Master Class at UMaryland (1983)

by Rosalyn Tureck

From the Rosalyn Tureck Collection,
Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University

There have been a number of people in this class who have expressed an interest in attending the Symposium of my Institute which took place in New York last week but were not able to get there for one reason or another. I thought you might like to hear something about the Symposium because it was rather unique. The purpose of the Institute is to integrate the art of scholarship with the art of performance, and I testify there is still a very wide gap between scholarly work and performance. Where the tradition, the direct tradition, has been lost, this is of utmost importance. This is what my Institute aims to do—to bring these two together. The Symposium presented a program of great density—three events on four days and two on the fifth day, ending with a concert on Friday night. The Symposium opened on Monday March 21, Bach's birthday, Since this was the first Symposium of the Institute, I thought it very fitting that it should begin on Bach's birthday. I shall give you a brief run through of the work we did on those days. I gave two two-hour lectures a day—11–1 and 5–7. On Monday I started out with work in the Introduction to the Performance of Bach—these three volumes that some of you have. I don't know whether I have ever explained to you as a class about these volumes, and so I should like to very briefly.

The three volumes are constructed on a particular method, they are not just a collection of pieces that I particularly like, and put together for this series. Each work is selected because each one represents a new step in the development of thinking in terms of Bach's music and performance, historical performance practice and difficulty and all the things that are involved such as embellishment, tempo, dynamics, etc. Now, as you all know, that first work of two lines was written by Johann Sebastian Bach for his son, Wilhelm Friedemann. I open the volumes with that because though simple it contains what Bach himself wrote down for his young son who was about 10 years old when what we call the Wilhelm Friedemann Büchlein was written. So this was a teaching piece and this is Bach's fingering and Bach's idea of how one should finger. So it is of the utmost importance for the keyboard player not only to know that fingering but to learn that fingering and to incorporate it into his own technique because it goes much farther than the fact that it is Bach's own fingering. That has great significance but it is the fingering which is most useful for contrapuntal structures. So in order to play fugues with sense and with contrapuntal phrasing, it is necessary to know this over-lapping and under-lapping fingering which is Bach's own. You will find that it is possible to handle all the lines which sometimes seem difficult or uncomfortable for some keyboard players. I demonstrated this for the class. This was just the first piece, and I went through the other pieces showing the class how immediately after the fingering work, the phrasing is considered—the contrapuntal phrasing is introduced. In other words wherever Bach writes in contrapuntal lines the form as I do it should match and be played in contrapuntal phrasing. One line will come in at a certain point and another line will come in at another point. You must match the beginning and end of each motive and each counterpoint. So in these pieces which appear very simple one begins immediately to do very complicated things. In the first small piece following the fingering piece there is already the beginnings of phrasing at different moments so the right hand is phrasing at different moments from the left and vice versa. Now each work continues to develop the contrapuntal phrasing and to become more and more complex. Although all the pieces in the first volume are from the Anna Magdalena Büchlein except the first piece, they are not easy to do if you can readily observe the structure and apply your own performance devices to the structure itself as it is written, not just play melody and accompaniment. Bach doesn't write music like that at all. So with each piece the phrasing becomes a little bit more dense and a little bit more complicated. The right hand doing something that the left hand is not doing and vice versa. Then in these pieces I introduce dynamics which are also contrapuntal—that is a certain dynamic will begin in the right hand which is different from what is going on in the left hand. I also have selected these pieces because they are repeated and repeats are treated differently from the first playing. So that one is already learning a whole new technique of fingering on a keyboard—a new technique of phrasing because it is contrapuntal—really a new technique of dynamics because both hands don't start a new dynamic at the same time. Sometimes they do but gradually I introduce more and more occasions where they don't. That takes another kind of technique, another kind of approach, another kind of thinking as well as playing. Then the last work in the first volume begins to deal with embellishment, a little more complex. By the way through these pieces I have also introduced embellishment. You will see the realization of the embellishment at the bottom of the score. It is from this that one can identify the symbol that is shown with the realization as it appears at the foot of the score and one learns the look of the symbol and the type of realization the symbol requires. So it becomes more and more imprinted in the memory so that you begin to recognize these symbols on your own. The last piece in the first volume—the Polonaise—has more embellishment than any of the previous pieces. Gradually through the volume there is more embellishment ending with that last one. So that is the first volume and although the pieces appear terribly easy and appear to be for beginners, it is not that at all. It takes a great deal of work to do these pieces with contrapuntal phrasing, contrapuntal dynamics, the right kind of fingering, the repeats with different dynamics, contrapuntal dynamics and embellishment. Its a very dens study.

