April 15, 2005
Vol. V, No. 9
Two Sundays ago, the Time changed but I didn't. For the first time in probably twenty years, I forgot to Spring Ahead. No one mentioned it at work the previous Friday and none of the newscasters mentioned it during their coverage of the Pope on the Saturday before either. In fact, I didn't even realize I'd missed it until I arrived at church. Fortunately, as late as I was, I still had time to run through the solo with the soloist and play the prelude.
It wasn't the best way to celebrate my ten-year anniversary at the church which was two days prior on April 1 (I swear it wasn't an April Fool's joke and it would have been a poor one at that). On the bright side, as someone pointed out, I didn't lose an hour of sleep like everyone else. Consequently I had more energy than usual after the service so I had a great practice session.
Long-time readers may remember that I play two postludes. The second is always a large work by Bach and I don't usually rehearse it if it's one I've known for a long time. If it's a piece that's a bit rusty, I may run through it once before the service or perhaps just touch on some tricky spots. Lately, however, I haven't been happy with the condition of some of these larger pieces so I've been making a concerted effort to brush up on them at least one week in advance. It gives the work I do more time to "sink in."
That was my motivation two Sundays ago when I pulled out Bach's Prelude and Fugue in F Minor (BWV 534). It's been ragged around the edges for quite a while now. I had even started wondering what I ever saw in it in the first place. Perhaps because I had the extra energy, I don't know, but the brush up turned into something else entirely. "Brushing up" has usually meant running through the piece a couple of times. This time I decided instead to really focus on the F Minor, take as much time as I needed and not worry about anything else.
Here are the opening measures of the Prelude and the Fugue:
For those who aren't familiar with the F Minor, don't feel bad because it's not one of Bach's more frequently played pieces. I only discovered it because it was on a CD by Piet Kee and I only bought that because I was looking for recordings of certain Pachelbel pieces. There were a lot of interesting pieces on that CD and one of them was Bach's F Minor. Anyway, here's a link to the CD and you can listen to a snippet of each piece, including the F Minor:
Getting back to the practice session, I played through the F Minor prelude three times and the fugue twice, all with postlude registrations. Then I played the entire piece twice more on a registration of 8', 4' and 2' flutes. By the time I got done with all that I remembered why I liked this piece enough to bother learning it. It also made me think about the strange process you go through when you learn a new piece.
First, you decide to learn a piece because you like something about it, you're drawn to it. The more you practice it, the more you like it. Finally, you finished learning it and it's the happiest day of your life. Once the piece is learned however you throw it into the rotation where it suddenly gets played no more often than the other pieces in your repertoire. Eventually, your interest in the piece starts to wane as you begin to get distracted by other projects. It never again gets the attention it did when you were learning it. How sad.
Well, I was fortunate enough to rediscover the F Minor. I love this piece. I want to record it. I want to memorize it.
The sheet music can be found here:
Bach Complete Organ Works, Volume II
If you're looking for a bargain, you can get all of the sheet music for Bach's organ music on one CD:
When I go to my local sheet music store (Patelson's) every month to pick up TAO magazine, I usually check the organ music Misc. bin to see what odds and ends the staff has thrown in there lately. A week ago Thursday when I went, interestingly enough I found sheet music for the F Minor arranged for Clarinet and Organ. The book also contained the same orchestration applied to the Fantasy and Fugue in G minor. It was a music publisher from Germany, hand-notated and tiny but with parts. It was too expensive for me to buy as a novelty but I suppose it was a good deal if you need it.
What I did buy was a used copy of the old Peters edition of "Chorale Preludes by Old Masters" for $8. It was a real find because the edition was subsequently split into three separate volumes, each selling new for $10.95.
I only have a link for Volume III:
There are many interesting pieces in these volumes but especially interesting in Volume III is Walther's Variations on 'Jesus, meine Freude' (Jesus my Joy). I say that because it is also on the Piet Kee CD I mentioned earlier.
When I stop by Patelson's I almost always find another organist poking through the organ music section. A week ago Thursday was no exception. I met an organist colleague from Maryland who told me about the 1897 Nieman tracker organ at the Old Otterbein Methodist Church in Baltimore. It turns out that there is some info available online:
Well I started out talking about the Time Change and ended up in Baltimore. More of a Ramble than a Rampage, I'd say.
In my rampage of January 19, 2005 I resolved to reacquaint myself with a Bach piece. Whatever else I do or do not accomplish this year, at least I can say I actually kept a New Year's resolution.
Click this link to read comments and offer your own:
Composition Free Exchange:
Added are 10 more organ compositions from Bill Fuhrer. I encourage you to take advantage of this music. I guarantee that you'll find something to use for services. By the way, the Composition Free Exchange has grown extensively since its inception. It now contains almost 50 compositions (organ and vocal) by 10 composers and it's all free!
Added is the Henry Nieman organ at Old Otterbein United Methodist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. Also added is the Létourneau organ at Church of the Holy Trinity in New York City.
Have a great week!
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