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Thanksgiving: The Piano

Something stubborn in me says no lessons.

So I’m sludgy, inept. I never practiced scales, never understood how to count beats, never took in the mysteries of dynamics and continuo.

When I catch myself running smoothly along two lines, moving a prelude’s harmonies as Bach intended, I’m astonished. A fluke, a folly. Give monkeys enough time and one’ll type Hamlet.

Yet it’s also true that a few years ago I began digesting fugues and sonatas (“Music is the best means we have of digesting time,” says Auden.), began starting a piece and finishing it, rather than reaching a moment of frustration (my hands too small to box with octaves) and fluttering the pages of the music book in search of fewer sharps and more adagios.

I still won’t get anywhere near Brahms — well, maybe a lullaby — but I can do some Schumann. I feel most certain of my footing with baroque and classical, and longtime readers know that a good deal of my playing accompanies my singing Henry Purcell compositions.


Have to prepare for class. More later.

Margaret Soltan, November 25, 2009 1:11PM
Posted in: henry purcell, snapshots from home

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2 Responses to “Thanksgiving: The Piano”

  1. David Schulenberg Says:

    Dear Margaret Soltan,

    If you’re accompanying yourself singing Purcell, you’re playing continuo–even if you’re playing someone else’s written-out realization of Purcell’s figured bass instead of improvising your own. But you must know that if you’re also playing BWV 909, which you also must know can’t possibly be by Bach.

    Enjoying your Thanksgiving entries–

    David Schulenberg (author, The Keyboard Music of J. S. Bach)

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    David: Thanks for the comment. Yes, that’s why in the second part of the post I rendered the title of the Bach piece – as it’s rendered in the book – ‘Doubtful.’ Though I guess you’re saying it’s not even doubtful anymore — that Bach definitely didn’t write it.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts.

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