Home > Bach > News Flash: J. S. Bach was a Christian – Why Suzuki Gets Bach

News Flash: J. S. Bach was a Christian – Why Suzuki Gets Bach

July 28th, 2012
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One of the world’s premier interpreters and conductors of Bach music is the Japanese musician Masaaki Suzuki. And he gets Bach, unlike many Westerners. I am sick and tired of discussions of Bach by secularists who do everything they can to avoid, dismiss, denigrate and intentionally ignore the fact that J.S. Bach was an orthodox Lutheran Christian. It is the height of intellectual dishonesty to do so. But not Suzuki. I was reading my friend, Pastor Weedon’s blog and he has a great post of some YouTube clips of Suzuki performing Bach and Robin Lee offered this comment [the Bach clips follow]:

I like what Masaaki Suzuki wrote in the liner notes to the first recording of Bach Collegium Japan. Responding to the question of how the Japanese could “dare play the music of Bach”, Suzuki wrote:

“… [T]he God in whose service Bach laboured and the God I worship today are one and the same. In the sight of the God of Abraham, I believe that the two hundred years separating the time of Bach from my own day can be of little account. This conviction has brought the great composer very much closer to me. We are fellows in faith, and equally foreign in our parentage to the people of Israel, God’s people of Biblical times. Who can be said to approach more nearly the spirit of Bach: a European who does not attend church and carries his Christian cultural heritage mostly on the subconscious level, or an Asian who is active in his faith although the influence of Christianity on his national culture is small?”

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Categories: Bach
  1. Steve
    January 8th, 2010 at 08:02 | #1

    Even though I commented on the earlier post without saying how much I appreciate Suzuki and love listening to Bach. I think (at least I paid for it) I own supposedly anything by Bach ever recorded and it is wonderful. The B Minor Mass and his St. Matthew Passion are my favorites although his Christmas Oratorio isn’t far behind. Oh, and let’s not forget his inventions and sonatinas and well the Brandenburg Concertos. You get the picture.

  2. January 8th, 2010 at 08:34 | #2


  3. Richard
    January 8th, 2010 at 17:14 | #3

    Suzuki is a Reformed Christian, as I understand it. Hmmm . . .

  4. Jonathan Trost
    July 28th, 2012 at 14:45 | #5

    At lunch recently, a Unitarian friend, very much a “lover of the arts”, told me how much he appreciates Bach’s music, especially his sacred works. I asked “Really?” He replied “Sure, why wouldn’t I?”

    And I said: “Bach was a Lutheran lay theologian, an orgainst, and a composer. He set the theology of the Church to music. His sacred music is an instrument which affirms and communicates Lutheran theology and doctrine; it’s a vessel which contains it. How, then, can you fully appreciate the vessel if you don’t know and comprehend its contents?

    He thought a few seconds, and replied: “Hmmm….”

  5. Austen Wilson
    July 28th, 2012 at 16:39 | #7

    I just performed the B Minor Mass and during rehearsals, an expert (who has written a book on the B Minor) gave a lecture who thought it was odd that J.S. Bach composed a setting of the Mass because

    1. He used the 5 parts of the Mass Ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus/Osanna, Agnus Dei).
    2. He designated part of it a Mass.

    I held my tongue, but I really wanted to say that

    1. Those parts are also part of the Lutheran Mass.
    2. Many Lutherans call the service a Mass.

    Other parts of the lecture were interesting, but many assumptions that he made flowed from those two points.

    Suzuki’s recording of J.S. Bach’s motets are spectacular.

    • July 28th, 2012 at 20:08 | #8

      You just finally have to realize there is such a thing as invincible ignorance.

      It’s sad, and, amazing, at the same time.

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