Bach’s genius

The genius of Bach…

Five years ago, I made a memorable trip to New York City for the sole purpose of overdosing on music. The main event was my desire to hear a concert by the German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, who was going to perform all the sonatas for violin and piano by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

This event was presented at three concerts at Carnegie Hall. The concerts, as I recall, were on Wednesday night Friday night, and finally on Sunday afternoon. Yep… I went to all three. And… after the concert I went backstage and spoke with Ms. Mutter briefly; she was there with her ex-husband, Andre Previn, and I found it weird that the two of them spoke with one another in German. Think about it, though: Both were born in Germany. Mr. Previn was born in Berlin, so even though he’s lived in the US for many years, German is actually his mother tongue.

During that trip to NYC, I also visited a number of old bookstores, and I had a wonderful time rummaging through shelves that had no recent visitors. I purchased a small book on Johann Sebastian Bach during that trip. Somehow, I had never read this little gem, so I am reading it now. The book’s previous owner put his name on the first page, together with the date: “1933”.

I already know that J. S Bach was one of the great geniuses of the 17th century. He was born in 1685 and died in 1750, and he had an astounding influence on the development of all music that followed.

One of Bach’s major innovations was his composition called “Passacaglia and Fugue in C-Minor”, which he composed around 1715. It was composed for Organ, which was Bach’s favorite instrument. More than two hundred years later it was adapted for performance by a symphony orchestra and made famous by conductor Leopold Stokowski.

Here for your listening pleasure are several versions of this masterpiece by Bach:

1. Hans-Andre Stamm performs Bach on the Trost organ of the Stadtkirche in Waltershausen in Germany

2. And here is organist Karl Richer performing the same work in a slightly altered key signature


3. Finally here’s the orchestral version performed by Leopold Stokowski:

Speculate now: What piece of music composed in 2011 will still be performed 300 years from now? Enter your comment at the end of this Post…

Tags: Johann Sebastian Bach, Passacaglia and Fugue in C-Minor, Richer, Stamm, Stokowski

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