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John

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Posts: 51
Reply with quote  #1 

While recently reading the book

‘Landowska on Music’ featuring the writings

of the great Harpsichordist and Bach interpreter Wanda Landowska

I was reminded of Ted many times and so copied out several passages

which I hope might also be of interest to musicians here.

 

In the forward to the book editor Denise Restout writes:

‘The miracle with great human beings is that they do not cease

to live when their hearts stop beating.‘

( this statement certainly reminds me of Ted! )

 

In the chapter entitled ‘On the Interpretation of JSBach’s Keyboard Music’

 

Landowska writes:

 

*…this melodic line digs such deep grooves that it becomes polyphonic all by itself.

In order to comprehend this…steep yourself in the beauty and liveliness of the music Bach wrote for one voice alone, such as the Cello Suites.

 

*…the contrapuntal network becomes clearer

and more spiritualized when the number of voices is reduced.

 

* Let us interrogate the voices separately; let us never defend

One to the detriment of the other; both are of equal interest.

 

* A Two Part  Invention…

the essence of polyphony – note against note,

hand against hand. The purity, logic, and independence of the

voices prohibits all subterfuge, all confusion.

They demand absolute clarity and loyalty.

 

*Bach’s two-part pieces are as beautiful, as difficult,

and as significant as the 4 or 5 part fugues.

 

* On Fugue: …the interest of a Bach subject lies not only in its existence,

but in the boundless possibilities to which it gives birth.

In truth, it is only a pretext for arousing

magnificent conflicts of harmonies, thanks to it’s encounters with other voices.

We must not think only of the subject;

we have to follow all the voices and listen as they sing, despairing or jubilant.

 

*…there is something eternal in Bach’s music, something that makes us

wish to hear again what has just been played.

This renewal gives us a glimpse of eternity.

 
I hope you find these ideas inspiring and encouraging!
Best from John
barbarafranklin

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi John,
Thanks for posting these fabulous insights. Ted had considerable admiration for Wanda Landowska. We had (I still have) and listened to many of her renditions of Bach.

But, the Bach interpretations we loved and admired the most were by Tatiana Nikolaeva. For us, She was the epitome of brilliance, insight and sensitivity in her expression of Bach. If you haven't already, she is well worth your listening.

__________________
Barbara Franklin
John

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Posts: 51
Reply with quote  #3 
Hi Barbara!

Turns out there is a nice amount of Tatiana Nikolaeva clips where she is playing Bach on You Tube! Wonderful! 

I have been continuing to make notes as I read different books
on counterpoint and the interpretation of contrapuntal
music and will continue to post the more interesting and

inspirational passages here
as time allows.

Thanks from John

DanSawyer

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Posts: 289
Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks for posting that John. Her words are indeed insightful and remind one of Ted's deep understanding of music.

Barbie, thanks for the tip on Tatiana Nikolaeva.

__________________
Dan Sawyer, friend of Ted's.
John

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Posts: 51
Reply with quote  #5 

Here are more lines from a wonderful book.

I truly hope someone will find encouragement and inspiration in these words.

Again, many of these quotes made me think of Ted!

 

Quotations from Cellist Pablo Casals taken from:

‘Casals and the Art of Interpretation’ by David Blum

 

* “I will say only elemental things, nothing complicated – as everything ought to be, beginning with life. But you must know that the simplest things are the ones that count.”

 

* ”Technique, wonderful sound…all of this is sometimes astonishing – but it is not enough.”

 

* “This melody must descend like a leaf which falls from a tree in autumn – never a direct descent, but a series of gently cascading movements.”

 

* “As in a dream,” he said, when rehearsing a passage from the slow movement of Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony. At the beginning of the 3rd movement of Beethoven’s

D Major Cello Sonata he commented, “These are not notes – they are only a first impression; they seem to say ‘What comes now?’ – mystery, mystery…”

 

* Casals once said: “You will see where to make the vibrato, the crescendo, the diminuendo of the notes – all these things you have to be present to, but present more in your feelings.  Not present only here,” he said, as he tapped on his head, “because it is not profound enough; but here“and he drew his hand to his heart.

