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Forum LockedSPECTACULAR PANORAMA: Bach & Modernity

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RonPrice View Drop Down
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Joined: 13-Aug-2004
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    Posted: 17-Oct-2008 at 23:40
At the age of 64 I have a collection of 21 Bach LPs which I listen to as I write.  I am a poet and writer living in Tasmania and am a retired teacher. I have been listening to Bach’s Trio Sonatas No. 5 & 6 and his six Chorals Praladri for 46 years, since the early 1960s.  These pieces are, of course, from the baroque not the classical period, but such is life.  From time to time I write a prose-poem to place my musical tastes in a personal perspective.  I post this recent literary effort of mine which, as I say, is a personal reflection. It will be seen, I’m sure, as “way out in left field” by some readers here.-Ron Price, Australia

The trio sonata is a musical form which was particularly popular in music’s baroque era(1600-1750), before the birth of Shaykh Ahmad and continuing into the Shaykh’s early life(1753-1793), years which synchronized with classical music’s initial flourishing in the late 18th century.  A trio sonata is written for two solo melodic instruments and basso continuo making three parts in all, hence the name trio sonata.   The basso continuo is played continuously throughout a piece, providing the harmonic structure of the music.  The years from 1725 to 1900 are often considered as the period of the defining tradition of western music. Bach’s Trio Sonatas and much of his other work were written at the start of this defining period.

Bach’s Trio Sonatas, written about 1725, provide the most unencumbered and most mobile vehicle for the creation of divine euphoria in its Dionysian and Apollonian forms.  By 1725 Bach is said to have become a master of a “technique of grace” reflecting the maturity and the summer of his life.  In these sonatas Bach places the accent on melodic liberty and the inspired surge of song.  As the greatest teacher and organist of his day, Bach inspired his students and his intellectual followers to continue his legacy long after his death.  Many of Bach’s pieces have a strong eschatological slant.  The language and the themes in Bach’s works; for example, Macht euch bereit, “make yourselves ready” and “Zion heareth the song of the watchman and her heart leapeth with joy...Her beloved is ready....the celestial banquet,” among many other phrases and sentences--as well as what is often described as a great sense of yearning and a harmonic expressivity in Bach’s works--provide much to inspire the Baha’i and certainly this Bahá’í as I have listened to them over several decades of my pioneering life. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 9 October 2008.

Did he know, well, of course not:
eschatology seems to be one of the
most obscure of theology’s arts..??

And the Shaykhi school of that Ithha-
Ashariyyih sect of Shi’ia Islam with
its allegorical interpretations of the
doctrines of resurrection, return, last
judgement, the unsealing of bottles of
the choice-sealed wines were far, far,
from Bach’s socio-cultural milieux....

But all of this wine was just about to
be drunk in this modern age, foretold
in the Apocalypse, John’s  Revelation
through an angel by Jesus, defying as it
has explanations of ancient symbolism
until our day with tests of spiritual acuity,
with very frustratingly inexact, flexible
method like some gigantic crossword
puzzle which Bach, perhaps, could put
together in his head and hear like some
cosmic music of the spheres, regularity
of planetary movement, a spectacular
panorama of liberty, melody, song and
grace which he heard in the summer and
evening of his earthly and divine life.

Ron Price
9 October 2008

Ron Price is a retired teacher, aged 64(in 2008). He taught for 35 years in primary, secondary and post-secondary schools. He lives with his wife in Tasmania. He has been a Baha'i for 50 years.
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