Johann Sebastian Bach is 330

Saturday, 21 March, 2015

Today is Bach in the Subways Day. In Leipzig, Los Angeles and Lviv, musicians are going underground to celebrate Johann Sebastian Bach’s 330th birthday and, given that Glenn Gould called Bach the greatest architect of sound, there’s a certain concord to their choosing of echoing spaces. Bach’s music is, in the words of the American musicologist Richard Taruskin, “a medium of truth, not beauty” and nowhere is this more evident than in his Mass in B minor. Initially, the Lutheran Bach took on the task of composing a Catholic Mass for very practical reasons — a job application. But what began as pragmatism turned into one of the benchmarks of Western civilization.

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