Interpreting J.S. Bach's solo violin sonata and partitas through Leopold Mozart, Joachim/Moser, and Galamian
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This essay examines Bach’s Sei Solo a Violino Senza Basso Accompagnato (“Six Solos for Violin without Bass Accompaniment” S. 1001- S. 1006) in illustrating the changing language and understanding of violin technique from the Baroque to the present day. The study takes into consideration two editions of Bach’s works (Joachim and Moser’s edition of 1908 and Ivan Galamian’s 1971 edition) in a comparison of how two editors applied Baroque performance practice and twentieth-century interpretation to their editorial practices. As representative performance practice texts in their respective times, Leopold Mozart’s treatise, A treatise on the Fundamental Principle of Violin Playing (1756) and Ivan Galamian’s book, Principles of Violin Playing & Teaching (1971) are then taken into consideration in order to suggest a new approach to technique and interpretation of Bach’s works based on the essential points of Mozart’s ideas about musical expression (representative of what was desirable of eighteenth-century performers), and an application of these points to modern violin playing based on the techniques suggested by Galamian in his book. The resulting interpretation is neither based entirely on Bach nor entirely on Mozart nor entirely on Galamian, but provides a synthesis that derives from an intersection of these three very different sources, and one that I propose as a fresh outlook on Bach’s solo violin works.