Talk:Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565

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Possible inclusion of Neame as a sourceEdit

Can I canvass your opinions on the inclusion of a new source, Neame's article in the Sept 2017 edition of Organists Review? This isn't a peer-reviewed journal, so I quite understand why my addition of it has been edited out. But there may be, I think, good reasons why in this case we should consider its inclusion.

1. Because it is a recent article, Neame is able to include findings not available to earlier sources. For example, we did not know until recently that Ringk's manuscript can be dated to c.1735, and Neame points out that this means that theories of BWV 565 being written any later cannot therefore be correct. Neame makes a closely-reasoned case that it was probably written in early 1703, so the possible date range is 1703 - 1735; but if we cannot quote Neame, we are stuck with our lede proclaiming a date range (1704 - 1750) that we know to be highly misleading (no pun intended!).

2. Neame makes a vital contribution to the attribution debate by highlighting one of Kranenburg's results that has hitherto been ignored. Kranenburg compared J S Bach with W F Bach and did not simply get a majority verdict in favour of J S Bach; he attributed all 50 out of 50 segments to J S Bach. There is, Neame points out, less than a 1 in a billion probability of that happening by chance; so this is the strongest possible proof that J S Bach was indeed the composer. It is surely unacceptable to include a discussion of Kranenburg without making this point.

3. If we exclude Neame but include Williams we could lay ourselves open to the charge of inconsistency. Williams' amusing 4000 word article, originally conceived to entertain radio audiences, proposed theories based on his supposed detection of the galant style, which no previous observer had noted - and which cannot be correct, as Ringk's copy uses the soprano clef (which had fallen out of use before the introduction of the galant style). That looks suspiciously like Williams inventing evidence to support his own theory. By contrast, Neame's scholarly 7,000-word article considers all 17 anomalies noted by independent observers, and offers a theory that explains all but Williams' supposed ‘galant' style. Neame's article has been vetted by leading experts not just in musicology (Prof John Butt), but also in other fields, e.g. organist (Dr. David Flood, Canterbury Cathedral), history (Prof Hugh Cunningham), organ-building etc. It is arguably the most authoritative paper yet written on the subject; so it can hardly be consistent to include Williams and reject Neame on the grounds of reliability.

4. More seriously, if we reject Neame but include Williams, we lay ourselves open to a charge of bias. Williams is the best-argued case doubting Bach's authorship, Neame's is the best-argued case supporting it. It cannot be impartial to include one but not the other.

5. Neame's article unequivocally confirming Bach's authorship has been published in Organists Review, so tens of thousands of organists worldwide now consider that the attribution debate is decided, and they will be baffled by WP's omission of Neame. As an organist myself, let me explain why this is so important to us organists. Every time we perform BWV 565 we have one or two know-alls coming up to us afterwards and saying, “very nice, but it's not by Bach, you know! So you shouldn't have said it was Bach in the programme, should you?” It's so infuriating that I, for one, haven't included BWV 565 in my recitals for many years. But now that's all changed. Neame has, to my mind, conclusively settled the authorship debate, and I was planning to include BWV 565 in my next recital. So I checked the WP entry a fortnight ago, was shocked to find no reference to Neame, and decided to correct it, which is why I'm here. I may be the first organist to try to put this right, but I doubt I'll be the last. .

6. Feeling among the organist community is so strong that some may look for possible motives for WP's exclusion of Neame. They might accuse editors of sensationalism for over-egging the attribution debate to stimulate readers' interest; they could accuse others of a conflict of interest, by deleting Neame in attempting to achieve a personal GA qualification. They might question whether those who deleted Neame had actually read him (poor judgement) or not bothered to do so (negligence). There is a risk that, added to the inconsistency and bias issues listed above, this could spark a social media campaign by organists angered by WP's deletion of references to Neame.

7. It's not a high risk, more likely a medium risk; and there's a fair chance that it would never happen. But If we wait until it does, that will be too late; once such speculation goes viral, there is no way of stopping it, and it could damage the reputations of all involved. The risk-free alternative would be for whoever deleted the references to Neame to reconsider whether it might, on balance, be prudent to re-instate them ...

