Bach again…

Happy Birthday Johann Sebastian Bach (21 March 1685, O.S.31 March 1685, N.S. – 28 July 1750) – my favourite Baroque composer and whose music I’m particularly addicted to – especially the Goldberg variations and his Partita No. 2 in D Minor.

Here is a video of the timeless Aria from the Goldberg variations:

For more on the video click here.

The best renditions of Bach’s piano works are quite arguably those recorded by Glenn Gould. In this link, Glenn Gould plays the entire set of the Goldberg variations.

Bach’s Partita No.2  in D Minor for solo violin, widely named as ‘Bach’s chaconne’ was written by him possibly during 1717 – 1723, in memory of his wife Maria Barbara Bach. The second movement is considered a pinnacle of the solo violin repertoire as it covers every aspect of violin-playing known during Bach’s time and thus it is among the most difficult pieces to play for that instrument.

J.S. Bach’s chaconne for solo violin (click to enlarge)

My favourite modern-day rendition of this piece is of course by Hilary Hahn and the entire chaconne in two parts can be hear here:

But why is the chaconne considered one of the most beautiful and profound pieces ever composed? Is it because in a short span of 20 minutes it takes you through every possible human emotion, or because it is like the fine balance between Logic and Love, ecstasy and sorrow, fantasy and reality and combines all those extremes into a multidimensional paradox? I certainly am addicted to the piece. My father played the violin so I was exposed to it at an early age (not that he could play the chaconne), but even without this exposure, those who understand music will invariably feel the depth of the piece.

In October 2008 filmmaker Michael Lawrence released ‘The Bach Project’ featuring various distinguished musicians to discuss the effects and legacy of J.S. Bach’s music. In one scene of the documentary, musicians are scanned in an fMRI machine in an effort to study the neural basis of musical improvisation. The DVD is available here: (As usually happens in our world, people shell out $100-a-ticket to watch the antics of some vulgar “reality stars” (who have composed, invented, created and  explored absolutely nothing), but Michael Lawrence’s Bach Project has to ask for donations on its website because his documentary – which is about the works of a REAL genius artist, i.e. Mr. Bach, and features a group of jazz and classical musicians – has fewer takers in our world.) Here is a clip from the film explaining possible reasons for the Chaconne’s appeal:

And here is the link to one of my all time favourite books – Godel Escher Bach : An eternal golden braid. If you loved the movie ‘Inception’ you will like it, since this book was one of its inspirations.

Spring is just round the corner in New York city – nay – has officially begun today. A grey rainy morning has followed a gorgeous sunny weekend…..and through the dark clouds today, the routine and the prose of life, the uplifting music of Bach (especially the lovely short piano pieces) reminds one, once again, of the poetry, the peace, the joys of life’s simple little pleasures. more than 325 years since Bach was born, and his music still lives on, still inspires.

Now that’s what you call timeless.



One thought on “Bach again…

  1. A very nice post, gg. Thanks for this. Spot on how people get fascinated by scandal and pay to watch it – But a docu based on the music of a real genius has to ask for donations to survive.

    Bach of course is one of my favorites. Could go about him for hours ;)

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