuth, das ist wohlgetan