may 29

Errol Morris on J.S. Bach

A quote from Errol Morris on the ‘Fuck You’ nature of good art:

Bach had gotten in trouble with the elders of the church in Leipzig. And they forced him to sign a codicil to his employment agreement. And there were three stipulations: no more overly complicated music; no more overly long music; no more overly dramatic music. Now, what is the first thing he wrote after signing the codicil? That’s right, the Saint Matthew Passion.

I see them coming into church: two orchestras; two choruses — but that’s not all! A boy’s choir; it’s three hours in length. Here’s my question: what if the greatest work of music in the Western canon is a thinly disguised form of ‘Fuck you!’

―Errorl Morris