Filling In The Blanks On Bach

Andrew Sullivan touches on one of my favourite topics – the music of JS Bach and his unparalleled interpreter, Glenn Gould.

The Dish

George Stauffer appreciates that John Eliot Gardiner’s recent book on the great composer has insights into his personal character:

Moving beyond the hagiographies of the past, he presents a fallible Bach, a musical genius who on the one hand is deeply committed to illuminating and expanding Luther’s teachings through his sacred vocal works (and therefore comes close to Spitta’s Fifth Evangelist), but on the other hand is a rebellious and resentful musician, harboring a lifelong grudge against authority—a personality disorder stemming from a youth spent among ruffians and abusive teachers. Hiding behind Bach, creator of the Matthew Passion and B-Minor Mass, Gardiner suggests, is Bach “the reformed teenage thug.” In the preface we read: “Emphatically, Bach the man was not a bore.” Neither is Gardiner.

(Video: Glenn Gould plays Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No.1 with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in 1960)

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