Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bach lives

Today is the 324th anniversary of the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach, surely the most remarkable musician the world has known. Two years ago today I won an episode of The Einstein Factor, with this great man as my special subject.

This morning I listened to part of one of his many church cantatas, Cantata BWV 181 Leichtgesinnte Flattergeister, whose opening words in English have been translated as
Frivolous flibbertigibbets
deprive themselves of the Word's strength.
Belial with his brood
also seeks to prevent it
from being of service.

I was interested to read some comments by Andras Schiff in The World of Pianos: fascination with an instrument, published by Bechstein.
I cannot love Wagner, because he disgusts me. He was certainly a great composer, but I hear his human character and his egotism in each measure of his music. Self-centredness in art disturbs me a great deal ...

For me Bach is the greatest composer because he was so unconcerned with himself and deeply religious. It is like the men who built the great cathedrals during the Renaissance. Today we do not know who these people were. They worked to achieve a higher goal and not to immortalise themselves. That conforms to my ideal of art.


Matthew said...

I didn't know you won the Einstein Factor David!

I believe that Messiaen is the 20th century's equivalent to Bach. They have much in common, not least the quality of their music and their religious starting points.

David McKay said...

Hi Matthew [but which Matthew?]
I didn't win The Einstein Factor. I won one episode.

Bach and Messiaen do have some common areas, don't they.