Author Topic: Can J.S Bach be considered a religious composer? Hell, no.  (Read 16822 times)

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Offline Shrunk

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Re: Can J.S Bach be considered a religious composer? Hell, no.
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2007, 06:16:31 AM »

It's hard to believe, for me at least, that works of art of such tremendous spiritual power as Michelangelo's Pieta or Handel's Messiah could have been created only for money, with no personal commitment from the artist.


But must that "personal commitment" necessarily have a religious basis?  I sense no less passion or commitment in, say, Michelangelo's Medici Chapel, or Bach's 2nd Cello Suite than in those artists' more overtly religious works.

Of course, you could also argue that their faith was so integral to them that it suffused all of their work, whether or not its content was explicitly religious. 

Offline Florestan

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Re: Can J.S Bach be considered a religious composer? Hell, no.
« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2007, 06:20:49 AM »
Of course, you could also argue that their faith was so integral to them that it suffused all of their work, whether or not its content was explicitly religious. 

My point exactly.
What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love!  --- Rachmaninoff

Online Que

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Re: Can J.S Bach be considered a religious composer? Hell, no.
« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2007, 07:28:33 AM »
Maybe I don't get the point of the question - what is a "religious composer" ???

A composer who was a religious person? Answer is the case of J.S. Bach : YES

A composer who wrote sacred music? Answer in the case of J.S. Bach: YES

 8)

Q
« Last Edit: September 06, 2007, 07:30:24 AM by Que »

uffeviking

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Re: Can J.S Bach be considered a religious composer? Hell, no.
« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2007, 08:02:31 AM »
Maybe I don't get the point of the question - what is a "religious composer" ???

Q


and I don't get the point either. Is our Karl Henning a religious composer because he is a member of an organised religious group? How do we know Thomas Ad├ęs is not a religious composer because he did not write 'sacred' music? He might be a very devoted member of the Seventh Day Adventist group, but never felt to publicly announce his faith.

Maybe a clarification of the subject's title by it's originator might help.  :-\

Don

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Re: Can J.S Bach be considered a religious composer? Hell, no.
« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2007, 08:14:24 AM »
There's no doubt that Bach was a religious man; he was also a composer of music who wrote hundreds of works based on religious text.  Does that make him a religious composer?  Personally, I think this identification tag is meaningless.

Offline david johnson

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Re: Can J.S Bach be considered a religious composer? Hell, no.
« Reply #25 on: September 06, 2007, 08:26:26 AM »
Handel's 'Jurassic Oratorio'  :D
that's funny, shrunk.  thanx.

dj


karlhenning

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Re: Can J.S Bach be considered a religious composer? Hell, no.
« Reply #26 on: September 06, 2007, 09:34:33 AM »
Handel's 'Jurassic Oratorio'  :D
that's funny, shrunk.  thanx.

That is awfully funny; and what's yet funnier on top of that, is the thought that to some extent, Dawkins probably took that ridiculous notion seriously.

DavidW

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Re: Can J.S Bach be considered a religious composer? Hell, no.
« Reply #27 on: September 06, 2007, 02:07:25 PM »
the premise is a bit silly.  who came up with it?  it can require research of you, which is good, but that's about it.  tell the prof you'll do his assignment, but he won't get very far asking someone to reinvent the wheel concerning bach.

dj

Dude it's not research, it's class.  You are supposed to reinvent the wheel.

Offline KevinP

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Re: Can J.S Bach be considered a religious composer? Hell, no.
« Reply #28 on: September 06, 2007, 02:17:23 PM »
Don't expect your team to win this debate. :-) Just get in there and give it your best shot. The only arguments I can come up with in your favour--and they're undeniably weak--are:

1. Bach had no problem taking his secular music and recasting it as church music. The Christmas Oratorio is based heavily on secular cantatas.

2. Since Bach, while not a Catholic, composed a Latin Mass and a Magnificat (in Latin) specifically to petition for a job in the Catholic church, it is clear that (as Mark was saying) he was capable of composing (and composing very well for that matter) strictly to meet job requirements that do not necessarily reflect his own beliefs. (The problem here is that these works could have been performed in Lutheran services. The Mass he composed for the job petition was only the Kyrie and the Gloria of the Mass in B minor.)

3. He composed secular music and religious music with the same intensity. The Brandenburgs, AoF, WTC, etc., are no less masterpieces than the sacred works. (Except that people generally can distinguish a subjectively qualitative difference between the secular and religious cantatas.)

