For Bach’s birthday (March 21st), I think I’ll let some other, more respected musicians than I share their thoughts about the master:
Mozart, upon hearing a motet performed at the Thomaskirche: “Now there is music from which a man can learn something.” He then proceeded to spend the day studying Bach’s scores which were kept in St. Thomas’ library.
Beethoven, who built his reputation as a pianist on performances of the Well-Tempered Clavier: “Bach is the orignal father of harmony,” and “He should not be called Bach (stream), but Meer (ocean).”
Schumann, who helped found the Bach Gesellschaft: “Playing and studying Bach convinces us we are all numbskulls.”
Brahms, writing to Clara Schumann about the Ciaccona from the D-minor violin sonata: “To me, the Ciaccona is one of the most beautiful, incredible compositions. On one stave, and for a small instrument, the man pours out a world full of the most profound thoughts and most powerful emotions.”
Schenker, writing in 1906, 156 years after Bach’s death: “The paragon of composition…it seems to me, is still the work of Johann Sebastian Bach. What planning, what perspicuity, and what endurance!”
And Debussy (!): “And if we look at the works of JS Bach – a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity – on each page we discover things which we thought were born only yesterday…”