Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Can Bach Be Claimed by Rome?
Funny how Bach is claimed by so many now but was hardly appreciated in his life (except for his keyboard mastery). Well, you can read it yourself but for me, I think Bach is far more a product of Lutheran Orthodoxy than he is a son of Rome. Disagree if you must, but I will say up front you are wrong. You can talk about my dog but I draw the line at Bach. I am glad that Rome likes Bach, too, but Bach is as Lutheran as Luther. The problem here is that Rome has forgotten that Luther and Lutheranism is evangelical catholicism and that Bach shows evangelical catholicism at its best. The Lutheran Confessions take practical form in the life and musical legacy of J. S. Bach in a way that has never been equaled since -- though we should not stop trying!
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What a hoot to read (the cited article)! Years ago, I thought so myself. Die h-Moll Messe, I thought, whether brought about by a commission from an RC client or not, shows Bach really did grasp the full Christian faith handed down by Peter, his successors and those in union with them, and it was only the circumstances and constraints of his place and time that made his being in such union impossible.
Judas H Priest OSB. Speaking of which, that was my two year curriculum for underclassmen music theory -- the McHose Eastman series, taught by an OSB who was an Eastman grad himself. I just cannot describe the transformation that two years of analysis and composition of part writing from the Bach chorales accomplished.
Just in time, too. The prof, who was also director of the monkery's schola cantorum in which I sang on Sundays and the abbey organist, was boofed from all positions after my sophomore year in one of the many pogroms following Vatican II.
But you know what, there is more to honouring Bach than re-creating his music. Where are the "ministers of music" or whatever name who regularly compose music for their parish choirs now? Bloody nowhere. They make no music of their own, can make no music of their own, either compositionally or improvisationally as Bach did, just re-create, ie perform, other people's music. That is no musician, just a performer of musicians' music. They honour Bach by finding him similar to themselves.
Bach was a musician, the best one there ever was. To date.
And speaking if the key of h, which in German is what is known as b in English (b in German is b-flat in English), my all time fave Bach recording is "Blues on Bach" by Modern Jazz Quartet. Improvised Blues in each key of Bach's name, with arrangements of Bach pieces on either side of each Blues. Man, when I get to the heavenly studio, do I want to sit down with JS and John Lewis and jam. They'll blow me off the stand fairly quickly, but then I can hear, with Bach trained ears, what follows.
Bach is surely a product of Lutheran Orthodoxy and he will forever stand in his unique genius.
However, from Anglicans and Roman Catholics I learned the angelic beauty of the works of Byrd, Tallis, Palestrina and the most glorious of them all, Tomás Luis de Victoria.
Bassist Dave Ellefson of the group Megadeath can be claimed by the LCMS:
It would be interesting to see.......never mind. Please draw your own conclusions.
I was in Pisa during the Feast of Pentecost. I wandered into the Catholic Church there (which is very nice, btw) where the mass was beginning. I was floored that the entrance hymn sung by the cathedral choir was Bach's setting of "Wachet auf."
You'll find that Rome is doing this a lot, not just with respect to other denominations' music and musicians, but especially with art and architecture. Rome has claimed for years that some of the EO's best iconographers, like Theophanes or Panselinos or even Andrei Rublev were actually Roman Catholic! Of course, it's nonsense, but they'll stop at nothing.
Judas H, Chris, the recessional hymn at the graduation ceremony from my Benedictine university was "Now Thank We All Our God".
Of course, it's nonsense, but they'll stop at nothing.
I think that's a bit strong.
I'm glad to see the musical heritage of the entire Church catholic being made available to all Christians.
"Nun danket alle Gott", ja dann bei Gott!
Ooops, that prior post was mine.
Ooops, that prior post was mine.
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