Fate album cover

Fate: Bach Organ Meditation 2 (2003)

In Memoriam Uncle Bob
1968 Pogson Organ, The King’s School, North Parramatta NSW

Bach Organ Meditation 2

otherness – anger – romance – challenge – sacrifice – acceptance

Our Father which art in heaven BWV 737
Ah! God and Lord BWV 255; 48; 714
O whither should I flee? BWV 694
O God, look down from heaven BWV 741
Be merciful to me, O lord God BWV 721
My heart is filled with longing BWV 727
Lesser Prelude and Fugue in E minor BWV 533
Prelude and Fugue in G minor BWV 535
Fugue in C minor on a theme of Legrenzi BWV 574
Canzona in D minor BWV 588
Prelude and Fugue in F minor BWV 534
Little Harmonic Labyrinth BWV 591
Prelude and Fugue in B minor BWV 544

Running Time 72:28
Designer: Mark Venice
Cover booklet: twenty-four pages in full colour.

Fate is an echo of high culture for which many gave their lives during the twentieth century. Major Robert Tulloch Sadler was a handsome young army officer at Victoria Barracks, Sydney, who became so anxious at the threat from Japan in 1940 that he enlisted forthwith in the Australian Infantry Forces at the cost of demotion to sergeant. It was his fate to spend three and a half years a prisoner-of-war, chiefly as a slave labourer at Sandakan in North Borneo in conditions of such brutality that A.I.F. commissioned officers were taken elsewhere, leaving leadership to the non-commissioned officers. Bob Sadler survived the until the infamous Death March of June 1945, when he was twenty-six years old.

Johann Sebastian Bach is the most performed composer of the West. His life and work is researched and debated in ever-increasing detail such that new books about him appear in various languages each year, along with the Bach-Jahrbuch and dozens of academic papers. Nevertheless his childhood development has been quite misunderstood. It has not been generally realised, for instance, that until he acquired his ‘own’ organ at Arnstadt at eighteen all his ‘organ’ music was actually composed for pedal clavichord, an exotic instrument which disappeared from sight soon after his death. The FATE booklet discusses three ‘organ’ works whch were composed some ten years earlier than traditionally stated, including the Lesser Prelude and Fugue in E minor BWV 533 which relates to his fourteenth year instead his twenty-fourth (Schmieder, ‘um 1709’). It thus becomes possible to view Bach as a childhood genius.

Doubts about the authenticity of Prelude and Fugue in F minor BWV 534 and of Little Harmonic Labyrinth BWV 591 are demonstrated to be needless. Also the radical suggestion is made that the tuning of the chapel organ in Weimar Palace, which inspired more famous works than any organ before or since, was changed under Bach’s supervision from non-cyclic to equal temperament in 1708 preparatory to his incumbency. Thus the much-maligned idea that he was a pioneer of Equal Temperament is verified, but in relation to a specific organ rather than to the harpsichord in general as customarily maintained. Equal temperament, in spite of its distinct unpalatability, would prove to be the most important innovation in Western Music since the Middle Ages, fundamental to classic and romantic music as well as to jazz and pop. At twenty-three Bach was thus at the forefront of cultural evolution.

Comments

The whole presentation is most coherent and, in its way, monumental.

Dr Christopher Hainsworth, Director of Beziers Conservatorium, France

The selection of JS Bach’s music is grand; the playing and recording superb; and the accompanying booklet fatefully sad… Overall, this is a well thought-out package that has meaning without weight of sentimentality, and… an aurally refreshing journey into Bach.

Early Music News (Sydney, August 2004)

Registrations

The registrations used in FATE are given here in a functional form which assumes detailed knowledge of the specification of the King’s School organ, found in the cover booklet on page 18. The couplers Great to Pedal and Positive to Great may be drawn together without the pedals operating the Positive (as usual nowadays).

Hw signifies the Great Organ, Bw the Positive Organ, Ped the Pedal Organ. Stops are denoted by pitch in feet as 16, 8, 4, 3 (i.e. 2 2/3), 2, 3/2 (i.e. 1 1/3) and 1, as well as by type as F (flutes and stopped ranks) or Z (reed i.e. Zunge). Pitch precedes type. When there is no designation of type, either the stop is of principal-tone or it is the only stop at that pitch in the given department. When there is no designation of pitch, the stop is the only example of that type. Compound stops are indicated by number of ranks as II, III or IV. The sign + indicates the addition of a stop en courant (at a rest or a breath).

