Göttweig Suite 23

Alternative readings of the text of the


complete Göttweig edition

Suite 23


5 Jan. 2017

This page updated 15 May, 2017


These two movements interest me, because the basso part for them seems to have been modified after the manuscript was copied. I believe the basso was transposed down a semitone:


Here, have a closer look:



This work has no accordatura given, unlike more of the suites, but I am now sure the work was originally in g. Have a look at the next page of bass part, below. This Saraband and Gigue are not published in the edition because the viola d'amore page which should on the right hand side is cut away, maybe when Suite 24 was inserted:

Now that I have seen HS 4806 in the flesh, I am confident that the edition's f# minor suite is in g and originally of 4 movements (the fermata at the end of the gigue signals that it is likely there are no further movements.) I speculate last page of vda part might have also been the last page of the volume the first time it was bound. When that binding was removed so that Suites 9 and 24 could be added, two pages were lost, the basso page of suite 1 and the 2nd  vda page of suite 23, and maybe the first page of the basso for Suite 24. Warning: I'm guessing all the time here. But it makes more sense that there suite 23 originally had 4 movements, and was all in g. This fits the notation of 2 of the 3 surviving pages, and also fits with the tonal structure of the collection. As for the transposition to f # minor, there are a number of suites where is says that the bass can be transposed by a tone. More on this below.

If the piece had originally been in f# minor, there would have been no need for the b flat in the signature, but the flat is there, in all 4 movements) and in both parts. In the vda part, the flat is on uniformly on the 2nd space from the bottom of the staff, which only makes sense to me if it is connected with the 2nd string from the top of the vda being a Bb.

It looks to me like the upper parts of notes were scraped away, and, in places, notes were inserted. There is a shadow if the original G half note, for example, after the F on the down beat. The original d quarter on the 2nd beat of bar 2 is just a shadow, too. No wonder it looks sketchy, as the editor put it. However, if the original is indeed in g, then it makes perfect sense in the terms of its place in the g section of the manuscript. I have tried to imagine why someone would have gone to such labor to transpose the bass by a semi tone. During this period you do find sets of parts with some of the parts in different keys. I do not mean here works like the Böhm concerto for Oboe d'amore, viola d'amore, and bassoon. There the parts are in 3 different keys, but that is because in that work the Oboe d'amore and Viola d'amore are transposing instruments; all three are operating at the same pitch level. I am thinking of works like the Aufschnaiter Suite, in which the french wind instruments are in G because they are pitched a tone lower than the local stringed instruments, Bach's BWV 152 is a similar example, but with the parts diverging by a minor third.

Here is my score of what I think was originally intended:

The original parts do not fit together harmonically in the Aria, from bar 15 - 18, in any key! Below I have included the original vda part, in case anyone would like to try to find a smoother and more convincing solution that I have in my score.

This is a suite after all, because there is a Saraband, or Gigue. Perhaps some one might like to try reconstrucing a viola d'amore part for the Saraband and Gigue.