Spotlight on Music & Compositions | The Six Suites for ‘Cello Solo: Volume 4: From Tragedy to Transcendance by Steven Hancoff

Posted Thursday, 3 December, 2015 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

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Acquired CD set By: I was selected to be a part of the blog tour for “Bach, Casals & The Six Suites for ‘Cello Solo: Volumes 1-4” hosted by iRead Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the CD set Volume 4: From Tragedy to Transcendence direct from the author Steven Hancoff without obligation to post a review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why my interest was piqued with this collection:

I have a secret in my closet. A secret instrument to be exact! When I was six and twenty I made the bold choice to purchase a wicked stellar electric guitar – it’s in a lovely deep crimson red colour and has a lovely strap that is super comfy against my shoulder. I have an equally delightful amp that has yet to emerge out of it’s box! What pray tell would prevent me from picking up said guitar and amp whilst curating my own musical styling? Apparently the absence of an open-minded community for left-handed guitar players! No. Seriously. I couldn’t find one instructor who would teach me to play whilst accepting the fact I play left-handedly despite the fact I’m predominately right-handed. Clearly my community is overlooking the obvious: left-handers rock the music world! (i.e. I loved watching Josey Scott playing alongside Chad Kroeger for “Hero”; wave your hands fellow Spider-Man fans of the films with Tobey Maguire!) This guide to left-handed musicians should be passed out in pamphlets round here!

This curious fact stems out of my dyslexic past and a sombering story of pre-school choices – none of which is relevant except to say I also play baseball left-handed! Yes, you read that right *baseball!* not softball! I digress. I’ve been an appreciator of classical music and classical compositions since I was quite young as I cut my teeth on Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky (clearly my passion for the 1812 Overture was a precursor to a life-long passion for devouring war dramas?) – whilst appreciating contemporary symphonies and orchestras. I loved attending musical concerts and developed a passion for soundcapes lateron as I developed my writing style, as I found the evocations of ambient and trance electronica created this ethereal creative well of inspiration. One of my favourite outlets for these soundscapes is Hearts Of Space, whose programmes are a feast of a writerly soul! Originally I listened to them on the radio until their station dissolved and I re-found them online in 2014! If you can find music that allows your mind the ability to relax into your creative synergy, it’s something to hold onto as creativity is quite obtuse at the best of times!

Although being an electric guitar owner goes a bit against the principles of acoustic guitar sessions (as the whole point is to be ‘unplugged’ rather than ‘plugged’ in) — I must admit, I like finding ways to bridge gaps and musical styles; including finding a balance of pause between electric and acoustic techniques. Rebel musicians like David Garrett (info on the album I own of his via Wikipedia) truly inspire me, as who knew you could emote such a wicked sweet sound out of a violin, such as he? I’d love to learn classical guitar techniques prior to cutting into a vein of style that befits my eclectic personality as I am duly passionate about classical opera as much as the rock operas of Broadway musicals! I am happily eclectic by musicality too, as my heart thunders into a rhythm of joy whilst I listen to Indie artists (especially the kind found on CDbaby!) whose vibes are their own niche of musical revolution. I can take-on quite a heap of music and find the beauty of all of it – combined or singularly separate. Even the decades of the past are a vortex of inspiration as I can hunker down inside the early 20th Century alongside Cole Porter, Bing Crosby, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and the legends of Jazz.

Swinging back into the classics for a moment, there is something quite tangible about the music of Bach’s generation – it’s not only dimensional, it’s thought-provoking. It’s invigorating but it’s emotionally connecting to you on a level only music can penetrate. Rather than focus solely on the musical notes and experiences of listening to this collection on CD – I wanted to step inside the booklet itself, and relate to you what I found about about Bach directly!

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A notation on the Cover Art: Being a visual artist who wants to take up sketching and illustration in the future, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful etchings of the drawings being featured as the cover art design. It’s such a creative way to tell a short story about how man and music can blend together to create a harmony of a new class of dimension that it’s hard to see where man begins and music ends or rather, how the circle is so finite and conjoined the two become entwined. The sketching also focuses on the ‘fundamentals’ of the human form, and thus, seemed to tip the nod to working on the fundamentals of the crafting of musicality. To encourage practice out of the pleasure of developing the ear for what music can give you as much as what you can give back to the process.

The Six Suites for ‘Cello Solo Series:

The Six Suites for 'Cello Solo (J. Sebastian Bach) For Acoustic Guitar Vol. 1: The Life of JS Bach by Steven HancoffThe Six Suites for 'Cello Solo (J. Sebastian Bach) For Acoustic Guitar Vol. 2: The Legacy of JS Bach by Steven HancoffThe Six Suites for 'Cello Solo (J. Sebastian Bach) For Acoustic Guitar Vol. 3: Pablo Casals and the Six Suites by Steven Hancoff

Spotlight on Music & Compositions | The Six Suites for ‘Cello Solo: Volume 4: From Tragedy to Transcendance by Steven HancoffThe Six Suites for 'Cello Solor: Volume 4: From Tragedy to Transcendance
Subtitle: J. Sebastian Bach | For Acoustic Guitar
by Steven Hancoff
Source: Author via iRead Book Tours

