Charles Welles Rosen (May 5, 1927 – December 9, 2012) was an American pianist and writer on music. He is remembered for his career as a concert pianist, for his recordings, and for his many writings, notable among them the book The Classical Style.
Charles Rosen was born in New York City on May 5, 1927, to a Russian-Jewish immigrant couple, Irwin Rosen, an architect, and Anita Rosen (née Gerber), a semiprofessional actress and amateur pianist.
Charles began his musical studies at age 4 and at age 6 enrolled in the Juilliard School. At age 11 he left Juilliard to study piano with Moriz Rosenthal, and with Rosenthal's wife, Hedwig Kanner. Rosenthal, born in 1862, had been a student of Franz Liszt. Rosenthal's memories of the 19th century in classical music were communicated to his pupil and appear frequently in Rosen's later writings. (For instance, in Critical Entertainments, Rosen offers a memory from Rosenthal concerning how Brahms performed on the piano; specifically that he "rolled" chords upward, starting with the bass note.) Every year from the ages of three to twelve, Rosen heard Josef Hofmann play, and he later suggested that Hofmann had a greater influence on him than Rosenthal.[b]
Rosen's family background was not a wealthy one. The Guardian editor Nicholas Wroe interviewed Rosen in his old age, and reported:
His father had lost his job during the depression and "things were pretty tough for a while". The family moved from Washington Heights to a ho[me] in the then less fashionable Upper West Side, where Rosen still lives. Because money was so short Rosen's parents arranged a contract with the Rosenthals not to pay them for Charles's tuition, but instead to give them 15% of his earnings as a pianist until the age of 21. "As I didn't make my debut in New York until I was 23, it was not a very satisfactory deal. But when I made my first recording I took some money to Hedwig [Kanner] Rosenthal, who was very surprised because she had been teaching me for 13 or 14 years at that stage."
At age 17, Rosen enrolled in Princeton University, where he studied French, and also took courses in mathematics and philosophy. When he graduated in 1947, he was offered a fellowship of $2,000 to continue at Princeton in the French graduate program. While in graduate school he roomed with his fellow student Michael Steinberg, who also went on to become a classical-music critic and renowned scholar in his own right.
Rosen attained his status as a musical scholar with very little classroom training. Although the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians refers to him as a student of the musicologist Oliver Strunk, Rosen never formally studied musicology with Strunk or anyone else. Rosen's extensive knowledge of music appears to have arisen partly from a culturally rich family background, and partly from reading. As Wroe reported:
Through the Rosenthals, Rosen was connected to the New York musical scene. ... [He] says that by the time he went to Princeton, he knew all the music department socially. "So that made me too proud to take a degree in music, which I thought would be too easy. I sound like a snotty bastard, which I might have been, but I really did know more music as an undergraduate than the postgraduate students."
The year 1951 was a busy one for Rosen: he completed his French Literature Ph.D., gave his first piano recital, and made his first recordings, of works by Martinu and Haydn. His career as a pianist made progress only slowly at first, and he traveled to Paris on a Fulbright scholarship to study the relationship between poetry and music in 16th-century France. In 1953 he moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to teach French. He described this period to Nicholas Wroe:
I suppose I could have stayed on as an academic, but I never intended to do anything but play the piano. The only time I taught was when my playing would only support me for half a year, but I could only get a full-time job. So I taught French at MIT Monday to Wednesday, but Thursday through Sunday I was a pianist. In 1955, after two years there, I got an offer from Columbia Artists Management and so I resigned.
The Columbia offer initiated his successful career as a concert pianist: Rosen appeared in numerous recitals and orchestral engagements around the world. Musicologist Stanley Sadie reviewed his pianism as follows:
As a pianist, Rosen is intense, severe and intellectual. His playing of Brahms and Schumann has been criticized for lack of expressive warmth; in music earlier and later he has won consistent praise. His performance of Bach's Goldberg Variations is remarkable for its clarity, its vitality and its structural grasp; he has also recorded The Art of Fugue in performances of exceptional lucidity of texture. His Beethoven playing (he specializes in the late sonatas, particularly the Hammerklavier) is notable for its powerful rhythms and its unremitting intellectual force. In Debussy his attention is focussed rather on structural detail than on sensuous beauty. He is a distinguished interpreter of Schoenberg and Webern.