In volume 2 we go frontally into the whole situation of contrapuntal music in terms of how we think—when you say contrapuntal. We start with the Two-part Invention in G major which everybody knows but there again it is very contrapuntal. The main reason for the Invention being there is the the study which I made which follows it immediately. That study presents the Invention in inversion so that you play the bass in the soprano and the soprano in the bass. Now Bach is doing this all the time in his writing, his contrapuntal writing, inversion all the time, going from one motive to another, one register to another, all the time. Unless one knows how to think in this way, one is bound to have technical difficulties because the brain is not operating in that way at all and the fingers are not either. A musician's training is more concentrated on music conceived in the harmonic idiom— melody-accompaniment idea, diminuendo-crescendo idea, right hand-left hand idea—and that takes quite an operation on the part of the brain and an entirely different finger approach. Volume 2 then deals with contrapuntal thinking, and studying the Invention in inversion is an exercise for the brain as well as for the fingers, of utmost necessity for this kind of music. The next work is a three-part work where the motives are moving from register to register all the time. So here immediately is a comparatively simple piece where Bach is doing exactly what I have dome with the two-part Invention in the study. If one has really studied this carefully, one is somewhat prepared for the three-part piece—The Fantasy in G minor. I have phrased it so that by this time one should be able to play it in three fairly simple parts with contrapuntal phrasing—in other words each part has a different shape of phrasing. For those who have the books, you will notice I offer for one f of the motives three different phrasings from which one may choose. Any one of those phrasings would be valid with the phrasing of the other two motives which is given. To there is an opening field for choice already. And the next work is a proper fugue—proper Prelude with fugue. So you see how systematically this is being developed from the very first fingering piece to contrapuntal phrasing, dynamics, etc. into the Invention, to a three-part work and then actual fugue. Volume three deals with two miscellaneous suites. Between the two suites you have only six movements but the six movements come closest to covering most of the more famous collections of suites and Partitas. The last work is the Aria and Ten Variations in the Italian Style, and there are two major reasons for including that work—because of the form of the work—theme and variations—and equally because that form requires very sophisticated embellishment. This is one of the reasons it is seldom played because performers are baffled by it. It appears to be quite simple; there are not many notes in each variation. Thus it requires the addition of embellishment on the part of the performer. This takes a great deal of knowledge and a great deal of education. So I have realized the Aria which is the most complex as far as embellishment is concerned, and then I have offered embellishment throughout the variations, especially the last variation which is reminiscent of the Aria. Bach wrote only two sets of variations in his lifetime. This is an early set, and the Goldberg Variations in the last years of his life. So in these three volumes I have covered every form in which Bach has written for the solo keyboard. You see what a dramatic and complete this becomes. The critic of the New York Times, Mary Johnson, introduced me at a lecture I was going to give by saying “Rosalyn Tureck is the only person that I know of that has written an introduction in three volumes.”

Well this is what took place on the opening morning and Nelita True was to play the work but as you probably know she hurt her hand a few days before, so I took over and did all the illustrating. The afternoon—all four afternoons—were given over to my assistants. There were two afternoon sessions on the guitar and lute. I have a guitar student who has been with me for five years who is a professional musician, has been playing all over the world and recording. I have been—I don't know whether you know—editing the lute suites of Bach for guitar as result of my work with this student. In fact my next publication will be the the E minor Lute Suite set for guitar in which I have done all the phrasing, style, embellishment, etc. and the fingering is by my student, Sharon Isbin. Also I invited a very great lutenist who plays the baroque lute—you must realize the difference between the renaissance and baroque lutes. He is a baroque lutenist. He is a Japanese named Toyohiko Satoh and lives in Amsterdam. He came to New York for this week especially for the Symposium He took part in the two afternoon classes and took part in the lecture I gave on the lute and guitar as well as performing in the concert program on Friday evening.

