One of the most famous incidences of playing hooky from work, was when Bach wrote to the most famous organist of the day, Dietrich Buxtehude (who only early-music people have ever heard of but who wrote some awesome stuff), to ask if he could take lessons. Buxtehude was actually very famous at the time… on the scale of ballsiness, he may as well have been writing to Justin Bieber. Buxtehude had better things to do than read his fan mail, so he didn’t reply. So Bach just ditched work for a few months, and decided to show up on Buxtehude’s doorstep. He didn’t have a lot of money, and Buxtehude lived literally at the opposite end of the country, but that doesn’t stop someone like JS Bach. He walked 250 miles to Buxtehude’s city, and showed up at the practice studio asking for lessons. Buxtehude slammed the door on him. Bach came back the next day, and the next, and by the end of the week Bach had convinced the celebrity to let him just sit in the corner and WATCH him practice.
Ultimately they became great friends, and when Buxtehude was looking to retire he even offered to name Bach as his successor. There was a pretty big catch though – the position came with the hand of his boring, ugly daughter, who he hadn’t been able to marry off any other way. Bach said “bitch, please!” and peaced out.
History books written like this would keep middle- and high-schoolers interested. Also, I love it when people who know what they’re talking about put impressive accomplishments into terms that I can understand:
Yes, he follows all the rules. And he writes BEAUTIFUL melodies, and GORGEOUS, EMOTIONAL music. He often writes it in 5, 6, or more voices. And here’s the kicker:
Wait for it.
Wait for it.
Bach IMPROVISED pieces like this.
BAM. Mind blown. Some pieces were certainly written down in advance, but his chorale preludes in particular, and lots of his performances in general, involved extensive improvisation, often in 4 or more voices, in perfect counterpoint.