Rosen made a large number of recordings, including recording various 20th century works at the invitation of their composers:
His recordings include earlier literature such as Debussy's Études (1958), Schumann's works for solo piano, Beethoven's late sonatas and Diabelli Variations, and Bach's Art of Fugue and Goldberg Variations.[c]
Rosen's career as an author and scholar began only when he had passed the age of 40. Nicholas Wroe narrates how he started writing:
Rosen released his first Chopin recording in 1960. It included one of the late nocturnes, opus 62 no 1 ... Rosen says he wasn't entirely happy with the recording, but he was even more disappointed with the sleeve note, which described the nocturne as "staggering drunken with the odour of flowers". "I had many thoughts about the piece," he says. "That was not one of them. So I started writing the sleeve notes myself. People liked them and after a while a publisher took me to lunch. Before he even offered me a drink he said he would publish whatever I'd like to write. Eventually it led to many books and articles. But to begin with I wrote just to keep nonsense off my record sleeves."
In 1970 Rosen wrote his first column for The New York Review of Books—a scathing review of the then-current edition of the Harvard Dictionary of Music.[d] His association with the magazine continued for the rest of his life. A number of his books collect essays and reviews he wrote for the Review.
In 1971, Rosen published his first and most famous book, The Classical Style. This work was highly successful, winning a National Book Award; and initiated a long series of books.
At various points in his career Rosen took positions as a university professor. His early stint teaching French at MIT is mentioned above. His later teaching was in music, in part-time or visiting positions offered to Rosen after he had achieved fame in his scholarly work. At Harvard University he held the Charles Eliot Norton Chair of Poetics in 1980/1981; the public lectures he gave there served as the basis of The Romantic Generation. He taught one academic quarter per year at the University of Chicago from 1985 to 1996. He taught at Stony Brook University starting 1971, the University of Oxford (1988) and the Royal Northern College of Music.
Even after the scholarly phase of his career had set in, Rosen continued to perform as a pianist for the rest of his life.
He gave his last lecture on April 18, 2012 in the series Music in 21st-Century Society, at the Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation of the CUNY Graduate Center.
Rosen died of cancer on December 9, 2012, in New York City, aged 85. His collection of scores and manuscripts was donated to the Music Department of the Graduate Center, City University of New York.
Rosen was the author of many acclaimed books about music, among them:
Rosen also published in other areas of the humanities: Romanticism and Realism: The Mythology of Nineteenth-Century Art, and Romantic Poets, Critics, and Other Madmen.
In the introduction to Critical Entertainments, Rosen stated that his main goal in writing about music was "to increase the listener's engagement with the music". Alluding to the unhappy program note mentioned above, he wrote:
A Chopin recording I made ... had some notes that quoted James Huneker on one of the late nocturnes, which claimed that it "staggered drunken with the odor of flowers." This was not my view of the work ... Huneker's style is an invitation to the listener to dream, to dissipate attention into reverie. The writing about music that I prefer – and the performances of it, as well – fix and intensify the listener's attention. When I hear music, I prefer to lose myself in it, not drift outside in my own personal world with the music as a decorative and distant background.
In pursuing this goal, Rosen often appealed to technical aspects of musical description, including the theories of harmony and musical form. In a New Yorker blog post, Jeremy Denk rhapsodically describes this aspect of Rosen's work:
My favorite, life-changing parts of The Classical Style are the blow-by-blow accounts of great passages of music in the wonkiest of terms. He delves into the exposition of Mozart's piano concerto in E-flat, K. 271, showing how each new idea fulfills various needs raised by the last, while leaving others still open: a continuous game of symmetry and asymmetry, expectation and fulfillment, hiding beneath the innocent surface. ... Charles insists on addressing the notes; but he shows us how behind the notes are felt needs, requirements, laws of how things ought to be—a whole system of judgment, of taste, of meaning. ... The book ... occasionally feels like a page-turner, a thriller: these three geniuses—Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven—building on each other's discoveries, like scientists almost, creating unprecedented inventions, invoking a golden era of form meeting content.
