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Johann Sebastian Bach » Violin Concerto no 1 in A minor » Baillot, Pierre; Molique, Bernhard - none

MS part: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département de la Musique,

MS dates 1833 or 1835 (Month field is placeholder)

All parts: musical text in ink (including fingerings and articulation in ink) by Bernhard Molique.

Solo violin part: performance annotations in normal pencil (and possibly blue pencil, too) by Pierre Baillot.

Pierre Baillot was among the first violinists in Paris to champion older repertory. In 1832, he participated in Fétis’s famous concert historique, and in 1833 and 1837 he organised dedicated historical soirées at his own home. Ferdinand Hiller was an active promoter of Bach’s music. On 15 December 1833, he played with Chopin and Liszt the first movement of Bach Triple Concerto BWV 1063 at the Paris Conservatoire, and in 1835 he played with Baillot two accompanied violin sonatas by Bach.

The pencil annotations in the Violino Principale part are surely in Baillot’s hand. The characteristic features of his handwriting can be observed throughout his annotated parts preserved today between the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris and the private collection of Daniel Lainé. Many of these parts were signed by Baillot, as it is the case here. In the top-right corner of the first page of the Violino Principale, Baillot has added his distinguishing shortened signature, with three horizontal dashes standing for ‘Pierre Marie François’ and ‘B’ for Baillot:

- - - B

For the first finger of the left hand Baillot always uses the Roman numeral ‘I’ instead of the Arabic number ‘1’. In his handwriting, the number ‘2’ has a distinguishing shape (with a little inflection at the bottom). The use of ‘loco’ is typical of Baillot, always meaning ‘go back to first position’. Baillot’s indications for up- and down-bow are placed upside down compared to today’s norm, resembling rather the actual shape of head and frog of the bow. For this piece, Baillot has added metronome markings (at the start of each movement) and duration, in minutes (at the end of each movement). The handwritten annotations (most indicating nuances of tone and phrasing) are concentrated in Baillot’s part of Violino Principale. On Baillot’s approach to the musical text in performance, see Fabio Morabito, ‘Theatrical Marginalia: Pierre Baillot and the Prototype of the Modern Performer’ Music & Letters 101/2 (2020),

It is difficult to know which sources Molique used to prepare this manuscript. I have included a version of the PDF with comments and coloured shapes, highlighting some differences between Bach’s original, Molique’s choices of phrasing, articulation and fingerings, as well as Baillot’s attitude in implementing or replacing them.

Throughout their surviving library of performance materials, marginalia by Baillot and his colleagues seem not to have been produced as a finite set of instructions (i.e., as if they were meant to be followed by someone else); they should be considered rather fragmentary traces of their own rehearsals and performances. 

[Fabio Morabito]


Katharine Ellis, Interpreting the Musical Past: Early Music in Nineteenth-Century France (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 14-15. 

Joël-Marie Fauquet, Les sociétés de musique de chambre à Paris de la Restauration à 1870 (Paris: Aux amateurs de livres, 1986), 57-58.

Joël-Marie Fauquet and Antoine Hennion, La grandeur de Bach: l’amour de la musique en France au XIXe siècle (Paris: Fayard, 2000), 65.

Fabio Morabito, ‘The Score in the Performer’s Hands: Reading Traces of the Act of Performance as a Form of Analysis?’ Music Theory Online 22/2 (2016),

Fabio Morabito, ’ Music & Letters 101/2 (2020),

Composer Johann Sebastian Bach
Work Violin Concerto no 1 in A minor
Title Concerto de Sébastien Bach
Publisher none
Date 1833 (January) ±2 years [Source: Inferred]
Publication Number none
Instrumentation Solo Violin – 1 Violin
Partly Recomposed No


Part Plate No. Medium Annotations Musical Text(s)
Viola 1111 Manuscript Manuscript
    Viola 1111 Manuscript Manuscript
      Viola 12121212 Manuscript Manuscript
        Viola 12121212 Manuscript Manuscript
          Viola None1 Manuscript Manuscript
            Viola None11 Manuscript Manuscript
              Violin 00000 Manuscript Manuscript
                Violin 11 Manuscript Manuscript
                  Violin 1111 Manuscript Manuscript
                    Violin 1111111 Manuscript Manuscript
                      Violin 111111121121 Manuscript Manuscript
                        Violin 2222222 Manuscript Manuscript
                          Violin 33333333 Manuscript Manuscript
                            Violin None Manuscript Manuscript
                              Violin None1 Manuscript Manuscript
                                Violin None1 Manuscript Manuscript
                                  Violin solo 11111 Manuscript Manuscript