Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Roger Woodward

Dr. Bob Prescribes: The Well Tempered Clavier and Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues

Background Johann Sebastian Bach: Well Tempered Clavier What is referred to as the Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC) is actually two separate sets of compositions, arrayed as Book One and Book Two. Each “book” contains 24 sets of preludes and fugues: one prelude and fugue in each major and minor key. Book One is a mix-and-match collection that evolved from a series of preludes that Bach composed and compiled for his son Wilhem Friedmann in 1720. Over the next two years Bach extended and added to the collection, until – in 1722 – he went public with an album of 24 preludes and fugues.  This first collection of 24 preludes and fugues – “Book One” – proved to be so popular that between 1738 and 1742 Bach composed a second set of 24 additional preludes and fugues, which was issued as “Book Two”.  It was the WTC (Books One and Two) that kept Bach’s name alive during the decades of obscurity that followed his death in 1750. Throughout the second half of the eighteenth century and well into the nineteenth century, the WTC was considered to be the basic manual for keyboard training.  Mozart was introduced to the Well-Tempered Clavier by his […]

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Dr. Bob Prescribes: a Long Winded Contemplation of Pianists, the Talent Pool, and the Advisability (or Inadvisability) of Wearing Push-up Brassieres While Performing

Last week, in the process of recommending recordings of Claude Debussy’s Préludes for Piano, I brought up the pianist Roger Woodward, whose recording of the Préludes I adore. The response I received from many of you was not unexpected but still shivered my timbers: “Roger WHO?” Yes: when I introduced Roger Woodward last week, I did so by calling him: “the greatest pianist in the world that you have probably (and sadly) never heard of.” THIS MUST END, at least among those who are discriminating enough to follow me. So here’s my game plan. I’m going to spend the remainder of this post ruminating on the depth of the pianistic talent pool, the fickleness of fame, and yes, something having to do with brassieres. I will return next week to address two recording YOU CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT: Roger Woodward’s recording of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier, Books 1 and 2 and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues. Let us begin by recognizing an almost terrifying truism: when it comes to wonderful pianists, the talent pool is deeper than the Marianas Trench. In last week’s post, I mentioned that – if I have to choose – my all-around favorite pianist is the Milan-born […]

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Invasive Species Update!

Color me thrilled and grateful. Our Kickstarter campaign has raised its required 3k minimum, and will thus pay out on March 11, the day of the premiere for which the campaign was created. However, my dearest, darling, beneficent, generous-to-a-fault friends (was that treacly enough?), the cause of new American music is a good one, and while we’re raising money for such, we might as well go whole hog and keep the dollars coming in for the remaining five days. All additional funds raised via the Kickstarter will go into the coffers of the estimable Composers, Inc., the mission of which is the performance of new American music by living American composers. The essential beneficiary of the Kickstarter is the premiere of my piano quintet “Invasive Species” by its dedicatees, the brilliant pianist Roger Woodward and the magnificent Alexander String Quartet. We’ve been in rehearsal all week. As a teaser, I offer up a brief video below, which features the conclusion of the final movement of the piece, entitled “E. globulus (10-20-1991)” “E. globulus” is the species name of the Blue Gum Eucalyptus tree, an incredibly fast-growing weed of a tree that was planted across the San Francisco Bay Area in […]

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