A good explication of the background behind the Marpurg/Kirnberger debates
is in _Compositional Theory in the Eighteenth Century_ by Joel Lester, a
book I just became acquainted with yesterday. Lester has several chapters
outlining Rameau's theories and theoretical career, and then brings in the
resumes of both M and K.
In the chapter about their debates he points out that Kirnberger was in
some ways closer to Rameau's principles than Marpurg was. This is the
opposite impression of that given in _The Bach Reader_. Lester says he's
taking a different tack from most other commentators: most set Marpurg as
the Ramellian. (Marpurg was at least the one that German contemporaries
thought followed Rameau, having not read Rameau for themselves.)
Lester observes correctly that since we don't have CPE's entire letter
where he and dad both supposedly side against Rameau (according to the
famous citation by Kirnberger), we don't know what points of Rameau's
theories the Bachs disagreed with.
My impression so far is that Lester himself seems to be a Ramellian. (Or
"Rameauian" as in the book. What's the correct spelling?)
This book is a history of theory, and (that I've seen so far) doesn't say
anything useful about temperaments. But it gives a good background for
the debate. And it shows Marpurg to have been a hothead, as I'd surmised
in the historical fiction of their flame war.
This book reminds me of the gulf between theory and practice. Both in the
18th century and today.
Definitely worth a read, anyway. I'm working on it.
Bradley Lehman, Dayton VA
home: http://i.am/bpl or http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl
CD's: http://listen.to/bpl or http://www.mp3.com/bpl
"Music must cause fire to flare up from the spirit - and not only sparks
from the clavier...." - Alfred Cortot