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Die Kunst der Fuge › Manifest
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THE FACE OF BACH: Copyright by Teri Noel Towe A complete collection of all the books and essays that have been published on J S Bach’s work Die Kunst der Fuge - of all descriptions, interpretations and opinions that ever have been thought - should be constructed like the legendary Babylonian Library as Borges shows it: a labyrinth of never ending circular paths that nobody can walk in a lifetime; or maybe rather a jungle where you can get lost. Outside of all ideologies, however, the work itself still remains enigmatic, full of an infinite energy, and seems to be looking forward to all the different approaches that will follow in the future. (Actually it has been composed for the future: written in the 1740s, never been heard while sleeping in some silent ground for about 170 years; and, considering its history of interpretation, it is a myth of the 20th century.)But the vivid challenge of DKdF spreads not only across the ages - all those who have already experienced their way of exploring the work, have been starting from the most different regions of human culture: musicology, theology, numerology, psychology, history, from different aspects of religion and arts, and many more paths; quite often a very special and personal discovery. So, DKdF reveals itself as a perfect screen for projections from any direction (Hölderlin: untrügbarer Kristall, an dem das Licht sich prüfet), still fresh and never damaged by whatever strange theory, a constant source of adventure and experience.

Not least, DKdF is music. The score is, in a literally sense, a perfect playground for musicians, a most fertile matrix for musical performance. Almost every type of music has its bible, but DKdF seems to be an universal touchstone. Once more the work is breaking frontiers: instrumentalists, composers, directors of almost any style and specification (at least those whose art is based on written notes) feel themselves invited to explore it, to arrange, to change, to recreate it - and to make it sound.

The results, at last, reveal their colourful variety at the final adress of every music: at the audience. Listening to the most different performances and recordings of DKdF is reading in the book of life (or walking the Babylonian Library, or a jungle). Any possible aspects of human efforts become audible - intellectual, scientific, emotional, social or religious quest; any kind of experience - love and grief, struggle and sensuality; plans, victories and defeats; dream, desire, dance; learning and loss, and many secrets - much more than the sum of what can be named with words… but that’s why we have music, like Die Kunst der Fuge.

Thomas Radleff, 2002