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100 concerts en 100 jours avec ou sans public au Wigmore Hall

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100 concerts en 100 jours avec ou sans public au Wigmore Hall

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Dans Wigmore, il y a “More” et en effet la fameuse salle de récitals située à Londres s’engage, malgré la situation sanitaire catastrophique, à proposer -très probablement- plus de concerts que partout ailleurs :

100 concerts en 100 jours et plus encore : le confinement étant prolongé au Royaume-Uni, le Wigmore Hall (prestigieuse salle de concerts londonienne) prolonge sa série -presque- quotidienne de concerts gratuits (avec retransmission en direct, puis disponible pendant 30 jours).

Dans un premier temps, le Wigmore Hall prévoyait une jauge de 56 spectateurs (soit seulement 10% de sa capacité) montant progressivement à 112, mais pouvant tout aussi bien et à tout moment retomber à 0. C’est effectivement la jauge nulle qui sera la règle jusqu’à mi-février au moins dans ce Royaume terrassé par le nouveau variant du Coronavirus.

Nous vous donnons ainsi rendez-vous pour suivre l’intégralité de cette série de concerts : vidéos déjà disponibles et rendez-vous à venir.

C’est le fameux baryton Christian Gerhaher qui ouvrit les festivités en chantant le retour à la musique grâce à un programme Schubert et Berg accompagné par le pianiste Gerold Huber. C’est d’ailleurs un autre fameux baryton qui refermait ce premier cycle de concerts (le 22 décembre 2020) : Sir Simon Keenlyside accompagné par Malcolm Martineau.

Celui-ci accompagnait également la mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly puis le baryton Florian Boesch (les 16 et 17 septembre). Simon Lepper (que nous interrogions au sujet de la forme récital) jouait ensuite Strauss, Coleridge-Taylor et Mahler avec la soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn (23 septembre). Le surlendemain, c’est au luth que Matthew Wadsworth accompagna la soprano Carolyn Sampson pour Dowland, Johnson, Purcell et Snowden.

Gerald Finley (baryton-basse) et Julius Drake (piano) jouent le 26 septembre FauréDuparcBarber, suivi par des concerts des frères Capuçon (et même ensemble). Septembre lyrique se termine avec le célèbre ténor national Ian Bostridge accompagné par Imogen Cooper (le 30 septembre). Aucune interruption ne fut pourtant marquée à ce moment et la voix de Sabine Devieilhe résonne dès le 4 octobre avec Alexandre Tharaud (compte-rendu de leur précédent récital).

Les récitals lyriques se poursuivent, avec Robin Tritschler (ténor) et Graham Johnson au piano, Louise Alder (soprano) et Roger Vignoles, Marianne Crebassa (mezzo-soprano) et Alphonse CeminAshley Riches (baryton-basse) et Sholto Kynoch, Allan Clayton (ténor) et James Baillieu, Katharina Konradi (soprano) et Joseph Middleton, Claron McFadden (soprano) et Alexander Melnikov James Gilchrist (ténor) et Anna Tilbrook, Mary Bevan (soprano) et Joseph Middleton, Nicky Spence (ténor) et Julius Drake (qui accompagna ensuite la mezzo-soprano Christine Rice).

Une soirée réunit même un trio à cordes, deux pianos, l’acteur Simon Callow et la soprano Lucy Crowe, une autre le trio vocal Sarah Fox (soprano), Kitty Whately (mezzo-soprano) et Alessandro Fisher (ténor) accompagnés par Joseph Middleton au piano. Montrant un certain optimisme vis-à-vis de l’évolution sanitaire, le Wigmore Hall programme même des chorales pour la fin décembre : Tenebrae, Stile Antico et The Cardinall’s Musick.

Le 7 décembre, la révélation du 14 juillet 2020 au Champ-de-Mars Fatma Said est même indiquée comme interprète pour son concert d’1h30 sans entracte (format de tous ces rendez-vous), idem pour le contre-ténor Iestyn Davies la semaine suivante.

100 concerts sheet music pdf

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Trouvez et télechargez les meilleures partitions musicales de musique classique et moderne dans notre bibliothèque.

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Saint Coltrane: The Church Built On ‘A Love Supreme’

John Coltrane composed these words in December 1964, as part of a poem he called A Love Supreme. He included the poem in the inside gatefold of an album by the same name, released the following year. That same year, a young couple in San Francisco heard Coltrane in concert, sharing a jolt of higher purpose when he seemed to fix them in his sights with the bell of his saxophone.

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That couple, Franzo and Marina King, went on to establish a church devoted to Coltrane and his spiritual message, incorporating A Love Supreme as their chief liturgical text. Their house of worship — known today as the St. John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church — has survived decades of change in a gentrifying city, while making a few notable revisions to its charter.

coltrane sheet music

In this 20-minute documentary short, Jazz Night in America pays a visit to the Coltrane Church, thoughtfully tracing its winding history — including a tumultuous period when Alice Coltrane, John’s widow, bestowed and then revoked her support. We’ll delve into the spiritual mysteries of A Love Supreme, from “Acknowledgment” to “Psalm,” and consider what it means to be of service — to a calling, to a community, and to the music that sparked it all.

Saint Coltrane: The Church Built On ‘A Love Supreme’

John Coltrane – My Favorite Things (1961) (Full Album)


Bass – Steve Davis Drums – Elvin Jones Piano – McCoy Tyner Soprano Saxophone – John Coltrane (tracks: A1, A2) Tenor Saxophone – John Coltrane (tracks: B1, B2)

Recorded at Atlantic Studios, New York, NY Track A1 on October 21, 1960 Track B1 on October 24, 1960 Tracks A2 & B2 on October 26, 1960

Engineer – Phil Iehle, Tom Dowd Producer – Nesuhi Ertegun

Tracks List

A1 My Favorite Things 0:00

A2 Everytime We Say Goodbye 13:43

B1 Summertime 19:27

B2 But Not For Me 31:03

Download John Coltrane’s scores from our Library

John Coltrane

John William Coltrane (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes and was at the forefront of free jazz. He led at least fifty recording sessions and appeared on many albums by other musicians, including trumpeter Miles Davis and pianist Thelonious Monk.

Over the course of his career, Coltrane’s music took on an increasingly spiritual dimension. He remains one of the most influential saxophonists in music history. He received numerous posthumous awards, including a Pulitzer Prize in 2007, and was canonized by the African Orthodox Church. His second wife was pianist and harpist Alice Coltrane. The couple had three children: John Jr. (1964–1982), a bassist; Ravi (born 1965), a saxophonist; and Oran (born 1967), also a saxophonist.

Personal life and religious beliefs

Coltrane was born and raised in a Christian home. He was influenced by religion and spirituality beginning in childhood. His maternal grandfather, the Reverend William Blair, was a minister at an African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in High Point, North Carolina, and his paternal grandfather, the Reverend William H. Coltrane, was an A.M.E. Zion minister in Hamlet, North Carolina. Critic Norman Weinstein noted the parallel between Coltrane’s music and his experience in the southern church, which included practicing music there as a youth.

In 1955, Coltrane married Naima (née Juanita Grubbs). Naima Coltrane, a Muslim convert, heavily influenced his spirituality. When they married, she had a five-year-old daughter named Antonia, later named Syeeda. Coltrane adopted Syeeda. He met Naima at the home of bassist Steve Davis in Philadelphia. The love ballad he wrote to honor his wife, “Naima”, was Coltrane’s favorite composition.

In 1956 the couple left Philadelphia with their six-year-old daughter in tow and moved to New York City. In August 1957, Coltrane, Naima and Syeeda moved into an apartment on 103rd St. and Amsterdam Ave. in New York. A few years later, John and Naima Coltrane purchased a home at 116-60 Mexico Street in St. Albans, Queens. This is the house where they would break up in 1963.

About the breakup, Naima said in J. C. Thomas’s Chasin’ the Trane, “I could feel it was going to happen sooner or later, so I wasn’t really surprised when John moved out of the house in the summer of 1963. He didn’t offer any explanation. He just told me there were things he had to do, and he left only with his clothes and his horns. He stayed in a hotel sometimes, other times with his mother in Philadelphia.

All he said was, ‘Naima, I’m going to make a change.’ Even though I could feel it coming, it hurt, and I didn’t get over it for at least another year.” But Coltrane kept a close relationship with Naima, even calling her in 1964 to tell her that 90% of his playing would be prayer. They remained in touch until his death in 1967. Naima Coltrane died of a heart attack in October 1996.

In 1957, Coltrane had a religious experience that may have helped him overcome the heroin addiction and alcoholism he had struggled with since 1948. In the liner notes of A Love Supreme, Coltrane states that in 1957 he experienced “by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music.”

The liner notes appear to mention God in a Universalist sense and do not advocate one religion over another. Further evidence of this universal view can be found in the liner notes of Meditations (1965) in which Coltrane declares, “I believe in all religions.”

In 1963, he met pianist Alice McLeod. He and Alice moved in together and had two sons before he became “officially divorced from Naima in 1966, at which time [he] and Alice were immediately married.” John Jr. was born in 1964, Ravi in 1965, and Oranyan (“Oran”) in 1967.

According to the musician Peter Lavezzoli, “Alice brought happiness and stability to John’s life, not only because they had children, but also because they shared many of the same spiritual beliefs, particularly a mutual interest in Indian philosophy. Alice also understood what it was like to be a professional musician.”

After A Love Supreme, many of the titles of his songs and albums had spiritual connotations: Ascension, Meditations, Om, Selflessness, “Amen”, “Ascent”, “Attaining”, “Dear Lord”, “Prayer and Meditation Suite”, and “The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost”. His collection of books included The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, the Bhagavad Gita, and Paramahansa Yogananda‘s Autobiography of a Yogi.

The last of these describes, in Lavezzoli’s words, a “search for universal truth, a journey that Coltrane had also undertaken. Yogananda believed that both Eastern and Western spiritual paths were efficacious, and wrote of the similarities between Krishna and Christ. This openness to different traditions resonated with Coltrane, who studied the Qur’an, the Bible, Kabbalah, and astrology with equal sincerity.” He also explored Hinduism, Jiddu Krishnamurti, African history, the philosophical teachings of Plato and Aristotle, and Zen Buddhism.

