Monday, January 26, 2009

Its a pleasure that is bound to satisfy, when you decide that Mr. Gould must have been a very personable guy

Over the past six months, I have listened to the Goldberg Variations, watched Thirty Two Short Films, pondered the Solitude Trilogy. I have looked at pictures, met countless people who have been deeply touched by Mr. Gould, read many articles and interviews. Yet I still do not know. There is still so much to learn about Mr. Gould.

Thankfully, I do not walk alone. Every young grasshopper needs a sansei and I am lucky enough to work alongside mine. I call her "Dr. Piano." Dr. Piano is both kind and knowledgeable. She patiently answers all of my seemingly random questions. She doesn't judge me when I repeatedly need her to pronounce the words 'Salome' or 'Fidelio' before going to an opera. She understands that I am both unsure and forgetful when it comes to foreign pronunciations.

In December, I asked Dr. Piano to come with me to see the Elmer Isler Singers perform Handel's Messiah. As we sat listening, I felt like there was something familiar about the arrangement. I eagerly shot Dr. Piano a look, wordlessly asking "Is this contrapuntal!?!" She understood but quickly shook her head. I was wrong. Later, I work up the nerve to try again, looking at her like an eager puppy. This time I am rewarded with an enthusiastic nod. I have identified the contrapuntal music! I beam triumphantly. Needless to say, I like Dr. Piano a lot.

The other day, I asked Dr. Piano about the relationship between fugues and counterpoint. Dr. Piano smiled. She had just the thing for me. Liz, meet 'So you want to write a fugue.' Written by Mr. Gould, the song is in the form of a fugue and uses fugue devices in its composition. How impressively clever! (...Although doesn't Mr. Gould say in the song, "Never be clever for the sake of being clever, for the sake of showing off." Now I am confused...?) I love the string quartet paired with the utter professionalism of the singers. The best part? I think I get it. I understand the fugue and its devices! I even feel that I can appreciate Mr. Gould's dry wit.

There is only one thing left to do: I shall conquer the Art of Fugue with my newly discovered clarity!

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