On Monday evening I gave a lecture on the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue which involves the twenty-two extant manuscripts and my study of almost 60 editions, beginning at the opening of the 19th century and going through to 1970. So those two hours don't begin to allow adequately for a discussion of that work when one considers the variants in the twenty-two manuscripts. I discussed not only the manuscripts, their whereabouts and some of their variants but also the migration, we might say, of the variants into the printed editions, and how some editors took some variants and other editors took other variants which accounts for the discrepancies in editions of the work which you may have studied and wondered about. I traced these differences in early and later editions as well as modern ones, to their sources in the manuscriptsand also discussed the famous arpeggio section. As I always go back to the sources in the manuscripts, I showed an arpeggio realization which appeared in one manuscript—only one manuscript of the 22. From there the next realization that we know of is Mendelssohn's. I also discussed Carl Philipp Emanual's mention of what one does with arpeggios. From that I went to editions showing what editions did progressively through the 19th and 20th centuries with that arpeggio section. And I can arrure you they did all kinds of things which grew in size and quantity to almost ear-splitting proportions, the wildest realization being by Stradal in the late 19th century. I ended with my study of and my version of the arpeggio section and my reasons for it. Then I illustrated it on piano, harpsichord and clavichord. Tuesday morning was a voice section doing Cantata 35. I worked with the singer and two oboes which the Cantata calls for, the alto solos and recitatives. I worked with the singer on her breathing, characterization, style and embellishment for the voice, and then integrated that with what the concerted instrumental forces were doing. In the afternoon there was a workshop for voice led by a former student of mine, Kurt Saffir. He worked with me when I was on the Juilliard Faculty for five years. This is the only student of all my classes whom I can send out into the world who really knows embellishment. He is a wonderful pianist and made his New York debut, but he was very interested in conducting and became an opera conductor, especially of Handel. He works with singers on their cadenzas and embellishment in Handel operas and Bach Cantatas. He is also an extraordinary continuo player. Tuesday evening Bradford Gowen of the faculty of the University of Maryland was good enough to come and play the colossally difficult Partita #4 in D major, beautifully to open this program. Christoph Wolff, Dr. Christoph Wolff of Harvard University, came also as an invited guest to give a talk on Bach's life. There hasn't been a new work on Bach's life since 1957, I believe it was, when the book by Karl Geiringer and his wife came out. In the history of the biographies of Bach, one of the most reliable and famous, of course, is by Spitta; Schweitzer doesn't really add too much. Sanford Terry, an Englishman, wrote an excellent one volume life. There is another by Parry and various ones in a number of languages. The Geiringer book is a very good one but we need some fresh views and a little fresh information on his life. Needed also is a re-valuation of Bach's intentions in moving from position to position from court to church, etc.; his difficulties, his successes, his relationship to society, in other words and to his music. A re-valuation is about due and also the chronology of the cantatas has been tremendously changed with the new studies of the last 30 years or so. These also throw a fresh light on what was going on in Bach's life since we now know much more clearly the chronology of the Cantatas, most of which were written over a period of three years. And that's a very different understanding than what was had previously. Certainly it is different from what we find in Schweitzer and Spitta. Dr. Wolff gave an enlightening talk on this re-valuation of certain points in Bach's life and his motives in his work and in his official positions as well, and I gave a short talk on structure which emerged from the Partita performance.

Wednesday morning the class was on the Well-Tempered Clavier and there was interest expressed in hearing about the Preludes as these are not given as much attention as are the Fugues. The result—I analyzed the structure and discussed tempo and general interpretation of most of the Preludes of Book I. In the afternoon there was a violin demonstration of the baroque violin and baroque bow, and also some demonstration of my embellishments for the strings in the keyboard concertos, Added to this was a study of bowing that has gone on with me for 25 years that I have worked out with orchestras all over the world—violinists of every international back ground. Wednesday evening was a totally new departure. I had wanted for a long time to bring other disciplines, many other disciplines, into the study of music and performance because there is a very distinct relationship of other disciplines with music and the way we perform. This is not often considered though this university (University of Maryland) was one of the first to give concentrated focus on the interrelationship of disciplines. In any case I invited a scientist to come and talk. We had met last year in La Jolla. He is chairman of the Dept of Endocrinology at the Salk Institute which is a research Institute, and he works mostly with the brain. He is a Nobel Prize winner. We met for the first time last year. Apparently he had been hearing my concerts and was a fan of mine. He was invited to tea at 5 oclock at the house where I was staying and at 9 we were still talking. At this point I invited him to come lecture at the Symposium. We selected a title—Structure and Relationships. He spoke to this subject from his own work and showed slides to illustrate the different structures of different molecules. Now this may seem to you far from what you are doing, but not at all. Its right in the center of what musicians are doing. I gave an introductory talk on the reasons I had invited Dr. Guillemon and also the relationship of certain scientific concepts with musical concepts. Then he gave a lecture with his slides, and then I gave a lecture, and then we had a dialogue. This class was for 5–7 p.m., as were all the evening ones, but it was almost 9 before this class concluded because there were many very intelligent questions. It was an extraordinary event and it is a field which has hardly been explored. It is quite a new field that we discussed, and it had nothing to do with any kind of romantic embroideries of how scientists like music or how music is a science—nothing like that. It has to do with basic structure and fundamental concepts and that is really what it is. It has all been recorded and perhaps within the year these will all become cassettes.

