That said, it is worth noting that the entire piece was composed by Templeton. No part was copied from Bach.
Templeton cannot be blamed for the broken Bach imitation in the fugue. Most likely, some bars were simply forgotten during hand-copying. They can easily be reconstructed and added back, as shown here.
An editorial glitch must have happened during the fugue’s journey from the composer’s mind to the publishing company’s press – either while the manuscript was copied by hand, or, less likely, when the fugue was written down for the first time.
There are also signs that the damaged part of the fugue was changed afterwards, in an attempt of a last-minute fix. This was done with just enough success that only experienced Bach listeners will notice the omisson.
The missing bars can be reconstructed. An attempt will be presented here.
With that in mind, take a look at this interlude. It appears near the beginning of the fugue.
A second interlude appears not far from the end of the fugue. It looks this way, in the old printed piano score:
But the melody in Example 2 is not repeated. Bar 48 is not followed by a counterpart to bars 17–18 in Example 1. Instead, quaver figurations enter after just two bars of melody.2
In Bach’s music, it is perfectly normal for an interlude to appear again later, usually at a different pitch and/or in modified, intensified, or even expanded form.
In other words, the melody in bars 47–48 in Example 2 must be repeated at a lower pitch (and possibly in modified form) in the same way as in Example 1. I believe this must have been Templeton’s intention, because Templeton knew that Bach would have done so.
Such parallels (equivalent to parallel fifths) were practically5 never used at Bach’s time. At Templeton’s time, it was still considered an error if students used them in counterpoint exercises, and I would consider it impossible that Templeton could have intended them in a Bach imitation.
I believe bar 51 and the two preceding bars were never composed by Templeton.
The passage looks most of all as if some helpful but not too insightful person noticed a manuscript error that had gone undetected during proofreading, and tried to fix it without consulting the composer.
(I forgot to tell about a missing rest in the empty bass of bar 44 in the old printed edition of the fugue. Clear sign that proofreading did not have priority. There are other small inaccuracies elsewhere6 in the old piano score, including the prelude.)
Errors in manuscripts were not uncommon back in the old days when music sheets were copied by hand. One of my teachers, who had identified and corrected several such errors himself, was aware that there might be more – and some of us who were his students still know what to do if we encounter one.
Could an error have sneaked into Templeton’s fugue after it was composed and before it was printed back in 1938?
Easily. I shall now argue, as a working hypothesis, that two similar-looking bars were confused while the fugue was written down or hand-copied.
In order to understand how such a thing might happen, let’s look at the first interlude again. Here it is (Example 4 below), this time with green marks under two similar-looking bars.
Compare with bar 18. Here again, the bass ends with three quavers, propagating stepwise up towards the first bass note of the following bar. The two bars resemble one another in other respects as well.
Now, imagine you are preparing a hand-written copy of the fugue, possibly under time pressure.7 You finish bar 16, then pause for a sip of tea.
By mistake, you resume copying as if you had finished bar 18, and begin to write down bar 19. Result: Two bars left out.
Fortunately, no such thing happened in the first interlude.
But what about the second interlude? I think it was intended to be of the same length as the first interlude, and to have a similar structure – including two similar-looking bars that might be confused.
In fact, I think the second interlude actually lost two bars in that way. That’s the reason why the melody in the old bars 47–48 (Example 2) is not repeated at a lower pitch.
It also looks as if some bars were changed afterwards, not necessarily by the same person who wrote the fugue down in the first place; this is how the odd-looking bar 51 came into existence, in a well-meant attempt to make the passage playable. A third bar may have disappeared in that process.
Yes, it can. The fugue is structured in such a way, and contains enough hints about Templeton’s intentions, that the damaged episode can be rebuilt.8
And now, a moment of truth. The new bars 48 and 50 (Example 5) look so similar that green marks would have been well-deserved. What happens if our copyist confuses them?
The reader is invited to check: Write down the new bars 48 and 51 next to one another on the back of an envelope. As for the two bars in between, leave them out, and pretend not to know that they ever existed. Be sure to write the numbers 48 and 51 on the two bars you have written down; they will be referred to in the instructions below.
Pretend to suddenly discover that the transition between the two bars is not playable. Give yourself thirty minutes to change whatever is needed to make the passage playable. (That’s the kind of task some employee at the publishing company may have been faced with, in my favorite but hypothetical scenario.7)
You will need to make some harsh decisions. To begin with, you observe that the e flat in the upper voice of bar 48 has no continuation in the new bar 51. To provide it with one is easy: Move the quavers in the new bar 51 a fifth up. But now, the three quavers in the middle voice of the new bar 48 end up in mid-air. You delete them. You move the three bass quavers in the new bar 48 down one tone, because f g a is a more natural pitch level for them when the new bar 51 follows immediately after. In order to provide them with a continuation, you also move the crotchets in the bass of the new bar 51 down one fourth.