Another goal of the work is to set each composer's work in its historical and cultural background, describing the forms of composition that served as a musical background for a composer in his formative years and then illuminating his contributions. Thus, for example, Rosen largely sees Beethoven in the context of the Classical-period tradition from which he emerged, rather than anachronistically as a forerunner of the later Romantic movement. Indeed, Rosen makes a strong case that the Romantic movement in music emerged from a rejection of the principles on which Beethoven composed; and that the veneration the Romantics held for Beethoven was in some ways an impediment to their best work.
Rosen was unafraid to make strong generalizations about the music he studied; i.e. he frequently pointed out aspects of the music claimed to be invariably or almost invariably present. Here are examples.
The first section of a sonata exposition always has an increasingly animated texture. (Sonata Forms, p. 238)
The opening of a work by Mozart is always solidly based [i.e., in the tonic key], no matter how ambiguous and disturbing its expressive significance, while the most unassuming first measures of a quartet by Haydn are far more unstable, more immediately charged with a dynamic movement away from the tonic. (The Classical Style, 186)
In this respect Chopin is one of the least pianistic of composers: a change of harmony [= a passage repeated later in a piece in a different key] that makes the original figuration exceedingly awkward does not lead him to change the figuration, and he always refuses to adapt his musical thought to the convenience of the hand. (The Romantic Generation, p. 364)
From time to time Rosen wielded his pen as a rapier, skewering other authors. He generally expressed his criticisms with a dose of wit, mixing damnation with faint praise,[e] as in the following discussion of a contribution by Richard Taruskin to a volume on historically informed performance:
Taruskin writes brilliantly and at the top of his voice, and his most crushing arguments are often reserved for opinions that no one really holds. He asserts: "To presume that the use of historical instruments guarantees a historical result is simply preposterous." No doubt. Still, Taruskin beats his dead horses with infectious enthusiasm, and some of them have occasional twitches of life.
Such passages were balanced by a fair amount of praise and appreciation (if not systematic citation) of others' work.
Rosen's prodigious memory for facts occasionally failed him, letting elementary factual errors creep into his work. Sometimes he would apologize for the errors in reprinted editions, retaining them in the text as a sort of self-reprimand. Thus chapter 7 of Critical Entertainments, a reprinted essay, begins with an appended comment:
At the opening of the following essay, the mistake of calling Joseph II the emperor Franz Joseph is so egregious that I have let it stand in the text in the hope that the public humiliation will make me more careful in the future. Several readers wrote to signal other mistakes…
The musicologist Mark DeVoto has written of Rosen:
Charles Rosen was a comprehensive musician, an outstanding pianist and one of the best writers on music ever. The scope of his knowledge was immense, and its depth showed on every page of his many and various books and articles, from The Classical Style to The Romantic Generation to Sonata Forms, and even to books on Schoenberg and Elliott Carter. Today's students and knowledgeable music lovers return to Rosen's writings again and again, not only to read about the great composers and their works, but to comprehend them historically and as components of the literary and dramatic traditions, which Rosen knew thoroughly.
Amalgamated Advertising was an independent advertising agency based in New York City. The agency was founded in 2003 by Douglas Cameron, Jason Gaboriau and Charles Rosen, and became known for its "cultural branding" approach.Eric Silver, former Executive Creative Director of BBDO, joined Amalgamated in September 2010 as Chief Creative Officer and majority partner. Silver and Amalgamated’s founding partners had worked together for several years while at Cliff Freeman and Partners.In September 2012, the agency changed its name to Silver + Partners. In early 2015, the agency ceased operations.The agency's clients included Ben & Jerry's, Qdoba, The Coca-Cola Company, MSG Networks, The Patron Spirits Company and CarMax.Antoni Pizà
Antoni Pizà (Felanitx, 1962), musicologist. He is the Director of the Foundation for Iberian Music and a member of the doctoral faculty in music at City University of New York's Graduate Center. He has curated events with some of the major musical figures of the 21st century including Charles Rosen, Philip Glass, Claire Chase, Kronos Quartet's David Harrington, Roger Scruton, Greil Marcus, Richard Taruskin, Paul Griffiths, and others.Artificial Intelligence Center
The Artificial Intelligence Center is a laboratory in the Information and Computing Sciences Division of SRI International. It was founded in 1966 by Charles Rosen and studies artificial intelligence. One of their early projects was Shakey the Robot, the first general-purpose mobile robot. More recently, the center funded early development of CALO and Siri. The center has also provided the military with various technology.Charles Rosen (painter)
Charles Rosen (28 April 1878 – 21 June 1950) was an American painter who lived for many years in Woodstock, New York.