Thursday mornings class was my lecture on the guitar and lute. I concentrated on phrasing and dynamics in guitar and lute but the main focus was on embellishment. I wish you had all been there because the kind of discussion of embellishment illustrated on a plucked instrument, a directly plucked instrument—the harpsichord is an indirectly plucked instrument—is extremely enlightening. It was the C minor Suite which was used for illustration, and it was very complex embellishment which we went into. In the afternoon was the last guitar workshop with Sharon Isbin and Toyohiko Satoh. Thursday evening the program was on the Italian Concerto. My edition of this work had just come out and because I am not a very good self-promoter, I didn't even bring a copy of it to class. It just came out the opening day of the Symposium and is now available. Some of you remember I gave a lecture on it last year—at least I covered some ground on the Italian Concerto. It is the sort of thing one can give half a dozen lectures on. I lectured tracing firstly my sources. The best source is Bach's own copy of the first printing—one in 1735 and one in 1736—this would be called perhaps a second printing, I suppose. Bach's copy has emendations of his own in his own hand. It is mostly embellishment which he has added or changed and most of these have gone into the second printing. However the first and second printings are at variance with each other and with Bach's copy. The true situation of original sources. My edition is a facsimile edition as well, having the complete re-print of Bach's own copy. As usual there are a good many notes on my sources, on performance practice and a mistake which I discovered in the N.B.A. edition, a very important textual mistake in the first movement of the Italian Concerto. There is also an explanation of what I found in the second movement which apparently has never been done before—never been perceived before. Firstly it is based on the notation of the time. I believe the notation is very reflective of the style of music composition and performance. For instance, if you have ever seen manuscripts of pre 1750, keyboard manuscripts, you will see the stems go in the direction of the part; soprano stems always go up, alto stems always go down or perhaps I should say the middle part goes down; the tenor if there is one goes up and the bass goes down. This is maintained right through the manuscripts and even in the early printings. Printing in this style is actually reproduced in the early printings of the Italian Concerto. On the cover of my edition of the Italian Concerto is reproduced the first page of one of the first printings of the Italian Concerto. I, of course, elaborated on that much more than I am able to do at this moment, but I am just giving you a survey. Then I gave my reasons for what I do in the second movement which is to embellish the middle part. You have heard me talk on the subject and I pointed out something which has not been observed or paid much attention to. Measure 17 in the second movement actually has an embellishment in it over the middle part. It is the only measure that does that but it does indicate that it is expected the middle part will be embellished. And that is something I have never seen in any edition nor have I heard artist, scholar or musician voice that possibility. But the combination of the way the parts are written which shows that each part is an independent part and subject of embellishment and there is an embellishment in the middle part. In every manuscript—and there are three manuscripts—the first two printings and Bach's copy they are agreed about this embellishment and these are my grounds for the validity of embellishing the middle part. So I went into that in more detail as I do in my edition as well. I pointed out certain shapes of phrasing especially in the last movement where people have technical difficulties in playing and I point out that if one realizes you are dealing with a two-bar phrase rather than a one-bar phrase, the whole thing becomes clarified (music) that section. Then Friday morning there was an open forum for questions.

At the concert Friday evening Sharon Isbin played the C minor lute Suite on the guitar—my edition of it. That will be the second lute suite to be published; the E minor is already at the publishers. Next came Satoh who played [blank space] Suite on the baroque lute; and next Zvi Zeitlin, a very fine violinist, played the A minor solo violin Sonata. I was going to play the harpsichord and piano but I released my harpsichord section to the lutenist so that there would be time as his Suite took 27 minutes and Sharon's Suite 25 minutes and Zvi Zeitlin's work also about 25 minutes. I played two works—a movement from the Sonata Zvi had played on the violin which (the Sonata) has been set for keyboard. Very few people know there are sonatas for the keyboard. And this one is set in D minor for keyboard and A minor for violin. I opened with the third movement which he had barely finished playing and finished with the Chromatic Fantasia & Fugue, and gave them an encore—Gigue from the B-flat Partita. Afterwards there was a lovely cheese and wine reception.

It was called a Symposium in all media and you see how the scholarly work was integrated all the time with the performing work. Discussion of sources, manuscripts, early printings, all instruments, their history, historical sources, historical performance practices and contemporary problems. I hope many of you may join us for future Symposia.