After knowing very little about J.S. Bach, I feel like I learned a great deal last night, when I was fortunate enough to attend a Tafelmusik
concert at Ravinia
(near Chicago). Here's what I found most interesting: For some of his compositions, Bach wrote nothing more than two chords. Apparently, like a jazz musician, Bach would improvise a riff over those two chords, without ever bother to write down what he'd done. This, of course, can be a bit of a problem for those attempting to perform one of his pieces. For Tafelmusik's performance of the second movement of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 last night, Jeanne Lamon, Music Director and First Violinist, tried her best to do what Bach would've done: she played a breathtaking solo which concluded with the two written chords.
We're so accustomed to recorded music that it's almost difficult to imagine a time when music was created to be played only once and then discarded.