Tuesday, January 1, 2019

End of one year, beginning of another

Recently I've been thinking a lot about this blog, and what I'm hoping to accomplish.  Ultimately it's about you: if what you find here doesn't make your life better in some way, what's the point?  How can I make it easier for you to find what you are looking for, and make use of what you find?  I'm posting about my experiences, but hoping you'll find some value, even if only to shake your head at my pratfalls.

So, what has this year been for me, musically speaking?

This has been a year to reconsider and re-evaluate.  What am I doing?  Why?

I didn't play in public often in 2018.  The vast majority of my music-making has been at home, or in small gatherings.  Right now, that's for the best.

This year I've been working on chorale preludes by Telemann, various organ pieces by Pachelbel, a sonatina by Clementi (Op. 36, No. 3 in C Major), a suite by Buxtehude (F Major), and so on.  This was also a year full of The Well-Tempered Clavier, book I; I've been working on memorizing the first several preludes and fugues (numbers 1-3 basically done, 4-6 in progress).  Underlying all of this has been a re-examination of technique.  It's been about thinking, and listening, as much as playing.

I've been going, slowly, through Clara Bell's translation of Philipp Spitta's biography of Bach, and matching his descriptions, where possible, with the pieces they're about.  While Spitta's opinions can't always be accepted without question, this three-volume set (formerly bound as two) does cover a large number of composers and pieces, and, in the age of the internet, you can hear most of them pretty easily, on YouTube, SoundCloud, or elsewhere.  This makes a great introduction (or re-introduction, if you already knew some music history) to some fine music, the people who made it, and the times and places they lived.  It's also a way to approach questions of what makes good music, and what makes music good.  Spitta doesn't hide his opinions, and even disagreeing with him is a learning experience.  He's dated, of course; comparing his work with more recent writing is part of the experience.

Composing?  2018 was a pretty dry year.  A goal for 2019 is to write more.

But the biggest goal for 2019?  Finding my way again, figuratively speaking.  Right now I feel lost.

Wishing you and those you care about health, happiness, and success for the coming year.