the friend online
10 April 2009


Johann Sebastian Bach and the Jews - preview

John Dunston, Jewish and with a lifetime’s experience and love of singing the great choral works, considers issues of faith, music and how we receive and interact with our cultural heritage

‘Anyone who works as hard as I do can do as well as I do’ – it might have been said by any successful entrepreneur in modern Britain
  • But when we learn that, in fact, it comes from the pen of one of the greatest geniuses born in what is now eastern Germany we can only marvel, in the entirely vain hope that he may have been right

  • Johann Sebastian Bach, born in Eisenach over three hundred years ago, devoted his life to his work (and to raising a score of children)
  • After being employed in Weimar first as court organist, then as concert master, he moved to Cothen in 1717 to spend a few years as capellmeister and director of chamber music: this was the period of the Brandenburg Concertos
  • Six years later he was appointed to the post of cantor at Saint Thomas’ Church, Leipzig (although he was only the fourth choice for the position, after Fasch, Telemann and Graupner) and continued to work prodigiously, not even allowing his eventual blindness to hold up his composition

  • John Dunston

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    Peter Arnold, 07 April
    I expect many of us have sung the Bach Passions. I was in the Bach Choir in 1948 to 1950 and again for a couple of seasons later. It might interest John to know that in 1950 we performed the St John, the B minor Mass, the so-called Wedding Cantata and the St Matthew in one week under Dr Jacques and with Leon Goossens (oboe) but I have forgotten the names of most of the soloists except tiny Elsie Suddaby (sop) and Norman Walker (bass), and over the decades I've lost all the programmes but kept the music of course. J S Bach has been the best experience in my life.
    I wish I had been sent to Leighton Park and not Bradfield.


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    Oliver Robertson
    Israel to allow conscientious objection
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    News round-up

    A personal view of G20
    Simon Bond
    Speaking truth to power
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    Climate camp upset
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    Johann Sebastian Bach and the Jews
    John Dunston
    John Creed: craftsman, artist, Quaker
    Oliver Robertson
    Seasonal celebration
    Don Hartridge
    Eye – a Quaker look at the world


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