so it goes

Lately I’ve been thinking a bit about how I find myself drawn in deeper and deeper into classical music and at the same time noticing how irrelevant to the larger community my own tastes and interests seem to be.

Last week I put hours and hours in preparation for the prelude that I played this past Sunday. I don’t think many people realize or notice the fact that I’m playing music on the organ, much less that I’m doing it well or not.

The music is simply irrelevant to them.

I’m reconciled to being anachronistic.

I am largely where I want to be right now. When I began studying composition in the 70s, I remember thinking that if I could just get enough piano technique to play Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier, I would be satisfied.

I now have this technique and more.

And it is satisfying.

It’s a shame that not many people seem to want to listen to the wonderful music.

But that’s the breaks.


Yesterday I was drawn in to rehearsing the piano part for Tchaikovsky’s Piano trio in A minor.

I found just rehearsing the piano part extremely satisfying. When I first picked up the work, I found the piano part pretty challenging. It was written for Nicholai Rubenstein. Dang Russians were often amazing pianists with huge hands.

Nickolai on the left, brother Anton on the right

Yesterday, it seemed a lot more doable. It is long and it was the first time I read all the way through the first movement.

Anyway, I think it’s a heckuva piece of music even though in my educational career, Tchaikovsky was barely mentioned, quite out of fashion even with the classical types.

I have to say that when my piano trio read through the first 20 or so pages of this, we all thought it was pretty cool.


Doing my morning reading on the history of hymnody, I got lost in Robin Leaver’s essay, “English Metrical Psalmody,” in Hymnal 1982 Companion, Volume one.

I was trying to straighten out the history of metrical psalmody in my brain, especially as it works itself out in Hymnal 1982.

I discovered another hymn tune in the Hymnal 1982 that is set by Bach in his Orgelbuchlein. I immediately updated my page of Orgelbuchlein Hymns in the Hymnal 1982.


It turns out the that famous chorale, O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde gross, was actually derived from a metrical psalm tune which predates it. Who knew?

O Mensch, bewein dein' Sünde groß

This was a surprise to me.

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4 thoughts on “so it goes

  1. I disagree with your analysis on being relevant. I would suggest that parishioners may not know the music, but they would know if it were not there. Besides, “you know” and that is relevant to you.

    You need a jar on the Organ which says TIPS-CASH ONLY.

  2. Thanks for your kind words, dude. But I don’t find that many people seem to be interested listening closely to classical music these days. Not only that but music is constant in the background in our lives. I’m not even sure people are aware that it is there much less being made by another breathing human being. This is the kind of relevance I am thinking of.

    And of course, my own playing pleases and gratifies me immensely(with the caveat that one always tries to improve).

    I think great art is relevant. I just don’t see that many people evidencing awareness or interest.

    BTW, I get paid pretty well at my gig at church. They have given me a hefty raise this year and plan another to bring my wages up to more professional standards.

  3. You know I think I should add that I feel very appreciated in my work. Not a week goes by without someone commenting on how much they like the music. I’m only thinking about classical music which is more clearly represented in the prelude and postlude at my job. I believe that when people get a chance to participate in music (like in the hymn singing) it takes on a whole new level of meaning for them. This may sound like it contradicts some of my moaning and groaning (it probably does), but case in point was the amount of prep time I noticed it took to prepare my prelude last week versus how much I think people in the room actually noticed I was playing. In the middle of the piece someone’s child began banging on the piano in the church. I didn’t blink. I didn’t look up. I just smiled and dived deeper into what I was doing.

  4. I think it is always important to remind people “How good they really are”. Sometimes I think that people are so involved with their own existence that they forget to say something which is complementary. Your efforts are appreciated, I’m sure. Even if they don’t say anything, have confidence that you diligent hard work does have a benefit. I remember when you only was paid half amount when you worked at a full time effort. That was not so long ago.

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