Two hundred sixty-eight years after the death of Johann Sebastian Bach and "the composer is a bigger celebrity than ever." Elizabeth Lyon on the marketing of Bach in the Hudson Review.
The Bach of today—as portrayed in recordings, newspaper articles, books, and physical paraphernalia—is as multifaceted as current tastes and fashions, contradictions be damned. He is at once the “Fifth Evangelist”; a passionate humanist; a cool-blooded scientist; a spiritual guru; a college roommate; a fellow garage band remixer.
I don’t doubt that the repertoire of Bach can serve as a good vehicle for spiritual aims for certain individuals, but I’m dubious about the compatibility of playing Bach spiritually and the trend nowadays of marketing that very spiritualism.
The English, whose opinions have been formed by the shallow charmers and their enablers, seem fundamentally unable to conceive of a relationship with Europe that is not one of either subjection or domination.