J.S. Bach, Hitmaker

Bach could do more than write intellectual studies and heart rendering music. Here was a composer who gave the people what they wanted too–a hit maker supreme. Want proof? Here are two examples.

Everyone here knows Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 (Air). It is, hands down, the #1 butchered piece of music ever written—I’ve heard it at weddings, communions, bar mitzvahs, and funerals. What I haven’t heard is it played well (unless it is recorded—and, even then, folks tend to pick a crappy version). My band offered to play it during my wedding ceremony. I told the band leader that if he so much as thought about playing Bach, I’d break his arm (well, perhaps not exactly in those words). If you want music to bring peace to your life, play Bach. And start here.

J.S. Bach, Orchestral Suite No. 3, Air on the G String:

Bach’s Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor is one of the most popular and familiar works of music ever composed. Recussitated by Felix Mendelssohn in 1840, it hasn’t fallen out of favor since. It has featured in hundreds of films, from Fantasia, Sunset Boulevard, and La Dolce Vita to B movies like Rollerball. And it has proven to be a fruitful source of inspiration for many more popular musicians in the 20th century.

J.S. Bach, Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor:

Here’s a fun cover by the prog rock band Sky:

Sky, Toccata:

One thought on “J.S. Bach, Hitmaker

  1. I guess I never thought about it, but I always associate the Toccata with mad scientists and other frantic movie villains. Whereas Air is, in my mind’s eye, filled with 3-mile-long driveways leading up to Downton Abbey-style mansions and estates in the English countryside. I guess I have some googling to do to find exactly which watershed films have engrained these images in my head, since the ones you already mentioned don’t seem to fit the bill! These are great songs to fill any Sunday morning.


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