9th Biennial Conference on Baroque Music


Bach at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century

Hans-Joachim Schulze

Bach-Archiv, Leipzig, Germany

Whenever the sources are silent about something, fantasy can roam. And so the numerous areas open to conjecture are thoroughly exploited, and increasingly so in recent times. As a result, an image of Bach has arisen that portrays the Thomascantor as a kind of hybrid of Leonardo, Newton, Leibnitz, Goethe, and Einstein, or even has him surpassing these. The disciples of this way of thinking are not aware of the embarrassing similarity of such a super-human artistic figure to certain heroes whose doubtful adventures they must have eagerly read in their youth. Similar annoyances prompted Theodor Wiesengrund-Adorno to chide his fellow citizens a half century ago in his irate and at the same time apodictic essay, “Bach defended against his admirers”. The defense against those “admirers” remains at the end of our century a still-timely issue for all concerned with the life and work of the Leipzig Thomascantor.

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Last updated on 18 May 2000 by Yo Tomita