The paper summarises the lessons and conclusions of a large study of over 100 recordings of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Passions, Brandenburg Concertos and Goldberg Variations issued between around 1945–1976. In the first part it gives an overview of the state of performance practice scholarship in the first three quarters of the 20th century. In the second part it deals with the role of instruments, vocal practices, tempo, ornamentation, rhythm and articulation in creating the style of a performance. It argues that articulation stemming from early instrumental technique and based on the metric organisation of rhythm is the key element of a historically oriented style. This, however, has not been fully recognised during the period. Among scholars only Sol Babitz discussed it at length prior to the mid-1980s while on record it appeared sporadically from late 1960s onwards, but almost exclusively in the performances of Leonhardt and Harnoncourt. 7 figures, musical examples, summary list of recordings referred to in the text.