2.3. The Rust Variant: Its Appearance and Disappearance

As has been seen, the Rust Variant first appeared in the appendix to Griepenkerl’s edition of 1843/44 (47), but Griepenkerl, in the preface to this edition, does not name a specific Rust nor inform us as to a source for the 1757 dating. Moreover, he does not contribute any information about the historical circumstances of the Variant or enlightenment as to its provenance before 1843/44. We learn from Naumann, 43 years later, of a cover containing a name and date, but then it is reported as lost (48).

The very omissions provoke some questions: How and through whom did the Rust Variant come to Griepenkerl’s notice? He did not know of it in 1819 when he so proudly produced this first edition of the work. Did he receive the loan of the manuscript from Wilhelm Rust for this later publication? It is conceivable that one of F. W. Rust’s sons, perhaps Wilhelm Karl Rust (1787–1855), the youngest son of Friedrich Wilhelm Rust, and a close contemporary of Griepenkerl (1782–1849), may have been the owner having received it from his father. In this case, the manuscript could have been put at the disposal of this nephew, Wilhelm, and, on the uncle’s death, come into Wilhelm Rust’s possession. So much for speculation! The main evidence to be gleaned from the parade of successive editions and documents in the nineteenth century pertaining to the Variant’s existence merits further consideration. The next stage is therefore the examination of the personages and circumstances of the Rusts whom we know to be associated with the Variant.

2.3.1. Wilhelm Rust

The “Herrn Prof. Dr. Rust” in whose possession the manuscript was, according to Ernest Naumann in the Bach Gesellschaft edition in 1886 (49), is, of course, the Wilhelm Rust (1822–1892) who became a distinguished participant in the Bach renaissance. He was of the third distinguished generation of an illustrious musical family and, as indicated above, a grandson of Friedrich Wilhelm Rust who was a brilliant musician and the younger brother of J. L. A. Rust. Wilhelm Rust became known as an organist, teacher and editor, and, in his lifetime, also enjoyed a substantial reputation as a composer (50). His increasing distinction is exemplified by the successive positions that he held. According to Grove Music Online “from 1849 to 1878 he was active in Berlin, where he became organist at the Lukaskirche in 1861, directed the Bach-Verein from 1862 to 1875, and taught at the Stern Conservatory from 1870. He was an editor of the Johann Sebastian Bach Werke (Leipzig, 1851–99) from 1853, in 1858 becoming chief editor. In 1878 Rust was appointed organist of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, and he became a teacher at the Leipzig Conservatory at the same time. The climax of his career came with his appointment as Kantor of the Thomasschule in 1880”. [6] Almost by the time the Rust Variant was re-published in the Bischoff edition (1880), he had produced as editor, 26 volumes of the Bach Gesellschaft edition (1855–1881). He was, therefore, among the leading authorities of Bach scholarship in the mid-and-late nineteenth century. His scholarly editing of the music was supplemented by prefaces to the volumes. These were highly valued but the latter editions came under some strong criticism in his own lifetime. For instance, George von Dadelson, who wrote of him: Er war der grösste Kenner des Bachschen Werkes vor und neben Ph. Spitta, “He was the greatest authority on Bach’s works prior to and in addition to Ph. Spitta.”, also commented about his “editorial idiosyncrasies” (51). [7]

It has been noted that Griepenkerl, in 1819, knew nothing of the Rust manuscript’s existence when he published his first edition of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, which was replete with copious notes, performance indications and references to Bach’s original intentions according to his memories of his teacher, Johann Nicolaus Forkel (52). Had he any awareness of such a variant, it would have received significant treatment in his edition. He had added an alternative performance text for the Fantasia’s Coda, based as he says, on Forkel’s memory of it, and it is, therefore, inconceivable that he would have totally ignored an authentic version of any section of the work in both his Bemerkungen and the note-text.

Another issue of Griepenkerl’s edition followed in 1839 reproducing identically the 1819 text but with the addition of Czerny’s fingering (53). No mention of BWV 903a is made until the Variant is printed in the Anhang to the third Griepenkerl edition of 1843/44, which here retains only an abbreviated form of his original Bemerkungen of 1819: Die älteste Form, in Bezug auf die Fantasie, scheint sich in der Handschrift bei Rust, v. J. 1757… (54), “The oldest form appears to be that of the manuscript in the possession of Rust, dating from the year 1757…”.

