The Universality of J.S. Bach

By Barry Kempton

I’m sure there are a few people out there to disprove the theory (aren’t there always!), but doesn’t just about everybody love the music of Johann Sebastian Bach? Just in the last weeks I’ve heard Pekka Kuusisto play Bach with accordionist Dermot Dunne in the new Ordway Concert Hall, numerous finalists in our Student Schubert Competition playing Bach on the cello, violin, piano and guitar, and the extraordinary Jay Gilligan performing the most amazing juggling choreography with Kuusisto’s rendition of the Chaconne from the D minor Partita for solo violin. Not to mention listening to the St. Matthew Passion over the past weekend.

Not only do we all appear to love Bach’s music, but his influence on composers and performers from the days he lived right up to the present day is probably greater than any other composer – at least in the realm of Western classical music.

There is no better opportunity to experience the musical impact of Bach than Stephen Prutsman’s upcoming concert titled “Bach and Forth.” Stephen’s program alternates between short keyboard works by Bach (many – but not all – from The Well-Tempered Clavier) and music by an extraordinary range of musicians he influenced. They include Jean-Philippe Rameau (Bach’s 18th century contemporary), 19th century musicians Beethoven and Wagner and a wonderful spread of 20th century artists from Debussy to Charlie Parker to Uzbek and Rwandan music.

Join us at 7:30pm on Friday, April 24th at Bedlam Lowertown, right opposite Saint Paul’s Union Depot for “Bach and Forth,” the last of this season’s Schubert Club Mix presentations. Tickets are available online.