The documentary features Bach fans all over the world

The documentary features Bach fans all over the world

From MDR Kulturdesk

November 29, 2023, 4:00 AM

People all over the world are passionate about the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. How does one explain the fascination with the famous German composer? Leipzig director Anna Schmidt is looking for answers in her new film, “Living Bach,” which can be shown in cinemas starting Thursday.

What Is it what draws people around the world to Johann Sebastian Bach? The new documentary “Living Bach,” which hits theaters Thursday, is about that question. Anna Schmidt, director of MDR KULTUR, said the film shows people of different faiths and cultures “having a very special and potentially life-changing relationship with Bach.” She accompanied the singers as they prepared for a joint concert at the Bach Festival in Leipzig.

Bach fans from Australia, Paraguay and Malaysia

All the heroes of the film are members of amateur teams. “Clearly, professional musicians think Bach is good,” says the director. She knows from her own choral experience: “Singing Bach is difficult. You have to have little prior knowledge or put a lot of love and energy into rehearsing these works.” She was curious who these people were who had the famous German composer at the center of their lives in their spare time.


The documentary “Living Bach” features passionate members of Bach choirs from around the world.
Image credit: schmidtFilm, World Cinema

The universal message of Bach’s music

Each of them has a different relationship to Bach: for some the music is comforting, for others it has a political meaning or a therapeutic element. The heroines from Switzerland have a different relationship with Bach than a black musician from South Africa.


South African singer Thabang Modise explains his fascination with Bach in the film.
Image credit: schmidtFilm, World Cinema

The fact that the composer’s libretto is written in German does not pose a problem for singers around the world. “You understand what the music is saying through the notes,” says director Anna Schmidt. Bach’s texts were translated for them: “But since people come from very different cultures and religions, a lot of people don’t have much to do with Christianity in that sense and understand the message and message of this music – which is very, very universal – about music.”

The fascination with Bach’s music extends beyond Leipzig

So, what interests people about a documentary about Bach? According to Anna Schmidt, many say that his music holds something supernatural for them, “that Bach leads them to emotional states that cannot be achieved with other music.” But no one can explain it exactly. “Why there is such a great fascination with Bach actually remains a mystery. I think that is the magic that surrounds Bach’s music. In the end, it is simply magic.”

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The documentary “Living Bach” ends with a concert in the Thomas Church in Leipzig.
Image credit: schmidtFilm, World Cinema

despite of Despite all the differences in terms of culture, origin or profession, in the end all the heroes sing together in the Church of St. Thomas in Leipzig. There is harmony. The South African protagonist explains it this way in the film: “If everyone sang or listened to Bach, the world would be a better place.” His reasoning, according to director Anna Schmidt: “Because when you sing Bach, you have to listen carefully to each other and all voices have equal rights.” […] “No voice can prevail over another voice.”

Information about the movieDocumentary film “Living Bach”
mdr/art
Germany 2023
Director: Anna Schmidt
Cast: Thabang Modise, Lee Hai Lin, David Portillo, Kazuko Navata
Showing duration: 114 minutes
Cinema release: November 30, 2023

Source: MDR KULTUR, Editing: vp, hki

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