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WGBH Media Library and Archives

J. S. Bach

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Summary
"Video artist Downey uses dramatic special effects to examine the life and works of composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Shot mostly in the wintery East German towns where Bach lived and worked, this layered, impressionistic video portrait of the composer reconstructs a path through Bach's eighteenth-century life and the source of his musical inspiration." -- press release.

The piece is divided into three sections -- Death, Flashback, and Counterpoint. Text by Nobel Peace Prize winner and Bach biographer Albert Schweitzer is incorporated. Factual information about Bach's life is presented along with scenes from towns such as Leipzig, where he lived. An image of a man riding a horse across a snowy landscape is repeated.

The music of Johann Sebastian Bach is featured throughout and is performed by Giorgy Sandor, Elaine Comparone, and the St. Thomas Church's Choir and Cantor.

This is the fourth piece in a series by Downey entitled, "The Thinking Eye." The work is dedicated to Downey's mother and is approximately 27 and one-half minutes long. It was broadcast as a segment of episode 302 (1987), and episode 101 (1991), of "New Television."
Topics
Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1750, Composers, Music
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