Classical music lovers discussion

Composers > JS Bach - an appreciation

Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Florita (new)

Florita (ms_rita) | 220 comments Mod
I'm really hoping to get James going on the subject of JS Bach here, to be honest.

Bach is, I believe, the greatest ever composer, far superior to Mozart or Beethoven.

Unlike James, I lack the technical knowledege to tell you exactly what makes him superior but to me Bach has a gravity, a profundity and an intellectual rigour than set him far apart.

My favourite Bach compositions (off the top of my head - and there are still so many that I have yet to familiarise myself with) are the St John Passion, the B Minor Mass, the English and French Suites, the double violin concerto in D minor and the two and three part inventions.

message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 07, 2008 04:15PM) (new)

Au contraire, Rita, I think anyone with discerning enough tastes/sensitive enough ears can tell the monumental profundity and celestial beauty of Bach's work. It's all so complex, and yet all so effortless!

You're totally right. I love Mozart and Beethoven, but Bach is a class apart. I believe they would have said so too.

Here's an article about Bach by Robin Holloway:

message 3: by Robert (new)

Robert | 19 comments I have agree with Rita on this. Others may write or play music, but Bach gives you the sense that he invented it. As I mentioned over in another topic line, my favorite are the Brandenburgs, but there are so excellent pieces - the ones Rita mentioned, the Suites for Solo Cello, the Goldberg variations, the Hunting Chorale....

message 4: by george (last edited Feb 11, 2008 01:19PM) (new)

george (george99) | 17 comments Mod
I'm not being deliberately provocative, I love Bach, have played him, and listened to him, for years, will never stop doing so, etc. etc., but he's so darn CHURCHY. Compared to Telemann or the glorious Leclair, Bach's detached from normal life. Fine, if you're on your deathbed, or about to become a nun, or go into combat and sacrifice your life for your comrades, I’d listen to Bach, but he's very bad at normal, prosaic, everyday life expressed through music. Some would regard that as a strength. I think it's a weakness. I'd rather have Leclair to supper. He was such a live wire he got himself murdered (while Bach was practicing on a spinster in the attic). Sorry..... no offence.....

message 5: by Ken (new)

Ken I hesitate to say it, but... bombs away. The name "Leclair" doesn't even ring a bell (oops... church reference, sorry) in my has-a-long-way-to-go classical mind. Are there examples of his stuff to be had on the web? (I'm assuming YES... question is, where's the best place.)

Secondly, if you played Bach to an African bushman or an Australian aborigine, would he deem it "beautiful music" or would he asterisk it because it sounds so darn "churchy"?

OK, now I'm getting philosophical. (If a Bach falls in the woods, does it make a sound?)

message 6: by Florita (last edited Feb 12, 2008 04:34AM) (new)

Florita (ms_rita) | 220 comments Mod
Don't worry about Leclair, newengland - you haven't missed a lot. ‘Anna Key’ and I squabble about this all the time.

Not long ago, he was playing a Leclair violin concerto at home on CD and I complained
that every movement sounded exactly the same.

"Pah!" he exclaimed. “Leclair is far too subtle for you. You fail to appreciate the delicate nuances.”

"Yes, but there's that bit again - there's the tutti and then it goes yom diddly om pom pom. He keeps doing it over and over.”

"No, you've just got cloth ears. Leclair is VERY sophisticated. You have so much to learn”

After this had gone on for about an hour and several 'movements’, I checked the cd player. ‘Anna Key’ had accidentally set the CD to repeat and it had, indeed, been playing the same movement over and over.

Leclair just sounds like Vivaldi to me, anyway. :/

message 7: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (carrieking) | 7 comments Darlings, is it not obvious that with all things, 'One Man's Nectar is another Man's Toxin!'

The diversity in music is it's very essence, it's beauty.

None is greater or's purely down to a matter of taste.....there we are then....meat or poison.

What's more some of us admire and enjoy them all....

I told you I love Vivaldi for motivating creativity....

I didn't mention my love for Chopin, Brahms, Haydn, Bizet (his duet from the Pearl Fishers must be the most beautiful duet ever), Schubert, Grieg....need I go on? Does it not depend on our mood; the one we choose to listen to at any particular time?

Oh and by the way, Lovelies, I can play a mean Greensleeves on the recorder!!

You Lot sound like fun! CK

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

"but he's so darn CHURCHY."

Have you listened to the Gavotte en Rondeaux from the Lute Suite BWV 1006, AK?

(although I'm unable to listen to this, it's for lute, so Ak you might find it more agreeable)

Plus the prelude hardly sounds churchy:

JSB's Suites for Orchestra and Brandenburg Concertos sound more regal than churchy.

message 9: by Ken (new)

Ken I've noticed that choirs sound churchy (but maybe I'm preaching to the choir here).

message 10: by chris (new)

chris (chrisaflute) | 4 comments Or then we have the man who, despite being at work all the time, had a score of children....I used to use this Badinerie from the flute suite for my woodwind quintet's "kiddie show". I used to tell them it was Papa Bach's representation of all those kids trooping downstairs for breakfast in the morning. Highly unchurchy! (never mind they wouldn't all have been kids all at once, a lower-schooler won't figure that out in the moment)

and for good measure:

message 11: by Florita (new)

Florita (ms_rita) | 220 comments Mod
Carrie - you're right. It is all to do with mood as well as personal taste, though ak hates Schubert's lieder at any time, which is a shame because I love them.

