In Defense of Bach [by John Reese]
From The Beethoven Reference Site - "In Bach did travel to Halle in the hope of a meeting, but Handel had left the day before. Again in , when Handel. Vivaldi and Bach never met! While the Italian More videos. Your browser does not currently recognize any of the video formats available. Ah Vivaldi, he is right up there with Handel, Bach and Mozart. I consider However, it would seem the active priesthood did not suit Vivaldi.
We cannot blame German musicographers for their natural and legitimate choice to study and promote particularly the composers of their land, neither their nationalist tendency in the historic context which they were not alone to showbut so it seems, in an objective conception of music history, to relativise the hierarchical values they have established. If we consider the values of representativeness we have given, it is not the case. After Forkel, Philipp Spitta has praised in Bach a music purely Germanic who does not contain foreign influence, but when musicologists reveal in his works many influences, appears miraculously the famous argument of synthesis, permitting to make compilators appear as superior composers.
The genius of the Cantor was not to have been superbly isolated, but on the contrary to have achieved a synthesis, of course genial, of Italian, French and Germanic influences. We should think differently the whole music history and the arts: Many revolutions, and often bad, were born by the first: It is the case of Bach. In the other hand, the archaism of Bach, who nevertheless used the tonalism of the 18th century, allowed to do appears Bach as author of an other synthesis, unique, between the contrapunctic style and the "modern" style.
This adds a time universalism to his geographic universalism. Theses exegetic opinions changes, too adapted to the embarrassing things and converting insufficiencies in eminent qualities, can, at the very least, lead to have doubts about theses assertions. More, the tendency of Bach to compilate and borrow allows, by the magical dialectic of our musicographers, a admirable open-mindedness and universalism. Thus, Bach appears as the champion of the European music.
We can evoke a synthesis of German, Italian elements; this without forgot French influences, so miraculously assimilated and magnified. Dictionnaire de la musique - Larousse, - sous la direction de Marc Vignalp42 We can notice the title of the sub chapter of this chapter devoted to Bach: Further, the existence in his works of a rhythmic impulse characteristic of prebaroque music who evoke jazz allows to integrate Bach in the actual tendency of the cosmopolitism and give him the surpassing of a visionary of future.
However, if the nationalist cause could be important at the beginning, perhaps it is not essential afterwards, and insufficient to explain the growth of the Bach "cult" in many European lands.
It does not explain the choice of Bach and not Telemann, another German composer more famous in its time than the cantor of Leipzig. On the other hand, we can think the English musicographers as Wesley and Walmisey did not have peculiar motivation to prefer German composers to Italian.
The preponderant cause of the Bach "cult" seems, on the contrary, ideological. Some statements in Bach's biography by Forkel are significant of an ideology very inclined toward intellectualist conception opposed to an artistical conception where intuitive musical pleasure is essential: It is necessary to have assimilate theses masterpieces Bach masterpieces to be fond of them and to be fond of the genius of their author: Is this interest really bound to the musical contents as artistical masterpiece?
Let us consider the different causes which can explain the favourable position of Bach near for the public.
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Remark that false attributions, generally, are dishonesties of composers or publishers who use known names. We can thus explain the wrong attributions on the name of Vivaldi, and all other composers famous in their time.
These misattributed works never became famous and never participated to the misnotoriety of Vivaldi. About Bach, the misattributed works mainly result of his activity of copying and transcripting, which shows his temperament of compilator for example concertos transcribed from Vivaldi, Marcello, Sachen-Weimar. Let's make a panorama of famous or relatively famous works whose authenticity is contested.
Io Tomita comment like this the series of studies on this work in his Bach Bibliography: One of the most vexing questions facing the recent Bach scholarship concerns the authenticity of the famous toccata and fugue in D minor BWV Despite its universal appeal for the awesome image of the composer and his powerful writing for the organ, there was insufficient evidence to testify that it was a genuine work by Bach.
It is only recently that this long unresolved case is reopened; it became evident that the ground to attribute the work to J.
Bach is still tenuous. The borrowing is noted on the notice of certain recordings, and by the Bach-Gesellschafft. We can also remark that the borrowing is not indicated by the name of the masterpiece as for exemple Variations on a theme of Diabelli of Beethoven, neither by the name of the composer who would be for this masterpiece: This occultation not by intention of the borrowing is not peculiar of the Bach's masterpiece.
