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What would be March 21st without a post on the grand master’s birthday?

If you’re in the western NC area, you’re welcome to come over for some cookies and Bach DVDs. (Send us an email first, please.) If not, here’s a couple offerings:

First, a very helpful quote by Jaroslav Pelikan in Fools for Christ: Essays on the True, the Good, and the Beautiful contrasting the aesthetic of Mr. Bach with that of his Enlightenment contemporaries:

Bach did not believe, with much of the Enlightenment, that the natural mind of itself possessed potentialities for self-realization which rationality and the arts could call forth. Rather he agreed with the words of Lazarus Spengler, ‘All mankind fell in Adam’s fall.’ Since this was the condition of the natural human mind, no exposure to any of the arts, however beautiful, could be expected to change man. In the words of Cantata 18, Bach’s faith declared: ‘My soul’s treasure is the Word of God.’ His whole life and work were a living testimony to his conviction that man could not live by bread or by beauty, but only by the Word that proceeded form the mouth of God. Beauty was demonic if it was not subordinated to the speaking of God. It was not the pathway to the Eternal or the road to joy. True contact with the Eternal, abiding joy, and therefore the only Beautiful with which Bach wanted to live was to be had in the Holy. Cantata 4 voiced his faith: ‘Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands, for our offenses given; but now at God’s right hand He stands and brings us life from heaven. Therefore let us joyful be and sing to God right thankfully loud songs of hallelujah.’ It is symbolic of Bach’s view of the relation between the Holy and the Beautiful that Cantata 1 was an adaptation of Philipp Nicolai‘s ‘How lovely shines the morning star'” (153-54).

Second, you can go to medici.tv right now and watch a free streaming performance the venerable Bach authority Ton Koopman conduct Cantata 110 and the Easter oratorio (here’s hoping that link works; medici.tv will ask you to set up a free account at some point).