That's one side of the case, but I admit to a vested interest - I have really missed performing this wonderful masterpiece! - so I shall be interested to see your arguments for deleting Neame! Bajanorganist (talk) 14:32, 27 November 2017 (UTC) Bajanorganist (talk) 14:32, 27 November 2017 (UTC)

I was unable to locate Neame's article at JSTOR (or any other service or publication that would give details like ISSN or doi of the publication), could you help out? --Francis Schonken (talk) 15:02, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
  • Re. #1: Zehnder 2011 writes as much, so Neame is definitely not the first to write it, and this info (based on Zehnder) is already in the article. If I remember correctly Zehnder even refers to Killian 1979 (NBA) for this assumption.
  • Re. #2: I'd like to read exactly what was written (and how it was referenced - did you know that Kranenburg retracted some published versions of his research results? – the Wikipedia article currently quotes literally from Kranenburg's authorised/revised later versions, and I would like to keep it to that unless very sure of something better)
  • Re. #3: also rejected by Zehnder, and that info is already in the Wikipedia article.
  • Re. #4: so please provide the doi of Neame's article. Be aware of WP:RECENTISM too – older material (starting from Mendelssohn etc) needs not necessarily be thrown out when something new is published (until the next scholar publishes something different). This has been the approach thus far (thus already balancing whatever Williams contended), and I'd keep to that approach, even if this means keeping considerable portions of Williams in the balance.
  • Re. #5: Well, one of the problems with Williams's material is that he often wrote more as an organist than as a musicologist/historian (thus for instance ignoring the close relation between all sorts of early keyboard toccatas by Bach whether or not written for organ), so excuse me my apprehensiveness regarding history written which seemingly is much to the benefit of some sort of organist redemption (I don't care who benefits most from this angle on history, and it should certainly not play a role in how we pick our sources).
  • Re. #6: See #4 and #5 above: Wikipedia takes its time, better do it thoroughly than something that needs to be half-deleted by the next time a scholar publishes something. Note that Neame was used too to throw out some of the Emans and some of the Schulenberg, neither of which was warranted.
  • Re. #7: Yeah, sure. Wikipedia is however not a social media platform. See also WP:BEANS.
Another question: can we be absolutely certain that Neame didn't base any of his article on Wikipedia (which would create WP:CIRCULAR issues)? There too I may be too apprehensive, but better take our time than rush into things. --Francis Schonken (talk) 15:50, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
Thank you for your an illuminating response. If I understand you right,
- your lede states that “a date as late as the 1750s has been suggested”, yet you have known for seven years that BWV 565 could not have been written after 1735. So how to justify this highly misleading statement in your lede? You simply edit out the evidence that contradicts it. The article contained a proper reference to 1735 last week; In today's version I can find no such reference. I find it quite shocking that you could deliberately delete the most important evidence in the attribution debate.
- your article says that “Hypotheses proposed by Williams in that article included that BWV 565 may have been composed after 1750”, but - again by deleting the 1735 evidence - there is no suggestion that we now know this to be incorrect. It is highly misleading to quote Williams' hypotheses with no qualification when you know them to be untrue.
- your article says that “statistical analysis conducted by Peter van Kranenburg in the second half of the first decade of the 21st century confirmed the Fugue was atypical for Bach”, yet you know that Kranenburg's comparison of J S Bach v. W F Bach allocated all 50 out of 50 segments to J S Bach, a decisive confirmation of J S Bach's authorship.
- your colleague's response to my request for a discussion was a personal attack, the normal reaction when people have to defend the indefensible.
All this reduces the credibility of an article which is in parts excellent, to the point where the integrity of the whole article is undermined. I would have liked to help correct this; but it is now clear that such attempts would be thwarted by the cabal who currently control this article. It is clearly their desire that I should not get involved in correcting their misrepresentations, so I will not make any further replies and willI close my Wikipedia account as soon as I can work out how to do so! Bajanorganist (talk) 15:10, 28 November 2017 (UTC)
What seems to be missing mainly from the above approaches (and reproaches) is a good understanding of Wikipedia's WP:NPOV policy. Williams is an author in good standing (didn't change much after he died not so long ago afaik). He published extensively about BWV 565, so I don't think that in the foreseeable future his main arguments regarding the piece would be removed from the article. Same for the other authors, from Spitta to Bullivant, from Pirro to Eidam, from Wolff to Zehnder, etc. What we shouldn't do (in Wikipedia) is concoct a main theory from those authors that appear most sympathetic or correct. We discriminate according to reliability for the sources. That is the WP:RS aspect (see below). A significant scholar contending something that later is doubted by other scholars doesn't make the first scholar over-all unreliable. It's all weighted according to the stature the author/source has reliability-wise according to this kind of grading of sources in the logic of the WP:RS guidance – and then let each author speak for themselves, summarizing their main argumentation etc. Equally to be avoided is Wikipedia becoming some sort of arbiter on who is right: let every reliable source speak for themselves, allotting them space in the narrative more or less in proportion to the space they occupy in published decent/solid literature on the topic. The ultimate arbiter should be the reader, and the task of Wikipedia authors is to provide all the key elements proportionally so as to empower the reader to draw their own conclusion, even if that conclusion would be different from the Wikipedia editor's. So, as a Wikipedia editor I don't "know" anything about when and by whom this piece was composed: scholarship is still to a certain extent divided on these issues, so as an editor I only "know" what these sources say, and try to present what they are telling us in good order.
Practically also we would rather work on the body of the article first and see whether improvements and updates there change anything regarding the over-all balance of the article, and only then fine-tune the balance of the introductory paragraphs if necessary.
The main point at this point remains to see how usable Neame is WP:RS-wise. If I could find any other publication by this author, or some external credentials for the periodical in which he published, or some scholar referring to his article (etc) that would make a whole lot of difference when it comes to assessing the over-all reliability of this source (as compared to the reliability of the other sources already used in the article).
Please thoroughly familiarise yourself with the WP:NPOV policy and the WP:RS guidance if anything in what I wrote above would appear unclear or incomprehensible. --Francis Schonken (talk) 15:56, 28 November 2017 (UTC)