In the 1910s he was acclaimed for his Impressionist winter landscapes.
He became dissatisfied with this style and around 1920 he changed to a radically different cubist-realist style.
He became recognized as one of the leaders of the Woodstock artists colony.Charles Rosen (scientist)
Charles Rosen (December 7, 1917 – December 8, 2002) was a pioneer in artificial intelligence and founder of SRI International's Artificial Intelligence Center. He led the project that led to the development of Shakey the Robot, "who" now resides in a glass case at the Computer History Museum, in Mountain View, California.Don Juanism
Don Juanism or Don Juan syndrome is a non-clinical term for the desire, in a man, to have sex with many different female partners.
The name derives from the Don Juan of opera and fiction. The term satyriasis is sometimes used as a synonym for Don Juanism. The term has also been referred to as the male equivalent of nymphomania in women. These terms no longer apply with any accuracy as psychological or legal categories of psychological disorder.Double Concerto (Carter)
The Double Concerto for Harpsichord and Piano with Two Chamber Orchestras is a composition by the American composer Elliott Carter. The work was commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation and is dedicated to the philanthropist Paul Fromm. It was completed in August 1961 and was first performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium on September 6, 1961. The premiere was performed by the harpsichordist Ralph Kirkpatrick and the pianist Charles Rosen under the conductor Gustav Meier.Erwartung
Erwartung (Expectation), Op. 17, is a one-act monodrama in four scenes by Arnold Schoenberg to a libretto by Marie Pappenheim. Composed in 1909, it was not premiered until 6 June 1924 in Prague conducted by Alexander Zemlinsky with Marie Gutheil-Schoder as the soprano. The opera takes the unusual form of a monologue for solo soprano accompanied by a large orchestra. In performance, it lasts for about half an hour. It is sometimes paired with Béla Bartók's opera Bluebeard's Castle (1911), as the two works were roughly contemporary and share similar psychological themes. Schoenberg's succinct description of Erwartung was as follows:
In Erwartung the aim is to represent in slow motion everything that occurs during a single second of maximum spiritual excitement, stretching it out to half an hour.
Philip Friedheim has described Erwartung as Schoenberg's "only lengthy work in an athematic style", where no musical material returns once stated over the course of 426 measures. In his analysis of the structure, one indication of the complexity of the music is that the first scene of over 30 bars contains 9 meter changes and 16 tempo changes. Herbert Buchanan has countered this description of the work as "athematic", and the general impression of it as "atonal", in his own analysis.The musicologist Charles Rosen has said that Erwartung, along with Berg's Wozzeck and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, is among the "impregnable" "great monuments of modernism."International Piano Academy Lake Como
The International Piano Academy Lake Como is a piano academy. Seven pianists, chosen annually from a worldwide field of over 1000 applicants including many international prizewinners, have the opportunity of studying with a faculty whose core membership past and present includes such stellar artists as Dmitri Bashkirov, Boris Berman, Malcolm Bilson, Leon Fleisher, Fou Ts'ong, Claude Frank, Peter Frankl, Stanislav Ioudenitch, Graham Johnson, Menahem Pressler, Charles Rosen, Andreas Staier, as well as Alicia de Larrocha, and Charles Rosen.
These distinguished artists come for approximately a week at a time and give daily private tuition and master classes to the fortunate seven students. The International Piano Academy Lake Como was founded in April 2002 in order to continue and strengthen the teaching tradition of the International Piano Foundation "Theo Lieven". Due to the extraordinary faculty invited to teach and the exceptional talents admitted to the school, the International Piano Academy Lake Como has imposed itself as one of the major piano academies in the world in its ten years of activity.
Despite the name, the atmosphere is more familial than that of an academy, and communal rather than competitive. The Academy is housed in a beautiful 17th century palazzo overlooking Lake Como. Away from the pressures of the outside world, students are able to learn and work in a relaxed, stimulating and contemplative environment. Here they receive inspiration, opportunities and guidance in every aspect of concert and artistic life, including chamber music, accompaniment, physiology (the treatment/prevention of occupational injuries) and piano technique.
