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In Search Of The 32

Ludwig van Beethoven.

Beethoven’s thirty-two piano sonatas have been called, by a few, the New Testament of solo keyboard music; J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, the Old Testament.

Book 1

Let’s get to the matter of the topic: performance. For over thirty years I have been listening to recordings of the 32. Within the music, and between the notes, are essences of Beethoven and his classical/romantic world. Beethoven’s family and family life, and educational development; his forebears and teachers; his own established life as a pianist and composer; antiquity and culture of his time; his muse and acquaintances; even war and politics of his era — all made the man: Beethoven.

Book 2

Beethoven’s early solo keyboard sonatas were written to be played on harpsichord or fortepiano — this includes sonata no. 8, op. 13 named grand sonate  pathétique by the publisher. In my opinion this is because of the soothing, gentle, rocking and emotionally atmospheric elements of the second movement. As harpsichords do not have a sustain pedal, I have played this particular music without pedal — and, to my delight and wonder, it is more poetic. All my sheet music scores shows pedal.

Several years ago I went to Robert Morley & Company based in Lewisham, London looking for a piano. I had a collection of scores as test pieces. Piano after piano were left wanting. And so I took a leap: I tried a piano out of my bracket. It was Beethoven; I heard Beethoven! The piano was a British made Broadwood. Needless to say, Broadwood gave one of their pianos to Beethoven. Could the truth of the 32 be heard in a Broadwood?

Earlier today I received a subscribed email that linked to an article on the thirty-two sonatas. All extracts played on pianofortes. All eminent pianists or musicians with fine interpretations. All Beethoven…?

Michael Bobb – Artist • Author • Occasional Composer

Friday 26th August 2022

This recording includes Sonate Pathétique — without pedal. It is played on an Elysian piano, not a Broadwood. Listen for the poetry… and enjoy the poem!


‘The Johann Sebastian Bach Limericks’

Music Maestro!

Four short poems about J. S. Bach’s music.

Limerick 1

An ecclesiastical cycle.

J. S. Bach’s Church Cantata oeuvre

Is really quite pious and pure

The melodies are holy

And so are the harmonies

For 3 liturgical calendars, not 4”

So, what is a Cantata? A Cantata is a musical work composed for the voice. It is approximately twenty minutes long with smaller movements for solo voice, chorus and instrumental accompaniment — sometimes all three.

Church Cantatas, aka Sacred Cantatas, are intended to be performed during Christian liturgy.

What is the difference between an Opera and a Cantata? As a Cantata is a vocal work, mainly during the C17th and C18th, an Opera is a theatrical work combining drama, music, song and sometimes dance.

Limerick 2

The Composer’s sewing machine!

Limerick 3

A poem for Count Kaiserling.

Limerick 4

A contemporary instrument of the viola da gamba.

For full-length videos of my poems, see below:

Soaring Higher (videobook)

The Editor’s Cut

18 poems from the paperback

Apple Books:

music Poetry

“The Known Great Composer”

A few years ago I was online scanning the concert listings at a world-class venue in London. On this particular occasion I was looking for small scale music-making. The Baroque era is a favourite of mine, and I chose a recorder and theorbo programme.

On the day of the concert I was early, and so decided to spend some time in a book shop. Afterwards, I went to the concert hall and started my packed lunch. Before I could finish it was time for the concert to begin.

During the concert sometimes the instruments played together, sometimes they played solo. For one recorder solo, the recordist played two recorders simultaneously! When the theorboist played solo pieces, one of them was introduced as a passacaglia – which, to my amusement, collected philistinic giggles. If only the pictures of musical aristocracy on the walls of the concert room had ears of flesh!

This poem, The Known Great Composer, is about the concert. Head and shoulders above, one composer and his music made my whole time in London memorable. Memorable for the right reason – music.

No prizes, but if you can guess the Great Composer I don’t mention, you are a winner! Clue: Imagine the accompanying music in this clip being played two octaves lower on a solo cello…

First verse

“The Known Great Composer”

“The window blinds close

The stage lights are adjusted

Two musicians walk on stage

And we welcome them warmly…”

On the way home, I happened to see someone I knew. We talked for a while, and I expressed that I would be writing a poem about the concert. By this time, my mind had already begun putting the poem together.

