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Uplifting Thoughts for the Isolated and Depressed in Times of Plague

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Eulalia

Poet Laureate
Staff member
Right observation, @Eulalia
I have to apologize to Mr. Fauré - who was an excellent pianist - because I forgot to mention that this is the recording of a mechanical piano roll.
I thought it must be, from the sound of the piano as well as the rather 'mechanical' performance, not much expression, but it probably gives some sense at least of the tempo and 'attack' of his playing. I think it was the gramophone that encouraged the over-the-top romanticism of mid-century recordings, and evidently in some parts of the world that's still in favour!

Another sublime piece. Vladimir Horowitz plays Johann Sebastian Bach's Adagio from the Toccata in C Major BWV 564, in the transcription by Ferruccio Busoni.

Ah yes, he was a fine composer that Bach-Busoni guy! :D

There's a story of his wife being introduced as Mrs. Busoni, wife of the composer, and the posh lady she was meeting looked a bit mystified, then said, "Ah, you must be Mrs. Bach-Busoni?"
 

elephas

Tribune
A little more on the theme of Busoni's transcriptions. One of his most famous arrangements is J. S. Bach's Choral Prelude "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ" in F minor BWV 639, known to many from Tarkovsky's fims "Solaris" (1972). There are a lot of performances of this thoughtful and uplifting piece, of wich I choose three: Dinu Lipati, Vladimir Horowitz and Vikingur Olaffson. Which rendition do you like the most? I prefer the Lipati version for its unique deep sound.
 

Praefectus Praetorio

Brother of the Quill
The first classical lp that I bought as a teenager when I got my first hi-fi. I had almost no concept of what the music was, but I fell in love and eventually spent most of my money (that wasn't squandered on drugs), on over 1,000 classical lps.

Bruno Walter, born 1876 was one of our last living ties to the end of the great Romantic period. Though I did not know that when I bought the album or know much about Brahms except the name.
 

Eulalia

Poet Laureate
Staff member
A little more on the theme of Busoni's transcriptions. One of his most famous arrangements is J. S. Bach's Choral Prelude "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ" in F minor BWV 639, known to many from Tarkovsky's fims "Solaris" (1972). There are a lot of performances of this thoughtful and uplifting piece, of wich I choose three: Dinu Lipati, Vladimir Horowitz and Vikingur Olaffson. Which rendition do you like the most? I prefer the Lipati version for its unique deep sound.
Hard to choose - the piano Lipati is playing does have an exquisite tone, doesn't it? And I do like his gently meditative style. Horowitz is very expressive too, yet in a disciplined way. All three obviously love the piece, and play it con amore.
 

Eulalia

Poet Laureate
Staff member
The first classical lp that I bought as a teenager when I got my first hi-fi. I had almost no concept of what the music was, but I fell in love and eventually spent most of my money (that wasn't squandered on drugs), on over 1,000 classical lps.

Bruno Walter, born 1876 was one of our last living ties to the end of the great Romantic period. Though I did not know that when I bought the album or know much about Brahms except the name.
A new take on the old song

 
I thought it must be, from the sound of the piano as well as the rather 'mechanical' performance, not much expression, but it probably gives some sense at least of the tempo and 'attack' of his playing. I think it was the gramophone that encouraged the over-the-top romanticism of mid-century recordings, and evidently in some parts of the world that's still in favour!
Piano rolls are really precious documents. They are time machines of sorts. They make me think of a science fiction story I read years ago in which an historian manages to reconstruct a dialogue - happened thousands of years before - between a potter at work and his son, applying a computerized procedure to the grooves in the vase that the artisan was building. Fascinating.

Ah yes, he was a fine composer that Bach-Busoni guy! :D

There's a story of his wife being introduced as Mrs. Busoni, wife of the composer, and the posh lady she was meeting looked a bit mystified, then said, "Ah, you must be Mrs. Bach-Busoni?"


She might have been a posh lady but a cultured one! :lol:


A little more on the theme of Busoni's transcriptions. One of his most famous arrangements is J. S. Bach's Choral Prelude "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ" in F minor BWV 639, known to many from Tarkovsky's fims "Solaris" (1972). There are a lot of performances of this thoughtful and uplifting piece, of wich I choose three: Dinu Lipati, Vladimir Horowitz and Vikingur Olaffson. Which rendition do you like the most? I prefer the Lipati version for its unique deep sound.
All fine versions, @elephas , it's hard to choose one!

