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Essential singing as a heartfelt inner emotion... for everyone who wants to experience it


Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (November 14, 2000):

If there's a bit of joyful assurance in irony, well, there will be a jubilation in love, which is now suffering; and if irony can say with a bit of sarcastic mood that people can draw near with their mouth and honor God with their lips, while their hearts are far from him, well, love can say exactly the same thing in a completely different mood, perhaps in sincere con-sternation, perhaps expecting to wake up ourselves while the streams of music are flowing.


Essential singing as a heartfelt inner emotion... for everyone who wants to experience it (2)


Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (November 21, 2000):

Preferences are very tendentious in its nature; but it is perhaps irrelevant, for, if we could determine whether the truth is regard a particular person in the past, it would not change our approach, even if we love so much the deceased master of music, wishing his masterpieces to engage their forces in favour of heart enlightenment or God's devotion. Or something else. In fact, there would be tracts of unending discussions if we could find two disposed dialecticians interested in the objective question, for example, if Bach was a religious composer or a professional musician, even if it is too obvious (SDG/JJ); or a subsequent subject, if Johann Sebastian would be a Christian composer nowadays - for the idea of progress is a thunderstorm that overtook the present age in such a way that almost nobody can really learn from the old centuries without a certain presumption that imagines their citizens under the shadows of obscurantism in contrast with our age. Now, the gusts of the secular feelings are partly the certainty that sin is value and lie is culture - and so, how could we sing Bach's cantatas with touching tears and heartfelt words, how could we sing them as the old centuries did? Perhaps, with a bit of courage, a bit of adventurous subjectivity that has the audacity of taste those feelings - after all, if the clouds can obliterate the blue sky, it does not mean that it ceased to exist. So it is with Christ - let the age says whatever it wants about the "historical Jesus", let it loves the music without loving the one to whom it was done. If we can just experiment praising him with the courage of those who does not fear such a lovely experience, and even if you, like me in the past, were a professed Anti-Christian, then we are not, than we prove tears of great peace, we taste an amazing bliss when we sing the cantatas with sincere heart.

Jane Newble wrote (November 21, 2000):

< Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote: If Johann Sebastian would be a Christian composer nowadays - for the idea of progress is a thunderstorm that overtook the present age in such a way that almost nobody can really learn from the old centuries without a certain presumption that imagines their citizens under the shadows of obscurantism in contrast with our age. >
I often think that it is our age with its secularisation and atheism that is 'under the shadows of obscurantism'. It often amazes me when people doubt (the writer Maarten 't Hart is one of them) that Bach really wrote these things with conviction. Even if they don't feel it themselves, they should at least have the generosity to accept that someone like Bach had integrity enough to write what he believed. I don't think that in our days no-one could possible write with so much integrity as Bach did, because of the 'enlightened' doubts and scepticism we have all around us. Nobody would take
him serious. They would think that he was either living in the past, and not with it, or was some kind of lunatic. To combine the mastery of music with a deep-lived Christian belief like Bach did in a convincing way, is IMHO not possible now. Perhaps that's why he lived then...the right person at the right time? However, I don't doubt that it is possible to sing Bach with total conviction. How often it happens, I wouldn't know.

Harry J. Steinman wrote (November 21, 2000):

< Jane Newble wrote: <snip> It often amazes me when people doubt (the writer Maarten 't Hart is one of them) that Bach really wrote these things with conviction.
Even if they don't feel it themselves, they should at least have the generosity to accept that someone like Bach had integrity enough to write what he believed. >
I think you're right, Jane: If I had to guess, my belief would be that the folks who state that Bach wrote without conviction are projecting their own lack of conviction onto the composer. Perhaps conviction is a necessary precursor to generosity. Hence, the lack of conviction points to a miserly spirit in this particular arena. Let 'em listen to Barry Manilow... (Please: No offence meant to the devotees of Manilow! ;D )

Eric Ostling wrote (November 21, 2000):

(To Henri N. Levinspuhl) I'm not sure where this all started, but if anyone is suggesting that to perform these extraordinary works one must be fully in a sincere heart and in touch with the message of the work and completely devoid of one's own
lies, cynicism, boredom, modern crap, etc -- one should then get reacquainted with the texts prepared in some cases by Picander and Bach himself. At least to me it is very clear that Bach feels the fullness of his humanity in these works; in many cases he is writing with such a fine and deep purpose that all the shallowness and other stuff of himself cannot help but be brought out into the light in the attempt; same for anyone performing the works, if they are at least making the effort to be open to such an experience. (St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) is another good example)


Where this all started

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (November 22, 2000):

(To Eric Ostling) If the art of being misunderstood is something we can acquire only through long years of preparation and practice, I may confess myself as a neophyte
unable to use such an amazing ability, I who certainly am ANYONE, and anyone who started it in an inexpressive large country of the third world, and, perhaps, again anyone among the numerous Brazilians. But, at least, if I am not skillful in being misunderstood, I have a master who certainly is, and you can see it, for example, in the arioso that opens the cantata BWV 22.


Bach as an instrument of life

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (December 5, 2000):

We do not deny that sometimes a man can be misunderstood on account of his own fault, even if he is not aware of his guilt, if his arrows are just flying away from his honest goal of loving. But here, I must acknowledge my responsibility, admitting you are not disposed to send me a simple word, and you can indeed be so mad with me due to my irony and madness - if it is so, I will not blame you. Far from it, I am here to show you my gratitude, and without a drop of irony. Nevertheless you may recognize, although I do not demand it from you, that I am not here to be loved by you, and have never asked it since my first salutation. But I reserve myself the right of loving you in such away that I am not afraid of being despised if you decide that it is the best for my own sake; the right of speaking to the consciousness of those who are still open to let themselves be addressed this way - yea, free yourselves from the manacles that fastened the twenty-century, do not take life as a multitude of symbols profiling in front of you, waiting to be chosen according to the taste and occasion. Engage yourselves in a position, put your passions in the game of life, instead of applauding this false respectability of impassability that is neither against nor in favor, this scientific observation that is watching life in front of a television set. Let yourselves be confronted by this shock of life; for here is not a concert hall in which a tenor and an alto sing with the feeling that best suits to the performance. Here is life speaking: listen to it, love it or hate it.

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Last update: żNovember 22, 2002 ż14:04:16