Recital and the WTC

Thank you everyone for a great Recital! I was very proud of everyone's performances, and grateful for all the help I received in coordinating it.

This month's post will be inspired by my song choice from the recital. As my piano teacher from high school will attest, I always hated to play Bach. His music is very intellectual, but it is not as overtly passionate as other periods and composers. I told myself it was unninovative and not interesting enough to play. However, in the years since then, I began to hear the brilliance in Bach’s music.
The Toccata and Fugue in d minor for the organ is quite powerful, and the Prelude from Cello Suite No. 1 never fails to get me choked up. I found myself really beginning to appreciate the brilliance of Bach's music. So, for this next recital, I decided to face my old arch-nemesis and attempt a Prelude and Fugue from the Well-Tempered Clavier.

A fugue is a piece of music that has several overlapping melodies, instead of a traditional melody/harmony schemata like we are so used to hearing in genres like pop and jazz. The fugue that I picked has 4 voices. I was both surprised and delighted to find that it was not as difficult as I had anticipated, and I found myself wondering at the mind that could weave this intricate blend, and yet make it seem so simple. Learning this piece was like finding a perfect spiderweb, glistening with dewdrops.

So, I have now added to my bucket list to play my way through both books of the Well-Tempered Clavier, which interestingly enough was written to demonstrate the sympathetic tuning of a piano. The predecessors to our modern-day piano, such as the harpsichord and clavichord, were tuned with perfect pitch. This ironically made it impossible to play in some tonalities. Then some very intelligent people, no one is exactly sure who, decided to tune to sympathetic vibrations instead of perfect pitch. This was achieved with Pythagorean mathematics in roughly the early 1600’s, thus making the piano circular in its tuning (ever wonder why all the C’s sound the same?) and we can now play in any tonality with the same results.