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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“In spite of what it is currently called, the music of these songs is not modern: this musical style is not new, but has been played in the most profane places and surroundings (cabarets, music halls, often for more or less lascivious dances with foreign names). The people are led on to rock or swing. They all feel an urge to dance about. That sort of “body language” is certainly alien to our Western culture, unfavorable to contemplation and its origins are rather suspect. Most of the time our congregations, which already find it hard not to confuse the crochets and the quavers in a 6/8 bar, do not respect the rhythm; then one no longer feels like dancing, but with the rhythm gone to pieces, the habitual poorness of the melodic line becomes all the more noticeable.”
— Unnamed choirmaster (Northern France) circa 1986

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!