An excerpt from the booklet essay by Pere Portabella

Why J S Bach?

Bach held the position of Thomaskantor in the Church of St. Thomas as an official of the Leipzig City Council, with whom he maintained a fluid correspondence to claim a decent salary that could allow him the economic means to be able to support the needs of a large family. He had twenty-one children. He did not leave any text with references, reflections or notes on his own work.

Throughout his life Bach was respected and considered a great performer, but never a great composer. Rhetorical and old-fashioned, articles that appeared in the musicological scripts of his time attest to this.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, composers charged for composing, not for performing the works of other composers. The concept of ‘Classics’, that is, cultural heritage that survives over time, is a phenomenon that was born in the nineteenth century parallel to the rise of nation states and the bourgeoisie.

Not a single one of his works was published until fifty years after his death. The next generation of composers considered his work uninteresting. For his part, Bach felt that he was touched by the hand of God, but he was only acting as interpreter to His vision.

It took musicians considerable time to rediscover the mastery of this composer. Everything indicates that Mozart heard Bach's motet entitled Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, and was deeply impressed: "What is this? At last, something we can learn from!" Paradoxically, it was Beethoven's masterful performance of The Well-Tempered Clavier that brought him fame as a virtuoso performer in the city of Vienna.

I was attracted by his strength as a learned craftsman of his trade, capable of endowing his works with something much more than simply being balanced and well-finished scores. An added value that places him at the top of his game —he developed a system of sounds and silences, repetitive series from crescendo to ecstasy, the result of a boundless imagination through which all his creative strengths emerge, without ever being aware of his own artistic accomplishment.

What is Die Stille vor Bach?

The first question I asked myself was how I could contextualize the work of J S Bach in the 21st century without altering its inherent value and integrating it into the story: the noises, the silences that surround us today, this is the key to visualise the music between the images of the story. I have placed Bach in this familiar setting, surrounded by common sounds of everyday life: public transport, trucks, cutlery falling to the ground, storms, the sound of a horse galloping... so that music always appears interfered with. All the pieces by J S Bach have been interpreted in their entirety and without cuts by musicians/actors, or actors/musicians and shot live in the same place where the events were represented, as well as retaining the dialogue, in German, Spanish and Italian, respectful of the origin and place of the story. The acoustic quality of each space is important, different from each other. The interpreters are not virtuous. They are good musicians and enthusiastic collaborators in their role in the film. Characters from different professions and social strata operate as the basic element for the socialisation of Bach's work, the visual integration of music outside concert halls, a place of ritualisation of the musical act, and the asepsis of recording studios.


Pere Portabella's complete essay, from which this excerpt is taken, appears in the booklet which accompanies the release.

Disc Info

Spain, 2007 / 2008
The Silence Before Bach:
102 minutes
Mudanza: 21 minutes
Special feature: 26 mins
Sound: 5.1 DTS-HD master audio / 2.0 Stereo LPCM (48k/24-bit)
Original aspect ratios:
1.85:1 / 2.00:1
Language: German, Spanish
Subtitles: English

Blu-ray: BD50 / 1080 / 24fps Region ABC (Region Free)

Blu-Ray: £19.99
Release Date: 24 May 2021


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