For example, the famous Symphonie fantastique Berlioz which contains in its last movement a theme of Tomas de Celeno is presented under the name of Berlioz alone as all masterpieces which contains Dies irae.
These inaccuracies and false attributions generally contribute to maintain the prestige of the most celebrated composers to the detriment of the least.
Still agreeing to the experts, the main theme of the first mouvement of the famous Concerto im italienischen Gusto BWV was noted by Handel 10 years earlier in Italy. So, the authenticity of the violin concertos is debated These inauthenticities, suspicions of inauthenticity, and these very numerous borrowings that we do not enumerate hereinvolve a considerable doubt on the global value of Bach'work because they concern his most celebrated masterpieces, those which have probably led to his notoriety, particularly his most famous masterpiece, the Toccata and Fugue BWV Then, the Cantor would have acquired an undeserved notoriety thanks to borrowings or transcriptions, notoriety which would be spread on his other works, authentic, thanks to the name acquired.
Did Bach, Handel and Vivaldi ever meet one another in person?
On this subject Fauquet et Hennion remark the role of Ave Maria of Gounod, presented by this composer above the name of Bach. Only the accompaniment is an use of Bach Prelude. Then, the musical interest of the work, mainly bounded to the melody, is due to Gounod and not Bach. He considers that Bach would change the works of these mediocre composers into genius masterpieces, giving them a depth that alone the Cantor was capable of. The maestro certainly enjoyed it.
First, the pleasure to change into a more perfect masterpiece the work he considers: Schering indicates all the good modifications done by Bach. Above all he enlarges them.
The thin boughs he has collected, perhaps with an inattentive hand, are changed into marvellous trees. Certainly, the use of themes coming from other composers are not peculiar to Bach, but they reach in this composer a crucial point. Remark we do not know any borrowings important in Vivaldi. The Cantor would be more often a compilator than a creator. More generally, the importance of the problem of authenticity in Bach is so important that the musicologist Carl de Nys thinks it is difficult to judge the instrumental work of this composer: Now, since these lines of Carl de Nys published inthe problem of authenticity - that we do not consider here precisely - has evolved rather unfavourably for the Cantor.
Do we know really to-day the total importance of borrowings, transcriptions or manipulations in the work of Bach? This role must not be underrated, but it shows an interest who is not purely musical. Thus, the success of Bach religious music cannot alone give a proof of the purely musical interest for his work.
So, he would have brought satisfaction to a public searching lack of expression and uniformity. There is more depth, in the skolion of Sekeilos than in the whole colossal work of Bach. And it is this lack of depth in Bach, his ingenuous seriousness, which makes his charm and represents the attraction he has on the middle-class.
Because the lover-music have had an indigestion of human passions, and to-day they search peace of the heart, a game that goes beyond feeling. Fayardp Of course, it is an personal opinion very hypothetical of this musicologist, who contrast to the general opinion.
If ideally the demand creates supply in actual market, we cannot be ignorant that the ideological causes can invert this phenomenon.
The importance of Bach in comparison with Vivaldi in the books sometimes 10 to 1 does not seems equal in the sales of recording, not so important for Bach. Vivaldi was one of the most sold composer in the years and his title The four seasons has obtain the record of sale during many years. We can see the importance of the influence of the mass-medias in some popularising books. It is necessary to consider sociology, especially the Durkheim theory.
According to this sociologist, when the African prostrates himself in front of his totem, it is not essentially because of a peculiar characteristic of this totem, but because it is the object of a collective manifestation which united the group. In itself, the totem is neutral and cannot involve an emotional stimulation. This thesis, in the absolute, denies any value to an artistic masterpiece. If, as we think, it cannot be applied to the whole works of music although there is no proofwe can think that the ideological cause, as in the Durkeim theory, is present in the genesis of the notoriety of a composer rather about a particular masterpieceaccording to varied ways.
If we consider the existence of a Bach cult, Bach is, more than another, the composer to whom we can most apply the durkheimian criticism. So, the illusion would be explained, about Bach as about numerous other composers, by the influence of a celebrated name, when the bound of celebrity is established. After, the autosuggestive phenomenon would happen: These emotions, in intensity, in quality, would not of course be compared to emotions induced by a genius masterpiece.
