Wednesday, November 29, 2023

"To the Glory of God Alone": J. S. Bach and His Music

When I played on a brass octet in Germany in 1978, we played many of Bach's pieces. 

Bach, in his many compositions, was tapping into the Universal Harmony that's found both horizontally and vertically as a simultaneous experience. You can find one of his fugues in the forest and in the fields, in the streams and in the oceans, in a snowflake or in a raindrop. Universal music is present for anyone to hear in any era. But most in our churches are too distracted with pedestrian, rote, predicable, boring noise. It's amazing to think that Bach's music is hundreds of years old. I love classical music and started listening to it around the age of 5. I've performed enough Bach to be constantly amazed by his ability to connect the soul with God. Bach was not only a musical and textual genius, but he played with musical possibilities in an incredible and overwhelming way. His Toccata and Fugue in D Minor never fails to send chills down my spine. Its profundity and beauty are magnificent. Bach, as our octet director would often say, was the composer's composer. He always seemed to remember that he was writing music for the glory of God, not just exercises. This is the mark of all true church music, then or now. Pity our churches that they have to endure such pablum.