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This library is a central repository for the articles often linked to in Weekly Rampages. If there is an article you'd like to recommend, please email bachmaster@bachorgan.com.


Early Music by Jeffrey Eugenides, The New Yorker, October 10, 2005
"As soon as he came in the front door, Rodney went straight to the music room. That was what he called it, wryly but not without some hope: the music room. It was a small, dogleg-shaped fourth bedroom that had been created when the building was cut up into apartments. It qualified as a music room because it contained his clavichord. There it stood on the unswept floor: Rodney's clavichord. It was apple-green with gold trim and bore a scene of geometric gardens on the inside of its lifted lid. Modelled on the Bodechtel clavichords built in the seventeen-nineties, Rodney's had come from the Early Music Store, in Edinburgh, three years ago." More...

Johann Sebastian Bach: Readings and the Spirit by Ramón Andrés, Goldberg Magazine, Jun 05-Aug 05
"Johann Sebastian Bach's greatness is not restricted to music, in that his achievements rank him as one of the giants of Western culture. As a contemporary of Newton, Leibniz, Vico and Montesquieu, he lived in a Europe undergoing crucial change, a splitting away from the 'old' towards a 'new' world order. His personal outlook is important in understanding this progress towards a new ideology, which in his case allowed him to develop a different approach to music. Anton Webern showed discerning judgement when he maintained that "everything begins and ends" with Bach, and that he had set music upon a path until then unknown." More...

Forgotten Bach Aria Turns Up in Shoebox by Luke Harding in Berlin and Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian, June 8, 2005
"For three centuries it was hidden in an old shoebox, concealed beneath a couple of blank pages. But yesterday music experts across the world were hailing the discovery of a previously unknown work by the German composer and genius of the baroque era, Johann Sebastian Bach. The work, for a soprano and harpsichord, was written in October 1713 as a birthday present for Bach's patron, Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar." More...

In the footsteps of the young Johann Sebastian Bach by Aldo J. Baggia, The Diapason, July 2001
"Following Bach's footsteps in the northwestern part of Thüringen proved to be an interesting experience, because it showed how attached he was to the area. The ancestors of his family lived in Wechmar, a very small village forty kilometers from Eisenach. Veit Bach, the great-great-grandfather of Johann Sebastian, established his home there in the sixteenth century after having left Hungary because of religious persecution. Along with his son, Hans, he owned a bakery and a mill; the ancestral home is a half-timbered house, now a museum, with ample cooking space suitable for a baker. The house is in the heart of the village and is now its focal point as well." More...

Bach ground: Unique tuning of new Goshen College organ reverberates through classical music world by Marilyn Odendahl, The Truth, March 22, 2005
"Perched in the balcony, the new organ at Goshen College looks as majestic as any other but its sound may be closer to what Johann Sebastian Bach heard during his lifetime. The organ, installed in December, is tuned to a system that Goshen College alumnus Bradley Lehman claims was developed and favored by the Bach family. This is the first organ in the world tuned to the Bach-Lehman system. Moreover, with organ building being what it is, the tuning system is pretty much a permanent fixture to that instrument and, as word of the new temperament circulates, the organ and its tuning could be toasted or roasted in the musical world." More...
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Dietrich Buxtehude by Stephen Rose, Goldberg Magazine, Dec 04-Jan 05
"In 1705 the young Johann Sebastian Bach walked to Lübeck to hear Dietrich Buxtehude play the organ. Bach was twenty at the time and holding his first full job, as organist in the small Thuringian town of Arnstadt. He asked for four weeks' leave but stayed away for almost four times as long, much to the annoyance of his employers. The travelling--nearly three hundred miles each way--would have taken a few weeks, but there were several further reasons for Bach to stay in Lübeck." More...

The Career Path of J. S. Bach; from Arnstadt to Leipzig by Bill Morelock, Minnesota Public Radio, April 26, 2005
"Geniuses are different from you and me, and we often make them more remote by casting them in cold plaster, portraying them as saints and explaining their work as an intervention of God....Then again, maybe we can take a particular pleasure and even gain some insight watching this otherworldly fellow plod along in ways we can all understand. It might make the achievements seem all the more astonishing." More...

