Tag: dipABRSMpiano

[:en]Bach: Toccata in E minor BWV 914[:zh]巴哈《 E 小調觸技曲, 作品914》 (Bach: Toccata in E minor BWV 914) [:]


(Also see Chinese version)

Toccata in E Minor, BWV 914 

  • “Toccata”: meaning “to touch” (“toccare” in Italian), a highly virtuosic keyboard genre
  • Bach’s toccatas: combination of German toccata style (more serious counterpoint and complex structure) and Italian toccata style (more showy and flamboyant), with alternating free-style (prelude) and strict structure (fugue) – “stylus phantasticus”
  • Basically two sets of prelude and fugue
  • Seven toccatas in total, this being the shortest of all
  • This toccata is also the only one that starts with a slow section
  • Four sections in this toccata:
  1. A prelude in a rather improvisatory style resembling the composer’s later organ work such as Toccata and Fugue in D minor
  2. A little “fugato”, a double fugue for four voices, lively and rhythmic, 
  3. Adagio: recitative style, combination of Italian aria and Northern German fantasia style, highly improvisatory
  4. A final three-voice fugue with an extended subject, in allegro, idiomatic violin writing, also thought to be originally written for organ, showing tremendous influence from Italian toccata writing (“Naples Manuscript”)

A more “liberal” rendition of the toccata:


A lesser known performer yet with another beautiful version of the same toccata:

More background details and analysis in our membership area post.


Teresa Wong[:zh](更多在 英文版)

  • 巴哈七首曲最短的一首
  • 開頭前奏以比較自由,像詠嘆調一樣,以管風琴樂曲般的序奏(prelude) 開始
  • 緊隨着的是一個雙主題賦格曲 (double fugue),節奏明快緊湊,基本是以主音(tonic) E小調和第五音(dominant) B小調在各個聲部 (voice)中重複出現
  • 第三段慢版(adagio)有著非常即興(improvisation) 的曲風,帶有聲樂中的朗誦調(recitative)風格
  • 第4段又是一個賦格曲,有三個聲部,主題比較長 ,亦有管風琴樂曲和意大利賦格曲的影子。



[:en]Three Crucial Steps to Prepare for a Successful Viva Voce Exam[:]

[:en]Prior to the “big day” aka diploma exam day, I ask my students to do three steps in terms of viva voce preparation for me (assuming they have already done all other steps I have given them in the course of diploma exam preparation). And I would like to share with you these three important steps that would give any candidates feel much more prepared and confident to perform well in the coming exam.

The three steps to prepare for a successful viva voce session are:

  1. Think
  2. Write
  3. Speak 


  1. Think

THINK about what and how you are going to answer the questions the examiners pose during the exam. I always give my students a bunch of potential questions the examiners will ask. It is very important to prepare ahead. Don’t just think, “oh, I will know how to answer them during the exam.” No way! Even you have the information at hand/in your head, it is crucial that you think about how to put the information together in a clear, simple presentable speech. And that leads to the second step..

2. Write

WRITE. THEM. DOWN. Seriously. This is the next step you must do especially when you worry a lot about how to say what you need to say in the real exam. I hear a lot of this or a variation of this, “oh, I will know how to answer them because I have the information in my head.” Really? I don’t think so. If you cannot write them down, you cannot answer them. It doesn’t have to be written in full paragraph/sentences (although it certainly helps), but at least in point form, using clear, simple sentence structure. And for those who are not native speakers: this is NOT an oral English exam, so don’t worry too much about the grammatical mistakes or trying to sound like a native speaker or Shakespeare! – actually they might not even understand you if you speak like the latter anyway. The easiest way is to speak clearly and slowly in simple sentence (just use present tense in all circumstances to make it easier for yourself when in doubt), so that you can present your ideas through effectively and get points for that! I do advise those who worry about their oral English ability to write out everything in full sentences first, not to memorize them, but to…

3. Speak

SAY IT OUT LOUD! It is very important for anyone to not only practice their speaking, but also practice talking about music. I have met so many musicians/candidates who might know a lot about music yet fail to deliver their ideas through speech. It is great you can perform well for the recital part, but you do also need to speak well in your viva voce too! Therefore, I always advise my students to TALK TO ME in our lessons, especially in the last few sessions prior to the exam. I ask them questions, and they give me answers in terms of the general repertoire, background of pieces, form and analysis, composer information, etc etc. I also check their programme notes and pose some questions based on what they wrote (and help with some editing- they do have to write their own notes first!). I encourage students to practice talking out loud at home for the viva voce practice and come back with the answers so I can help correct the content as well as sentence structure. That way students feel much more prepared and confident going to the real exam session.


I welcome any questions on the viva voce/programme notes/piano diploma exams in general.

A guided video to how to revise for your viva voce exam part:

Teresa Wong[:]

[:en]dipABRSM (Piano Performance): Viva Voce Preparation Notes[:]

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DipABRSM: Examples of Viva-Voce Questions

I compile here questions from past candidates of dipABRSM they were asked in their exams’ “viva voce” sections. This reference article is tremendously useful for those who are preparing for their viva voce exams.

This page contains viva-voce questions that have been asked in diploma examinations. Any answers given are those written by the candidate and are not intended to represent good (or bad) answers to the questions: they are simply the answers the candidate gave. All viva-voces end with the question “Is there anything you would like to add?”, it is not necessary to answer this question (with anything other than no) but if you do want to say something then this is the time to do so.

The questions as appearing here have been (lightly) edited for consistency throughout the page and to better reperesent the way that examiners are likely to word questions.

DipABRSM Programme:

Scriabin Préludes Op. 11 Numbers 9 and 16
Beethoven Sontata in C Minor, Op. 13 ‘Pathetique’
Szymanowski Etude in Bb Minor, Op. 4 No. 3
Bach Prelude and Fuge No. 16 in G Minor, WTC Book 1
Debussy General Lavine Eccentric No. 6 from Préludes Book II (own-choice work)


How did you choose your programme?
What were the technical challenges you faced when playing the Scriabin preludes?
Where do the opus 11 preludes fit into Scriabin’s compositional output?
You say the First Movement of the Pathetique is in Sonata form. What is the structure of Sonata form?
What influence did Beethoven’s contemporaries have on this piece? In particular, Dussek (Dussek’s influence mentioned in programme notes)
You mention that it was written in Beethoven’s early period; what characterises his early period?
How many piano sonatas did Beethoven write?
You said that in his early period, Szymanowski was influenced by Chopin. In what way can Chopin’s influence be seen in this piece?
What did Bach mean by ‘Well Tempered’ when he wrote the Well -Tempered Clavier?
How should one approach playing Bach on a piano?
What are stretti?
What sort of answer does the Fugue have?
I noticed that you played from memory today; what effect does that have on the performance?
What does one have to bear in mind when playing the dynamics in, for example, the Debussy, compared to the Beethoven?


More questions and answers here

Teresa Wong