“The best proof we have that life is good is that to each of us, on the day we are born, comes the music of Johann Sebastian Bach,” writes J.M. Coetzee in Diary of a Bad Year. “It comes as a gift, unearned, unmerited, for free.” While the respected novelist voiced that thought, as he often does, through a highly opinionated protagonist, I can’t help but suspect that author and character to some extent agree on this. Some of us discover Bach right away, in childhood; others do it much later. And whether or not we’ve earned or merited his music, it now comes to us more freely than ever.
Take, for example, Bach’s complete organ works, which you can download at no cost from Block M Records. Performing them all, we have University of Michigan’s Dr. James Kibbie — “on original baroque organs in Germany,” no less.
They’ve organized the collections, released under a Creative Commons license, into a complete catalog (that you can also search)—with downloadable groups (from trio sonatas and concerti to the Schübler Chorales and the Orgelbüchlein), as well as a list of evergreen familiar masterworks (such as the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor and the Passacaglia in C Minor). They’ve made it easy to access and enjoy an important part of Bach’s wide, hugely influential, and endlessly enduring body of work. The question of whether life is ultimately good you’ll have to settle for yourself, but you can easily start gathering the evidence right here.
Colin Marshall writes on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.