Everything Old is New Again

Johann Sebastian Bach’s two volumes of the Well-Tempered Clavier have sometimes been called the pianist’s Old Testament. They are excellent examples of Bach’s amazing ability to write in contrapuntal style. As such, they remain an important part of teaching repertoire. Timeless, really. Equal temperament tuning had just been “invented” in Bach’s time (1685-1750), and our present major/minor tonality system became established. Bach was inspired to write 24 preludes and fugues – one for every major and minor key signature. Book I was compiled in 1722. And then, Bach did it all over again with another 24 preludes and fugues in Book II in 1742!

This week I attended a master class co-hosted by ORMTA Ottawa and the University of Ottawa. The artist-teacher was Angela Hewitt. Ms. Hewitt grew up in Ottawa and studied at the U of O. She is widely recognized for her interpretation of Bach’s works. Over her career she has recorded all of Bach’s major keyboard works – 17 CDs.

The all-Bach program contained three preludes and fugues and an English suite. After the students played, Ms. Hewitt taught and demonstrated. She spoke of the importance of fingering, articulation, and the shaping of each voice part.

I have always loved the works of Bach. Now I’m back in the teaching studio with a re-inspired passion.

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