Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Opera! So highbrow, amirite?

I haven’t updated the blog in a while, mostly due to medical issues (I’m adjusting to a new chemotherapy regime). That hasn’t prevented people from writing stupid things about music, sadly. The study about how Mozart is better than ABBA for lowering your blood pressure is continuing to circulate, and I’ve already said my piece about articles like that.

Fortunately, for some bits of bad music journalism over the past month, other writers were quick to respond. Around Independence Day, a picture of Stravinsky made the rounds, purporting to be a mugshot from when he was arrested for his arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Carly Carioli of The Boston Globe thoroughly debunked this myth. Accuracy triumphs again!

As for clichéd topics, Philip Clark of The Guardian lamented “Where have the great composers gone?”, yet another article about how music just isn’t as good as it used to be, you know, in the past. Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle took him on directly and answered, “Looking for the great composers? They’re all around us.”

So, even though I wasn’t keeping my own blog current, I was at peace with how others were handling things and decided it wasn’t so bad to focus on my own recovery for a bit. But then the clichés struck in a medium very dear to my heart: the comic strip.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Did Bach Hate Pianos?

In the comment section of my post “How ‘forgotten’ was Bach?”, reader Cleverson wrote:
Speaking of Bach, you could also write something against a myth that exists among some music teachers, at least here in Brazil, who say that “Bach hated pianos.” They use such a lie to discourage students from making use of specific features of the piano as an instrument when playing Baroque repertoire.
Cleverson also mentioned coming across the explanation that Bach played an early piano and didn’t like that particular model, but when he came across an improved version later, he liked what he heard.

This “Bach hated pianos” idea intrigues me, mostly because of how Cleverson says it’s used to dictate performance practice. I’ll share my thoughts on that in a bit, but first I have to take care of the myth itself: Did Bach hate pianos?