BACHFEST 2018 Introduction

“Out of Conflict…the Peace

Historical events have inspired the programming for our 2018 Bachfest, promising some truly memorable JSB performed by some of the most exciting Bach-performing talent on the concert platform today.

When Bach was born at Eisenach in 1685, German States were still recovering from the effects of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648),  the 400th anniversary of the war’s outbreak of which falls this year.  Every facet of life was affected for decades to come and, post-war, the fall-out of this terrible conflict had huge influence in shaping late 17th and 18th century German music. Culture from France and Italy was imported. From France came dancing masters and the latest in fashionable dance steps, the forms of which influenced the compositional style of Johann Sebastian Bach that remained with him throughout his life.

Bach, as an Envoy of Peace

The composer’s historic visit to Frederick the Great at Potsdam in 1747  recalled in our opening concert (31 October) was probably planned to take place much earlier, but which was discouraged while the Prussian King was in war mode. Leipzig was occupied by the King’s army over Christmas 1745 – the Siege of Leipzig. This lasted into the early New Year when a Peace was agreed and the troops withdrawn. By 1747, the time seemed ripe for Bach to make what is regarded now and probably was then, a very significant diplomatic journey to Potsdam that inspired the creation of a special composition in honour of ‘His Royal Majesty in Prussia…”.


Frederick The Great, Flautist, painted by Adolph Menzel 1852

The 100th Anniversary of the end of WW1 in 1918 will be more of a foray into history as well as remembrance for most of us now. My grandparents all lived through this war, my paternal grandfather fighting in France in 1918. He never recovered from the gas and stench of warfare. Music played a vital part in keeping up spirits and Bach works were still performed throughout this conflict, particularly at The Proms.

Post WW1 saw the beginnings of a fresh approach to the study and performance of Bach’s music. This inspired the London Bach Society’s founder Paul Steinitz to start his own Society to get back to Bach in its original form…and he had to wait until the end of another conflict before he could do so! Taking his mission further, he founded Steinitz Bach Players in 1968, the 50th anniversary of which will be celebrated throughout the series – a celebration of today’s finest Bach-playing talent.

Margaret Steinitz (Artistic Director & Festival Founder)


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May 2019

March 2019