Bach’s 327th

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…”

5 Responses to “Bach’s 327th”

  1. 1 natalielaberlinoise
    July 7, 2014 at 12:08 am

    Here’s a little something for J.S. son’s 200th birthday (my apple crumble is a mess – not to be recommended!) It’s not perfect in the slightest! But I thought it might amuse you. Hope the link works abroad. And please pardon the sheepishly careful fantasia – I had to do single takes, and as a total beginner in this medium, that made for an unsecure manner and more sluggish pace than was intended.


    • July 7, 2014 at 3:14 am

      Always a pleasure to hear from fellow WEIT denizens! Doubly-so a fellow professional musician! Perhaps the climate is different in Europe, but here in the US, those two worlds don’t collide very often.

      Unfortunately, I can’t download that podcast from outside the UK, but I’m sure everything sounded wonderful.

      Of course I spent the entire day reading the Versuch on March 8th. 😉

      • 3 natalielaberlinoise
        July 8, 2014 at 7:31 pm

        Ah too bad about the podcast. You see, there was a bit of an interview and I ended up quoting from the Versuch, haha.

        This is how I became a regular at WEIT: wanting to catch up and needing relief from the influence of irrationality and woo enthousiasm that I encounter daily, particularly with the most talented and musical colleagues I have the pleasure to do music with. It really does my head in. The number of times I have had to listen to the wonders of homeopathy, reflexology, and people having had “experiences” with dead friends and so on. And oh, the latest fad is the solar and lunar breathing. Have you heard? Fascinating stuff…

        On WEIT we are quite a community of old music buffs I think. Good number of harpsichordists, but we need some viola da gambas. For a musical project
        When the summer break comes, I’ll enjoy reading through your posts one by one. Until then, I greet you from the far land of beer and pretzels, nat.

      • July 8, 2014 at 9:02 pm

        I did enjoy the Scarlatti Jerry featured not too long ago!

        Yes, unfortunately woo and the arts make for common bedfellows. Perhaps the primacy of subjectivism in the arts has something to do with it.

        In any event, you may find a pronounced anti-avant-garde streak in my posts. I think there’s at least a kernel of legitimacy in all of them, although if I had the time or the inclination, I would substantially revise many of them. So take them with a grain of salt.

        See you around WEIT!

    • July 8, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      (I replied downthread but realized it may not generate a notification as it’s nested in my own comment)

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March 2012

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