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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: February 15, 2007 Archive

Johann Sebastian von Dangerfield

Posted at 8:31 AM on February 15, 2007 by John Zech
Filed under: The blog

Be careful not to put classical music and its composers too high on a pedestal--you'll miss out on a lotta fun.

Johann Sebastian Bach was a complicated, and very real man. He was not a god (even though his manuscript scores were inscribed "Soli Deo Gloria"). As a young man he got into a duel with a bassoonist over a remark about his playing. He was put in jail after he left the Duke of Weimar's employment without permission. He liked his beer and wine, and he must've liked sex considering that he fathered 20 kids by his 2 wives.

Bach could, with Rodney Dangerfield, complain of never getting any respect. He was not the first choice by the city of Leipzig to be their new main man of music. He wasn't even the 2nd choice.

The competition for that post is the subject of a new play called "Bach at Leipzig" getting its regional premiere this weekend at the Loading Dock Theater in downtown St. Paul. They describe it like this:

It's Leipzig, Germany, 1722, and the sudden death of organ master and cantor Johann Kuhnau has brought to the city an eclectic mix of misfits and also-rans intent on winning his vacant post. The competition's stiff, and their skill at bribery, blackmail, and betrayal is even stiffer. And who's this latecomer Johann Sebastian Bach?

The Loading Dock is an intimate (106 seat) theater at 509 Sibley Street, between 9th and 10th on Sibley in Downtown St. Paul. The show runs weekends through March 11th. The box office number is 651-228-7008.

I'm gonna check it out.

More on Applause

Posted at 7:28 PM on February 15, 2007 by Rex Levang

Andrew Druckenbrod weighs in on the Great Applause Debate, in a piece that's received some attention in the classical blogosphere.

You can find some kind of precedent for just about any kind of applause behavior -- reverent, silent, frantic, negative, you name it.

One that would have been interesting to hear is a story that I read somewhere about Wagner. As he himself told it, his "Entrance of the Guests" was being played in Paris, and as the music unfolded, at the end of a certain surprising phrase, the audience applauded: apparently they liked the contour of the music and clapped, just as we might at a particularly witty line in a play. You don't get that too much anymore.

Of course with Wagner, you never know. It may never have happened. But at least he expected his readers to think that it could have happened.