conversation copied to User talk:Bajanorganist#COI?, suggesting to ask the question there. --Francis Schonken (talk) 18:11, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.
It appears the user Bajanorganist may very well be Neame himself, evidenced by his user page.--Galassi (talk) 16:12, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
No, I don't see that: would recommend not to resort to such sort of aspersions. Nobody is required to "be" impartial (nor am I), but that is not the same as having a conflict of interest (WP:COI). The editing should be as impartial as possible: to make the distinction clear: when I write about chocolate in Wikipedia my editing is best when nobody can fathom from my editing approach whether I am actually partial to chocolate or not (see WP:NPOV). Assuming that I'm not in the business of selling chocolate (which would be a COI, for which the COI rules would apply). --Francis Schonken (talk) 16:51, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
His self-intro is too similar to Neame's LinkedIn page. Ando it also contains a strong POV statement re this articla.--Galassi (talk) 17:39, 27 November 2017 (UTC)

Follow-up: there appears to have been no COI, and I fully expect to resume collaboratation on content of the article. --Francis Schonken (talk) 21:20, 27 November 2017 (UTC)


In any event Neame, as an amateur musicologist, fails all WP:RS criteria.--Galassi (talk) 21:31, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
Re. "amateur musicologist": the same could be said, in varying degrees, about Albert Schweitzer and Peter Van Kranenburg (who is a university professor, but not in musicology), and probably some other authors used as sources in this article. So, being an amateur musicologist is certainly not a "fail all" criterion which would make it impossible to be accepted as a reliable source for this article.
That being said, I never encountered Stuart Neame in Bach literature (and I have read a lot on the topic), and have difficulty assessing the stature of the Organists' Review as a publisher on these topics. I've used articles from The Diapason by relatively unknown authors as sources in other Bach-related articles (e.g. [1]), so if Organists' Review would be of at least comparable reliability I wouldn't exclude anything in advance, but would neither accept in advance before we can have a clearer picture of the author (I mean, more than a linkedIn profile) or the publication (I mean more than its own website). --Francis Schonken (talk) 23:28, 27 November 2017 (UTC)


Sorry, but as a relative newcomer to the attribution debate, but not to logic, could someone please explain why this should be a compelling argument?

