Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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I’ve heard that before!

Thu May 2 2019

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It appears as though Bach’s Orchestral Suites aren’t only popular in the concert hall.

In fact, the Suites, and Bach’s music more generally, have infiltrated various aspects of popular culture, proving that he is truly a timeless classic. Keep your ears peeled when listening to these Bach ‘variations’.
1. The famous Air on the G String derived from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No.3 in D. Made widely famous by August Wilhelmj’s transcription for solo violin and piano, the Air has been widely used in numerous pop culture references:

– If you have listened to the progressive U.K rock band Procol Harum’s famous song A Whiter Shade of Pale, you might have had the feeling that you’ve heard this music somewhere before. And you would be right! Lead singer/songwriter Gary Brooker confirmed that he drew inspiration from the Air, namely in the song’s first few bars which bear a striking and unmissable resemblance to Bach’s iconic bassline.

– Classical music is often used in films either to complement the drama or to add an element of irony for the viewer. David Fincher’s crime thriller Se7en uses the Air in one famous scene from the film. As the detective carries out library research on the brutal murders that are being committed, the security guards put on Bach’s music, creating a rather incongruous relationship between image and audio. Perhaps it is being suggested that Bach is the perfect counterpart to doing intense research. Or, just maybe, Fincher is insinuating that there is a darker side to Bach; one that somehow makes his music unsettlingly suitable for savagery and wickedness.

2. For those of you who were lucky enough to have been around during the blossoming of the Nokia ringtones, it would have been extremely difficult to miss the digitalised rendition of Bach’s Badinerie from his Orchestral Suite No.2 in B minor.The catchy and surprisingly singable (if you’re feeling brave enough to do the fast bits!) tune quickly became one of Nokia’s distinguishing features that can still be downloaded today! However, as much as we love Nokia’s nod to Bach, you might want to make sure your phone is switched off for the concert to make sure it’s not competing against our lovely flute player…

3. Occasionally, it takes a bit of ‘intelligent listening’ to hear the ways in which Bach’s music has been utilised. A great example of this can be heard in the theme tune to the BBC programme Ski Sunday. The theme uses Sam Fonteyn’s Pop Looks Bach which has now become a staple feature of the show’s branding. Fonteyn’s melody line has definite parallels with Bach’s Fugue in D minor (BWV 565), although Bach’s disquieting minor key has been replaced with a far lighter and cheerier major alternative. Not quite an exact copy, admittedly, but the piece is definitely a not-so-distant relative of our Pop Culture icon’s original.

Anna Bennett, Marketing and Press Officer


Bach: Toutes Suites 

Wiltshire Music Centre, 7.30pm, Friday 3 May 2019.

Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, 7pm, Tuesday 14 May 2019.

The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 7.30pm, Friday 10 May 2019.

Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, 7pm, Thursday 16 May 2019.

Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall, 6pm, Sunday 19 May 2019.



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