Thus, Hw 8 signifies the Great Floeten-Principal, Hw 8F the Great Gedackt, Hw Z the Great Trumpet.

Track

  1. Introduction: Bw 8 4
    Prelude: Hw 8 4 IV – Bw 8 4 2 III – Ped full
    Fugue: Bw Z 4 – Hw Z 4 Bw – Ped 16Z +Hw -Hw +Hw
  2. Bw 8 4 Trem
  3. Prelude: Hw 8 4 3 IV Z – Bw 8 2 – Ped 8 4 II +Hw -Hw +16Z
    Fugue: Hw 8 4 3 IV Bw – Bw 8 2 – Ped 8 4 II +16Z
  4. A: Bw 4@8 Trem – Ped Hw – Hw F8
    B: Bw 8 Trem – Ped HW – Hw F8
    C: Bw Z 4 3/2 Trem – Ped 16Z
  5. A: Hw F8 4 – Ped 8 4 Bw – Bw 8 4
    B: Bw 8 4 – Ped 8 4
    C: Hw 8 4 – Ped Bw – Bw 8 4
    D: Hw 8 4 IV Bw – Bw 8 4 2 III – Ped full
  6. Hw 8F 3 – Bw 8 4 – Ped 16Z@8
  7. Duple time: Hw 8 – Ped +HW
    Triple time: Hw +4
  8. Prelude: Hw 8 4 3 Bw +IV – Bw 8 4 2 3/2 – Ped 16 8 4 II 16Z
    Fugue: Hw Z 4 3 + Bw – Bw 8 4 2 II – Ped 8 4 II 16
  9. Introitus, Exitus: Hw 8F
    Centrum (fugue): Hw 8
  10. Bw 8 4 2 – Hw Z – Ped 4 +Hw
  11. Hw 4F Trem
  12. Bw 8 4 II Trem – Hw 4@8 – Ped 8
  13. Hw 8 4 3 2 +Bw – Bw 8 4 II – Ped 16 8 4 II 16Z
  14. Hw 8 4 3 IV +Bw – Bw 8 4 2 – Ped 8 4 II 16Z 4Z

Bibliography

1. Musical

  • Breig, Werner: ‘Formprobleme in Bachs fruhen Orgelfugen’, Bach-Jahrbuch, vol. 78, 1992, pp. 17-19
  • Edler, A.: ‘Thematik und Figuration in der Tastenmusik des jungen Bachs’, in Heller, K. and Schulze, H.-J. (ed.): op. cit., pp. 87-110
  • Heller, K. and Schulze, Hans-Joachim (ed.): Das Fruhwerk Johann Sebastian Bachs, Kolloquium der Universtat Rostock, 1990 (Cologne, 1995)
  • Hill, Robert: ‘Die Herkunft von Bachs Thema Legrenzianum’, Bach-Jahrbuch, vol. 72, 1986
  • Kilian, Dietrich: Johann Sebastian Bach, Neue Ausgabe Samtlicher Werke, Serie IV Band 5 und 6, Kritischer Bericht (Barenreiter, 1979)
  • Lindley, Mark: ‘Temperaments’, New Grove Dictionary, ed. S. Sadie (Mamillan, 1980)
  • Parry, C.H.H.: Johann Sebastian Bach – The Story of the Development of a Great Personality (London, 1909)
  • Protz, Albert: ‘Zu Johann Sebastian Bachs “Capriccio sopra la lontananza del suo fratello dilettissom”‘, Die Musikforschung, vol. 10, 1957, pp. 405-8
  • Rathey, Markus: ‘Die Temperierung der Divi Blasii-Orgel in Muhlhausen’, Bach-Jahrbuch, vol. 87, 2001, pp. 163-171
  • Schulze, Hans-Joachim: ‘Johann Christoph Bach (1671-1721) “Organist und Schul Collega in Ohrdruf”, Johann Sebastian Bachs erster Lehrer’, Bach-Jahrbuch, vol. 71, 1985, pp. 55-81
  • Spitta, Philipp:Johann Sebastian Bach, 3 vols (Leipzig, 1873-80; Eng. trans. 1884, R1951)
  • Stauffer, George B.: The Organ Preludes of Johann Sebastian Bach (Michigan, 1980)
  • Swale, David: ‘Bach’s Fugue after Legrenzi’, Musical Times, vol. 126, 1985, pp. 687-688
  • Williams, Peter: The Organ Music of J.S. Bach, 3 vols (Cambridge, 1984)
  • Wolff, Christoph: Johann Sebastian Bach, The Learned Musician (Norton, 2000)
  • Wright, Craig: ‘Bachs “Kleines harmonisches Labyrinth” (BWV 591) Echtheitsfragen und theologischer Hintergrund’, Bach-Jahbuch, vol. 86, 2000, pp. 51-59
  • Zehnder, Jean-Claude: ‘Zu Bachs Stilentwicklung in der Muhlhauser und Weimarer Zeit’, in Heller, K. and Schulze, H.-J. (ed.): op. cit., pp. 311-338

