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OLLI Students
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upcoming events:  Signup for my new OLLI course, "Amadeus: Myth and Reality" at the Osher U Pitt website. The course runs Thursday afternoons, 1-2:50 at Third Presbyterian Church, Shadyside, from Oct. 18 - November 15th Registration is still open until Oct 18th!  Invite all your Mozart-loving friends!

October 20 -- I'm running in the Baltimore Marathon! This is not a concert, but wish me luck anyway. You should most definitely not tell me to break a leg!

November 18th at 3pm (Sunday) -- organ recital at Heinz Chapel, Pittsburgh PA "Featuring the French" -- one dramatic sonata, an otherworldly choral-prelude, a majestic offertoire, and moeaurx! (sorry)*

*that's supposed to be French for "more" in case you were wondering.
The week's featured recording: (10/12)

Rhapsody in g minor,
 op. 79 no. 2

by Johannes Brahms
Pianonoise Radio: Vienna, C. 1790

coming Oct. 16:
music for Halloween!

This week on the blog:    Friday, October 12, 2018

The Hunt for mid-October


Persons from points elsewhere may not have heard, but in Pittsburgh this year the seasons are on the Julian calendar. It snowed through the middle of April, and on Tuesday we had a high of 86F.

It seems wrong to complain about such warm weather, though if you and I have not gotten acquainted, jawing about the calendrical wrongness of the weather is one way to do it. You don't have to email; you can just imagine us agreeing with each other for as long as you want to forestall doing something useful.

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The Behemoth of Instruments

inside the mighty pipe organ
Mozart called it the king of instruments. It is certainly the most elaborate.  A Pipe organ can consist of hundreds, if not thousands, of pipes and millions of small parts. The console alone may have from two to six keyboards, not including the row of foot pedals. There are often at least a hundred buttons to push, stops to pull out, or toe studs to kick which will activate huge banks of pipes, one pipe for each note. Those pipes are found in one or more pipe rooms which are largely hidden away, but may be the size of your living room.

Read on, MacDuff!

Last week I finally made a trip to the library to do some research into the problem of the 8 Little preludes and fugues and to find out why there is a debate over their authorship. Before I did that, I examined why many of us don't want to do our own research or consider the positions of those professionals who spend appreciable portions of their lives tracking down sources and considering styles when those positions conflict with what we think we already know. Being challenged does not go down easily in the human psychology, particularly when one's tools are unchanging certainty and little sense of how someone else even came to a different conclusion in the first place--in other words, lacking an understanding of research methods and a thorough acquaintance with musical styles of the time, it is not easy for the average music maker to get his or her head around the idea that some composer they've never heard of might have written pieces they love instead of a composer they so revere.

Of course, this doesn't automatically mean that the experts are always right, either.

Read blog
Who Really Wrote the 8 Little Preludes and Fugues?

(an investigative blog series)

part four
Well, that title will certainly get a few people to read it

"Dietrich Buxtehude and the Dance of Death." Curious?

Bless me, readers, for I keep sinning. In addition to being a church organist, caretaker of a tradition most people ignore, aficionado of music for which few people care, I compound my recklessness by being a scholar. Sort of.

Actually, I really just dabble in the stuff. When my advisor asked whether I might consider a PhD in musicology I was nearly finished with the DMA and wasn't particularly interested in starting another terminal degree, particularly when I was getting old enough that it might really be terminal. So I am still a rank amateur. But I have the effrontery to consider that knowing things about the notes on the page before you besides what the score by itself can tell you is not a bad thing. Horrors!

The piece is a chorale prelude called "Auf meinen lieben Gott" and the reason it is odd is that it is written in the form of a dance suite. There are five parts, and the first is an allemande, the second a double, the third a sarabande, the fourth a courante, and the last a gigue. It is a clever way of writing five variations on a tune, but if you know something about attitudes in church music several centuries ago (and even today) there is one big disconnect here.

Dance....church.....church.....dance......    can't....be....happening......

Read answer