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Mozart

J.Seb.Bach:
Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo

in training and in artistic collaboration with the Viennese musicologist and expert on affect theory; Dr. Dagmar Glüxam


Every violinist learns and studies the six sonatas for violin solo during his studies; this music usually accompanies us for the rest of our lives. But the interpretation of Bach's music is becoming more and more difficult today, as we fortunately become more and more aware of the differentiated reception of the music at that time.

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To be published by ARS in January 2022

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What is the effect of affect?

Today we are so used to hearing some works by Bach played in a meditative character that it has become a "tradition", for example the Adagio by BWV 1001, the first piece of this cycle, to be interpreted very calmly and calmly. Let us direct our eyes, however, to these fast tones, these modulations and strong dissonances on difficult cycle times ...
Be Solo - Be Alone could also mean that with these works he came to terms with the loss of his beloved wife Barbara Bach. Imagine hearing this Adagio played by an organ, Bach's favorite instrument. Powerful sound and full of dissonances. The affects that Bach use here create a nervous, painful, sighing, excited sound.

"You have to play from the soul"

A digital learning platform for affect teaching

The Viennese musicologist Univ.-Doz. Mag. Dr. Dagmar Glüxam and the Viennese violinist Daniel Auner, MA, present this digital learning platform as part of the upcoming CD release of all sonatas and partitas for violin. It is intended to explain to musicians and interested parties using practical examples what the conveyance of affects and their effect on interpretation is all about.

The detailed introductory video is available here free of charge, detailed lessons will follow.

It rarely happens that musicians get involved in a collaboration with musicologists. However, as my many years of close cooperation with the Austrian music historian Dagmar show, it can be an extremely exciting and profitable collaboration. The music historian dealt extensively with the hitherto neglected topic of baroque affect theory, while my task in this project was to convert her theoretical knowledge into sound art, so to speak.

Well, what is this actually about? "You have to play from the soul, and not like a trained bird," wrote the German composer Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach in his piano school (1753), whereby he - by no means coincidentally - hit the nerve of musical thought of his time, a time when which was not primarily characterized by technical virtuosity, but by the expression of human emotions ("affects"). The "affect" determined not only the entire composition, but also the performance: similar to how the composer should musically imitate various affects in each (!) piece of music, the task of the interpreter was to recognize them and to apply them exactly as the composer intended to pass on to the listener and to touch them emotionally. Or, as Michael Praetorius (1619) put it, the music should “move the heart of the listener / and move the affectus.”

The knowledge of the baroque theory of affect, the correct interpretation of the many elements of musical rhetoric, makes Bach's Sei Solo no longer appear merely as challenging violin literature, but rather as a fascinating image of the human soul, in which it actually refers to the expression of each note arrives. Saltus, Gradus, Exclamatio, Suspiro and the many other mysteries of the theory of affect to date were used in this recording for the first time ever. The entire Sei Solo, the result of almost four years of intensive study of the work, was recorded on a CD as a research project of the University Mozarteum Salzburg and published by Ars Production in 2022. I recorded it on a violin by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini from the collection of valuable stringed instruments of the Austrian National Bank - strung with special baroque strings from the Viennese string company Thomastik-Infeld.

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