Friday, January 15, 2010

This is listening to a human mind

A wide variety of music, including some by Bach, was sent into the far reaches of outer space on the two Voyager spacecrafts in the 1970s. When eminent biologist and author Lewis Thomas was asked what music he would want sent from Earth into outer space he answered, "I would send the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach." After a pause he added, "But that would be boasting."
My header photo shows how boasting has been made affordable. Brilliant Classics 155 CD Bach Edition currently retails in the UK for around £140. Lewis Thomas also said:
Music is the effort we make to explain to ourselves how our brains work. We listen to Bach transfixed because this is listening to a human mind.
The full list of the music sent into outer space on the Voyager spacecrafts is here, Neil Armstrong's personal moon music is here, and, gentlemen, old Bach is here.

Quote credits Carmel Bach Festival and ThinkExist. Brilliant Classic's Bach Edition was given to me as a Christmas present when it was first released. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

5 comments:

Pliable said...

Lewis Thomas on chance is interesting -

'Or perhaps we are only at the beginning of learning to use the system, with almost all our evolution as a species still ahead of us. Maybe the thoughts we generate today and flick around from mind to mind...are the primitive precursors of more complicated, polymerized structures that will come later, analogous to the prokaryotic cells that drifted through shallow pools in the early days of biological evolution. Later, when the time is right, there may be fusion and symbiosis among the bits, and then we will see eukaryotic thought, metazoans of thought, huge interliving coral shoals of thought.'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Thomas

Lewis Thomas wrote Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's "Ninth Symphony -

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Night-Thoughts-Listening-Mahlers-Symphony/dp/0140243283

mrmaths said...

The cantata cycle on the Brilliant complete edition was a new recording, featuring the Holland Boys Choir directed by Pieter Jan Leusink, together with a small group of musicians. The cantatas were originally sold in chemist shops and supermarkets, and all concerned were suprised how well the sold. Listening to BWV106 now, I'm not. They have the everyday freshness and directness that Bach must have produced in his job as choirmaster.

The Marches Hatter said...

This is not a comment on the merits or otherwise of the Brilliant set itself, more on boxed sets in general, which I was only discussing with a friend earlier this week.

I am currently collecting the Suzuki cantata set, as each is released on BIS - I had got to the point of no return (!) when the Gardiner cycle started to be released. As I have been collecting and listening to them now for almost 15 years, and have bought, on average, one every 4 months, I have played each disc a number of times, and have really got to know (and love) the cantatas.

Although not a cheap way of buying the full set, I cannot help compare this to some of the boxed sets I have bought over the years - they might have been amazing value, but there is something so daunting about a 30 CD set (let alone 150+) that I have often struggled to get to listen to them very often. Two excpetions that DO spring to mind are Dorati's Haydn symphonies and The Angeles String Quartet's Haydn set.

Lid said...

I clicked through and read your post on James Gaines' book, 'Evening in the Palace of Reason'. What a great book! Thanks for the suggestion.

Pliable said...

You have to believe that if even one person is swayed, or inspired, or changed, or comforted, by a programme, then that programme has been worthwhile.

http://www.overgrownpath.com/2009/12/thoughts-from-vienna-woods.html