Great Composers – Bach (BBC, 1997) – Part 4/7

Great Composers - Bach (BBC, 1997) - Part 4/7

in 1717 at the age of 32 he moved to the princely Court at Curtin as musical director here bark was concerned chiefly with chamber and orchestral music and once described the years at Curtin as the happiest in his life it was here that he revolutionized the development of keyboard music with his composition of the well-tempered clavier a collection of 24 preludes and fugues written as he inscribed on the title page for the profit of the musical youth desirous of learning the well-tempered clavier was written in response to a change in tuning what had happened up until this time was that the keyboards were tuned precisely in thirds and fifths which meant that they were marvelous as long as you were playing in a very limited range of keys and the early if you look at early works by William Byrd for example most of them seems seem to be in C major and then they make up to this by having fantastic variations what happened with well tempered tuning was it was essentially a compromise you chill in octaves and in between the octave you would divide into 12 semitones which meant that nothing was exactly right but it was bearable to play in every single key for the first time and so bark says about this fantastic the ambitious scheme of writing prelate infuse in every single key which I don't think had ever been done before it meant that you instead of just writing in C major or C minor G major or G money you were suddenly writing in keys as obscure as E flat minor or B flat minor I mean this is really new so he started with the first book with the C major Prelude and then he moved from that to C minor so you'd have a and then he would move up to a really new key C sharp major so you're going step by step up and writing fuchs also in all these keys Mozart and Beethoven and chopin and Schumann they played this music every day and much later Bartok and Pablo Casals stolen and it is as they said the old testament of music and I feel very much the same way I play the well-tempered clavier every day of my life two or four or six preludes and fugues every day different ones and it's a wonderful way to to start the dates it's like taking a shower and cleansing yourself it's something so pure to the spirit and the soul and even physically I don't have to do stupid pianistic exercises which are a waste of time because this gives you all the sensation of of movements when you play a movement like it gives you all the feeling of dexterity and and you feel like like dancing and bouncing and you are happy to be alive the base the base of bar are fantastic if you take the over the g-string it's very simple but it is already Jersey because you have the base coming up and down and there is a singing base it's not only a base which plays the bass notes this is singing if you if you forget about the theme of the air on the g string you have the best you have little stubs always always continuing and this is one of the particularities of both music there is no part which are not interesting by itself even though I mean if I just play that without the thing it's interesting maybe thinkers good venue that's one there wasn't really much difference at that time between a performer and a composer if you performed you also composed and Bach the middle this music taught you how to compose and show you show you what the possibilities were and that's in fact the way it was used for a century after his death Mozart Beethoven Schumann Chopin Faber list all of them learned how to compose by playing Bach on the piano you a in May 1720 when he was 35 bark accompanied Prince Leopold to Carlsbad leaving his wife to look after their four surviving children when he returned in July he learned that Maria Barbara had fallen ill and died possibly as a result of her seventh pregnancy and had already been buried the news only reached him when he entered his own house she was 35 years old a widower with four young children bark could not live alone for long the following year on December the 3rd 1721 bark married Anna Magdalena Volker the daughter of a court trumpeter and a fine soprano the marriage combined both romantic and musical fulfillment and lasted 29 years we need to think of a rather dynamic relationship there must have been quite a bit of give and take among two professional musicians anna magdalena as the singer who you know had considerable professional experience and she might have told her husband often on you know this is unsinkable or you know i'd like the melody to go this way rather than that way and he would then respond i think buck is a musician who tried to bring out the best in his companions and in his colleagues baba had the reputation in his time in fact still does of having written enormous ly difficult music he himself described his music as incomparably more difficult than there was the matter of his contemporaries and it was when he writes music for voices or even for wind instruments he almost forgets that these players and singers have to breed at times he simply forgets about it he has an unbroken continuous musical line for these performers and forgets about the practical necessities No


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