Listening to Bach, one month in

Longtime readers know that for the past few years I’ve embarked on several year-long project. Generally that’s been reading (all the works of Shakespeare, all the works of Jane Austen), but this year I decided to listen to all the works of Bach.

As we are a little over a month into the year, I’m a little over a month into the project. Today I am listening to my 36th cantata, and I believe my 52nd organ piece.

So far it has been fairly easy to fit the 30-40 minutes of listening into my daily life. I listen to Bach while making breakfast, or doing my PT exercises, or while driving places. I have not constructed the listening calendar for the entire year yet (I’m working on March this week) so it is possible my pacing is off but I think this is about right. There are a few longer works coming up (e.g. the B-Minor Mass) but also some very short ones (the 2-part piano inventions are like 1-2 minutes each).

Anyway, I knew I loved Bach from the pieces I was familiar with, and listening to more of his music has increased my affection. Some of the cantatas and organ works are more memorable than others. There are definitely a lot more recordings of some of them than others, often for a reason! But…there really has been nothing bad. I’m sure as a busy human being at some point Bach had to have been doing the 18th century equivalent of phoning it in (“Argh, I need a cantata and an organ prelude for Sunday…”) but that is not immediately apparent from anything I’ve listened to so far.

We shall see how the listening goes during some upcoming travel, but I can always get caught up afterwards. Several days I’ve wound up listening to my assigned works twice so I can hear more of the themes and pick up on something I might have missed. It has been a definite life upgrade to have Bach as my background music!

In other news: This weekend was fairly low-key. My daughter attempted to go ice skating with her friends on Friday but the place was packed and ran out of rental skates! So she still has not done that item from the winter fun list… I started doing a Lego set (the game truck one) with my 9-year-old, which has been fun. He hadn’t really had the patience for them before but I can see him maturing…The 16-year-old and I sang two gospel pieces at church on Sunday. We had to have these memorized (the choir was up in front of the church instead of up in the loft) and that always makes you experience music in a different way…It was also spring-like enough that the 9-year-old and 4-year-old and I played outside for 90 minutes on Sunday. There was a lot of digging in dirt and finding worms in a wood pile.

Two notes on exciting launches for friends of the blog…Dr. Gillian Goddard’s new newsletter, The Hot Flash, about women’s health in mid-life, launches this week. She was our guest on Best of Both Worlds last week. If you are 40-plus (or getting there) please go check that out and subscribe.

I’m also excited about my friend Bianca Bosker’s new book, Get the Picture, which is out tomorrow. She’s been getting a lot of great press for her exploration of the art world. She’s a wonderful writer (as anyone who read Cork Dork can tell you) so please go check that out!

6 thoughts on “Listening to Bach, one month in

  1. My handbell ensemble is working on a handbell arrangement of Bach’s violin Concerto in C-major. it’s quite fun and quite a challenge to coordinate 26 individual hands and over 60 bells hitting all those eights and sixteenths..
    I would love to go skating at our local indoor rink, but I have this fear of falling and at 66 I should be afraid of breaking a hip, but I’m more afraid of breaking a wrist and not being able to ring!

    1. @Barb – that would be tragic, for a handbell musician to break a wrist! That sounds like an amazing piece – I have never done handbells but I love watching them play.

  2. My year of listening to Taylor Swift at an album a month is also going well! Haha. January and Midnights was fun and now onto Red in February. Plus her announcement of a new album in April has added something to my schedule. I don’t think I ever would have thought of something like this without following your annual projects for the past couple years. It’s bringing fun and some light-heartedness into my life. Also reminds me of Benedict Cumberbatch Patreon book club – women can have strong interests in whatever they want.

    1. @Megan – I love this project, and yep, sounds a lot like the Benedict Cumberbatch book. It is absolutely fine to have a pop culture obsession. And her music is really good!

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