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Leopold's Short Life - adapted from Bach, illustrated with Escher

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Published on May 21, 2015

The logic and precision of J.S. Bach & M.C. Escher have much in common. "Leopold's Short Life" is adapted by "Prelude & Fugue No. 2 in C Minor" from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, and uses woodcuts and drawings by M. C. Escher to illustrate. The images lend an entirely new meaning to the music.

Prelude No. 2 is the first Bach I ever played on the piano, assigned to me by my University piano professor in 1977. Although I loved Bach's music from my first hearing as a child, I was a latecomer as a performer. In this re-interpretation, I experiment with the rhythms and chords, but maintain the over structural, although I edit out a quarter of the Prelude, keeping all the Fugue. I love how the 21st and 18th centuries merge/collide.

I've named my version in honor of the prince of Köthen (where the original piece was written). Prince Leopold, as well as Bach's son Leopold Augustus, for whom the prince stood as godfather, share inspirational citations. Bach's son died in infancy. (Only nine of his 22 children survived him.) Prince Leopold died from smallpox at age 33, after the disease took his only son and second daughter. There is something about the drama of Bach's original score, combined with the dissonances I've added, that made me think of the many shortened lives Bach dealt with during his time.

For more information, please see www.tobinmueller.com/flow/

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