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'BACH THE EUROPEAN'

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MALCOLM MILLER attends
Andás Schiff's 2007
RAM Bach Prize Lecture-Recital

 

András Schiff's inspiring all-Bach lecture-recital Bach the European, given before a capacity audience at the Royal Academy of Music's Duke's Hall in London on 1 October 2007, was the highlight of an impressive award ceremony at which the Hungarian-born pianist received the prestigious 2007 Royal Academy of Music -- Kohn Foundation Bach Prize. The ceremony began with a speech from Sir Curtis Price, Principal of the Royal Academy of Music (RAM), who underlined that the Bach prize was already one of the world's most important prizes. He added wittily that it was also one of the only prizes for which the recipient was required to 'sing for his supper'! Also present were the awarding committee, the tenor Peter Schreier, Professor Christoff Wolff of Harvard University, the outstanding Bach scholar, recipient of the inaugural Bach Prize in 2006, and Ralph Kohn, sponsor of the award through the Kohn Foundation.

The Bach prize was established at the RAM, alongside a number of RAM vocal scholarships, for an outstanding contribution to Bach research. Ralph Kohn was born in Leipzig, coming in the 1930s via Holland to England, where he and his family found refuge from the Nazi regime. Kohn's distinguished dual career as a scientist (he won the Queen's Award for achievements in the pharmaceutical industry) and as a baritone (recording many CDs with various orchestras and his accompanist Graham Johnson), was coloured by a lifelong passion for Bach. He was a prime supporter of John Eliot Gardiner's Bach Pilgrimage in 2000, and recently was elected as a member of the Leipzig Bach Archiv of which Professor Christoff Wolff is Chairman.

From left to right: Christoff Wolff, Ralph Kohn, András Schiff, Peter Schreier and Curtis Price. Photo © 2007 Mark Whitehouse
From left to right: Christoff Wolff, Ralph Kohn, András Schiff, Peter Schreier and Curtis Price. Photo © 2007 Mark Whitehouse

In his presentation speech, Kohn praised Schiff's distinguished contribution to our appreciation of Bach's music through his recitals and recordings, his teaching and his editorial work, notably for the new Henle edition. He also touched on aspects of interpretation such as ornamentation, and the uses of period and modern instruments, lacing his remarks with witty anecdotes.

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Copyright © 10 October 2007 Malcolm Miller, London UK

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