In October 1965, Coltrane recorded Om, referring to the sacred syllable in Hinduism, which symbolizes the infinite or the entire universe. Coltrane described Om as the “first syllable, the primal word, the word of power”. The 29-minute recording contains chants from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita and the Buddhist Tibetan Book of the Dead, and a recitation of a passage describing the primal verbalization “om” as a cosmic/spiritual common denominator in all things.

Coltrane’s spiritual journey was interwoven with his investigation of world music. He believed in not only a universal musical structure that transcended ethnic distinctions, but also being able to harness the mystical language of music itself. His study of Indian music led him to believe that certain sounds and scales could “produce specific emotional meanings.” According to Coltrane, the goal of a musician was to understand these forces, control them, and elicit a response from the audience.

He said, “I would like to bring to people something like happiness. I would like to discover a method so that if I want it to rain, it will start right away to rain. If one of my friends is ill, I’d like to play a certain song, and he will be cured; when he’d be broke, I’d bring out a different song, and immediately he’d receive all the money he needed.”

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Norah Jones: singer, songwriter (1979)

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Norah Jones: singer, songwriter

In 2002 Norah Jones, age twenty-two, released her debut full-length album, Come Away with Me. A low-key, acoustic work that defies categorization but includes hints of jazz, traditional pop, country, and folk; the CD is the kind of recording that would ordinarily have sold several thousand copies, earned admiring reviews in the music press, and then faded from view. In the beginning, that is exactly the path the recording seemed to take. But to the surprise of many, including Jones herself, Come Away with Me continued to sell steadily month after month, thanks to outstanding reviews, positive word-of-mouth, and unexpected radio play.

It took nearly a year, but eventually the album reached the number-one position on Billboard ‘s album chart, selling some three million copies over twelve months. By 2004 it had sold eight million copies in the United States and an additional ten million worldwide. Far less well known than her fellow nominees, Jones earned five nominations for Grammy Awards. On February 23, 2003, the night of the 45th Annual Grammy Awards, she went home with an armload of trophies, winning for every category in which she was nominated.

Her follow-up album, Feels Like Home, followed a different, steeper path when released in 2004: Jones’s second effort shot straight to number one, selling one million copies in its first week alone.

“I’m not soft-spoken and romantic, at all. I must be, somewhere deep down, otherwise I wouldn’t like that kind of music. But I’m only like that when I’m on stage. I’m pretty much just loudmouthed, obnoxious, and silly.”

norah jones sheet music pdf

From NYC to Grapevine and back to NYC

Jones was born in New York City in 1979. Her mother, Sue Jones, is a nurse and music promoter. Her father, Ravi Shankar, is a world-famous musician hailing from India. Shankar became widely known for his association with the Beatles and other Western musicians; he taught Beatles’ guitarist George Harrison how to play the sitar, a long-necked Indian stringed instrument, of which Shankar is considered a master.

As early as age three, Jones began showing a keen interest in music, closely watching her father when he played his sitar. At age five she began singing in her church choir. She learned to play several instruments in her youth, primarily studying piano. Shankar and Sue Jones, unmarried when Norah was born, separated when she was still a young child. Sue took her daughter to live in Texas in a suburb of Dallas called Grapevine. Jones lived there for much of her childhood, having no contact with her famous father for ten years. Her musical influences during that time came from her mother’s record collection. She felt especially affected by the works of great jazz, soul, and blues singers, including Etta James, Aretha Franklin, and Billie Holiday. Jones also spent countless hours listening to recordings of musicals such as Cats and West Side Story.

Brit Crooner Jamie Cullum

Norah Jones’s surprising success with a style of music that generally doesn’t reach the top of the Billboard charts has paved the way for similar artists, performers who now see the potential for widespread success with their more traditional musical styles, and whose labels are now more willing to invest in their music. One such performer, Britain’s Jamie Cullum, has crafted a jazz-influenced style for his singing and piano playing, a blend of old-time pop standards and cabaret-style jazz with the occasional rock tune thrown in for good measure.

With Twentysomething, Cullum has taken his native country by storm, selling more records than any other jazz artist in United Kingdom history, and outselling a number of major pop acts as well. He made a splash in the United States when his album was released there in 2004, with many critics comparing his swinging style to that of Norah Jones and Harry Connick Jr., and to the croonings of another famous performer, the late Frank Sinatra.

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Just twenty-three years old at the time of his 2003 U.K. release of Twentysomething, Cullum took his newfound fame in stride, considering it the result of many years of working hard and paying dues. He has been playing guitar and piano since age eight, and he began playing for audiences in clubs and bars at about age fifteen. Encouraged in his love of jazz by his older brother, Ben, Cullum grew up admiring jazz greats Oscar Peterson and Dave Brubeck. In an interview with WWD magazine, he related that he was also heavily influenced by other types of music: “I grew up listening to Public Enemy and Kurt Cobain and the Beastie Boys and Guns N’ Roses.

That’s really the influence that pervades what I do.” He studied film and English literature at Reading University in England, releasing his first album, as the Jamie Cullum Trio, at age nineteen. His second release, Pointless Nostalgic, earned considerable airplay on British radio and earned him a dedicated fan base. The success of that album sparked a bidding war among record labels, with Universal Records winning out. Still in his early twenties, Cullum was signed to a multi-album deal worth over one million dollars.

Cullum has attracted attention for more than just his recorded music: his live performances indicate a young man with over-the-top showmanship. He does more than just play the piano: he bangs on it with his fists, pounds the keys, and occasionally kicks the keys for additional emphasis. When asked by WWD about his exuberant style, Cullum replied: “It’s a very spontaneous thing. I just let myself go at the expense of looking like an idiot all the time and getting really hot and sweaty and not being very classy.”

While some reviewers have criticized Cullum for lacking subtlety, others have praised his boundless energy onstage and applauded his efforts to bring lighthearted fun to music that is usually played with a more serious tone.

During her high school years at Dallas’s Booker T. Washington School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Jones explored her developing passion for jazz. On her sixteenth birthday she gave her first solo performance, singing and playing piano at a coffeehouse on open-mic night, when anyone brave enough can try his or her hand at performing for the public.

During that period Jones also played in a band called Laszlo and tried her hand at composing jazz tunes. She earned recognition from the highly respected jazz magazine Down Beat, winning their Student Music Award (SMA) for Best Jazz Vocalist two years running and also winning an SMA for Best Original Composition. After graduating from high school Jones enrolled at the University of North Texas.

She spent two years there, studying jazz piano and giving solo performances at a local restaurant on weekends. She also became reacquainted with her father, and the two developed a close relationship. The summer after her sophomore year Jones decided to head to New York City and try her luck making it as a musician there.

Pounding the pavement

Working in a restaurant during the day and performing in downtown clubs by night, Jones felt excited to be part of the city’s jazz scene, rather than just studying music in a classroom. She decided to stay in New York, forming a jazz trio, and also performing with other jazz groups, including the Peter Malick Group.

While her professional life revolved mainly around jazz, she began listening often to country music. She told Texas Monthly, “It’s funny, but I got into country music when I moved to New York. I was homesick, so I listened to [renowned country singer-songwriter] Townes Van Zandt.” She created a demo recording of her solo work to send to record labels in the hope of getting a deal, but after a year of passing her demo around with no success, she began to feel discouraged.

On the evening of her twenty-first birthday, Jones gave a performance that connected deeply with a notable member of her audience. Shell White, an employee in the accounting department of the revered jazz label Blue Note, was so struck by Jones’s talents that she arranged for a meeting between the young singer and the label’s chief executive officer (CEO), Bruce Lundvall. After meeting Jones and hearing her sing, Lundvall signed her to a record deal on the spot. Lundvall explained to Time magazine’s Josh Tyrangiel that such impulsive decisions had been made only twice in his career at Blue Note (the other artist was jazz vocalist Rachelle Ferrell). Lundvall described the essence of Jones’s appeal: “Norah doesn’t have one of those over-the-top instruments. It’s just a signature voice, right from the heart to you. When you’re lucky enough to hear that, you don’t hesitate. You sign it.”

“Snorah” Jones makes good

Jones began her relationship with Blue Note by releasing a six-song EP, a less-than-full-length recording, called First Sessions. This CD includes several songs that later showed up on Come Away with Me. For her debut full-length recording, Blue Note paired Jones with veteran producer Arif Mardin, who had worked with such legendary performers as Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield.

When she and Mardin began recording Come Away with Me in May of 2001, Jones showed a preference for a spontaneous style in the studio, aiming to capture the intimate and natural qualities of live performance. She recorded fourteen songs for her debut; Jones wrote a few of the tracks but left most of the composing duties to others, including her boyfriend, bassist Lee Alexander, and New York–based songwriter-guitarist Jesse Harris. She also recorded two songs made famous by musicians legendary in their respective fields: country king Hank Williams (“Cold, Cold Heart”) and revered jazz-pop composer Hoagy Carmichael (“The Nearness of You”).

Released in early 2002, Come Away with Me earned positive reviews. Music critics expressed appreciation for her distinctive voice and authentic, understated style. Many critics wrote of Jones as a promising new artist, a refreshing change of pace from the slick packaging of pop stars like Britney Spears.

Even the most admiring reviewers, however, did not predict that the album would gradually become a smash hit and that Jones would become Blue Note’s best-selling artist ever. Come Away with Me became so successful that it seemed to be everywhere: on the radio, on television, playing over the public address system in shopping malls. Jones recalled to Tyrangiel that she heard one of the album’s tracks in an unexpected place: “Once on a plane—you know how they play elevator music before you take off?—they played one of the songs.”

The album’s exposure became so great that a small backlash arose, with some music journalists declaring that the attention was nothing but hype, and criticizing Jones’s music as bland and boring. Some even started calling her “Snorah Jones,” a nickname Jones found amusing rather than hurtful. She confided to Tyrangiel, “My mom calls me Snorah all the time now.”

The “insanity,” as Jones frequently characterized the buzz surrounding her debut, seemed to reach a peak when the album was nominated for eight Grammy Awards. Competing against such high-profile artists as Bruce Springsteen and Eminem, Jones swept the awards ceremony in February of 2003.

