Here is a beautiful piece by Harold Knight on J.S. Bach, inviting our souls, and why some music can best be played by the old.
On March 21 nearly every year I give my students a quiz of one question. “Why is today the most important day of the year?”
Almost never does a student pass the quiz.
And I’ll bet I’m safe in assuming that almost no one who might be reading this today can guess why this is the most important day of the year.
Today is the 328th anniversary of the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach.
But for the birth of J. S. Bach, music would not exist as we know it.
Music purists and historians and better-musicologists-than-I can (and may) dispute that assertion. Of course it’s not true. Or is it? The harmonies, the contrapuntal designs, the musical forms both great and small perfected by J. S. Bach are the touchstone for all of music since 1685. The Beatles, Beyonce, John Cage, Madonna, Arthur Sullivan, and Arnold Schönberg notwithstanding.
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Thank you for your kind words.
Harold, are you familiar with Erik G. Wilson’s book “Against Happiness”? I wrote about it at http://bobritzema.wordpress.com/2008/11/17/against-happiness/. He talks about the value of melancholy. He says that melancholy aids creativity, makes us more aware of the world around us, and is a necessary precondition for joy. Your remark about sadness being necessary for joy reminded me of his views.