This is one of my favorite pieces, one that I keep studying for years. An "easier" transcription by Wilhelm Kempff is worth listening.


Alfred Brendel's interpretation is great, too.

 

elephas

Tribune
George Frideric Handel and Procol Harum

G. F. Handel - Lascia Ch'io Pianga, from the opera Rinaldo

Procol Harum - Fellow Travelers, from the album The Well's On Fire (2003)
Music arranged by Matthew Fisher, words by Keith Read.
From the song:
"This life is blindness
Fill it with kindness"
 
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Praefectus Praetorio

Brother of the Quill
A meeting between Bach and Frederick II of Prussia ("Frederick the Great") on May 7, 1747, taking place at the King's residence in Potsdam, came about because Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel was employed there as court musician. Frederick wanted to show the elder Bach a novelty, the fortepiano (what we call the piano, which had been invented some years earlier. During his visit , Bach, who was well known for his skill at improvising, received from Frederick a very long and very complex musical theme on which to improvise a three-voice fugue. He did so, but Frederick then challenged him to improvise a six-voice fugue on the same theme. Bach answered that he would need to work the score and send it to the King afterwards. He then returned to Leipzig
Two months after the meeting, Bach published a set of pieces based on this theme which we now know as "The Musical Offering" (his last major work). Bach inscribed the piece "Regis Iussu Cantio Et Reliqua Canonica Arte Resoluta" ("the theme given by the king, with additions, resolved in the canonic style"), the first letters of which spell out the word ricercar, a well-known genre of the time.
The Ricercar a 6, a six-voice fugue (called by Bach "The Prussian Fugue") which is regarded as the high point of the entire work, was put forward by the musicologist Charles Rosen as the most significant piano composition in history.
Here is a delightful scene of the aged Bach (he was dead within 3 years) devout Lutheran, never more than mildly successful in life, meeting the 35 year old Frederick, atheist, highly educated, a friend of some of the outstanding philosophers of the time from a tv series in 4 parts from 1985 named "Johann Sebastian Bach" (an East German/Hungarian collaboration). The initial music at 0:00 - 0:48 is one of the King's own pieces: Flute Concerto No. 3 in C Major (1st movement, Allegro).
Bach's rising to the challenge of the arrogant young King is uplifting.
Don't miss the other musicians' reaction at the end.
BTW: Frederick did play the flute well and he wrote the Flute Concerto.
 
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A meeting between Bach and Frederick II of Prussia ("Frederick the Great") on May 7, 1747, taking place at the King's residence in Potsdam, came about because Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel was employed there as court musician. Frederick wanted to show the elder Bach a novelty, the fortepiano (what we call the piano, which had been invented some years earlier.

BTW: Frederick did play the flute well and he wrote the Flute Concerto.
Bach actually conceived this work as a present to celebrate the grandeur of the king, hence the title.
Frederick is said to have owned ten fortepianos. Bach was invited to play them but the instruments didn't particularly impress him.
Also, it is worth noticing that Bach usually didn't write for a specific instrument, in fact his works have been (and still are) transcribed for virtually every type of combos.
Another interesting detail: one of Bach's biographers refers that the meeting happened in the presence of Frederick's flute teacher, the only person in the entire kingdom who was allowed to criticize his playing..
 