PIPE ORGAN 'COLLAPSE' -- Europe faces loss of historic instruments by Michael Woods, Toledo Blade, April 24, 2005
"King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella gave Christopher Columbus a hero's welcome when he returned to the royal court here [Barcelona] in 1493 after that first voyage to the New World. Thousands gawked as Columbus and his crew paraded down the main street with Indians, parrots, gold nuggets, and other bounty. At Mass in the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar, refrains from the musical instrument associated with divinity - a pipe organ - solemnized the event and seemingly brought heaven's blessing to Earth. It is a role that organs have played in occasions, historic and humble, for centuries. Now a mysterious epidemic of organ failure threatens to silence some of continental Europe's greatest instruments. With pipe organs regarded not only as musical instruments, but bearers of history and culture, the European Union has mounted a research effort to save the endangered voices." More...

Pipe Organs 105: What is 'Organ Music'? by Steve Thomas, LawrencePhelps.com
"Before we try to understand what organ music is, we should first think about what music itself is. Music is complex- we hear sound vibrations with our ears, but it's much more than mere sound. Sound is from the outside in, music, from the inside out. It transforms our mood, our view of the world. Music is universal; it is not bound by spoken language. We respond to it from infancy, we strive to fill our lives with it. To live without music is to live impoverished." More...

About the Men Who Wrote the Music in Your Life: BACH by Delos Smith, Woman's Day, July 1954
"Bach, the German word for brook, was the name of several score related musicians, most of them christened John, who flourished for more than two centuries. In some of the small German towns where they plied their trade--to most of them music was a trade, like bricklaying--the word bach came to mean musician." More...

A final note: Retiring organ maker is crafting his last elegant instruments by Bob Keefer, The Register-Guard, November 28, 2004
"John Brombaugh may be building his last organ. The Glenwood pipe organ maker, whose instruments grace churches and concert halls from Japan to Sweden, is putting the finishing touches on a matched set of pipe organs, built, like all his instruments, in the style of the great European instruments of the past." More...
Organs by Brombaugh & Associates

The Acolyte - A Chat With the Pianist by Stuart Isacoff, The New York Sun, November 1, 2004
"J.M. Coetzee, the Nobel Prize-winning author, has written of a boring summer afternoon in 1955 when, as a 15-year-old in Cape Town, he was frozen in his tracks by the musical sounds emanating from a neighbor's house. 'I dared not breathe,' he remembered. 'I was being spoken to by the music as music had never spoken to me before.' The work was Johann Sebastian Bach's 'Well-Tempered Clavier.' That afternoon in the garden, he declared, everything changed.'" More...