Furthermore, before arriving home, I visited a local art gallery and talked more about poetry to the exhibiting Artist, referencing the couple of books I bought earlier that day written by the Poet Laureate.


This is the Month – Eastertide

This is the month

When they say that it rains and pours

Down come the showers

From heaven’s open doors

But in-between the cascades

There are beams of sunlight 

Shining through clouds

Heavy laden and fluffy white

This is the month

When the daylight grows longer and longer

With the sun rising earlier

And setting later and later

There is also a change

In the quality of light visible in the atmosphere

This phenomenon only happens

Once in the northern hemisphere 

This is the month

When spring is well and truly here 

It’s time for leaping of the lamb

And the young deer

Buds are prising open

Seeds and bulbs germinate

O’ the splendour

Of nature’s natural nascency about this date

This is the month

That brings high tides to our shores

As the moon orbits closer

And waxes more and more

These signs are where

The Jewish people take their Passover

And from where Christians

Take the major holiday called Easter

There is nothing like Eastertide

Celebrating a fantastic event

It happened 2000 years ago

And I, in a sense, was present

The most spectacular display

Of God’s agape love

Crucifixion and Resurrection

The only plan from above

On a Friday God laid sin on His Son

The sin of men nailed to a cross

He crucified the sinless Lamb

And took away our dross

On a Sunday Christ is raised

And we are raised with Him

This same Resurrection Power

— The Spirit — is at work within

And now we can live righteously

The old has gone, the new has come

Spreading the Good News Gospel

Of what Jesus Christ has done

This is the Month (audio)


The Garden of Eden

God created the Garden of Eden

A pure unspoiled paradise

An ordered beautiful landscape

That could grow and increase in size

God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden

And said, “Be fruitful and multiply

Fill the earth and subdue it

And govern all that creep, swim and fly”

In the Garden a love story began

Adam and Eve enjoying flesh-of-my-flesh

The two became an unashamed one

In the first marriage with a world to bless

Adam and Eve experienced the joy of God

His presence with them was unbroken

As strong as a three-stranded cord

That’s how it was in the Paradise Garden

In the Garden was the forbidden tree

That could cause catastrophic strife

In the midst of the Garden, though

Was another tree, the Tree of Life

“In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”

God plainly said to Adam and Eve

All they had to do was not eat from the forbidden tree

Believe God, Adam and Eve, just believe!

It was the cunning, slippery serpent

That tempted Eve to sin

Adam fell too and their eyes were opened

And the Cosmos became cursed as death entered in

God then drove them out of Eden

And placed a cherubim at the east

And a flaming sword that turned every way

Guarding the Tree of Life and its feast

However, this is not how it all ends

We will not return to the lost Eden

Redemption and Consummation is coming

There’s no plan for that Ancient Garden

In the future will be a Greater Garden

With the Tree of Life on both sides of the River

Its leaves are for the healing of the nations

And the juicy, sweet fruit we will savour

Yes, we will eat from the Tree of Life

Its branches regularly fully laden

Yielding a new crop every month

In the new and Everlasting Eden

The Garden of Eden (audio)



🎵 Margaret, take me to the hills

🎵 Margaret, take me to the place

🎵 Where we are running

🎵 As fast as fast can be


Margaret, take me to the place

Where I can see you


🎵 Margaret, take me to the wind

🎵 Margaret, take me to the place

🎵 Where we are flying

🎵 As high as high can be


Margaret, take me to the place

Where I can see you


I’m running…


First page

‘Swaying, Swaying In The Breeze’

It was around the time of the Chelsea Flower Show one year and I was walking along the path in my front garden. Although it was windy, the blue sky just held its own on that sunny afternoon in May. My eyes noticed something moving in the breeze – it was the flowers. It was, as if, I saw the flowers in that light for the first time – dancing.

How many decades had I lived here…? How many flowers had I seen grow, flourish and change with the seasons in my garden…? And how many days, weeks and months of beautiful summer weather had I witnessed…? Not forgetting the aggregate of creatures over a couple of decades, or so, that may have happened upon them…?

There was a bee or two doing what they do best in such natural environments, just buzzing about from flower to flower. These were no ordinary bees – they were my bees!

