July 2011

July 2011

Monday, 17 March 2014

The myth of Bach

Mattheus Passion
Yesterday visited probably the first performance of the Mattheus Passion by J.S. Bach in the Netherlands in Rotterdam the Doelen. A very well balanced performance by Toonkunst Rotterdam under Maria van Nieukerken. I enjoyed every minute of it. And that is lots of minutes...

My attention was directed towards sort of another gospel in the booklet. Namely the story of the forgotten Bach resurrected by Felix Mendelssohn. 

Would Joseph Haydn, who learned his craft from the very Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach have forgotten J.S. ? In Mozart's Requiem you can find a nearly carbon copy of a fugue from Bach's Well Tempered Clavier book 2 in a-minor and Mozart often trumpeted his respect for the 'old' Bach. All right Sussmayer might have put his hands in the till in the dire need to complete the Requiem. But isn't it interesting that the till he grabbed from was 'old' Bach's? Beethoven also was very vocal about his respect for Bach, but was genius enough to develop his own concept to go fugal. And how older Beethoven became the more he went fugal.

And the very young Chopin in his very first piano Sonata opus 4 in C-minor - written to impress his teacher - shows very clearly in far off Poland Chopin was raised with Bach's well tempered clavier. Alas it would prove to be Chopin's least performed work, because it is a bit of a slog, but that is not the point. The point is that also Chopin in his very teens knew Bach well. Very well!

What then is the myth of Felix Mendelssohn's discovery? Perhaps the myth of the jewish composer who had to become a catholic to become accepted in that part of Germany? And perhaps that part of Germany discovered Bach in the middle of the 19th century? That may very well have been the case.

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