Thanks to generous funding by private sponsors, tuition, lodging, expenses, and practice facilities are entirely free of charge.List of operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's operas comprise 22 musical dramas in a variety of genres. They range from the small-scale, derivative works of his youth to the full-fledged operas of his maturity. Three of the works were abandoned before completion and were not performed until many years after the composer's death. His mature works are all considered classics and have never been out of the repertory of the world's opera houses.From a very young age Mozart had, according to opera analyst David Cairns, "an extraordinary capacity [...] for seizing on and assimilating whatever in a newly encountered style (was) most useful to him". In a letter to his father, dated 7 February 1778, Mozart wrote, "As you know, I can more or less adopt or imitate any kind and style of composition". He used this gift to break new ground, becoming simultaneously "assimilator, perfector and innovator". Thus, his early works follow the traditional forms of the Italian opera seria and opera buffa as well as the German Singspiel. In his maturity, according to music writer Nicholas Kenyon, he "enhanced all of these forms with the richness of his innovation", and, in Don Giovanni, he achieved a synthesis of the two Italian styles, including a seria character in Donna Anna, buffa characters in Leporello and Zerlina, and a mixed seria-buffa character in Donna Elvira.Ideas and characterisations introduced in the early works were subsequently developed and refined. For example, Mozart's later operas feature a series of memorable, strongly drawn female characters, in particular the so-called "Viennese soubrettes" who, in opera writer Charles Osborne's phrase, "contrive to combine charm with managerial instinct". Music writer and analyst Gottfried Kraus has remarked that all these women were present, as prototypes, in the earlier operas; Bastienne (1768), and Sandrina (La finta giardiniera, 1774) are precedents for the later Constanze and Pamina, while Sandrina's foil Serpetta is the forerunner of Blonde, Susanna, Zerlina and Despina.Mozart's texts came from a variety of sources, and the early operas were often adaptations of existing works. The first librettist chosen by Mozart himself appears to have been Giambattista Varesco, for Idomeneo in 1781. Five years later, he began his most enduring collaboration, with Lorenzo Da Ponte, his "true phoenix". The once widely held theory that Da Ponte was the librettist for the discarded Lo sposo deluso of 1783 has now been generally rejected. Mozart felt that, as the composer, he should have considerable input into the content of the libretto, so that it would best serve the music. Musicologist Charles Rosen writes, "it is possible that Da Ponte understood the dramatic necessities of Mozart's style without prompting; but before his association with da Ponte, Mozart had already bullied several librettists into giving him the dramatically shaped ensembles he loved."Marc Vignal
Marc Vignal (born 21 December 1933 in Nogent-sur-Marne) is a noted French musicologist, writer and radio producer for France Musique and program manager at Radio France (1975–99), a journalist for Harmony (1964–84), The World of Music (1985–2009) and Classica (2009–). He collaborated in the writing Fayard Guides: symphonic, sacred, chamber and piano under the direction of François-René Tranchefort, including French and translated The Classical Style by Charles Rosen (Gallimard, 1978, repr. 2000), and Bach Interpretation by Paul Badura-Skoda (Buchet-Chastel 1999). Vignal is the author of numerous lectures, articles and books on music and musicians.Night Fantasies
Night Fantasies is a 1980 composition for piano by the American composer Elliott Carter. The work was commissioned by the pianists Charles Rosen, Paul Jacobs, Gilbert Kalish, and Ursula Oppens, all to whom the work is dedicated. It was given its world premiere by Ursula Oppens in Bath, Somerset on June 2, 1980—a mere two weeks after its completion. The piece is one of Carter's most regularly performed compositions and has been recorded numerous times.Paris symphonies
The Paris symphonies are a group of six symphonies written by Joseph Haydn commissioned by the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, music director of the orchestra the Concert de la Loge Olympique, on behalf of its sponsor, Count D'Ogny, Grandmaster of the Masonic Loge Olympique. Beginning on January 11, 1786 the symphonies were performed by the Olympique in the Salle des Gardes du Corps of the Tuileries, conducted by Saint-Georges.Piano Sonata No. 27 (Beethoven)
Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Op. 90 was written in the summer of 1814 – Beethoven's late Middle period – and was dedicated to Prince Moritz von Lichnowsky, a friend and benefactor who was also the dedicatee of the famous Eroica Variations.Reagantown, Pennsylvania
Reagantown is a hamlet in the Township of East Huntingdon in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. It lies along Pennsylvania Route 981, between Smithton and Scottdale Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania Scottdale. Suters, Smiths, Snyders, Lowes, McCurdys, Henkstellers, Reagans and Fosters were the most prominent settlers in the area.Réminiscences de Don Juan
Réminiscences de Don Juan (S. 418) is an opera fantasy for piano by Franz Liszt on themes from Mozart's Don Giovanni. It is extremely technically demanding. For this reason, and perhaps also because of its length and dramatic intensity, it does not appear in concert programmes as often as Liszt's lighter and more popular pieces, such as the Rigoletto Paraphrase. As Ferruccio Busoni says in the preface to his 1918 edition of the work, the Réminiscences carries "an almost symbolic significance as the highest point of pianism." Liszt wrote the work in 1841 and published a two-piano version (S. 656) in 1877. The two-piano version bears a structurally strong resemblance to the original.
