“Gentlemen, old Bach is here.” – Bach in Baltimore, at Christ Lutheran Church

October 5, 2010 at 10:41 pm (books, Local interest (Baltimore-Washington), Music)

On Sunday, Bach Concert Series kicked off its 2010-2011 season at Christ Lutheran Church with a rousing performance of Bach’s Cantata No.70: “Wachet! betet! betet! Wachet.” (“Wachet” means “watch,” “betet” means “pray.”)  The chorus got things off to a vigorous start;  their singing was punctuated by a most delightful trumpet fanfare. It was the soloists who got a real workout, though. This was especially true of the bass, John Eisenhardt, whose vocalizing was rich and  thrilling.

I found this fine performance of the opening measures of this cantata:

I have come to love the purposeful purity of Bach’s sacred music.

Organist Jonathan Parker treated us to several selections. I was especially delighted to hear this fine musician perform The Toccata and Fugue in d minor. I’ve been hearing this piece all my life but had never heard it performed live.

In the first video below, the Toccata is played by Karl Richter:

Ad this one is for fun!

The afternoon concluded with Tchaikovsky’s lovely Hymn of the Cherubim, sung a cappella by the choir:

Click here to access sound files of the Bach Concert Series Choir.


I highly recommend Evening in the Palace of Reason: Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment, by James R. Gaines. It’s a sort of joint biography of Bach and Frederick the Great. The book begins by recounting a famous anecdote. Each evening, a courtier brought Frederick a list of names of those who had entered the city of Potsdam on that day. As Frederick – himself a musician of no mean accomplishment –  was perusing this list, he gave a start, looked up, and said to the others in the room: “Gentlemen, old Bach is here.” Those present said there was “a kind of agitation” in his voice.

The year was 1747. Frederick was in the seventh year of his reign as King of Prussia. Bach was 62 and nearing the end of his life.

I finished this book feeling that I needed to listen to much more Bach, and I wanted to read much more about Frederick the Great, a strange and fascinating man.


  1. Yvette said,

    Oh, for sure I am reading this. Thanks a heap. Now I KNOW my tbr pile is going to fall over and crush me. Ha! But this book sounds just too good to miss.

  2. Yvette said,

    Just ordered it from The Book Depository. Simply could not help myself. ; )

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