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J.S.

Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier Prelude & Fugue No 1

The origins of the WTC are difficult to trace, although Ernst Gerbers
biography of Bach, written in 1790, states [Bach] wrote his Tempered
Clavier in a place where boredom and the absence of any kind of musical
instrument forced him to resort to this pastime. Bachs imprisonment in
Weimar in 1717 for seeking release from his position as
Konzertmeister, or his trips to Carlsbad with Prince Leopold from May
June of 1718 and 1720 would both fit this account. Furthermore, the fact
that Ernst Gerbers father was a pupil of Bachs (Leipzig 1724-1727)
adds credibility.

In order to understand these pieces, we must first know the meaning of


both Well-Tempered and Clavier. Whilst Clavier, is simply
derived from the German word for a keyboard instrument, (Klavier) the
concept of a Well-Tempered tuning system is much more complex.
Well temperament means a mathematical-acoustic and musical-
practical organisation of the tone system within the twelve steps of an
octave, so that impeccable performance in all tonalities is enabled-
Werckmeister (Orgelprobe, 1681)

It is often hard to find a specific definition or form for a prelude, but in


this case, Bach begins his complex book of Preludes & Fugues with the
most simple of preludes. This series of arpeggios in C Major is arguably
so interesting because of its simplicity. Figure 1 shows a reduced version
of the chords, so it is easier to see the harmony. In my own performance
of this piece I have chosen to hold each note of the arpeggio until the end
of the chord, thus creating a continuous unbroken melody, which Cecil
Gray described as fine-spun like a spiders web.

The fugue is a conversation a musical artwork where no one


accompanies, no one submits, where no one plays a secondary role,
but each a principal part. Georg Joseph Vogler

In stark contrast to the previous simplicity of the prelude, the C Major


fugue is possibly one of the most difficult to master. Interestingly this
particular fugue has no countersubject; therefore Bach almost
immediately starts to use stretto to build a rich polyphonic texture, and by
using a declamatory chord at the end of each section, retains an element
of clarity that allows the listener to recognize the interesting ways in
which he manipulates the subject. Figure 2 shows a brief analysis of the
fugue that highlights the different subject entries.

Finally, as there are no tempo markings, I have researched which speed


notable pianists perform this piece at and chosen the most appropriate
speed to accentuate the harmonies, and interaction between the different
parts.

Fig 1
Fiq 2
Haydn: Sonata in D (Hob.XVI: 37) Allegro con brio

This sonata is arguably one of Haydns better-known keyboard sonatas


and he began writing it around 1778 1779. When published by the
Viennese company Artaria in April of 1780 it was dedicated to two
acclaimed Viennese pianists Katerina and Mariana von Auenbrugger.
Interestingly it seems as though these sisters would have had some
influence over the piece, as in a letter between Haydn and Artaria (25 th of
February 1780) regarding the return of the corrected proofs, he wrote:
[their] approval is most important to me, for their way of playing and
genuine insight into music equals those of the greatest masters. The fact
that these sonatas are dedicated to already talented pianists shows a
difference in purpose for these pieces, as they were usually intended to
teach. This also illustrates the symbiotic relationship between the 18 th
century composer and the performer.

The piece is in sonata form, and therefore consists of an; Exposition,


which introduces the first episode in D Major, before then restating it in
the dominant key. The use of Alberti bass figures in this section shows a
move away from C.P.E Bachs style. As the piece then moves into the
development section, we see an introduction of the theme in the left hand,
which is followed by a virtuosic section of semi-quavers. Finally, in the
recapitulation we see almost an exact repeat of the initial exposition,
which is common in lots of Haydns music.

Furthermore, this piece shows a change in his compositions when


compared to his earlier style of Sturm und Drang. Literally meaning
Storm and stress this movement occurred across the arts from the late
1760s to early 1780s, it dealt with subjectivity, emotion and free
expression and was seen as a reaction to rationalism and what is called
The Enlightenment. A chief exponent of the Sturm and Drang style of
composition was C.P.E Bach, especially in his keyboards works, which
Haydn studied. This change of style may be attributed to the fact that the
Esterhazy family, (The family that employed Haydn for much of his life)
moved their family home from Eisenstadt, to their new palace at
Esterhza in Fertd Hungary, some 40km away. As Haydn spent ever
more time separated from the musical establishment in Vienna, his style
was forced to evolve due to the lack of outside influence. Haydn himself
said that he was forced to become original.
Chopin Nocturne in C-Sharp Minor (No20)

Chopins Nocturne in C-Sharp Minor was composed in 1830 yet only


published 26 years after his death in 1870. It was dedicated to his sister
Ludwika as an exercise before beginning the study of my second
concerto. Naturally there are certain parts of the piece that are based on
parts of his second piano concerto, the introduction of the new theme in
bars 21-22 and the main theme of the third movement are an especially
good example.

The nocturne or night song as a genre was initially popularised by an


Irish composer, John Field. Whilst Chopin knew these works relatively
well, he improved them, possibly by taking inspiration from Vincenzo
Bellini, who was a close friend of his. Throughout Chopins work we can
see reference to this Bel Canto style, as lots of his melodies closely
imitate a singing voice. Chopins nocturnes have a few common features,
such as a contrasting middle section and that returning themes are usually
embellished. He also frequently encouraged his students to play his
pieces in different ways; consequently there are a lot of differences in the
notation. I think this further invites performers to create their own version
of his work.

Interestingly, many of Chopins performances were held at a Salon, with


his relatively few public appearances occurring mainly in Paris. This lack
of a public persona is almost mirrored in his music, which is shown by
the fact that lots of his work is often extremely quiet, introspective and
subtle, furthermore Chopin was the one of the first composers to
understand the importance of proper pedal markings. Most of the time we
see the pedal being used to connect the bass line. Chopin, however, does
the opposite. In his work it is often the melody that connects the music, as
a result of this, I have given extra care to ensure that I preserve a clear
sound by sustaining the notes for the correct amount of time.
Chopin Nocturne Op. 72 No.1

This Nocturne was either one of the first that Chopin composed in 1827,
based on its style, or one of his last, which would fit Liszts account that
his last nocturnes were still only on manuscript at the time of his death.
Like the previous nocturne this piece was also published posthumously in
1855

The piece also conforms to the usual conventions of the genre, in that it is
in ternary form, with a contrasting middle section, and when the theme
returns it is embellished. The piece begins with an unbroken line of
quaver triplets in the bass, over which Chopin adds the cantabile theme.
Like many of Chopins pieces, it is full of ornamentation, especially in
the beginning of the final A section were see almost every figure
somehow altered with, trills, mordents, and almost floritura like sections.

The use of rubato, literally meaning to rob, is always important in


Chopin, but in this particular nocturne it is especially useful to;
exaggerate certain notes by allowing them more time, and to also
maintain interest in the left hand, as the repetitive triplet line can become
tiresome.