Bach, Bach, Bach – there is no end to it! Can you imagine that 350 years after the birth of this composer, artists from all walks of life still feel inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach? He seems to be everywhere, and every classical musician’s reference point. Before Bach, it would seem, there was nothing, and after him… well, there is Madonna. It’s unsettling in a way, and still I could not live comfortably without Bach’s music. What an achievement for a human being who certainly did not believe a minute that his music would transcend his death. And he was right about this presumption since some 100 years had to pass before Felix Mendelssohn would rekindle the Bach fervour when he performed Bach’s Passion according to St Matthew.
The high grass combined with the thimbleweed that my wife planted in front of our kitchen window keeps fascinating me. The colours and shapes change with the seasons, add the changing light of a grey or a sunny day and you get plenty of variations. Two aspects however remain the same: the plants’ elegance and the contrast between two different forms, the line and the dot. Elegance and contrast are two common aspects of Baroque music too and a delightful example is Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for two Mandolins, Strings and Continuo in G major, RV 532.
At times I feel like an archeologist: Writing about Johann Sebastian Bach’s music compels me to dig up different, often contradicting sources, balancing one expert’s opinion against the other (as a non-expert!), and if this sounds like a lot of work – it is a lot of work! But at the same time it gives me a lot of satisfaction since it comes close to a treasure hunt across Baroque Germany. Today’s post is about a Concerto in D minor with the catalogue number BWV 1052 and I started out with a version that Bach did not write.
The father of the Protestant faith, Martin Luther, was what the Germans call a “Menschenfreund”, a friend of mankind. Through his faith he loved his next as he should, of course, and man’s salvation was his lifelong obsession. But above all, he loved to socialize. He would gather teachers and student in his dining hall in Wittenberg, they would eat, drink, sing, recite poems, read from the gospel and discuss religious and worldly matters until late at night.