I hope you are all having a relaxing Labor Day! We’re doing a bedroom re-do here, and it’s looking really good so far – my hubby is busy painting!
This week we’ll be listening to a couple of selections from The Well-Tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Bach was a German composer who composed some of the most well-known music from the Baroque period. Bach played the organ, harpsichord, violin, and viola. He is well known for his choral works and cantatas, Brandenburg concertos, and organ works.
The Well-Tempered Clavier is a collection of works for keyboard. There are two volumes, and each contains a series of pairs of Preludes and Fugues. There are 24 pairs in each book, written in each of the 24 major and minor keys. Prelude and Fugue #1 is written in C major, #2 is written in C minor, #3 is written in C# major, #4 is written in C# minor and so on.
Bach’s music is “revered for its intellectual depth, technical command, and artistic beauty.” As a violinist, I must agree. His Partitas and Sonatas for solo violin are some of the deepest works written for violin.
In our music this week, listen for Bach’s use of counterpoint. In counterpoint, the left hand is not simply playing harmony to go with the melody played by the right hand. Each hand is playing its own melody that is unique in rhythm, but the melodies sound harmonious when played together. All of the fugues in The Well-Tempered Clavier make use of counterpoint.
We’ll be listening to Prelude and Fugue #1 and Prelude and Fugue #2 from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1.
I chose these recordings because Angela Hewitt is one of the most foremost performers of Bach’s music. However, it looks like some of the videos by this Youtube user have been taken down because of copyright infringement. So if you’re viewing this post and the videos are gone, that’s probably why. If you enjoy the music, I highly recommend purchasing this recording of Angela Hewitt’s performance of WTC. The price may seem high, but this is a 4 disk recording of all 48 Preludes and Fugues. It would be great background music for homeschooling!