The structure of Bach digital and how to use it

Additional support for all input fields without a pull-down menu along with many examples of search options are also directly available in the search forms at the end of each input line under the question mark icon.

Digital Libraries

The digital libraries offer high-resolution scans of sources organised according to specific aspects, concerning e.g. the history of their transmission, which can be accessed via the source records as thumbnails. It is possible to do searches in the inventory of individual libraries using the search forms of the respective quick searches. Usage tips as well as detailed information about each digital library can also be found here. For more complex searches in which various search parameters (e.g. provenance + period of composition or copyist + watermark) can be combined, use „Detailed Search“ in which the relevant digital library can be chosen in the pull-down menu via the „project“ input box. Each digitized manuscript is divided into „sheaves“ that comprise several pages (or digital version/scans?) of these manuscripts which can be skimmed using the navigation. For scores, an individual source is divided into movements (e.g. 1. Sinfonia, 2. Recitativo, 3. Aria etc.). Each image is provided with a caption which indicates the page shown and the corresponding measure(s) (e.g. folio 5r, measures 24-47). For parts, each one comprises its own „sheaf“ of sheets (e.g. Soprano 1, Soprano 2, Tenor, Trombone 1 etc.). Here, the caption indicates the copyist of the parts. The scans can be viewed using two different viewers in various ways: first, in full-page view using the DFG viewer and second, in zoom using the Zoomify viewer.

Using the DFG viewer, you can also print out individual pages by downloading the page beforehand (click on the right mouse button, then in the menu select „save as“).

Works Catalogue

On the basis of the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (BWV) by Wolfgang Schmieder (Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke von Johann Sebastian Bach. BachWerke-Verzeichnis, edited by Wolfgang Schmieder, Leipzig 1950), a complete works catalogue of all of J. S. Bach's compositions has been made available here. Further works catalogues, e.g. the Helm catalogue of the works of C. Ph. E. Bach or the Warburton catalogue of the works of J. Chr. Fr. Bach inter alia, are under construction and are to some extent available (see the menu item “Literature”).

Under the menu item "Works Catalogues" you can find the Quick Search, which allows you to search by BWV number, title, genre or purpose of the work. For more complex searches (e.g., instrumentation, date of composition or for individual words or phrases in the vocal text), please use the Detailed Search.

The data records on the individual works by J. S. Bach (and also, in the future, by other composers in the Bach family) contain the following information (as far as available):

  • complete texts of the cantatas
  • exact vocal and instrumentation specifications
  • information concerning date of composition (classified as far as possible in an exact dating or an approximate period of composition)
  • details concerning the performance date
  • information concerning other performances during Bach's lifetime
  • information concerning the purpose for a vocal work (e.g. 3rd Sunday after Trinitatis, 2nd day of Easter, council inauguration, etc.)
  • bibliographic information such as references to a volume of “Neue-Bach-Ausgabe” (NBA) or other editions in which the composition has been published
  • references to numbering in other catalogues
  • references to secondary literature (you can find the works catalogues, secondary literature and facsimiles used in the databank under the menu item “literature”)
  • a list of sources that contain this work. These source details function concurrently as links which you can use to get to the relevant source record.

If you have questions or comments concerning the record that you have accessed, you can send us a message via the link at the end of each page, „Send Comments on this Record“ that we will address as quickly as possible.

If you would like to search the vocal texts or in all of the records for specific words or word combinations, please use the full text search.

Source Catalogues

Here you will find a databank with versatile search options for the handwritten transmission of J. S. Bach's works up to ca. 1850 and original prints. In addition, you will also find descriptions of the sources with works by other composers if they were transmitted together (composite manuscripts). While the J. S. Bach source catalogue encompasses all of the manuscripts presently known, the source catalogue for works of other members of the large Bach family is just under construction. Only a small part of the well-known sources has been indexed to date, and the information for the individual manuscripts often are not yet complete. In the source catalogues, you have the option of searching for manuscripts with certain works, by title, library call numbers and copyists. Depending on your input, you will then receive search results from the entire Bach transmission record (all family members including J. S. Bach, sometimes model compositions or works that have been transmitted along with Bach's works in the broadest sense). For more complex searches, please use the detailed search. A combined query is also possible, e.g. by copyist or provenance. In addition, you can find further information by clicking on the question mark at the end of each input box in the search form.

Data records on the following sources contain, as far as available, the following information:

  • the library where the source is located (as indicated by the RISM Sigla)
  • the exact library call number
  • the kind of source (individual manuscripts, composite manuscripts, compiled manuscripts, parts, score, piano reduction)
  • the works of J. S. Bach or other composers of the Bach family that are contained in the manuscript (shown as a link in the Werkverzeichnis-Nummer, which you can use to access the relevant data record for that work)
  • the copyist of the source (if you wish to view a handwriting sample of this particular copyist, you have the option of searching for relevant images using the search form that can be found at the menu item „Handwriting Samples“)
  • the previous owner or the owner of the source
  • possibly the source that served as the model for the manuscript
  • the period of development for the manuscript
  • the watermarks, e.g. the place, year, papermaker and form (if you wish to view the image of a specific watermark, you have the option searching for this using the search form that can be found at the menu item „watermark“)
  • secondary literature for the source, the provenance, the copyist or the like
  • the facsimile of the manuscript

In addition, all of the verifiable original prints have been included in the data bank inasmuch as they, too, often contain significant handwritten entries, corrections or additions. They have been indexed by location in the same way as manuscript sources and are, thus, identifiable.