Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Budding Musician

I am currently in the process of writing a research paper about the illustrious Johann Sebastian Bach and came across this story about him as a child. It's rather pleasing in a nerdy sort of way that I am able to recognize the names of two out of the three composers whose works were featured in the book of clavier pieces.

"The love of our little Johann Sebastian for music was uncommonly great even at this tender age. In a short time he had fully mastered all the pieces his brother [Johann Christoph Bach, an organist and former student of Pachelbel] had voluntarily given him to learn. But his brother possessed a book of clavier pieces by the most famous masters of the day-Froberger, Kerl, Pachelbel-and this, despite all his pleading and for who knows for what reason, was denied him. His zeal to improve himself thereupon gave him the idea of practicing the following innocent deceit. This book was kept in a cabinet whose doors consisted only of grillwork. Now, with his little hands he could reach through the grillwork and the roll the book up (for it had only a paper cover; accordingly, he would fetch the book out at night, when everyone had gone to bed and, since he was not even possessed of a light, copy it by moonlight. In six months' time he had these musical spoils in his own hands. Secetly and with extraordinary eagerness he was trying to put it to use, when his brother, to his great dismay, found out about it, and without mercy took away from him the copy he had made with such pains. We may gain a good idea of our little Johann Sebastian's sorrow over this loss by imagining a miser whose ship, sailing for Peru, had foundered with its cargo of a hundred thousand thaler. HE did not recover the book until after the death of his brother."

-From the Obituary of Johann Sebastian Bach.

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