Griepenkerl’s first reference to the Rust version does not allude to the circumstances of its sudden appearance. At a time when historical consciousness was in full bloom and manuscripts were dutifully reported and treasured as priceless testimonies of the past, due to the growing discipline of what came to be the field of musicology, the significance of Griepenkerl’s omissions as well as his additions, deserve more critical attention than they have received heretofore.

Six years previous to the publication of Naumann’s Bach Gesellschaft Edition, Hans Bischoff in 1880, alludes to “… the old Rust manuscript from the year 1757, which is found in Peters S. I., C.4…” (55). It is unusual for Bischoff to refer to a printed edition rather to the manuscript source itself as he does in citing the other sources. Further, he mentions no provenance, but he does do so in citing his other Ms. Sources. Bischoff was not prone to neglect these aspects relating to each of the manuscripts examined in preparation for his edition. Where was this manuscript at the time that he was ready to edit the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue? In 1886, Ernest Naumann writes: “Old manuscript in the possession of Hernn. Prof. Dr. Rust, with the title: ‘Fantasia Chromatique pour le Clavecin del Sigre. J. S. Bach’. On the lost cover was written ‘J. L. A. Rust, Bernburg, 1757’.” (56)

This is the first mention of a cover, now referred to as “lost”. Here the manuscript is attributed, for the first time specifically, to Wilhelm Rust’s possession. No impression of the manuscript itself is conveyed; presumably it is still extant in the hands of its owner. Therefore, it should have been available for perusal by the editor of the edition of which Wilhelm was chief, and to Bischoff, a distinguished colleague.

BWV 903a surfaced, then in the mid-nineteenth century, its provenance unequivocally ascribed to Rust: “scheint sich in der Handschrift bei Rust, v. J. 1757 zu finden.” (57) Wilhelm Rust was very much alive and active at the time of the 1845 publication and held the highest of positions when Bischoff and Naumann did their research and published their findings. As the figure closest to this manuscript, he is the best suited to solve the various riddles its appearance and disappearance present. But, first, his connection with J. L. A. Rust and F. W. Rust must be reviewed.

2.3.2. Johann Ludwig Anton Rust and Friedrich Wilhelm Rust

Friedrich Wilhelm Rust, Wilhelm’s grandfather, was born in 1739 and died in 1796 (58). At Bach’s death in 1750, he would have been only eleven years old, in the year of the Rust manuscript dating, 1757, eighteen. We are told that the cover of the Rust manuscript contained the name of J. L. A. Rust, not F. W. It may be useful to examine the circumstances of J. L. A and F. W. Rust’s relationship to Johann Sebastian.

Johann Ludwig Anton Rust was Friedrich Wilhelm’s elder brother. He is claimed to have had direct contact with Bach:

In den Jahren 1744 und 1745 studirte er in Leipzig und wurde hier, nachdem J. S. Bach seine gute musikalische Bildung und Begabung erkannt hatte, von diesem zu den üblichen musikalischen Aufführungen als Violinist mit herangezogen. Im J. 1750 lebte er in Dresden und im August 1751 wurde er in Dessau in die Zahl der ordentlichen Regierungsadvocaten aufgenommen. In demselben Jahre starb sein Vater und ihm fiel nunmehr die Sorge für die weitere Ausbildung und Erziehung seiner drei jüngeren Brüder, besonders des jüngsten, Friedrich Wilhelm Rust. (59) [8]

“Between the years 1744 and 1745 he studied in Leipzig and, after J. S. Bach recognized his very good musical education and his talent, he was invited by him to partake of the usual musical performances as a violinist. In 1750 he lived in Dresden, and in August of 1751 he became part of the body of regular government lawyers. In the same year, his father died and, from then on, he became responsible for the further education and raising of his three younger brothers, and particularly of the youngest, Friedrich Wilhelm Rust.”

