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BACH-U: the Arizona Bach Festival Lecture Series

Bach-UDuring the time between the 2014 and 2015 Festivals, a series of Bach-related lectures titled "BACH-U" will be presented at the Burton Barr Central Library, at 1221 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ (click here for a map).

We typically charge $10 admission for the lectures to cover costs, but we're going to offer the first 2014 lecture free of charge, so tell all your friends! Here are the details:

Saturday, May 17, 2014, 2:00 pm - Lecturer: Dr. Craig Westendorf

“The French Connection”
The time of Bach was one of the most style-conscious eras in modern western history. Clothing was regulated according to social class. Nobility had very specific etiquette and ceremonies attached to them according to rank; churches likewise had preferred seating. This sensitivity to style infected musical thinking and composition. A particular genre carried its own iconic meaning. A composer could further choose a national style according to the emotion, or affect, that needed to be communicated. Germany was the European hotbed for the importation of style. French and Italian styles had their own nationalistic, if not chauvinistic, defenders, but Germany really had no genre of its own with perhaps the exception of the chorale. But even elaborations of the chorale had borrowed from Flemish counterpoint, instrumental improvisational forms from Italy, and English lute music. Since Germany had really nothing to defend, it could happily borrow any national style that would be most suitable for time, place, meaning, and symbolism. This fueled a great part of the genius of Bach, who was the most cosmopolitan composer of his time in spite of his lack of international renown.

French style in Bach is very obvious in the keyboard suites with their stylized dance rhythms, but there is so much more of the essence of French music in Bach's compositional practice. Bach thoroughly understood the pathos of the greatest instrumental and operatic music of the French. This lecture will explore these deeper connections towards an appreciation of Bach's genius in incorporating any style he chose to the most sublime ends.

(Information on other lectures in the series will be posted soon!)