An Enduring Fascination with the Choral Music of J.S. Bach

Helmuth Rilling & J.S. Bach

An Enduring Fascination with the Choral Music of J.S. Bach

We just read, and listened to, a wonderful interview conducted by Meridee Duddleston from WRTI, a public radio station in Philadelphia, with Luther Choral Festival conductor Helmuth Rilling.  The interview focused primarily on Rilling’s expertise in J.S. Bach’s music, specifically Bach’s motets.  The interview was precipitated by Rilling’s visit to the U.S. to lead choirs at Temple University this Saturday, April 16 in performance of Bach motets.

“Knowing Bach was a miracle for me, and still is.”

– Helmuth Rilling

An fascinating part of the interview focused on Rilling’s lack of concern about performing J.S. Bach’s music precisely the way Bach would have intended – specifically, using Bach’s tempo markings, and the size of choirs during his time (typically far small then than now).  According to Rilling, it is very important to understand what Bach intended, but it’s an entirely different time now – people have changed, and even the music has changed.  The way people listen to the music is different now than in the 1700’s.  At the same time, he calls himself “Bach’s servant” when he performs his music, and tries to adhere to the composer’s wishes as much as possible.

You may read and listed to the entire 10+ minute interview here.