I just had to share this little gem from The Guardian, in which Paul Lay reviews Bach’s Cantata No. 168 as a commentary on today’s financial crisis. This cantata chastises the unjust steward from Corinthians and the Gospel of Luke, with a nod to what Lay refers to as “the monied men of 1720s Weimar.” (Bach students will recall that the great prestige of Bach’s position at Leipzig’s Thomaskirche was due to that cities position as a trade power of the era, and that grumbling business correspondence is considered overrepresented in Bach’s surviving letters.)
Some text highlights include “Thine Accounting! Judgement Day!” (Tue Rechnung! Donnerwort!), and “”Capital and interest must one day be settled” (in which the tenor soloist worries about… accounting errors?)
Quite what the the economic situation was in Weimar at the time I cannot say, but after listening to Bach’s Cantata 168, we can conclude that the God-fearing Lutherans of the day shared Mervyn King’s concern with moral hazard, took a realistic view of the business cycle, and whether they liked it or not were unlikely to be fed escapist rubbish by the musical genius in their midst.
Enjoy this YouTube clip, or purchase a copy as a gift for that special financial whiz in your life.
Bach: Cantatas, BWV 94, 105, 168
J.S. Bach: Cantatas, Vol. 15
by Ton Koopman, Deborah York, Sandrine Piau, Christoph Pregardien, Paul Agnew, Klaus Mertens, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir