A Few of My Favorite Fugues
SPONSORED BY ANNE SILLS
Staunton Music Festival artistic director Carsten Schmidt provides background insights into how he selected a diverse collection of fugues to create the Serenades & Fugues concert, presented at the festival in August 2019. From Josquin to Piazzolla and beyond, this exploration shows the great richness of the fugue genre.
Carsten Schmidt enjoys a flourishing career as a pianist, harpsichordist, and conductor, and has performed widely throughout Europe, North America, and Asia. He has been heard in such venues as the Ravinia Festival, Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, the Moscow Conservatory, the Kuhmo Festival in Finland, German Mozart Festival, as well as in broadcasts worldwide. His repertoire ranges from the early Baroque to new works, of which he has premiered more than 100. He studied at the Folkwang Institute in his native Germany, as well as Indiana University and Yale. Among his teachers are pianists Claude Frank and Leonard Hokanson and harpsichordist Richard Rephann.
Long noted for his interpretations of Bach's keyboard music, pianist Glenn Gould also dabbled a bit in composition. In 1963 he penned a witty and yet musically satisfying piece for voices and string quartet that offers a primer on fugue composition.
Toward the end of his life, J. S. Bach gathered together a collection of contrapuntal works based on a single theme. The entire collection, known as The Art of Fugue, aptly summarizes all that Bach had achieved in this most distinctive and inspiring genre. Includes program notes.
American composer Lou Harrison wrote his Fugue for Percussion in 1941, making use of both traditional and non-traditional instruments. He creatively structures this fugue around contrasting timbres and types of percussion instruments. Includes program notes.
To celebrate the lives of six fallen countrymen during World War I, Maurice Ravel wrote a musical memorial hearkening back to the great François Couperin. Included here is the delicate fugue, as arranged for wind quintet by Gunther Schuller.
Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla composed hundreds of adored tangos, but in the 1960s he also created a remarkable tango-opera, Maria de Buenos Aires. This fugue from Maria shows that Piazzolla's skills far exceeded simply writing dance music.
What is a fugue? How does it work? Staunton Music Festival artistic director Carsten Schmidt sits down at the harpsichord to explain and demonstrate the basic principles of what made the fugue so attractive to composers over the past 500 years.
Staunton Music Festival artistic director Carsten Schmidt checks in alongside new friend Blue from Staunton, Virginia during the summer of 2020. Rather than traveling and preparing concerts, Carsten has helped to pull together the Perspectives video series and contributes several on fugues.
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