Picks and Pans Review: The Stations of Bach

updated 05/28/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/28/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

PBS (Fri., May 25, 9 P.M. ET)

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A detailed and elucidating study of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) finds its structure in tracing the various German locales where he lived and worked as an organist, concertmaster, cantor and composer.

He was born in Eisenach into a musical family. (That's an understatement—Bach had 75 relatives who were professional musicians.) He resided in Lüneburg, Arnsladt, Mühlhausen, Weimar, Kothen and, his final station, Leipzig.

Let's face it. The guy was a careerist gypsy. He went wherever he could get the most favorable appointment. He was once arrested for demanding to be released from his contract to move on to a better position. (He must be basketball coach Larry Brown's idol.)

The imposing, 300-year-old architecture—much of it restored since the ravages of World War II—is extraordinary, but the real enticement is the music, including the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, the Double Violin Concerto, Motet No. 226, the Coffee Cantata and Goldberg Variations No. 23. Bach's compositions, so beautiful, so bracing, are both stately and ornamental. Go for Baroque!

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