The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society wants to hear from the public about repertoire to mark its 25th anniversary next summer. The Ear has some suggestions. Do you? | July 10, 2015

By Jacob Stockinger

It happened on the last night of the successful three-weekend, six program, three-venue summer season –- the 24th such season for the Madison-based Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society -– that just ended.

BDDS poster 2015

The founders, artistic directors and performers were all milling around in the hallway of the Overture Center and were already talking about what a big event next summer will be because it will be the 25th season.

Clearly, planning the next season starts right away.

That night is when The Ear asked them if they wanted to get ideas from the public.

Yes, they said heartily, the more, the better!

So I said I would post about it, including my own suggestions and soliciting suggestions from the public.

Here they are. They include music from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern eras.

As you’ll see, I like the idea of using the number 25 as a symbol of the silver anniversary.

As in No. 25.

As in Opus 25.

If I had more patience and time, I might also do what a close friend suggested: Look for pieces of music that were written when the composer was 25. Maybe some of you know of such works and can suggest them!

Anyway, here are The Ear’s suggestions:

  1. The Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor -– Op. 25 -– by Johannes Brahms. It has a wonderful gypsy Rondo final movement (below) and is the most popular of the three piano quartets. I can already hear Jeffrey Sykes and the great BDDS string players performing it.

Here is a link to a YouTube recording and video:

  1. How about one of those great chamber music reductions of orchestral music that BDDS does so wonderfully.

Specifically, I think of the Piano Concerto in C major, K. 503 – and No. 25 of 27 -– by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. If you heard BDDS perform the reduction of the Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491, this summer, you know how beautiful it can be, especially with the transparency of the different parts. And No. 25 is both majestic and sublime.

Find a transcription or make one.

Other orchestral candidates include: Mozart’s great Symphony No. 25 in G Minor (the Little G Minor to distinguish it from the Big G minor, No. 40) and Haydn’s Symphony No. 25 in C Major.

  1. The String Quartet in G Major, Op. 17, No. 5 – or No. 25 by my count, though I defer to specialists and musicologists — by Franz Joseph Haydn
  2. The graceful and tuneful Piano Trio No. 25 in G major (below) by Franz Joseph Haydn.

5. The second set of 12 Etudes – Op. 25 – by Frederic Chopin. I’ll bet pianist Jeffrey Sykes could work up a little bouquet of them from the ones he uses to teach piano in Berkeley and San Francisco.

But I have also heard some wonderful transcriptions of the etudes for other instruments. Op. 25, No. 7 in C-sharp minor, for example, is meant to sound like a cello. (You can hear it below played soulfully by Daniil Trifonov.)

The cello was Chopin’s second favorite instrument. It might be impressive fun to see what BDDS comes up with if they do their own transcriptions of some etudes. The solo piano version is still the best, but a transcription might emphasize color and show the musicality in the pioneering keyboard studies!

6. Antonio Vivaldi, Cello Concerto in A minor, RV 422, No. 25

7. Antonio Vivaldi, Bassoon Concerto in F major, RV 491, No. 25

8. Johann Sebastian Bach, Cantata No. 25, “Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ” BWV 623. One could do the entire original version or perhaps use excerpts, like the Bach arias and duets that BDDS performed this summer.

9. Sergei Prokofiev, Symphony No. 1 “Classical,” Op. 25, in another reduction. It would go especially well with something by Haydn, who was the model for this Neo-Classical work.

10. Ludwig van Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 25, Op. 79. Maybe with Jeffrey Sykes or UW-Madison guest pianist Christopher Taylor who performed all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas several years ago.

You can hear all these works on YouTube.

And The Ear is sure there are a lot more works to name.

So send in your suggestions in the COMMENT section.

The Ear wants to hear.

And so does the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society.



  1. Judging by the “warhorse” suggestions submitted by readers here, I wonder if they believe this group is called the Bach Knitting & Tissane Society rather than the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society?

    I mean, there’s nothing wrong with Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Haydn etc. but they are performed so much in concert halls already. Why not mix it up a bit?

    Maybe it’s just better to leave it up to the BDDS people. After all, they’ve come up with far more creative programming including (just this year) pieces by Kevin Puts, Florent Schmitt, Paul Scoenfield, John Harbison, Dimitri Shostakovich and Dick Kattenburg, none of whom were mentioned by anyone on the web site.

    Of course, they also played music by “the usual suspects”–including a guy named Bach–but overall, the group’s mix of numbers and programming is far more imaginative than most of the writers’ suggestions here.

    Comment by fflambeau — July 11, 2015 @ 11:25 pm

  2. The Beethoven Op.25 Serenade for Violin, Viola, and Flute is right up their alley. Great work–one of my favorites.

    Comment by Steve Kurr — July 10, 2015 @ 4:22 pm

  3. I especially like the ideas of pairing Haydn with Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony, a long-time favorite of mine, and/or doing another piano concerto reduction. I would cross a burning desert to hear either Mr. Sykes or Mr. Taylor play Beethoven Sonata No. 25.

    Comment by Johanna Fabke — July 10, 2015 @ 10:49 am

  4. Debussy wrote “Clair de Lune’ when he was 25. A sweet song for a summer evening, moonlight and all.

    Comment by Ronnie Hess — July 10, 2015 @ 9:28 am

  5. Since the 25th is the Silver anniversary, maybe something from Der Rosenkavalier? The final trio? Could be transcribed, although hearing a live vocal trio would be a treat. Since flutes are silver, perhaps a
    flute piece with a silvery quality. How about Lehar’s Silver and Gold waltz?

    Comment by Ann Boyer — July 10, 2015 @ 7:53 am

  6. I would emphasize the name of the group. I’d do any Bach dances, and anything that has to do with explosions. Seriously.
    If that is the foundation of your group, let’s dance and blow some stuff UP! Stomp and Bang could be title of at least one program.

    Comment by 88melter — July 10, 2015 @ 7:29 am

  7. Nice choices.

    How about something outside of the traditional circles of Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn? How about something by the American composer Alan Hovhaness? His String Quartet #4, Opus 208 is lovely. Or his Prayer of St. Gregory (chamber orchestra version is available but you also need a trumpet)? Also special is his “Celestial Gate”. He wrote hundreds of pieces and they all have a unique sound.

    Or, how about something from Jean Sibelius? String Quartet in G?

    Or, more modern? Just about anything by Astor Piazzolla? Oblivion?

    Comment by fflambeau — July 10, 2015 @ 7:12 am

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