Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Bach and Religion
Part 8

Continue from Part 7

Bach, music, and religion

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 10, 2012):
Opening statement to the notes by Dr. Ashok D. Ranade to the CD <Sacred Music of India>, released by Silk Road Communications, 2007):

<It is said, and truly so, that all over the world wherever there is religion there is music. But, one may ask, is the reverse equally true?> (end quote).

We have Bachs response to that question, in his marginal note to 2 Chronicles:

<Wherever there is music, there is God.>

No passengers on Spaceship Earth, we are all crew. In one of the early USA rocket launches, associated with SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestial Intelligence) goals, a recording (not a vinyl LP, I trust!) was included. Two of the selections, as I recall, were Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations, and a Chuck Berry tune (perhaps Roll Over Beethoven?). Wags reported that the first words back from Space were <Send more Chuck Berry!>

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 10, 2012):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Two of the selections, as I recall, were Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations, and a Chuck Berry tune (perhaps Roll Over Beethoven?). >
The Bach/Gould is listed this way on Wikipedia:

<Germany/Canada -- The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, Prelude and Fugue No.1 in C major -- Bach Glenn Gould>

The Chuck berry was (is?) Johnny B. Good. Could that be Johnny Bach?

Bruce Simonson wrote (January 12, 2012):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< <Wherever there is music, there is God.>
No passengers on Spaceship Earth, we are all crew. In one of the early USA rocket launches, associated with SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestial Intelligence) goals, a recording (not a vinyl LP, I trust!) was included. Two of the selections, as I recall, were Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations, and a Chuck Berry tune (perhaps Roll Over Beethoven?). Wags reported that the first words back from Space were <Send more Chuck Berry!> >

Carl Sagan, when he asked his colleagues for suggestions on what audio to include on this Voyager disk, got something like this back from Freeman Dyson: "I'd send just Bach ... but that would be showing off."

Incidentally, there were video images too, including this one, one of my favorites: http://re-lab.net/welcome/images/image108.gif

Also, Sagan had audio of children from all over the world, say, in their native language "hello, from the people of planet earth". His son got to say it in English ... it's quite moving, I think to hear this, and realize that it's on its way to the edge of the universe. (Sagan's nephew was in my dorm at college, back in the day).

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 14, 2012):
Bruce Simonson wrote:
< Carl Sagan, when he asked his colleagues for suggestions on what audio to include on this Voyager disk, got something like this back from Freeman Dyson: "I'd send just Bach ... but that would be showing off." >
Thanks for sharing the anecdote, a clever statement.

Anthony Kozar wrote (January 14, 2012):
Bruce Simonson wrote:
< Carl Sagan, when he asked his colleagues for suggestions on what audio to include on this Voyager disk, got something like this back from Freeman Dyson: "I'd send just Bach ... but that would be showing off." >
I've been hearing/reading/thinking about the Voyager Gold records a number of times recently after listening to some RadioLab shows that talk about them. This quote from Dyson is great, btw, thanks :)

One thought I've had is that I'm fairly impressed with the musical selections of the persons who put together the record. Wikipedia points out that Bach is "the most represented artist, appearing three times". With only 27 tracks of music, one could argue that Bach is overrepresented, but
...
None of the selections that I'm familiar with are what I would call "Classical Lite" either. No "Air on the G String" for our alien neighbors. Two of the Bach selections are ones I likely would have chosen myself: Brandenburg no. 2 and Gavotte en Rondeaux from the 3rd Violin Partita. And the third is Gould, so in my NSH opinion, I'd say that they "got it right".

;-)

If you're curious to know more, here are the articles that describe the records:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_Golden_Record
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contents_of_the_Voyager_Golden_Record

Julian Mincham wrote (January 14, 2012):
[To Bruce Simonson & Ed Myskowski] I had always heard this comment attributed to Lewis Thomas who was, I think, a Dean from Yale university. And told slightly differently. When asked what should be put in a space probe to demonstrate the achievements of mankind to an alien civilisation he said' without doubt, 'the complete recorded works of JS Bach' But then he paused and said 'But of course that would be boasting!'

But I looked the guy up and he died well before we sent out any space probes!

Intriguing. It's a wonderful comment whoever said it; can anyone verify exactly who did say this and the form in which the comment was made??

Paul Farseth wrote (January 14, 2012):
[To Julian Mincham] Lewis Thomas, director of the Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Institute, was author of an essay called "On Thinking about Thinking" published, I believe, in his column "Notes of a Biology

Watche" in THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE in the late

1970s. What I remember from the article is his advice to the reader to put Bach's St. Matthew passion on the phonograph and turn the volume all the way up. "That is the sound of the whole human brain thinking all at once." The essay was anthologized in one of the 3 collections of Thomas's NEJM essays.

Bob Brennan wrote (January 14, 2012):
[To Julian Mincham] William F. Buckley, in a Bach tribute written years ago, noted that the astronomer Carl Sagan had attributed the "boasting" comment to Lewis Thomas, a biologist at the Sloan-Kettering Institute. To which Buckley adds: "There are those who believe it is not merely to boast, but to be vainglorious to suggest that the movements of Bach's pen could have been animated by less than divine impulse."

The full tribute can be viewed at this link. It is the finest tribute to Bach I've ever seen: http://www.enotalone.com/personal-growth/5501.html

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 16, 2012):
Bob Brennan wrote:
< William F. Buckley, in a Bach tribute written years ago, noted that the astronomer Carl Sagan had attributed the "boasting" comment to Lewis Thomas, a biologist at the Sloan-Kettering Institute. To which Buckley adds: "There are those who believe it is not merely to boast, but to be vainglorious to suggest that the movements of Bach's pen could have been animated by less than divine impulse." >
I have taken a moment to ponder the proper response. I believe it is important, and accurate, to point out that it is Buckley, not Sagan, who mentions the divine impulse.

Bach, when asked to what he attributed his results, responded: <I work hard.>

His dedication of that hard work to God (SDG) is unquestioned.

 

Bach & Religion: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8
Bach the Evangelist:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ýMarch 11, 2012 ý17:04:48