Johann Sebastian Bach
When I was studying Music History in my undergrad, I always dreaded the Baroque period. I wasn't sure exactly why but something about the music didn't correspond with my young aesthetic sensibilities. I enjoyed the listening assignments most of the time and found them fascinating, but they never moved me like my favorite pieces do. Perhaps my outsider perspective made the intricacies present in species counterpoint seem unattainable and pretentious...or maybe because, like the weather in public schools, I was forced to study this material ad naseum throughout my musical education. Whatever the reason, J.S. Bach wasn't even in the top twenty of my favorite composers. That all changed however after hearing one piece for the first time.
The balance is exquisite. The original theme is unbelievably beautiful on its own but when paired with its sibling lines, the dissonance and resolution are some of the most incredible I have ever heard. This piece, a 3 Part Invention which was no doubt written for his students, turned out to be my key into Baroque music. It inspired me to study the process and all of Bach's music with new eyes! I do however, still have one more dirty little secret to reveal. When this piece is played on the instrument it is written for, I love it but not nearly as much as I love this version.
This version nearly brings me to tears, every single time I hear it! As does this version! Sinfonia XI starts at 21:05 but listen to them all if you get a chance!
The piano is one of my all time favorite instruments, which is a big statement coming from someone who loves all of them (except for the Erhu...Gross. More on that later probably.), so why do I find the String Trio more moving, and the human voice more moving than that? Maybe its the human voice that connects me on a spiritual level to the genius of the piece and the inherent expressiveness that all strings have over other instruments due to the complete control over pitch, volume and sustenance. I'm still not entirely sure but I hope like me, this piece in one of its 3 presented forms, moves you like it moves me. This wonder in G minor is a pick me up and a constant source of inspiration. If I feel stuck, it somehow always provides a new view and always reminds me how truly amazing the art form that I first loved is.
I hope you have a chance to listen to this as well as others from Bach's Oeuvre of amazing work. This is the first post of many regarding music that I find incredible and inspiring. I'm not going to lie, if I wanted to cover all of it, it would be several lifetimes worth of material, but I hope at least a few will move you too.