Classical Concert Review: Bauhaus Bach Research Paper

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The fugues in particular, which are at once incredibly regular and mechanical in their construction -- scholars have noted the clean lines the many notes form on the printed page, for example -- yet achingly beautiful and religiously passionate embody many of the concepts of the Bauhaus philosophy and culture (Williams, 2007; James, 2006; Weber, 2009). With the newer orchestrations of Bach's works by these Bauhaus-affiliated composers, and with Feininger's own Bach-inspired fugue thrown in for good measure, the trajectory and relation of Bach's music to the Bauhaus school actually becomes quite clear, though the resultant sound is not necessarily the most impressive.

The Concert

All of the preparatory research completed before the concert definitely added to the anticipation this reviewer felt when leafing through the program and reading the extensive concert notes provided. The size of the hall and the crowd that filled it was somewhat intimidating, and added to the moment of the occasion. The crowd and the celebratory feel of the evening were not why anyone was truly there, however -- it was to enjoy the music, and perhaps to become enlightened through this enjoyment. The evening was certainly enlightening, but the enjoyment was mixed.

With the clean and regular nature of Bach's music highlighted both in previous research and in the program notes as the primary reason behind the Bauhaus artists' affinity for Bach, it seemed somewhat ironic that the music seemed muddled and quite far from crisp at times. The orchestrations of Bach's fugues and chorale music didn't have the crispness and the simplicity that the reviewer had come to expect from listening to recordings of similar pieces by the composer, albeit these pieces were played as they had originally been written and not in modern orchestrations.
Especially noticeable were the missing voices in the pieces that had originally been written for chorale groups; the melodies and harmonies simply didn't translate well when moving from voices to other instruments. The basic structure and beauty of Bach's work was still discernible underneath the more modern trappings and arrangements of the music, but it cannot be denied that these pieces were more simply divine and more honest, for lack of a more descriptive term, as Bach had originally written them and not as the Bauhaus school reinterpreted them.

There is also a very noticeable difference between Bach's pieces, even distorted as they are, and the piece composed by Feininger. Not only are the centuries of musical and aesthetic development quite noticeable in the different sounds of the pieces, but there is still an elegance and blend of order and beauty in Bach's pieces behind the orchestral arrangements that is not at all present in Feininger's piece. The evening was highly educational and a tremendous experience, but the music left something wanting.


James, K. (2006). Bauhaus Culture. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Stapert, C. (2010) J.S. Bach. New York: Lion.

Weber, N. (2009). The Bauhaus Group. New York: Knopf.

Williams, P.….....

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