March 24, 2005

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

As I was unable to note at the time, being away, March 21 was the anniversary of the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach (born that day in 1685).

Bach has always had a very special influence on me. And I'm not the only one. There is the story of the man who was so infatuated with Bach that he decided he had to go to St. Thomas' Church, Leipzig, and dig up Bach's remains, just so he could see them.

The man makes the trip to Germany and, one night, sneeks into St. Thomas' with pick-axe, shovel and lantern. After a strenuous hour's work, he uncovers Bach's casket. Upon prizing open the lid, the man is astounded to see Bach sitting there, furiously erasing sheet after sheet of music.

As the man stands agape, Bach glances up and says: "Shut the lid, you fool! Can't you see I'm decomposing!"


All fooling aside, go here for a nifty website round up of All Things Johann Sebastian, including this fascinating little piece on some of the issues of historically informed performance, in which the author tries to find some middle ground between the highly polarized proponents and opponents of this movement.

Posted by Robert at March 24, 2005 02:25 PM

"Decomposing Composers"
From Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album.
Written by Michael Palin and John du Prez.
Sung by Michael Palin.

Beethoven's gone. but his music lives on,
And Mozart don't go shoppin' no more,
You'll never meet Liszt or Brahms again,
And Elgar doesn't answer the door.

Schubert and Chopin used to chuckle and laugh,
Whilst composing a long symphony,
But one hundred and fifty years later,
There's very little of them left to see.

They're decomposing composers,
There's nothing much anyone can do,
You can still hear Beethoven,
But Beethoven cannot hear you.

Handel and Haydn and Rachmaninov,
Enjoyed a nice drink with they're meal,
But nowadays no-one will serve them,
And their gravy is left to congeal.

Verdi and Wagner delighted the crowds,
With their highly original sound,
The pianos they played are still working,
But they're both six feet underground.

They're decomposing composers,
There's less of them every year,
You can say what you like to Debussy,
But there's not much of him left to hear.

Claude Achille Debussy, died 1918.
Christophe Willebald Gluck, died 1787.
Carl Maria von Weber, not at all well 1825, died 1826.
Giacomo Meyerbeer, still alive 1863, not still alive 1864.
Modeste Mussorgsky, 1880 going to parties, no fun anymore 1881.
Johan Nepomuk Hummel, chatting away nineteen to the dozen with his mates down the pub every evening 1836, 1837 nothing.

Sorry... I couldn't resist.

Posted by: lemuel at March 25, 2005 09:37 AM
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