elephas

Tribune
A meeting between Bach and Frederick II of Prussia ("Frederick the Great") on May 7, 1747, taking place at the King's residence in Potsdam, came about because Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel was employed there as court musician. Frederick wanted to show the elder Bach a novelty, the fortepiano (what we call the piano, which had been invented some years earlier. During his visit , Bach, who was well known for his skill at improvising, received from Frederick a very long and very complex musical theme on which to improvise a three-voice fugue. He did so, but Frederick then challenged him to improvise a six-voice fugue on the same theme. Bach answered that he would need to work the score and send it to the King afterwards. He then returned to Leipzig
Two months after the meeting, Bach published a set of pieces based on this theme which we now know as "The Musical Offering" (his last major work). Bach inscribed the piece "Regis Iussu Cantio Et Reliqua Canonica Arte Resoluta" ("the theme given by the king, with additions, resolved in the canonic style"), the first letters of which spell out the word ricercar, a well-known genre of the time.
The Ricercar a 6, a six-voice fugue (called by Bach "The Prussian Fugue") which is regarded as the high point of the entire work, was put forward by the musicologist Charles Rosen as the most significant piano composition in history.
Here is a delightful scene of the aged Bach (he was dead within 3 years) devout Lutheran, never more than mildly successful in life, meeting the 35 year old Frederick, atheist, highly educated, a friend of some of the outstanding philosophers of the time from a tv series in 4 parts from 1985 named "Johann Sebastian Bach" (an East German/Hungarian collaboration). The initial music at 0:00 - 0:48 is one of the King's own pieces: Flute Concerto No. 3 in C Major (1st movement, Allegro).
Bach's rising to the challenge of the arrogant young King is uplifting.
Don't miss the other musicians' reaction at the end.
BTW: Frederick did play the flute well and he wrote the Flute Concerto.
This TV series of 1985 about J.S. Bach was one of my favorites as a child. There are all 4 parts (in German) on Youtube.
1. Die Ordnung der Sterne / The Order of the stars
2. Stürme und Jahre / Storms and years
3. Bist du bei mir... / Are you with me...
4. Die Herausforderung / The Challenge
(see the links in the attached file).
 

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Frank Petrexa

Governor
A meeting between Bach and Frederick II of Prussia ("Frederick the Great") on May 7, 1747, taking place at the King's residence in Potsdam, came about because Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel was employed there as court musician. Frederick wanted to show the elder Bach a novelty, the fortepiano (what we call the piano, which had been invented some years earlier. During his visit , Bach, who was well known for his skill at improvising, received from Frederick a very long and very complex musical theme on which to improvise a three-voice fugue. He did so, but Frederick then challenged him to improvise a six-voice fugue on the same theme. Bach answered that he would need to work the score and send it to the King afterwards. He then returned to Leipzig
Two months after the meeting, Bach published a set of pieces based on this theme which we now know as "The Musical Offering" (his last major work). Bach inscribed the piece "Regis Iussu Cantio Et Reliqua Canonica Arte Resoluta" ("the theme given by the king, with additions, resolved in the canonic style"), the first letters of which spell out the word ricercar, a well-known genre of the time.
The Ricercar a 6, a six-voice fugue (called by Bach "The Prussian Fugue") which is regarded as the high point of the entire work, was put forward by the musicologist Charles Rosen as the most significant piano composition in history.
Here is a delightful scene of the aged Bach (he was dead within 3 years) devout Lutheran, never more than mildly successful in life, meeting the 35 year old Frederick, atheist, highly educated, a friend of some of the outstanding philosophers of the time from a tv series in 4 parts from 1985 named "Johann Sebastian Bach" (an East German/Hungarian collaboration). The initial music at 0:00 - 0:48 is one of the King's own pieces: Flute Concerto No. 3 in C Major (1st movement, Allegro).
Bach's rising to the challenge of the arrogant young King is uplifting.
Don't miss the other musicians' reaction at the end.
BTW: Frederick did play the flute well and he wrote the Flute Concerto.
I am not into music so much, nor do I know much about Friedrich der Grosse. I have read that he was gay, that his father would humiliate him when he was younger in front of the court and the military. That certainly contributed to his personality, and to his considerable influence on European history.
He led from the front. Once he goaded troops forward with "Forward, you dogs, do you want to live forever?" (There was a rejoinder, so apparently morale was not all that bad.)
When Napolean marched into Berlin, he and his staff visited Friedrich's masoleum. "Hats off, gentlemen. If he were alive, we wouldn't be here."
 

