Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bach, Now

The Good Shepherd Chapel; Washington National Cathedral

Pace yourself: it's a simple message, yet it resonated with so many of you.  It seems we're all multitasking, distracted, and unfocused these days, but I'm sure every generation throughout history declared that no other has ever been as overwhelmed as it is.  We'd do well to remember that busy is a relative concept - did you know that Johann Sebastian Bach, in addition to having twenty children and a full schedule of teaching and directing on top of his duties as organist and choirmaster, wrote more than two hundred cantatas, several motets, five masses, three oratorios, and four settings of the Passion story, as well as vast amounts of organ music?

I imagine that Bach found great peace in his music amongst the chaos of his life.  He's one of my favorite composers for the stunning beauty that infuses even the simplest of his phrases; you always know where the chords are going, but it's no less miraculous when they arrive there.  Whether you are listening to a single pianistan unaccompanied choir, or a swelling orchestra and chorus, Bach unfolds the delicacy of the most complex passages and magnifies the delight of a single line until you feel your heart might burst.  Of music, he wrote,

The aim and final end of all music
should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.

As we head into Easter weekend, for which Bach wrote magnificent works, let's take a minute to refresh our souls.  And let's wish a Johann Sebastan Bach, born on March 31, 1685, a very happy birthday.


  1. Beautiful post, Betsy. You did such a lovely job describing Bach's music, which is nothing short of sublime. He composed for the glory of God and it comes through in each and every piece. Did you know also that he died a poor man? For such a prolific composer, busy and important teacher and organist, and his pure genius, amazing to think he was undervalued in his lifetime.

    Playing Bach always reminds me why I'm a pianist. A heavenly reminder.

  2. I love everything about this post! Thank you!

  3. I am hearing all day - WQXR is doing all Bach this week! you can listen live!/ :)

  4. SUBLIME - that's the word I was looking for :) performing Bach is always so deeply fulfilling. I love how personal it is, and yet I love how we all share it.

  5. I didn't know you are a musician?!?

  6. I sing! well, mostly I sang, but I will always sing :)

  7. Love this! We could all learn something from Bach, I think.

  8. just reading this post may have lowered my blood pressure.

    sometimes i let my hobbies - the things i love to do - start to feel like work... trying to make time for them, & sometimes failing. if bach could make time in his ridiculous schedule to write those works of musical art, i can sit down to read blogs each day.

  9. PS - i have a technical question. since seeing your new GFC widget that doesn't display the number of followers, i've wanted one. i have tried & tried (and even googled) how to change it, but no dice. help a girl out? :)


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