Let me share a legacy with you. Let’s see “when” you guess who left us this legacy.
Orphaned at 10, he and his younger brother walked 30 miles to live with their older brother for two years. He then needed to move on because his older brother and wife were expecting yet another baby. From the age of 12 he made his way on his own, singing in church choirs, playing music as a street musician. Determined, persistent.
He did not have a formal education but learned composition by “reverse engineering” music scores. Needless to say, he was pretty intelligent, and independent.
It was expected in his country that once you were selected as organist for a church, you would stay there your entire life. He didn’t. He went on to several different positions and butted heads with much of the leadership of towns, churches, courts, and choirs. Patience was not one of his virtues.
He had one job interview that promised fame, comfort, money, and security. One catch: he would have had to marry the boss’s daughter. Okay, well…he walked 200 miles back home to work out plan B.
He was 18 years old when he landed his first choir job and had choir boys older than himself. He ended up in a street brawl with one of them, a bassoonist, and allegedly drew his sword and cut the vest of his opponent to shreds.
One of the things he did throughout his career was focus on creating glorious music for the church and court. There is no indication that he was hoping for some kind of legacy that would live on forever. He was doing his job. Competitive? I would guess. But consumed with leaving a legacy? No, just truly absorbed with doing his job really well. And his focus was certainly Soli Deo Gloria.
Yes, Johann Sebastian Bach left what we consider a substantial legacy of highly intelligent instrumental music, oratorios, motets, and dedication to his art, and well, you know: “Soli Deo Gloria.”
Most of his legacy is the great music we enjoy, some of his legacy is the tattered vest of the bassoonist.
When he died, his music was on the wane in deference for more “singable” popular music. Hmm. But there was truth and a foundation in his music that has driven and inspired us for centuries.
Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist with David Jordan, media specialist are the creators and performers of two unique audience-engaging organ and multi-media concert experiences, Bach and Sons and From Sea to Shining Sea.