JS Bach: “The wellspring of my life”
28th July 2019
On this day in 1750, Johann Sebastian Bach died. Perhaps the greatest musical genius of all time, Bach has given so much joy to the world. His is some of the most profound music ever to have been written and can create a feeling of exuberance like nothing else. It has also been a source of solace and inspiration to countless composers including Mozart, Schumann, Brahms, Elgar and Shostakovich. And so we are delighted that Bach occupies a special place in the upcoming 2019 Beverley Chamber Music Festival.
In Prelude & Fugue on Thursday 26th September, Libby Burgess plays two Preludes & Fugues from Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier – considered to be the ‘Old Testament’ of the keyboard literature. Ensemble in residence, The Brodsky Quartet, respond with arrangements of two Preludes by Shostakovich – which were inspired by the Bach. Shostakovich turned to Bach for compositional renewal, wisdom and artistic self-preservation at various times in his life, no more so than when writing his great Piano Quintet, with which Libby and The Brodsky Quartet end their concert.
We are thrilled that exceptional young cellist Laura van der Heijden makes her debut at the festival this year:
- She performs in recital alongside Libby in The Cello’s Voice on Thursday 26th September. Their programme includes Rachmaninov’s passionate Cello Sonata, which is sure to be a highlight of our Russian theme.
- Laura also joins The Brodsky Quartet in Captured Sunshine on Friday 27th September. The concert ends with Schubert’s sublime String Quintet. And it opens with Boccherini’s charming String Quintet ‘La musica notturna dell estrade di Madrid’, familiar to many from the film ‘Master and Commander’!
If you are looking to do some holiday reading between now and the festival then you could try Richard Powers’ vast, Pulitzer-winning novel, The Overstory, which takes us into the secret world of trees. Powers has a rare talent for describing music. Indeed, the quote in the title of this email comes from Powers’ wonderful interview on Private Passions. It is well worth a listen (click here to listen).
We are greatly looking forward to welcoming two distinguished speakers on music to the festival this year:
- On Thursday 26th September, Marina Frolova-Walker gives the morning talk ‘Testament – The life and world of Dimitri Shostakovich’.
- On Friday 27th September, Katy Hamilton gives the afternoon talk ‘Written on the skies – Elgar’s late chamber works‘.
Two months to go
The apples on the trees of the East Riding are ripening and so the festival is now only two months away. We greatly look forward to welcoming you to Beverley in September and we hope you enjoy the blackberry season / summer reading / the Proms etc. between now and then!
We leave you with two different bits of Bach at the Proms:
Elgar’s lavish orchestration of Bach’s Fantasia & Fugue in C minor BWV 537 performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at Last Night of the Proms in 2000 (the 250th anniversary year of Bach’s death). Elgar was devastated by the death of his wife Alice in 1920 and found himself virtually unable to compose. And so for the 1922 Gloucester Festival he made this symphonic arrangement of Bach.
Sir András Schiff playing the Prelude & Fugue in F sharp major BWV 858 from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I in the 2017 Proms.