Take a moment today to introduce your homeschool students to a four-minute musical masterpiece, the Little Fugue, written by one of the world’s greatest composers, Johann Sebastian Bach, who was born on this day in 1685.
Here’s the Little Fugue performed by Jonathan Scott in what might be called its natural habitat: the organ loft of a church. (Much of Bach’s music was church music written for the pipe organ, “the king of instruments.”) The video does a good job of showing the complex operation of the organ, which requires the performer to exercise not only both hands, but both feet as well:
And here’s the same piece, Bach’s Little Fugue, but arranged in a very different way for a saxophone quartet by Staff Sergeant David Parks of the United States Army Field Band:
If either of those performances catch your students’ attention, there’s a whole universe of Bach available online — more than enough to convert today’s little homeschool lesson into a week-long music festival of your own devising.
As one next step, you could watch this wonderful educational performance of a Bach concerto by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, complete with a detailed introduction from a young Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990), and with a very young Glenn Gould (1932–1982) — one of Bach’s greatest twentieth-century interpreters — at the piano:
One remarkable thing for your students to observe: Gould plays the entire piece with no sheet music. He kept every note, every inflection, all in his head.
What musical discoveries have you made and what artistic anniversaries have you marked in your homeschool this month? 😊
❡ Explore more: You can find several lists of noted musical composers and performers starting on page 221 in your recommended homeschool almanac (riverhouses.org/books). Why not use those lists and make up an impromptu homeschool research project: have your students copy out separate lists of composers from different centuries, or from different countries, and find examples of their music online. Can you get a sense for how musical styles changed from century to century? Are there distinct national styles that you can recognize?