Today is Johann Sebastian Bach’s 328th birthday. He was born on March 21, 1685 in Eisenach, in what is now Germany. Today, Sirius XM marked the occasion by playing all Bach, all the time, on the Symphony Hall channel, and it made my commutes to and from work delightful indeed.
It isn’t difficult for Sirius to program all Bach for a 24-hour period, because Johann Sebastian was astonishingly prolific. He wrote hymns, church music, concertos, cello suites, cantatas, and organ music, among other pieces. He also was an accomplished organist who also played the harpsichord, the violin, and the viola. His works helped to define the distinctive baroque style of music that prevailed in the early 1700s. Interestingly, Bach’s works apparently fell out of favor after his death, and his compositions did not become highly regarded until the early 1800s. Now, of course, he is generally regarded as one of the greatest composers in history, and his music is a staple of every classical radio station around the globe.
I love Bach’s pieces, and my iPod is filled with dozens of his compositions. His works are so rich and expressive of a mood that it makes me wish I had met him to see whether his personality matched his music. Bach’s compositions are vast and intricate, but at its core there is a certain radiating peacefulness. If you’ve had a tough day and want to unwind and calm down, Bach is a good choice. You can quickly get lost in his complex, intertwining melodies and the serenity that comes from well-ordered music that suggests a well-ordered world.