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A Visit from J. S. Bach

I hesitate to repost Bach-Santathis again, but I find that the links that Google turns up are mostly dead, and some of you seem to like it.  So, with best wishes for a happy holdiay season, and without further ado, I give you:

A Visit From J.S. Bach

By Galen H. Brown,
(With apologies to Henry Livingston, Jr.)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the city
The critics were trying their best to be witty;
They printed their lists of the past year’s best fare,
In hopes that their trendy young readers would care;
But the readers were nestled all snug in their beds,
While vacuous pop idols danced in their heads;
And the Maestro in PJs, and I in my drawers,
Had just settled in to examine some scores,
When out on the lawn, such cacaphonous sound,
I sprang from my desk thinking Zorn was in town.
I rushed to the window, allegro con brio,
Tore open the shutters — I just had to see! Oh,
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what should my wondering eyes linger over,
But an old harpsichord and eight ghostly composers,
With an old kappelmeister conducting the flock –
I knew in a moment it had to be Bach.
More rapid than Valkyries, onward they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Mozart! now, Lassus! now, Schoenberg and Dvorak!
On, Cage! on Beethoven! on, Haydn and Bartok!
To the dominant seven! To suspended six-four!
Now dash away! dash away! appoggiatur’!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So off to a new key they all modulated,
For Bach would leave no variation unstated.
A caseura, and then on the roof could be heard
A cadence resolved with a picardy third.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney old J.S. Bach came with a bound.
He was dressed up for Weimar in 1710
And his fingers were stained with the ink from his pen;
An un-finished score could be seen to protrude
From his pocket — the title said “Die Kunst der Fugue.”
His eyes—how they twinkled with genius – none finer!
He did, after all, write the Mass in B Minor.
His mouth was a droll as a tonicization,
His wig was a white as unspoiled glaciation;
He carried a record of naughty and niceness –
That list was as long as the Bach Werke Verzeichnis!
His belly looked like it could use a supporter
And shook when he laughed, like a Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte.
He was chubby and plump, a well tempered old master,
And I laughed when I saw him, then wished I’d thought faster;
A wink, and a line from a two-part invention,
Soon showed me that I should feel no apprehension;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to composing,
A Musical Offering – it looked quite imposing,
Then humming some bars from the St. Matthew Passion,
He rose up the chimney in a glorious fashion;
He sprang to the keys, raised his hands to the sky
And away they all flew, at Allegro Assai,
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”


Comment from Hollis
Time: December 22, 2009, 2:05 pm

This is great Galen. I’m glad you decided to repost.

BTW: Do you have your Google sonnet posted anywhere?


Comment from Lisa Hirsch
Time: December 22, 2009, 8:26 pm


Comment from Evan
Time: December 23, 2009, 11:51 pm

Please just post this every year. It’s well worth it!

Comment from Classical Vibrations
Time: January 4, 2010, 4:35 pm

This is both brilliant and terrifying at the same time. I agree with Evan, an annual post for sure.

Favorite lines:

He was dressed up for Weimar in 1710
And his fingers were stained with the ink from his pen;
An un-finished score could be seen to protrude
From his pocket — the title said “Die Kunst der Fugue.”