The Greatest Composer of all Time

In human history, a handful of names glow like supernovas, burning brighter than all other individuals who have ever existed. Leonardo Da Vinci, Sir Isaac Newton, J.S. Bach.

I've been working on arranging for guitar, Bach's Partita No 1 for Violin. I am working straight from the violin score, rather than playing a transcription. It's the Bach-Gesellschaft (authenticated) edition. The violin score, in the key of b minor, is directly readable on the guitar (although an octave below the violin, I believe).  The octave transposition has no detriment, to my ear, at least.

As I am more and more absorbed in this magnificent work, I begin to feel like it is the greatest masterwork of all human creation. So it is with Bach. The hardest thing is to decide which work is the most beautiful. Any single composition of his thousands would be enough to secure the everlasting reputation of its composer. Any single one. Then I start to think of countless others of his masterpieces, and I get swallowed up in the enormity of his genius. The Lute Suites, The Magnificat, all the Contatas, The Well Tempered Clavier, Books 1 and 2. The Goldberg Variations. Oceans of organ music. The Flute Sonatas. The Brandenburg Concerti.  Every title conjures a whole new universe of beauty. Just hum (in your mind, if you’re in a public place) the first few bars of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, and you'll see what I mean.

In Bach's works, the musical intent is often so clear, so unforced, and so fitting. Every idea is so natural, and so pleasing, you think there must be thousands of other pieces using this motif - yet you can't think of a single one. How could he have come up with such a beautiful idea, I wonder, and have just used it this once, here in this courante or allemande? Yet, every piece is original, different from all the others, consistent within itself.  Each piece is fascinating, timeless, and totally captivating. I cannot hear a piece by Bach and carry on a conversation at the same time, as his music commands my attention and totally occupies my mind when I hear it - or even think of it.

Now as I study the Partita No 1 for violin - perfectly playable on the guitar with no modification, and as I caress each note, I feel at one with the greatest musical genius in history.

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