Ich Habe Genug
TO: lolitalark@yahoo.com

From: Rosie Boulton (BBC)

RE: Ich Habe Genug

Hello,

I'm making a programme for BBC Radio 4 about Bach's Cantata: Ich Habe Genug.

I'm looking for people who have a strong association with this music and I came across your blog which suggested that this cantata may have played an important role in your life.

http://www.ralphmag.org/JG/bach-article.html

If so and if you are interested, might it be possible to have a conversation? In which case, perhaps you could suggest a convenient time and a number to call you on.

- - - Thanks and best wishes
Rosie Boulton
Audio Producer, BBC www.rosieboulton.co.uk

§   §   §

Hi, Rosie.

And thanks for reminding us of the terrific ten days we had so many years ago with the BBC and their festival of the music of Bach. I think I was with you for most of that time, letting the music go on all day and all night, me dozing off from time to time, waking up to Cantata number 21 or 84, or 203, or one of the passions, or the French or English suites.

Now of course, You Tube (You Tube!) has multiple versions of every one of the cantatas, most especially what I call the gold series (no other information provided) all with the same gold cover, and tremendous performances throughout. Sometimes I let them run for days, never a break in a non-stop infusion of the master, one that may have caused him some wonder at the very concentratedness of it all.

Yes, when I was in college in the mid 1950s, in those weekends of despair that young people manage to scrape up, I would adjourn to my dormitory room, where I had an ancient amplifier (tubes that actually lit up), and an ancient speaker (as big as a trunk) and, in the company of my miseries and my conñnac, would spend an evening brooding about the meaning of life and love and solitariness and woe and the-meaning-of-it-all.

Fortunately, since I was a good student, I'd wake up the next day, take some aspirin, do my homework, and appear promptly and sober for classes until I graduated in 1957.

I remember Ich Habe Genug with special fondness. It addressed itself to my existential sense of despair.

One translation was

    It is enough.
    I have held the Savior, the hope of all peoples,
    In the warm embrace of my arms.
    It is enough.

But the better one, perhaps made up by me, was I've had it. Let me outta here!

Which was reflected in the words further on in the aria (sung by the superb baritone, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau):

    World, I will not remain here any longer,
    I own no part of you
    that could matter to my soul.
    Here I can but build up misery.

It ends up with the plea to let me into the cool soil of earth.

Perfect for a young man caught in the toils of whatever takes us over at those times of our life.

I suspect that part of the power of Bach is built into counterpoint - - - the contrary music and words. You have a melody, a musical line going on, and all the while, there are one or two others, each noodling away in another space, around, below, overall.

Our conscious mind may be following the voice, but underneath, at the same moment, there's an oboe, or a cello, making its own different song, reaching our subconscious through another corridor.

It is wonderfully, subversively contrary, a Counter Point.

Because so much is going on, we who already have so much stuff going on in our brains end up being fully occupied and preoccupied and, ultimately, moved. Two or more voices reaching us: all are glorious. It's the essence of musical meditation.

I get from your email that you may want to interview me. That may be tricky: I live near the equator, in a country whose services may not be of the best quality.

In addition, my voice and my concentration tend to drift in and out, like a radio station that's not perfectly tuned in, gets affected by sunspots or whatever there is in the aether that makes these things wamble about.

Ironical, no? I did radio for most of my life, but now my main tool for communication, my voice, has begun to go out to lunch, leaving me, at times, solely with the written word. Et semel emissum volat irrevocabile verbum.

- - - Lo
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