The album won all eight awards for which it was nominated, with Jones receiving five awards and the three others going to producer Mardin, the album’s engineers, and songwriter Jesse Harris for “Don’t Know Why.” Among Jones’s victories were trophies for Album of the Year and Best New Artist. As the ceremony progressed, Jones began to feel overwhelmed, as she related in Texas Monthly: “I felt like I was in high school and all the popular kids were in the audience and were, like, ‘What’s she doing up there?’ I felt like I had gone in a birthday party and eaten all the cake before anyone else got a piece.” Some aspects of her newfound fame pleased her, especially the positive reception from most critics and her increased ability to control the direction of her career. But for the most part Jones retreated from the spotlight. She preferred the idea of being a member of a group rather than a solo star, telling Billboard ‘s Melinda Newman, “Deep down, in my gut, all I want to be is part of a band.”

In the beginning, she didn’t feel entirely comfortable performing in concert, making music videos, or talking to the press. Jones sought a quiet lifestyle, unexpected for such a young musician, preferring low-key get-togethers with her bandmates to late-night partying at clubs.

A homey follow-up

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When work began on a follow-up album, Feels Like Home, many music-industry insiders speculated that it would take a miracle for the second album to sell as well as the first. Such predictions did not faze Jones. Her primary focus was the music; she was eager to branch out on her second album and explore different styles, having shifted away from jazz and toward country in her listening habits and writing.

For Feels Like Home, Jones took a greater role in the songs’ composition, writing or cowriting six of the album’s thirteen tracks. The album was recorded after a series of collaborative sessions with bandmates, with each member contributing to various aspects of the project. Guest artists included country-music mainstay Dolly Parton and, from the influential rock group the Band, Levon Helm and Garth Hudson.

After the phenomenal success of her debut, people throughout the industry—record label executives, music retailers, and journalists—as well as millions of fans eagerly anticipated Jones’s follow-up. Released in early 2004, Feels Like Home was snapped up by one million buyers in its first week, resulting in an instant rise to the numberone position on Billboard ‘s album chart. Determined to let her second album’s reception happen somewhat naturally, Jones pressured Blue Note to devise an understated publicity campaign that wouldn’t blanket the television and radio airwaves with commercials for Feels Like Home.

Blue Note CEO Lundvall told Billboard ‘s Newman, “We’re not hyping the record. We’re not going out there and advertising all over the world.” For her part, Jones remained calm under the intense pressure of following up a debut album that had sold more than eighteen million copies worldwide. She related in Texas Monthly: “It’s funny, but I don’t want to know about sales. I don’t want to read any of the reviews; I don’t want to see any of the articles. I just want to do what I do and have it be as unfussed-with as possible.”

Music reviewers varied in their responses to Feels Like Home. Some expressed a wish that Jones would break out of her mellow approach and make edgier music. David Browne of Entertainment Weekly concluded that “Jones’ voice conveys warmth and contentment but little in the way of urgency or intensity.” Others felt that she had failed to commit to a specific style, instead sampling from a variety of genres. A few complained that Jones had written or chosen too many mediocre songs, relying on her lush vocals to overcome any writing shortcomings.

But numerous critics found plenty to love in Jones’s second release. Tom Moon wrote in, “Far from blanded-out background music, Feels Like Home … is a triumph of the low-key, at once easygoing and poignant.” Matt Collar wrote for All Music Guide that, with Feels Like Home, “You’ve got an album so blessed with superb songwriting that Jones’ vocals almost push the line into too much of a good thing.” At the PopMatters web site, Ari Levenfeld wrote: “While many critics of the album complain about the slow pace of the music, relegating it to little more than background music, it’s hard to believe that they were paying attention. There simply isn’t another singer working in pop music now that holds a candle to Jones.”

Millions of fans seemed to agree with Levenfeld’s assessment, finding Jones to be a breath of fresh air in a stale pop landscape. She is a musician who has sought success but not necessarily stardom, and who seems more likely to share the spotlight than grab it for herself. At a time when young pop singers belt out every note with over-the-top passion, Jones opts for subtlety, understanding that a low-key voice stripped to its essence can pack a greater punch than one bellowed out at top volume. Tyrangiel explained, “She never fails to choose simple over flamboyant, never holds a note too long. She may prove to be the most natural singer of her generation.”

Norah Jones Greatest Hits (Full Album 2020)

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Sarah Vaughan – American singer and pianist (1924-1990)

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Sarah Vaughan – American singer and pianist

Sarah Vaughan, long considered one of America’s greatest
vocalists, was known for her incredible range, the power
and throaty richness of her voice, and the exceptional
control she had over her instrument. Her performances
and recordings influenced countless singers around the
world, even during her lifetime. In the pantheon of great
jazz singers, Vaughan is in the uppermost firmament
along with Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, according
to many music lovers and critics.

“Her voice had wings: luscious and tensile, disciplined
and nuanced, it was as thick as cognac, yet soared off
the beaten path like an instrumental solo … that her
voice was a four-octave muscle of infinite flexibility
made her disarming shtick all the more ironic,” wrote
music critic Gary Giddins.

Vaughan was born in Newark, New Jersey on March 27, 1924.

Her father was a carpenter and her mother worked
as a laundress. Music permeated their daily lives as both
of her parents were skilled amateur musicians. From an
early age, Vaughan learned how to sing and play piano
and organ. Initially, her prodigious talents were directed
towards sacred worship at Newark’s Mount Zion Baptist
Church, which is still flourishing at 208 Broadway. She is
probably the church’s most famous member, according
to the church website.

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But Vaughan was itchy to get out of the church pews and into
the limelight. She got her first taste of stardom when she took
part in an amateur night contest at the famous Apollo
Theater. She won the competition with her version of the song
“Body and Soul” in 1942, instantly marking her for greater
things. Earl Hines, a big band leader, hired her to be a pianist
and singer after her performance. In 1944, she joined the
band of vocalist and bandleader Billy Eckstine.

From there, she began a steady climb in her career as
a soloist, notching performances with some of the greatest
jazz artists in the 20th century. These performers included
Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Benny Carter,
Frank Foster and Quincy Jones. It was her connection
with Parker and Gillespie that gave Vaughan her entrée
into bebop. She adopted the inventive sounds of bebop
and incorporated it into her singing, especially in the
scatting for which she best known.

Vaughan toured widely across the world, showcasing her
irrepressible vocal stylings. She performed in both intimate
cabaret settings and large scale concerts with prestigious
orchestral ensembles such as the Boston Pops, Cleveland
Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic, just to name a
few. Additionally, Vaughan performed at Newport Jazz
Festival several times and worked with festival producer,
George Wein on concerts all over the world.

Vaughan also expanded her audience greatly when she
started singing pop songs. As she grew older, Vaughan’s
voice became deeper and darker, which prompted music
lovers to say her voice was reaching its peak like fine wine.

Vaughan gave her last concert in 1989 at the Blue Note,
a legendary New York City jazz club. The following year,
Vaughan died at 66 years old on April 3rd of lung cancer.
She died at her home in Hidden Hills, just outside of Los
Angeles, California and a world away from her humble
beginnings in Newark.

Her 1990 obituary from the Los Angeles Times stated
that she passed away with her mother Ada and
adopted daughter Paris Deborah at her bedside.
In her obituary, music critic Martin Bernheimer said:
“Sarah Vaughan had a voice of extraordinary sweetness,
flexibility and purity, and she used it with uncanny
insinuation throughout a wide range. She could have
taught many an opera diva lessons in breath control,
in legato phrasing and in expressive communication.
She was a great singer. Period.”

For her funeral, Vaughan’s family held the service at the
same place where people got to hear her talents first:
Mount Zion Baptist Church in Newark.

″A Newark girl comes home, having gone full circle,″ said
the Rev. Granville E. Seward, pastor of Mount Zion Baptist
Church at the time, ″and what a circle that has been.″
“I just sing,” Vaughan once said of herself.
“I sing whatever I can.”

Select Discography

• Send in the Clowns, with Count Basie Orchestra
• Irving Berlin Songbook, with Billy Eckstine
• At the Blue Note
• In a Romantic Mood
• I Cover the Waterfront
• Lover Man, with George Treadwell Orchestra, Richard
Maltby String Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker
• The Divine Sarah Vaughan: the Columbia Years
• Sarah Vaughan in Hi-Fi, with Miles Davis
• Sarah Vaughan, with Clifford Brown
• Sassy Swings the Tivoli

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JAZZ PORTRAITS (2000–2010)

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Courtesy of the Journal of Jazz Studes. The images collected here, unless otherwise indicated, are all from events in the New York City area.

Musicians featured in this collection of Ed Berger’s photographs include Eric Alexander, Geri Allen, Billy Bang, Eddie Bert, Ray Bryant, Candido, Ron Carter, Marc Cary, Dave Douglas, Kurt Elling, Ned Goold, Wycliffe Gordon, Henry Grimes, Chico Hamilton, Roy Hargrove, Barry Harris, Jon Hendricks, Fred Hersch, Ingrid Jensen, Howard Johnson, Kidd Jordan, Teo Macero, Russell Malone, Branford Marsalis, Christian McBride, Grachan Moncur III, Paul Motian, Nicki Parrott, Les Paul, Jeremy Pelt, Houston Person, Riza Printup, Dizzy Reece, Eric Reed, Sam Rivers, Scott Robinson, Fred Staton, George Wein, Frank Wess, Joe Wilder, and Jackie Williams.

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The Journal of Jazz Studies (JJS) is published by the Institute of Jazz Studies at the Newark campusof Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. The editors of JJS are Edward Berger, HenryMartin, and Dan Morgenstern; the managing editor is Evan Spring. JJS is hosted online by the Rutgers University Libraries at

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Edward Berger

The images collected here, unless otherwise indicated, are all from events in the New York City area. Those from 2006 and earlier were made on film using Leica 35mm or Pentax medium format equipment. All images from 2007 and after were made using Nikon digital cameras. I would like to thank Jack Kleinsinger, longtime producer of the Highlights in Jazz concert series; Loren Schoenberg of the Jazz Museum in Harlem and Tim McHenry of the Rubin Museum of Art, producers of the Harlem in the Himalayas concert series; and Lynne Mueller of the Jazz Ministry at St. Peter’s Church for allowing me to photograph at their events.

