All of Bach for Free!

All of Bach for Free! New Site Will Put Performances of 1080 Bach Compositions Online

Bach 1st Harpsichord Concerto

Probably quite old news now, but worth mentioning again. Thanks to Open Culture
I wonder who will perform the lute music?

Bach wrote 1080 compositions during his lifetime. And now thanks to the new and certainly ambitious All of Bach web site, you can eventually watch the Netherlands Bach Society (founded in 1921) perform each and every one of those compositions.

By the way, that opening piece on the video is an interesting organ transcription of a  cantata Sinfonia (Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal, BWV 146) based on the D minor keyboard concerto BWV 1052 which is probably in turn a transcription of a lost violin concerto and which I transcribed for a Naxos recording

Heitor Villa Lobos – another website

This is a nice site in English hosted by Indiana University
It is still quite new, but there are interesting sections, such as one on lost scores, probably quite a common occurrence with Villa Lobos.
The Guitar Prelude #6, A Prole do Bebe suite #3, and the two Choros are possibly amongst the scores Villa-Lobos left with his Parisian concierge when he left for Brazil in 1930.  Anna Stella Schic tells the story on pp. 94-95 of Villa-Lobos, Souvenirs de l’indien blanc (Paris: Actes Sud, 1987.)  Schic doesn’t seem too worried about the lost works, though.

“Mais la prolixité de Villa-Lobos était telle que ce véritable torrent de musique n’a jamais semblé s’en affecter outre mesure : il écrivait déjà les oeuvres suivantes…”

There is also a comprehensive database of works and links to the Villa Lobos Magazine and the Villa Lobos Museum, whose site seems to be down, unfortunately.

Other links:

Here’s an interview with Andy Summers of the Police
at the Villa Lobos Museum.

And here are rather famous clips of Villa Lobos playing his Prelude no.1 and Choro no.1

I also managed to get this iTunes download of Villa Lobos playing

Here is a review of that CD by Uncle Dave Lewis at
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Villa-Lobos plays Villa-Lobos

by Uncle Dave Lewis,

Sanctus’ Villa-Lobos plays Villa-Lobos focuses not on recordings composer Heitor Villa-Lobos made late in life already collected in the EMI box set Villa-Lobos par lui même, but on items belonging to the Villa-Lobos museum in Rio de Janiero. Recorded “between the mid-1920s to the early 1940s” although “no recording dates or venues could be found,” it appears the bulk of the collection was recorded by the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft whileVilla-Lobos was visiting Berlin in 1936. German soprano Beate Rosenkreutzer sings a selection of Villa-Lobos‘ songs with the composer at the piano, he plays some piano solos that demonstrate his amazing, self-taught ability and, most importantly, plays a couple of guitar solos, an instrument on which Villa-Lobos considered himself skilled; this proves he certainly was so. The disc is filled out with a nearly 20-minute-long lecture in Portuguese that sounds like it is taken from the radio; as no transcription of the talk is provided, if you cannot speak Portuguese this will not be useful to you, although it can be interesting to hearVilla-Lobos‘ slow speech cadences. Rosenkreutzer delivers an amazingly idiomatic performance of Villa-Lobos‘ Portuguese songs, and it appears that these are the only recordings made of this mega-obscure singer.

There is a BIG disadvantage to this disc, and that is through the heavy-handed and amateurish use of noise reduction software in the restoration. These recordings — save the lecture — are in poor condition, and if they indeed originate from Villa-Lobos‘ private collection, apparently he — like George Gershwin — enjoyed listening to his own recordings over and over, gradually wearing them out. As in the case of Gershwin, the recreation of the composer has led to a sad sonic situation for posterity, and Sanctus processes these artifacts so heavily that irremovable pops and digs in the surfaces of these archival discs sound as though amplified 20 times and played back through the Palace of Versailles; it is a completely substandard and irresponsible transfer. Moreover, by virtue of a little exchange of data with others in the field of 78-era scholarship, Sanctus probably could have isolated even some general information that would have nailed down the approximate dates and likely provenance of these recordings, but they choose not to. The EMI set primarily emphasizes the aging Villa-Lobos as a haphazard conductor of his own massive orchestral works, which does little to dispel the view of him as an eccentric autodidact, often cultivated by those on the receiving end of Villa-Lobos‘ scores. The material here establishes Heitor Villa-Lobos as a highly skilled instrumentalis; however, such facility was gained, and the inept handling of the digital transfers, rather than sealing the deal, more or less completely blows it.

