The Richards Guitar Studio Classical Music Recital was a great success today at the Swarthmore Friends Meetinghouse on the Swarthmore College Campus. We had the privilege of hearing piano, voice, classical guitar, and viola performances – music from Bach, Vivaldi, Aguado, Joplin, Domeniconi, Beauty and the Beast, and other beautiful pieces! Our teacher Tatyana and Eric accompanied their students, and Natalie came to support our students.
We are excited to announce our upcoming recital at Swarthmore College on Sunday, February 18 from 2-5pm! Classical Guitar, Voice, Violin, and Piano.
Did you know that we at Richards Guitar Studio have classical music in our roots? Nate Richards has an undergraduate dual-degree in Music Education and Music Theory & Composition, as well as a master’s degree in Music Performance (Classical Guitar).
Our teachers have classical training, college degrees, and music theory training. Our methods are rooted in classical approaches and music theory, as well as our overall mindset. We believe this is why our lessons for rock, pop, and other genres are so successful!
Come join us at the Friends Meetinghouse “Whittier Room” on the campus of Swarthmore College.
Video: Nate Richards, classical guitar teacher at Richards Guitar Studio in Aston, PA, performing Bach Goldberg Variations on classical guitar- Aria
As part of my master’s degree in classical guitar performance, I chose to begin a project of performing a Bach classical guitar piece that is less well-known than the standards in the repertoire, such as the suites, sonatas, and partitas. I love these standards, especially the Chaconne from Partita No.2 in D minor. But, I thought that so many guitarists have already put their fingerprint on those pieces, and I figured embarking on a brand new piece would be a better way to spend my time in graduate school.
I chose to program one 20th Century classical guitar standard, Douze Etudes by Heitor Villa-Lobos (written in 1928), and one piece that is rare in the repertoire, the Goldberg Variations. In addition to these, I have selected numerous shorter pieces by composers such as Tarrega and Rodrigo. I will take selections from both the Villa-Lobos and the Bach, as a full performance of both complete works would be well over 2 hours long, and the master’s degree concert should be approximately 55 minutes.
The transcription I’m using to study the Bach’s Goldberg Variations on classical guitar is linked HERE. Jozsef Eotvos (born 1962), a Hungarian classical guitarist, accomplished this spectacular achievement of transcribing Bach’s piano manuscript to classical guitar. In my opinion, this transcription is the greatest classical guitar transcription in the history of the instrument, with a possible tie or close second to Kazuhito Tamashita’s transcription of Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky.
The Goldberg Variations is a set of 30 variations on a bassline introduced in the introductory Aria (which I’m playing in this video). The variations follow a pattern of canon, genre piece (such as an overture), and an arabesque (lively technical piece). The Wikipedia page is quite accurate. Here is a quote regarding the origination of the composition:
[For this work] we have to thank the instigation of the former Russian ambassador to the electoral court of Saxony, Count Kaiserling, who often stopped inLeipzig and brought there with him the aforementioned Goldberg, in order to have him given musical instruction by Bach. The Count was often ill and had sleepless nights. At such times, Goldberg, who lived in his house, had to spend the night in an antechamber, so as to play for him during his insomnia. … Once the Count mentioned in Bach’s presence that he would like to have some clavier pieces for Goldberg, which should be of such a smooth and somewhat lively character that he might be a little cheered up by them in his sleepless nights. Bach thought himself best able to fulfill this wish by means of Variations, the writing of which he had until then considered an ungrateful task on account of the repeatedly similar harmonic foundation. But since at this time all his works were already models of art, such also these variations became under his hand. Yet he produced only a single work of this kind. Thereafter the Count always called them his variations. He never tired of them, and for a long time sleepless nights meant: ‘Dear Goldberg, do play me one of my variations.’ Bach was perhaps never so rewarded for one of his works as for this. The Count presented him with a golden goblet filled with 100 louis-d’or. Nevertheless, even had the gift been a thousand times larger, their artistic value would not yet have been paid for.
The prodigy/genius Canadian pianist Glenn Gould (1932-1982) recorded two definitive performances of the variations, once in 1955 and again in 1981. Many musicians debate about which recording is the best interpretation of the work, but many believe the 1955 version remains the pillar since its release. I personally like the slower tempo taken in the 1981 recording, so I favor it a bit more.
Fun fact – many professional pianists have performed this piece from memory – about an hour long and contains almost 76,000 NOTES!!! The power of the human brain is astonishing when pushed to the limits!
Here is the 1955 version of Variation 25, also known as the “black pearl,” given that description by Polish harpsichordist Wanda Landowska. Listen to it – you’ll hear why!
Richards Guitar Studio offers professional classical guitar lessons in Aston, PA.
Drill of the Week #37 – Bach Gavotte Classical Guitar Lesson
Classical guitar – an indispensable element to many great guitarists training. Think Randy Rhoads or Chris Broderick, for example. The music of J.S. Bach has been performed consistently for 300 years and has stood the test of time as some of the greatest music ever written. I consider playing his music an honor and a privilege, and a gift. The cerebral and structural perfection, and the beauty of it’s architecture is what musicians will continue to appreciate for centuries to come. Here are a few tips:
Follow the right hand fingerings (P-thumb, i-index, m-middle, a-ring). Efficiency of motion is a key element to making the music flow without interruption. If your finger picking is disjointed and inefficient, the flow of the music won’t capture the beauty of the composition.
Break it up. If you are having trouble learning it at the start, try taking away all the bass notes (thumb notes) and just practice the high notes. Once you have that down, try adding just the first bass note, then the next, and so on.
Feel it in 6/8. Make sure you feel the pulse in 6/8 – that is, 3 notes per beat (so it feels like triplets). Take a look at the notation and see how the notes are grouped into 3’s. Find the first note of each grouping and feel an accent on that note, and the following 2 notes feel less emphasized. This will help you find the pulse.
Nate from Richards Guitar Studio shows you how to play Bach Gavotte II BWV 995 in this guitar lesson. Refer to the tabs and then use the video for performance tips. Techniques include fingerstyle, two-voice counterpoint, and holding bass notes while playing a melody.
Richards Guitar Studio offers professional guitar lessons in Aston PA. We serve Delaware County PA towns such as Swarthmore, Media, Springfield, Ridley Park, Garnet Valley, and Brookhaven.
Nate plays some music he is working on in grad school – En Los Trigales by Rodrigo.
Richards Guitar Studio offers professional private guitar lessons and bass lessons in Aston, PA. We serve Delaware County, including Media, Springfield, Swarthmore, and Ridley. We focus on quality guitar instruction for all ages, levels, and styles, including acoustic, beginner, metal, rock, shred, classical, blues, jazz, country, theory, and improvisation and composition.