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Ferruccio Busoni: Romantic Bach
In Baroque times, it was common practice that the music of composers would be adapted by others for use in their own works. It has been said that the famous D minor Toccata and Fugue for organ by Johann Sebastian Bach may have actually been the work of another composer and originally for solo violin. This kind of adaptation took place fairly regularly, but why was this so? One reason may have been that composers had to churn out works for various purposes - entertainment, festivals and religious occasions - and the volume of music demanded was so vast that there was not much time to wait for inspiration to strike. Instead composers had to be creative with their output, transcribing the themes in their own works or those of others into subsequent works and spawning off new creations.
While the earlier forms of adaptation might have been limited to using the melodic theme of another in a different work, later composers also sought new ways to reinvent music, including transcribing music from one medium to another. The composer Franz Liszt was famous for making piano arrangements of famous orchestral works such as the Beethoven symphonies or Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. Was he successful in doing so? One side of the argument goes that the original work triumphs because the initial impact it had on audiences cannot be duplicated again. But it has been said of Liszt's piano arrangements that they accurately convey the voice of the orchestral instruments, and anyone wishing to learn how to write for the orchestra should consult his piano arrangements with reference to their original works, to see how Liszt brought out the various tones and colours of the original instruments through imaginative use of pianistic writing.
The Italian composer Ferruccio Busoni was famous for his adaptations of Bach's organ works. Some have even commented on how his adaptations even manage to go beyond the literal transcription of notes for the instrument, but even manage to recreate the effect of resonance - how the original organ music would have sounded as it echoed within the church acoustics. Busoni arranged some of Bach's chorale preludes for organ, the organ Toccata and Fugue in D minor, and the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, but in line with how he perceived his role as arranger, also put his own stamp on the original by adding other expressive details of phrasing, dynamics and tempo, to the point that the adapted works sound more like Bach tinged with a romantic brush.
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N8 local history: Crouch End
Could you ever imagine Crouch End without the clock tower? The landmark is so iconic of the London suburb that Crouch End without it is like New York without the Statue of Liberty.
The Clocktower stands on the junction of two ancient routes still in use today. The first ran from Islington to Muswell Hill, where the reputed holy water of the Mus Well gave the area its name. The second route ran from Holloway, over Crouch End Hill, following Tottenham Lane, leading to the parish church of Hornsey and on to Tottenham.
The clock tower was erected in the late 1800s as a tribute to Henry Reader Williams, who was chairman of the Local Board. Under his direction, Crouch End navigated the difficult transition from tiny village to London suburb. Up until the mid 1850s, Crouch End had largely consisted of a few homes clustered around the base of Crouch End Hill, near Edison Road opposite where the current Marks and Spencers lies. But its increasing popularity among City workers, together with the opening up of the railways, meant that the five-mile trip to work in the city, and return to the countryside of what was then outer London, was no longer a difficult sojourn. Henry Reader Williams oversaw the expansion of housing, which saw large tracts of estate land bought up by developers such as James Edmondson and built on. His face can be seen on the side of the Clock Tower as you approach down Crouch Hill and up to Park Road.