Pulling Out All the Stops by Nathan Fisher, Shore Publishing LLC, October 7, 2004
"In 1969, Dutch organist and builder Dirk Andries Flentrop came to town with a new approach to a very old instrument. In a time when many organists were embracing the electronics that could ease the construction of pipe organs, Flentrop was looking back to the mechanical methods of 17th and 18th baroque instruments that Bach mastered. The organ he built in Branford's Congregational Church has just been through a three-year restoration process, and the church is ready to unveil this wall of sound to congregants sounding better than ever." More...
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A "Pipe Dream" Comes True: New Pipe Organ for Larchmont Avenue Church by Joan R. Simon, Larchmont Gazette, September 30, 2004
"I think I now know the meaning of a 'pipe dream,'" said David Brandom, a Larchmont musician and chair of the Organ Implementation Committee at the Larchmont Avenue Church, as he introduced the new Konzelman pipe organ to the congregation on Sunday, September 26. Reverend Bill Crawford, pastor at LAC, added his accolades from the pulpit. "Such gifts of music stir and lift us, awaken and inspire us," he said, adding that it is "such a beautiful sound, indeed a joyful noise." More...
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The rise of new Christianity by Angela Shanahan, The Age, April 12, 2004
This will come to be seen as the century in which religion replaced ideology, writes Angela Shanahan. At no other time of the year does the great divide in Australia between the secular majority and diminishing Christian minority seem so apparent as at Easter. Those who say Christianity is dead or dying might, on the face of it, have a point. There is widespread disillusionment with the established church, and secularism encourages a view of religion that would exculpate its influence from the public domain. More...
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What Bach Could Have Taught Spinoza About Judaism by Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo, Jewish World Review, February 24, 2004
Arnold Toynbee, the great, though slightly anti-Semitic historian of this century is quoted as saying that "history is the tragedy of what could otherwise have been." When contemplating this comment, we wonder what would have happened if Johann Sebastian Bach, (1685-1750), genius musician and composer would have met Benedictus (Baruch) Spinoza (1632-1677), world renowned philosopher, a Jew by birth and foremost critic of Judaism. More...
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Pessimism Can't Keep Music Down by Katie Dean, Wired News, March 19, 2004
Music is not knocking at death's door, contrary to the canned doom-and-gloom predictions from the recording industry. Instead, it's enjoying a golden age because missteps by the big labels have provided opportunities for independent musicians and entrepreneurs to steer the industry in a new direction, said Mark Cuban, co-founder of Broadcast.com and now owner of the Dallas Mavericks and president of HDNet. More...
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Education May Not Be the Answer by Mark Gongloff, CNN/Money, February 23, 2004
Alan Greenspan and President Bush believe the best response to the movement of U.S. jobs offshore is the same thing it's always been: educating U.S. workers so they can get better-paying jobs. But some people losing jobs overseas are already highly educated, and some economists doubt education will fully ease the pain -- American workers may have to learn to live with lower wages, or policy makers may have to come up with other ideas. More...

The Great Library of Amazonia by Gary Wolf, Wired, December 2003
The fondest dream of the information age is to create an archive of all knowledge. You might call it the Alexandrian fantasy, after the great library founded by Ptolemy I in 286 BC. Through centuries of aggressive acquisition, the librarians of Alexandria, Egypt, collected hundreds of thousands of texts. None survives. During a final wave of destruction, in AD 641, invaders fed the bound volumes and papyrus scrolls into the furnaces of the public baths, where they are said to have burned for six months. "The lesson," says Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, "is to keep more than one copy." More...
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Spread the gospel by Neil McIntosh, The Guardian, July 3, 2003
It's Thursday evening, in a stuffy conference room at the Harvard law school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and weblogging champion Dave Winer is holding court. This is a corner of America famous for the Boston tea party, which ignited America's war of independence. And this little group of students and weblogging enthusiasts is talking about sparking what they claim will be another revolution - this time in politics and journalism, delivered by the power of the web. More...
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Churches Find 'Purpose' With Book's Help by Jodi Noffsinger, Fox News, November 11, 2003
This fall, in churches throughout America, worshippers are hitting the books to search for answers to the question: "What on Earth am I here for?" But it's not the book you might think of. Last month, over 4,000 churches began a 40-day campaign to explore the ideas about faith and the meaning of life presented in Rick Warren's bestseller, "The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?" More...
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Dirk Flentrop, Builder of Organs, Dies at 93 by Craig R. Whitney, The New York Times, December 14, 2003
Dirk A. Flentrop, a Dutch organ builder who influenced a generation of American counterparts in making pipe organs that play and sound like the classical Baroque instruments of Bach's time, died at his home in Santpoort, the Netherlands, on Nov. 30, his company, Flentrop Orgelbouw, announced. He was 93. Mr. Flentrop headed the company, which is based in Zaandam, from 1940 to 1976. He took over from his father, Hendrik Flentrop, an organist who founded the company in 1903. More...

