ain't baroque! :||
Don't Fix It

Spring forward, fall Bach

My brother is currently a freshman at Peabody, and of course that means an exponential number of concerts for my parents to attend (I think one of the great sacrifices a parent makes during your academic career is the constant attendance of your performances). The latest one was of the Saint-Saens “Organ Symphony.” Apparently it went smashingly well, but it seems at some point during the evening my mother got into it with a music theorist who claims that Bach is not a great composer; that “the theorist thinks Bach is technically adept and emotionally empty. All he sees is musical DNA, no spirit.”

And to that I say: funny, that’s exactly what I would say about Mozart’s chamber pieces, except I would replace “spiritless” with “smug and show-offy.” (To save myself from you Mozartophiles, I will note that he does opera extremely well.) As musicologists almost universally agree that Mozart is among the top three composers of all time, I’m fairly certain that a lot of people disagree with me. But you know who else is a top-three member? Bach. (Also Beethoven, but Beethoven is perfect.)

I enjoy Bach very much, myself, and find his music quite passionate in that controlled Baroque kind of way. You know what I mean–it’s all fire and glory, but caged for an age still bound by strict propriety. So I’m with my mother in her belief that this music theorist is a dope.

Yet it does remind us of the variance of opinion, and leads me to query: what otherwise genius composer are you just not feelin’?

(And if you want to add a literary spin: I hate Faulkner. Discuss!)


Edit: My mother wishes me to note that the music theorist in question was not from Peabody. So there you are.


About Jenn

Despite being the former digital marketing intern at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Jenn German does not like Mozart. Beethoven could've totally beaten him up. Also she has an arts management graduate degree from American University, but this changes nothing.


3 thoughts on “Spring forward, fall Bach

  1. Honestly, John Cage…..4:33 seconds, not an amazing work. I’m totally against composing anything and calling it music. There is a profound difference between modern music and noise. Or in the case of Cage’s legendary work, lack of noise.

    Posted by Jamie Jean | November 2, 2009, 2:20 pm
  2. 1) music theorists are not to be trusted. or believed. or listened to.
    2) yea, o mortals, lo & behold the suffering of arts parents.
    3) bach is the reason there is a tangible universe. period.
    4) who qualifies as a musical genius? cause i can not STAND mendelssohn.

    Posted by Imani | November 2, 2009, 11:50 pm


  1. Pingback: When you play me that jazz hot, baby, it’s holding my soul together « If it ain't Baroque… - November 2, 2009

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