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The Well-Tempered Clavier

Date, location, and tickets

Wednesday, March 25, 2020
at 7:00 PM

Church Street School for Music and Art
41 White Street
New York, NY 10030

Free Event

event image for The Well-Tempered Clavier

Event Information

This recital is postponed to August to keep our community safe.

“The Well-Tempered Clavier” Book I (Music by J. S. Bach, poetry by H. L. Hix)

          Jung Sun Kang, piano

          H. L. Hix, poetry

About the Music:

J.S. Bach’s ability to explore and develop musical materials is fully matched by the scope and power with which he explores moods, emotions and characters, and this is what has made his music so beloved by so many. His own contemporaries remarked how, in spite of formidable complexity, his mastery of ordering materials and of the arts of rhetoric was such that he could reach out and touch the hearts even of those with no special knowledge of musical techniques.

The 48 Preludes and Fugues are the very sophisticated end product of many strands of a rich tradition, and an ideal vantage point from which to survey virtually all aspects of Baroque keyboard music.

The 48 has been at the centre of music training and analysis since Bach’s time, and his general influence on composers is immeasurable.


About the Text:

The words spoken to Bach’s music in this performance are from a sequence of poems by H. L. Hix.  The sequence borrows from Bach its title, “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” and its structure, 24 preludes and 24 fugues, one for each key.  The sequence was first published in Hix’s collection Chromatic (Etruscan Press, 2006); the recital score derives from the revised version, published in First Fire, Then Birds (Etruscan Press, 2010).

The protagonist of the poems is a middle-aged heterosexual male, and the preludes are spoken by him.  His wife is dying of cancer; he has a strong premonition that he himself will soon die in a car crash; and he is in love with someone else, but cannot be with her.  His wife is a surgical nurse whose responsibilities include holding the patient’s heart during heart surgery.  The protagonist discovers that if he holds her head while she is sleeping (cupping her head in his hands as she cups hearts in hers), voices speak through her.  Most of the fugues are spoken by those voices.

Many of the poems are modified (by repetition of lines, and by other means) to create the performance score.

Participants: Jung Sun Kang