I'm sure you can guess where I'm starting our month-long dive into Lutheran Composers - Johann Sebastian Bach. Born into a family of musicians, goes on to create a multitude of music, his numerous children continue the family legacy with their own musical careers, one of the Big Baroque Three. So much has been written on him, that it made this post a bit hard. I'm not a Bach scholar, I'm only a casual fan and you most probably knew the highlights I just spun off, but I figure I'm already this far, no turning Bach now. Without further adieu, here are the fruits of my internet research:
Why did Mozart get rid of his chickens? Because when he asked them their favorite composer, they always ran off saying, "Bach, bach, bach..."
One day, the Bach family went out horseback riding, when Wilhelm fell off his horse, Johann helped his son get bach on the saddle again.
A musician left this note when they went to run some errands: Gone Chopin, have Liszt, Bach in a minuet.
If you're still reading this, I like your sense of humor. There is more to my relationship with Bach though. When I began learning his Inventions in middle school, I was determined he must have been left handed because it was the first music I had encountered where the left hand was given interesting passages. Like most, I have always admired how he crafted his harmonies, the chords he used and the beauty his music evokes. These elements make his music feel fresh and prescient - even 400 some years later. One can look at a passage with a driving bass line and hammering chords in the treble and it could easily find its place in a rock song, or build into the drop at a club.
I tagged the Prelude in C this morning with a little improv jam that I like to indulge in. Sometimes I lean a little more jazz, sometimes I delve into a harder rock, sometimes I noodle. Robert and Clara Schumann also loved to indulge in Bach. After they married, they studied the fugues of the Well-Tempered Clavier together - for fun and to gain greater musical insight. Their delight in studying the fugues was recorded in their diary much like two hipsters at a record store pouring over bins of records. My high school choir director made me aware of their studies when I was burnt out while practicing a Bach fugue, it was the end of lunch and time to go back to class. I was sulking because I could not master this Bach, to cheer me up he smiled and ribbed, "As Schumann would say, a prelude and fugue a day keeps the doctor away!... Though he did have a mental breakdown eventually, but Clara didn't!"
Continue to keep your ear tuned for a little Bach throughout October, and I will pair it each week with another Lutheran Composer. Though none will provide as much comic relief as this week. And here's one more for the road:
What's the church musician's favorite brand of organ shoes? Rebachs.