RE YOU A PERSON who frequently reads Blogs? I bet you’ve been waiting for the “perfect” Blog entry to come along—the one you’ve been dreaming about all these years. Well, guess what? This is it, because I have something amazing to share with you. I hope you’ll take the time to read what I have to say, and I hope you enjoy what I share. I also really hope I can finish typing this Blog before my daughter wakes up (the poor thing hasn’t been feeling well and I need to help take care of her).
First, you need the back story. I will explain it the way they explained it to me in Musicology Graduate school: hopefully I remember all the details correctly. You might pull down the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians to “fact check” this entry. You see, most people don’t realize that Bach was actually a piano salesman toward the end of his life. In connection with this, he went to visit Frederick the Great of Prussia, who was also the employer of Bach’s son. Frederick was a musician, and wrote Bach an extremely complicated theme. He said to Bach, “I bet you can’t write a fugue on this theme!” Well, in case you don’t know, Johann Sebastian Bach was an astounding musical genius, one of the very greatest of all time. He took Frederick’s theme and wrote several unbelievable canonic variations on it called the “Musical Offering.”
Now for Part II of the story. Edwin Fischer was a phenomenal Swiss pianist who was particularly interested in the music of Bach. He arranged this “Musical Offering” for his chamber group and recorded it several times. At the conservatory where I studied piano, Sequeira Costa was an Artist in Residence. I was friends with most of his students, and one of them gave me a live recording of Edwin Fischer conducting his arrangement of part of the “Musical Offering.” By the way, Costa and Fischer toured together many years ago, playing four-hand music. I had heard the Fischer recording many times, and loved it, but I had never heard this particular “live” version before.
Here is an excerpt: Excerpt of Live Recording / Edwin Fischer, Conductor [Mp3]
Listen to how it starts out very soft and slow. You can tell the fugue subject is quite complicated and chromatic. As you continue to listen, you will notice that Bach builds … builds … and builds. The culmination will melt your heart. It is tremendously beautiful and passionate: even after all these years, I start crying when I hear it. I feel tingles down my spine.
I hope to add more Blog entries as time goes on. There is so much unbelievable music I would love to talk about and share with you. By the way, I love music so much, I tend to use (abuse?) words like “favorite’: “best ever”; “most amazing”; etc.