Judgment Day Cast in a Baroque Oratorio

Das Jüngste Gericht – a painting by Wassily Kandinsky from 1922.

Is it possible to make Man confront his many sins, to make him repent and to improve his behaviour? I have my doubts, and  maybe it is a sign of our time that the divine element has less and less place in our lives and can no longer serve as a moral beacon for many. Dieterich Buxtehude, a contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach, however was a firm believer in the Lutheran god and expected the fear of Judgment Day being stimulating enough to encourage the citizen of Lübeck to repent and return to the right path. “Das Jüngste Gericht” (Judgement Day, BuxWV Anh. 3) is the title of an oratorio Buxtehude most likely composed for his Abendmusiken, the amateur concerts he conducted in Lübeck.

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The Quest for Harmony – Now and Then

Equilibrium restored. © Charles Thibo

A peaceful morning after a stormy night. A thunderstorm has battered the countryside during the night, torrential rain and gusts replaced the almost unbearable heat. Equilibrium has been restored. But it is unstable and easily disturbed. In the papers I read more and more often about droughts – in Western Europe. Farmers are suffering considerable losses, drinking water is becoming scarce. Our planet is a fragile thing and our climate is even more fragile. Will humanity be able to preserve this delicate equilibrium?

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Chillout Music from Northern Germany

Evening light. © Charles Thibo

Some composers inspire me a feeling of familiarity, of friendship, the kind of attachment you feel for someone you have known a long time, someone who is far away now, but whose bond with you remains strong, despite the time that has elapsed, despite the distance that separates you and him. Dieterich Buxtehude is one of these composers. A Baroque musician, a paragon for Johann Sebastian Bach and one of the most eminent composers of Northern Germany as we have seen in my first post about him. For today I have selected a secular piece that seems perfect to me either to start the day or to end it.

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Chasing away dark thoughts with Buxtehude’s sonatas 

Warmth. © Charles Thibo

From time to time and mostly out of the blue a feeling of sadness sneaks into my heart, and I would be hard pressed to tell you where it came from or what triggered it. I’ve looked for reasons and found none. So be it then. If I have a quiet moment, I indulge in a piece of Baroque music. Baroque music can be such a consolation. Most often I would pick a piece composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, but not too long ago I settled for Dieterich Buxtehude.

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