WHATS IN NAME
About Ana’s Piano
About the Author J.T. Sweet
On August 20, 1977, Voyager II launched into space from Cape Canaveral Florida and on September 5, 1977, Voyager I launched into space. As of February, 2015, Voyager I was at a distance of 19.5 billion kilometers from the sun. Both Voyagers are headed towards the outer boundary of the solar system in search of the heliopause, the region where the sun’s influence wanes and the beginning of interstellar space can be sensed. Each spacecraft carries a gold-plated phonograph record, which we hope will introduce life from our planet to any extraterrestrials in far off galaxies that might discover it. The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan (1934-1996) of Cornell University. Part of the record consists of twenty-seven musical selections. The selections range from rock ‘n roll, jazz and classical music, to a Pigmy girls’ initiation song and Australian Aborigine music (1). However, only one composer has three of his works included, and his name is Johann Sebastian Bach.
‘You have someone who cultivates good art’
Bach knew that he was descended from seven generations of musicians—one of the great musical families of his time. The family had grown to be so numerous and involved in so many areas of music, it’s reported in some places that the word Bach was understood to mean musician. He was also aware that his name had meaning: both in sound, as a melodic fragment, and as a number.
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Not quite the Ozzy Osbourne of the baroque period –though perhaps he was seen as such in regions where religious music was outlawed—J.S. Bach was a rebel in his time. His many struggles within the monarchal and aristocratic music establishment eventually landed him in prison, for reasons that pale in comparison to the egregious productions of Mayhem, or G.G. Allin and the Murder Junkies. Perhaps if born in a different era, he too would bite the head off of a bat in one hand while casting the mano cornuto with the other, in a sold out arena before his legions of pit moshing, body surfing, head banging fans. Instead, he was born, buried and eventually forgotten, hundreds of years before his countless zealots and adulating fans would re-discover him and elevate him to a status even greater than the Pope himself! Indeed, it was only a numbers game for Bach; just a few centuries after being disgraced, he would be resurrected, redeemed and ultimately crowned the greatest composer of all time. This is the story of Johann Sebastian Bach.