 

* “Each note is like a link in a chain – important in itself and also as a connection between what has been and what will be.”

 

* “Remember,” he said, “that all music, in general, is a succession of rainbows.” The rainbow arcs which Casals traced in music were imbued with the secret of proportion.

 

* Speaking on the need to present music onstage without ‘breaking the spell’: “Tuning with the bow disturbs the audience. They have nothing to do with the instrument.”

 

* “Bach was thought of as a professor who knew very well his counterpoint and fugue – and nothing else. That narrow way of explaining Bach – the ‘Herr Professor’ – very sad.

Bach has every feeling: lovely, tragic, dramatic, poetic…always soul and heart and expression. How he enters into the most profound of ourselves. Let us find that Bach!”

 

* ”Tempestuous, that is Bach; Bach is passionate, passionate!”

 

* “Bach was the great colourist! He loved color. In the first prelude from the Well-Tempered Clavier he begins with only arpeggios – but what color!”

 

* Speaking of piece from the Bach Cello Suites: “It is fantastic to think that one note after the other there can be melody, the central voices and the bass all together. A wonderful polyphony – and this is an invention of Bach. We have to give the proper expression to each voice.”

 

* ”Let us not forget that the greatest composers were the greatest thieves. They took from everyone and from everywhere.”

 

* “Always try to find variety – it is the secret of music.”

 

* “ Real understanding does not come from what we learn in books; it comes from what we learn from love – love of nature, of music, of man. For only what is learned in that way is truly understood.”

 

* While helping a student study a piece Casals was asked 'How do you count this here, Maestro?', answered Casals: "With my soul."

 

John

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Posts: 51
Reply with quote  #6 
"The return to the beginning, completing the life cycle, carries with
it a fundamental sense of renewal, and yet reveals a new meaning in
the beginning which is two-fold — the potentialities of the beginning
and an infinitely greater understanding of its meaning as the result
of the returning undergone and the full experience of these
potentialities."

"Bach" (Prepared for Time Magazine)
by Rosalyn Tureck (1968)

Bach is an ideal world.

His music reveals to us
an order and a passion,
a multi-colored world
containing every nuance
of sense and sensibility
of emotion and intellectuality.

The experiencing of this combination places me in another sphere of being.
This sphere is the reality we all seek.
It is not the ivory tower, it is not escapism.
It is the reality of fulfillment
of the greatest capabilities in expression
through the most highly developed art any may is ever likely to reach.

This sphere of being,
which I experience in playing Bach,
is not removed from life.
My communication with my audience
is profound and I know it to be so
because they give me back so much.
Their giving in return is, for me, more in their silence
than in the applause which follows.

There are many qualities of silence of which I cannot help but be
acutely aware.

Often the quality of silence from my audience is almost unbearable in
its intensity and total absorption.
The relationship between myself and the audience is so intimate that
perhaps few persons experience such intimacy in their personal
relationships.
When music is capable of revealing so much about the human mind and
heart as Bach's music does, there are no aspects of inner life that I
can withhold from my audience.

Bach is revelatory — his music reveals a way of life. A performer must
be sensitive to perceive the connection of music and life, and capable
of articulating these musically to others.

Sartre said of Bach "he taught how to find originality within an
established discipline; actually how to live."
Bach's music influences me to the extent that my life is enmeshed with
the qualities
I have absorbed from it.

What does Bach's music mean to the listener and performer?
When speaking of meaning, the listener and performer are on common ground —
the ground of inner experience.

The listener and performer become one, merged into one universal being
— the experiencer.

