New Leipzig Thomaskantor, the 17th after Bach
The Leipzig Commission has announced that Professor Gotthold Schwarz (63) has been appointed Cantor in succession to Professor Christoph Biller. A profile will be published in the next edition of the London Bach Society’s Journal in September.
Bachfest 2016 – Early News – Mark the dates
The first events in this year’s Bachfest are now posted. Using navigation, go to BACHFEST 2016 page for early information. We are aiming to post full details by 1 July 2016.
LBS Bach Friends
Why not join our supporters and become a Bach Friend. Full information can be found by visiting the BACH FRIENDS section. This can be reached by using the navigation (page right) and scrolling down.
LBS 70th: Get in touch
As part of our 70th Anniversary we should like to make this an occasion that can be also shared by singers, including former choir members (1947-1989), players and supporters that have been part of our story at some time or another.
LBS was founded on 7 November 1946 when Paul Steinitz, joined by a group of friends and students, met in the Vestry at St. Peter’s Church Dulwich Common to form the (South) London Bach Society. Its purpose was to get back to Bach in its original form. The rest is history as they say and over the decades many generations have joined us on our musical journey with Bach either as members of our original choir, players in our orchestra, audience members and supporters.
As part of our annual Bachfest, we shall commemorate our 70th anniversary in music and words on Monday 7 November 2016 in St George’s Church Hanover Square – Handel’s Parish church a few minutes walk from Oxford Circus tube. Naturally Bach’s music will be at the centre.
In addition to our regular email and postal mailing lists, we are assembling a special past supporters email list so that we can send further details to all who would like to come and celebrate LBS with us, especially those with whom we have lost touch over the years. So if you would like to be included on the list send us your email address to us and we shall add your details and let you have further information. Our email address (to send us y ours) is email@example.com.
Using the navigation (page right) more information about events can be found by visiting the LBS 70th Advance Information page under the Bachfest 2016 heading. This page will be regularly updated from now onwards until the whole autumn programme is formally announced later in the summer.
Note: Your email details will not be passed on to third parties and, unless you advise us further, the list will not be used after 7 November 2016.
Bach Singers Prize Update
The LBS Bach Singers Prize is presented every two years, so the next one is due in the autumn 2017. The competition is open to postgraduate singers, either still studying or at the beginning of their careers, in the age range 21-32 years at the date of the Final (tba). If you wish to receive advance information please email us by clicking on the icon below or emails us firstname.lastname@example.org and we shall add your details to our email list
Lord Avebury’s Memorial Celebration
Violinist Rodolfo Richter will represent our musicians at the Memorial Celebration for LBS Vice President Lord Avebury on Thursday 30 June 2016 at the Royal Institution. Rodolfo will play three movements chosen from amongst Bach’s unaccompanied violin repertoire. The London Bach Society will be represented by Artistic Director Margaret Steinitz and Council Chairman Richard Jones.
From the leader’s chair
Alan Loveday (1928-2016)
The death has been announced of the violinist Alan Loveday, aged 88. Alan was one of the most gifted violinists of his generation and an early exponent of period style playing. No one could fail to be anything other than deeply moved by his performances of key Bach obbligatos played on his ‘little fiddle’ and his recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with the Academy of St. Martins directed by (Sir) Neville Marriner (pictured above) made in the early 1970s serves as a benchmark for many to this day.
A New Zealander by birth, Alan Loveday’s place in the history of the London Bach Society is as a founder-member-leader of Steinitz Bach Players in 1968, along with oboist Tess Miller, trumpeter Michael Laird, violist Duncan Druce, cellist Jennifer Ward Clarke and violone/viola da gambist Adam Skeaping. His leadership and performances with the orchestra in its crucial early years raising listeners’ awareness of how Bach might have heard his music and had it performed were manifested most significantly in his exquisite playing of the violin obbligato in the aria “Erbarme dich Gott…” (St. Matthew Passion Part 2) sung by Janet Baker at the annual Lenten presentations directed by Paul Steinitz in the Priory Church of St. Bartholomew-the-Great. In later years Alan’s performance of one of the Bach solo violin Partitas at a Steinitz/ LBS Bach cantata concert reduced a packed QEH on London’s South Bank to tears of joy and high emotion…with Paul sitting on the concert platform alongside the other instrumentalists eager not to miss a single note.
A key player in our orchestra’s early development, we remember Alan Loveday with much gratitude. Margaret Steinitz
Professor Peter Williams (1937-2016)
The death has been announced of the British Bach scholar Professor Peter Williams aged 78. One of the most respected writers on Bach over the past half-century, Peter Williams was a former Professor and Dean of Music at the University of Edinburgh and Emeritus Arts and Sciences Professor of Music at Duke University, North Carolina. There will be many an organist today brought up on Williams’ three volumes “The Organ Music of J S Bach” published between 1981-1984 where, among other thought-provoking statements, he dared to suggest that the famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565 was not by Bach. He was also a close friend of one of the world’s most respected and gifted interpreters of Bach’s organ works, Dr. Peter Hurford, regularly attending the St. Albans Organ Festival & Competition founded by Hurford in 1963.
