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05 March 2020Study Day: The Music and Life of Johann Sebastian Bach
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Study Day: The Music and Life of Johann Sebastian Bach Peter Medhurst Thursday 05 March 2020

Peter Medhurst’s work as singer, pianist and lecturer-recitalist has taken him all over the world, and in the last few years he has toured New Zealand, Australia (twice) and South Africa (four times), and made frequent tours in Europe, giving performances in Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna, Salzburg, Brussels, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Paris and Spain.  Closer to home, he has presented events at the Barbican, St John’s Smith Square, and the Royal Festival Hall on The Beethoven String Quartets, Mozart Operas, Vermeer’s Music Lesson, The Twelve Days of Christmas, The Golden Age of Vienna, and 18th Century Venetian Art and Music.  He has also directed presentations at the Wallace Collection, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and the V&A, linking the visual arts with the world of 17th & 18th century music making.

He is a familiar face to audiences of music societies, regional theatres and British festivals (Henley, Isle of Man, Rye, Amersham, Stevenage, Chichester, Leith Hill, The Three Choirs etc) as well as to those of arts based organisations such as The Art Fund, The National Trust and the Arts Society (formally known as NADFAS).  On the radio, his appearances have included Classic FM’s Susanna Simons’ Show, Radio 3’s In Tune, Radio 4’s Arts Programme, and Midweek with Libby Purves.  

Peter Medhurst was born of German and English parents, and did his musical training at the Royal College of Music where he studied singing with Redvers Llewellyn and Edgar Evans, organ with Richard Popplewell, composition with Justin Connolly and music history with Else Mayer-Lismann, Christopher Grier and Joseph Horowitz.  In 1978, a scholarship from the Austrian government gave him the opportunity to have coaching with the accompanist Erik Werba at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.  On his return to England he took harpsichord lessons with Ruth Dyson, who became his accompanist and fellow keyboard duettist in a professional partnership that lasted until her death nearly 20 years later.

Over the years Peter Medhurst has lectured for the universities of Kent and Surrey, directed a wide range of choirs, vocal ensembles and instrumental groups, and adjudicated and given masterclasses for the British Federation of Music Festivals.

Music lovers regard JS Bach as the greatest of early 18th century composers.  In fact, he is so important in the history of music that we close down the Baroque period with his death in 1750.

However, Bach is also one of the most challenging of composers and rarely reveals the subtleties of his music on first or second hearing, causing some of his listeners to feel distanced from many of the finer moments in his output.

This study day goes beneath the surface of Bach’s music to decode some of his musical symbolism to reveal some of his working methods and to highlight some of his aesthetic goals.

10.00   Coffee can be purchased at Henderson’s

11.00   Lecture 1: A general introduction to the life and music of Bach through the one

surviving authentic portrait of the composer. This includes a look at his position in Western music and his impact on later generations, and a brief study of his publishing history.

12.00   Lecture 2: An exploration of Bach’s musical language, to include examples from instrumental works such as the Brandenburg Concertos and the Goldberg Variations.

1.00     Buffet Lunch.  Wine can be purchased from Henderson’s.

2.00     Lecture 3 will focus on Bach’s great legacy to the world of music and will discuss hisInfluence on Mozart, Beethoven, Reger and Stravinsky.