Musicians featured in this collection of Ed Berger’s photographs include Eric Alexander, Geri Allen, Billy Bang, Eddie Bert, Ray Bryant, Candido, Ron Carter, Marc Cary, Dave Douglas, Kurt Elling, Ned Goold, Wycliffe Gordon, Henry Grimes, Chico Hamilton, Roy Hargrove, Barry Harris, Jon Hendricks, Fred Hersch, Ingrid Jensen, Howard Johnson, Kidd Jordan, Teo Macero, Russell Malone, Branford Marsalis, Christian McBride, Grachan Moncur III, Paul Motian, Nicki Parrott, Les Paul, Jeremy Pelt, Houston Person, Riza Printup, Dizzy Reece, Eric Reed, Sam Rivers, Scott Robinson, Fred Staton, George Wein, Frank Wess, Joe Wilder, and Jackie Williams.

Thanks, also, to the musicians for their indulgence. In order to limit the file size, these photos are intended for online viewing at normal screen size. Anyone wanting to purchase prints may contact at

EDWARD BERGER recently retired after three decades at the Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS) to pursue freelance writing and photography. He is a regular contributor to JazzTimes as both writer and photographer, and author or coauthor of three works in the Scarecrow Press/IJS Studies in Jazz series: Benny Carter: A Life in American Music; Bassically Speaking: An Oral History of George Duvivier; and Reminiscing in Tempo: The Life and Times of a Jazz Hustler, the memoirs of producer Teddy Reig. His photographs have appeared in many periodicals as well as on recordings by such artists as Benny Carter, Phil Woods, Frank Wess, Quincy Jones, and Ray Bryant. He is currently working on a biodiscography of trumpeter Joe Wilder.

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Johann Sebastian Bach – Eine Chronologie

Johann Sebastian Bach – Eine Chronologie

Johann Sebastian Bach wird am 21. März in Eisenach geboren. Viele Eindrücke und Erlebnisse aus seiner Kindheit in Eisenach begleiteten Bach sein ganzes Leben lang: das als Stadtpfeiferei dienende Elternhaus, die traditionsreiche Lateinschule mit ihrem Schülerchor im alten Dominikanerkloster, die Georgenkirche mit ihrer Orgel, das Rathaus mit den Turmbläsern.

Johann Sebastian Bach noten sheet music

Besuch der Eisenacher Lateinschule

Im Mai stirbt J. S. Bachs Mutter Elisabeth

Tod des Vaters Johann Ambrosius Bach am 20. Februar. Nach dem Tod seiner Eltern kommt J. S. Bach nach Ohrdruf und wohnt im Haus seines 14 Jahre älteren Bruders Johann Christoph, der Organist an der St. Michaeliskirche ist. Gemeinsam mit seinem Bruder Johann Jakob und seinem Vetter Johann Ernst besucht er die Lateinschule, eine damals sehr angesehene Bildungsstätte im Herzogtum Sachsen-Gotha. Er singt im Schülerchor, zu dessen Aufgaben Aufführungen im Ohrdrufer Schloss Ehrenstein und Kurrendesingen gehören. Unter Anleitung Johann Christophs erlernt er das Orgelspielen. Während dieser Zeit wird die Orgel der St. Michaeliskirche gründlich überholt und repariert. Wahrscheinlich eignet sich der junge Johann Sebastian bereits hier die Grundlagen des Orgelbaus an. Seinem älteren Bruder widmet er eine Klavierkomposition (Capriccio E-Dur, 1704). Das Wohnhaus der drei Bach-Brüder fällt 1753 bei einem Großbrand dem Feuer zum Opfer.

J. S. Bach erhält wird Chorknabe an der Michaelisschule in Lüneburg und Schüler Georg Böhms. Besuche bei Johann Adam Reincken in Hamburg. Er setzt sich intensiv mit der norddeutschen Orgeltradition auseinander.
Über die musikalischen Fähigkeiten des jungen Bach konnte lange Zeit nur spekuliert werden – zu gering war die Anzahl aussagekräftiger Quellen über Kindheit und Jugendjahre des Komponisten. 2006 jedoch fand man in der Weimarer Anna-Amalia-Bibliothek Abschriften norddeutscher Orgelwerke, die sich als die frühesten überlieferten Bach-Handschriften überhaupt entpuppen sollten. Die Auswertung des spektakulären Fundes ließ nun einige Aspekte der Bach-Biographik in neuem Licht erscheinen: Anders als oft vermutet, muss Bach bereits als etwa 13-Jähriger über ein außerordentlich hohes musikalisches und spieltechnisches Niveau verfügt haben, denn unter den in Weimar gefundenen Abschriften, die er als Schüler in Lüneburg und Ohrdruf anfertigte, finden sich zwei der anspruchsvollsten Orgelwerke seiner Zeit. Darüber hinaus liefert der Fund wichtige Informationen über ein stets vermutetes, aber nicht nachweisbares persönliches Verhältnis Bachs zum Lüneburger Organisten Georg Böhm (1661–1733). Das von Bach für seine Abschriften verwendete Papier stammt aus Böhms Besitz, vermutlich war der junge Bach während seiner Ausbildung an der Michaelisschule also sogar Schüler oder Geselle des bedeutenden Lüneburger Organisten und Komponisten.

J. S. Bach bewirbt sich erfolgreich für den Organistendienst in Sangerhausen. Das persönliche Eingreifen des Landesherrn führt jedoch zur Bevorzugung eines anderen Kandidaten.

J. S. Bach wird für rund ein halbes Jahr Violinist in der Privatkapelle des Herzogs Johann Ernst III. in Weimar, ist möglicherweise Assistent des Hoforganisten Johann Effler.
Im Juli kommt er nach Arnstadt, um in der Neuen Kirche (heute Bachkirche) die neue Orgel von Johann Friedrich Wender zu prüfen. Später erhält er eine Anstellung als Organist an der Neuen Kirche.
Zwischen 1620 und 1792 leben und wirken in Arnstadt viele Angehörige der Musikerfamilie Bach. Insgesamt 17 Familienmitglieder wurden hier geboren, acht getraut und 25 begraben.

Mehrmonatiger Aufenthalt bei Dietrich Buxtehude in Lübeck. Bach überzieht für diesen Aufenthalt eigenmächtig seinen Urlaub und handelt sich eine scharfe Rüge durch seinen Dienstherrn ein. Die Reise absolviert er zu Fuß.

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Im Juni tritt Bach die Stelle des Organisten der Kirche Divi Blasii in Mühlhausen an. Am 17. Oktober heiratet er in der Kirche zu Dornheim (bei Arnstadt) seine Cousine Maria Barbara.

Im Februar wird die Ratswechselkantate »Gott ist mein König« (BWV 71) feierlich aufgeführt. Es ist eines der wenigen Stücke, die zu Bachs Lebzeiten gedruckt werden. In den Folgejahren erhält Bach weitere Kompositionsaufträge zum Mühlhäuser Ratswechsel, die als Verweis auf fortwährend gute Beziehungen in die Reichsstadt gedeutet werden können.
Die Orgel der Kirche Divi Blasii wird in den 1950er Jahren auf Anregung Albert Schweitzers nach der von Bach 1708 entworfenen Disposition rekonstruiert.
Im Juni wird J. S. Bach als Kammermusikus und Organist an den Hof der Herzöge Wilhelm Ernst und Ernst August von Sachsen-Weimar berufen. Bis 1717 wirkt er hier und komponiert zahlreiche Werke für Orgel und Cembalo sowie mehr als dreißig Kantaten. Seine wichtigste Wirkungsstätte, die Schlosskirche, fällt 1774 einem Brand zum Opfer.

Persönlicher Kontakt zu Georg Philipp Telemann, Austausch von Kompositionen und Notenmaterialien.
Hinweise auf eine persönliche Bekanntschaft zwischen Bach und seinem im nahe gelegenen Eisenach wirkenden Kollegen Telemann finden sich bereits im Briefwechsel zwischen Bachs Sohn Carl Philipp Emanuel und dem Göttinger Gelehrten und ersten Bach-Biographen Johann Nikolaus Forkel. Nach Originaldokumenten, die ein Treffen der beiden Komponisten während Bachs Weimarer Schaffenszeit belegen könnten, wurde jedoch lange Zeit vergeblich gesucht. In den 1980er Jahren schließlich stieß man auf Abschriften eines Telemann-Violinkonzertes, die eindeutig der Feder J. S. Bachs entstammen. Wie eng die Beziehung zwischen Bach und Telemann war, belegt nicht zuletzt die Tatsache, dass der zu dieser Zeit bereits in Frankfurt wirkende Telemann 1714 bei der Taufe von Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Pate stand.

Am 22. November wird der älteste Sohn, Wilhelm Friedemann, geboren

J. S. Bach reist nach Weißenfels. Hier erklingt seine erste weltliche Kantate »Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd« (BWV 208) zum Geburtstag des Fürsten Christian zu Sachsen-Weißenfels. Dieser Aufführung folgen einige Jahre später weitere Gastkonzerte am Weißenfelser Hof, der zu dieser Zeit weit über seine Grenzen hinaus für die hohe Qualität seiner musikalischen Aufführungen geschätzt wird. 1729 schließlich wird Bach vom Weißenfelser Fürsten zum Hochfürstlich Sachsen-Weißenfelsischen Kapellmeister ernannt – ein Amt, das er »von Hause aus«, also ohne seinen Wohnsitz aufgeben zu müssen, ausübt.
Im Dezember absolviert Bach erfolgreich ein Probespiel um die Stelle des Musikdirektors in Halle/Saale. Er lehnt das Amt jedoch ab.

J. S. Bach wird zum Konzertmeister befördert. Damit verbunden ist die Verpflichtung, nun monatlich neue Stücke zu komponieren.
Am 8. März wird Sohn Carl Philipp Emanuel geboren. Einer der Taufpaten ist Georg Philipp Telemann.

Am 11. Mai wird Johann Gottfried Bernhard Bach geboren. Auch er wird später Musiker, es sind jedoch keine Kompositionen überliefert.

