News flash: Johann Sebastian Bach may have been ahead of his time.
Eric Altschuler, a Bach researcher for more than a decade, was a guest today on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition Sunday. He discussed with host Liane Hansen his proposition that Bach used a twelve-tone row a couple of centuries before Arnold Schoenberg revolutionized 20th century music with the device and, I might add, about 250 years before Ornette Coleman employed the atonal row in jazz. To hear the Altschuler interview, complete with musical examples, click on the single arrow in the player below.
There are countless recordings of The Well-Tempered Clavier. For years, I’ve been fascinated with the interpretations by the young Andras Schiff of Book 1 and Book 2.
If you’re interested in going into Bach beyond listening, a recent book by the Canadian musicologist Marjorie Wornell Engells examines the musical language and emotional dimension of The Well-Tempered Clavier.
I suppose you could go through life without learning to love Bach, but I wouldn’t advise it.