This morning I am thinking about Bach and his collection of 48 Preludes and Fugues in the two volumes known as the Well Tempered Clavier. I have just played through the Bb prelude in the second volume It is an amazing piece.
Bach and this book have loomed over my life since I was a teenager. I remember visiting the home of Greg Angus who was a friend of mine in high school. He was a classical guitarist who like myself had an interest in many styles of music. His older brother Duncan was an actor and affected a sort of British accent on his visits home from college. Greg’s Mom was a piano teacher. They lived in Owosso. I think Greg’s Dad was a teacher and actually taught my brother Mark in elementary school. I could be wrong about that. Mark is one of my readers so maybe he will correct me. (Incidentally, if you are interested in the parable of the Good Samaritan I was talking about yesterday be sure and read Mark’s comment on yesterday’s blog in which outlines a sane approach to preaching on it at this time of crazy shit in America).
Anyway, Greg didn’t live in Owosso, He lived on the outskirts of Flint in his Grandmother’s cottage she kept so that she could attend an annual church camp meeting held in Flint. I can remember Greg and I frying up mushrooms in butter at his Grandmother’s cottage. My taste for mushrooms cooked in butter dates from this time.
When I was visiting Greg’s parents home in Owosso, I noticed a copy of the Well Tempered Clavier by Bach on the piano. I was already enamored of Bach by that time, though I couldn’t really play much of his music well and actually couldn’t fluently read bass clef being primarily a trumpet player. When I remarked on the volume, Greg’s Mom told me that I would have a lot of fun with this particular book in my life as a pianist.
She was right. The pieces in this collection continue to amaze and delight me. I love playing through them. Pablo Casals writes about getting up every day and playing through at least one prelude and fugue from it as a sort of morning benediction to the day. He used to brag that his cleaning lady could be heard humming themes from the book due to this daily exposure.
A few years after Greg’s Mom predicted my love of this book, when I was attending Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware Ohio studying composition, I remember thinking that I would be satisfied if i could acquire enough piano technique to be able to play the Well Tempered Clavier.
Despite my self doubts and weird ability that doesn’t quite fit many slots these days, I think I have come to the point where I can play this book with a certain amount of ease.
This is an old story from 2007. However, it seems to be a bit under reported, at least I don’t remember it.
For some reason I had an unusual number of hits on yesterday’s blog (74). I wonder if it had anything to do with all the links I posted. At any rate, only two links today. Hot news on the Philistines. You know, Goliath’s people in the story of David and Goliath. In the Bible.