How many admirers of Well-Tempered Clavier would consider this work as genial if it have been presented under the name of an unknown composer? And before the time when authenticity was doubtful, the Bach desattributed masterpiece have not seemed lower than the Bach authentic masterpiece. This fact seems to show that Bach is not fundamentally higher than the others composers, at least not for certain works. It is a real natural experience in double blind, as the same done by scientists in medicine.
This argument is true also for all the celebrated composer, that would show generally that the well known composers are not fundamentally higher than the unknowns. That is shown in the book of Rebatet: Rebatet, Lucien, Une histoire de la musique, Laffont, Paris,p And about the Fantasy-Concertos, then the melodies: Chattering and cavalcade in the emptiness, with a bad way almost indecent.
The book of Lucien Rebatet has been issued another time in France Laffont, Paris, 30 years after his first issue. An issue in Spanish also exists Una historia de la musica, Omega,that show the importance of the current of thinking he represents. The independent authors, who are not inclued in a university structure, like Lucien Rebatet, do not hesitate to assert value judges.
The book of Lucien Rebatet, without musicological value, seems to have a great sociologic meaning because it reveals openly the dominant ideology of its time.
It is probably the most emblematic book which represents what we could name the ideal of the superior music-lover of the 20th century. The difference with the purely lyric content of Vivaldi's work, who create only musicals effects, is striking.
The musicologist Charles Rosen writes about the Art of the Fugue that this masterpiece must be learned at the time when it is played. It would be a score for eyes and not for ears. The importance and the real role of secret codes, hermeneutic symbols in art have been often denounced.
Germany "won" the battle of which would be considered greatest, the author claims, because there was a greater interest in musicology in Germany than in Italy. However, if this were the case, why would anyone outside of Germany take an interest in the musicological work of the Germans? Why would the Italians, for instance, fall for the accepted wisdom of Bach being the greatest composer? And why Johann Sebastian in particular, rather than any of the other well-known German composers bearing the name of Bach?
The truth is that Vivaldi was forgotten in Italy after his death, and not just by musicologists. Although Bach's work was largely neglected, a small but devoted Bach following persisted in the years after his death. The Well-Tempered Clavier, for instance, was well known among late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century pianists despite the fact that it was never published in Bach's lifetime. The name "Bach" becomes symbolic; his music is enjoyed because his name is associated with it Fernandez invokes here a sociological theory surrounding primitive cultures and the fact that the "totem" or other idolatrous symbol is not the actual focus of worship, but merely serves as a conduit.
His argument is that the music of Bach is not the subject of adoration, but serves the same function as a primitive totem.
Here, enthusiasm for Bach is described to as a sort of conditioned reflex, with Bach's music being symbolic of Bach, the hero. I would suspect that this is only true of Bach lovers of limited musical literacy, who do not really understand his music but behave as they are expected when they hear it. I don't doubt that there are many people like this, but their opinions are hardly necessary to maintain Bach's reputation, which originates from those more proficient at understanding the complex subtleties of his music.
This argument is a variation of one already made, that love of Bach is idolatrous rather than deserved. Restating the same arguments in different language is not particularly convincing to me. Bach's music was old-fashioned, not innovative It is true that Bach preferred older forms to the more popular galant style of his contemporaries although he was perfectly capable of writing in this or any other style.
This may have been in part because of his great skill at counterpoint, which would have gone to waste had he concentrated on homophonic textures as much as Vivaldi had.
However, Bach was capable of being innovative within the boundaries of this older style. Most of the truly innovative work was done, naturally, when he was a comparatively undisciplined youth.
However, throughout his life his instrumental writing was extremely daring, pushing the capabilities of the instruments to their limits. This is particularly true of his violin, clavier, and organ works.
Later in life, he took the art of counterpoint further than anyone before him had dared when he composed the Musical Offering and Art of the Fugue. His use of chromatic harmonies in these works was quite unlike anything heard before.
In short, while it may be accurate to say that Bach was old-fashioned, it is wrong to say he was not innovative. Most importantly, it really doesn't matter what style Bach preferred, for his work is endowed with a musical depth that transcends stylistic fashions.
In whatever milieu he chose to create, the high levels of craftsmanship gave his music a universal quality that rings as true today as it did hundreds of years ago.
Fernandez is free to characterize this as an exaggeration, but I plan to support my statements in due course when I elaborate on the definition of "craftsmanship".
