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  • Bach 8LPF Question



    Hi. I actually have a music theory question today (opposed to my usual tech stuff...).</P>


    It is widely believed that the 8 Little Preludes and Fugues are not written by Bach but possibly by one of his students (Krebs?). I have read that there are certain "imperfections" or "flaws" in thewriting that Bach would not have made. Can anyone tell me what these are? To my untrained ear the pieces sound just fine, but I would like to learn more about this music and how it is critically listened to. I am trying to educate myself more about different types of music. Any guidance or references would be appreciated. I have a basic knowledge of music theory (scales/chords/motifs/etc.) but was never formally schooled in it. Thanks.</P>


    - jim</P>
    Jimmy Williams
    Hobbyist (organist/technician)
    Gulbransen Model D with Leslie 204

  • #2
    Re: Bach 8LPF Question



    I'm always a little leery when someone tells me that a piece of music contains 'imperfections or flaws'. This isn't mathamatics after all!</p>

    </p>

    I remember the controversy about them, and I'd tend to agree that they probably weren't written by Bach, but I think that saying they have flaws is something that was made up by the reformation movement because it wasn't as perfect as Bach.</p>


    I believe what they are referring to is the simplicity of the style , which is almost Rococco at some points (F major Prelude) and the occaisional weird cadance (I remember some of the C major entries and exits to be a little strange), but I'm not sure how much of it is just a confusion with the edition.</p>

    </p>

    I'll leave it to a more qualified member of the forum to answer this in full.</p>

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Bach 8LPF Question



      Jim,</p>

      I know it is fashionable, especially among academics to try and sort out who composed what, who painted this, who invented this or that. But for you and I this can be a distraction to the point that we don't enjoy the composition or work of art for what it is.</p>

      There are quite a number of Bach compositions that are now considered "attributed to Bach". What they can't say quite often is who then composed them.</p>

      I say, just learn them, play them, and enjoy them on their own terms. I think they are actually quite splendid.</p>

      This reminds me of something i read a few years ago. It was found (at least that is what the academics said) that a number of Rembrandt paintings were not by Rembrandt, but by an anonymous apprentice or helper to Rembrandt. Well, what happened was the appraised value went from millions of dollars to several hundred thousand. But the crunch of the story is, the painting is still the same painting, just as beautiful to behold as before. In other words, art in and of itself has no intrinsic value. It is the "story" that gives it value.</p>

      Same with music. There are a number of compositions by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart that I don't think are that great. Yet they are still played and talked about simply because a great master wrote them. Similarly, there are a number of great compositions that languish in obsurity, simply because the composer is unknown.</p>

      AV</p>

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Bach 8LPF Question

        [quote user="arie v"]

        Jim,</p>

        I know it is fashionable, especially among academics to try and sort out who composed what, who painted this, who invented this or that. But for you and I this can be a distraction to the point that we don't enjoy the composition or work of art for what it is.</p>

        There are quite a number of Bach compositions that are now considered "attributed to Bach". What they can't say quite often is who then composed them.</p>

        I say, just learn them, play them, and enjoy them on their own terms. I think they are actually quite splendid.</p>

        This reminds me of something i read a few years ago. It was found (at least that is what the academics said) that a number of Rembrandt paintings were not by Rembrandt, but by an anonymous apprentice or helper to Rembrandt. Well, what happened was the appraised value went from millions of dollars to several hundred thousand. But the crunch of the story is, the painting is still the same painting, just as beautiful to behold as before. In other words, art in and of itself has no intrinsic value. It is the "story" that gives it value.</p>

        Same with music. There are a number of compositions by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart that I don't think are that great. Yet they are still played and talked about simply because a great master wrote them. Similarly, there are a number of great compositions that languish in obsurity, simply because the composer is unknown.</p>

        AV</p>

        [/quote]</p>

        </p>

        Although I agree that you should judge a piece based on the actual music, not the composer, I don't think it's a waste of time to do musicological research to determine who composed what.</p>

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Bach 8LPF Question



          I'm not sure where the idea started that the Eight Little Preludes and Fugues were not written by Bach. For that matter, I don't have an opinion on the question, either. "Imperfections"? Perhaps. But even Bach, as extraordinary as his compositional gifts and skills were, wasn't perfect; he had his "down" moments, too (of course, his "down" moments are higher than the "up" moments of just about every other composer!). Nonetheless, the "Eight" certainly are worth the student's efforts to learn, even if we don't know for sure who wrote them. </p>

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Bach 8LPF Question

            Just listened to a concert yesterday where they played the 8. (and the 6 triosonatas and a few other works) Hearing them played in a concert instead of at the local organ exam put a different light on them. I really wanted to take them up again with what I know now about organ music. That's what "rong" with them. Most people learn to play them when they are not yet musically formed enough to get everything out of them.Doesn't mean there on the same level as the toccatas or so but still.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Bach 8LPF Question