To fill with wonder by Edwin Starner, The Christian Science Journal, September 1997
With few exceptions, as Christians enter their churches for worship and as they leave at the conclusion of the service, they will hear music being played from the organ or piano. The practice of using musical instruments in the worship of God, however, predated the Christian era. It is recorded in the Bible that the purpose of the music was "to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord. More...

For a Medieval Cathedral, a Made-in-America Organ by Mark Landler, New York Times, November 28, 2003 (REGISTRATION REQUIRED)
LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Nov. 25 ‹ Jean-Christophe Geiser is not taking any chances. When he inaugurates a new pipe organ at the cathedral here next week, his first piece will be a prelude by Bach, who is to organ music what Verdi is to opera. "We've got to show people that the instrument can play Bach," said Mr. Geiser, a dapper, well-spoken man who works as a lawyer when he is not playing the organ in this 13th-century Gothic cathedral. More...

Mine Is Bigger Than Yours by Alan Farnham, Forbes Magazine, October 6, 2003 (REGISTRATION REQUIRED)
What kind of obsession would induce a man to order an 8,000-pipe organ for his living room? Robert Ridgeway, curator for Jasper Sanfilippo's collection of musical devices, recalls the reaction of a first-time visitor to the Sanfilippo estate in Barrington Hills, Ill. The guest, a wealthy Japanese businessman, happened to love theater organs and had heard that Sanfilippo owned a doozy. The man admired the estate's long driveway. He admired its vestibule. But when the doors to the music room were at last thrown open, says Ridgeway, the man exclaimed, "Oh! Emperor not live like this!" More...

'Brain itch' keeps songs in the head by BBC News, October 29, 2003
Research in the US has found that songs get stuck in our heads because they create a "brain itch" that can only be scratched by repeating the tune over and over. In Germany, this type of song is known as an "ohrwurm" - an earworm - and typically has a high, upbeat melody and repetitive lyrics that verge between catchy and annoying. More...

Piano Tuner Blues by Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2003
A note about piano tuners: They often are not in accord. Tuners can't agree whether their ranks resonate with talent or reek of the tone-deaf. A professional guild sets the bar for training, but most tuners won't join it. Many are sharply critical of how piano owners treat their instruments ‹ and their tuners. Others flatly don't care, as long as the customer pays scale. And nothing stirs more dissonance in the do-re-mi trade than the debate over tuning by ear versus tuning by technology. More...

The Pipes Are Gone but the Organ Resounds; Its Organ Damaged on 9/11, Trinity Church Tries High Technology's Authentic Wheezes by James R. Oestreich, New York Times, September 10, 2003
Concert settings around the city for decades have had to endure the shake, rattle and rumble of subways passing nearby. The new Zankel Hall -- in the Carnegie Hall basement, with a subway nine feet away -- will soon carry the skirmish to a new front, reportedly well defended with sound insulation. But the historic Trinity Church, at the foot of Wall Street, is preparing to fight back. "We'll be rattling the subways," said Owen Burdick, the church's director of music, as he listened to a mighty crescendo in an early test of an innovative digital organ, just built and installed there by Marshall & Ogletree of Needham Heights, Mass. More...

The Sonic Boon: New Organ is Digital, Realistic, and Powerful, but Is It Sacred? by Nathan Brockman, Trinity News, August 13, 2003
After suffering damage when the dust, ash, and smoke of the destroyed World Trade Center buildings coated it inside and out, the Trinity Church pipe organ is being replaced. The new instrument is a digital superpower, comprised of consoles, computer code, garrisons of hefty amplifiers -- and a disclaimer in the hearts and minds of its creators and hosts: this is not a pipe organ. More...

Black Hole Hums Deepest Note Ever Detected WASHINGTON, Reuters, September 9, 2003
Big black holes sing bass. One particularly monstrous black hole has probably been humming B flat for billions of years, but at a pitch no human could hear, let alone sing, astronomers said this week. "The intensity of the sound is comparable to human speech," said Andrew Fabian of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge, England. But the pitch of the sound is about 57 octaves below middle C, roughly the middle of a standard piano keyboard. More...