Silent_Water

Governor
Friedrich's / Frederick's original quotation is said to have been: „Ihr verfluchten Racker, wollt ihr denn ewig leben? “ (= "You cursed rascals, do you want to live forever?")
Honestly, I would not have liked to live in those times. Judging from our times, Prussia was a German-Protestant "Sparta", built on its military strength and nothing else. "Frederick the Great" made it more human for those times: abolishing torture, being regarded as the first German king of an "enlightened absolutism", interested in poetry, music and science, at the same time probably embittered for his whole life by the cruelty and military stupidity of his father who forced him to watch the beheading of his friend and possibly lover "Hans Hermann von Katte" with whom Frederic wanted to flee from the cold-hearted cruelty of his father.
Frederick was successful as a king but he never seemed to have been really happy in his life. In some of his battles, he was right in the first line of the front as he would have liked to die and once, the impact of an enemy bullet to his chest threw him off his feet to the ground but the bullet was really caught inside his snuff tobacco box. This event was regarded as a miracle by his soldiers, who fought then even more successful because God was obviously on their king's side.
When Frederick grew older, he had some more understanding for his father, who was also called "the Soldier-King", because without his army, Prussia would only have been a small German kingdom without any resources or any power.
But Frederick never really felt to be understood by his nation and seems never to have had real friends again. So, his last wish was not to be buried close to human beings but to his dogs who were more loyal to him than every human being, as he said.
It does not really seem to have been a lucky life although the Prussians of those times loved him because he also called himself "The First Servant of this State". He really meant that serious, was not so wasteful like other kings of those times and he really did a lot for the constant and well nutrition of the poor farmers, who he regarded as the "foundation stone" of every nation.
 

Frank Petrexa

Governor
Friedrich's / Frederick's original quotation is said to have been: „Ihr verfluchten Racker, wollt ihr denn ewig leben? “ (= "You cursed rascals, do you want to live forever?")
Honestly, I would not have liked to live in those times. Judging from our times, Prussia was a German-Protestant "Sparta", built on its military strength and nothing else. "Frederick the Great" made it more human for those times: abolishing torture, being regarded as the first German king of an "enlightened absolutism", interested in poetry, music and science, at the same time probably embittered for his whole life by the cruelty and military stupidity of his father who forced him to watch the beheading of his friend and possibly lover "Hans Hermann von Katte" with whom Frederic wanted to flee from the cold-hearted cruelty of his father.
Frederick was successful as a king but he never seemed to have been really happy in his life. In some of his battles, he was right in the first line of the front as he would have liked to die and once, the impact of an enemy bullet to his chest threw him off his feet to the ground but the bullet was really caught inside his snuff tobacco box. This event was regarded as a miracle by his soldiers, who fought then even more successful because God was obviously on their king's side.
When Frederick grew older, he had some more understanding for his father, who was also called "the Soldier-King", because without his army, Prussia would only have been a small German kingdom without any resources or any power.
But Frederick never really felt to be understood by his nation and seems never to have had real friends again. So, his last wish was not to be buried close to human beings but to his dogs who were more loyal to him than every human being, as he said.
It does not really seem to have been a lucky life although the Prussians of those times loved him because he also called himself "The First Servant of this State". He really meant that serious, was not so wasteful like other kings of those times and he really did a lot for the constant and well nutrition of the poor farmers, who he regarded as the "foundation stone" of every nation.
It makes sense he would use the "familiar" in his "exhortation". So, he wasn't an arrogant, spoiled brat. Hitler admired him (of course), but he was nothing like Hitler either. He was an agressor and warmonger, but he always had a strategic purpose and a sense of limits. So he wasn't really like Napolean either. As you say, he cared about his country. He was hard-working and competent. You have to understand people in their own time, I think. And military strength requires economic strength. He understood that better than most, and worked to achieve it.
 

elephas

Tribune
This TV series of 1985 about J.S. Bach was one of my favorites as a child. There are all 4 parts (in German) on Youtube.
1. Die Ordnung der Sterne / The Order of the stars
2. Stürme und Jahre / Storms and years
3. Bist du bei mir... / Are you with me...
4. Die Herausforderung / The Challenge
(see the links in the attached file).
Sorry for the mistake: I have posted the episode titles in a wrong order. So here is the correct order:
"Johann Sebastian Bach" (1985)
1. Die Herausforderung
2. Bist du bei mir ...
3. Stürme und Jahre
4. Die Ordnung der Sterne.
 

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