The young Friedrich Wilhelm “learnt to play the violin, encouraged by his elder brother Johann Ludwig Anton, who was himself considered an excellent violinist. He also learnt the piano, and according to his own account in his autobiography could play the first part of J. S. Bach’s Das wohltemperirte Clavier from memory when he was 16.” [9] The performance of the “48” strongly suggests J. L. A.’s influence in initiating repertory assignments for his gifted younger brother. By 1757, Friedrich Wilhelm, at the age of 18, surely would have been well equipped for copying out a work such as the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue.

Fresh questions now emerge. From what manuscript would BWV 903a have been copied? It is possible that J. L. A. brought a manuscript with him on this return from Leipzig, and in 1757 decided to make a copy for himself and/or his younger brother. On the other hand, J. L. A. may have received a copy in that year from a friend or colleague, from which he may have made a copy. In that case, such a variant may have proceeded from a source unknown or unnamed. In any case, the source itself for BWV 903a remains curtained to posterity.

It is not inconceivable that J. L. A. may have been the scribe for this manuscript: his name was on the cover, not that of F. W. Rust. On the face of it, a name on a cover of a manuscript often signifies no more than the owner of this manuscript. On the other hand, it is more likely than not, that not J. L. A. but Friedrich Wilhelm, the professional performer, made use of the music text. But this does not signify that the younger man was the scribe. Yet, it may indeed be that Friedrich Wilhelm was the copyist for, by the age of 18, having been equal to performing the entire “48” at 16, he would have been easily equal to dealing with such a work as the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue. In this case, it seems unlikely that the elder brother would have claimed the possession of a manuscript copied by his younger brother. We have seen that Griepenkerl, in the first Peters edition containing the Variant, writes, simply, that the Variant is in the hand of Rust, mentioning neither Friedrich Wilhelm nor Johann Ludwig Anton.

Renowned as F. W. Rust came to be as a composer, violinist, director of a music school and a new music theatre, his imprint on musical life can hardly have gone unnoticed by Forkel, Griepenkerl’s teacher, who was a contemporary of F. W. Rust. Therefore, still another question emerges: Did Forkel know J. L. A. and/or F. W. Rust? Was he aware that such a manuscript of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue existed? For, if he knew of it, Griepenkerl would have known of it by 1819.

2.3.3. Forkel and Friedrich Wilhelm Rust

The question as to why Forkel did not report, or possibly did not know of, an additional version of a substantial segment of the Chromatic Fantasia must be addressed. Forkel was, of course, indefatigable in his search for all Bach manuscripts. As so active a protagonist in the cause of Johann Sebastian, it seems more likely than not that he would have been aware of J. L. A. Rust’s contact with Bach in the mid-1740s, and that he would have heard of Friedrich Wilhelm´s tour de force in performing the entire Well Tempered Clavier as well as of his studies with Carl Philipp Emanuel and Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, [10] Forkel being only ten years younger than Friedrich Wilhelm, whose adult career and fame coincided with the period of Forkel’s maturity. J. L. A. Rust played a small part in Bach’s circle for a comparatively short time, but his renowned brother, who had direct contact with two of Bach’s sons, both of whom in relatively frequent contact with Forkel, may indeed have come to Forkel’s attention and/or roused his interest.

Friedrich Wilhelm died on February 28, 1796, when Forkel was 47 years old. Five years later, Forkel had become a chief consultant for the Bach publications of Hoffmeister & Kühnel (61). By this time he had already collected an impressive number of manuscripts attributed to Johann Sebastian. Had he known of the existence of still another manuscript of a work that he so particularly recommended to Hoffmeister & Kühnel for publication, it is inconceivable that he would not have made it known to them or that he could have withheld mention thereof in his biography of Johann Sebastian, where he singles out this work with particular emphasis. (62)

2.3.4. The Rust Family Tradition

Wilhelm Rust was the son of Karl Ludwig Rust and the nephew of Wilhelm Karl Rust, both the sons of Friedrich Wilhelm Rust. Karl Ludwig’s profession was law but, following the tradition of the Rust family, he was also a fine amateur violinist and pianist (63). The Rust family was involved in the music world of Germany for over a century, from the mid-eighteenth century to the late-nineteenth century, and was known to be associated with the music of Bach for three generations, from Johann Ludwig Anton through Friedrich Wilhelm to Wilhelm Rust. It is difficult to reconcile the possibility of a manuscript of a work by Johann Sebastian lying fallow in an attic, or misplaced carelessly within music sheets or elsewhere in an atmosphere such as that of the well-informed amateur and professional musicians of the Rust Family. Therefore, the sudden appearance of a manuscript copy of one of Bach’s works, as late as the mid-1840s, does not synchronize with a hundred years of active interest in Bach’s music on the part of these three generations, including Wilhelm Rust.

2.3.5. The further history of the Rust manuscript

Why was the Rust manuscript so late in making its appearance? Hoffmeister and Kühnel, in the opening years of the nineteenth century, were scouring the musical landscape in their search for autographs of J. S. Bach and were in touch with many musical personages and sources in their assiduous desire to publish his works. With the prominence of the Rust family in the music world, it is difficult to imagine that they would have been unaware of Hoffmeister and Kühnel’s search for publications and that one of the Rusts would not have made known to them possession of such a manuscript.

When did the Rust manuscript disappear? Who, besides Rust, saw this manuscript previous to its first printing in the 1843/44 Peters Edition, except, presumably, Griepenkerl and the typesetters at Peters? As late as 1866, Naumann, who states, as noted above, that the cover contained the inscription of J. L. A., 1757, makes the first mention of the lost cover. He makes no comment as to the scribe of the manuscript but notes that the manuscript is in the “possession of Herrn Prof. Dr. Rust”. Bischoff, in 1880, simply refers to the “old Rust manuscript” with no further identification. At no time has Wilhelm Rust offered comment on any aspect or circumstance concerning it. Since Griepenkerl, in 1843/44 does not mention a cover and no reference to it occurs until it is described by Naumann as “lost”, no concrete evidence exists for the actual existence of such a cover. In view of the distinguished work of Ernest Naumann, his statement may indeed be accepted on faith, but who told him the cover was lost? Is it conceivable that Wilhelm Rust, the chief editor of the Bach Gesellschaft since 1858, and owner of the Variant, as certified by Griepenkerl, since the 1840s, would be so careless with his Bach manuscript as to lose its cover?

It would appear that considerations for the solution to this riddle lie ultimately with the owner of the manuscript. Since Wilhelm Rust continues mute from 1843/44 through 1886, despite the publications of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in Peters, followed by Bischoff and finally, the Bach Gesellschaft edition at the time when it was under his chief editorship, a final subject for investigation must be Wilhelm himself.

The Rust Variant is not the only manuscript associated with his ancestors in the possession of Wilhelm and produced by him for publication. In 1889, when Wilhelm was still alive, Sir George Grove cites the re-publication of compositions by Friedrich Wilhelm Rust:

“…his three Sonatas for the violin solo, which have been republished by his grandson (Peters) and are now the only music by which Rust is known; that in D minor has often been played at the Monday popular concerts. His last composition was a violin Sonata for the E string, thus anticipating Paganini…” (64)

In 1893, the year following the death of Prof. Rust, the noted musicologist and teacher, Dr. Otto Neitzel appears in performance in Germany featuring F. W. Rust’s compositions (65), as the extended pamphlet on the music of F. W. Rust written by Dr. Erich Prieger in 1894 indicates. This essay’s title conveys the position to which Friedrich Wilhelm had been elevated in the late nineteenth century—ein Vorgänger Beethovens, “a forerunner of Beethoven”. It contains not only an appreciation of the music of F. W. Rust, but also a collection of reviews by critics in Germany and New York as well as a list of Rust’s compositions herausgegeben von Wilhelm Rust (“edited by Wilhelm Rust”). With the addition of a brief biography of Friedrich Wilhelm, it is possibly the most comprehensive overview of the oeuvre of this musical personage according to the information available at that time. M. Krause, in his review of the Leipzig performance, writes of the “Sonata Italiana” that “its first page begins entirely in the character of a Mendelssohn Song without words” (66).

One month later, Dr. Neitzel was in New York performing the same program, of which the reviewer from the Musical Courier writes:

“We had a visit from Dr. Otto Neitzel, the eminent music critic of the ‘Cologne Gazette’, who at Bechstein Hall proved that, if anybody, he has a right to wield the pen in so trenchant and, at times, caustic manner as he does… Neitzel played on this occasion an entire Sonata in D flat and two movements from different sonatas by F. W. Rust, the forerunner of Beethoven, and in fact the man with whose musical ideas the giants of Bonn have closest kinship. It is truly astonishing, how Beethovenish these works, written in 1777, 1792 and 1794, respectively, sound at times, and how in many themes they seem to have ‘anticipated’ the grand old man. Well, live and learn. Learn that the fine second theme from the ‘Coriolanus Overture’ is note for note identical with one contained in a violin duo by F. W. Rust, which has never yet been published!” (67)

Dr. Prieger in his concluding comments quotes Dr. Max Seiffert, the pupil of Philipp Spitta and distinguished editor in his own right:

In einem mit Portrait erschienen Aufsatze: Friedrich Wilhelm Rust. Von Dr. Max Seiffert: Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung (Charlottenburg) Nr. 27, 7. Juli 1893, Seite 371–374, Nr. 28/29, 14./21. Juli, Seite 283–286 heisst es u. a. (Seite 384 und zum Schlüsse des Aufsatzes): In den Annalen der Forschung wird mit goldenen Lettern Rusts Name als der des letzten Vertreters des einst so blühenden Lautenvirtuosentums vereichnet bleiben. Und was Rust für das Clavier und die Violine schuf, das wird ihn jetzt in die Reihe neben unsere grossen, in der Kunst noch lebenden Klassiker Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven erheben… (68)

“In an essay, including a portrait: Friedrich Wilhelm Rust, by Max Seiffert. Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung (Charlottenburg) Nr. 27, 7 July 1893, pages 371–374, Nr. 28/29, 14/21 July, pages 282–286 (and also pages 384 and up to the end of the essay). In the annals of research Rust’s name will be etched in golden letters among the last representatives left in a once so blooming era of ringing brilliant virtuoso. And what Rust accomplished for the piano and the violin now ranks beside our greats in the art of the still living classical Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven…” (Translation by Rosalyn Tureck)

Wilhelm Rust had arranged with Peters to publish his grandfather’s compositions. From 1885 until the year of his death in 1892, Wilhelm Rust produced thirteen sonatas and a set of variations for publication by Peters. He also wrote what M. D. Calvocoressi later termed “flaming prefaces” (69) in these publications. For example, referring to the Sonata in C-major, Wilhelm writes of his grandfather’s work: “Here music rises to the height of a contest between Titans; we acknowledge the heroic victor by the reminiscences of motives, which are engraved on his shield.” (70) Another sample of Wilhelm’s Prefaces:

“Here the fancy of the style, now free, now severe, takes its flight and reaches heights almost never touched at that period. The idiom in its brilliancy, the poetic ideas in their profound pregnancy, burst forth under the influence of egregious events in the life of the composer.” (71)

A good part of the music world accepted the music in these publications unquestioningly, as composed by Friedrich Wilhelm as well as the prefaces with the hyperbolic claims by Wilhelm Rust. This, despite the fact that Dr. Prieger notes differences “Unterschiede” (72) to the original music of Friedrich Wilhelm. [11]

In 1912, Dr. Ernst Neufeldt published an article in Die Musik, entitled Der Fall Rust (“The Case of Rust”). His opening sentence provokes attention: “I must here tell a small story, which may not be uninteresting to readers.” (73) A hoax by Wilhelm Rust is then explicitly recounted, one of the most extraordinary in music history. Two articles in The Musical Times written by Michel-Dimitri Calvocoressi followed this. It is well known that this hoax became a cause célèbre, the discovery of Wilhelm Rust’s extensive alterations and additions to his ancestor’s compositions being proven beyond the slightest doubt by careful investigation into the original compositions and those given out by Wilhelm as composed by his grandfather.