Im August unterschreibt Bach seinen Vertrag als Hofkapellmeister des Fürsten Leopold von Anhalt-Köthen – ohne jedoch vorher um seine Entlassung in Weimar gebeten zu haben. Als er dies nachholen möchte, erhält er seine Demission nicht und wird wegen Ungehorsams für einen Monat inhaftiert. Im Dezember wird er aus Haft und Dienstverältnis mit »angezeigter Ungnade« entlassen und tritt die Stelle in Köthen an. Noch im gleichen Monat reist er in seine spätere Wirkungsstätte Leipzig zur Orgelprüfung in der Paulinerkirche.

Als Bach von einer Reise nach Karlsbad zurückkehrt, zu der er den Fürsten begleitet hat, erfährt er vom Tod seiner Frau Maria Barbara, die nach kurzer Krankheit verstorben und bereits begraben ist. Über die genaue Todesursache ist heute nichts mehr bekannt.
Im Herbst reist Bach für ein Probespiel nach Hamburg.

Am 3. Dezember heiratet Bach die Hofsängerin Anna Magdalena Wilcke. Nur wenige Tage später findet auch die Hochzeit des Fürsten Leopold mit Prinzessin Friederica Henrietta von Anhalt-Bernburg statt. Möglicherweise ist sie dafür verantwortlich, dass das Interesse Leopolds an der Musik in dieser Zeit abnimmt. Ab 1722 sieht sich Bach daher nach neuen Stellen um.

Im Februar absolviert Bach die Probe für die Stelle des Thomaskantors in Leipzig. Bereits im Vorjahr war nach dem Tod Johann Kuhnaus Georg Philipp Telemann als dessen Nachfolger ausgewählt worden. Telemann blieb des besseren Verdienstes wegen jedoch in Hamburg. In der zweiten Runde wird dann zunächst Johann Christoph Graupner, zu dieser Zeit Kapellmeister in Darmstadt, ernannt. Da dieser keine Freigabe seines Dienstherrn erhält, wird J. S. Bach mit Wirkung vom 1. Juni neuer Thomaskantor und »director musices« in Leipzig.

Das Verhältnis Bachs zu seinem bisherigen Arbeitgeber Fürst Leopold bleibt unbeschadet. Auch nach seinem Weggang aus Köthen darf Bach den Titel »Kapellmeister« weiter tragen und bekommt jedes Jahr den Auftrag, zum fürstlichen Geburtstag eine Festkantate zu komponieren.
Zu Bachs Amtspflichten als Thomaskantor gehört die wöchentliche Aufführung von Kantaten für den sonn- und festtäglichen Gottesdienst. Etwa 60 Kantaten werden dafür pro Kirchenjahr benötigt; nach Auskunft seines Sohnes Carl Philipp Emanuel soll Bach insgesamt fünf solcher Kantatenjahrgänge komponiert haben, erhalten geblieben sind jedoch nur knapp drei. Bachs erster Leipziger Kantatenjahrgang ist nahezu komplett überliefert, die Verfasser der Kantatentexte sind allerdings weitgehend unbekannt. Bis auf einige Rückgriffe auf ältere Kompositionen aus der Weimarer Zeit handelt es sich bei den Kantaten des ersten Leipziger Jahrgangs um Neukompositionen. Zwar kann Bach sowohl bei der Probenarbeit als auch beim aufwändigen handschriftlichen Kopieren der Stimmen auf die Hilfe älterer Thomaner zurückgreifen; das für die allwöchentliche Kantatenproduktion zu bewältigende Arbeitspensum dürfte aber noch immer immens gewesen sein.

Johann Sebastian Bach noten sheet music

Beginn der Streitigkeiten mit dem Leipziger Universitätsmusikdirektor Johann Gottlieb Görner über die Kompetenzverteilung bei der Musik in der Paulinerkirche.
Am 7. April wird die Johannes-Passion (BWV 245) erstmals aufgeführt.
Es beginnt die 20 Jahre währende fruchtbare Zusammenarbeit mit dem Textdichter Christian Friedrich Henrici alias Picander
Es entsteht der 2. Leipziger Kantatenjahrgang (»Choralkantatenjahrgang«)
Mit dieser Kantatenserie greift Bach eine Technik auf, der sich bereits Johann Schelle, einer seiner Vorgänger im Thomaskantorat, bedient hatte: als Grundlage der Kantate wird ein bekanntes evangelisches Kirchenlied gewählt, das im Eingangschoral kunstvoll verarbeitet und im Ausgangschoral unverändert übernommen wird, in den Zwischenteilen aber entscheidende musikalische und textliche Veränderungen erfährt. Die Inhalte der Mittelstrophen werden in Arien- und Rezitativform umgedichtet und somit die alte Tradition der Choralkantate mit der an der italienischen Oper orientierten modernen Kantatenform verknüpft. Die konsequente Einhaltung dieses Prinzips verbot Bach den Rückgriff auf älteres Material – auch bei den Kantaten des zweiten Leipziger Jahrgangs handelt es sich daher fast ausschließlich um Neukompositionen.

Es ensteht der 3. Kantatenjahrgang

Am 11. April wird die Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244, 1. Fassung) erstmals aufgeführt.

Ab März übernimmt Bach das Schott’sche Collegium Musicum
Zu Beginn des 18. Jahrhunderts etablierte sich parallel zum kirchlichen und höfischen Musikleben in nahezu allen europäischen Musikzentren ein florierender bürgerlicher Konzertbetrieb. Zu den wichtigsten Institutionen der frühen bürgerlichen Musikpflege zählen die Collegia Musica – Ensembles, die sich hauptsächlich aus Laienmusikern zusammensetzten und regelmäßig private und öffentliche Konzerte veranstalteten.
Das von Bachs 1729 übernommene Collegium Musicum hatte zuvor dem scheidenden Neukirchenorganisten Georg Balthasar Schott unterstanden. Es fand seine Heimat im Lokal Gottfried Zimmermanns, dem Betreiber eines der größten und beliebtesten Leipziger Kaffeehäuser. Hier fanden die Proben und wöchentlichen Konzerte statt, in den Sommermonaten gab es Aufführungen unter freiem Himmel. Neben Werken zeitgenössischer Komponisten präsentierte Bach in diesem Rahmen zahlreiche Eigenkompositionen, darunter die Orchestersuiten (BWV 1066–68), die Violin- und die Cembalokonzerte (BWV 1041–1043 und BWV 1052–58). Zu besonderen Anlässen wie Geburts- und Namenstagen wurden außerdem gesondert Konzerte organisiert, für die Bach zahlreiche weltliche Kantaten beisteuerte. Seine berühmte »Kaffee-Kantate« (BWV 211), eine eindeutige Anspielung auf die Residenz des Collegiums, hat Bach für ein solches »extraordinaires« Konzert komponiert.
Von besonderer Bedeutung war die Arbeit mit dem Collegium Musicum für Bachs Klavierkompositionen: seit seinem Umzug nach Köthen 1717 hatte Bach keine offizielle Tätigkeit als Organist mehr verfolgt, und so boten die Konzerte im Zimmermannschen Kaffeehaus eine willkommene Gelegenheit, sich in Leipzig nicht nur als Kantor und Musikdirektor, sondern auch als Tastenvirtuose unter Beweis zu stellen.
Auch in seiner Stellung als Thomaskantor konnte Bach vom Collegium Musicum profitieren, denn hier fand er fähige Aushilfsmusiker für Aufführungen mit größerer Besetzung, die er mit den Thomanern allein nicht hätte bewerkstelligen können.

Bach verfasst die zehnseitige Eingabe »Kurzer, jedoch höchst nötiger Entwurf einer wohlbestallten Kirchenmusik«, der den Rat der Stadt bewegen soll, ihm ausreichende Mittel für Chor und Orchester zur Verfügung zu stellen

Am 23. März wird die Markuspassion (BWV 247) erstmals aufgeführt

Am 21. Juni wird Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach geboren.

Bach überreicht das Kyrie und das Gloria der Messe in h-Moll (BWV 232 I-II) an den neuen Sächsischen Kurfürsten Friedrich August II. in Dresden – verbunden mit der Hoffnung auf den prestigeträchtigen Titel eines sächsischen Hofkomponisten oder Kapellmeisters

Vom 25. Dezember bis 6. Januar werden erstmals die sechs Teile des Weihnachtsoratoriums (BWV 248) aufgeführt

Am 5. September wird Johann Christian Bach geboren.

Es entbrennt ein Streit zwischen Bach und Thomasschulrektor Johann August Ernesti um die Kompetenz zur Ernennung von Chorpräfekten (»Präfektenstreit«).
Im November wird Bach nach wiederholter Anfrage zum Kurfürstlich Sächsischen und Königlich Polnischen Hof-Compositeur ernannt. Dadurch wird auch die eigene Position im Kompetenzstreit mit der Leipziger Obrigkeit gestärkt

Bach reist erstmals nach Berlin. Anlässlich der Hochzeit des Arztes Georg Ernst von Stahl wird dort die Kantate »O holder Tag, erwünschte Zeit« (BWV 210) aufgeführt.
Lange war über die Entstehungsgeschichte dieses Werks kaum etwas bekannt, lediglich das Entstehungsdatum konnte grob auf den Zeitraum zwischen 1738 und 1741 eingegrenzt werden. Der Empfänger der Glückwunschkantate wurde im Kreise der Leipziger Gönnerschaft Bachs gesucht, konkrete Hinweise blieben aber aus.

Vor wenigen Jahren trat schließlich eine bis dahin nicht in Betracht gezogene Persönlichkeit als möglicher Empfänger der Kantate aufs musikhistorische Parkett: der Berliner Leibarzt und Hofrat Georg Ernst von Stahl, der bis dahin weniger als Gönner Bachs selbst, sondern vielmehr als Freund und Förderer seiner Söhne Wilhelm Friedemann und Carl Philipp Emanuel gehandelt wurde.

