Today we celebrate the birthday of he-who-cannot-be-played, Bach! To celebrate the natal day of the Jesus of Western Music, I offer you a few thoughts on that master of counterpoint that I have collected (read: stolen) from my colleagues and counterparts.
1. “Buxtehude is like Bach without the genius.”
This was my own thought when I first heard the work of John the Buxtehude in Music History. The style and forms seemed to remind me so much of Bach, but it just wasn’t as brilliant, not as piercing, it was like eating at Olive Garden after coming back from Italy. (Or Carrabba’s for that matter.)
2. “I feel like we adore anything that has Bach’s name on it.”
This was shared as we pondered one of the sinfonias in Form & Analysis. Not a fan of that particular piece, this student shared a concern for an over-zealousness in our praise of the savior. She later admitted that she hated puppies and that she found cake disgusting. Another student expressed that Bach’s work was not something he readily appreciated, although he liked the Cello Suites. (Chump.)
3. “Humming ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’ will get any song out of your head.”
This nugget was shared with us by our Music History teacher. The only problem is, you then have “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” stuck in your head. Aren’t we all stressed out enough?
4. “People should fear Handel the way they fear Bach!”
Bach. He’s one of the scariest mofo’s to ever don a powdered wig (if you’re a musician). People don’t take performing his work lightly, because they know it’s hard. But Handel, he is loved and admired and badly played the world over! (So is Bach, but it’s a little different – less songs about trees.) My friend thinks we should fear Handel’s runs just as much as we fear Bach’s periods.
5. The Swingle Singers!
This makes all the places in my brain happy.
Bach to you,
Nathan Hathaway Adams