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Baroque music has been a constant throughout my life. While my appreciation of Romantic music is only a somewhat recent development, and while, alternatively, I associate Classical music with the my early beginnings at the piano, Baroque music has for me retained a kind of charm and mystery since I first began hearing and listening to it. My interest was reignited after taking Alex Bonus’s music history class on Bach my first year at Bard, and I decided to base my senior project on further exploring this genre. My first senior concert had an all-Bach program, including the first Partita in B-flat Major, numerous Preludes and Fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier, and an invention. For my second performance, however, I wanted to move beyond Bach to explore the music of Handel, whose keyboard work I was entirely unfamiliar with until two summers ago when I came across a recording of Glenn Gould playing the Suites on harpsichord. Working on the first two suites, I’ve found them to have a free, lyrical, almost tender quality which Bach, so devoted to intellectual density and precision, often lacks. For me, these two composers embody the dual nature of Baroque music, its rich cerebral energy as well as its unmistakable warmth. Of course, both Bach and Handel evince both of these qualities to some extent, as is evident even in the formal layout of their music, whether in the prelude/fugue figure of the WTC or alternating fast/slow format of the second Suite (which, as it so happens, ends with a fugue). But while acknowledging this overlap, I like to play these composers alongside each other in the hopes of better understanding their unique “flavor”, the endlessly intriguing question as to how to distill in words the seemingly ineffable essence of a composer, or more broadly, of a genre.
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Patterson, Luke R., "Senior Concerts I and II" (2016). Senior Projects Fall 2016. 20.