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Bach's Cycle, Mozart's ArrowAn Essay on the Origins of Musical Modernity$
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Karol Berger

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780520250918

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520250918.001.0001

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There Is No Time Like God's Time

There Is No Time Like God's Time

(p.102) 3 There Is No Time Like God's Time
Bach's Cycle, Mozart's Arrow

Karol Berger

University of California Press

This chapter returns to the Passion's opening chorus to ask why it is here, before the story of the Passion even gets under way, that Bach wants to abolish time. It shows that in the Passion, time is nested within the structurally and ontologically more primordial timeless eternity embodied, as it happens, in what is musically the work's most substantial layer. The story of humanity that is the implied context of Jesus's story possesses the same complex temporality, the same embedding of the linear flow of time within the framework of eternity which people find in Bach's setting. The linear time of human earthly history is not infinite; it had a beginning and will come to an end. “Before” and “after” there is God's infinite time, eternity. It is this fundamental structure of irreversible time embedded in eternity that Bach replicates in the Passion.

Keywords:   Bach, Passion, Jesus's story, temporality, linear time, God's time

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