Many compositions of his prolific canon, both vocal and instrumental, such as the St Matthew Passion and Goldberg Variations, are well known and regularly performed in concert houses the world over; less well known, perhaps, are details of his numerous and very artistic family.
Now the playwright Nina Raine (Tribes, Consent) turns her attention to Bach the man, in her new play Bach & Sons, soon to mark the reopening of the Bridge Theatre.
With the great Simon Russell Beale as Johann Sebastian, the play looks at the composer and his family, ultimately leading to the question, what is art for?
Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany, into a family of musicians. He, in turn, begat more musicians with his two wives, Maria Barbara Bach and, after her death, Anna Magdalena Wilcke. Of the 10 Bach children who survived into adulthood (there had been 20 in total), four became noted composers.
For the Bachs music was, therefore, a family business, and with typical imagination, depth and humour Nina Raine recreates the many discussions it would have provoked, arguments about music and what it's for, of course, but also about love and God. The family patriarch is portrayed as rude, irascible, touchy, a man of high standards, who demands equal commitment from those around him. His deep religious faith shines through it all, and finds moving expression in his music for the church.
You can just see Simon Russell Beale sink his teeth into such a meaty role! Joining him will be Samuel Blenkin (The Ocean at the End of the Lane), Pandora Colin (After the Dance, Every Good Boy Deserves Favor), Ruth Lass (The Tempest, Hamlet), Douggie McMeekin (A Midsummer Night's Dream) Racheal Ofori (Three Sisters) and Pravessh Rana, making his professional stage debut.
Bach & Sons is directed by Nicholas Hytner (The History Boys, One Man, Two Guv'nors, among so many award-winning shows), whose most recent collaboration with Simon Russell Beale was the Bridge Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol during last year's festive season. The associate director is James Cousins, with set designs by Vicki Mortimer, costumes designed by Khadija Raza, lighting by Jon Clark, sound by Gareth Fry and music supervised by George Fenton.
Tickets for Bach & Sons are on general sale
|Bach & Sons, Bridge Theatre
|Bridge Theatre, 3 Potters Fields Park, London, SE1 2SG | MAP
|London Bridge (underground)
23 Jun 21 – 11 Sep 21, 19:30 Wed & Sat mats at 14:30 Dur.: 2 hours 30 mins inc one interval
|Click here to book