Bach, Michael

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Bach, Michael

Bach, Michael, German cellist, composer, and visual artist, also known as Bach Michael Bachtischa; b. Worms, April 17, 1958. He studied cello with Pierre Fournier and Janos Starker, then embarked on a career of international concert activity as well as performances on radio, recordings, and television. He made numerous significant contributions to the art of contemporary cello performance; his publication Fingerboards & Overtones proposes new ideas concerning overtones and harmonics and is considered a pioneering work in the literature on contemporary technique. In 1990 he developed the Curved Bow (BACH.Bogen) for the cello, violin, and viola, which, in polyphonic playing, permits the simultaneous sounding of multiple strings, with the high arch of the bow allowing for full, sustained chords. Rostropovich has been intimately involved in its development, and several contemporary composers, among them Cage, Schnebel, and Walter Zimmermann, have composed works especially for it. Bach is also a composer, often in collaboration with the visual artist Renate Hoffleit, with whom he has created strikingly original string and sound installations. His purely musical compositions are idiosyncratic and highly personal, described by him as “free from compositional conventions” His visual works include Fingerboards I, II (both 1990), and III-VII (1994–98), which capture the hand’s choreography on the cello fingerboard as color impressions, Fieldwork (1994), Mit diesen beiden Hunden (1994), Lagauche (1995), and Oliévano (1995).


STRING AND SOUND INSTALLATIONS: With R. Hoffleit: One8 and 15 Strings (1994; a simultaneous presentation of two works, one by Bach Bachtischa [Notation 2 for 15 Strings and Five Players] and one by Cage [One8], originally conceived for solo cello but performed in this version by 5 cellos together with the string installation 15 Strings by R. Hoffleit); Lake Corryntawy String (1995), in which contact microphones record the sounds of a 100-meter string stretched across Lake Corryntawy; Notrepos (1995), incorporating the sounds of tubes and Baroque stone lions (Hoffleit’s sculptures) simultaneous with the playing of Baroque cello music (Bach’s Fingerboards); Strings of Kaukab Spring (1996), making use of the resonant potential of trees; Achill Strings (1996), in which the ruins of 13 houses in a deserted village are linked and made to sound via strings of up to 120 meters in length; Achill/Ruit (1996–97), in which sound recordings and photographs of sound installations collected on Achill Island, Ireland, are transplanted into a multi-level house; Traffic, Tubes and Soloists (1997), in which live electronics allow for the intoning of sounds of a busy traffic intersection crossing into the interior of a building, simultaneous with the performance of solo compositions by Bach Bachtischa; Efeu-Klànge (1997), performed in the courtyard of a building wherein sounds are made by artist’s hand movements on plants and by artist’s performance on specially constructed utensils; ...die Leeré zwischen den Steinen klingt...(1999), an installation of 15 strings that develops the idea initially presented in 15 Strings (1992); The Black Dog (2000), exploring the sonic potentials of the exterior court of the partially preserved Romantic Abbey church of Murbach (France); The castle Schloss Kapfenburg as a musical instrument(2000), in which the entire castle is made to sound by the spanning of long strings, performed by some 50 performers. musicalworks:C-A-G-E for Cello (1992); Ohne Titel for Cello and 3 Tapes (1992; a reconstruction of an unfinished work for Solo Cello, Ryoanji, by Cage); One-to-Three for Cello and 3 Tapes (1992); Rohrenstücke for Live Electronics (1993); Notation 1 (1993), 2 (1993–94), and 3 (2000) for Cello (1993–2000); Notation 1 and 2 for Voice (1993–94); Notation for Saxophone (1993–94); Notation for Contrabass (1994); 50 Sounds for Accordion (1995); 52 Sounds for Violin (1995; rev. 1998); 2, 2, 3 for Cello and 3 Loudspeakers (2000); +Murbach for Cello (2000); A-E-G-C for Microtonal Piano (2000); 57 Sounds for Organ (2000); Notation for Chamber Orch. (2000).

—Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Bach, Michael

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