Friday, June 21, 2019

Bach passed away just before finishing his last fugue, and didn't write his usual inscription to God (his son did it for him)

A friend wrote to me:

“Bach finished each of his manuscripts with the words Soli Deo gloria—“Glory to God alone.” He failed, however, to write these words on his last manuscript, “Contrapunctus 14,” from The Art of Fugue, which abruptly stops mid-measure. His son C.P.E. added these words to the score: “Über dieser Fuge … ist der Verfasser gestorben” (“At this point in the fugue … the composer died”). Bach’s life and work merged with his prayers as he breathed his last breath.”

I am told this comes from Arthur C. Brooks in the Atlantic.  I coukdn't find that, but he does connect Bach to the modern "free market" in music, like Washington Post article here (and how composers work today). 

The piece is in D minor according to my piano.  It ends abruptly, midstream, as the composer died, but before the last quiet chord.
Glenn Gould, who was a popular Bach pianist in the early 1960s on Columbia records (he used piano, not harpsichord, especially the five "piano concertos".) 

Bach had many children and composed every week for church services for a living.  In a sense, he had a permanent commission.  Today's composers should be so lucky. 

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