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Bach’s Birthday

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Cantata, BWV 9: Es ist das Heil uns kommen her. Johann S. Bach [manuscript score]
Cantata, BWV 9: Es ist das Heil uns kommen her. Johann S. Bach. Manuscript score.

Baseball season is just around the corner; Johann Sebastian Bach (not to be confused with Canadian heavy-metal singer Sebastian Bach) has just celebrated a birthday; what better time than now to revisit  From Bach to Baseball Cards: Preserving the  Nation’s Heritage at the Library of Congress. This web presentation looks at some of the problems the Library has encountered in working with older materials, and the solutions offered by the Preservation Office to ensure that these priceless treasures outlive us all.

From Bach to Baseball Cards was launched in 2000, which once upon a time was a Year of The Future but is now ten years and numerous technological advances in the past. Fortunately, many of the Music Division treasures featured in the presentation have since been digitized for posterity. These include a copy of Mozart’s Don Giovanni written out in Beethoven’s own hand; the first printed edition of “The Star Spangled Banner” ;  manuscripts by Brahms and John Philip Sousa; and our treasure of the day, Bach’s Cantata, BWV9.

The Conservator’s task for this piece was daunting, and delicate, and filled with the kind of  language that makes a bibliophile swoon. An excerpt:

Conservators …  mended damaged areas with Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste. They covered the binding in limp vellum, made vellum endsheets and endbands, and laced the whole together with alum-tawed goatskin.

Only the best for the Maestro.  Johann Sebastian Bach was born March 21st, 1685.  Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach was born April 3rd, 1968. Happy Birthday!


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