Always fascinated by every aspect and joining our frustrations that so little in the way of letters and documents have survived that give us greater knowledge of Bach’s life and work, Williams became author-turned-detective, using segments of the Bach Obituary to delve deeper and in the process to offer further insight that moved away from the deferential and towards the more human. It was this that inspired Williams’ biography of the composer “The Life of Bach” published in 2004 expanded to “J S Bach: A Life in Music” published in 2007, these two volumes a culmination perhaps of his own life’s work from which many across the globe have benefitted. While Bach scholarship is continually being advanced, Williams’ books will remain a significant reference point for all students of the composer and form part of the legacy of expertise and knowledge handed on to new generations.
Peter Williams’ books are published by Cambridge University Press www.cambridge.org. Margaret Steinitz
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (1934-2016)
Another very sad loss. Composer, conductor and educator, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies passed away on 14 March 2016 aged 81. He had been ill for sometime, yet showed his typical courage and determination to continue to work until the end.
Sir Peter was a true pioneer, imaginative, creative, controversial, challenging in the musical demands he made on his singers and players. He was the original enfant terrible. His iconic group Fires of London (formerly the Pierrot Players) rolled back the boundaries of contemporary music and the live concert experience in the 60s/70s, touring the world with their staged performances of, among other instrumental and theatre works, Max’s (as he was fondly known) Eight Songs for a Mad King and Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot that set the seal on his composing career ahead. Audiences came to know the group simply as ”The Fires” and they attracted some stellar instrumentalists to make sense of the very complex Maxwell Davies scores – Jennifer Ward Clarke, Duncan Druce, Judith Pearce, Stephen Pruslin and Alan Hacker among them, the group ably managed by the late Louise Honeyman. Any new Davies world première was anticipated with alacrity for its potential to be controversial and since those days they have never provoked indifference.
Our own contribution was to give the first London performance of Maxwell Davies Veni Sancte Spiritus at the South Bank’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in November 1972, which BBC recorded, and which was given with the composer present.
Latterly Sir Peter has continued to champion the importance of high quality musical education, a lifelong commitment of his, when it is not only financial cuts that threaten, but the very inclusion of music as an integral part of the curriculum… and he did not mince his words on this, cuts to arts funding in general and other Davies priorities either! At least he is no longer suffering and his music will surely live on. Rest in peace. Margaret Steinitz (Artistic Director, LBS)
Steinitz Scholarship in Musicology
A Steinitz Scholarship in Musicology has been set up at the University of Huddersfield to reflect and recognise the work of Dr Paul Steinitz in the study and performance of the music of J S Bach and founder of the London Bach Society, and the work of his son, Professor Richard Steinitz, expert on the music of Ligeti in particular and founder of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. Further information may be found by clicking on the link www.hud.ac.uk/research/music/
Nikolaus Harnoncourt at Barbican with Margaret Steinitz and Sir Nicholas Kenyon
Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1929-2016)
The death has been announced of the distinguished Austrian conductor and chamber musician Nikolaus Harnoncourt. He was 86. Harnoncourt was a pioneer of period style performance, especially of the music of Bach, and the last of the remaining great 20th century Bach interpreters who rolled back the boundaries and gave us the composer’s treasury of vocal church music in its original form . The complete Bach cantatas recording project (Telefunken 1970-1991) he shared with the Dutch harpsichordist and conductor Gustav Leonhardt remains one of the most important and historic ever on disc, opening our ears to the emerging new sound world at the time, not only of the period instruments themselves, but of period style performance in its fullest sense. Nearly a quarter of a century later these recordings still cut the mustard and inform the listener.
When Paul Steinitz was planning the last phase of the London Bach Society’s own public cycle of Bach’s cantatas in the mid-1980s, Harnoncourt was invited to be one of the Patrons of the special Appeal launched to complete our project and he accepted with alacrity. The warm encouragement that accompanied this was typical of the man, a genuine servant of music. By his side was his devoted wife and accomplished violinist Alice to whom he was married for over 60 years; his daughter is the celebrated mezzo soprano Elisabeth von Magnus.
There will be many tributes made from across the world, reflecting the breadth of musical interests Harnoncourt pursued. Ours is one of sincere gratitude for his dedication to the music of Bach, a true kindred spirit. Margaret Steinitz
LBS 70th – Bach Notes
The first of two special issues of our Journal is now published . Copies are available to download. Click on the link:
In this issue the following articles/features are among the items: -
- An Interview with Anna Harvey, LBS 5th Bach Singers Prize Winner
- The LBS Bach Club
- RAM Bach Cantata series, 8th Glorious Year – Interview with Jonathan Freeman-Attwood
- In the footsteps of JSB, a travelog by LBS Bach Friend, Philip Caine
- Peter Smaill reviews Eric Chafe’s book “Tears into Wine”
The next Issue – 1 September 2016
The next issue of our Journal will be devoted to a survey of the London Bach Society’s work, how it is building upon the Steinitz legacy today, including portraits of Steinitz Bach Players and artists appearing in the celebratory Bachfest in November 2016.