In full, Fernandez' argument seems a little simplistic. I would guess from his observations that he is a musical dilettante, with just enough knowledge of the two composers and their musical era to appear to be well spoken on the subject.
However, many of his arguments fall short of thoughtful analysis. The reader often must make leaps of faith to accept his views. He says often that Vivaldi's music is more "simple" and "pure", and is therefore superior to that of Bach. He throws out words like "solid" and "authentic" to describe Vivaldi.
What does this mean, exactly? Even if we agree that Vivaldi's music has these qualities, it doesn't follow that being simple, pure, solid, and authentic is inherently better.
By the same token, greater complexity doesn't necessarily entail greater music, but it does provide a superior opportunity for depth in a composition. The great composers, such as Mozart, who primarily used a simple, elegant style were still capable of producing more complex music when the need arose As an example, look at the Mozart's Requiem or the fourth movement of the Jupiter Symphony.
Vivaldi, as we have seen, was forced to borrow the music of another composer. The author also seems to think that music lovers are divided into "pro-Bach" and "pro-Vivaldi" camps.
This is not true. Many Bach lovers also enjoy the music of Vivaldi. There is no conflict in this. In my view as will be demonstrated laterBach's music shows a far greater level of expertise than that of Vivaldi. This, however, does not mean that I don't appreciate the work of the Italian master. In fact, Bach clearly appreciated it as well, since he took the time to study Vivaldi's scores.
One of the character traits I have long admired about Bach is his humility, demonstrated by his willingness to learn from other, lesser artists. Fernandez makes his biggest mistake in claiming austerity and dryness in the music of Bach by pointing to his frequent use of counterpoint.
This directly contradicts his opening arguments, that Bach's notoriety is based on "extra-musical" factors. If counterpoint is not musical, then what is it? The rules of counterpoint apply to nothing else but music.
They are meaningless in any other context, mathematical or otherwise. The view that it exists somehow outside of music, in a purely intellectual realm, is faulty. So, what does that leave us with? It should be clear that Mr. Fernandez' claims are neither internally consistent nor solidly backed by his reasoning and the examples he has provided.
This, however, does not mean that his conclusion is wrong, just unsupported. With this in mind, we must ask the question: How do we know that Bach is a greater composer than Vivaldi? If it were simply a matter of personal preference, then Mr. Fernandez' assessment of Bach would be perfectly valid. However, the fact that he considers the opinions of Bach lovers to be invalid indicates that he, at least, believes that there is a standard against which both composers can be judged.
And so do I. First of all, we must dispense with the word "great" to describe the composers' work, for it describes a social abstraction that is impossible to demonstrate or prove. Whether or not someone is considered great depends as much on luck - being at the right place and time in history - as it does on ability.
We must therefore look to a more rational basis for comparison. For the sake of argument, I believe it is better to ask: Was Bach a better composer than Vivaldi? How can we objectively make that determi? What quality would one person have that would make him a better composer than another? The answer, in a word, is craftsmanship. The meaning of craftsmanship in music composition will be discussed next.
Craftsmanship in Music Composition The elements that constitute good craftsmanship in a composer are impossible to define with complete objectivity, but most authorities would agree that a few skills are essential: Knowledge of technical musical conventions and the ability to apply them consistently 2. Expertise in the three dimensions of musical texture - monophony, homophony, and polyphony - and the ability to apply them when appropriate 3.
Expertise in the three dimensions of instrumentation - the sound of individual instruments, the limitations and capabilities of instruments, and the blending of different timbres together.
Ability to produce novel musical ideas on both small and large scales. Ability to take musical ideas and develop them to the fullest extent. Ability to create in a variety of genres. All of these skills carry with them the underlying assumption that they will be applied in a balanced and coherent fashion.Mozart vs Beethoven - The Masters of Classical Music
All good composers understand implicitly the expectations of "the ear" or more accurately, human aural perception and can use the techniques described above to both meet and, where appropriate, exceed these expectations. The real trick is in finding a balance between the familiar and the novel, without becoming mired in one or the other.
The first skill on the list requires merely that the music be "grammatically" correct, while the second and third require the ability to use technical expertise in a manner that is both coherent and varied.
In other words, number 1 deals with musical syntax which, of course, changes over timewhile numbers 2 and 3 are more concerned with musical semantics - the "meaning" of a piece within a purely musical context. Musical ideas can be either small scale - as small as the "three shorts and a long" motif used by Beethoven - or large scale, such as Verdi's approach to the Requiem. It is tempting to put 4 and 5 together - "Ability to produce novel musical ideas and develop them to the fullest extent".
