The Joy of Bach
The Baroque period was filled with the new idea that every issue had two sides. Great thinkers and masterminds left behind the idea that the world was either god- influenced or science-influenced. Most people embraced this notion, with the exception of a few. Johann Sebastian Bach was one of these few people. Bach, although the greatest composer of the Baroque period, led a life based on tradition and past influence, which left him virtually ignored for many years after his death.
Bach was born in 1685 in Germany amongst the turmoil of national reconstruction. He lived a quiet life with little musical influence, until the death of his parents at age ten. After their death, Bach’s older brother, who taught the very young Bach to play clavichord and harpsichord, raised Bach. Now, his life had the musical influence that is associated with Bach’s greatness. At the age of eighteen, he joined an orchestra where he learned to play the violin and organ. During this time the musical genius of Bach began to emerge (Jackson 15).
Although Bach’s name is widely recognized today, his contemporaries held little respect for his creative works (Herz 1). Only his skills as an organist were highly recognized and praised by those who knew of him. Many organ builders would not allow anyone but Bach to approve their creations. The composer’s works remained unpublished and unrecognized until many years after his death.
One explanation for Bach’s lack of recognition is his modesty over the works he created. He did not consider himself a genius. Bach merely sought to be industrious and diligent in his work. Most of his works are signed, “I did what I could” (Herz 2). He never attempted anything new and relied heavily on past musical traditions. Bach simply tried to preserve the past through his work, all the while creating a whole new style of modest, yet expressive music. Bach also never published any of his music because he thought it was less than perfect. He wrote music for his enjoyment and self-fulfillment. He never attempted to make himself known through his musical works (Herz 1).
Bach’s peers did not understand his desire to preserve the past; therefore, they did not embrace his musical genius. His musical peers used the new dynamic and elaborate idea of art expression in their works. They experimented with new styles and forms in their works. Bach’s perfection in his music was ignored because no one understood it. Bach, unlike his peers, chose to remain with traditional sounds from the past when he composed music. Because of his modesty and the lack of interest from the people around him, Bach’s creative works existed without influencing the world around him for many years (Herz 2).
The only place that appreciated his works was the Lutheran church. Bach’s chorales and cantatas held great admiration in the religious world. A...