In einem Auktionskatalog, der den Nachlass des preußischen Leibarztes und Musikliebhabers verzeichnet, fand man neben zahlreichen Musikalien auch den wenig konkreten Verweis auf »Eine Cantate von Johann Sebastian Bach«. Neben diesem Eintrag ist, wie bei Auktionen üblich, eine Losnummer vermerkt – die Ziffer 5. Tatsächlich konnte im Jahr 2000 bei der Durchsicht des für diese »Cantate« in Frage kommenden Notenmaterials ein Treffer gelandet werden: Auf dem Originalstimmensatz der Hochzeitskantate »O holder Tag, erwünschte Zeit« findet sich eine kleine, im Nachhinein mit Tusche hinzugefügte Ziffer – die Losnummer 5.
Die biographischen Daten liefern Anhaltspunkte dafür, dass der Berliner Arzt tatsächlich als Empfänger der Komposition in Erwägung zu ziehen ist: Während seiner ersten Berlin-Reise im August 1741 ist Bach zu Gast im Hause Stahls, und nur einen Monat später feiert dieser seine Hochzeit, für die er bei Bach durchaus eine Festkantate in Auftrag gegeben haben könnte. Bekräftigt wird diese Vermutung schließlich durch eine Textstelle in der Kantate selbst: »So wird an manchem Ort / Dein wohlverdientes Lob erschallen. / Dein Ruhm wird wie ein Demantstein, / Ja, wie ein fester Stahl beständig sein, / Bis daß er in der ganzen Welt erklinge.«
Bislang war dieser schiefen Metapher – Stahl ist mitnichten, wie hier die Dichtung zu suggerieren versucht, härter als Diamant – keine Bedeutung beigemessen worden. Vor dem Hintergrund der geschilderten Erkenntnisse erscheint sie nun aber in neuem Licht – als versteckte Anspielung auf den Empfänger der Kantate.

Im Mai besucht J. S. Bach Friedrich II. in Potsdam und Berlin. Es ist zeitlebens der einzige Anlass, zu dem Bach auf dem Titel einer Zeitung erwähnt wird: Ein unbekannter Redakteur der »Berlinischen Nachrichten« berichtet über die abendliche Ankunft Bachs, über die Begrüßung durch den König, das Spiel auf dem »sogenannten Forte und Piano« und schließlich die Aufgabe des Königs, Bach möge ein vorgegebenes Thema aus dem Stehgreif zu einer Fuge improvisieren – eine Sternstunde der Musikgeschichte, die das berühmte »Musikalische Opfer« zur Folge hatte.

Vollendung der h-Moll-Messe (missa tota, BWV 232)

Der Gesundheitszustand Bachs verschlechtert sich, er laboriert an einem schweren Augenleiden und hat auch motorische Störungen im rechten Arm, seiner Schreibhand.

J. S. Bach unterzieht sich einer Augenoperation durch den berühmten, aber schon damals umstrittenen Augenarzt Sir John Taylor, der vom 4. bis zum 7. April 1750 in Leipzig weilt. Komplikationen erfordern eine Nachoperation. Kurzzeitig kann Bach wieder sehen, wenige Tage vor seinem Tod erleidet er jedoch einen Schlaganfall.
Johann Sebastian Bach stirbt am 28. Juli 1750.

Wie der Vater, so die Söhne

Bereits die von Johann Sebastian Bach um 1735 nach älteren Quellen zusammengestellte Genealogie der „musicalisch-Bachischen Familie“ führt 53 Musiker namentlich an. Mittlerweile sind gut 80 Personen erfasst, die vom 16. Jahrhundert bis zum Tode von Bachs Enkel Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst 1845 als Komponisten, Musiker und zum Teil auch als bildende Künstler tätig waren. Von einzelnen Mitgliedern der älteren Bach-Familie haben sich zahlreiche Kompositionen erhalten; weiteres lässt sich anhand von Inventaren und anderen Dokumenten nachweisen – Quellen, die bislang lediglich von Lokalhistorikern punktuell ausgewertet worden sind. Von den Söhnen Johann Sebastian Bachs sind vier als Berufsmusiker tätig gewesen, zwei weitere konnten ihre musikalischen Anlagen nicht voll entwickeln.

Alle seine fünf Söhne, die das Erwachsenenalter erreichen, treten in die musikalischen Fußstapfen ihres Vaters. Vier von ihnen übertreffen teilweise noch zu Bachs Lebzeiten dessen Ruhm und sind bis heute bekannt.

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-84) ist Organist in Dresden und Halle, Carl Philipp Emanuel (1714-88) wird Hofmusiker am preußischen Königshof Friedrichs II und später Kantor und Musikdirektor am Johanneum in Hamburg.

Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (1732-95) wird Konzertmeister am Bückeburger Hof und Johann Christian Bach (1735-82) schließlich wirkt als Domorganist in Mailand und als Opernkomponist in London.


Der Beitrag der thüringisch-sächsischen Musikerfamilie Bach zur europäischen Musikgeschichte ist ohne Parallele. Aufgabe des Projektes »Bach-Repertorium« ist es, die nachweisbaren musikalischen Werke aller Mitglieder der weit verzweigten Musikerfamilie Bach in Form eines »Catalogue raisonné« zu erschließen, die Dokumente zur Lebens- und Wirkungsgeschichte der Familienmitglieder zu erfassen sowie ausgewählte Werke in wissenschaftlichen Ausgaben vorzulegen. Die gesammelten Informationen sollen sowohl in gedruckter Form als auch online zur Verfügung stehen.

»Bach-Repertorium« ist ein Forschungsprojekt der Sächsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig – angesiedelt im Bach-Archiv Leipzig – und wird aus Mitteln des Packard Humanities Institute (Los Altos, California) gefördert.

Ansprechpartner: Dr. Christine Blanken und Dr. Wolfram Enßlin.

Ist der Geburtstag von Bach am 21. März? 1685

Zu Johann Sebastian Bachs Ehrentag: In manchen und historischen Publikationen – oder auch alternativ – wird als Geburtstag Bachs der 21. März angegeben. Das ist allerdings das Datum des (alten) Julianischen Kalenders, der in Eisenach sogar um 1750 noch Gültigkeit hatte. Nach unserem (Gregorianischen) Kalender war das der 31. März.

Nur so viel vorab zu diesem Thema und auf die Schnelle zur obigen Erklärung noch etwas Background: ob Johann Sebastian Bach nun am 21. März oder am 31. März des Jahres 1685 geboren ist, ist eigentlich … vollkommen wurscht. Aber die Erklärung oben – einem Bach-Freund sei Dank für die kurze Formulierung – wäre schon spannend, wenn wir denn hier von Mitte März lesen, dort von Ende März, wenn es denn um den Geburtstag dieses herausragenden Musikers geht. Aber das führt natürlich in vielen Publikationen viel zu weit. Stellen Sie sich nur eine Einführung vor und dann am dritten Wort ein Sternchen und all diese Hinweise. Nein. Schließlich und endlich hat man sich in der Bach-Wissenschaft – zu der sich “Bach über Bach” ja nicht zählt – geeinigt. Eben auf den 21. März 1685. und da schließen wir uns – weil es eben nicht zu den top wichtigen Geheimnissen und Informationen gehört – einfach an. Und damit sind wir mit Christoph Wolff, herausragendem Bach-Wissenschaftler unseres Zeitalters, dem Bach-Archiv in Leipzig und dem Bachhaus in Eisenach “auf einer Linie”.

Das ist eine antike Postkarte, ganz sicher in vielen 1.000 Stück gedruckt, beschrieben, verschickt, zugestellt, gelesen…

Das ist eine antike Postkarte, ganz sicher in vielen 1.000 Stück gedruckt, beschrieben, verschickt, zugestellt, gelesen...
... der Geburtstag von Johann Sebastian Bach am 21. März, am 31. März, am 21. Mai ... wer interessiert sich denn schon wirklich so sehr dafür?!

… der Geburtstag von Johann Sebastian Bach am 21. März, am 31. März, am 21. Mai … wer interessiert sich denn schon wirklich so sehr dafür?!

Herunterladen Sie die besten klassischen Noten herunter – download the best classical sheet music.

The Best of Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

1. Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F major, BWV 1046 Allegro (00:00​) Adagio (4:43​) Allegro (9:10​) 2. Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048 Allegro (13:40​) Allegro assai (19:11​) Allegro (24:05​) 3. Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049 Presto (31:42​) Andante (36:37​) Affettuoso (39:32​) 4. Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B flat major, BWV 1051 Allegro (45:02​) 5. Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor, BWV 1060 Allegro (50:38​) Largo (54:59​) Allegro (59:32​) 6. Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor, BWV 1067: Menuet (1:02:35​) 7. Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068: Air on the G String (1:05:35​) 8. Cantata BWV 147: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (1:10:07​) 9. Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565 (1:13:32​) 10. Harpsichord Invention No. 1 in C major, BWV 772 (1:22:23​) 11. Harpsichord Invention No 8 in F major, BWV 779 (1:23:43​) 12. Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor, BWV 1067: Badinerie (1:24:42​) 13. Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach: Minuet in G major, BWV Ahn. 114 (1:27:24​) 14. Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach: Musette in D major, BWV Anh.126 (1:28:59​) 15. Violin Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006: Bourée (1:30:06​) 16. Sonata for Viola da Gamba & Harpsichord, BWV 1028 (1:31:48​) 17. Concerto in D minor, BWV 1059: 2nd Movt. (1:35:44​) 18. Cello Suite No. 4 in E-flat major, BWV 1010: Courante (1:38:54​) 19. Cello Suite No. 6 in D major, BWV 1012: Gavotte (1:42:32​) 20. Cello Suite No. 6 in D major BWV 1012: Prelude (1:46:42​)

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Why you should consider adding classical music to your exercise playlist

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Why you should consider adding classical music to your exercise playlist

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For many people, an essential part of any exercise regime is the music that accompanies it. Whether you’re a runner, a rower or a bodybuilder, there’s a good chance you have a favourite selection of tunes and some headphones to help you through.

The right choice of music can inspire, energise and provide much needed distraction. Elite athletes of every discipline are often seen deep in thought, their ears covered by snazzy headphones, in the moments ahead of a big match or race. So what is it about music that helps us to push our bodies towards or through physical discomfort?

We have been exploring this question using a variety of scientific methods. So far, most of our focus had been on various forms of popular music, including rock, dance, hip-hop and R&B, but recently we have been considering the benefits of classical music as an auditory aid to exercise.

As a genre, it is easy to see why classical music appears to be overlooked in terms of people’s choice of workout soundtrack. It often lacks a rhythmic “groove”, and when there are lyrics, they are not easy to sing along with.