However, a good composer keeps these disciplines separate. It should not matter what the source of the musical idea is, as long as the composer can take it and do something with it. In a like manner, a finely crafted musical idea can be taken and developed easily by another composer, the creativity of one artisan sparking that of another for instance, Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Haydn. While the three "dimensions" of musical texture are well known, the concept of three instrumental dimensions is my own: A composer with skill in the first dimensiion can choose an instrument that is aesthetically appropriate for the part it is to play or, if instrumental resources are constrained, writing music appropriate for a given instrument.
This is the most basic and necessary skill a composer should have with regards to instrumentation. It includes the importance, in vocal writing, of matching music with the text.
Second dimension skill involves knowing ennough about the instrument not only to avoid exceeding its capabilities, but also to fully exploit its capabilities, testing the limits when appropriate. Third dimension skill is related to what wwe call "orchestration" today.
A composer should be able to put different combinations of instruments together in a pleasing fashion, or at least in a way that does not send the audience scurrying for the exits. Composers in the baroque period would generally score relatively poorly on this skill although very few emptied out the seatssince the "orchestra" as we know it did not exist then. Finally, the sixth essential skill involves the flexibility of the composer.
Does he try out a variety of different musical styles, or stick to the tried and true? This not only applies strictly to style, but to structure as well, which often goes hand-in-hand with a particular genre for instance, the Sonata-Allegro form is strongly identified with the Viennese Classical school.
There is another quality that may tip the balance when trying to determine the relative strengths of different composers. This quality is not related directly to craftsmanship, but has a more historical relevance.
Did Bach, Handel and Vivaldi ever meet one another in person? | Yahoo Respostas
It is the ability to pioneer new musical forms and philosophies, to push other composers into new ways of thinking. Clearly, Vivaldi has the edge here.
He was one of the true pioneers in the art of concerto writing and through it, orchestrationand his influence continues to this day. Comparing Vivaldi and Bach Next we will attempt to evaluate the craftsmanship of the two composers by comparing similar compositions according to the "apples to apples" philosophy.
This comparison is not always fair, since Bach spent most of his time on sacred choral music, while Vivaldi devoted himself to concerti.
However, a comparison of a vocal piece and a concerto movement from each composer should provide a clear enough picture. First, we will look at an aria from each composer, the "Qui Sedes" from Bach's B minor Mass, and the corresponding section from Vivaldi's Gloria. The two pieces are intriguingly similar. The voice part in each begins in almost exactly the same way, going from the pickup B-natural on the syllable "Qui" down to F-sharp on the first syllable of "sedes": In both cases, sustained notes in the voice are accompanied by rhythmic movement in the strings: In each of the pieces, an "echo" effect is used between the voice and accompaniment: Here, the similarities end.
The two pieces are of a very different character. Vivaldi's is raucous and fiery, while Bach's is serene and tranquil.
Bach's instrumentation is more involved than Vivaldi's, which, in turn, results in a greater level of polyphony. So which piece shows greater craftsmanship? Let's go through the list: Knowledge of technical conventions and the ability to apply them consistently The comparison is made easier by the fact that both men used an almost identical musical syntax.
I would say that both composers are characteristically sound in this department, although in Vivaldi's case the task is much easier. Bach's use of harmony and modulation is more sophisticated than his contemporary's.
Without taking into account the different inversions, Vivaldi uses 18 distinct chords in his piece, to Bach's Bach's aria also modulates more frequently, even during the opening ritornello.
Expertise in the three dimensions of texture As mentioned before, Bach makes greater use of polyphony in his piece, although it is essentially a homophonic aria. Vivaldi seems to avoid any hint of polyphony as if it were an infectious disease. As with much of his music, Vivaldi has one voice fall silent as another comes in, and the bass becomes greatly simplified if anything of importance is going on above. This is not an indictment in itself, for Vivaldi wrote in a style that did not favor counterpoint.
His intent was to focus the listener's attention on a single melodic line, rather than to absorb the whole as is necessary with Bach. However, as stated earlier, we know that when a fuller counterpoint was called for, Vivaldi did not judge himself up to the task. Expertise in the three dimensions of instrumentation In Vivaldi's Qui Sedes, the accompaniment consists of basically the strings and continuo.
