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The Bach Library

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message 1: by Héctor (new)

Héctor Johann Sebastian Bach’s greatness is not restricted to music, in that his achievements rank him as one of the giants of Western culture. As a contemporary of Newton, Leibniz, Vico and Montesquieu, he lived in a Europe undergoing crucial change, a splitting away from the ‘old’ towards a ‘new’ world order. His personal outlook is important in understanding this progress towards a new ideology, which in his case allowed him to develop a different approach to music. Anton Webern showed discerning judgement when he maintained that “everything begins and ends” with Bach, and that he had set music upon a path until then unknown.
Despite being the object of an extraordinary bibliography Bach still continues to be a rather mysterious figure whose personality remains unclear, the possessor of a subtle mind that both understood and coped with the limitations of a ‘rational’ world.
Perhaps this is why there are so many differing views as to the nature of the man: at times he is seen as a gifted architect, at others as a mathematician who leads ineluctably to the theorems developed by Gödel, others see him as having a mind gifted for the most abstract speculation, which does not necessarily conflict with those who define him as a mystic, a being whose sense of identity had a spiritual base.
What is clear is that in his music Bach offers us an unprecedented metaphor for the human condition. For a better understanding of the man we must go beyond the music, so why not place ourselves in a quiet corner of his library and turn to his personal reading material, to the very ideas that defined the times he lived in? Perhaps we will find some answers there, a way of penetrating that contemplative gaze fixed on us from the Elias Gottlob Haussmann portrait of 1746, in which the cantor presents us with his Canon triplex a 6 (BWV 1076). Let us try and get closer to Bach.

Full essay in: Johann Sebastian Bach: Readings and The Spirit by Ramón Andrés


message 2: by Florita (new)

Florita (ms_rita) | 220 comments Mod
Very interesting - as is Goldberg. Thanks for the link.


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