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Tureck Bach Research Institute comes to Interlochen

Rosalyn Tureck with bust of herself by Sir Jacob Epstein, Museum of Modern Art, New York (1966)
Rosalyn Tureck with bust of herself by Sir Jacob Epstein, Museum of Modern Art, New York (1966)

The recordings and research of renowned Bach pianist and scholar Rosalyn Tureck will now be housed at Interlochen Center for the Arts.

It's nearly impossible to study the music of Johann Sebastian Bach without coming across the work of Rosalyn Tureck (1913-2003).

Her meticulous research about Bach influenced everyone from Glenn Gould to Sharon Isbin. Gould famously said that Tureck was the only pianist he admired, and Isbin edited Bach's lute suites under Tureck's guidance.

Although Tureck's first love was Bach, she was a true polymath who studied fractal geometry and botany and was a frequent guest on Firing Line with William F. Buckley, Jr.

"She was a larger-than-life figure," said Kevin Kleinmann, former president of the Tureck Bach Research Institute and a longtime friend and colleague of Tureck's. "She was a trailblazer."

According to Kleinmann, Tureck had two main principles about Bach.

First, she believed that Bach was a universal composer whose music was not limited to any specific instrument or sonority. "That's why she played Bach on a Moog synthesizer and many other instruments to make her point," Kleinmann explained.

Her second principle was that Bach's music was not actually dry and boring. "She believed that Bach was the most emotional composer," Kleinmann said. "The emotion is in the structure."

Tureck's papers and recording are held in the Tureck Bach Research Institute, which will now be archived at Interlochen Center for the Arts.

The Tureck Bach Research Institute holds materials from nearly eight decades of Tureck's career, including manuscripts of essays, books, correspondence and other documents. It also includes recordings of her live performances, lectures and master classes.

Tureck founded the TBRI in 1981 to promote Bach's music through research and performance.

The materials at Interlochen will be made available to researchers and musicians who want to study Tureck's recordings, writings and scholarship.

The documents include more than Tureck's research about Bach. For example, she published a regular symposium called "Interconnections" that featured essays by musicians, mathematicians and scientists.

"She had an opinion about everything," Kleinmann said. "But it was always based on reason, logic and thought."

In addition to housing the archival materials, Interlochen will also award the Dr. Rosalyn Tureck/Bach Scholarship to a female music student at Interlochen Arts Academy each year.

Kleinmann wants to ensure that the next generation of young musicians has the opportunity to learn about Tureck and her influence.

"She had an enormous mind that had no limits and no boundaries," said Kleinmann. "It's so important for the students at Interlochen to discover who she was and to be inspired by her."

Dr. Amanda Sewell is IPR's music director.