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Bach

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Jo498:
There might be as much as two "years" of cantatas lost but the estimations seem to vary. Some think that a lot of the lost music was re-used anyway, others think that about 100 cantatas could be totally lost. I don't know about instrumental music; it seems even more speculative here. It seems rather likely that none of the keyboard concerti except Brandenburg 5 and two harpsichords C major was originally for keyboard, so several of the originals are missing (but that's not that much, not really new as we have the later keyboard versions and the originals might not all have been by Bach anyway, like the Vivaldi for the 4 keyboard).

In any case I would not expect anything revelatory. It's diminishing returns. How much could another 50+ cantatas in pretty much the same style (because written at roughly the same time for the same audience) add to the 200 extant ones? Maybe some nice concerti and chamber music but again, almost certainly nothing revelatory.
(One can also take the rare cases when a short piece by Bach (or Handel or Mozart or...) is actually found in some archive. Disregarding uncertain authorship, they were never anything special, AFAIK.)

milk:

--- Quote from: Jo498 on November 23, 2021, 01:24:59 AM ---There might be as much as two "years" of cantatas lost but the estimations seem to vary. Some think that a lot of the lost music was re-used anyway, others think that about 100 cantatas could be totally lost. I don't know about instrumental music; it seems even more speculative here. It seems rather likely that none of the keyboard concerti except Brandenburg 5 and two harpsichords C major was originally for keyboard, so several of the originals are missing (but that's not that much, not really new as we have the later keyboard versions and the originals might not all have been by Bach anyway, like the Vivaldi for the 4 keyboard).

In any case I would not expect anything revelatory. It's diminishing returns. How much could another 50+ cantatas in pretty much the same style (because written at roughly the same time for the same audience) add to the 200 extant ones? Maybe some nice concerti and chamber music but again, almost certainly nothing revelatory.
(One can also take the rare cases when a short piece by Bach (or Handel or Mozart or...) is actually found in some archive. Disregarding uncertain authorship, they were never anything special, AFAIK.)

--- End quote ---
Are many of his best pieces usually found as recycled in other formats? I wonder how likely it is to find an original masterpiece existing nowhere else? I’d love it if there were more somewhere.

Jo498:
I think there is the idea (not quite a "theory") that Bach sometimes recycled pieces to give them broader distribution, more permanence. Not sure if it worked back then but to a certain extent in hindsight, as b minor mass and especially Xmas oratorio have a lot of recycling and since the late 19th century they are certainly far better known than the secular cantatas most of the latter is taken from.
So I think the "optimists" take this as an indication that not that much and especially not the best/most important stuff was completely lost. As some of Bach's sons and students also did care to preserve some of the music we could also expect an amount of cherry picking instead of randomness. Sure, a few very good cantatas and chamber pieces might be lost, but probably no secret masterwork.

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