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New Television; J. S. Bach

Part of New Television Workshop.

Approximate date: 1986

License Clip

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New Television
J. S. Bach
Series Description

"New Television" began as a local pilot production of WNET (New York) in 1986. In 1987, WGBH signed on as co-producer, and the shows were aired in Boston and New York. In 1988 and 1989, KCET (Los Angeles) and WETA (D.C.) became producers in association. In 1991, PBS picked up "New Television," and it was broadcast nationally. The following year, the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, replaced WNET, WETA, and KCET as co-producer with WGBH. In 1993, WGBH ceased to be a co-producer for the series, and the "home base" moved to Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) in Hartford, CT.

"New Television" commissioned, produced, and acquired programming. In its early years, "New Television" broadcast works commissioned by The Contemporary Art Television (CAT) Fund. Increasingly, experimental films as well as video works were broadcast as a part of this series. Many of the later episodes of "New Television" contain works that play with and deconstruct the documentary genre. Series release date: 1986

Program Description

"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 Bachs 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 Bachs 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 Churchs Choir and Cantor. This is the fourth piece in a series by Downey entitled, "The Thinking Eye." The work is dedicated to Downeys 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.

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1750
Film and Television
Downey, Juan ()
Labarca, Guillermo ()
St. Thomas Church's Choir and Cantor ()
Meyers, Steve ()
Comparone, Elaine ()
Dines, Carol ()
Sandor, Giorgy ()
Chicago: “New Television; J. S. Bach,” GBH Archives, accessed April 17, 2024,
MLA: “New Television; J. S. Bach.” GBH Archives. Web. April 17, 2024. <>.
APA: New Television; J. S. Bach. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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