chapter  8
14 Pages

‘Bach Today’ 1

The presence of Bach as a composer that one can listen to directly was not natural to nineteenth-century ears. The case of 'great names', such as Bach's in music or Rembrandt's and van Gogh's in painting, is complex. The use of Bach continually changes 'his' music. Only a very small portion of this music was known and played, with different aspects being accentuated each time, and it was subject to exceedingly varied interpretations. A certain use of Bach strove towards this transformation of musical taste in a surprisingly explicit way. As for Bach, his music has only two reasons for lasting: to aid in instrumental pedagogy and to provide a formal model for composition. The over-historicisation of Bach as a dated producer of his manuscripts occurs at the expense of a chronic under-historicisation of Bach as object of the melomania.