2. Sandakan and The Pacific War

  • Bartlett, Norman: Australia at Arms (Canberra: Austalian War Memorial, 1955)
  • Edwards, Jack: Banzai, You Bastards (Hong Kong, 1987), pp. 260-261
  • Owen, Frank: The Fall of Singapore (London, 1960)
  • Reid, Richard: Laden, Fevered, Starved – The POWs of Sandakan (Canberra: Dept. of Veteran Affairs, 1999)
  • Russell, Lord of Liverpool: The Knights of Bushido (Cassell, 1958; R Corgi)
  • Seagrave, Stirling: The Yamato Dynasty (Bantam, 1999)
  • Silver, Lynette R.: Sandakan, A Conspiracy of Silence (Burra Creek: Milner, 1998)
  • Wall, Don: Sandakan – The Last March (Mona Vale: Wall, 1988; 5/1997)
  • Wall, Don: Abandoned? Australians at Sandakan (Mona Vale: Wall, 1990)

Acknowledgements

  • Peter Rushforth AM of Blackheath NSW, potter, for copies of letters from Bob Sadler and for the personal tribute to Bob Sadler.
  • Peter and Bev Kinsela of Young NSW for photos of Bob Sadler.
  • Don Wall of Mona Vale NSW, military historian, for advice and encouragement.
  • Margaret Fathers of Young NSW for photo of statue on Soldiers Memorial Tower.
  • John Hargraves and Luke Green for advice on registration.
  • Dr Jenny Nevile for advice on tempi of Canzona , track 7.
  • Dr Bill Trotter for advice on annotations.
  • Ewing Wallace, Alec Dingwall, Richard Baker, Robert Parkinson and Jude Sebastien de Angulo for proof-reading.

On prodigy

In sixteenth-century Spain, a boy of fourteen could be appointed canon at a cathedral. In nineteenth-century England, John Stuart Mill read Greek by the age of three, knew the basic classical and historical literature by eight, and had mastered philosophy, economy and mathematics by twelve. Prodigy reflects nourishment as well as precocity and it requires not only talent in a child but family commitment to that talent. It may bring him or her the trials of the ‘artist’s life’ but it also brings a person closer to fulfilling his potential.

At ten Antonio Cabezon left his family home to study at Palencia, and at sixteen he was appointed organist to the young Spanish Empress, Isabella of Portugal. At fourteen Carlos de Seixas was appointed organist at Coimbra cathedral in succession to his father. At fifteen J.P. Sweelinck took up his life-long post at the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam. At eleven John Stanley was appointed organist of All Hallows, Bread Street, and at fourteen of St Andrew’s, Holborn. Domenico Scarlatti took a responsible position at sixteen, Handel at seventeen, J.S. Bach at eighteen.

Mozart played the keyboard at four and composed for it at five. Beethoven was acting court organist at Bonn at eleven. Mendelssohn took piano lesson in Paris at seven and was writing in mature manner at eleven. Fetis wrote a violin concerto at nine. With regard to Bach’s own children, the first book of the ‘Well-Tempered Keyboard’ was composed with twelve-year-old Wilhelm Friedemann in mind, while at eleven Philipp Emanuel could play his father’s convoluted keyboard pieces at sight.

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