Category Archives: Music

J. S. Bach

I finished this book awhile ago.  It was quite readable and appropriately brief.  Bach was a superior musician who knew he was superior and was usually at the mercy of people who didn’t know enough to appreciate him.  He didn’t always respond well to such circumstances, and when he was younger probably caused himself some trouble.

I found it interesting that the book mentioned two authorities Bach had to wrangle with who opposed his musical and educational efforts.

The first was a “pietist” pastor–the continental version of a Puritan.  He was suspicious and hostile to exceptional music in church.  (To the extent that such artistry got in the way of congregational participation, I could be sympathetic to this, but I don’t think that was his issue.)  The second was an enlightenment-oriented school master, who thought that music was a waste of time and that education should be focused on science and economically productive skills.

I can’t help but suspect that what these two people had in common reveals something important about Puritanism, the Enlightenment, and the surpising roots and fruits of secularism.