The piece begins with music sung by the Commendatore, both from the graveyard scene where he threatens Don Giovanni ("Di rider finirai pria dell aurora! Ribaldo audace! Lascia a' morti la pace!" — "Your laughter will not last, even till morning. Leave the dead in peace!") and from the finale where he condemns Don Giovanni to Hell. The love duet of Don Giovanni and Zerlina follows ("La ci darem la mano"), along with two variations on this theme, then an extended fantasy on the Champagne aria ("Fin ch'han dal vino"), and finally the work concludes with the Commendatore's threat.
In contrast to perhaps the majority of opera fantasies composed during the nineteenth century, Liszt's Don Giovanni paraphrase is a much more tightly controlled and significant work. Where the standard opera transcription is merely a collection of famous tunes,
The finest of [Liszt's] opera fantasies...are much more than that: they juxtapose different parts of the opera in ways that bring out a new significance, while the original dramatic sense of the individual number and its place within the opera is never out of sight. (Charles Rosen, The Romantic Generation, p. 528)
While not reaching the heights of difficulty of the 1838 version of Liszt's Transcendental Études (Études d'exécution transcendante), the Réminiscences makes a great number of extreme technical demands on the pianist, among them hair-raising passages in chromatic thirds, numerous tenths, and an instance of rapid leaps in both hands across almost the whole width of the keyboard that, in the words of Heinrich Neuhaus, "with the exception of Ginzburg, probably nobody but the pianola played without smudges."
Alexander Scriabin injured his right hand overpracticing this piece and Balakirev's Islamey, and wrote the funeral march of his First Piano Sonata in memory of his damaged hand.
Celebrated recordings of the Réminiscences include those by Jorge Bolet, Earl Wild, Simon Barere, Grigory Ginzburg, Louis Kentner, Charles Rosen, Leslie Howard and Leo Sirota. More recent versions have been recorded by Marc-André Hamelin, Valentina Lisitsa, Matthew Cameron, Min Kwon, and Lang Lang.The Classical Style
The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven is a book by the American pianist and author Charles Rosen. The book analyses the evolution of style during the Classical period of classical music as it was developed through the works of Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven.The Classical Style was first published on April 21, 1971 by Viking Press. Rosen later revised the work, complete with a new chapter, an updated preface, and a companion CD specifically recorded for the new edition. This second version was published through W. W. Norton & Company in 1998.The Musical Offering
The Musical Offering (German: Musikalisches Opfer or Das Musikalische Opfer), BWV 1079, is a collection of keyboard canons and fugues and other pieces of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, all based on a single musical theme given to him by Frederick the Great (Frederick II of Prussia), to whom they are dedicated. The Ricercar a 6, a six-voice fugue which is regarded as the highpoint of the entire work, was put forward by the musicologist Charles Rosen as the most significant piano composition in history (partly because it is one of the first). This ricercar is also occasionally called the Prussian Fugue, a name used by Bach himself. The composition features in the opening section of Douglas Hofstadter's Pulitzer Prize winning book Gödel, Escher, Bach (1979).