Date of Award
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
Jack E. Guerry
The chaconne from the Second Partita for Solo Violin by Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the most often arranged compositions in the history of music. In the century following the first publication in 1802 of Bach's six sonatas and partitas for solo violin, the chaconne was performed in arrangements and transcriptions almost as diverse as the composers whom it inspired. From the years 1879 and 1893, respectively, came the most famous arrangements--those by Johannes Brahms and Ferruccio Busoni (both for solo piano). Larry Sitsky, writing of works based on the chaconne apart from those for solo instruments, has referred to "countless" arrangements for organ, orchestra, and various instrumental ensembles.$\sp1$ (Busoni himself has mentioned orchestral transcriptions of the chaconne which were performed in America during the early part of the twentieth century.)$\sp2$. This monograph consists of an examination of three versions of Bach's Chaconne in D Minor--those by Ernst von Pauer (1867), Arthur Briskier (1954), and Karl Hermann Pillney (1968). In addition, a brief comparison of piano accompaniments written for the chaconne by Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann (1847 and 1853 respectively) comprises the remainder of the study. While Pauer's arrangement dates from the second half of the nineteenth century--the period of the Brahms and Busoni versions--only the latter two have remained in the repertoire for solo piano. I have chosen to examine Pauer's Chaconne because of its display of virtuoso keyboard technique, a quality that removes it dramatically from the original source. Briskier's and Pillney's arrangements are examined in light of their similar compositional geneses--both are works dating from the twentieth century and subsequently reflect a more conservative view of the interpretation of Bach's original work. The study of these arrangements reveals diverse attitudes toward the performance of Bach, as well as an insight into the art of piano transcription during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. ftn$\sp1$Larry Sitsky, Busoni and the Piano: the Works, the Writings, and the Recordings (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1972), 307. $\sp2$Ferruccio Busoni, Letters to His Wife, trans. by Rosamond Ley (New York: Da Capo Press, 1975), 251.
Pruett, Jeffery Mark, "J. S. Bach's Chaconne in D Minor: An Examination of Three Arrangements for Piano Solo." (1991). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 5142.