Brain machine 'improves musicianship' BBC News, July 24, 2003
Scientists have created a technique that dramatically improves the performance of musicians. The system - called neurofeedback - trains musicians to clear their minds and produce more creative brain waves. More...

What to Do After All of Bach? More Bach by James R. Oestreich, New York Times, March 9, 2003
He may have been a late substitution, but he was hardly a poor man's choice. The English organist Christopher Herrick was one of the few people qualified to step in after the death of the New York organist Donald Joyce in March 1998. Joyce had been scheduled to play Bach's organ works -- all 200 or so of them -- at the Lincoln Center Festival that July. More...

Two Careers, in Perfect Harmony by Adam Bernstein, Washington Post, March 9, 2003
To Gene Livesay, the organ had a grand and magical appeal. As a child, he saw the instrument while attending services at First Christian Church of Tulsa. But he really was impressed when the large organ at the local movie house rose to stage level, from the depths of the building, moments before the silent picture show. Back at home, he carefully placed toy blocks on a desk and pretended they were organ keys and stops. For most of his life, Livesay did not have to make believe. He spent 41 years as organist at Cherrydale United Methodist Church in Arlington, literally playing a part in some of the most meaningful rituals of community life. More...

Time to Rid Orchestras of the Shakes by Roger Norrington, New York Times, February 16, 2003
Are there any frontiers left for what used to be called the early-music movement? As it swept the field in Monteverdi, Bach and the like in the 1960's and 70's, the movement became closely identified with period instruments. In recent decades, period bands, playing in what is now called historically informed style, have been expanding their terrain to include Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn and even later composers. But the performance of early music has always been more about how you approach and play the music than about what you play it on, and historically informed practice has long since progressed into the mainstream. Many of the key elements that once embarrassed "modern" performers -- tempo, orchestral seating, bow speed, articulation -- are now almost taken for granted. It is rare to come across a really slow andante movement in a Mozart symphony. The great remaining question is the sound orchestras made in the Romantic era. More...

Spotlight On: Will W. Rogers from actorsphere, inc. website
Longtime Actorsphere member, Will W. Rogers, manages to balance a busy acting career with several other creative talents: painting, screen writing and directing. "The Trail of Tears through the Eyes of Cherokee artist Will W. Rogers" will be on exhibit at the Chieftain's Trail/Ridge Home near Rome, Georgia, January 25th through March 1st. He will have 16 watercolors on display. This series, "The Trail of Tears," will focus on the Cherokee Removal. His Great-Great-Grandmother made the historic march in November of 1839. The show includes a series of eight paintings along with three paintings of Native Dancers. The exhibit also includes a study for a painting that was auctioned in Oklahoma called "The Young Soldier." This piece represents the story of a sixteen year old Union soldier who was wounded and later died in a distant cousin's barn. Amanda Cleveland McGhee and one her daughters buried him. There is now a plaque that states 'Here lies an unknown Union Soldier, Age 16, who died April 1864'. This is in the Spring Place Cemetery near the McGhee graves.

Artist Depicts Trail of Tears in Exhibit Kevin Bowen, News-Tribune, Rome, GA (276K JPG file)
Will Wiley Rogers may not be the most famous Will Rogers to roll out of the dry flatlands of Oklahoma, but he certainly hopes to have a similarly giant effect on people's lives. The federally-recognized Cherokee doesn't have the gift of gab of one of America's most widely quoted wags. But he does hope to make a strong statement with his paint and brush. More...

JUST FORUM #2: Temperament as Culture TANIMURA Koh (chairman, Japan Soundscape Association)
Along with the late HIRASHIMA Tatsuji, TANIMURA Kou has long researched temperament. Their findings were presented in academic meetings, and eventually published in a book they co-authored, Exceptional Music Education, Objectionable Music Education. While Hirashima set out to negate equal temperament from the perspective of natural science, Tanimura dealt with the issue of culture as it affects temperament, and became an outspoken critic of the way music is taught in Japan. In the second part of the Just Forum series, which deals with a variety of topics related to temperament, Tanimura offers his unique perspective on the subject. More...

