When Bach’s “esoteric” music becomes the vogue

Jan Swafford, whose Brahms biography proves that a rigorous scholarly study can indeed be a compelling page-turner, has an interesting piece over at Slate about the surprising recent popularity of Bach’s Die Kunst der Fuge thanks to the formidable Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s recent recording for Deutsche Grammophon. I would only add that there are parallels between Aimard’s achievement and the remarkable recording debut of Glenn Gould over half a century ago – through which he turned Bach’s Goldberg Variations, then regarded as a similarly “esoteric” work of more interest to the musicology set than a broader listening public, into a chart-topping hit.

Leave a Reply