Monday, May 9, 2011

Johann Sebastian Bach by Rick Marschall

Bach was born on March 21, 1685 in Germany, born into the Lutheran faith. As a church musician, Bach did not preach about music, his music preached about Christ. He had a personal relationship, not a professional duty, with Christ.

Bach began composing music at the early age of ten. His lifelong studies of the Bible and of Lutheran doctrine were the backbone of his performances. Church music was everywhere, and Bach’s performances were welcomed in churches other than his Lutheran church. His secular works were performed at salons, public houses, gardens, and concert halls. He believed music was easy to understand and hard to explain.

Bach could be funny ‘through’ music, but he was always serious ‘about’ music. His guide was always Martin Luther. He felt it a privilege to serve God by composing music, teaching music, conducting choirs, and arranging worship services. At the time, music played a major role in making the life of everyday people bearable, pleasant, and joyful, and Bach played an important part of that role. He survived many challenges because he adhered to Scripture, while others may have also benefited from doing the same.

Bach was a strong proponent of women singing. This was during a time when women were considered second-class citizens who did not share men’s rights.

Other composers sought out Bach to discuss music and hear him play. When public taste changed, the baroque style of music was felt in churches, concert halls, and opera theaters. Historians have said the closing of the Baroque period was the year Bach died, being the end of an era. The year was 1750, the place still in Germany. He was blind the last four months. In his final days he composed a great fugue based on the letters of his name - B-A-C-H. It was not ‘about’ God but ‘to’ God.

Bach suffered great loss in his life. He fathered twenty children, eleven sadly died. His first wife, Maria, died in 1720. His family was serious; however, they were capable of silliness, sarcasm, and nonsense.

I recommend this book by Rick Marschall to readers of all ages. It educates the reader beyond the usual facts, in this case, music knowledge. He portrayed Bach as a well-rounded musician whose life evolved around Christ. The Appendix and Notes are appreciated and necessary for the musically challenged reader.

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