A bad question. Debates should be about controversial topics, not one-sided.


Offline Xenophanes

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Re: Can J.S Bach be considered a religious composer? Hell, no.
« Reply #29 on: September 06, 2007, 04:48:20 PM »
i vaguely remember a Toscanini story, possibly about the first movement of Beethoven's 5th Symphony, in which someone asked if it was about Fate or some such, and Toscy is supposed to replied to the effect that 'To me it's allegro con brio!' The Fate motif isn't in the music but is something projected on it by someone, whether the composer or someone else. I think I read somewhere Edward MacDowell said something of the sort--sorry, I don't have any learning in this field so I don't have references handy.

So, while Bach was evidently religious as a person, he was also a supreme technical musician and the latter doesn't depend on the former.

I am not an expert on meaning in music and other arts. Music as such is non-verbal although it can be combined with verbal arts (poems, etc. in songs and arias), as well as with other nonverbal arts such as dancing, painting and sculpture (as in opera), which may be representational or non-representational.  Meaning may include emotions, philosophical or religious concepts and symbols.

Personally, I don't think great literature tells you how to react, either, though second rate literature is likely to.

With pure music, any meanings beyond the mathematical relations would seem to be projections, and how one reacts to music is in great part at least, determined by one's early experiences and culture. And to debate this, it seems to me that one would have to distinguish the music as such from the words and occasions for which it was developed (i.e., religious services).  Many compositions include elements other than pure music such as words, and may be designed for performances including religious services, dancing, and acting.

From another point of view, it would be impossible to show how Lutheran or Catholic doctrine determined Bach's musical techniques. A fugue is a fugue, whether it's for a church service or not. So maybe you could concentrate on Bach's musical techniques and forms, and how they advanced on previous techniques and forms, and so on, which can be treated intelligibly without considering his religious views.

A quick Google search came up with this interesting article, although it doesn't seem to me to completely consistent:

http://www.people.carleton.edu/~jlondon/musical_expression_and_mus.htm

And of course, there's always Wikipedia: I'm not sure who came up with the definition of music as organized sound but I'm sure it was Wynton Marsalis!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definition_of_music





Offline david johnson

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Re: Can J.S Bach be considered a religious composer? Hell, no.
« Reply #30 on: September 07, 2007, 12:12:04 AM »
Dude it's not research, it's class.  You are supposed to reinvent the wheel.

chuckle, chuckle...yeah, i forgot.

dj

Offline Grazioso

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Re: Can J.S Bach be considered a religious composer? Hell, no.
« Reply #31 on: September 08, 2007, 02:00:41 AM »
Or it may strike listeners that his God seemed to be Wagner..

Quote
Personally, if anything can make me believe there is a God then it would be Bach.

Indeed: in good part, it's in the ear of the behearer :) 

As others mentioned, agnostics have created beautiful "religious" music, and likewise a piece of explicitly "religious" music can be deeply moving to a non-believer. Judging someone's inner life or belief system solely or primarily by the art he creates or enjoys is problematic. If you want to judge Bach's religious beliefs or spiritual life accurately, you'd probably need to get inside his head more directly than just extrapolating from his art/work; you'd ideally need some other evidence that more explicitly attests to how he felt and what he believed, a Bach equivalent of Augustine's Confessions or what have you.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2007, 02:02:22 AM by Grazioso »
There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline val

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Re: Can J.S Bach be considered a religious composer? Hell, no.
« Reply #32 on: September 08, 2007, 02:27:49 AM »
Quote
71 dB

As if there was non-religious composers in the 18th century...


Oh yes, there was. Rameau is a good example, only to mention one of the greatest.

Offline Expresso

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Re: Can J.S Bach be considered a religious composer? Hell, no.
« Reply #33 on: September 12, 2007, 04:57:12 AM »
As if there was non-religious composers in the 18th century...  :P

Exactly... most composers at that time were writing music either for the church or for their king.

Offline FideLeo

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Re: Can J.S Bach be considered a religious composer? Hell, no.
« Reply #34 on: September 13, 2007, 09:45:49 PM »


Oh yes, there was. Rameau is a good example, only to mention one of the greatest.

Rameau was not as quite a church musician like Charpentier (who was trained as a Jesuit) yes but
non-religious?



 
HIP for all and all for HIP! Harpsichord for Bach, fortepiano for Beethoven and pianoforte for Brahms!