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In the urtext edition (page 84 of the pdf) that I found on IMSLP it looks as if the first period is repeated and then... the rest of the piece, without that first period, is played twice? That doesn't feel quite right. And what's this weird mirrored repeat sign at the end? I've made partial screenshots of the beginning and the end. There are no repeat signs in between.

Beginning

End

In a more modern edition each period is repeated twice and that's how everybody seems to play it. How does one get from the first version to the second one? Convention? A later improvement that's actually not consistent with the original print? Or some notational nuance that I don't get? And what's up with the weird repeat sign at the end of the urtext edition?

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  • Page 84? The PDF of the Urtext I found at the link provided was only 11 pages.
    – Aaron
    Aug 18, 2023 at 18:53
  • @Aaron Sorry, I accidentally gave the wrong link - not to the version that I had downloaded and made screenshots of. Fixed it now.
    – Liisi
    Aug 18, 2023 at 19:02
  • That makes more sense, but none of them appear to be urtext editions. Perhaps you could add the name of the editor and/or publisher to make things clear.
    – Aaron
    Aug 18, 2023 at 19:54
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    A passacaille was implicitly understood to consist of many parallel parts, all of which are to be repeated. With the title explicitly being "Passacaille", it's no more necessary to actually write all those repeat marks than it's necessary to write "Read all chapters in numeric order" over a novel. Aug 19, 2023 at 5:19
  • 'Repeated twice' means it's played three times! I guess you mean repeated once (played twice).
    – Tim
    Aug 19, 2023 at 9:27

1 Answer 1

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In the IMSLP Urtext edition (ed. Max Schneider and Rudolf Steglich), the initial double-repeat sign is accompanied by a footnote:

Im Originaldruck nur vor und nach diesem ersten und dem Schluss-Doppelstrich Wiederholungspunkte wohl Hinweise dass jeder Viertakter zu Wiederholen ist.

Which translates to:

In the original, the double bar lines before and after this first and the final double-bar repeat probably indicate that every four-bar phrase is to be repeated.

So the interpretation comes from knowledge of Handel, the passacaglia form, and contemporaneous practice.

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