Individual responses vary according to personal perception and
sensibility. One man said to me "I like Bach because I always know
where I am with him. I can always keep my foot tapping." Others regard
Bach as cool and thus quite the current fashion. These people go to
Bach for too little and receive too little.

Bach is more than music.
It reveals to us, who will listen and perceive, the world to which the
highest ideals of man aspire.
It is a framework of order and related structures moving in its own
musical process, but it is fantasy, ardor, and whimsy as well.
The freedom does not explode the order, and the order by no means
restricts the freedom.
Many people regard Bach as the musical representative of law and
order. Poor Bach is placed in the category of the conservative and/or
intellectual.

The music is, in fact, a continual succession of intellectual miracles.
Performers often cannot break through his fabulous architecture to
find the soft pulsating beat of life and the exquisite sensibilities
inevitable in the work of such a genius. These sleep in a state as of
an enchanted being behind a formidable structure.
The music is so rich, however, that it can be performed and enjoyed
within limited aspects of its nature.
But for the universal experience which is the stamp and nature of
Bach's art, the music cannot be presented in portions as in a gruyere
cheese.
The deepest reality of the music, the composers' intentions, must be
present in entirety. The composer's own dedications to his music
always were given to the glory of God and to the refreshment of the
spirit.
He referred to music as expressing spirit, all else being "ranting and raving."

But Bach's spirit in his music is a totality.
Everything exists there.
To play this music, or to hear it as the totality it is,
gives the experience such a sense of totality that one lives on another level.

The Goldberg Variations is a major representative for me of the
totality of expression and experience which Bach creates. From a
simple or rather apparently simple Aria, a set of thirty Variations
are composed. Structurally, these are miracles of variety and
imagination. For sheer keyboard technique alone, no music surpasses
its variety for the keyboard devices contain everything ever written
for a set of keys through the 19th century with the exception of
octaves. When I perform these Variations, I prepare myself with an
inner quality of encompassing the entire work instantaneously within
me. One cannot play this work with the sense of ordinary succession of
variations. For it is an acorn and the universe simultaneously, and
this I feel before I begin the first note of the Aria. The actual
ending of the Goldberg Variations is given to the return of the Aria.
The initial statement of this simple opening contains the entire
potential of the future. In my program notes on the Goldberg
Variations, I say, referring to the return of the Aria at the end of
the thirty Variations: "The return to the beginning, completing the
life cycle, carries with it a fundamental sense of renewal, and yet
reveals a new meaning in the beginning which is two-fold — the
potentialities of the beginning and an infinitely greater
understanding of its meaning as the result of the returning undergone
and the full experience of these potentialities. This return to the
beginning is one of the most sublime moments in music."

I was the first to play this work in its totality without a break,
from beginning to end, lasting one hour and twenty minutes. At the end
invariably I cannot get up from the piano stool for a little while,
and I usually hold on to the piano itself as I take my first bows to
the audience. There is always total silence between myself and the
audience immediately following the performance. I always weep on
reaching backstage, and continue to do so on each return from the
stage. I do not weep for sadness, though that is present also, in the
end. I weep for the sheer experiencing of everything that is life and
death as we know it. The knowledge, the vision and a gratefulness for
the fullness seen and experienced bring the tears. They contain joy,
as well. Thus I say Bach inspires and brings us to a level of living
highest in the potential of man. He brings us above the conflict,
competition, and violence from which so many today turn with horror
and distaste. The young people, their lives tremblingly suspended in
the limbo of violent passions, desperately seek sense and sensibility.
They feel intuitively what Bach expresses and reach out for this
beauty of form and infinite depth of feeling. It is to them that the
future of Bach must be dedicated. They need most and desire the way of
life and fulfillment that the totality of Bach gives. And the
performer must continually widen and deepen his own responses and
perception in order to embrace and express the greater rather than the
smaller Bach.
barbarafranklin

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Reply with quote  #7 
Dear John,  What a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing these insightful words.  Sincerely, Barbara

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Barbara Franklin
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