Old folk at lunch

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A birthday concert: Bach



Today is of course the birthday of J.S. Bach -- of whom I am a great afficianado. So Anne and I went to an organ concert at a nearby Lutheran church to celebrate the occasion. Both the organ and the organist were excellent and Bach's ringingly self-confident music grabbed me from the very first notes.

The thing that inspired this post however was the prominence of East Asians on the occasion. The man selling tickets at the door was Chinese in fact. It reminded me that I have often read that the great Western classical music has a proportionately much bigger following in China and Japan than it does in the West.

I am very grateful for that. It could well be that Western culture is now decadent and much of our glorious cultural heritage stands in danger of being largely lost. I was for instance horrified to find out that, at the end of his high school years, my son had never heard of such great English poets as Wordsworth and Coleridge. I promptly sat down and read him some of course. The only introduction to poetry that his school gave him was to a very minor black poet! I happen to have known the black poet concerned (Kath Walker) and can tell you that she was essentially a whiner and little more.

So our kids are being de-educated and de-acculturated and it seems possible that there will one day be very few of our Volk left who will know enough to carry on the knowledge and appreciation of past wonders and attainments. That Asians may keep alive what we do not is therefore some comfort to me. While there is life there is hope.

When I first heard the music of Bach at age 13 it was an electrifying experience for me. It would be sad indeed if the generations to come never got the exposure that would introduce them also to our crowning musical achievements. But I think that lack of exposure is probably already happening in far too many cases. So if Asians keep alive our great cultural traditions it will all be to the good.