On the birthday of Robert Schumann (born this day in 1810), Wagner & Heavy Metal goes on its way to Leipzig, the city where Robert Schumann, like Johann Sebastian Bach one century before him, lived and worked for some time. Many composers found themselves under the spell of the contrapuntal finesse of Bach's music and Schumann was one of them. With Schumann's second symphony, perhaps his most Bach-inspired composition, as a soundtrack in the early morning I'm heading for Leipzig, the city of Bach, Mendelssohn and BachFest. A train journey that will take more than seven hours, a travel of considerable lenght but a sign in open air compared to the three days that Bach once walked from Arnstadt to Lübeck to pay Buxtehude, his idol, a visit. Buxtehude who offered the young Johann Sebastian to become his successor as organist of the Marienkirche, requiring that Bach should marry his daughter first (she was a bit old and not so beautiful). The composer/organist had previously made a similar proposal to George Friedrich Händel. Like Händel, Bach politely refused but stayed in Lübeck for almost four months to study Buxtehude's music. It was a time extremely well spent and of considerable influence on Bach the composer. The four months stretched a holiday, that was only supposed to last four weeks, to such an extent that Bach almost lost his job in Arnstadt. Much of the music that Buxtehude wrote (including a lot of vocal church music) has been lost and it is partly thanks to the transcriptions that Bach made during his stay in Lübeck from Buxtehude's compositions that we now know how that music sounded. Nowadays Buxtehude is seen as someone who occupied a unique place in music history, as a composer who had a considerable influence on composers who would eventually surpass him in fame (Bach and Händel) and who was also a contemporary of Heinrich Schütz, the man who is seen as a founding father of lutheran baroque and founder of the Hofkapelle, the later Staatskapelle Dresden (founded in 1548 it is the oldest symphony orchestra in the world). A few cantatas by Schütz will be on the programme on Saturday morning, together with other God-praising works by Telemann and, of course, Bach.
That's for Saturday, tonight BachFest will start, for me, with Johannes Passion, a performance were Bach's oratorio is staged with a ballet. A consortium of disciplines in which clerical music is paired with worldly dance. More to follow.
- Wouter de Moor
For BACH/BLOG see also: