Bach And Schoenberg Essay

1490 words - 6 pages

J. S. Bach was the first known composer to use a literal representation of his name in his music. He used the chromatic motive B-A-C-H , that is, B-flat, A, C, B-natural in American theoretical language in Contrapunctuas XIV from the Art of Fugue. Although Bach left this fugue unfinished, the third and last subject of the fugue was the B-A-C-H motive that composers after Bach have used to pay tribute to the great composer. There are a number of composers; including: Schumann, Liszt, Reger, Busoni, Schoenberg, and Webern, who have used the B-A-C-H theme in their works; varying the way they employed it to make it part of their personal style. NEED SCHUMANN, LISZT, REGER INTRODUCTION SENTENCES. In 1910, Busoni created one of most famous works, Fantasia Contrappuntistica, that "finished" Bach's unfinished fugue; the theme is easily noticeable in contrapuntal form. In 1923, the year Schoenberg created his twelve-tone method, he composed op. 25 Suite Für Klavier, which employs his tonal row in inversion, the B-A-C-H motive. In 1937-38, a student of Schoenberg and a purveyor of serialism, Webern used a tonal row beginning with the B-A-C-H motive to create his piece Streichquartett, op 28. Each of the three modern composers uses this theme differently but they each have used these four notes to create a piece that connects each of them to Bach in a unique way.
In Fuga a 3 Soggetti (Contrapunctus XIV) from the Art of Fugue; Bach first presented two whole fugues with separate subjects before beginning the signature-subject . The subject begins with the four notes B flat, A, C, and B natural in a chromatic pattern that is easily recognized. As can be seen below, he quickly matches his subject in the tenor with a real answer at a fifth above in the alto.
Eventually all four voices enter and complete the exposition and then introduce a development section based on the signature-motive. Bach was known to be piously religious and this theme is thought to have carried a meaning of holiness to him, represented in cruciform; the step down and left and right representing the sign of the cross.
Early in the twentieth century, Ferruccio Busoni, an accomplished pianist and composer, was an important figure in promoting new and modern music. Having learned multiple Bach works from his father when he was younger, Busoni soon improvised contrapuntal melodies from random subjects . In his most famous work, Fantasia Contrappuntistica, Busoni sought to “solve the problem” of the Art of Fugue – specifically, the unfinished fugue –by mixing his own style with Bach’s contrapuntal style . In Busoni’s fantasy, he begins his third fugue subject replicating that of Bach’s third signature fugue subject which Busoni develops chromatically and atonally. In the development section, Busoni maintains the structure of the fugue in the left and right hand.
As can be seen in the second musical example, the subject and answer are becoming closer together and layered on top...

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