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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Wednesday, July 31

Bach at rest

Synopsis

Two or three days after his death on July 28, 1750, the final rites were held in Leipzig, in St. John’s Church, for Johann Sebastian Bach, considered by many the greatest composer who ever lived. Bach was buried in the churchyard of St. John’s. In 1894, his remains were discovered during excavations and were reburied inside.

Although not unappreciated in his lifetime, and not completely forgotten for nearly a century as myth would have it (Mozart and Beethoven both revered him), it’s true that Bach’s real stature was not fully recognized by the wider public until Felix Mendelssohn’s famous revival performance of Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” in Berlin in 1829.

And since Mendelssohn’s 19th century revival, Bach’s Passion settings and cantatas have been staged as operas or ballets in the 20th and 21st. His music has survived arrangements for solo piano, full symphony orchestra, Moog synthesizer, authentic “period” instruments, Japanese koto orchestra, shakuhachi flute, and the various jazz stylings of the Swingle Singers and the late pianist of the Modern Jazz Quartet, John Lewis.

However it was adapted or altered by the passing fashion or fads of the day, Bach’s music continues to touch whoever plays it or listens to it.

Music Played in Today's Program

J.S. Bach (1685-1750) St. Matthew Passion SW German Madrigal Chorus; Wolfgang Gönnenwein, cond. EMI Classics 79544

J.S. Bach (1685-1750) arr. Chris Brubeck Variations on Themes by Bach Joel Brown, guitar; London Symphony; Joel Revzen, cond. Koch International 7485

Additional Information

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