Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Seventh Yummish Saint

The Father of both modern music and 20 human beings, the Yummish Council thought it was only appropriate to announce the canonization of the Seventh Yummish Saint on Father's Day (US).

Johann Sebastian Bach

Now one of the best known composers in the world, Johann Sebastian Bach spent his life working in relative anonymity. A sometimes challenging and cantankerous man to those who did not understand his genius, Bach was driven not by the pursuit of fame and wealth but of musical perfection. (Reminds me of someone else I know...)

In his own words, “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”

In addition to his genius as a musician, St. Bach had other Yummish qualities. For example, did we mention that he fathered 20* children? It is safe to say we can guess at least one Yummish activity he enjoyed. As a young man, he was once castigated for taking a young lady into the choir loft, unchaperoned. (Racy!) Another time, St. Bach was accused of nipping out of church to visit the wine cellar during the sermon. (Tell me you've never been tempted to do the same.) We also suspect, based on the following quote, that St. Bach might also have enjoyed interceding with St. Alfred of Peets.

“Bring me a bowl of coffee before I turn into a goat.”

That sounds like someone else I know, but then, who hasn't felt like that on a Monday?

Bach wrote over 1000 pieces of music, both secular and religious. Regarded as both intellectually challenging and emotionally affecting, Bach's work created a bridge from the Baroque music of his day to the modern masters. Beethoven called him “The immortal God of harmony,” and Brahms said “Study Bach: there you will find everything.”

Even beyond the gift of his own compositions, St. Bach gave us the tools that would eventually allow musicians to take music in fabulous, unexpected new directions that had literally not been possible before. Even if you never listen to classical music, you enjoy the results of his pedagogy. Without St. Bach's “The Well-Tempered Clavier” as both an example of and lesson how to navigate the wider and more nuanced “well-tempered” tonal scale, we would never have had The Beatles, Charles Mingus, Hank Williams, Philip Glass, or Lady Gaga, etc. Whether you are aware of it or not, you are hearing Bach's legacy all up and down the dial and all over YouTube.

On this Father's Day, take a moment to remember the man who made possible every album you have ever owned, the father of modern music – St. Bach.

Today's exercise: Get Bach!

Next: Maybe a piece on summer fairs... Which might require research, which would definitely involve a funnel cake. (I <3 Fried Wads of Dough!)

*That was a different, pre-over population, pre-modern medicine era and only half of those children survived to adulthood. (Bach's second wife was 17 years his junior, also like someone else I know. Hmmm...)

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