The other day I felt tired, miserable, distressed. I felt like hiding from the hideous world, from which I felt totally disconnected. Hiding – but where? Johann Sebastian Bach’s music is a good place to hide, a sanctuary of singular beauty, where I always feel welcome, where I can stop thinking, where I don’t have to talk or to explain or justify. In the realm of Bach I can be. To be, to exist, without any conditions attached to it – philosophers from Parmenides to Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel have struggled with the concept. How good it feels to be permeated by Bach’s Concerto for two Harpsichords, Strings and Continuo in C minor (BWV 1060), to forget reality and to contemplate Beauty, Purity, Eternity.
Bach – that’s not just a composer’s name. It’s a whole dynasty of excellent musicians! We have already met Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach, one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s sons. Today we will explore a work written by Johann Bernard Bach, a cousin of Johann Sebastian. He was born in Erfurt in 1676 and died just a year before his famous cousin, in 1749. Johann Bernard Bach held the position as organist in Erfurt from 1695 on and moved into a similar position in Eisenach in 1703, where he was appointed as a court harpsichordist and later as the Kapellmeister of the court’s orchestra.
A month ago we experienced our first severe thunderstorm of the year. We saw it coming from afar. We saw the lightning illuminating distant clouds. It was dead silent. It was dark except for the occasional stroke of light at the horizon. Then came the growling, slow, persistent, menacing. Tension was mounting. Then came the wind. Gusts, triggered by the approaching rain. Time to duck for cover. I was outside until the first rain drops fell, to witness this natural phenomenon that fascinates since I was a child. I used to observe thunderstorms with my father from the terrace on. One of these father-son moments…
Driving to the office with Baroque music can be very stimulating to ponder the future of the world, the question of Good and Evil, and if that sounds grandiose to you, well, I indulge in 45 minutes of meditation where others have written 2-hour-long oratorios about the same subject. We have already met the wonderful composer Emilio di Cavalieri, who lived at the threshold from the Renaissance to the Baroque era and who, in his monumental work “Rappresentatione di anima, et di corpo” imagined a dialogue between the soul and the body: In songs, madrigals and recitals, the two allegorical characters argue about worldly lust and spiritual salvation.