Bach , but finished by Kirnberger , J. Re-typeset c. Reprinted by Associated Music Publishers, Inc. The source edition has chorales, but chorale is not a four-part chorale, so it has been removed from this analytic edition.

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Yet, when given this relatively simple passage from Beethoven to sight-read, which may be rated around "Grade 4," he was at a total loss.

This is not a made-up scenario, but is a student I actually witnessed. Moreover, this is not the first time I have experienced otherwise talented and gifted students who know all their scales and arpeggios who have a difficult time playing chordal-style music, what I like refer to as "vertical-style" music.

This passage may be rated about "Grade 5" according to most systems today, and thus, is not really "advanced" at all. Imagine how much better students could sight-read and play chordal passages such as this if they had been trained from the early levels to read and properly play church hymns, and especially, Bach chorales!

The piano testing systems and curricula of today almost totally neglect the playing of hymns and chorales, which unfortunately leaves students ill-prepared for reading and comprehending chordal or vertical-style music.

All the scales and arpeggios in the world and the ability to play all the Chopin and Liszt etudes, surprisingly, do virtually nothing for preparing pianists to play chordal-style music.

It may come as a surprise to many that the majority of advanced-level classical piano music consists neither of scales and arpeggios cascading up and down the keyboard nor most material similar to Chopin and Liszt etudes, but rather, is founded upon the harmonic principles and rules set by J. Bach in his chorales almost years ago from this writing. There are some arpeggios, but they are slow and only one octave. One can possess the fastest scales in the world, yet this does not guarantee at all that one can even play the first phrase of this Intermezzo.

Now imagine a pianist who instead of spending so much time trying to learn all the Chopin etudes has spent a large portion of his time mastering the art of playing Bach chorales Unfortunately, there are very few of these kinds of pianists.

The majority of advanced, classical piano music falls more into the "chordal" or "vertical" category rather than the "scaler" or "horizontal" category. For example, how many piano works other than etudes can you name that feature four octaves of scales and arpeggios running up and down the keyboard? Answer -- NONE! Hence, it makes sense that pianists spend more time practicing Bach chorales than the typical 19th-century etudes. Music theory students still today, almost years after they were written, are very familiar with Bach chorales and realize their importance in the study of harmony; however, it is unfortunate that Bach chorales have been relegated to mere obscurity and all but totally ignored in the piano studios and conservatories of today.

It is also unfortunate that virtually all the piano testing systems and curricula today do not provide piano editions of Bach chorales or require any playing of four-voice hymns and chorales.

What good is a piano system that has not one Bach chorale in its requirements at any level? Answer -- NADA! Being able to play a harmonically advanced chorale such as this is a much more practical and marketable skill to possess than playing predominantly scales, arpeggios, and 19th-century etudes. Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, and virtually all composers after Bach used the SATB chorale style codified and perfected by Bach as the basis behind their music and voice-leading principles.

We, as piano teachers and students, need to begin taking Bach chorales seriously instead of simply casting them off as dry music theory exercises. A complete pianist is one who can play the usual scales and arpeggios and etudes, yet goes the extra mile by spending time living with, practicing, and digesting the finest harmonic masterpieces ever composed in the history of music.

No musical style gives one more effortless finger independence and tonal control than Bach chorales. To put it simply, Bach chorales are hands down the best "etudes" pianists can practice, since they lead to superior skills in so many areas! Move over Chopin and Liszt! Church hymnals are inconvenient for pianists due to the wide spaces between the clefs in order to allow space for the words. Moreover, the printing in most hymnals is usually too small for the average pianist.

The typical format for Bach chorales is even more intimidating. For example, the popular book Harmonized Chorales and 69 Chorale Melodies, compiled by Riemenschneider Schirmer, , is a useful resource for scholars, however, the manuscript is far too small to make it practical for pianists.

Elliott Button Novello, Each title contains: The text to the hymn or chorale with English text for hymns as well as German and English for Bach chorales Pertinent background or historical data about its origins A version with soprano and bass voices with and without fingerings on separate pages The full, 4-voice version with and without fingerings on separate pages Versions with and without fingerings are included in order to offer something for everyone.

Some pianists work better with fingerings provided whereas other pianists may prefer a clean score with no fingerings. Also, having an un-fingered version is a great teaching tool in that students can write in what they think are good fingerings, which then can be checked with the professional and practical fingerings provided. Versions with two and four voices are included in order to offer something for everyone. Beginning-level students up to about "Grade 3" should concentrate on the two-voice versions, while more advanced students should start with the two-voice version for orientation, then concentrate more on the four-voice version.

If a student has difficulty reading two voices, then it is recommended that the student practices at least a dozen two-voice versions ONLY until this difficulty has been overcome. Sight-reading among students nowadays is at its lowest level ever, and there is nothing better for building up superior sight-reading skills for pianists at ALL levels than the two-voice versions of chorales. Moreover, the two-voice versions are so perfect and gratifying in their own right that pianists at ALL levels should practice and enjoy them regardless of their "simplicity.

Much time, thought, and experience have gone into the fingerings in these hymns and chorales, and it is advised that students follow these fingerings exactly. The recommended fingerings, which should fit most hands well, enable pianists to achieve the most legato possible in the most efficient fashion. The default touch in hymns and chorales is legato and it is often necessary when playing two voices in one hand to connect one voice usually in the case of different notes while not connecting the other voice usually in the case of a repeated note.

This is a difficult goal to reach, however, should be a goal all serious pianists should strive to attain. Please view the beautiful examples below! The excerpt above shows the un-fingered two-voice version soprano and bass while the excerpt below shows the same bars with fingering.


371 Vierstimmige Choralgesänge (Bach, Johann Sebastian)

History[ edit ] The compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach that had been printed during his lifetime were nearly exclusively instrumental works. The most complete 18th century publication of chorales by J. About half of the chorale harmonisations in this collection have their origin in other extant works by Bach. This collection went through four more editions and countless reprintings until Several other collections of chorales by J.


371 Chorale Harmonisations


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