My passion is to help others in the community, young, old, and everyone in between, find relevance and joy in learning, performing or listening to classical music.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lace next to wrought-iron: Bach's E major Prelude & Fugue

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
There is something about J.S. Bach's E major Prelude and Fugue that gives me an incredible sense of peace and balance.  It might have something to do with the sunny, warm key of E major but I think it also has to do with the structures that Bach manages to build through his music.   In the prelude my ears can trace the thin, delicate strands of thread that intertwine throughout, weaving together what sounds to my ears like exquisite musical lacework.  In contrast, the fugue's main subject offers the sturdy sense of ornamental architecture offered by something like decorative wrought-iron work.  Individual voices still intertwine but in a sturdier, less fragile way.  

Photo taken by Jurgen Howaldt, from
Wikimedia Commons

Another quality about the fugue that I feel is quite unique and that seems modeled after an architectural style is the way that Bach takes his relatively simple, arch-like subject and proceeds to vary it in a number of ways throughout the middle section of the fugue.  Bach presents variations of the subject in other fugues as well but not to the extent that he does here.  After changing the rhythm and adding filler notes here and there the subject becomes almost undetectable, at least to my eyes and ears, yet underneath I still sense a feeling of order, of structure.  When the subject returns near the end, back in its original state, it feels as if the world is clicking back into place after being taken for a bit of an ornamental ride.

Lace. And wrought-iron.

Complete opposites in many ways, yet similar in that their strength and beauty come from the intricate, intertwining of some very basic elements.  And also similar in their ability to hypnotize my mind and to take me to a much more sensible world.  That is always a welcome place to be.   Why not join me?

So first, the lace:

And now the wrought-iron:


  1. Hi, have you made any recordings of book 1 WTC?

  2. Dear Anonymous,
    No, I haven't yet done that. I still have a lot to do in book 2 :-) But perhaps when that project is done I'll go and do the first book. Check back in 20 years, lol.