Bach adds an oboe to this mix, providing the obbligato so that the strings are free to produce harmony. They fill this role only scain Vivaldi's aria, leaving the continuo to fill in the harmonies. The telling point here is in the vocal declamation and the music's appropriateness to the text.
While Vivaldi seems to focus on the first part of the liturgical text, "Qui sedes ad dextram Patris", "You who are seated at the right hand of the Father"while Bach focuses on the final phrase, "miserere nobis" "Have mercy on us". This would explain the differences in the character of the two pieces.
While Bach's approach makes the music appropriate for the entire text, Vivaldi is left with a jaunty, toe-tapping tune as he pleads "have mercy on us": A comparison between Bach's and Vivaldi's treatment of this particular phrase puts one of Fernandez' primary arguments -- that Vivaldi was emotive while Bach was purely mechanical -- into serious doubt.
Ability to produce novel musical ideas Here, Vivaldi is at his strongest. His music is full of what popular musicians call "hooks", intriguing little musical nuggets that grab the listener's attention. As in popular music, these ideas are brief and to the point. It is partly because of his ability in this area that Vivaldi has been able to overcome some technical shortcomings and still be remembered centuries after his death.
The music in Vivaldi's aria is derived mainly from these themes: Instead of being thrust upon the listener in quick succession, they unfold slowly and majestically. They are less predictable than Vivaldi's, both melodically and harmonically, but follow a logical progression that keeps the listener absorbed. Bach's setting contains two fairly complex themes derived from the motif, shown above, that introduces the voice part: Vivaldi's begins in B minor and ends a few measures later with an authentic cadence in the same key.
Bach's phrase is more involved, ending in a half-cadence in D major. This means, essentially, that while Vivaldi has launched his piece with a complete albeit brief musical thought, Bach has merely laid the groundwork for what is to come. His music leaves the listener with a feeling of anticipation, which enables Bach to create more complex structures without becoming overly pedantic. Bach's aria also includes three smaller musical ideas, two of them in the string ensemble: Is a snippet of music that hardly qualifies as a melody; it occurs near the end of some of the phrases as part of the cadence.
It will be discussed at length in the next section. Ability to take musical ideas and develop them to the fullest extent A composer can make up for deficiencies in his basic ideas by demonstrating proficiency in developing them. One of the marks of a truly gifted composer is his ability to take a seemingly insignificant musical idea and develop it into a significant section of the piece. Bach does this with the last motif shown above. At the climactic moment, he brings this idea to its full fruition, introducing it in the voice, then imitating it in the strings, then the oboe: Not only is this section finely crafted, it is exquisitely poignant, belying once again the notion that Bach's music lacks expression.
Does anything comparable happen in Vivaldi's "Qui Sedes"? As mentioned before, the musical ideas are brief and to the point, they are stated sometimes repetitiously then dropped in favor of the next theme. Restating them in a different key is often the only form of development Vivaldi employs. Here it is played in Bach's own temperament, and with no registration changes anywhere, but only a subtle use of timing responding to the tensions already happening in the tuning to provide sufficient variety and flow: Every time I try to tune to any other tuning I have not tried yours, however by the time I am finished I have subconciously tune to ET!
To my ears which have been blunted to ET over the years, I aurually perceive the other tunings to be "out of tune" for that piece. It must be some auditory memory, as I can sight read other pieces which have not been committed to memory by yours truly, and the effect sounds fine to a point and occaisionly of pitch. Not WTC, I know these pieces to well, but other works. Have you considered contacting Yamaha Musical Instruments division as to your discovery? Since many of the Clavinovas are used in Univeristies this would be an excellent option to have available for teachers, musicologists, et al.
Bradley Lehman wrote October 26, Especially meantone and Werckmeister. I did demonstrate it to the piano tuner at our local Clavinova dealer, and he seemed pretty interested.
Maybe I'm blindingly old-fashioned about the electronic market because I always tune by ear Various people have been working out programming already for their different electronic-tuning devices. As for universities, I know of conservatories both in the US and Europe that are already using it regularly on their department's teaching and performance harpsichords, to give the students and staff the chance to explore Bach's music that way.
Jack Boteho wrote October 26, I must confess that perhaps too much on-line Yahoo-Bach browsing has aquainted me with perhaps the Leipzig establishment's view or starting point divine constructionism? I'll make sure to order it!
