I recently heard a Bach composition while streaming music, which reminded me of the historical reappreciation of his works.
Johann Sebastian Bach’s music had lost favor in the early 19th century. The composer, who had died over 70 years earlier, was largely forgotten by the public as the musical taste toward more romantic and emotional one. But that all changed when a young Felix Mendelssohn stumbled upon a copy of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in a second-hand bookshop.
Mendelssohn was soon struck by the beauty and complexity of Back’s music. He began studying the composer’s works in earnest and quickly became a champion of Back’s music. Mendelssohn performed Bach’s works in public, wrote about his admiration for the composer, and even conducted a performance of the Bach’s works in public. However, his efforts to revive were met with some resistance. Some dismissed Bach’s music as old-fashioned and conservative.
With time, Mendelssohn’s hard work yielded results. Bach’s compositions started to regain their fame, and he is now recognized as one of the most exceptional composers in history. The contribution of Mendelssohn in this resurgence cannot be emphasized enough – without his fervor and commitment, Bach’s music might have been obscure for an extended period.
There was even a legend around Mendelssohn’s encounter with the music. Mendelssohn came over a stack of outdated sheet music in a butcher shop when he was strolling through Leipzig. When he looked more closely, he realized that it was Bach’s music. He was so moved by what he discovered that he set up the music’s performance, which helped restore Bach’s reputation.
Even if a horse is capable of running a thousand miles, it still needs a skilled horseman to discover its potential. With Mendelssohn’s efforts, the great works of Bach would likely have been discarded as worthless scraps of paper used to pack pork.