2nd International Congress of Musicology

Athens Concert Hall, 4-6 November 2003

Paper Abstracts

George Zervos

Types of Thematic Entities (Expositions) and Recapitulations in Two-Part Inventions of J. S. Bach

It is well known that J. S. Bach composed these pieces for the study of composition, among other things. This is proved by a phrase of his in the prologue in the manuscript: “… not only [will the students] create good inventions, but they will also develop them satisfactorily…”. The fact that Bach undertook to teach composition through the form of Inventions and not through any other more restrictive form, like the fugue or the sonata, is not accidental. The free form of invention enables him to create a wide spectrum of forms through an equally wide spectrum of initial musical ideas. In this paper, it is argued that Bach maximizes in these pieces the possibilities of the composition procedures, using fifteen different types of initial thematic ideas and fifteen different types of “recapitulations” of these ideas. Each initial musical idea has its own internal structure providing the possibilities for different kinds of developments, reinstatements and “recapitulations”.

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