September 18, 2002
Vol. II, No. 36
"Race against Time"
Sometime in 1997, I came to the realization that I enjoyed playing Bach's Preludes and Fugues more than any other form of composition by any other composer. Having found my passion, I immediately set out to master all the major Preludes and Fugues plus the Fantasies, Toccatas, and the Passacaglia, and their accompanying fugues. I already knew two of the larger works from my college years so I only had 22 to go. In the five years since then, I've learned ten more, which brings the number down to 12. I've lost some steam lately but after several hours on the bench this past Sunday ("Oh, my achin' Bach!"), I'm happy to report that I'm a little bit closer to my goal.
As usual, I practiced my service music first. Then I got off on a tangent, reading through a few of Schumann's "Six Fugues on B-A-C-H." They're OK but I still prefer playing Bach.
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To get back on track, I took out the Toccata from the Toccata and Fugue in F Major, BWV 540. I had previously narrowed it down to three tough spots so I focused on them for a while. After making some progress there I feel like maybe an Easter debut is possible. Next I read through the Prelude and Fugue in C Major (9/8), BWV 547, and, finally, the Prelude and Fugue in D Major, BWV 532. The D Major fugue sounds very "Christmas-ey" so maybe I can finish it in time for the holidays.
Sometimes I feel like I'm in a race against time. It's mostly the really big pieces left to learn and, from experience, I know that some of them could keep me busy for up to two years. Twelve to go. Two years each. (Shudder.) Hopefully I can learn them all before retirement, assuming my fingers, feet, and mind hold out! I'm not trying to be greedy. It's just that I'd hate to miss out on being able to play any one of these unique works. Twelve down, twelve to go. The race is on!
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I'd like to welcome a new composer to the Composition Free Exchange page. This week I posted Mike Boyadjian's "St. Keiran's Mass" for choir.
This week I added William Picher, Diana Norton-Jackson, Art Sulit, and Richard deCosta to the Independent Musicians page. Welcome!
"Bach in Context," a six-concert series at Miller Theatre (Columbia University), Riverside Church, St. Paul's Chapel (C.U.), and St. Michael's Church, examines different aspects of Bach's massive output in carefully chosen evenings of music.
Have a great week!
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