I love Chopin too, and interpretations of his work can vary hugely in temperament, from the passionate, muscular style of the great Martha Argerich to the ethereal touch of Idil Biret. Both certainly have their place.

newengland - lol

Chris - that is a wonderful mental image.

message 12: by george (new)

george (george99) | 17 comments Mod
"Are there examples of his [Leclair’s] stuff to be had on the web?"

"Leclair just sounds like Vivaldi to me, anyway. "

* Rolls eyes *
* Tunes Rita’s radio to Classic FM *

One fascinating thing about Leclair is he’s positioned at the centre of the French high Baroque, and can do all the mournful, droopy French stuff, yet is stuffed with Italian and German influences. So he out-bombasts Vivaldi and does disciplined, mathematical, German stuff also. When he puts his mind to it his contrapuntal material is easily as good as Bach. So he’s much better value than Bach. You get more bang for your buck.

NB Leclair was murdered, possibly by relatives of his second wife.

message 13: by george (last edited Feb 14, 2008 04:24AM) (new)

george (george99) | 17 comments Mod
"Plus the prelude hardly sounds churchy:

I agree. It’s joyful. But it’s still not fully secular (to my ears). There’s an underlying seriousness and an intense discipline. “Ve must take enjoyment seriously, yah!” Bach’s project was religious. Leclair was a man about town.

message 14: by Florita (last edited Feb 14, 2008 04:45AM) (new)

Florita (ms_rita) | 220 comments Mod
I shall *ignore* the classic fm comment >:(

Didn't Leclair, rather like Machaut in the 14th century, have the foresight to go all-out to ensure his work was preserved for posterity? Unlike Bach, much of whose oeuvre got used to line the cat tray or ended up in the downstairs privy.

Didn't Leclair (rather cynically) marry several female engravers to that end? Could that be related to his demise? It's a fascinating subject - CSI Classical :D.

I wonder what other composers came to sticky/suspicious ends.

message 15: by Florita (new)

Florita (ms_rita) | 220 comments Mod
>>Annakey wrote: Leclair was a man about town.

-- And look where it got him. :p

message 16: by Florita (new)

Florita (ms_rita) | 220 comments Mod
This looks interesting: a new film about JS Bach. And it answers something we were talking about earlier.

So it was the butcher using the St Matthew Passion to wrap chops in.

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

"One fascinating thing about Leclair is he’s positioned at the centre of the French high Baroque, and can do all the mournful, droopy French stuff, yet is stuffed with Italian and German influences. So he out-bombasts Vivaldi and does disciplined, mathematical, German stuff also. When he puts his mind to it his contrapuntal material is easily as good as Bach. So he’s much better value than Bach. You get more bang for your buck."

Bach WAS cosmoplitan. Clearly, the French title of one of the pieces I mentioned (Gavotte en rondeau), as well as all the many other pieces with French titles, and the French suites are all obviously Frog-inspired. Bach had an intimate knowledge of French music, as evinced by his use of a ground bass of an obscure French composer, in the first few notes of his breath-taking Passacaglia in C minor BWV 582.
As for Italian, you only have to take a look at all of Bach's concertos, which, whilst taking the Vivalidian model as their starting point (Bach copied out music by Vivaldi) massively improve it to the point of utterly dwarfing Vivaldi's achievement. T'other Italian composer springs to mind is Corelli. Bach also copied his music out, and if I remember correctly, Bach's fugue in B minor BWV 579 uses the beginning of a movement from one of Corelli's trio sonatas as the subject, and takes all the material into places both harmonic and contrapuntal whereof Corelli had neither the audacity nor the imagination to conceive.

Although I can't pretend to be familiar with Leclair's music, I doubt he does the mathematical, contrapuntal thing as well as Bach. Vide the seven(!)-part fugue that forms the Credo of the B minor mass, and see how Bach weaves it altogether with consummate ease and beauty. This piece, along with the Art of Fugue and Musical Offering, in toto represent a summation and zenith of contrapuntal technique which hasn't been surpassed since.

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

BTW AK do you know Bach's coffee cantata?

All that sacred caffine. XD

message 19: by Florita (new)

Florita (ms_rita) | 220 comments Mod
That looks absolutely wonderful.

message 20: by Florita (new)

Florita (ms_rita) | 220 comments Mod
So has anyone seen the Bach film yet?

I am keeping an eye out for it in London.

message 21: by Betty (new)

Betty (ladylizzie) | 1 comments I love Bach, and I agree, he had an energy that runs through his music. One thing that set him apart, I believe, was his uncanny mathematically precise timing at incredible speed, never missing a beat. Yeah Bach! By the way, my initials spell BACH. Smiles, Betty Ann

message 22: by Héctor (last edited Mar 14, 2008 04:51AM) (new)

Héctor About Bach as poet, see Metaphor, Mystery, and the Music of J. S. Bach by Timothy A. Smith

back to top