(Born at Eisenach on March 21, 1685;
died at Leipsic on July 28, 1750)
No MATTER how well old music may be performed by chorus, orchestra, virtuoso, many audiences are bored by it today. There is one exception: the music of Bach. "He is the forerunner, the prophet that foresaw our epoch and our tastes." This speech is often heard, as is the remark: "There is not one ultra-modern harmonic thought that is not to be found somewhere in Bach's music." Bach is one of the great fetishes in music. The late John S. Dwight really believed in the plenary inspiration of the indefatigable weaver of counterpoint. No matter how formal, how dull a page of music looked or sounded, Mr. Dwight was in ecstasy the moment he was told the page was signed with Bach's name.
Mme Wanda Landowska (in Musique ancienne) says entertainingly: "The idea that the Cantor of Eisenach, though dedicating his music to Frederick the Great and princes of his period, composed it solely with a view to a Châtelet audience is so consecrated a commonplace that I hardly dare to dream of combating it." Von Bülow and others have declared that Bach's Chromatic Fantasy is an anticipation of modern romanticism; but the composers hinted at in this piece are more modern than Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann. Frescobaldi, Buxtehude, Couperin, and the writers for the lute are more modern because they are less known. And Bach not only knew their works but followed them rather than the advanced
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Publication information: Book title: Philip Hale's Boston Symphony Programme Notes:Historical, Critical, and Descriptive Comment on Music and Composers. Contributors: John N. Burk - Editor, Philip Hale - Author. Publisher: Doubleday, Doran. Place of publication: Garden City, NY. Publication year: 1935. Page number: i.
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