'- your article says that “statistical analysis conducted by Peter van Kranenburg in the second half of the first decade of the 21st century confirmed the Fugue was atypical for Bach”, yet you know that Kranenburg's comparison of J S Bach v. W F Bach allocated all 50 out of 50 segments to J S Bach, a decisive confirmation of J S Bach's authorship.'

Why are J.S. and W. F. Bach the only conceivable options? Has the attribution debate been maintained solely, on those parameters, such that a finding that a piece sounds closer to A than B is the same as a finding that it sounds closer to A than *anyone alive in the 18th century*? JediNxf7 (talk) 05:35, 16 September 2020 (UTC)

See Kranenburg (e.g. the September 2008 version of his report). Kranenburg, at least, found that the other known composers that had been mentioned as possible candidates were more remote in style than W.F. and J.S. Bach. The "atypical for (J.S.) Bach" was more prominent in earlier versions of his report (all linked in the Sources section of the article) – but Kranenburg's failure to find an actual composer whose style was "more" typical for the piece made it all end in not much of a convincing argument. --Francis Schonken (talk) 06:08, 16 September 2020 (UTC)


There is an interesting synthesizer performance by Rachel Flowers on soundcloud here. It tries to recreate the orchestral arrangement from Fantasia. I haven't seen the movie but I guess the overwrought style is faithful to Stokowski's version. Anyway it's much different than what I'm used to. (talk) 10:22, 14 December 2019 (UTC)

In film sectionEdit

The "In film" section has become unbalanced; it does no longer conform to the WP:BALASP policy while elaborating extensively on one film which is not particularly often mentioned in connection to this composition: other films of comparable bandwidth in reliable sources w.r.t. this composition currently have one or two sentences. --Francis Schonken (talk) 17:56, 4 November 2020 (UTC)

Copy-pasting references that has been copied from me is not permissible (see WP:IBAN). In these circumstances I will just add an addendum to WP:ORN to explain current disruption with the Morricone material. Mathsci (talk) 20:11, 4 November 2020 (UTC)
See WP:ORN#Follow up on BWV 543 and BWV 565. Mathsci (talk) 23:15, 4 November 2020 (UTC)

Morricone and ownership issuesEdit

One editor has spent about 3 weeks discussing Ennio Morricone on the talk page of BWV 543. Their edits there have not been helpful. Similarly, on the WP:NOR noticeboard, the same editor has launched into discussions about Morricone's work: so far, in his edits, he has not unearthed any useful sources.

While researching film material related to Bach and Morricone, however, I have found a huge amount of material related to BWV 565. I have only chosen a small sample. I have selected 4 sources and have used all four. I chose two diametrically opposite views; although one of the commentators disagrees with Morricone, they are old friends and have discussed their differences (see the Cambridge University Press book—the author died in 2016). There are many pages in these particular books on this area (i.e. art film music, a well-covered topic).

From this article, the section about "Reception" is not really about reception, but some kind of hodge-podge. In the case of the subsection entitled "In film", it is just part of what would normally be called "In popular culture." It seems to be a list of films, almost no explanatory prose to give context. Just a raw list.

What I have written here is prose on "Bach reception" for BWV 565 with regard to Morricone. Other articles on Bach organ works are not written as if they were some list (except of course for discographies and arrangements). The reversion that has happened is not acceptable: there must be a reasonable discussion and later a WP:CONSENSUS. The new source material (4 books) should be taken on board by other editors. Since WP:ORN has been invoked here, perhaps that would be a convenient way of involving a larger number of editors in Morricone-related discussions. Mathsci (talk) 19:03, 4 November 2020 (UTC)

The first statement about the claimed fame of the Toccata seems like a "peacock" statement and does not to be supported by the body of the article without very careful qualification.
The second statement concerns authenticity and the phrasing of the final sentence. The non-reporting of facts from the Bach Archive is a non-event, but the final sentence is presented as some kind as "proof" of authenticity. The commentary in the Breitkopf edition is more non-committal, giving pros and cons for authenticity. They err on the side of caution There is also the 2018 2nd edition of the book by Rolf Dietrich Claus on authenticity, translated into English, with additional commentary. Mathsci (talk) 19:34, 4 November 2020 (UTC)