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date: 31 March 2020

Bitter, Carl Hermannlocked

  • Renate Federhofer-Königs


(b Schwedt an der Oder, Feb 27, 1813; d Berlin, Sept 12, 1885). German musicologist. His name has sometimes been incorrectly given as Heinrich. After studying at the universities of Berlin and Bonn he entered the Prussian civil service in which he held several important posts until 1882. In spite of his many professional duties, Bitter gave much of his spare time to the study of music history. He discovered important documents concerning the life and works of J.S. Bach, though he often quoted his sources imprecisely or not at all, a practice which brought criticism from Spitta and Chrysander. Of equal importance are his contributions to the catalogue of Bach’s works, especially those on questions of authenticity and the problem of parody. He also studied Bach’s sons, in particular C.P.E. Bach, whose work Bitter judged and classified with unusual objectivity for his day. In spite of all his errors in printing and transcribing and his imprecision in quotation, he laid the foundation for Bach research with a historical-philological orientation. It was only eight years after the appearance of his ...

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Allgemeine deutsche Biographie (Leipzig, 1875-1912)