Chorale Duplicates in the Breitkopf–Riemenschneider Collection

The following chorales in the Riemenschneider edition are duplicates or near duplicates of at least one other in the set: 5, 9, 23, 53, 64, 86, 88, 91, 93, 100, 120, 125, 126, 131, 144, 148, 156, 177, 178, 195, 198, 199, 201, 235, 236, 248, 254, 256, 257, 259, 282, 295, 302, 305, 306, 307, 308, 309, 313, 318, 319, 326, 328, 349, 353, 354, and 361. Therefore, in the "371", there are in fact only 347 discrete chorales. Several of the duplicates appear in different keys, and three of the chorales (125, 328 & 319) also contain slight alterations. Only in the case of Chorale #125 do the alterations amount to more than a note or two of figuration.

So how are these duplicates explained? The question should really be separated into two: First, why did the editors of the Breitkopf collection fail to recognize and eliminate duplicates? Second, how did the duplicates end up in the collection in the first place?

The first question assumes that the inclusion of the duplicate settings was indeed an error—that is, an oversight on the part of an editor. This assumption is supported to a degree by the fact that one duplicate setting in the Birnstiel collection, published in the 1760s, was eliminated by editors of the Breitkopf collection, published two decades later, when the former served as a basis for the first volumes of the latter. However, the fact that four other duplicates in the Birnstiel were not eliminated in the Breitkopf would seem to indicate true negligence on the part of the Breitkopf editors. (These four are Breitkopf 23=88, 52=178, 100=126, and 148=177.) Gerd Wachowski has suggested that the reason these duplicates were not detected by editors is likely due to the fact that different headings appear for the identical settings (Bach–Jahrbuch, Vol. 69, 1983). This is true of three of the four Birnsteil duplicates that were not eliminated, and it is true for many of the duplicates appearing in the later portions of the Breitkopf. The explanation for these differing headings used for the same chorale tune lies in the fact that the mixing of texts and tunes was common in the Lutheran chorale tradition. An additional consideration is that four of these duplicate pairs appear in different keys making detection more difficult. Still, the number of duplicate settings that are virtually identical in the Breitkopf shows a genuine lack of care by the editors.

But how did these duplicates end up in the Breitkopf collection in the first place? While we know very little about which sources were used when the collection was first compiled, it is fairly certain that multiple sources were used. This can be deduced from certain loose patterns that emerge in the arrangement of the chorales. To point out one example, the sequence of chorales beginning with Chorale #248 in the Breitkopf roughly corresponds to the beginning sequence of the earlier Dietel collection from the 1730s, a fact that strongly suggests that either the Dietel collection itself was used as a source, or the same source was used for both. The number of duplicates in the segment of the Breitkopf beginning around #301 also suggests that a new source which contained some of the same settings as a different source used earlier in the collection may have been used.

5=309 5=308 267 R309/B308 is transposed up a m2
9=361 9=360 248(2).12(3) Identical
23=88 23=88 28.6 Identical
53=178 52=178 122.6 Identical
64=256 63=256 194.5 R64/B63 is transposed down a m3
86=195=305 85=195=304 36.4 Identical
91=259 91=259 42.7 Identical
93=257 93=257 194.12 Identical
100=126 100=126 18.5 R/B126 is transposed up a M2
120=349 120=348 103.6 Identical
125=326 125=325 104.6 R/B125 is transposed down a M2. Also in R/B125, measures 8–9 differ.
131=328 131=327 373 in R328/B327, two figuration notes are added in the penultimate measure.
144=318 144=317 339 Identical
148=177 148=177 253=414 Identical
156=308 156=307 3.6 Identical
198=307 198=306 283 Identical
199=302 199=301 343 Identical
201=306 201=305 402 Identical
235=319 235=318 325 In R319/B318, one passing tone (tenor) is omitted in the final bar
236=295 236=294 335 Identical
248=354 248=353 117.4=117.9 Identical
254=282 254=282 25.6 Identical
313=353 312=352 112.5 Identical