Classical Music at the Library, Part the Fourth

Greetings and salutations!

During this Library Lovers’ Month, I’m returning with more on the Classical Music I hold so dear to my heart. I, your savant, and my trusty sidekick Philip Koro, will be coming at you with the rockin’ rambunctious raucous action that you associate with composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and others. At this point, I’m making the internationally-recognized sign for “metal” in the air. YEEEAAAAH.

In earlier blog posts, I had mentioned the library now has a collection of performances on DVD. Although you may think that us librarians live a life of bon-vivant leisure, I haven’t had much a chance to report back my findings–until recently.

If you like baroque music, you already love Johann Sebastian Bach. It’s impossible to miss him. The man was a machine–he composed over 1,100 compositions during his lifetime. He also had twenty children. In one of his last works, The Art of Fugue (Die Kunst der Fuge), Bach showboated his mad crazy compositional skills. I watched a performance of this work by Die Akademie für Alte Musik (which is based in Berlin) through the magic of the digital video disc. The recording, which gives an intimate view of the performance, also gives a sense of the work’s architecture, beginning with a simple theme played on the organ to its complex counterpoint played by strings, woodwind and keyboard.

Sure, The Art of Fugue isn’t exactly easy listening. The reward, however, is a better appreciation for the structures of baroque music and a greater understanding of perhaps the greatest composer ever (the greatest in this gent’s humble opinion). I must admit that The Art of Fugue is not for everyone–in fact, it was intended as a teaching aide for students of composition. This means that at times the music can be rather on the heavy side, like reading a complex multi-layered but well-structured novel–one that Bach never completed. The last piece in the cycle, Contrapuntcus XVIII, abruptly ends with the last note being played by a viola.

Until next time–may your larks always be ascending and your clavier be well-tempered!


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