Böhm suite

A question about notation in the Estienne Roger edition of Böhm suites. What does this parenthesis indicate do you think (the yellow highlight)? It only appears once.

The obvious guess is an arpeggio, but that may be wrong.

Once in this suite, or only once in the whole set of them?

It is not to be found in the Beckmann edition (Breitkopf und Härtel).


They don’t know what it is either then!

The Roger edition is not mentioned as a source in the B&H Revisionsbericht. Early engravings are often inaccurate in detail and are usually only used as sources in the absence of verifiable mss.


I dont think MSS of these exist for Bohm do they?

Here is another one in the same book.


From Estienne Roger 1710.

Curiously Roger does not give the names of the composers of the pieces. Rather strange omission.

According to Beckmann’s Revisionsbericht, there are many ms copies (eg, Möller ms) – in Berlin, Hamburg and Leipzig. It is not clear whether any of them is Böhm’s autograph.


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My recollection is that Roger, in spite of being an important (and prolific) early producer of editions in the period, is fairly notorious for publishing editions riddled with errors. Am I misremembering?

A quick look at Wikipedia’s article on Roger suggests that I was wrong about his reputation. [Estienne Roger - Wikipedia].

The article mentions the English re-printer Walsh, and I think my memory of slightly ‘casual’ accuracy may have been connected with Walsh, not Roger.

Maybe so, Owen, but AFAIK inaccuracies appear in both Roger and Walsh.
Corelli’s edition of sonatas for violin and continuo. After Corelli’s original edition of 1700 and reprints, and I quote from the editor of an italian edition, Castellani, Roger in 1710 published the famous edition with added embellishment, which was reproduced in 1711 by Walsh.
Yet, there are “reasonable doubts” about the authenticity of the embellishments. Two reasons listed. (1) a new edition with radical re-elaboration and not a word of notice by the composer is very unusual. (2) Corelli was very famous at the time and did not lack local editors in Rome wishing to publish his works, he would surely publish embellishments first in Rome, with preface, and only at a later stage abroad. Unfortunately there are no extant authentically embellished Corelli sources to compare with.
Another example, Handel’s Water Music. Let me quote from my own keyboard edition: “… 1743, when Walsh issued a harpsichord arrangement , perhaps written by Handel’s long-time collaborator, the violinist and composer Geminiani. Unfortunately, although Walsh 1743 follows quite closely Handel’s orchestral score in some passages with few voices, elsewhere it departs from the original: the texture is often simplified (mostly reduced to a single voice per hand) and it is apparent that the goal was to make the score fully accessible to the amateur player. In Walsh 1743 edition one important movement is missing, and many of the most beautiful harmonies Handel ever composed are no longer present. More than a quarter of a century having elapsed since the water party of 1717, we cannot trust Walsh 1743 as a source for information about Handel’s original intentions, whether for the orchestral score or any keyboard arrangement.” Most importantly, from Walsh we cannot know who produced the arrangement: one is tempted to read that it was Handel, but it is highly unlikely, and anyway Walsh does not say that.
I conclude that there may be accuracy in the scores (or else), but certainly not in the publications as a whole, by both Roger and Walsh.

I am not referring to engraving inaccuracies in this post. I have checked, the notes in question are correct. It is a matter of an unknown sign, that is all. I’ve never seen this parenthesis sign before. It hardly matters, but it would be satisfying to find out. There are only two signs in the whole edition as far as I can see.

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Hi Andrew, can I see a scan of the parenthesis sign? AFAIK parentheses are relatively common ornament signs in French Baroque music, both “opening” and “closing”, both large and small, 4 different signs with 4 different meanings .

There are two detailed images in the previous posts in this topic Claudio. Are you unable to see them?

I am using language loosely. I think people know what I mean. But we still don’t know what the brace means.

I wonder if it is the opposite of an arpeggio - braces are often used for grouping: perhaps it means don’t spread the chord, as players are wont to do. Just an idea!

See the full edition. p. 9 has the “brace” before the last chord of the piece, where an arpeggio would be expected.
Then, p. 10, the first full chord of the Allemande has a more typical arpeggio sign.
But! In the middle of p. 10, the first chord of the Courante, the same figuration as the Allemande, has the “brace!”
In a quick scan I did not see any more vertical squiggles in front of chords.
The Bohm squiggle occurs in a unique figuration in the piece, a chord in the bass coming under a sustained melody note, perhaps creating an agogic accent on the sustained note…
[I might add that given the news of world and politics, and some extended illness in our house, I am so grateful that after 55 years of study questions like this continue to fascinate and delight, and sometimes give a moment of connection over many centuries.]

Which edition are you referring to Ed? The 1710 Roger? Roger does not give the composers (a bit weird) but there are only two Bohm works in that book. So what we are studying is Roger, not Bohm.

I think the first chord on p10 is a not very well formed brace, not a different sign.

This enquiry might seem like counting angels on a pinhead, but when one is engraving reasonably faithful editions of such 18C works you really want to know what everything means in detail, possibly more than if you are just playing the piece as you go.

Since chord spreading is a sort of default approach, I am seriously tending to the view this means don’t spread, the inverse, as a way of giving emphatic oomph to the chords in question. Otherwise I feel this sign would be far more prevalent in the works.

I’m referring to the Roger edition, reproduced on IMSLP.
I’m focusing on the question of what (if anything?) the signs in Roger might mean.
Overall the edition looks a bit rushed.
Are any Bohm mss extant? Any other evidence of such notations, particularly as “anti-arpeggios?”

Sorry Andrew, in my new PC things are still not that plain, had not seen the pictures. While in the chord near to the beginning of the Allemande it could very well be an arpeggio with a slide inside, typical d’Anglebert parentheses, the fact that the same brace is used in a final chord suggests something different: passing notes were very rarely inserted in final chords. In my opinion this looks just like a plain arpeggio sign.

I can’t see any parentheses or braces in this table from D’Anglebert, in this book anyway:

Pièces de clavecin 1689

OK. I’ll be more precise. I can’t see any spanning more than two notes, as the object does in Roger. And he does not use parens/braces/brackets for the arpeggio, given later in the table.