[Bach, Johann Sebastian. (1685–1750)] Busoni, Ferruccio. (1866-1924)
Autograph Letter about his Edition of The Well-Tempered Clavier
A detailed autograph letter from the important Italian pianist and composer to an employee of his American publisher, Schirmer, sending the manuscript for the final book of his edition of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier and giving instructions for its engraving and publication. Dated Rügen, August 2, 1896. Busoni writes that he has "worked with great diligence and care" on the final book of the three-book edition, which he writes he believes "will be of lasting value." After instructing the engraver to take great care on the layout of the score and to leave space to add more performance markings, he suggests publishing his studies for some of the preludes and fugues as a separate edition -- "Such a publication (it only requires a new title page) ought to find a market" -- and finishes by mentioning the necessity of a complete hardback edition of the three books, and requesting a detailed invoice from Schirmer. An interesting letter which shows Busoni's business sense as well as his enthusiasm for the first part of what would become the complete Bach-Busoni editions. 3 pages of a bifolium. Rust marks from a paperclip; overall in fine condition. 4.5 x 7 inches.
Translated from the German: "Dear Herr Röthing, Finally I am in a position, to my great pleasure, to send you the manuscript of the third book of the edition of the "Well-Tempered Clavier", with which the first volume and also the piano-theoretical part of my work reaches its conclusion. I have worked with great diligence and care, and I believe I can claim that this edition will be of lasting value. With this large amount of material, I was not in a position to provide fingerings and performance markings in great detail; for that, I need the overview of the engraved edition and the engraver must prepare himself to add some things between the systems after the first corrections. (Nothing, however, which would disturb the formatting.) Tell the engraver to take great care over the width and clarity of the layout, and also to be very careful handling the manuscript, which is loose and patched (there was no other way.) Please suggest to Herr Schirmer that he publish a separate edition of the studies for the Praeludium in C sharp minor, the Praeludium in B flat major, and the Praeludium and Fugue, which are provided in the second appendix, under the title: "Piano Studies on Bach's Compositions, published by Ferruccio B. Busoni." Such a publication (it only requires a new title page) ought to find a market. Further, I expect a bound edition of the three books, which I would like to have bound in boards with a cloth spine. The bound edition is absolutely necessary, and besides has already been advertised. When the third book [has been] engraved, I would like to receive an invoice from Herr Schirmer, made according to the principle of 2 dollars and 50 cents per printed page (our arrangement). Please start work on the manuscript without delay. With my best thanks for your work [...] Ferrucio Busoni."
The Bach-Busoni Editions are a series of publications by the Italian pianist-composer Ferruccio Busoni containing primarily piano transcriptions of keyboard music by Johann Sebastian Bach. They also include performance suggestions, practice exercises, musical analysis, an essay on the art of transcribing Bach's organ music for piano, an analysis of the fugue from Beethoven's 'Hammerklavier' sonata, and other related material. The later editions also include free adaptations and original compositions by Busoni which are based on the music of Bach. Busoni issued his Bach editions over a nearly 30-year span in two collections: the 25-volume Busoni Ausgabe and the Bach-Busoni Collected Edition, which was first issued in 6 volumes in 1916, and subsequently in 7 volumes in 1920. The present letter deals with Book III of Volume I of the collection.