324 Bach transcriptions for guitar duo part I - VI
Love for Bach flourishes when you play his music yourself. As a musician you are limited to the repertoire that is available for your instrument. Guitarists are privileged in this: the suitable compositions for lute are exceptionally beautiful and the solo music for violin and cello also comes into its own on guitar. Yet as a guitarist you can envy the enormous choice that keyboardists have when it comes to Bach's music. Or the performers of the wonderfully beautiful vocal music, which has so many instrumental characteristics. Or as guitarist you can be jealous at the musicians who play old Bach with his abstract music.
The connecting reason for this collection of transcriptions is a polyphonic novel Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, about the loss of a child. Although the story of Abraham Lincoln and his son Willie may seem anachronistic, the theme touches Bach to his core. Personally: Bach buried 11 of his children and artistically: expressing in his music the religious theme of the son who dies.
In the novel, Abraham Lincoln visits at night the cemetery with the tomb where his son Willie Lincoln lies. He wants to hold him again, an image described by George Saunders as a variation of the Pieta. Ghosts comment on Abraham's actions like a Greek chorus, interweave it with their own individual stories, and repeat them over and over, like a piece of music.
Similar words were sought in the lyrics of Bach's music. For example the description of Abraham holding a dead child in his arms can be find as final image of the St John Passion, and is also a metaphor in cantata BWV 149 and 169. Music from these three pieces has been transcribed for two guitars and ended up in the 29th suite entitled Höchst Beglückt: Highest Happiness.
This method of selection and merging has been applied on a large scale. In total it concerns 324 pieces of music, grouped into thirty-six 9-piece suites and divided in six collections. The coherence is primarily dictated by text. Each suite has its own title and the words on which the music is selected are at the top of each page.
The applied artifices are in the spirit of Bach: when composing he often drew inspiration from a single word and every now and then replaced an entire text with great ease when it was convenient. So became the grieving mother Stabat Vater.
In addition, numbers and different elaborations of musical motifs participate in the relationships of these transcriptions. See for example, the return of ticking rain as ghostly knocking motif in various fugues. The architecture that Bach set up for the arrangement of his collections of music, has to a certain extent been imitated.
The theme is tragic, but the music is comforting, expressive and meaningful, embracing and celebrating life and death. Hopefully you will take as much pleasure in playing these transcriptions as I loved making them.
Index part I
Variatio 15 BWV 988 Die Goldberg-Variationen
Fuge 16 BWV 885 Das Wohltemperierte Klavier II
Aria BWV 244 Die Matthäus-Passion Aus Liebe
Sarabande BWV 808 Die Englischen Suiten II
Bourree 1 BWV 808 Die Englischen Suiten II
Rezitativ BWV 18 Gleichwie der Regen und Schnee
Präludium 4 BWV 849 Das Wohltemperierte Klavier I
Präludium BWV 901
Fuge 14 BWV 883 Das Wohltemperierte Klavier II
Aria BWV 244 Erbarme dich
Fuge 4 BWV 849 Das Wohltemperierte Klavier I
Präludium BWV 942 Kleine Präludien
Sinfonia BWV 150 Nach dir verlanget mich
Air BWV 1068 Orchestersuite 3
Largo BWV 1017 Sechs Sonaten für Violine und Cembalo
Ciacona BWV Anhang 84 Johann Bernard Bach
Fuge 22 BWV 867 Das Wohltemperierte Klavier I
Bourree BWV 26 Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig
Fuge 22 BWV 891 Das Wohltemperierte Klavier II
Präludium BWV 940
Sarabande BWV 813 Die Französischen Suiten II
Allemande BWV 813 Die Französischen Suiten II
Fughetta BWV 961
Allemande BWV 836 Klavier-Büchlein Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Minuet BWV Anhang 115 Cembalo-Suite von Christian Petzold
Aria BWV 508 Bist du bei mir Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel
Arioso BWV 156 Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe
Canon BWV 1079 Das Musikalische Opfer
Allemande BWV 837 Klavier-Büchlein Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Motette BWV 227 Gute Nacht, o Wesen
Contrapunctus BWV 1080 Die Kunst der Fuge nr.14
Fantasia BWV 573
Aria BWV 988 Die Goldberg-Variationen
Fantasia BWV 562
Fuge BWV 562
Fuge BWV 906
Rezitativ BWV 82 Ich habe genug