Rather unfortunately, Laurence Dreyfus treats the Vivaldian concerto condescendingly in his full length study titled Bach and the Patterns of Invention Harvard University Press, However, it seems Dreyfus' lack of glowing enthusiasm for the Vivaldian concerto is necessary for highlighting his own thesis which promotes the old tradition of Bach as a 'superior composer of divine inspiration' which satisfies the deep psychological needs of individuals for a saviour or hero figure and also to ward off the threat of the music genre approach which carries with it the concept of forms and creative inspiration which may visit any composer in history supported by constructive conditions.
Dreyfus spends some time speculating that perhaps the rapid spread of popularity of Vivaldi's concertos in the early eighteenth century had something to do with the gender of the musicians of Vivaldi's orchestra at the foundling hospital in Venice, even though Vivaldi's close performance ties to his father Giovanni Battista also links him to the professional orchestra of San Marco and even further afield with itinerant musicians of the opera houses of Venice and the mainland.
Clearly, Dreyfus' intent is to draw attention away from the quality of Vivaldi's compositions to the novelty of performance: This despite the early trade of Vivaldi concertos being carried on by an elite minority of aristocrats and music specialists across the continent.
Never does Dreyfus express the idea that Vivaldi's concertos 'instructed' Bach in the art of ritornello concerto construction or served as models of composition. Dreyfus does state that Bach 'discovered' a hidden potential in these compositions, but the implication is that Vivaldi's concertos do not exploit these possibilities.
Whatever the case, it is now widely accepted that Bach did indeed absorb the principles of ritornello-episode construction from compositions of Vivaldi during the period in which the above arrangements were made, making Bach a pupil of Vivaldi of the printed score, and well testified elsewhere.
After an exploration of the weaknesses of the junior duke of Weimar Johann Ernst's set of concertos posthumously dated toDreyfus finally admits what he thinks of the concerto genre as happened upon by Bach: Rather, Johann Ernst was a nobleman - nothing lowly about that - and his set of six concertos, composed at the tender age of sixteen, held the promise of much more fully developed compositions in this genre if his life had not been tragically cut short.
In summation, Dreyfus states: Even in purely musical terms, Bach could scarcely have been seduced by the patent regressions in compositional technique - particularly the suppression of counterpoint and the corresponding impoverishment of true polyphony - in which the concerto reveled.
Bach's interest in Vivaldi had another source entirely: Dreyfus articulates the old complaint of Bachians that the Vivaldian concerto suppresses counterpoint and polyphony above.
In fact, as is well demonstrated in Bach's concertos for harpsichord, ritornello-episode construction can serve to provide an admirable framework for which considerable lengths of time one of the composer's most challenging tasks is to create meaningful time may be allotted to the soloist s to engage in all sorts of contrapuntal exercises in the episodes all the while supported by the broad, expansive tonal organization of the typical Vivaldian concerto.
Dreyfus then makes a serious error on page This is long and well known by Vivaldi specialists. Apparently, Bach and Vivaldi had more in common than Dreyfus would like to admit in their sharing of such a divine spark of invention. All of the above criticism is taken from Chapter 2, 'Composing against the Grain'.
Chapter 3, 'The Ideal Ritornello', on the other hand, seems to be only on my own amateur perusal of extremely high quality and in itself merits the entire study its prize in musicology and high critical acclaim for its admirable investigation of the inner workings of Bach's patterns of invention, all and only in my opinion.
Steven Foss wrote November 13, I think, IMVHO, that the works had merit of their own without the excitation, pleasurably and superficially, that a bunch of orphans and abandoned spinsters made the music the curiosity of Europe including France that has a history of being anti Italian.
Vivaldi wrote for them most of his concertos, cantatas, and sacred music. In the first collection raccolta of his works was published. Many others would follow. At the orphanage he covered several different duties, with the only interruption for his many travels, and in became responsible for the musical activity of the institute.
I did not find any mention of Dreyfus researching archives to see if any list of Vivaldi scores manuscripts or publications were ever recorded into inventory whether these pieces by Vivaldi still are in possession, exist elsewhere, or where lost does not matter in this case and at what dates and locations to defend his position on the spread of Vivaldi. Was he able to document in other words the Vivaldi frontier, or show centers of Vivaldi's fans amongst the nobility and at what date?