Have fun and do let me know if anyone finds the 6th guitar prelude, won’t you?
The following is the story

During his years in Uruguay Segovia made several trips to Brazil, where he was able to meet with Villa-Lobos and further strengthen their rapport. In a letter dated 22 October 1940 from Montevideo to his friend and composer Manuel Maria Ponce, Segovia wrote: “Villa-Lobos […] came to my home with six guitar preludes dedicated to me, which, together with the previous twelve studies, make a total of sixteen pieces. In all this bulge of compositions the only valid one, believe me, is the study in E major that you heard me studying when I was with you. One of this last batch that he tried to play himself is deathly boring. He tries to imitate Bach, and the third part of a descending sequence – in other words, a regression – at the beginning is truly ridiculous… At that point I couldn’t resist the temptation to show him the suite in A minor that you had written for me…” The Segovia-Ponce Letters, ed. Miguel Alcazar, trans. Peter Segal (Editions Orphée, Columbus, 1989, p. 211)
In the above-mentioned letter to Ponce, Segovia mentioned six preludes, thus sparking debate over the supposed existence of a Sixth Prelude. According to Turibio Santos, the Brazilian concert guitarist and since 1986 director of the Museu Villa-Lobos in Rio de Janeiro, Villa-Lobos had told him of the existence and eventual disappearence of this piece. In his book Santos also reproduces a list of Villa-Lobos’ works for and with the guitar compiled by musicologist Hermínio Bello de Carvalho, who confirms this claim and adds that pianist José Vieira Brandão had apparently even seen a copy of this Sixth Prelude: “A short time ago, I was utterly astonished when Vieira Brandão told me that he thought he had seen a copy of it. Maestro Villa-Lobos described the sixth prelude as ‘the finest of them all’.” José Vieira Brandão is the author of the piano transcription of Cinq Préludes for guitar.

Nonetheless these reports, largely originating many years after the death of Villa-Lobos, are anecdotal and lack documentation of any kind. Even the oldest of them, Segovia’s letter to Ponce from 1940, hardly proves the existence of a Sixth Prelude, since his reference to six preludes is surrounded by other unreliable statements, such as the mathematical sum of pieces (12 + 6 = 16!) and his completely unsubstained claim that they were dedicated to him.


Chinese meditation IBMT prompts double positive punch in brain white matter (eh?)

This interesting observation from the University of Oregon means something like this:

Scientists studying the Chinese mindfulness meditation known as integrative body-mind training (IBMT) say they’ve confirmed and expanded their findings on changes in structural efficiency of white matter in the brain that can be related to positive behavioral changes in subjects practicing the technique regularly for a month.

So this might be a good way to reprogram me those bad habits and possibly even Focal Dystonia, as it seems that real physical changes happen in the brain’s white matter.
As you can see from this brief explanation of IBMT, there is much overlap with Body Mapping.
There are measurable increases in axon density and myelin formation after 11 weeks of meditation.
Neural plasticity change is the key here. It is a term that refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses which are due to changes in behavior, environment and neural processes, as well as changes resulting from bodily injury. So the brain is no longer seen as a static object.

Read all about it here

Vida Quartet and the National Youth Guitar Ensemble


Some news of the NYGE’s forthcoming concert with the VIDA Guitar Quartet. The concert is taking place at the beautiful Menuhin Hall, Surrey on Monday 21st April, 7pm. The venue is a 5 minute taxi ride from Cobham train station. This event is free for children (accompanied by an adult).

Monday 21st April – 7.00pm

The Menuhin Hall

Stoke D’Abernon, KT11 EQQ

Brighten up your Easter bank holiday with a concert performed by twenty six of the UK’s most talented guitarists and the critically acclaimed VIDA Guitar Quartet. The concert programme directed by Gerald Garcia, will include works for guitar ensemble and quartet by composers including Arensky, Arnold, Borodin, Garcia, Gershwin and Mussorgsky. Fresh from their American tour, the VIDA guitar quartet will also be performing pieces from their new album ‘Rhapsody’.
Tickets: £10 (Conc. £8) and FREE for Under 18s with an accompanied adult.

Box Office: NYGE Co-ordinator: Tel. 07761 425405

“The young musicians (NYGE) were really outstanding. The pieces played were diverse and complicated, ranging from beautiful to playful, and were all pulled off with great skill.”

Daily Info, Oxford


The elephant in the room


The ever watchful Norman Lebrecht (Follow him on FB:Facebook and on Twitter@NLebrecht) of Slipped Disc has found more bad news for musicians wanting to enter the USA:

A federal regulation on ivory imports came into force on February 25. It applies to ivory used in musical instruments.
Worked African elephant ivory imported as part of a musical instrument will continue to be allowed provided the worked ivory was legally acquired prior to February 26, 1976; the worked elephant ivory has not subsequently been transferred from one person to another person in pursuit of financial gain or profit; and the item is accompanied by a valid CITES musical instrument passport.
What this means is that every string player who has a small piece of ivory in their bow will need to get a passport for each instrument and bow. Every time you buy a new bow, you will need to register it and pay a $75 fee.

