First of two birthday celebrations for Bach

Using today’s Gregorian calendar, we would say that Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 31, 1685 in Eisenach, Saxe-Eisenach. However, it is very common to commemorate JSB’s birthdate as March 21, 1685, the day of his birth in the Julian Calendar, the system in effect in central Germany in 1685. I say: let’s use both days to remember and enjoy the life and work of this most amazing composer and musician. Happy Birthday, Bach!

NPR Music Takes Me Beyond Bach

The heart and soul of my musical life is the work of J. S. Bach. By no means, however, is Bach’s music is the only music I care about!  Bach absorbed so much music before and around him — and in turn, transformed music fundamentally for everyone who came after him.  I desire to partake in the world of music with the same omnivorous spirit as Bach had.

I’m working hard at broadening my musical understanding.  I’ve been exploring many different sources and hope to write about those sources.  (I’m reflecting on my sources not only to further my musical education but also to help me develop software to aid people to learn about music (among other things).)

Let me start with NPR Music, which strikes me , as a relatively new fan, as a vast source of musical news and knowledge.  Naturally, I’ve been consulting the classical music section to help me look more deeply into J. S. Bach but also to look beyond.  You would think that I would have already dug up all the good Bach treasures in the NPR archives, but I just found  such oldies but goodies as  “Variations on Bach, for a New Century” (from 2004).  There’s a fantastic archive of musical artists to explore. I’m slowly warming up to deceptive cadence, the new classical music blog.

I praise the intimate, informal, and energetic videos of the Tiny Desk Concerts for sparking an interest in music for which I had no previous exposure. Part of me thinks I should check out the entire archive of concerts, including upcoming live concerts. However, if I’m not careful, I can easily get overwhelmed with too many concerts to listen to.   Tiny Desk Concerts introduces new material at a good rate, not so much that I get overwhelmed; The videos are enticing enough for me to watch virtually everyone of them.

Improvised and Remixed Bach

Ever so often, I check into the NPR website to catch up on the latest news, including to see whether there has been any segments featuring Bach. I was delighted to see two item related to Bach and improvisation. The first (Bach Fugue Gets the DJ Treatment) lets you hear snatches from the Bach Remix competition at the Oregon Bach Festival. The second is an interview with Gabriela Montero,
a Venezuelan classically trained pianist who also improvises on Bach,
among other composers. Interestingly enough, a good place to listen to
“Beyond Bach,” a lovely riff on Bach is her myspace account.