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Bach's Homepage

img  Tobias

Just a few days ago, we claimed in an article that Bach was alive and well and still bursting with energy (even though we don't suspect he's hiding in some secret hideaway with Elvis and Jimi Hendrix). It's hardly a surprise, then, that the man has finally got around to building up his very own Webpage - packed with information and useful links.

For this, he received some help from two dedicated fans: Jan Hanford and Jan Kostner (for all you Chinese out there: They're not related). While Jan H. hails from the States, Jan K. lives in the Netherlands, where Bach is treated as a general symbol of culture and has already been honoured by many of the country's leading authors. To the already staggering amount of information, Kostner adds a brilliant biography: Concise and written in a fresh and comprehensible style, he describes the composer's life by following his path from Eisenach (where he was born) to Leipzig (where he died) and all the smallish villages that came in between (with such cosmopolitan names as Ohrdruf and Köthen). What can be learned, for example, is that Bach confused his audience in Arnstedt with his virtuoso Organ playing, sneeked into the wine cellar during mass and was seen flirting around with some girl - not quite the dry and serious Protestant ascetic we've accustomed ourselves to. Even better, still, is Koster's Tourist Guide to Bach, compiled and written during his stay in Germany in 1995. Here, he follows in the man's footsteps live and direct, making this a great foto documentary. It's a fascinating read, especially if you've just worked your way through Bach's history - things suddenly come alive and the traces of the past seem to linger on in every step you take. Apart from this, Kosten's report is a journey into Post-communist Eastern Germany, where Leipzig at the time is still "an ugly city" (now, it's one of the country's most beautiful) and where you feel like time has stood still. This, for example,  is what Jan remembers of aforemementioned Köthen (Bach's last station before moving to Leipzig): "I will never forget this strange combination of time travel, economic backwardness, and contrast between any lofty Bach thoughts and the Kafkaesque and indifferent city officials and ornithologists that had taken over the palace of Leopold and Sebastian, presumably ignorant of the sublime music that was created here."

Jan Hanford, meanwhile, has taken care of the equally wonderful job of bringing together all of Bach's works in a database, of drawing up a useful timeline, which puts his life into perspective with those of some of his fellow musicians and of building up an invaluable collection of "recommended recordings". You can browse the archive by conductor, performer, by Instrument, by Year - and even by key.

The artwork, admittedly, is not exactly flashy, but then again - what the heck! For all those who are prepared to look beyond the surface, this is a superb place to spend some time. And don't forget: Johann Sebastian is 320 years old - having your own internet page at that age is quite flashy enough!

Homepage: Johann Sebastian Bach at J.S. Bach.org

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