Was this shown in a map, a graph, or a table? Since you made no reference to this type of Musical "Archeology" digging in archival recordsI must summize that he did not, instead Dreyfus is giving his opinion. A Guess at best. Bach was a Genius period who concentrated his mental talenst into Music he was a Bach after all. However, as a genius, he did not invent new forms, rather he left his mark on the musical essays he wrote be it Cantata, Concerto or Fugue.
Mozart did this in his Fugues and Fugal writing in his G minor Symphony, likewise Beethoven left his own thoughts and totally unlike Mozart or Bach in his late life Fugues in the string quartette and Piano Sonata in which these are contained where unlike any other's work.
Had either Mozart, Bach or Beethoven had been killed in a carriage accident at 18 as was the unfortunate the "young duke," our opinions of them and history's would be quite different: Think what Pergolesi might written had he not died at Obiviously Bach's influence on his pupil has to be acknowledged.
Even the alternations between Exposition and Episode in Fugues could be in some people's opinion be linked to the ritonello form especially in the Fugues for the final movements of the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Brandenburg Concerti. I somewhat dispute the idea that the arrangements of the Concertos where either at the Duke's Command or was for Bach's instruction. As per my previous post, a Composer learns more from studying full scores.
However, as a showpiece of his skills as an organist or harpsichordist, these pieces would have made quite an impact on his patrons who were familiar with the pieces. And, maybe Bach just liked them, too. As such this calls into question when again we do not have the archival references of inventory some of these transcriptions may have been made. Was it when Bach was a violinist in in Weimar or later during his second term there ?
This would indicate that the transcription was done prior to seeing a L'estro printed score. How fast did this printing travel? Couperin's piece the Harvesters copied in the A M Bach notebook is significantly different ie earlier form from the published version dating from which shows F.
Couperin's re writing to indicate performance practice. This at least shows that circulating manuscripts have a life of their own and the slowness of distribution of published works and the great costs associated with these publications. I have not had the time recently to determine or to look up in a work on Vivaldi if any of the other Vivaldi Concerti Transcriptions come from any of these publications: Opus 6, 6 violin concertos Opus 7, 2 oboe concertos and 10 violin concertos Opus 8, Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione The Contest between Harmony and Invention12 violin concertos, the first 4, in E, G minor, F, and F minor being known as The Four Seasons Le quattro stagioni Opus 9, La cetra The lyre2 violin concertos and 1 for 2 violins Opus 10, 6 flute concertos c.
Alessandro Marcello 's Oboe Concerto was for many years thought to be by his brother Benedetto, who wrote a pamphlet against Vivaldi.
Either his composition routine form or Vivaldi's love affairs with his mistress depending on who you read. So Dreyfus isn't alone in not liking Vivaldi's music. Funny enough, both Marcello's used either the same or similar titles for the collections of works as did Vivaldi. B Marcello is best remembered by his Estro poetico-armonico Venice,a musical setting for voices and continou of the first fifty Psalms, as paraphrased in Italian by G.
Giustiniani and A Marcello composed and published several sets of concerti including six under the title La cetra. I guess the association with Tony Vivaldi's works of a similar name may have helped sales.
I look forward to your overview on Chapter 3. Jack Botelho Steven Foss wrote: I would even question whether they are very 'intelligent'. It seems clear to me that Dreyfus seeks to discredit the Vivaldian concerto in order to amplify what Bach did or took from it after all, the ritornello-episode principle infiltrated Bach's musical language to produce most of his masterpieces. Dreyfus states in the introduction that the book is made up of several different papers composed over different periods.
Chapter 2 is not central to his thesis. I would also like to point out, and this should be very clear to all but is worth stating nonetheless, my own methods are not empirical with regard to providing primary sources etc.
I do work from at times powerful insights powerful because they are free from socio-cultural bias which is so rife on some of these forums, a bias which disguises racist ideas, or at least, the inability of some individuals to put themselves in a different time and place because of there own ego-centred worlds which sometimes depend on lying and gossip closely related to each other and even now being observed empirically by those studying cerebral function - but now I'm off course.
I also do not in any way whatsoever wish to be in the position or even to desire to do so argue for the case of Vivaldi the great composer. My only intention is to outline Bach's background for the beginner. Your own input helps me to steer through these waters as like the guiding hand of a teacher. For this, many thanks, and for your insights below. Steven Foss wrote November 15,