Community Hangout: Bach Vibes

My first time in Leipzig was such a special experience. I had the chance to study German at the University of Leipzig, and listen to some of the world's best Bach at the Leipzig BachFest. I heard my first performance of the St. Matthew Passion at the Thomaskirche, where Bach was Cantor, which moved me so deeply and inspired me to take up choir singing.

 

Actually, I took part in the Leipzig Bach Competition and the most incredible part of the experience was to hear so many different people from around the world play the music that I am most enthusiastic about. And everyone played them differently- but so much joy arose from bring altogether in the same place... which now that I mention - is sort of like our tonebase community!

 

Have you ever been to Germany or Leipzig? Have you ever had a Bach-in-concert experience that's stuck with you?

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    • Qingzhi
    • Qingzhi
    • 5 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Hilda, that sounds like amazing experience! When I was in Germany shortly I did not have the chance to explore anything Bach, but I wish one day I will be able to see the places Bach had been in different time of his life. 

    Last year I went to Robert Silverman's Bach concert, he was very old but he plays with so much spirit. At the end was the d minor concerto, on harpsichord, it was so good that the tunes stuck in my mind for a long time after concert. 

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  • I would LOVE to do a “pilgrimage” like that… tracing the cities and towns of great composers.

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    • CK
    • br0wn
    • 5 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I definitely would love to visit those places, and so much relates to music. Perhaps in my next life will do. 

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    • Anthony Miyake
    • Work with numbers and statistics, but music is my true passion. Piano hobbyist.
    • Anthony_Miyake
    • 5 mths ago
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    Hi Hilda, I did a semester abroad in Germany during my undergraduate years.  This was the Fall semester of 1989 and I was in Freiburg, Germany.  Since Leipzig was in East Germany at that time, I didn't get a chance to visit the city although I was in the country during the fall of the Berlin wall which occurred in November of 1989.  I lived in student housing and there were two other students, one from West Berlin and one from the Ivory Coast.  But there was also an older gentleman from East Germany and I remember him crying when the wall fell.  It was such a different world back then.  But I did get to see a lot of opera during my time there.  I was amazed at how inexpensive student tickets were for the opera, even in the bigger cities such as Zurich which was nearby to Freiburg.  

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    • Anthony Miyake What an amazing experience!!!

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  • I have not been to an all-Bach concert unfortunately! It sounds like such a spiritual experience that I would love to be privy to. I've been to Germany and through Austria, but not extensively, and unfortunately the tour group didn't seem too keen on finding Bach's 'old haunts' or places of musical significance, so I am encouraged to go back and go on my own through Bach's history in Leipzig. I can't wait to hear about everyone's experiences!! This is great!! 

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  • I was lucky enough to attend an all Bach Daniil Trifonov concert right before the Covid pandemic shut everything down. A very intense performance of Art of the Fugue and many other Bach works. Memorable to me for his great playing and also the craziness of the start of the pandemic.

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  • My husband had a conference in Cologne in May 2016, and I met him there after he was done and we traveled around Germany for a week. My one request was to visit Leipzig, so that's what we did - went to the Thomaskirche and the Bach museum, also Mendelssohn's house. We were too early for the BachFest, and we had thoughts about going back for it some other year, but other things have intervened.

    Vidhya Bashyam - I heard that Trifonov concert as well. It was an amazing performance, in the sold-out and packed Kennedy Center Concert Hall in DC, early March 2020 (I remember thinking, "what about that virus? is this safe?"). My piano teacher was there as well, and he said he had never heard piano-playing like that.

    That same week, Angela Hewitt was here to play an all-Bach concert at a place in the suburbs. She's a fine player, but on a different plane from Trifonov. I just looked it up; she played:

    BACH Four Duets, BWV 802-805
    BACH Eighteen Little Preludes BWV 924-8, 930, 933-43, 999
    BACH Fantasia and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 944
    BACH Italian Concerto in F Major, BWV 971
    BACH French Overture in B Minor, BWV 831

    Funny thing, though: after hearing Trifonov, I felt like there was no point in my ever playing the piano again. :) After Hewitt, I was inspired to go home and play the Italian Concerto.

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    • Harriet Kaplan Small world! Yes, his playing is pretty perfect! Interesting observation about your reactions to Trifonov vs Hewitt.

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  • Another thing I just thought to mention: between 2014 and 2020, I performed all six Bach solo cello suites (on the cello!) on a local amateur concert series. It started out because they put out a call that they needed someone to fill in on two weeks' notice, so I offered to play the first suite. Then I asked if I could keep going in the subsequent seasons. The last concert with the sixth suite was in February 2020, a month before the shut-down. I had played all of them before, but this time I put in much deeper practice than I had ever done before, and I felt that I got at them in a much improved way over my past efforts when I was in music school. 

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    • Harriet Kaplan wow. Those are so beautiful. I love the cello.

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      • Anthony Miyake
      • Work with numbers and statistics, but music is my true passion. Piano hobbyist.
      • Anthony_Miyake
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Harriet Kaplan , that's amazing.  All six.  wow.  I remember how Yo-Yo Ma used to play the first cello suite at the 911 memorial services, but I'm not familiar with the others.  Which is your favorite? 

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  • I was lucky enough to attend the Leipzig Bachfest 2018 (highlight for me was hearing the Brandenburgs in the Nikolaikirche, since they were what first made me a Bach fanatic as a youngster). 

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    • Xiao
    • xiao
    • 5 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I've never been to concerts abroad.

    During the past few years, I had the chance listening to some excellent musicians' performance.

    One of them was to attend Pi-hsien Chen's masterclass on Die Kunst der Fugue as a passive auditor. In the small classroom, quality of tone and any nuances could be heard shockingly clearly , much more exquisite than Mm. Chen's concert in big hall.

    On the other hand, Kit Armstrong played two all-Bach concerts, WTK I and Goldberg variations respectively. I had the impression that he treated each concert as one big compact cycle work with great passion and devotion however still kept the unique character of each segment. He also gave concerts of all Liszt transcendental etudes and all Mozart piano sonatas, but I missed.

    I had listened to András Schiff played B minor prelude and fugue of WTK I in a newly-constructed hall with excellent acoustic design (Anne Sophie Mutter who once had one concert there said as if she was playing in a Stradivarius) Mr. Schiff's playing had many words within a non-dense playing as he always did. Later, I found Sviatoslav Richter's studio recording of the same piece which is like going through one's life full of suffering. It has the epilogue character in the whole set of book I and reminds me of <Der Leiermann>, the last piece of Schubert's Winterreise...

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    • Hazel
    • Hazel
    • 5 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I had a short break in Cologne once. I didn’t manage to hear any Bach but visited the magnificent Cologne Cathedral on a Sunday morning and the choir was singing Palestrina. Such beautiful music in such a wonderful setting moved me to tears.

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