Bach and Output

22 09 2013

Johann_Sebastian_Bach

“I was made to work. If you are equally industrious, you will be equally successful.” (Johann Sebastian Bach)

Johann Sebastian Bach left an enormous body of musical work in his wake.  His creative production and work ethic, unparalleled.  He inspires not only composers, but artists of every stripe, in every discipline.

As a child, I was, of course, exposed to “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.”  A child of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, I heard the synthesized version of this piece, the tenth and final movement of Cantata No. 147, Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, by Walter (later Wendy—another story entirely) Carlos.

In college, I studied French and music, with focus on classical guitar.  When one studies an instrument in college for performance, the semester concludes with the instrumentalist performing a set of pieces for a jury, in my case three faculty members from the Oakland University Music Department, all familiar with the Bach string corpus.  One of my judges was noted lutenist, Lyle Nordstrom.  It was daunting.

For one of my pieces, I chose a Bach selection from Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 6.  This two-part Gavotte had been arranged by guitarist Sophocles Papas and put into the key of C.  I got through the piece in fairly good shape, although one of the jurists questioned the notation in one of the sections.  Pros have great ears.

Peter Kreeft, when arguing for the existence of God, once said, “There is the music of Bach.”

Bach’s creative output was staggering, numbering over 1100 compositions in a life of sixty-five years.  Cantatas, oratorios, concerti, works for piano, organ, lute, violin, cello, etc.  It is the fruit of the work ethic embodied in the above quote.  Work he did.

Avail yourself of Bach’s creative and joyous work.  I’m particularly fond of his Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (Jascha Heifetz, my preference), his Unaccompanied Suites for Cello Solo (Yo-Yo Ma and Pablo Casals), the Goldberg Variations (Glenn Gould, 1955 recording) and any of his works rendered from cello, violin, lute and piano for classical guitar (Andrés Segovia, Julian Bream, Christopher Parkening, John Williams, and David Russell, all worthy readings).

Listen and marvel.

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