The Bach family was huge and there are plenty of composers bearing the name, but if we ever hear the name referred to by itself we all know which Bach we’re talking about, Johann Sebastian. An undeniable genius in his craft and one of the foundation stones of Western music. And it’s his birthday, so to celebrate here’s a YouTube clip of three of my favourite pieces by the man himself, starting with what must be one of the most dramatic and iconic of all solo organ pieces, the Toccata and Fugue in D minor. This often reminds me of the image of the austere and mysterious hermit who plays the organ in passion while hatching his mad schemes of revenge or world domination.
Next, the opening of the fourth Brandenburg Concerto. One of my earliest albums – a cassette – was of these concertos and they remain, in my mind, one of the greatest of all orchestral works.
Finally, what would the world be with JS Bach’s Cello Suites? Considerably poorer I believe and that much less peace. Here’s the prelude to No 1.