Music as the reflection of the cosmos as it has been created by God – for centuries this idea was at the core of any composition in the Christian world. The order of the seven known celestial bodies – moon, sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn – was reflected by the seven tones to be used in music, while the use of chords, metres and intervals was strictly regulated to avoid anything that would contradict the celestial order. Most composers up to the Italian Claudio Monteverdi would respect this.
This is what the formula of dopamine looks like in the chemistry book. It’s commonly called “the happiness hormone”. It is produced by the brain and transmits a signal between two nerve cells. Not any signal, no, it plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior. The anticipation of most types of rewards increases the level of dopamine in the brain.
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.