Following Bach

02 November 2006

DURING the past nine days, BBC Radio 3 has been having a Bach bonanza. Since 16 December, it has been broadcasting all the music by Johann Sebastian Bach in a festival called "A Bach Christmas". Contributing to a series of audio-diaries that interspersed the music has been Peter Dyke, assistant organist at Hereford Cathedral, who is also music teacher at the cathedral school.

In 1705, the 20-year-old Bach walked 260 miles from Arnstadt to Lübeck so that he could meet and learn from the elderly composer Dietrich Buxtehude, the virtuoso organist at the Marienkirche in Lübeck. Last summer, Mr Dyke followed that same route, not walking, but by car. Though it took him less than a week, he was still able to visit many of the same sites and churches along the way.

"It was an amazing journey to take, and the distance was even more impressive when you consider that in Bach's day few people moved outside the villages and towns in which they lived." Mr Dyke plays a lot of Bach's music, and wanted to get "a flavour of the scenery and surroundings that inspired his creativity". Selections from his audio diary have been broadcast in slots of five or ten minutes during the evening concerts of the Bach festival.

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