Read more…

Can you imagine this?


The city of Seattle has created priority parking for musicians.
Five popular venues around the city are taking part in the pilot program. The city is modifying nearby load and unload zones with branded signs reading ‘Priority Musicians Loading & Unloading’.

Dawn Schellenberg of the Seattle Department of Transportation says

Our hope is that people will just realize they are in front of a music venue and that there are musicians that are coming to use it and they will allow them the space to unload.

Wish this would happen in Oxford, city of culture (?!)

Paco de Lucia – 21 December 1947 – 26 February 2014

End of an era with the death at age 66 of this genius and giant of the guitar, an inspiration to so many. Rest in peace, Maestro!

El País reports
“The city of Algeciras has decreed three days of mourning and will assist the family in bringing the body home.

De Lucía was a globally admired artist who won the 2004 Prince of Asturias Award for his tireless exploration of the possibilities of flamenco. He will also be remembered for his association with the late flamenco singer Camarón de la Isla during the 1960s and 70s.

The musician had been living in Palma de Mallorca for several years, although he also spent periods in Cuba and the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico. Those who knew him back in Mallorca say he had been less keen about playing the guitar of late. De Lucía preferred to spend time with regular people rather than join intellectual and artistic circles. He also devoted a lot of his time to his two young children.”


Bulerias – early recording

Live at Leverkuse Jazz Festival

Aranjuez, flamenco style

Live at Montreux

The piece which started it all

News from around
El Mundo
El Pais
The Guardian
NY Times
Tribute on InTune BBC
Tribute in El País from his younger brother
Collected articles on Paco in El País
Tribute from Chick Corea



Bill and Fei
Put together a world class guitarist, a renowned composer and a famous luthier, mix together with a pinch of local colour and you will probably get something like this short film by Henry Astor.
It pools the talents of Xuefei Yang, Bill Lovelady and Paul Fisher.
Centred on the Cotswolds where both Paul and Bill live and work, the film charts the creation of a guitar (made from rare and beautiful lacewood) and the writing of a solo guitar piece (Aubade).
Fei is the common factor as she discovers Paul’s instrument and explores Bill’s piece as he writes it.
Appropriately the film gets its premiere in Paul Fisher’s home town of Chipping Norton, in the glorious theatre on February 12th, followed by a live recital by Fei. It is all a very local affair, but with international stars.
Here is the blurb:

Aubade is a documentary film following three contemporary talents in the classical guitar world as they unite on a creative journey. From legendary luthier Paul Fischer, who lives in Chipping Norton, to prolific and accomplished composer William Lovelady and guitar virtuoso Xuefei Yang, the film captures the art and dedication required to build a classical guitar and to compose and perform at the highest levels. As part of the evening, Xuefei Yang will perform music from the film as well as from her new album.
The first half of the evening will be the film screening. The second will be Xuefei Yang playing.

Here is the trailer

For those of you who missed this, it will probably be aired on Sky Arts later this year. There will also be a DVD available.
Oh, and the recorded music is by John Taylor, so quite a gifted production then!

Granados plays Granados

Years ago I had an LP of Granados playing his own music, which I seem to have “mislaid” so I was overjoyed when I found a CD with recordings of Albeniz, Malats and Granados amongst others, and, unlike the supposed recording of Tarrega in the last post, these are pretty well verified. If you play any of the music of these composers at all, it is well worth picking up.
Catalan TraditionIt is called “The Catalan Piano Tradition” and reissued on VAI 1001.
On this CD are several recordings of Granados playing his own music transferred from 78s which he made around 1912. The playing is fresh and virtuosic in a restrained kind of way, giving a good insight into Granados’ style.
Lately, I came across this, which was actually recorded on a piano roll and transferred to a Steinway using Welter Vorsetze in 1962-63.
I found the phrasing and interpretation, despite some suspect notes, a bit of a revelation, and I hope you will too.

Interestingly enough, there is also a video of Evangelos Assimakopoulos (of the duo Evangelos and Liza)playing the same piece on the guitar, with a similar phrasing.

10 habits of successful musicians

Generally I’m not a big fan of articles with the above phrasing, but some of this might be helpful, especially points 6 and 7.

American cellist David Finckel embarks on a series of seminars – entitled Being a Musician – at Stony Brook University, New York on 3 February. Here, he identifies the important habits of those musicians who have built and maintained successful careers

From The Strad

1. Know thyself

2. Be an artist

3. Keep learning

4. Work on your performance

5. Make friends

6. Visualise possible lives

7. Ask not what the industry can do for you…

8. Lead by example

9. Give back

10. Stay the course