(Renewed Link) Researchers Find Brain Center of Music Appreciation Friday, December 13, 2002, Washington (AP)
Sounds from the radio slip into a melody and suddenly your mind skips back to an evening of moonlight and romance and happy times. It happens to everybody, but until now science was unsure just why. A new study by researchers at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, suggests that recalling that melody is the job of a part of the brain known as the rostromedial prefrontal cortex. It is the part that remembers music and is even able to recognize a sour note in the midst of a familiar tune. More...

Church Offers Musical Solace During Advent by Beth Anderson, The Tribune of Ames, Iowa
During the hectic, jarring pace of the holiday season, there is a place of respite in Ames. Each Thursday evening before Christmas, the First Christian Church opens its doors for the holiday-weary to slip quietly into the pews. There, for a few minutes or an hour, downtown workers and community members can find a place of relaxation and musical solace during the Advent Refreshers. "It is not a performance, but a meditation," said Lois Miller, the church's organist who, with guest musicians, fills the evening with classical piano and Christmas favorites. "During the holidays, people are so pressed for time," Miller said. "They are bombarded with so many things to do - but the least of those things is silence. Music offers that and more." For Miller, the Advent Refreshers are a gift to the people of Ames out of her own love of music. More...

Real Time by Gary Stix, Scientific American
More than 200 years ago Benjamin Franklin coined the now famous dictum that equated passing minutes and hours with shillings and pounds. The new millennium--and the decades leading up to it--has given his words their real meaning. Time has become to the 21st century what fossil fuels and precious metals were to previous epochs. Constantly measured and priced, this vital raw material continues to spur the growth of economies built on a foundation of terabytes and gigabits per second. More...

Whisper to a Roar, With 6,019 Pipes by Chris Pasles, Los Angeles Times
Eighty feet above the limestone floor of L.A.'s new cathedral, John Ourensma crouches over a row of organ pipes. Pulling one out of its wooden rack, he narrows its cone-shaped base with a brass tool that looks a little like a candle snuffer. Replacing the pipe, he pulls a walkie-talkie to his mouth. "Try it now," he says. Suddenly a blast of air sends a shatteringly loud middle C into the confines of the narrow workspace. More...

(Renewed Link) Sunday Spectator: Organ Music by David Warren, Ottawa Citizen
I know little or nothing about music, as I am about to reveal. "But I know what I like," as grandfather used to say. I had the good luck the other day to lay down a reckless amount of money and obtain a box with 12 CDs containing all the organ works by Johann Sebastian Bach, played by the late Helmut Walcha on the Great Organ of St. Laurenskerk at Alkmaar in the Netherlands, and on the Silbermann Organ in the Church of Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune at Strasbourg -- all nicely remastered using the latest recording technology. More...

Traces of Genius: Is Art Sullied by Technology? by Charles Paul Freund, Reason magazine
Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) has long been regarded as the outstanding American painter of the 19th century; his dramatically lit portraits have even given him a reputation as the American Rembrandt. So in the 1990s, when researchers started surmising that Eakins had sometimes made use of photographic images, there was a sense of foreboding among art historians. Two years ago, when ever-closer examination of Eakins' paintings made it undeniable that he actually "traced" photographic images projected onto his canvases, there was disbelief. One Eakins scholar, on hearing the evidence, literally put his hands over his ears. Our Rembrandt...a tracer? More...

(Renewed Link) Britney Should Replace Bach: German Minister from The Times of India Online
GRONAU, Germany: Britney Spears should start taking the place of Beethoven and Bach in German schools, according to Culture Minister Julian Nida-Ruemelin. More...

The Abolition of Work by Bob Black
Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost any evil you'd care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working. More...

Charting the unchurched in America by Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY
SEATTLE - Americans almost all say religion matters, yet more people than ever are opting out. Not just out of the pews. Out from under a theological roof altogether. In 2001, more than 29.4 million Americans said they had no religion - more than double the number in 1990, and more than Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopalians all added up - according to the American Religious Identification Survey 2001 (ARIS). More...

