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David Ott Completes New Set Of Piano Preludes And Fuges -- A First for an American Composer

October 30, 1997

David Ott bw a.jpgOctober 30, 1997, Greencastle, Ind. - The first known set of piano preludes and fugues by an American composer has been completed by David L. Ott, DePauw University associate professor of music and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra composer-in-residence. Ott's composition, Preludes and Fugues for Piano, includes 24 preludes and fugues and requires two hours to play in its entirety. Within the set, each key is represented with a prelude and fugue composed in both major and minor Tonalities.

Composing an entire set of preludes and fugues is unusual, and only a few sets have ever been completed. The standard for composers was set by J.S. Bach, who wrote two complete sets. Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich completed his set in the 1950s. The three sets are recognized as standards in the piano repertoire.

As best as can be determined, Ott's set is the only complete one ever composed by an American, and it may be only the fourth ever created.

The individual pieces in Ott's set of preludes and fugues are highly varied in their stylistic approach. One of his objectives in composing such a set was to explore different styles on which preludes and fugues might be based. Included is a prelude and fugue based on American blues and jazz style and another for left hand only.

Ott's second objective was to create individual preludes and fugues that work well for performing on solo recitals as well as for teaching pieces. Ott intends his composition to meet the need of American piano teachers to have new piano music that is accessible, not exceedingly difficult and fresh in approach and delivery.

"This project is the most difficult ands most challenging I have ever approached, partially because of the immensity of the set and also because of the standard set by Bach and Shostakovich," Ott said. "I would also describe it as the most rewarding and most enjoyable work I have ever written. I enjoy playing them as much as I enjoyed writing them."

Ott began writing the composition in February 1997 and completed it during the summer. The last fugue was finished on his 50th birthday.

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