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Michael Kurth

J.S. Bach: Chromatic Fantasy in D Minor, BWV 903a, for solo double bass (Kurth)

J.S. Bach: Chromatic Fantasy in D Minor, BWV 903a, for solo double bass (Kurth)

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About the Arrangement

We were all amazed the first time (every time, really) we heard the Jaco Pastorius bass guitar version of Bach's Chromatic Fantasy, composed for keyboard. But did you know that he only transcribed about one-quarter of the original? Jaco stops in measure 20, but the thing keeps going for 59 more brutal measures!

Here's the complete Fantasy, all 79 torturous, twisted, terrifying measures. By the end, if you get that far, you'll be convinced that Bach was WAY ahead of his time. Not for the faint of heart. 

I encourage players to study Bach's original score and explore other ways to interpret the arpeggios, such as in measure 33. I have tried to retain Bach's voicings while making the left-hand shifting idiomatic wherever possible, but there are many other ways to interpret what Bach wrote.

This edition makes use of a low D, so either open your gates to D or do that drop thang. You'll receive a large-print version (8 pages) and small-print version (4 pages).

About Michael Kurth

Kurth has been a member of the Atlanta Symphony bass section since 1994. 

Michael Kurth thinks most artist biographies are pretentious and boring, and feels a welcome sense of liberation, not to mention mischief, when writing about himself in the third person. He further believes that all artist biographies should include whether the artist prefers cats or dogs, or is ambivalent. He allows that there is room for ambivalence on this issue.

Kurth prefers dogs.

He also enjoys shrimp burritos, dive bars, road trips, thrift stores, found art, shiny pants, folk plumbing, collecting odd musical instruments, neologism, and bourbon.

Kurth was born in 1971 in Virginia and grew up near Baltimore. He started playing the bass in fourth grade, went to public schools, and got his Bachelor’s Degree at Peabody Conservatory, where he studied bass with Harold Robinson. He also studied cello and viola at Peabody, and did okay at cello, but his ham-fisted viola playing caused his roommate Rick to forbid him from ever practicing it in their dorm room.

He once stole one of those convex security mirrors, just to savor the irony, but he feels a lingering sense of guilt, even though it was laying in a pile of stuff that was probably destined for the dumpster anyway. But still.

Kurth has been a member of the Atlanta Symphony bass section since 1994. 

The ASO has commissioned and premiered many of his orchestral and choral works. A recording on the ASO Media label is scheduled for commercial release on CD and digital platforms in February 2019, including Everything Lasts ForeverA Thousand WordsMay Cause Dizziness, and Miserere featuring Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor.

He frequently collaborates with Atlanta poet Jesse Breite on vocal works, including MiserereTenebrae, and Magnificat.

He was named “Best New Composer” by Atlanta Magazine in 2017.

He has been awarded Artist-in-Residence fellowships from the Hermitage and Serenbe.

Many Atlanta-area artists have commissioned and performed his works, including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus, the Atlanta Chamber Players, the Atlanta Young Singers, the Gwinnett Young Singers, the Morehouse College Glee Club, the Peachtree String Quartet, the Franklin Pond String Quartet, the Atlanta Contemporary Ensemble, Concert Artist Guild Award-winning violist Jennifer Stumm, the Georgia Sinfonia, the Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra, the DeKalb Symphony, the Georgia State University Wind Ensemble, and movement artists gloATL.

He teaches bass at Emory University.

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