              Gonna stick my big !@#$% mouth in on this one.</p>

              After having played Bach for almost 45 years on a piano, flute, harpsichord, clavichord and now an organ, I have my doubts about historians. The 8LPF have the subtle beauty of Goldberg, the simplicity of his little preludes and fugues for the piano, beauty of some of the flute sonatas and they are just fun musically. Though, like the Goldberg, they may not have been 100% JSB but they clearly have his fingerprints and his sunny disposition all throughout. They may have been based on Krebs or anyone else for that matter (can see quite different compositional ideas and styles throughout) but Bach still should get the most credit. It is like a pot luck dinner - different foods by different people but there is still a unifying location and theme. Someone came up with the idea. Come on Peter Schickele, can't you find a copy where your predecessor landed his damp beer tankard - twice?
              </p>

              The 20th century hangup of "originality" and "creativity" is just that, a modern problem. Go to BWV 577, measure 52-56 and see if Beethoven did not base a symphony movement and a piano sonata on these 4. See if JSB has any less or more to say with this simple profound passage than Beethoven and a full symphony orchestra.
              </p>

              Harmonically the 8 hold together well - my little clunker, unfixed organ is about as out of tune as they come and the 8LPF still hold together well (can you say extremely mean tuned). Stylistically, they clearly are a time piece but some are far weaker than others. If you look at this as an organ primer, they are superb, if you look under the hood, so to speak, there are a few weak spots where a stronger more imaginative solution would have been more typical Not atonal, no dissonance, not reaching beyond the 3rds and 5th rule, I believe these pieces are sketches he wrote during his lifetime and pulled them together later. I hear distinct touches of Wegweiser and other pieces from the organ primer he must have used.</p>

              A teacher told me once, "just enjoy the music". Composers write because they have something to say, even with these simple questionable "childlike" pieces, there is still something to learn and enjoy. My wisest teacher made me go back as an adult and relearn some of my childhood pieces - I found something completely new.
              </p>

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Bach 8LPF Question



                The 8 little preludes and fugues contain some nice music that is fun to play and listen to. These are some of the first pieces that I learned to play. Today, I can play them more musically and get pleasure out of these pieces. Each one is quite different sounding and has different technical difficulties that make them useful as learning pieces as well as easy listening.</p>

                Whether or not they were written by Bach is not necessarily relevant to the quality and sound. I still like them and they sound good on my home organ.
                </p>

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Bach 8LPF Question

                  [quote user="arie v"]


                  Jim,</P>


                  I know it is fashionable, especially among academics to try and sort out who composed what, who painted this, who invented this or that. [/quote]</P>


                  This has got nothing to do with 'fashion' at all. It's been 'normal' (and appreciated by many)work for historians since the days that men were able to communicate. In other words: if it's really fashionable, then it's an eternal fashion.</P>


                  [quote user="arie v"] </P>


                  But for you and I this can be a distraction to the point that we don't enjoy the composition or work of art for what it is. [/quote]</P>


                  If we should let ourselves distracted isfor you (and I) to decide.We can't really blame the not so fashionable scholars for that.</P>


                  [quote user="arie v"] </P>


                  There are quite a number of Bach compositions that are now considered "attributed to Bach". What they can't say quite often is who then composed them.</P>


                  [/quote]</P>


                  Quite often scholars suggest that a certain piece is not by Bach, or Mozart, or whomever. In some cases scholars are able to suggest who might be the composer. It's all history now, and we do not have enough facts to really prove something. Problem with the BWV catalogue is: most of the compositions are not delivered in Bach's own manuscript, but only in copies made by others. Which makes attribution in any way a difficult thing.</P>


                  [quote user="arie v"] </P>


                  I say, just learn them, play them, and enjoy them on their own terms.I think they are actually quite splendid. [/quote]</P>


                  Total agreement here.[Y] </P>


                  And you know what: Johann Ludwig Krebshimself happens to bea splendid organ and keyboard composer! With lot of influencesof his main teacher J.S. Bach, that must be said. Check out some of his other compositions.</P>


                  Oh, btw: many scholars have already attributed the Magnificat fugue BWV 733 to J.L. Krebs, too, because of some stylistic appearances. Now, that isn't a bad composition, either! [:D]</P>


                  [quote user="arie v"] </P>


                  This reminds me of something i read a few years ago. It was found (at least that is what the academics said) that a number of Rembrandt paintings were not by Rembrandt, but by an anonymous apprentice or helper to Rembrandt. Well, what happened was the appraised value went from millions of dollars to several hundred thousand. But the crunch of the story is, the painting is still the same painting, just as beautiful to behold as before. In other words, art in and of itself has no intrinsic value. It is the "story" that gives it value. [/quote]</P>


                  Yes. But again: the 'distraction' is not really caused by scholars or even by Rembrandt or Bach orany other artist.</P>


                  We, theconsumers, want to seealmost everything calculated invalue (for money). </P>


                  [quote user="arie v"] </P>


                  Same with music. There are a number of compositions by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart that I don't think are that great. Yet they are still played and talked about simply because a great master wrote them. Similarly, there are a number of great compositions that languish in obsurity, simply because the composer is unknown. [/quote]</P>


                  Yes. Though there are artists whoand record labelsthat really want to do something about that.Problem again are mainly the consumers, not the scholars. If it's not composed by Mozart, then it can't be that good, the lot of them seems to think. They keep on requesting the Kleine Nachtmusik, 40th symphony and the Requiem. (Even if the latter is for at least a third composed by Süßmayr.) That's why major labels keep on producing new issues with the same hits over and over again. A pity, really.</P>

                  Comment

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