John Baird: Bach was known to have written above certain keyboard manuscripts that the work could be performed on “any keyboard instrument that could encompass the notes”. In his day, that meant basically the organ, clavichord, and harpsichord. He did give an early Christofori pianoforte a ride, but didn’t really like it—it’s mechanism was basic and the sound was alien and crude (made by leather-stripped hammers). So, I feel it is ok to play Bach on the piano, and add some expressiveness that, say, the harpsichord could not (such as crescendo and decrescendo). There is a balance—to preserve the performance techniques and styles of Bach’s day, yet, incorporate some of the abilities of a modern-day instrument. Some works, such as the Goldberg Variations, were written specifically for a two-manual harpsichord, so when played on the piano, some gymnastics are required here and there! Thanks for your interesting write-up.
Mi madre, sin embargo, tiene ochenta-nueve anos, y sufrio mucho durante la Guerra Civil (mataron a su padre; se caso con un anarquista; lo exiliaron; nunca volvio – para vivir- a su pais) y tambien en los anos cincuenta en Inglaterra cuando nadie tenia nada y habia mucho racismo contra los extranjeros – no obstante, siempre ha sido una mujer alegre. No pasa un dia sin sonrisa y risa. Claro, toma muchos medicamentos por varias enfermedades cronicas, pero sigue siendo una persona optimista y agradable, agradecida por todo lo bueno que hay en la vida. Mi tia Juanita, todo lo contrario…
Linda: You are absolutely correct! The reason there has been zero gun control legislation is that the American public keeps sending into office enough conservatives to prevent any progress on the issue.
Sorry, that should be ‘ochenta y nueve’. I always get numbers wrong in Spanish.
Those opposed to gun-control legislation seem to leave logic at the door when they enter this debate, including an anonymous poster on OTP today. One false assumption is that there are only two options: unrestricted access to guns and zero access to guns. This is a false dichotomy and is meant only to prop up faulty arguments. We can tighten restrictions to gun ownership in a number of different ways without violating Constitutional rights. And the science is clear – sensible gun laws save lives. Lives. Real lives. The lives of children. The lives of innocents. We all know what honest pro-life politicians would do. But we don’t have honest pro-life politicians. Will tightening access to guns prevent all gun deaths? Of course not! — just as sensible regulation and licensing of automobiles don’t prevent all car accidents. The logic of those under the influence of the deadly intoxication of gun culture would tell you that cars don’t kill, drivers kill. Yet, we know that regulating access to cars, automotive safety laws, insurance of cars, licensing of drivers, traffic laws, traffic enforcement, etc. saves thousands of lives each year. Until gun lovers confront their fetish with the gun, we will continue to put innocents at risk. We know this. The evidence is there. The United States does not have more mentally ill people than other countries. Even if you were to argue that we are inherently a violent people (I’d argue that the tendency to violence is evenly distributed across the world, but for the sake of argument let’s say Americans are a particularly violent lot) we can significantly lower the rate of gun deaths to save thousands of American lives each year and STILL retain our claim to be the country with the most gun deaths. We have that much wiggle room in the statistics. To not attempt to change what we know we can change is to be complicit in what we know will be more violent deaths.
Robert: That anonymous poster merely restated the boneheaded argument recently made by one Senator Rafael Edward Cruz, Republican, of Texas.
John: My favorite factoid about Bach is that he had 7 children with his first wife and 13 with his second wife, while composing some of the most glorious music this side of Paradise. 10 of those children (50%) survived to adulthood, which was about average for those times, if not slightly above.
Robert: While the U.S. may not have more mentally ill people than other countries (though I honestly don’t know the stats), I would posit that our society in general has drifted from its moorings enough to cause, or perhaps reveal, the kind of unhinged behaviors exhibited in such horrific killing sprees. If anyone wants to argue that American family units have grown stronger and become more supportive over the past 50 years or so, I’d love to hear it. But my sense and observation is that most of the malcontents who launch these disgusting attacks are products of shattered homes. Not cause, but commonality.
Perhaps. But regardless of the social and/or mental conditions of those who perpetuate such acts, that should not distract us from the important work of tightening access to deadly weapons and ammunition.
The anonymous poster also conveniently overlooks cases of accidental gun deaths, in which the human intent to kill is absent, yet someone still dies because of a poorly controlled firearm.
John Baird and Ron, I enjoyed your comments on the interpretation of Bach music with piano. Particularly with the mention of classical guitarist Andres Segovia–the late master and virtuoso. More modern guitarists fault him for his ‘anacronistic’ interpretation of Bach. But in order to achieve sustain on guitar, the virtuoso had to press into the guitar fretboard and use as much vibrato as possible on the imperfect instrument. (He did not have the luxury of sustain of a viol or violin. )Thus, his interpretations are deemed ‘taking liberties with notes’ and ‘too romantic’ by some. But I think the melifluous spirit of the mathematician Bach sings out in spite of the imperfections of the instrument. Segovia afterall, did take the gypsy folk instrument to the realm of classic concert performance with his transcription and performance of the Bach Chaconne- Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004 (1923) “It’s a spiritually powerful piece, emotionally powerful, structurally perfect” (Josua Bell) And Segovia brought the Bach piece into that realm forever, on what we now know as the classical guitar. And he continued that virtuoso work with the Bach cello suites.
My favorite keyboardists are Rosalind Tureck and Glenn Gould and Andras Shiff. So I am happy to sample other pianists when I hear about them from John Baird.
Kurt Vonnegut, count us in. Most of us supporting common sense gun laws are aware that there are different classes of gun which can be regulated differently. There is no reason a civilian needs to own a weapon essentially identical to those used by members of the military expressly for quickly and efficiently killing human beings. Though a household containing folk who ably served our country for many years, we too will not have one of those motherfuckers in the house.