Bach and the struggle against mediocrity

Ever since my tenth-grade piano teacher started me on a book of Bach Two-Part Inventions I've loved all things Bach. Many years later (!) the book is now quite tattered with the cover missing and pages loose but I still like to take it out from time to time and fumble around the keyboard trying to regain some trace of what I used to be able to play.

The preface to the book includes this compelling claim: "Even at the present day, assiduous practice of these Inventions will be of the utmost utility to each and every talented student of piano-forte-playing who wishes to rise above mediocrity ..." [emphasis mine]. I don't remember reading this preface when I was learning to play these pieces. I certainly don't recall the wish "to rise above mediocrity" as my motivator for practicing them. My motivators were more likely wanting to please my teacher (or more to the point, to avoid that disappointed look on his face) and simply loving how the Inventions sounded. Looking back, if practicing them was also helping me to rise above mediocrity without my realization, it was all to my benefit.

This week I discovered a website that offers a stream of Bach keyboard music via RealPlayer, including at least one Two-Part Invention. I recommend it to you as lovely music to have on while working or reading. And maybe even in the listening it will provide a surreptitious boost above mediocrity.

Click here for Radio B.A.C.H..