Dr. Salamon Kamp – president of Hungarian Bach Society 2017 “The book ‘Excerpts from Eternity’ by Barnabás Dukay and Márta Ábrahám is a fascinating reading from beginning to the end and it leads the reader toward the central order of unification.”
Christoph Wolff – Harvard University Department of Music , Adams University Professor, Emeritus 2018 “Excerpts from Eternity is an enormously detailed analytical study which I found fascinating to read. Since the book is so detailed it takes a long time to get through it all. However, I think that musicians who have the patience and the proper background will benefit greatly. I myself found the poster synopsis of Ciaccona particularly informative. I have never looked at the piece in such a way. To have the entire scheme of 4-measure variations in front of you is a true eye and ear opening experience. The book illuminates beautifully both the great complexity of Bach’s compositional work and the unparalleled elegance of his musical language.”
Gabriella Bokor www.papageno.hu 2017 “A new approach to Bach’s solo violin works has been revealed.”
Fülöp Ránki – pianist 2017 “The book ‘Excerpts from Eternity’ by Barnabás Dukay and Márta Ábrahám is a fascinating reading from beginning to the end and it leads the reader toward the central order of unification.”
Gabriella Bokor – papageno.hu 2017 “In their writing they point out not only musical but also art-historical points of interest and discoveries.”
Márta Ábrahám – Barnabás Dukay: Excerpts from Eternity 2017 Gramofon by Katalin Fittler In the spring of 2015, on the occasion of the 330th anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach’s birth, the pair of authors gave an interactive lecture at the Music Academy about Bach’s epoch-making masterwork, the final movement of the Partita in D minor, the Ciaccona. The book (including a CD supplement), which was published with support from László Sólyom, brings the words said there to a wider public. The subtitle, which appears already on the title page, clarifies not only the object of the investigation, but also the approach that is at the same time a guide to the musical world of composer Barnabás Dukay: The Purification of Time and Character, the Fulfilment of Love, Cooperation with the Celestial Will in Johann Sebastian Bach’s Ciaccona for Violin. The Foreword brings an important viewpoint to the reader’s attention: ‘While our contribution at points approaches its subject in a scholarly way, it is not a musicological treatise. It is primarily an artwork resulting from the joint theoretical and practical investigations of a composer and a violinist.’ The same ambiguity, the complementary duet of the theorist and the performer also resurfaces in the fact that the readers of the volume were Miklós Dolinszky and Fülöp Ránki. It is moving to read the young pianist’s enthusiastic words on the back cover of the book – it is worth reading these when starting to familiarize us with its contents.
It is worth knowing in advance that Dukay as composer feels attached to the creative attitude of Leoninus, and fully acknowledges Ockeghem’s art. Besides its ways of expression, it seeks to belong also in its worldview to a one-time approach in which music was one of the ‘septem artes liberales’, and individual compositions did by no means give vent to authorial self-expression. Relying on this thought-through worldview Dukay as performer (in the case of this book: as author) does not profess didactic forms of communication; due to his persuasion his statements often sound like enunciations. The musician–reader approaching from ‘elsewhere’ can more than once have objections (also simply by referring to the acoustic control) – for instance, in his symbolic interpretation of the intervals, where he does not differentiate between the major and minor forms of the same interval while defining the symbolic content of the range of meanings. Slow, attentive and thoughtful reading is a prerequisite for getting attuned to the train of thought of the authors.
The Introduction provides basic information for the non-musician readers – since the book was hardly written for interested professionals alone. Although later on it turns out that, no matter in how many ways the ever more detailed analysis is illustrated, it is worth following the text with a score – preferably an Urtext edition – in hand. The majority of the analyses are of the structural type, concentrating on the form, the temporal articulation of the lesser and greater musical units. Special attention is paid to the golden section, which can be observed in different dimensions. At this point it should be noted that, just as in the case of numerology and other mystical connections, the question to what extent these are applied consciously in Bach’s art is evaded. No detailed analysis can uncover the essence that makes posterity evaluate Bach’s music as being of matchless significance. As a rule works that can exquisitely be analyzed by no means always prove to be masterpieces in practice, no matter what intention–consideration their author had in mind. Geniality (which we may view as God’s gift) is immeasurable! Let the impressive ‘ability to account for every note’ motivate both practising and theorizing musicians not to content themselves with playing the notes, giving the written music a sounding life, but search for the deeper, more hidden messages encoded in the notes. It is worth doing so even when the composition in question has not been historically canonized as a masterwork.
The sound recording of the Partita by Márta Ábrahám provides excellent raw material also for those not reading music, making them realize that it is worthwhile and possible to read the streams of notes ‘in multiple dimensions’. And for the violinists it provides inspiration to seek to express through one’s playing how one reads the composer’s message. In other words, to convey what one understood of the work.