What you get is the old bar 49 in Example 2 – but with the bass shifted an octave down.10
Not bad for a first-guess working hypothesis. You still need to connect to the end of the fugue with some quaver figurations; you replace bars 52–54 in Example 5 with a brief passage written for the purpose. I guess this is roughly how the sequence in Examples 2 and 3 came into existence. (To formulate all details in words is not practical, and the best way to understand the process is to try it out on the piano.)
Maybe the experiment adds support to the view that the unexpectedly short duration of the second interlude can be explained as the unintentional omission of two bars, followed by an attempt to repair the damage. I do not know if that repairment was done in Templeton’s home or at the publishing company’s office; and we do not need to know, since the proposed reconstruction does not depend on it.
And – at least for now – while the reconstruction proposed in Example 5 may not be exactly identical to what Alec Templeton intended to publish, I think it is accurate enough for performance purpose.
That raises a number of questions.
Exactly how serious is the problem?
Well – the broken Bach imitation gives people a distorted impression of Templeton’s ability as a composer, and is likely to damage his reputation, especially among Bach enthusiasts. Some jazz players might find the piece useful as an introduction to classical music, but the Bach style they see is not quite correct.
How did Templeton himself play the piece on the piano? Did he play a correct Bach imitation that could be used in place of the one proposed above? I wish I could tell. But it seems that Templeton’s own recording is not easily accessible on the Internet.11
The emendations proposed in this document are intended by the author to be available free of charge to any interested part for any legal purpose (“Public Domain”).
|Demo of prelude (played informally by the author):||MP3|
|Demo of corrected fugue (played informally by the author):||MP3|
|Score of Alec Templeton’s fugue with the proposed corrections:|
 As a Bach player for decades who had never played Templeton’s piece before, I had to stop playing after bar 48 of the fugue (Example 2) because the stylistically required continuation was not in the old piano score sheet. The case for a manuscript error was clear immediately.
 Bach’s famous Italian Concert has an interlude in bars 77–84 of its last movement. A modified and intensified counterpart to it appears later in the same movement (bars 155–166). That counterpart is not abbreviated; it is actually four bars longer.
And here is an example from Bach’s fugue in c minor (BWV 847) from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1: A passage in bars 9–10 of that fugue re-appears in modified form, but in full length, in bars 22–23. Readers may object that the passage does not resemble Templeton’s interlude very much. That is because Bach’s fugue is strict counterpoint, whereas Templeton designed a style of his own in which counterpoint is combined with other aspects of Bach’s music. The analogy holds nevertheless.
Perhaps the best example is found in Templeton’s own accompanying prelude: The brilliant Bach imitation in bars 9–10 is repeated in modified form and at a lower pitch in the next two bars. The whole four-bar-long passage appears again in modified form in bars 29–32; it does so in full length. (Also, the quaver figurations in bars 17–18 of the prelude have a counterpart in bars 37–42; once again, that counterpart is longer. – Sorry, this site does not provide score examples for the prelude. The old piano score sheet for “Bach Goes To Town” can be purchased for a modest amount at several commercial sites.)
 Exceptions to the rule are possible, at least in theory: Collapsing an expected two lines of lyrics into a single line might be used to intensify some dramatic point, such as a cry for help, in a cantata. However, the quaver figurations that follow the melody in the interludes of Templeton’s fugue tell that all is normal.
 Just to prevent misunderstandings: Parallels, also known as consecutives, can be found between the soprano and the tenor in four of the cadences in the chorale Freuet Euch, ihr Christen in Bach’s cantata No. 40, according to Peter Charles Arthur Wishart in his article on Harmony in the 1973 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Modern analysis has revealed more examples. Bach used these parallels judiciously, in such a way that the ear hears nothing wrong; the eye may have difficulties discerning them in the scores, as demonstrated at wilktone. However, it is important to understand that a few cases of advanced usage in Bach’s music do not imply that Templeton might have intended parallels in his Bach imitation. Those in Example 3 are a novice error of a kind that textbooks warn against. (They also sound wrong, at least on the author’s piano.) Templeton was not a novice in 1938; the person who wrote bar 51 in Example 3 may well have been.
 The prelude has a few small and trivial typos in the old piano score sheet. I do not know if they appear in other editions.
Bar 26 upper voice: Second last quaver is b, should be b flat.
Bar 30 bass: Last quaver is e, should be e flat.
Bar 42 middle voice: Third note e is a crotchet, should be a half.
In bars 18 and 42, the middle and upper voices form an octave that may sound hard on some pianos. I play the middle voice a major third lower than written on the third beat, with no impact on musical content, then return to nominal pitch on the fourth beat.
