Johann Sebastian Bach II (Eisenach, Turingia, 1685 — Leipzig, 1750)
It's difficult to approach, enter, play, Bach's music without immediately facing certain facts (probably questions too,but facts seem really so evident first). I always doubted about faith and musicians (even they talked about it and some are obvious strong counter examples, like John Coltrane, I guess James Brown too somewhere, Olivier Messiaen, though in his case it crosses bigotry for me... Krzysztof Penderecki is in devotion as well maybe more blazing and lyrical. I never thought artists needed any churches in fact because their practice is rather a challenge to a better sense of your own emotions, perceptions and overall life embodiment. But Bach, I really can't tell. Its incredibly close to a materialization of the well known concept of "God" (in a total open and abstract, say non verbal, form), nevertheless I stil really doubt that faith was the engine of it all.
Joseph was a Carpenter, Bach acts the same way. The more you play his music, the less I get anywhere close to the person, the human being he was. It's pretty rare (I can't really think of anyone else in fact who would be so self-erased). You can feel an incredible ego but you can't surround the man at all behind. This again is almost annoying, such a humble man he was? It's too literal to be true, but really hard to tell. I really believe that your work is all, that the word or concept of "artists" is something invented by society to protect themselves. But who was, is, will be Johann Sebastian Bach?
All other great composers in history (so far) are incarnated by a character you can feel (also often pictured as a marionette with great emphasis on their supposed to be manic and mad lives). Not Bach. Bach is grey, hard working, silent, prude, balanced... nothing special at all to remember from his life, not the kind of person you'd love to meet and hang with. The type of people who eats with one glass of wine that he breaks with water. Gesualdo, Mozart, Sade, Michelangelo, Balzac, Randy Rhoads, Lou Reed, even Thomas Bernhard are people you'd love to spend time with. Bach, I'm really not sure at all. Even Godard sounds funny in comparison (he can be).
His music seems totally under control, he knows exactly what he wants, and just does it. Some pieces are more inflamed than others, some more virtuoso than others, some more austere and others rather solemn. But all is absolutely bolted. No gaps, no jumps, no rush, no accidents, no insanity, no signs of any particular sorrows or pain. All incredibly stable, if anything was a problem ever, it seems always a type of problem one could simply solve (by just a bit more cash I guess).
That Bach has a really strong and deep effect on so many people is a certitude (way more than anyone else I believe, and I know what effects certain musicians have had on people). Did Nietzsche ever wrote on Bach (I can't remember)? Glenn Gould didn't play Bach for me. He stepped on him and created an incredible music we all love i'm sure, but i'd bet an arm that Bach would absolutely deny and hate it. Who are You Then?
Noël Akchoté. French guitarist, violinist and producer, born December 7, 1968, in Paris, active in various experimental fields between drone, rock, jazz and contemporary classical music. Also music journalist and author as well as founder (together with Quentin Rollet) of the French avantgarde label Rectangle. Currently running the label Noël Akchoté Downloads. He is the brother of electronic musician SebastiAn.