In the first of his articles on Wilhelm Rust, Calvocoressi describes the steps and the denouement of this drama. He relates that, in 1912, Dr. Ernst Neufeldt, as “president of a ‘Rust-Gesellschaft’, having bethought himself of examining Rust’s manuscripts with the hope of discovering more masterpieces by Rust, gave the startling results of his investigations in the German periodical, Die Musik.” (74). Calvocoressi continues:

“All the feats of daring harmonization and novel architecture upon which the eighteenth century Rust’s new-fangled glory rested, belonged to the nineteenth-century Rust. The clever, intricate variations, the ‘thematic unity’ of the Sonata in C, its ‘recitative’, its suggestions of pageants, its triumphant march, were additions to the original text, which consists of 286 bars in all, whereas the Sonata as published in 1891 comprised no fewer than 500. Likewise, the ‘Titanic contest’, the ‘reminiscences engraved upon the hero’s shield’ are not Friedrich Wilhelm’s but Dr. Wilhelm’s.

‘Now that the true facts are known’, Dr. Neufeldt concluded, ‘Rust the giant returns into nothingness; and the true Rust, and interesting, graceful, shrewd and sensitive artist shall endure, our sympathy for him resting on more normal and firmer foundations…’

In short, the whole of Dr. Rust’s doings has resulted in one of the most striking hoaxes to be found in the whole history of musical erudition.” (75)

Vincent d’Indy was one of Rust’s greatest champions. He was aware of the additions by Wilhelm but waived their importance with a depreciating remark about German practice: “In the works edited by his grandson appear a few reprehensible attempts at modernization according to a practice of which Germany seems to enjoy the monopoly.” (76) But d’Indy continued to believe in the prospicience of Friedrich Wilhelm. In Calvocoressi’s words:

“‘Rust’, says this celebrated composer and theorist, in the second book of his Treatise of Composition, is the connecting link between Haydn and Mozart on the one hand, Beethoven on the other… One must consider him as the necessary vinculum between the tradition of Bach and the master of Bonn’s novatory imagination.” (77)

D’Indy continued to believe in the fantasy of Wilhelm Rust. Following and despite the exposure of the later Rust by Neufeldt, d’Indy took it upon himself to prove the authenticity of the compositions ascribed to F. W. Rust. Therefore, he announced his intention to “publish the Rust Sonatas in their true form, and then all musicians would be able to judge between his theory and Dr. Neufeldt’s” (78). The second article by Calvocoressi (within one month), in the issue of February 1, 1914, entitled “The Rust Case: Its Ending and Its Moral”, opened with the following paragraph:

“M. Vincent d’Indy’s edition of twelve pianoforte Sonatas by F. W. Rust, accurately transcribed from the original manuscripts, has appeared. Doubt is no longer possible. All Dr. Neufeldt’s assertions as to the falsifications introduced by Dr. Wilhelm Rust in the works of this grandfather were strictly founded on facts. And the admiration bestowed upon Rust’s Sonatas, until the recent date when the truth was discovered, went to works grievously adulterated both in form and style.” (79)

The case is closed. The drama now ends. It is now definitely established that as many as thirteen works, based on original compositions by Friedrich Wilhelm, were altered and extended by Wilhelm. In the case of the Sonata in C for instance he added 214 measures to a work of, originally, 286 measures.

With this capacity for falsifying the talent and achievement of his grandfather, it must give one pause, in accepting unquestioningly from Wilhelm Rust the manuscript attributed to his grandfather as scribe. Moreover, its appearance is late, sudden, and unexplained by Wilhelm or anyone else. Equally so is the announcement of the “lost cover”. When the Variant appeared, the proclivity of Wilhelm to falsify was not perceptible. There may have been a predisposition toward this kind of activity, which comes to full fruition in later life.

I realize that it is a very grave step to question the authenticity of the Rust Variant and to admit suspicion into the case of Wilhelm Rust in this connection as well. However, mine is not the first since the exposure by Dr. Neufeldt supplemented by others in the early twentieth century. In 1983, Professor Robert Marshall, distinguished Bach scholar and authority on original Bach sources, questioned the authenticity of articulation instructions added in the sources for Cantata BWV 102, from which Wilhelm Rust worked in his edition for the Bach Gesellschaft in its Volume 23:

“The facts, then, [1] that Rust not only not consulted the Hering parts but used them as the Muster for his edition, [2] that he felt free to make notations on the original title page of the source and [3], that the source contains far-reaching, carefully drawn, and musically subtle slurrings that were clearly later additions and are found nowhere else but in the BG edition—all these considerations suggest that it was Rust himself who actually entered the new articulation in the Hering parts. This in turn leads to the suspicion—which one mentions with considerably more hesitation—that it may have been Rust himself who added the (far less numerous) supplemental slurs and staccato dots in the autograph score. The evidence for this assertion is [1] their agreement with those in the Hering parts and [2] the fact that they almost certainly were added not only after 1800 (the time of the Schwencke copy) but indeed after 1841, the year in which the autograph was acquired by the Prussian State Library from its previous owner, the autograph collector Georg Poelchau, and became—for the first time, really—generally accessible. Other considerations leading to this suspicion are the absence of any other person known to, or even likely to, have examined both the autograph score and the Hering parts in the nineteenth century and, finally, and admittedly subjective impression that the handwriting of the slurs in both sources is not dissimilar (see the plates). But, once again, it is a difficult matter indeed to identify with certainty the hand that drew a slur.

It must be emphasized that the previous discussion falls far short of conclusive proof that it was Wilhelm Rust and no one else who entered and altered articulation marks not only in an important secondary copy but even in an autograph manuscript of Bach himself. The evidence at this point is quite circumstantial. Such an intimation, moreover, must not be made lightly. It is a charge tantamount to falsification of documents and would be an accusation of the gravest sort.

The fact is, however, that Wilhelm Rust’s reputation as a reliable and conscientious editor has been seriously tarnished before—but not with reference to his still monumental achievements as an editor of the works of J. S. Bach. It is known that Rust was the perpetrator of one of the boldest hoaxes in the history of musicology.” (80)

Wilhelm Rust was twenty-one years old at the time of the Variant’s first publication in Griepenkerl’s 1843/44 edition. Certainly, his position in his early career would be enhanced by the production of a heretofore unknown original manuscript by J. S. Bach. Moreover, this manuscript bore his own family name, representing a relative as close as his respected grandfather. Forty-four years later, when he occupied the most prestigious editorship in the world of music, he had much less need for elevating his reputation, yet he created boldly fraudulent compositions in a continuous series with propagandizing prefaces and claims of prophetic genius by the same grandfather, which he knew to be false.

The summarizing report by Hermann Kretzschmar in Volume 46 (1899) of the Bach Gesellschaft edition itself refers to Rust’s diminishing reliability as editor:

“Arbitrary additions began to appear in the body of the edition itself: citations of Bible passages and identifications of chorale texts were appended to Bach’s music—with or without parentheses. Essential titles and headings, on the other hand, were omitted or banished to the foreword. Complaints from the subscribers arrived at the office of the Board of Directors. Among these angry voices was that of the Bach biographer Philipp Spitta.” (81)

The reasons for Wilhelm’s carefully calculated labors in corrupting his grandfather’s music and creating a false prophetic aura around his name couldn’t be explained at this late date. Perhaps the pecuniary gain was tempting, but here again, in his position as performer, teacher, editor, it would seem that his financial situation could not have been so precarious as to impel him to embark on an illegitimate enterprise. Did the power gained through his success enflame his desire for added glories?

Von Dadelsen cites Rust’s sense of power: “Fully aware of his authority, Rust increasingly inclined to editorial idiosyncrasies…” (82). The luster to be shed upon his name as result of the unveiling of a musical prophet in the form of his direct ancestor was, without doubt, elevating beyond his current position as chief editor of the Bach Gesellschaft Edition. The association of his forbears with the music of Bach contributed strength to this position, even in his early life. If he, at that time was falsely representing mm. 3–24 as those of Johann Sebastian, emanating from Friedrich Wilhelm, it was as unnecessary as were his self-aggrandizing adulterations of his ancestor. For Friedrich Wilhelm was honestly worthy of the recognition he received, in his own right and on his own level during his lifetime. A distinguished family background enriched Wilhelm and he was endowed with genuine gifts that earned for him his ascendant position.

Whatever the causes, the fact remains that Wilhelm perpetrated these corruptions in at least thirteen of his ancestor’s works. With such a personal history, and the more recent questioning of his role in the additions on a Bach autograph and the Hering parts, the production of a manuscript through the sole agency of Wilhelm Rust must be viewed with extreme care, if not suspicion.