The fugue has parallel fifths in the old piano score sheet. They appear in the transition from bar 30 to bar 31 (Example 6), and are probably best explained as a glitch in the process of writing the piece down for the first time. To make them sound even worse, all three voices move in the same direction. I split the crotchet on e in the middle voice into a quaver on e and a quaver on g, replace the bass quaver on g with a crotchet, and omit the bass quaver on a, in order to get a decent sound on the piano. The change, which is small and without effect on musical content, is included in the PDF version of the corrected fugue linked to above.
 Hypothetical scenario: A publishing company contacted Templeton and asked to have a manuscript mailed promptly. They got it. Just before print deadline, they discovered an unplayable passage and did a quick fix. Other scenarios are, of course, possible.
 Other possibilities were considered in various stages of the analysis.
For instance: While bar 15 in Example 1 has quavers in the bass, its counterpart, bar 47 in Example 2, is without quavers. Should the two new bars to be inserted, in order to repeat the melody at a lower pitch, be with or without such quavers? The last three notes in the bass of bar 48 in Example 2 suggest a continuation with quavers, but those three notes might, in principle, not be authentic. I have looked for solutions with no quavers in the bass of the new bar 49. No credible solution of that kind was found. I tend, therefore, to consider the three bass quavers at the end of bar 48 as authentic, although they may have been moved a septime up in the old piano score sheet. The three bass quavers must be continued in a logical manner. The new bars 48 – 50 in Example 5 accomplish this by simply imitating bars 16–18 in Example 1.
There is a rest in the bass of each of the new bars 48 and 50 in Example 5. Bars 16 and 18 in Example 1 have no such rest; instead, the preceding crotchet is dotted. I decided to adopt the rest in analogy with the old bar 48 (Example 2), despite doubts as to the authenticity of part of that bar.
Bar 20 has two accidentals in the bass, as can be seen in the PDF document. The new bar 52 in Example 5 ought to have equally much chromatics, or even more. However, attempts to add some did not lead to an acceptable solution.
The figurations in bars 51–55 in Example 5 propagate upwards faster than their counterparts in bars 19 and the following bars. They have to, as they start at a lower pitch and must, in a reasonable amount of time, reach the level where they connect to the main theme (at old bar 53 in Example 3; at new bar 56 in Example 5). They accomplish the task well enough that the old bar 52 in Example 3 fits in unchanged as a new bar 55 in Example 5.
To let the middle voice of the new bar 55 start with a quaver at d instead of g would have been good harmonically but less so melodically.
The new figurations are one bar longer than their counterpart. Justification for this can be found in Bach’s music and in Templeton‘s prelude as observed in Note . (It is possible to argue that they ought to be even longer, in analogy with bars 37–42 of the prelude; but the evidence, based primarily on layout unevenness in the old printed piano score, is weak.) The new figurations are not similar to those in bar 19 and the following bars. Attempts to make them similar disappointed (failure of pitch levels to match; lack of harmonic substance; too much “more-of-the-same” effect). Instead, the quavers in the new bar 52 in Example 5 were chosen to imitate those of the old bar 51 in Example 3, in an attempt to re-use part of that bar despite doubts about authenticity, and in order to preserve a well-placed allusion to the first five tones of the melody that begins the very first bar of the prelude.
 The small discrepancy would have disappeared if the bass in the old bar 48 (Example 2) had gone an octave down on the second beat in the same way as the bass in bar 16 does; the downward septime in the old bar 51 could have been avoided, too. Instead – for reasons that are not well understood – the two lower voices do nothing during the first half of the old bar 48. I guess the old bar 48 was composed by Templeton, but content was later removed from the two lower voices by someone else. Given that it is part of the build-up towards the end of the fugue, bar 48 must be at least as content-rich as bar 16 in order to qualify as a counterpart to it. That can be accomplished by letting the new bar 48 imitate bar 16, as is done in Example 5.
 A CD titled “Bach Goes To Town – The genius of Alec Templeton” is offered for sale at a few commercial Internet vendor sites. Issued in 1995, it contains a number of Templeton pieces, played by the composer personally on the piano (or so it seems).
I tried to purchase that CD. Two-and-a-half month later, news arrived that the vendor’s supplier had informed them the CD could not be delivered.
I will continue to try and obtain the CD. That may take time.
If someday I get to listen to Templeton’s own recording, what kind of conclusion could I arrive at? There are essentially two possibilities.
(A) If Templeton played a correct Bach imitation, in which the melody in bars 47–48 of the fugue is repeated at a lower pitch in the way Templeton knew Bach would have done: In that case, performers should, of course, play the passage in the way Templeton did.
(B) If Templeton played a broken Bach imitation (would be no surprise):
There can be no doubt that Templeton composed a correct Bach imitation. But he may later have observed that everybody else played differently, and then decided to follow suit and play the published version, because he thought the piece was not important enough to justify telling them that the version they played was wrong and needed to be changed. Today’s performers should play a valid Bach imitation, either a brand new one, or the one proposed in Example 5 above.