In 1802 Johann Nicolaus Forkel wrote the first biography about Bach. I find the following passage from his book truly remarkable:
"It is owing to this genuine spirit of art that Bach united his great and lofty style with the most refined elegance and the greatest precision in the single parts that compose the great whole, which otherwise are not thought so necessary here as in works whose only object is the agreeable; that he thought the whole could not be perfect if anything were wanting in the perfect precision of the single parts; and, last, that if, notwithstanding the main tendency of his genius for the great and sublime, he sometimes composed and performed something gay and even jocose, his cheerfulness and joking were those of a sage.
It was only though this union of the greatest genius with the most indefatigable study that Johann Sebastian Bach was able, whichever way he turned, to extend so greatly the bounds of his art that his successors have not even been able to maintain this enlarged domain to its full extent; and this alone enabled him to produce such numerous and perfect works, all of which are, and ever will remain, true ideals and imperishable models of art." (Quoted in Christoph Wolff's landmark book).
PS So far 15 people have sent me their answers about why they like Bach and his art. If you like Bach but haven't written a few sentences about it, you can do it here until Sunday evening. After this weekend I will share all of the answers in a special article.
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