Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Bagatelle

    Every recital an idea emerges among the many pieces my students play which needs to be explored. This time it is the genre of the Bagatelle. The name bagatelle literally means a "trifle", as a reference to the innocent character of the piece. It all started when one of MFPA students played Beethoven's Door, a piece in Book 2. 

                                         It was snippet of music from Beethoven's Opus 33 No. 1.

 I recognized it and turned on the old I-Pod to Alfred Brendel's recording of the Bagatelles. My student listened with interest as the knock, knock part repeated three times.
   "Why does it repeat so many times?" I had an opportunity to explain variation on a theme. Each time the Knock, Knock part appeared it was preceded by a more complex variation. This Bagatelle is challenging with triplets followed by sixteenths and the cascade of sound is a merry wash of color. The best-known bagatelles are probably those by Ludwig van Beethoven, who published three sets, Op. 33, 119 and 126, and wrote a number of similar works that were unpublished in his lifetime including the piece that is popularly known as Für Elise.  
   Several students are playing a Bagatelle, not of Beethoven's, and so I am working the No.1 up myself.

                  It is great fun to play and I hope I can increase my tempo before the week is over.

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