Fundamentals – History – Analysis
Part Two: Rhythm in the Music of J. S. Bach
Introduction 129 Introduction A comprehensive study of the rhythm of Bach’s music is still outstanding. At the same time, probably no one has any doubt that rhythm is an essential aspect of Bach’s personal style. Musicians and music historians have always sensed and praised the rhythmic vitality and complexity of Bach’s compositions. They did so mostly under the im- pression of the polyphonic texture of voices with its perfect balance of horizontal flow and vertical anchorage. The fact that a man like Igor Stravinsky, who has en- larged the rhythmic means of expression like no other com- poser, saw above all a rhythmist in Bach should suffice to prompt a more intensive investigation of this side of Bach’s music. In 1924, Stravinsky went on record saying that »the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, whom I regard as the imperishable ideal of us all, consist entirely of rhythmics and architectonics.« 1 Hans Werner Henze shows himself to be equally fascinated by the rhythmic qualities in Bach’s music. In a lecture on »Johann Sebastian Bach and the Music of our Time,« he said in 1983: Let us imagine a multi-part setting of Bach’s vocal and instru- mental music performed solely with percussion instruments with- out fixed pitches: we would hear only the contrapuntally counter- acting rhythms, no harmony, no melody. But the energies, the elasticity, the pulsating effect, the altogether worked-out and thought-through quality of such a structure is what would appear surprisingly and spectacularly to our ears and eyes in all...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.