Bach’s Wife Wrote the Cello Suites?

An Australian researcher has found that Bach didn’t compose "his" cello suites, but instead his second wife , Anna Magdalena, did! Interesting. According to the article, German women at that time basically signed away their intellectual property to their husbands, so if we judge by those standards, we can’t regard it as theft.

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Joel on Designing a Trash Can

Joel Spolsky writes on "What is design?":

Ok, light, heavy, big, and small. What else. It should be closed on the
top, so rubbish doesn’t fly away in the wind. It should be open on the
top, so it’s easy to throw things away.

Reminds us a lot about requirements for a software development project, right? Joel’s thesis is that design is all about making tradeoffs, and has nothing whatsoever to do with art.

Even if I believe that such a view is very productive, I’m afraid I don’t agree with him: even if the design space is very constrained, there’s still room for artistic freedom that can make a thing feel just right. Or, we’re probably talking about different things here; if you read Joel’s article carefully, I get to the conclusion that he believes that art is the same as decoration. Which is doubtful, to say the least.

Look at music, for instance. In the Baroque period, one of the stricter forms you could compose in was the fugue. There’s a framework of constraints on how you could construct a fugue, with lots of tradeoffs. So within such a framework of constraints, did Bach design his fugues, to which he added some decoration, just to make it (musical) art? Nope, his fugues are definitely solid pieces of art. But of course, we can see that there are definitely many elements of design in them.

On the other hand, if you listen to modern classical music, you can hear that many of those composers don’t have to obey any constraints at all when they write music. And maybe that’s when art becomes just "decoration"?

And I’m sure you can make a mobile phone with all the tradeoffs done right, but which noone would want to buy because it’s just too ugly.

Classical Music Radio

I’ve just found a nice site for listening to classical music, called Magnatune. What I like most, except for them having a nice selection of music, is that they’ve partitioned their music into sections "before 1800" and "after 1800"!

Bach Aria Discovered

A previously unknown Bach aria was discovered this summer, and Sir John Eliot Gardiner has made the first recording of it! If you’ve got Real Player installed, you can listen to a sample of it here.

Sounds pretty nice!

Beethoven Manuscript Found!

A manuscript written by Beethoven himself, which has been gone for 115 years, has been found! It’s a score of a piano version of the "Grosse Fuge" (the last movement of a late string quartet). I hope someone’ll get it printed, because it’s a great piece of music! And finally I’d be able to play it on the piano.

Update: Sorry for my improper spelling, but I couldn’t find the German "double-s", and if I would have found it, I don’t know if would have displayed properly in all web readers. But for you who can see it, here it is: ß. "Große Fuge".