Capable as a scholar and performer, Wilhelm Rust was learned, but a weak composer on his own. The Sonatas by F. W. Rust proved good basic materials and an outlet for creative fulfillment by way of his addenda and transformations. Earlier, the Chromatic Fantasia may also have provided a tempting model for adulteration. The style of the Variant reflects more the simple “natural” figurations of the latter part of the eighteenth century rather than the florid configurations native to the late Baroque vision of a Johann Sebastian (83). The admission of the Rust Variant to suspicion has been made with great reluctance and a fair degree of hesitation, despite Rust’s proven propensity in the area of falsification. This, however, is not to accuse, but rather to question the association of the Rust Variant with the person who, deliberately and in full awareness of what he was doing, in later life presented false manuscripts to the music world over a period of several years.

Another aspect of this matter is the virtually universal, unquestioning acceptance of the Variant, the weakness of which has been perceived almost unanimously for 150 years. This extraordinary complacency may be attributed, in large measure, to the undeniable prestige of Wilhelm Rust as musician and scholar. The distinguished position held generally by the Rust family, and specifically by Wilhelm in the nineteenth century, may have accounted for the tendency of otherwise indefatigable researchers to be unusually uncritical. To have investigated further the credentials of a manuscript attributed to Rust, which surfaced in the possession of Wilhelm, would have appeared to be quite unnecessary to otherwise conscientious scholars. It is extraordinary, however, that the structural and figurative weakness of this segment has not been investigated heretofore and that following the exposure of the Rust hoax, the authenticity of the Variant continued throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to be accepted at face value.

Its structural inadequacy, its unrelatedness to the multiple structures and compositional processes following this segment are in themselves strong grounds for questioning whether this is, indeed, the product of the mind, even the young mind, of a Johann Sebastian Bach. Coupled with the documented and proven falsifying record of Wilhelm Rust, it is time that this ‘Variant’ be viewed with fresh judgmental values. This exegesis is written solely in the interests of the integrity of a great composition and in the spirit of investigation of a long acknowledged unbalance in the structure of the Fantasia if coupled with this version. On another level, according to the assumption that is being examined here—that a simple (i.e. simplistic), work is an early work—other early works by Bach ought to provide examples of similar simplistic treatment. The next step requires a comparative survey of Bach’s compositional treatment in his early compositions.


6. Buchmann, Lutz: “Rust.” In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/24175pg3 (accessed May 3, 2012). In the light of conflicting biographical data between Dr. Tureck’s text and the most recent version of the information source, the editor has chosen to provide here a quotation from the relevant Grove article instead of Dr. Tureck’s original.
7. The aforementioned Grove Music Online article supports these claims: “In his editions of the works of his grandfather, Friedrich Wilhelm, however, he abandoned this meticulous scholarship, and his attitude to them still casts a shadow over his work as a whole” (Buchmann, Lutz: Ibidem).
8. The source of Dr. Tureck’s original quotation is unclear. The editor has therefore chosen to replace Dr. Tureck’s quotation with a similar paragraph from an alternative source available at the time of editing this article—see endnote (59).
9. Buchmann, Lutz: “Rust”, in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/24175pg1 (accessed May 4, 2012).
10. “From 1758 he studied law at Halle-Wittenberg University; he also had lessons with W. F. Bach and in return deputized for him as a church organist. Soon after Rust had completed his studies there, Prince Leopold Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau sent him to Zerbst to study with Carl Höckh, and then to Berlin and Potsdam (July 1763–April 1764) to study the violin with Franz Benda and keyboard instruments with C. P. E. Bach.” (60)
11. Bei einem systematischen Durchgehen werden dem aufmerksamen Beobachter einige Unterschiede in Bezug auf die Vollgriffigkeit des Claviersatzes nicht entgehen (…) Einzelnes mag sich sogar dabei befinden, das unter den Begriff der “Modernisirung” fallen könnte. (Prieger, Rust, 1*-4) “When systematically studied, a number of differences in regard to the full reach of the keyboard range shall not remain unnoticed to the the aware observer (…) Some of them might even fall under the term ‘Modernization’.”