I was compelled; out came my phone. For the next however-long, I filmed them: the bees… the flowers… and the breeze…

Early the next morning when my eyes had barely opened, I was thinking about this scene. My mind was fixated; I could not stop thinking about it all; I was obsessed; over and over and over: the bees… the flowers… and the breeze… Compulsion grabbed me again and I stole my pen. For a good, long while I toiled: trying this here, something else there, moving the other somewhere else… And then, two hours later, I struck gold – I wrote the last word. Phew! It wasn’t until I returned the pen that I could once more live a normal life. I was satisfied. I was quenched. I was full. And I was free from my malady – safe. The only thing I needed to do was have breakfast – and so I did. And continue with my day.

Swaying, Swaying In The Breeze

Swaying, swaying in the breeze

Dancing, dancing beneath tall tree

Moving another way in slight air

So handsome, so pretty, so fair

Hues and shades, rare and fine

What invention, what design…”

– first verse

Just for a moment or two, let your imagination go and think of long ladies with long, wavy hair, wearing long dresses, during long, hazy summer days dancing in circles beneath… a tall tree…

Here is a video recording of myself performing the first verse: Swaying, Swaying In The Breeze


‘Gone Fishing’

“The assignment, if you choose to accept, is to write a poem about fishing.” Well, that wasn’t quite the directive from Her Majesty’s Secret Service but by a local poetry collective some years ago. To be more precise, a person from the group Poetry Hour, which meets bi-monthly at Croydon Central Library, selected the topic of ‘sport’ that we could write about for the next meeting.

Now, I’m not really a sporty sort of person but very keen on most other aspects of health and fitness. I hadn’t a clue what to write about for a week or so until I was engrossed in another intensive sport akin to skydiving – the sport of ironing! There I was pressing the creases and my mind caught… a fish! I had never, ever, been fishing and so I went to the local angling store to conduct some research.

While I was there, I asked the sales assistant about the sport and bought some fishing line, a fly, a hook and an angling magazine – these would be visual aids that I would use during my reading. At least that was my intension.

The poem may, or may not, have been written with a tongue in my cheek.

Gone Fishing

It’s 3:15 am and I’ve just packed my lunch and kit

The predictive seaweed looks clammy as I check it

The shipping forecast confirms, rain is on the way

And hovering around minus two for most of the day…”

first verse

For the video productions of the poem there was only one choice of music that sprung to mind: The Trout by Franz Schubert. In my recording, I have brought out the jolly experience of fishing! Furthermore, there is a surprise at the end of the full length videobook version of the poem.

To wet, whoops, whet your appetite here is the first verse from the videobook: Gone Fishing


‘Wrynose Pass’

Wrynose Pass is a mountain road in an English National Park called The Lake District. It has been described as Britain’s most difficult road.

During a photography holiday in this part of England I was coming to the end of a particular day. I had been driving far and wide to many locations with my camera, rural and otherwise.

The time was approaching sunset when I reached Devoke Water, the last location before returning to the B & B. Although I had been to this lake before, this second visit was a trifle peculiar… What was not different was the voices of the angels and the view of the lake itself, made extra special by the setting sun with all its colours.

After the photography I returned to the car and started to make my way back but, unlike the previous occasion some years earlier, the journey was marked by a thick, nocturnal atmosphere – and I had no idea what lay ahead.

The location I chose to film this poem was an almost forgotten road somewhere that reminded me of Wrynose Pass… but where’s the car!

The first verse:

Wrynose Pass

I’m on my way back to my lodgings

Not long, I hope, ‘till I’m safely back

I set the SatNav and follow its commands

It’s getting darker and will soon be pitch black…”

The music I chose for the video is titled: Sonata quasi una fantasia (translates to: Sonata in the style of a Fantasy). Although the sonata is also known as the Moonlight Sonata, I wanted to bring out the drama and sense of fantasy when I recorded it on my piano. The recording of the music also went through a mysterious and eventful journey. The morning after I had made the final edit, I played it back on my HiFi. Immediately after this I turned the radio on and exactly the same movement from the same piece was being played.

Here is the first verse from my videobook: Wrynose Pass