Two-Part Inventions from J. S. Bach’s Clavier-Büchlein: Adapted for Single-Line Instruments

Matt Rehfeldt & Phillip Rehfeldt

This presentation corresponds with the one in Phillip Rehfeldt's book Guide to Playing Woodwind Instruments, 10th ed., pp. 300-353.

Two-Part Inventions from J. S. Bach’s Clavier-Büchlein: Adapted for Single-Line Instruments

Matthew Rehfeldt (cello) Phillip Rehfeldt (woodwinds)

The Clavier-Büchlein collection was begun in 1720 in Cöthen, where Bach (1685-1750) was employed as Kapellmeister and Director of the Chamber Music to Prince Leopold of Anhalt. The inventions, along with the three-part sinfonias in the same collection, were devised as keyboard-instruction material for his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann (1710-1784). There are thirty works in all, fifteen inventions and fifteen sinfonias, each in one of the fifteen mean-tone tempered keys, in the following quasi-palindromic order: C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bm, B-flat, A, Gm, Fm, E, E-flat, D, Cm. Two years later, in Leipzig (1723), Bach recopied the collection with minor musical changes and revised the order of the works to an ascending configuration: C, Cm, D, Dm, E-flat, E, Em, F, Fm, G, Gm, A, Am, B-flat, Bm. Bach’s statement in the forward of the 1723 edition that the purpose includes “how to teach clear playing . . . how to compose good inventions and develope them well . . . and to acquire a taste for the elements of composition,” is important. They are, today, unsurpassed for their pedagogical value and excellence of construction, providing ideal material for single-line instruments as well as keyboard.

Modern editions almost always adhere to the order of the second version. However, the first-version order, the order used in the present edition, is also compelling in that the pieces progress logically in terms of the compositional presentation, ending with an elaborate canon: problems regarding ornamentation are treated in 9, 10 and 11; 5, 7, 9 and 10 are fugues; 12 and 13 make extensive use of medieval stimmtausch (voice exchange). There are also many examples of early (“truncated” or “incipient”) sonata form (1, 2, 6, 8 and 14); 3, 4, 11 and 13 are through composed; and 12 is rounded binary. Bach was teaching principles of composition as well as “clear” keyboard technique. The present edition incorporates the musical changes of the second version, but reinstates the order of the first.

In Bach’s time, “invention” was a term used to describe any short instrumental composition in two-part counterpoint (. . . two independent voices that fit together). The term is most associated with the 1723 version: in the first version, they are called preambulum. Bach’s first requirement of his composition students, according to Karl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788)—Bach’s second (surviving) son—was the invention of ideas. An “invention,” is simply “good ideas.” The ornamentations are as in the table in the 1723 version, the only such table that we have from Bach.- PR

PHILLIP REHFELDT was born in 1939 in Burlington, Iowa and attended public Schools in Freeport, Illinois. His undergraduate and graduate degrees are from the University of Arizona (Tucson), Mount St. Mary’s College (Los Angeles) and a DMA from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor). Applied teachers include Samuel Fain, Kalman Bloch, William Stubbins, Wendal Jones and Manuel Compinsky (chamber music).

Phillip is Emeritus Professor of Woodwind Instruments (Clarinet) and Musicology in the School of Music at the University of Redlands (since 1969). He presently teaches bassoon at California State University, San Bernardino. His solo performances include the Monday Evening Concerts, International Clarinet Clinic/Symposia and ClariNetwork conferences, ASUC regional and national conferences, International Computer-Music Conference, the Schoenberg Institute, Arcosanti Art Festival, Scottsdale Arts Center, the 1980 ISCM in Israel, and beginning in 1974, with Barney Childs, concerts of specially-commissioned works under the title “New Music for Clarinet and Friend.”

Dr. Rehfeldt has appeared with a number of orchestras and ensembles including the Cleveland Chamber Orchestra, the premier of Rudolph Bubalo’s Concerto for Clarinet and Small Orchestra. He has performed locally as principle clarinet/bass clarinet and bassoon with the Redlands Symphony, the Riverside Symphony, the Inland Empire Symphony, the Redlands Bowl Summer Festival Orchestra and, as woodwind doubler, the San Bernardino Civic Light Opera Association. His publications include New Directions for Clarinet (University of California Press, 1977; Scarecrow Press, 1983, 1993) and Guide to Playing Woodwind Instruments (Waveland Press, 1998; MillCreekPublications/Google Play, 2010). He has also published a number of ensemble and pedagogical editions including a six-part clarinet method Study Materials for Clarinet (MillCreekPublications, 1986); The Renaissance Band Book (Shawnee, 1981); Making and Adjusting Single Reeds (MillCreekPublications, 1983, 1991/Google Play); Etudes for the 21st-Century Clarinetist: a Festschrift for Barney Childs on the Occasion of His 50th Birthday from his friends and former students (MillCreekPublications, 1990, 1992, 1993/Google Play). He has recorded over seventy-five works on Advance, Brewster, CRI, Desto, Grenadilla, Roncorp, Edi-Pan, Society of Composers, New World Records, Leonarda, and Zanja labels.

MATTHEW REHFELDT, cellist and guitarist, was born in 1970 into a musical family in Redlands, California. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Redlands with a major in cello performance and a minor in classical guitar. He studied cello with Rick Mooney (pre-college), Joyce Geeting (U of R), Barton Frank (Emeretus Professor of Cello, Western Washington University), Ray Davis (Principal Cello Emeritus, Seattle Symphony) and guitar with Terry Graves (U of R/De Falla Trio). Matthew was honored with the University of Redlands Most Outstanding Performer Award and was also winner of the Redlands Bowl Competition. He has performed as featured soloist with the Whatcom Symphony, the University of Redlands Chamber Orchestra, the Starry Night Orchestra, twice with the Skagit Symphony, including their Opening Night at McIntyre performance, and has performed a concerto at Benaroya Hall in Seattle.

A chamber music enthusiast, Matthew has frequently been featured as soloist and collaborator in the First Sunday at St. Paul's and the Music for a Starry Night concert series', both in Mount Vernon, WA, and the LaConner Institute of Performing Arts concert series. In 2007, Matt was invited to perform as an international soloist and chamber musician in the Monteverde Music Festival in Costa Rica. In 2009, he was featured live performing on cello and guitar for National Public Radio with violinist Anna Schaad. He is a co-founding member of Trio Lumina and founder of the Bach to Rock concert series.

Mr. Rehfeldt has held the post of principal cellist for the Southern California Youth Orchestra, Claremont Young Musicians' Orchestra, University of Redlands Chamber Orchestra, Mancini Symphony of the Desert, Cascade Symphony, Skagit Opera, and is currently principal cellist for the Starry Night Chamber Orchestra. Matt teaches cello and guitar in his private home studio and is currently a freelance cellist and guitarist performing regularly as soloist, principal cellist, classical and rock guitarist and chamber musician throughout Western Washington and abroad. Matt's recordings include a highly acclaimed CD set of all six Bach Suites for Solo Cello, Baroque Concerti on Electric Guitar, Bach to Rock and Bach to Rock 2, all available on CD Baby, Amazon and itunes.

Recorded by Phillip Rehfeldt, Redlands, CA and Matthew Rehfeldt, Bellingham, WA. Edited by Matthew Rehfeldt. Mixed and mastered by Scott Vance in Redlands, CA. Cover art Painting by the late Racheal Rehfeldt (1918-2000) formerly of Lakeside, AZ, (Phillip's Mother/Matthew's Grandmother) . Cover design and graphics by Kimberly Watkins in Los Angelos, CA.

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