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Happy Birthday Dear Sebastian!

March 21st, 2010
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Happy 325th Birthday Kantor Bach!

Today is Johann Sebastian Bach’s birthday. Since many male relatives in Bach time shared a common first names: fathers, grand-fathers, uncles, cousins it was common to use men’s more unique middle name to address them personally, and so, if we were to sing “Happy Birthday” to Bach, we would probably sing it “dear Sebastian.”

What a precious treasure and gift J.S. Bach is to the world. His music is perhaps the most influential ever written. When scientists were discussing what should be beamed into outer space to reach potential alien cultures, biologist Lewis Thomas said, “I would vote for Bach, all of Bach, streamed out into space. We would be bragging, of course.” And so we did. When the Voyager space craft was launched, it carried with it recordings from earth, the first being the first movement of Bach’s Brandenberg Concerto No. 2 in F.

Our beloved fifth evangelist was born on this day in 1685. To celebrate let’s watch and listen as the incomparable Glenn Gould plays a piano version of Bach’s Cantata BWV 1058, followed by his interpretation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, 1-7, concluding with a movement from one of the Brandburg Concertos. By the way, you might wonder what Gould is doing while he is playing. He was famous for singing in a low voice along while playing, often vocally harmonizing with the music.

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Categories: Bach
  1. Richard
    March 21st, 2010 at 16:26 | #1

    Happy 325th! Some of us have been celebrating listening to Bayern Vier: http://www.br-online.de/br-klassik/index.xml
    All day Bach!
    I was wondering if you would forget, Pastor McCain. I should have known better.

  2. Guillaume
    March 21st, 2010 at 17:21 | #2

    We recently discovered that my wife’s family is descended from Bach’s son Wilhelm Friedemann Bach’s daughter whose daughter married Adolf Friedemann. They moved to Oklahoma in the 1890′s.

    It’s all in “Bach Perspectives vol. 5″

  3. Peter Sovitzky
    March 21st, 2010 at 20:34 | #3

    Ah, the wonderful 81 recording of Gould! I have the entire DVD with all 30 variations of that wonderful ‘aria’.
    There was a Passion Choral Vespers in Kramer Chapel at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne at 4 pm today. Kantors Resch and Hildebrand hired me to come in and sing the tenor aria for the 4th movement of Cantata 131 Aus der tiefe.
    There is nothing better than singing Bach in a great acoustical space with a great continuo group!

    Great Blog, by the way…

  4. Peter Sovitzky
    March 22nd, 2010 at 20:10 | #4

    The other great thing about Gould is that chair! He used that same chair throughout his career. By the end there was no cushion just the wood cross beams, as it were. And note how low his body is with that chair as opposed to a standard bench and the relation of his body to the keyboard. Really weird!

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