Bach BWV 82 (for Sunday)


Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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12 Responses

  1. Avatar Chris Baker says:

    Wonderful essay on one of my favorite Bach cantatas. One interesting dynamic to the piece is the simplicity of the resources used. Nothing is wasted. There is no were to hide. The orchestration magnifies the vulnerability of the emotions expressed. To me economy of motion is the greatest demonstration of mastery. This is a perfect example.Report

  2. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    A lovely meditation on the work. Much more than I could have done with a degree in music. Clearly this work plucks a string in your heart; credentials are irrelevant to the communication of the human response to art. If you can feel and express it, that is what matters.Report

  3. Avatar North says:

    A note on your note sir.

    1: there is no such thing as an excessively long post so long as it has a conveniently inserted page break to keep it from flooding the main page and so long as it is engaging and interesting (which this is).

    I’ve often heard your concern about the lack of youth interest in the classic pieces. I’m optimistically not sharing the concern to a great degree. Certainly in the developing world there is a great passion for the classics and in the west while the classics may not have a great mass appeal like they may once have they are survived by modern orchestra which of course stands on the shoulders of the giant classics that came before. Maybe I’ll start worrying if movies, video games and other media start moving en masse away from the orchestral format but right now it strikes me as a stable media.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      Yeah, my worry is perhaps just motivated by loneliness at social gatherings! I’m actually a big believer in culture going through cycles. I figure we’re about due for a cultural shift, so I’m not worried that classical music will die out any time soon either. Surely, one can only take so much Fergie, right?Report

      • Avatar North says:

        My culture snob side agrees heartily, and then I fill with self loathing since I can’t stop listening to those goddamn Lady Gaga songs.Report

        • Avatar Rufus says:

          I have some hope for Ms Gaga, actually, because she claims to greatly admire David Bowie, who certainly made some great albums in his time. I can see it in her clothes and videos, but can’t yet hear it in her songs. I feel like she puts too much creativity into the costumes and not enough into the songs. But, who knows? Her next album could be great and I’ll change my opinion. I’d certainly like to like her.

          The name has to go though.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      I have to agree with North here. Contrary to all the concern about the “greying”of the classical music audience, in my experience audiences I have been a part of have a remarkable variety of hair color to enjoy. When one considers the competition for younger listeners as well as the strain placed on live music attendance by flatter and flatter deivery methods generally, the number of younger people that live classical music seems to be attracting these days is indeed quite encouraging. (This is anecdotal; the numbers may well reveal a much less encouraging picture.) In any case, it seems to me that an older audience should always be the baseline expectation for classical music performance — it is a profoundly conservative genre largely devoted to the appreciation of the work of dead male Europeans and white Americans (with very notable exceptions, of course), which people tend to come to appreciate over the course of a lifetime rather than in one fell swoop as students (as presumable rarities like us did). I’m all for committed inclusion of new music on standard programs, but unfortunately that does not tend to be the course that expands and maintains audiences. On the other hand, self-conscious efforts to ‘popularize’ the artistic product in the context of the serious presentation of art music (‘pops’ concerts are great as long that’s what they’re understood to be) tends in my experience to lead to serious degradation of artistic standards that is quite apparent even those to whom such popularization is aimed.

      The best thing for America’s symphony orchestras and other classical ensembles to do to continue to renew interest among the newer generations is to continue to do what they are for the most part doing: focus on maintaining the quality of the product, cultivate exciting performers, and reach out relentlessly into their communities to reach new audiences. The approach of Maestro Dudamel in Los Angeles from what I have read and heard should serve as a model (not every city will have a Dudamel in the short run of course…), and moreover the promise represented by *The System* from which he emerged should answer any questions about whether classical music is in any way inherently an art form accessible only to the affluent and established cohorts of society. As with so many endeavors that seem to suffer decline and neglect in modern distracted society, all that is really needed to preserve and renew appreciation of great music is a collective effort to do so. I think I see the makings of one in some wise ways that ensembles are reaching out to their audiences in recent years; I hope I am right about that.Report

      • Avatar Rufus says:

        This is all good to hear. I am also glad that groups like Tafelmusik still deliver the purer, uncut stuff, so to speak. They have managed to be both entertaining and true to the music. And I think it’s probably true that you come to this music later in life usually.

        My recurrent cynicism is also no doubt inspired by the town I live in. Hamilton is a really fascinating community, but culturally, it’s lacking something; I’m not entirely sure what. This is probably why I take to the Internet to discuss these subjects!Report

  4. Avatar Mr. Prosser says:

    Marvelous essay. Much too much to scan at 6:20 am on the first workday, but something to look forward to when I get back.Report

    • Avatar Rufus says:

      Thanks. I’d recommend listening to those recordings in the links- it’s youtube, which is about as mangled as it gets, I’d imagine, but still worth hearing in full.Report