Society & Culture & Entertainment Performing Arts

Johann Sebastian Virtually Whacks Harpsichordist

(The compositions and competitions of Johann Sebastian Bach, as told by his first wife, Maria Barbara.
) When Johann Sebastian is not traveling to test organs or playing in the Duke's traveling orchestra, he is busy at the court working with his tremendous choir.
Why they sing like professionals and JS gets so much pleasure from hearing his cantatas performed so beautifully.
My husband strives for perfection in all his works whether they are sacred or secular.
He regularly inscribes his scores with the letters J.
(Jesu, Juva: "Jesus, help") at the beginning and S.
(Soli Deo Gloria: "to God alone the glory") at the end.
Why, even in a little volume of pieces Johann Sebastian wrote to start teaching Wilhelm Friedemann, our oldest son, how to play the clavier, the "Clavierbuchlein", he wrote the letters I.
(In Nomine Jesu: "in the Name of Jesus") on the first page of music.
My Bach never sheds his religion when he composes for instruction or other secular purposes.
He knows that his secular and sacred music are used with different texts and in different surroundings, but he simply does not recognize a difference in principle between the two.
My husband is becoming a more and more famous, not only as an organist but also as a composer and harpsichordist as well.
In fact, he just got back from Dresden where he was invited to compete in a competition with the most famous harpsichordist of France, Louis Marchand.
And, what a story that is! Johann Sebastian was thrilled with the invitation to compete against this famous Marchand because, after all, Marchand is the harpsichordist to King Louis XIV of France.
Louis Marchand also has several volumes of published compositions and we were told that he plays in a most elegant and refined style.
My husband eagerly went to Dresden a few days before the competition to prepare his competition music.
I imagine Monsieur Marchand probably heard Johann practicing, because people are just drawn to JS when he plays! As my husband told me, the appointed time arrived and a large company of persons of high rank and both sexes gathered for the competition.
The Count who was sponsoring the competition was there as well as a large group of onlookers.
After all this was a huge event in Dresden between two tremendous performers.
My husband was there and ready to play, but Marchand was not.
Everyone waited and waited, including my husband who was to play first.
Still the famous Frenchman, Louis Marchand did not arrive! After a very long wait, the guests were informed that Marchand had suddenly left Dresden by the early morning fast coach.
My Bach won the competition by default! I just know Monsieur Marchand heard my marvelous Johann Sebastian practicing and improvising and was scared! Really scared! Marchard realized he might play daily for King Louis XIV of France, the "Sun King," but that he was no match for the great Johann Sebastian Bach, Organist and Kapellmeister of the Court of Saxe-Weimar! So instead of a competition, the Count and his guests heard a grand concert, performed by the best harpsichordist in the world, my Johann! (The story above is one of a dozen vignettes from the multi-media and organ program, Bach and Sons, presented by Dr.
Jeannine Jordan, concert organist.

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