Yet there is an inherent and timeless beauty attached to many pieces from the classical repertoire, which might justify their use. Think of the scintillating majesty of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony or the poignancy of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.

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So how can we tap into the beauty of such music and use the sonic peaks and troughs to our advantage during a workout? First, we must understand what the benefits of any music might be in the context of physical exercise.

The role of any workout music is to dull the pain, raise the spirits and possibly make time pass a little faster. Scientists refer to the “dissociative effects” of music, meaning that it helps to distract the mind from internal, fatigue-related symptoms. Recent neuroimaging work by our group has shown the propensity for music to reduce exercise consciousness – essentially, the parts of the brain that communicate fatigue – communicate less when music is playing.

And although music cannot reduce exercisers’ perceptions of exertion at very high work intensity, it can influence the mood-related areas of the brain right up until the point of voluntary exhaustion. So an aesthetically pleasing piece, such as the finale of the William Tell Overture, won’t affect what you feel when your lungs are burning on the treadmill, but might influence how you feel it. In essence, pleasant music can colour one’s interpretation of fatigue and enhance the exercise experience.

It doesn’t stop at feelings and perceptions though. Music can also have an “ergogenic” or work-enhancing effect. The psychologist Mária Rendi used slow and fast movements from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major (op. 92) to examine how music tempo influenced sprint rowing performance over 500 metres. Her findings indicated that both kinds of music led to faster sprint times compared to a no-music control, with the faster tempo (144 beats per minute) leading to a 2.0% performance improvement, and the slower one (76bpm), a 0.6% improvement.

Classically trained

Some members of our team often listen to classical music during a daily run. We find that classical music fires the imagination and generally augments the running experience, particularly when enjoyed in tandem with an inspiring landscape.

But perhaps classical music has the most potent effect when used either before or immediately after exercise. Pre-exercise, its central function is to build energy, conjure positive imagery and inspire movement. Pieces such as Vangelis’s Chariots of Fire, the title track of the eponymous movie, with its pulsating underlying rhythm and familiar cinematic link to glory, can work particularly well.

For a post-workout application, the music needs to be calming and revitalising in order to expedite the body’s return to a resting state. An archetypal piece for this is Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1, a timeless piano solo that envelopes the listener and treats tired muscles to a sonic massage.

To optimise your choice of classical music for exercise, it is important to think of the energy that will be expended during different segments of a workout. The warm-up and stretching will be at a relatively low intensity and the session then builds gradually towards its heart-pumping zenith, with a period of warm-down and revitalisation to end.

Music selection – of any genre – should ideally follow the path of energy expenditure in a workout session (see the list below for some suggestions). Likewise, a particular piece could be saved for those segments that the exerciser finds most arduous, like high-intensity cardio.

Overall, whether or not classical music and exercise are a good match is something each of us needs to decide – musical taste is very personal. But why not mix it up a little? Variety in exercise keeps us fresh and invigorated, so consider a switch in musical accompaniment to keep yourself moving. Swap the rave music for Ravel and substitute breakbeat with a glorious blast of Beethoven.

And if you want some inspiration, here is a playlist compiled by Brunel University London research assistant Luke Howard:

  1. Boléro, by Maurice Ravel, with an average tempo of 70bpm, is excellent for mental preparation before you move. The gentle start, with a tempo close to resting heart rate, belies the transcendent power of this classic.
  2. Juba Dance, from Symphony No. 1 in E minor, by Florence Price, is an engaging symphonic piece that will gently elevate the heart rate during a warm-up phase. It ends with an exhilarating crescendo, leaving you suitably ready for what’s to come.
  3. Part IV. Finale, Allegro Assai, Symphony No. 40 in G minor, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, is a rousing musical work for low-to-moderate intensity segments of your workout. It features what is known as a “Mannheim rocket”, a rollercoaster of a melody, which will get the heart and lungs pumping.
  4. Prélude to Act 1 of Carmen by Georges Bizet, has a rip-roaring tempo (128bpm) that whisks you through any demanding high-intensity segments of your workout. The exquisite melodic and harmonic features of this piece enable you to dissociate from the pain.
  5. Concerto No. 1 in E Major, Op. 8, ‘La Primavera’ by Antonio Vivaldi, is great for a warm-down, and keeping a spring in your stride as you gradually return towards a resting state. The beautifully orchestrated strings give this opus a pronounced recuperative quality.

Read the full article here.

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Khatia Buniatishvili “Beyond the Eccentricity of Planet Pogorelich”

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Khatia Buniatishvili “Beyond the Eccentricity of Planet Pogorelich”

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One of the most visually glittering pianists today, Khatia Buniatishvili steadily appears on television sets, front covers of glossy magazines and every imaginable social media outlet. She certainly attracts attention; on the cover of a recent Schubert release, Khatia takes on the physical persona of the famous corpse Ophelia, prompting a critic to sheepishly ask, “artistic or airheaded?”

Khatia Buniatishvili Plays Schubert, released in 2019

Unquestionably, she is one of the most highly sought after pianists, and readily appears in the world’s most prestigious concert halls. And it is her appearance in outfits with often plunging necklines that have earned her various nicknames, including the “Betty Boop” of the piano, and “the pop star of the classical music world.” For some, Khatia is a phenomenon “titillating the classical public… shaking and disrupting this fragile world.” To others, she is a “Lady Gaga or Beyoncé craving attention, with fashion as the best kind of projection.” To me, this simply begs the question of what makes Khatia Buniatishvili tick.

Khatia Buniatishvili was born in the town of Batoumi near the Black Sea on 21 June 1987. At that time, Georgia was still under Soviet authority, and life was anything but placid. When Georgia declared independence in 1991, every day became a struggle for survival and for keeping poverty at bay. “Early on, I got a taste of what real discipline is,” she explains, “and of how a human being can develop their imaginary world amidst a schedule that’s busy and difficult both mentally and physically.”

Khatia was introduced to music by her mother, who apparently also instilled her with a sense of fashion by “sewing together magnificent dresses for her two daughters from bits of cloth she had managed to scavenge.” Khatia had discovered the piano at the age of three, and her mother would leave a new musical score on the piano each day. By age 6, Khatia first appeared publically with the Tbilisi Chamber Orchestra in the Concerto Op. 44 by Isaac Berkovich, a composer closely associated with the Soviet regime. That highly successful debut resulted in the invitation to tour internationally with the orchestra.

Khatia Buniatishvili in Berlin

In Tbilisi, Khatia took lessons with the renowned Georgian Chopin interpreter Tengiz Amirejibi, and it was during a local piano competition that she met Oleg Maisenberg. He convinced her to come to Vienna and study with him. She arrived in Vienna full of enthusiasm, and became an eager student. “I wanted to absorb everything I could, and the University had virtually unlimited knowledge on offer.” She still has only praise for Oleg Maisenberg, whom she describes as a magnificent musician of unlimited imagination and depth. “Every lesson was a work of art and remains deeply engraved in my memory.”

Khatia’s rise to fame began in earnest in 2008, when she was awarded the 3rd prize and the Public prize by the prestigious Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master competition in Tel-Aviv. In the same year she was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall, and she issued her first album in 2011 with works by Franz Liszt. Concurrently with her rapid rise to fame, Khatia is determined to follow her own path. And once she sits down at the piano, everything goes, including attitude, emotion, and outfit.

Khatia Buniatishvili

Khatia Buniatishvili is adamant about the freedom of her performances, and she defends her right to “re-appropriate each work and to perform them without necessarily respecting the tradition or model imposed by her predecessors.” The human being stands squarely in the center of her art, as “we can subtly reveal our emotions all the while staying perfectly intimate with our instrument.” Emotion is her guiding and motivating force, and she is in love with complexity and paradoxes, not complications and oppositions.

Her music is fundamentally bound to political activism, as she is involved in numerous social rights project, including among others the DLDwomen13 Conference in Munich, or the United Nation’s 70th Anniversary Humanitarian Concert benefiting Syrian refuges. Khatia Buniatishvili refuses all invitations to perform in Russia as long as president Putin is in power. As to Khatia’s musical performances, they have either been called “hauntingly original” or “beyond the eccentricity of Planet Pogorelich.”

This fundamental disagreement depends on how commentators interpret the communicative aspects of music, and that surely includes attire and all other performative aspects. We would love to hear your opinion, please let us know.

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Khatia Buniatishvili – Schubert: Impromptu No. 3 in G-Flat Major, Op. 90, D. 899

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Encountering BACH: a documentary film (2020)

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Encountering BACH: a documentary film (2020)

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This documentary lets you visit Bach landmarks, discover his stories and music

An online documentary on German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, available on the Bachfest Malaysia Youtube channel, has been making its rounds among classical music fans starved of live concerts during these pandemic times.

Encountering Bach, which has a runtime of 130 minutes, brings viewers on a journey around important Bach-landmarks in Germany, while discovering his life stories and music.

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The documentary is available in both English and Mandarin, and is hosted by Bachfest Malaysia founder David Chin, and co-hosted by Bachfest Leipzig artistic director and Bach-Archiv Leipzig musicologist Michael Maul and Bach-Archiv Leipzig musicologist and researcher Manuel Baerwald.

“The idea of making a film on the life and music of Bach in my mother tongue, Mandarin, has been on my mind for a while, as very few books have been written in Chinese about the composer, let alone a film. We decided to release this film in two languages with the hope of reaching as many people as possible,” says Chin, 35.

“As a conductor and music scholar, I have always been finding ways to contribute what I can to my fellow Malaysians and the global community, ” he adds.

He recalls how a chance meeting with Maul at the Bachfest Leipzig in the summer of 2018, sowed the seeds for this project.

When Chin was presented with an opportunity to view several of Bach’s original manuscripts, including cantata No.62 and the famous “Entwurff” letter at the Bach-Archiv’s library in Leipzig, Germany, the following year, a lightbulb went off in his head.

This was a story waiting to be told.

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After a flurry of emails and phone calls after he returned home, he was once again on a plane headed for Germany to start work on the documentary.

“It was not very much time between when we decided to do this project (mid-August 2019) to when we began filming in Germany (early September 2019). I came up with the outline within a few days, and read many, many books in a very short time.

