Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Musical Pedigrees

Back in university I once tried to trace my musical pedigree just to see where I might end up. I remember with the help of a couple other students tracing our pedigree back from our piano professor all the way to Beethoven. For the life of me however, I can't recall a couple names in the chain but I'm hoping to get that figured out. It will take some big time sleuthing but really, it's just too tempting to leave it be.

So where am I going with this? Since I can't recall my own pedigree with absolute certainty I thought I'd see if I could connect a Popular musician-songwriter back to one of the great composers of old. It started out as just some quirky thing to kill time on my lunch hour. I was actually quite skeptical I'd be able to do pull it off. Just to warn you there's a few individuals in the chain I've never heard of but there might be a few recognizable names to some. Ok....here goes.

So I started off with Burt Bacharach (70 Top 40 Hits). Bacharach studied composition in New York City with Bohuslav Martinu. (Martinu was a Czech-born composer known mainly for his operas and orchestral work who emigrated to the US.)

Martinu studied with Albert Rousel while in Paris and Rousel studied for a time with one Eugene Gigout. Who were these guys? I don't really know much other than Rousel was a naval midshipman at one point and Gigout was evidently a very gifted improviser.

Gigout studied under Camille Saint-Saens who studied piano for a time with Camille-Marie Stamaty (hehe girl's name!). Stamaty was a pupil of Felix Mendelssohn, a child prodigy much like Mozart. When Felix was eight, he took composition lessons from a German by the name of Carl Friedrich Zelter. Now, if we go through two more people, a son and father by the name of Fasch, we arrive at a very familiar name - Johann Sebastian Bach.

So there you have it. Roughly 200 years of musical pedigree from Bacharach to Bach.

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