The Neumeister Collection is a compilation of 82 chorale preludes which was rediscovered in 1985. It attracted a lot of attention because it contained 39 chorale preludes attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach, 32 of which were previously unknown. One of the attributions to J.S. Bach in the manuscript has been questioned since the discovery of the manuscript, but that still leaves 31 previously unknown works. These works are undoubtedly from Bach’s early years and are therefore of rather more historic than of musical interest.
Besides the works by J.S. Bach the manuscript containes 43 works by other composers. The largest number (26) of these are attributed to Johann Michael Bach, the son of the brother of the grandfather of Johann Sebastian. Johann Michael was the first father-in-law of Johann Sebastian as well, though he was long dead when Johann Sebastian married Maria Barbara, daughter of Johann Michael. The rediscovery of the Neumeister Collection quadrupled the number of keyboard works indisputably written by Johann Michael Bach, from eight to thirty-two. Five of the preludes in the manuscript are unattributed to a composer, and they are possibly written by Johann Michael Bach as well.
All the works attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach are readily available in the public domain. But the works by other composers are not. And that’s strange, because the discovery of 26 (or possibly even 31) preludes by Johann Michael Bach seems to me of great importance. And besides that, the music is of great quality and deserves to be played. Further more, they are not really difficult to play, so they are of great value to any organist in need for pieces to play during service.
So here’s the first of the Neumeister-Choräle-not-by-Johann-Sebastian. The rest will follow in the coming months. Since Advent is only three months away, I’ll start with the preludes suitable for that period.