FROM TRAGEDY TO TRANSCENDENCE

ENTER THE CREATIVE WORLD OF J.S. BACH IN INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED GUITARIST STEVEN HANCOFF’S GROUNDBREAKING FOUR-VOLUME E-BOOK: BACH, CASALS AND THE SIX SUITES FOR ’CELLO SOLO

A Totally Immersive Multimedia Experience. Richly Detailed Text Embedded with More Than 1,000 Illustrations Illuminating Bach’s Masterpiece, from Its Creation to Its Legacy. Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo and 3-CD set Audio Recording of ’Cello Suites to be Released June 23rd

Exclusively on iTunes and CD Baby

Includes Hancoff’s Complete Recording Of His Acoustic Guitar Transcription of Bach’s ’Cello Suites

From tragedy to transcendence is the theme that embodies the essence of the life and work of Johann Sebastian Bach. “This man, ‘the miracle of Bach,’ as Pablo Casals once put it, led a life of unfathomable creativity and giftedness on the one hand and neglect and immense tragedy on the other,” says Hancoff.

Bach’s life was rife with hardship and tragedy from the start. By the time he was nine years old, he had witnessed the deaths of three siblings and then, within a year, his father and mother also passed away.

For all his education and talent, however, his first job was serving as a lackey for a drunkard duke. Subsequently, he spent the next fifteen years in the employ of Weimar’s harshly ascetic Duke Wilhelm Ernst, who cared little for music. When he was twenty-two, he married the love of his live, his distant cousin, Maria Barbara Bach. During the thirteen years they were married, she bore him seven children, three of whom died at birth.

In 1717, Prince Leopold of Cöthen offered Bach a position as the musical director for Cöthen. Bach jumped at the chance. The officials of Weimar, however, threw him in jail for “the crime” of daring to resign his present position. Still, Bach was on the verge of a career breakthrough.

Three years into his happy and contented tenure in Cothen, Prince Leopold and Bach visited the spa town of Carlsbad for a month of vacationing and music-making. Unfortunately, upon his return Bach learned of the death of his wife and then only when he entered into his home. Imagine the shock, the impact. He never even discovered the cause of death.

Yet this tragic setback in Bach’s life was a major turning point because he came to grips with his personal tragedy by unleashing a flood of masterpieces for which he is and will be forever revered. First came the Six Violin Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo and then the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo.

In the ’Cello Suites we hear Bach expressing his own seeking, yearning, love, loss, sorrow, grief and determination and their overtones of surrender, resolution affirmation and transcendence. He aspired to articulate an ultimate personal confession, a revelation, entirely unique, entirely sublime, as an ultimate act of artistic and creative testimony, a heavenly statement about his own life and even of life itself—as a final gift and an enduring, heavenly send-off for his beloved wife.

Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo invites readers and music lovers into a unique experience, contained in an immersive four-volume e-book from Steven Hancoff – a virtuoso musician’s restless, passionate, multimedia exploration of a musical masterpiece that only grows in stature almost three centuries after it was written.

The many fascinating and inspiring aspects of the book include:

• How Bach struggled and overcame adversity and the lessons his example offer us today.

• The ultimate meaning of the Six Suites for ’Cello.

• How almost all of Bach’s works would have nearly sunk into oblivion were it not for the extraordinary efforts of Sara Levy, the great aunt of Felix Mendelssohn, to rescue them.

• How Felix Mendelssohn singlehandedly created with the performance of the St. Matthew Passion a Bach renaissance and a legacy that continues to be enjoyed to the present day.

• The miraculous discovery of the six ’Cello Suites by Pablo Casals in a Barcelona thrift shop and why he studied them for twelve years before performing them in public.

• What Pablo Casals meant when he spoke of “the miracle of Bach.” Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo promises to be an adventure for anyone fascinated by the enduring power of music, art and why they matter.

Places to find the book:

Genres: Classical Music, Music for the Guitar, Music History, Non-Fiction


Published by Out of Time Music Co.

on June 2015

Format: CD | MP3 | disc or set

Converse via: #JohannSebastianBach + #cello + #classicalmusic

About Steven Hancoff

Steven Hancoff

Steve Hancoff began playing guitar when he was 13 years old, captivated by the folk music craze of the 1960s. Within a year he was performing in coffeehouses around Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

For nearly 15 years, he toured the world—about 50 countries—as an official Artistic Ambassador representing the United States of America. His recordings include Steel String Guitar, New Orleans Guitar Solos, Duke Ellington for Solo Guitar, and The Single Petal of A Rose. He is also the author of Acoustic Masters: Duke Ellington for Fingerstyle Guitar and New Orleans Jazz for Fingerstyle Guitar. He is a graduate of St. John’s College, home of the “100 Great Books of the Western World” program and has a Masters degree in clinical social work. He is a psychotherapist, a Rolfer, and a practitioner of Tai Chi. An avid hiker, he is also a member of the Grand Canyon River Guides Associations.

