Contrapunctus XIX: Berio Meets Bach

The Art of Fugue was one of J.S. Bach’s final monuments to musical posterity. Written during the last ten years of the composer’s life, the collection is made up of 14 fugues and four canons which develop from a single, sublimely simple musical subject. As the work unfolds, Bach moves from double, triple, and mirror fugues to a quadruple fugue in an increasingly complex and technically varied exploration of contrapuntal possibilities. The music …

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Musical Cryptograms: Five Scores that Contain Hidden Messages

Imagine transmitting a secret message by using the pitches (from A to G) that are embedded in a musical score. It’s been the subject of mystery novels and television shows as well as Philip Thicknesse’s 1772 book, A Treatise on the Art of Deciphering, and of Writing in Cypher: with an Harmonic Alphabet. During the Second World War, codebreakers considered the possibility that German and Japanese spies might use musical notes as a …

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Rachel Podger’s Recent Bach Exploits

Last week, English violinist, conductor, and Baroque specialist Rachel Podger released a recording of J.S. Bach’s The Art of Fugue with members of Brecon Baroque, the dynamic ensemble she founded in 2007. You can hear an excerpt from the recording here. This is the latest in a series of acclaimed Bach recordings Podger has made on the Channel Classics label. The Art of Fugue was Bach’s monumental final work. The fourteen fugues and four canons grow …

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