WFIT Features

It's Bach's 331st birthday this Thursday and we celebrate it with two hours of organ works, choral music, suites, and harpsichord and string ensemble music -- barely scratching the surface of the body of work of this central figure in the development of Western music.

We'll have performances by E. Power Biggs, Glenn Gould, Virgil Fox, Gustav Leonhardt and the Collegium Aureum, Martin Galling, and a host of others, including both historically accurate recordings and a couple of interpretations that Bach wouldn't have expected.

Though he spent most of his life  in what we now call eastern Germany, J.S. Bach was very much au courant as to what was going on elsewhere in Europe, studying other styles, tinkering with them, and sometimes trying his own hand at writing music as an English, French, or Italian composer might do it. This week we wrap up a series of Orchestral Suites in which Bach writes in the High Parisian style.

Next we'll look at some Renaissance and Baroque Spanish music for keyboard, then music of Beethoven and Stravinsky.

The Surfonauts "Space Surfers Choice" album, recorded in the WFIT Performance Studio in April of 2015, was recently released, and is available for purchase through CD and

Beethoven probably knew that he would never be able to perform his final piano concerto. He did not take this lying down. If he couldn't express himself as a performer, he could certainly channel his emotions into his writing; you can almost feel the fury and defiance in the Fifth Concerto. Beethoven was not a man to go quietly.

From Beethoven, we move forward to look at some modern music written by five 20th century and contemporary composers, Alan Hovhaness, Arvo Part, Michael Torke, Philip Glass, and Allen Shearer.

Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto was the last that he would be able to perform himself before progressive hearing loss robbed him of the ability to play with an orchestra.

Angry and bitter, he wrote some of his most fiery music in the first years of the 1800s – think the Symphony No. 5 – but this concerto wasn’t one of them. This is Beethoven at his most lyrical.

Franz Schubert -- also beset with woe -- too was able to put aside his problems and write evocative songs inspired by the beauty of his surroundings.