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I had no idea about the biographical origins of Bach previously – as I truly only focused on listening to his compositions, allowing the music to be transformative in of itself as a gateway to understanding who Bach was as a man. Oft-times I find myself carrying over this legacy of etching an impression of a musician, lyricist or composer out of what they leave behind musically rather than what the origins are of their lived life. I have held a healthy curiosity about the classical composers I fancied since I was younger, but time has a way of sweeping you up inside it’s folds; never enough hours to discover everything you’ve become curious about knowing!

Reading how simply tragic his life was under the age of 22 years, is quite remarkable considering how focused he was and how much he put inside his compositions! He was a survivor in an age where most might have buckled under the pressure of his injustices; too much death and difficulties can leave most men jaded, but Bach seemed to have come through most of this period of strife without causality to his spirit. He even endeavoured to marry and found happiness in matrimony and fatherhood.

The author Hancoff undertook this project to paint the portrait of Bach’s insurmountable will to fight against the inveritable inclination to succumb to his misery – the sudden death of his beloved wife did not leave him embittered but rather grounded him on his path. I think what kept Bach rooted in his pursuit of music and in the passion of his heart was his propensity to choose his attitude and choose his actions after such a devastating loss. Choice can move mountains, as like Hancoff states – each of us shares a thread of adversity, as everyone on earth must yield to difficulties as they arise. It’s simply quite curious in uncovering how strength and fortitude can rise someone out of ashes and take them forward to such a level of clarity as to perpetual influence the world by their gift of talent.

Following a tidal-wave of historical artifact and data, Bach’s legacy of music was nearly a collateral miss as far as History is concerned due to the grief his work went through as not everyone was as protective of his compositions as they ought to have been. By twists of fate and ingenious acts of collection, Bach’s repository of compositions was piece-milled together and lateron passed down through inheritance upon inheritance, until finally the right man (here I refer to Felix Mendelssohn) came to purport himself able to capitalise on St. Matthew Passion and illuminating it through a staged performance which turnt Bach into a 19th Century sensation!

Interlaced into the dialogue of this hidden history on Bach’s behalf are pictorial records of time, setting and historical figures whose path intersected with his both in life and death. The pictures help give you a measure of who these gentlemen and women were and how they fashioned themselves by style of dress and by personality within this visual recognition. I appreciated the pictures and the illustrations as they bespeak of how history can both hide and reveal the truths of the past.

It’s nearly like reading a biography in miniature
and soaking inside a small fraction of Bach’s living history!

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This blog tour is courtesy of: iRead Book Tours

Click through via the badge to find out what else awaits you!

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Previously I have explored ‘Music’ in Historical Fiction:

Tempesta’s Dream by Vincent B. LoCoco

The Tenor by Peter Danish

Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones

A Woman of Note by Carol M. Cram

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Reader Interactive Question:

I look forward to hearing your reactions if you’ve listened to this collection

and/or if your curiosity had become piqued to listen to it after reading my own ruminations!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of the four volumes of “The Six Suites for ‘Cello Solo”,CD set synopsis, author photograph of Steven Hancoff, author biography and the tour badge were all provided by iRead Book Tours and used with permission. Spotlight on Music banner made by Jorie in Canva. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva. Tweets embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers and My Thoughts badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Thursday, 3 December, 2015 by jorielov in Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Bookish Discussions, Classical Music | Composers, iRead Book Tours, Music History, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction




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3 responses to “Spotlight on Music & Compositions | The Six Suites for ‘Cello Solo: Volume 4: From Tragedy to Transcendance by Steven Hancoff

  1. Hancoff’s fervor for the Bach suites echoes Casals’ devotion… strains of music dovetail with what is the largest collection of Bach-inspired visual art ever amassed… It is an antique subject elegantly rendered in an impossibly light 21st-century container. – Roxane Assaf, Huffington Post, writing about the iBook

    Dear Jorie,

    Thank you.

    Eight years! Eight years ago, I started the process of transcribing Bach’s masterpiece Six Suites for Cello Solo for my acoustic guitar. My only intention was to transcribe and then record them. But the more I worked, the more I felt a need to learn about the man, and especially the circumstances of his life, when he composed the Cello Suites. And the more I discovered, the more questions and ideas arose …until I began to realize that this was not simply a music project, but this was transforming itself into a life’s work. Fulfilling that mission became my purpose.

    And now, the project is done and released. And I want to tell you how much I appreciate your helping to make this work known to the world.

    I have come to feel that the saga I have discovered and articulated in the iBooks is the pre-eminent and most grand and by far the most profoundly serendipitous legend of Western culture. I intend to be touring the country with a multimedia presentation of it, telling the story with slideshow and video – pictures galore — over the next years. The presentation will be entertaining and enlightening.

    Thanks again…

    Steven Hancoff

    • Thank ya kindly! I appreciate the compliment and I am grateful you’ve enjoyed your visit on my blog today! Music has always been a keen interest of mine, and it was lovely to start to share this side of my life with my readers and visitors alike!

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