First Comes Bach
“First comes Bach. Then comes Bach. Then for a long time, comes nobody. Then comes Bach.” That’s what my teacher once said to me.
I love Bach, and have played his Sinfonias and Inventions, Preludes and Fugues, Partitas, French Suites, English Suites, and Goldberg Variations for decades. When chancing upon a 1 piano/4 hand arrangement of the Brandenburg Concertos, I couldn’t wait until my piano students were advanced enough to join me in playing them.
Bach always starts my day. Three, four, and five voices in a fugue; challenging me, focusing me. I rarely miss a day…until I did, and one grew into two, then three…missed days stretched into weeks and months. I realized that I had stopped. Why? The occupational hazard of hours, days, weeks, months, and years sitting on a piano bench that now bring knives of pain down my neck and back when playing for anything longer than fifteen minutes? Have my teaching and writing lives become so demanding, that my creative music life has become non-existant? Did I just get too busy?
On many occasions I have said, “Music is my first language. I played before I spoke. I read music before I read English. Music is my mother tongue.” Yesterday, in the first minutes of the documentary about the life of Mr Rogers, I learned that music was his first language, too.
Today, I sat down at my piano. I opened a volume to the first of Bach’s Little Preludes. I took a breath, in and then out. In and out. I placed my hands on the keys. I didn’t rush. I played slowly and carefully; feeling and hearing each note as if it were the first time. I know these notes. They are part of who I am.
First comes Bach. Then comes Bach. Then for a long time, comes nobody. Then comes Bach.