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The Bach 48 and the Bach 38

The Bach 48 & the Bach 38


The Bach 48 refers to the two collections of Preludes and Fugues written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1722 and 1742. Each collection consists of a Prelude and Fugue in all the twelve major and minor keys. The work is often known as the Well-Tempered Clavier indicating the fact that the new keyboard instrument was tuned in such a way that it was possible to play in all the keys without sounding out of tune or ‘ill tempered’. It is generally regarded as one of the most influential collections of music in the Western tradition. Part of Beethoven’s star reputation in his youth came from performing the work and it had a lasting influence on his compositions. In the mid twentieth century it was the inspiration for another great collection, the 24 Preludes and Fugues by Shostakovich.
The Preludes take many external forms from the very simple to the very complex in the Well-Tempered Clavier, but their function is always that of setting the scene. The Fugues likewise vary considerably in complexity but always start with a single ‘voice’ stating a simple subject. Other ‘voices’ then enter and expand on that material. Sometimes they add new musical ideas altogether and sometimes they don’t. The Fugues then are like reflective conversations around the atmosphere that has been opened up in the Preludes.

The Bach 38 refers to the Flower Remedies discovered by Dr Edward Bach between 1928 and 1936. Dr Bach was a homeopath who recognised through his work with his patients that to bring about real and lasting healing it was necessary to treat the cause of illness rather than just the symptoms. With a vision way ahead of most of his contemporaries he understood that the true cause of illness and disease in human beings lies in the personality – in the mental and emotional patterns through which we view ourselves and the world around us.
To treat these personality patterns he discovered and developed 38 different flower remedies which have today become known as the Bach Flower Remedies and which are widely known and are used by many people all around the world. Each remedy is a correcting vibration for a state of mind or emotion that needs to be gently rebalanced. Since the body is a direct reflection of the mind, transforming negative vibrations into positive good vibrations allows the body to respond naturally with better health.
“The Musical Remedies Project and the bridge between the 48 and the 38 has been an on-going project for quite a few years now,” says Andrew Morris, a freelance performer and composer. “In 2004 I was inspired to begin work on a set of 38 musical pieces reflecting the transformations of the Flower Remedies. Just as Dr Edward Bach discovered a way to transmit the power of the divine energy through the flowers, I discovered a way of transmitting that same energy through the medium of music,
especially through the sound of the piano.
“In the autumn of 2010 when I was practising some of the Bach 48, I began to see a bridge to the Bach 38. As was customary with composers of the Baroque period, Bach did not cover the scores of the 48 with instructions about tempo, dynamics, phrasing, articulation and all the other musical information which later composers became more and more particular about. As a result the performer of the 48 has a considerable freedom.
“I gradually saw that this music could illuminate the music that I had written for the 38 Flower Remedies. For instance, the C minor Prelude in Book 1 seemed to match exactly the compulsive business of my music for Impatiens. In contrast, in the E flat minor Prelude in Book 1 the dreamy opening seems to exactly match the dreamy state of my music for Clematis. If my music acts as a sort of sound transmission of the essence of the Flower Remedies, the Bach music seems to offer a deep reflection of the significance of the Remedies for our lives.”

In the Bach to Bach evening concert, Andrew Morris plays the first group of the Flower Remedies, the group that Dr Bach called the Twelve Healers, and their twelve counterparts in J.S. Bach’s Preludes and Fugues.

IMPATIENS – J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in C minor from Book 1
CLEMATIS – J.S.Bach : Prelude and Fugue in E flat minor from Book 1
MIMULUS – J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in G minor from Book 1
AGRIMONY – J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in D minor from Book 1
CHICORY – J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in A minor from Book 1
VERVAIN – J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor from Book 1
~ pause ~
CENTAURY – J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in F minor from Book 2
CERATO – J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in F sharp minor from Book 2
SCLERANTHUS – J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in E minor from Book 1
WATER VIOLET – J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in E major from Book 1
GENTIAN – J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in A flat major from Book 1
ROCK ROSE – J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in B flat minor from Book 1