Johann Sebastian Bach -THE COMPLETE CANTATAS project, General Introduction by Jan Koster
Everybody knows Bach, few people know his cantatas, and almost nobody knows them all. Bach wrote more than 300 cantatas during his life, of which about two-fifths are lost. These losses are due to the fact that only one of Bach's cantatas was printed during his lifetime and to the circumstances and peculiarities of Bach's legacy. Bach wrote quite a few secular cantatas, but most of his cantatas were written for the Lutheran church service and, naturally, involve a lot of texts related to that service. They also involve pompous and moralistic poetry that is often hard to appreciate for us at the end of the twentieth century. More...

AGOnLine: The American Organist's Monthly Tour of the Internet by John H. Nisbet
Dan Long of New York City has created a new Web site devoted to J.S. Bach. More...

Bach and the Patterns of Invention by Laurence Dreyfus reviewed by Bernard D. Sherman
Two images, says Laurence Dreyfus, recur in the literature about J. S. Bach. The first sees Bach as, to quote Dreyfus, "a godlike creator" whose "miraculous works resound in a beatific harmony....suffused with an air of mystery." This approach appealed to biographers near the turn of the last century, like Albert Schweitzer. The second image caught on in our era; its proponents describe Bach's music with "the language of chemistry," displaying "a penchant for properties, analysis, synthesis, and balance." Though Dreyfus acknowledges the faults of the first image, he thinks that the second has its own weaknesses. It often fails to convey a sense of Bach as an "active persona," or of his music as "the work of an extraordinary mind devising extraordinary inventions." More...

Coming to Fresh Terms with the Sacred in Bach by Bernard D. Sherman
KEN BURNS'S latest documentary, "Jazz," some critics have argued, implies that you have to be black to make great jazz. But long before such notions surfaced in the jazz world, the classical-music world was making its own claims about the importance of coming from the right stock. As recently as a few decades ago, a Viennese musicologist said that only "a born Viennese" could get a Strauss waltz right. Critics called Carlo Maria Giulini too Italianate for Brahms and Pablo Casals not English enough for Elgar. More...

Rifkin's Pesky Idea by Bernard D. Sherman
My friend Carole loves Latin-texted sacred music, but she didn't like Bach's B Minor Mass. The choral recordings in her collection, she said, didn't convey what she calls the "true feeling of the mass." Out of curiosity, I sent her a tape dubbed from Joshua Rifkin's 1982 recording, with one singer per part. More...

The Gospel According to J. S. Bach by Uwe Siemon-Netto
(Two hundred fifty years ago, he was known as a civil servant, a coffee drinker, and a second-rate composer. Today, his music is Christianity incarnate.)
Bach has been a part of my life since I was four years old, when my mother first took me to Thomaskirche, Bach's primary workplace in Leipzig, Germany. Leipzig is where I was born and where Bach died, in 1750, after two botched eye operations. He had lived there for 27 years, during which he wrote the Art of Fugue, the Passions of St. Matthew and St. John, and most of his 300 cantatas (only 190 of which have survived). More...

J. S. Bach in Japan by Uwe Siemon-Netto
Twenty-five years ago when there was still a Communist East Germany, I interviewed several boys from Leipzig's Thomanerchor, the choir once led by Johann Sebastian Bach. Many of those children came from atheistic homes. "Is it possible to sing Bach without faith?" I asked them. "Probably not," they replied, "but we do have faith. Bach has worked as a missionary among all of us." During a recent journey to Japan I discovered that 250 years after his death Bach is now playing a key role in evangelizing that country, one of the most secularized nations in the developed world. More...

Majority in U.S. See Decline in Religion's Influence, Poll Shows -Associated Press
WASHINGTON - The public's belief that religion is playing an increasing role in American life grew sharply in the months after Sept. 11, but now has slipped back again, a poll found.