About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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“Since the ability of Francisco Guerrero is now abundantly known to all […] he shall henceforth act as master of the boys so long as: ( 1) he must teach them to read, write, and to sing the responsories, versicles, antiphons, lessons, and kalends, and other parts of divine service; (2) he shall teach them plainchant, harmony, and counterpoint, his instruction in counterpoint to include both the art of adding a melody to a plainsong and to an already existing piece of polyphonic music; (3) he shall always clothe them decently and properly, see that they wear good shoes, and ensure that their beds are kept perfectly clean; (4) he shall feed them the same food that he himself eats and never take money from them for anything having to do with their services in church or their musical instruction…” [cont’d]
— Málaga Cathedral Document (11 September 1551)

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Live Recording — Small Choir of Ninth Grade Singers (October, 2006)
published 15 April 2014 by Jeff Ostrowski

665 Glenn Gould Y WIFE AND I recently celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. Naturally, on that day, our air conditioning system and electric power malfunctioned … but it was still great.

Looking back over seven wonderful years, my thoughts went to when we first got married, when I was still teaching at a (brand new) Catholic high school. Specifically, I recalled how insane I used to be!

I would force my ninth grade students to listen to Bach’s Art of the Fugue (as well as the students in detention), and they were graded on being able to point out where the various fugue subjects entered: in augmentation, diminution, inverted, and so forth.

Non-musicians might have a hard time understanding what a quodlibet, canon, or fugue is … and who can blame them? Perhaps it would help if they listened to an ingenious combination of two patriotic songs. Credit for the idea of mixing them goes to Glenn Gould. You can download the complete score for piano & mixed chorus:

      * *  PDF Download: Glenn Gould Patriotic Quodlibet

… or you can listen to the following recorded excerpt (the part wherein two patriotic tunes are combined):

      * *  Gould/Ostrowski Quodlibet — A small choir of 9th grade singers (October (2006)

Did you hear the two melodies mixed together? If you did, you get a cookie!

WHAT CAN ONE SAY about Bach’s Art of the Fugue? Marvelous. Simply marvelous. Here’s a splendid example played by Gould on the piano:


Here’s the same piece played by Gould on the organ. For the record, critics with no imagination and inferior musical sensibilities tend not to enjoy Gould’s organ playing, but I love it. I think I read somewhere that Gould was originally an organist.


I should be careful when it comes to reminiscences of the past. I have a video of myself conducting 10 years ago and it’s pretty horrible! I may post it one of these days in a moment of weakness … stay tuned!