“Of course, I have done much research on Bach and performed many of his works in past years, but still, there is so much to learn about him, ” he says.

Chin was based in the US for 15 years before moving back to Malaysia. He is now based in Kuala Lumpur.

In putting together this documentary during the lockdown months, he muses that has learned so much more about Bach.

“I truly enjoyed every aspect of making this film. One of the things which I am most grateful for is the people whom I have met in the making of this project. I got the ‘front-row-seat’ by having the directors of the museums give me an exclusive VIP tour while we filmed, and this is not a privilege that anyone can have. I learned a lot from the best people in their fields, ” he says.

Encountering Bach includes interviews with 15 prominent scholars and musicians and features musical performance footage by musicians from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland and the United States.

This project, Chin says, would not have been possible without videographer and violinist Moses Lim, who lugged his equipment to Germany, filmed from morning to evening for consecutive 12 days, then worked on the editing.

In total, it took 15 months to complete, with nine short episodes on different topics made available in the year leading up to the full-length documentary premiere last month.

“I tried to use common language in the film so that people who are not musicians would have an idea of what I am talking about. At the same time, I also covered topics which many musicians normally are not exposed to, so they have an opportunity to be more well-informed through the enjoyable format of a film,” he concludes.

Later in the year, Chin will conduct Beethoven’s ‘Missa Solemnis’ concert tour in Sabah and Sarawak. This year’s schedule includes a Bach’s cantata concert for the Malaysia Bach Festival Singers and Orchestra, an inaugural concert for the new Mendelssohnchor Malaysia and Bach’s ‘Christmas Oratorio’.

Chin has been invited to conduct at Carnegie Hall in New York, and the St Thomas Church in Leipzig, in 2022.

The film is released in two versions: Mandarin and English.

In this 130-minute documentary film, Dr. David Chin will be joined by 15 prominent German Bach scholars and musicians and visit the important Bach-landmarks throughout Central Germany, discovering the interesting stories and wonderful music of Johann Sebastian Bach, with musical excerpts performed by renowned musicians from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United States, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and others.


To read more about Bach:

The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach (1695-1717) Vol. I and II

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How to use the piano pedals (sustain and soft pedals)

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How to use the piano pedals (sustain and soft pedals)

Pedaling is an aspect of piano technique which is frequently misunderstood and abused. Ask a junior student what the right hand pedal is for and they will invariably reply “to make the piano louder”. The right hand pedal is often wrongly called “the loud pedal”, or is regarded as an “on-off switch”, which shows a complete lack of understanding of the purpose and uses of the “sustain” or “damper” pedal. Pedaling is hard to do well, and I regularly come across instances of sloppy, lazy or misjudged pedaling when I am reviewing at professional concerts.

The sustain pedal has two principal purposes:

1. Allowing the sound to continue even after we release the keys;

2. Changing the timbre of the sound, making it deeper, warmer, more intense, more ‘alive’.

In order to pedal well, it is important to understand what is happening, mechanically, inside the piano, and to engage the ears so that they are alert to all the subtle sounds and variations the pedal can produce. When the pedal is depressed, all the dampers are lifted off the strings so that they can continue to vibrate and sound after a note on the keyboard has been released. The effect of the vibrations is to create a fuller, warmer and more intense sound.

When I demonstrate this to students, I play a C-major chord without the pedal, and then play the chord again with the pedal. A student who is listening carefully will notice the cloud or “bloom” of sound which seems to rise from the piano (as opposed to just saying “it sounds louder”). This bloom of sound is the result of ‘sympathetic vibrations’, and will mostly be pitches related to the principal note.

Since the resonance of the entire instrument is called into play when the dampers are lifted off the strings, the chief effect of the damper pedal is a change in the sound quality of the piano. And this, I think, is the key point to remember – that the damper pedal is about quality of sound, rather than volume of sound

The point when the pedal is depressed can have a particular effect on the sound of the piano. For example, when the pedal is depressed before the note is struck, all strings are available to resonate, and the sound will have a richness from the beginning. While it is held down, the pedal accumulates sound with each additional note struck. This property can be used to create or enhance a crescendo, particularly in a context of more rapid notes where little pedal is being used. Conversely, by lifting the pedal slowly, there is a gradual decrease in the sound, which creates a diminuendo.

There are also degrees of pedal, such as half, quarter or even eighth pedal. This technique of pedaling is particularly useful in Mozart, or during runs and passagework, where it gives substance to the tone without blurring the sounds. For example, in Schubert’s E flat Impromptu from the D899 set, I use one-eighth pedal throughout the rapid triplet runs to provide depth without losing clarity: we want to hear every single note, but we don’t want the music to sound too dry.

Every piano is different and so it is important to experiment – and listen carefully: special colours and immediacy of effect can be achieved by synchronising pedal changes with finger attack, while pedaling before playing can soften the opening of a phrase. Pedal use is also determined by the size and location of the instrument.

Experienced pianists use the pedal instinctively. I often get ticked off by cheeky students for pedaling music which has no pedal markings. This usually prompts a discussion on the use of the pedal to create certain effects, and how pedal markings are written into the score. Good pedal technique is based on experience, careful listening, and thoughtful practice.

“The more I play, the more I am convinced the pedal is the soul of the pianoforte!”

Arthur Rubinstein

“….abusing the pedal is only a means of covering up a lack of technique, and that making a lot of noise is a way to drown the music you’re slaughtering!”

Claude Debussy

Legato pedal

Legato pedaling, in its simplest form, is the act of joining two otherwise unconnected notes or chords together. Logically this can only happen when the sound of the first note/chord stops and the sound of the second note/chord begins at the same time. To achieve this, the pedal must come up exactly at the point at which the next chord sounds. Where it then goes down is a matter of judgement to do with the type of musical context or the effect desired, speed of the passage etc.

Here is a simple but effective exercise, easily comprehensible for junior piano students, to practice good legato pedaling.

Practice this exercise by depressing the pedal on the 2nd beat of each bar and bringing it up exactly on the downbeat of the next new chord. Legato pedaling makes use of coordination opposites: in other words, the foot releases the pedal exactly when the hand goes down. The pedal then goes down again without being snatched and rushed at some point after the first beat.

piano pedals sheet music

And how not to do it:

piano pedals sheet music

Download the full exercise:

Pedal markings

Ped and * marks are often placed inaccurately, which can make interpretation of the composer’s intentions regarding pedaling confusing. For example, the Ped…….* pedal markings in Chopin are often misleading, and should not be interpreted literally: it is more likely that Chopin intended continuous use of the sustain pedal, and that this type of pedal marking would be more accurate: __/\_/\__ (etc.).

It is said that Chopin “used the pedals with marvelous discretion,” (Auguste Marmontel, Debussy’s teacher and a former student of Chopin), and Chopin himself declared that “The correct employment of the pedal remains a study for life.”

When writing a legato pedaling scheme onto music for both my students and myself, I tend to use this marking __/\_/\__, rather than the more traditional Ped…….*, simply because it’s clearer, the “peaks” indicating when the pedal should be lifted and depressed.

Direct, finger and “dirty” pedalling

Direct pedaling is where the pedal goes down exactly as the hands do. The style of the music will influence how the pedal is used: for example,  in classical repertoire, a direct pedal, corresponding with the hands, can often be applied to two-note slurs, sfzorzandi, and cadential chords without distorting articulation and phrasing. “Finger pedaling” should be considered with Alberti bass figures.

“Dirty” pedaling requires acute listening skills and is appropriate when a more misty sound and colour are desired, or when the texture needs to be thinned out gradually. Lift the pedal very slowly. I have found this technique particularly useful in Liszt when the composer designates a smorzando with a diminuendo.

Debussy and the sustain pedal

Pedaling was – and is! – very important in the playing of Debussy’s piano music, though Debussy almost never marked pedaling on the score. Where he does, it should be observed carefully. Too many pianists, professional and amateur, believe that the pedal in Debussy is used to create the famous “impressionistic blur” so often associated with his music. In fact, “he wanted the pedal used in long harmonic strokes, without breaks or confusion. Occasionally he allowed the pedal to encroach a tiny fraction from one harmony into the next………….. In any case, the blur should be used only for special effects, and with utmost discretion.” [Nichols]

Debussy’s works often imply the use of pedal, because he writes bass notes that cannot be sustained without the help of the pedal. At the same time there are often chord changes that require the pedal to be lifted in order to avoid blurring. Techniques such as half-pedal and “dirty” pedal can be used to create satisfying effects in his piano music.

The Soft Pedal: Una Corda

Una Corda is the direction to the pianist to apply the left-hand or soft pedal. The function of the soft pedal was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori, the inventor of the piano. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the piano had evolved to have three strings on most of the notes. When the una corda pedal was applied, the action of the piano would shift so that only one string was struck – hence the words “una corda”, or “one string”.

On a modern grand piano the strings are placed too closely to permit a true una corda effect: the left-hand pedal shifts the whole action, including the keyboard slightly to the right, so that hammers which normally strike all three of the strings for a note strike only two of them. The resulting sound is softer and also has a duller quality due to the two strings being struck making contact with a part of the hammer felt which is not often hit and which is therefore slightly softer in density, creating a different quality of sound.

On an upright piano, the mechanism is arranged so that when the left-hand pedal is applied, the resting position of the hammers is moved closer to the strings so that they have a shorter distance to travel and therefore the strings are struck with less force, creating less sound.

While the una corda pedal can be used to achieved wonderfully soft, muted and veiled effects in piano music, it is not simply a “quiet pedal”, any more than the right-hand, sustaining pedal is the “loud pedal”, and just as there are “degrees” of sustaining pedal, depending on the repertoire, so the una corda can be depressed in a variety of ways to create multi-faceted musical colours and sonorities. As with all pedalling, an acute ear, practise, discretion and experimentation will lead to greater confidence and expertise, resulting in truly wonderful effects.

Here is Beethoven giving very specific directions in the use of the una corda pedal: he stipulates lifting the left pedal so gently that only bit by bit are all the strings sounding again – only two initially and ultimately all three again:nbs-4

Watch the video: What do the pedals on a piano do? | Cunningham Piano Company, Philadelphia, King of Prussia, PA
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