Long Lost Bach

I thought it was lost, only the haunting frame of the melody remained. Music that helped carry me and calm me through, not only biology, but also my second semester of college. I could move through the stacks to find those albums, my friends and consolation, by the look of the jacket even if I did not remember the name of the work or the performers. Before digital music, I wrapped the headphones from a turntable around my thoughts while transcribing my biology notes to improve my science grade. My favorite music for this project was this beautiful Harpsichord and Orchestral music that I pulled from the library shelves by habit having stumbled upon it once when I found the cover attractive. I don't remember ever knowing who or what it was, I just loved that harpsichord music and could always find its home out of habit. Humming the melody, as I often did, kept that dear friend with me always.

When I left Oneonta at the end of the spring semester, without knowing it was my last there, I left without the name of my friend. It would be decades before I found it again. Memories of the music surfaced periodically. I searched for ears more musically educated than mine who could help me put a name to the melody by humming a few bars and ending with their confused look.

Years later a man became the headphones and the alcoves of a library. I am able to find calm and concentration through our interaction. His collection of CD's included many selections from Bach and he offered them to me as candidates for the long lost cherished tune. I did not remember enough of the music, nor he the range of CD Bach offerings to find the right piece. Our search for the missing tune always ended with him saying that one day he would hook the turntable up and we could search through the vinyl. We spent two years getting to know that our past had connections and threads that lead us to meeting when he got lost and found my phone number on a real estate sign. There were so many threads that we did not need to track down the specific examples. It was enough for me to see the diversity of his collected cds, tape and vinyl.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, 31 years after I first heard that much loved harpsichord music, became a day of digging into boxes of his things for Christmas as we planned to decorate our first shared holiday space. First item found was the lens to an old slide projector and of course slides. Then boxes of trains! Track, switches, shrubs and a village worth of buildings that had been a part of his Christmas since he was a boy. The next discovery was the turntable! It did not take long to hook it into the sound system and I was more surprised than he that it still worked! We had no choice but to drag the heavy boxes of 12 inch record albums out. His attention went to his old friends that had been put aside to make way for digital recordings while I browsed other boxes reassured that we shared a love for similar music. We listened to Doc Watson and Jerry Jeff Walker while I searched the unsorted record collection looking for a melody without a name but also just enjoying the candy shop of selections.

A boxed set with four discs that claimed the complete Bach harpsichord concertos was my immediate selection. We started with disc one, side one, Brandenburg Concerto #5 and it was lovely but not my old companion. Next was disc one, side eight, The Triple Concerto. The boxed set was organized so that all four records could be played in sequence on one of the old record changers while only flipping the stack once. Of course, they were not in the box in order, so we nearly delayed finding disc 2, side 2. My quest needed to be more methodical so I insisted that we move through the collection numerically.

We had listened to a many selections from Bach on his CD's but the magical moment hidden in the carefully preserved vinyl finally came. I knew immediately that the Bach concerto #1 for Harpsichord and Orchestra was the long lost tune. I was thrilled! Tears came at finding that old friend and the icing on this fabulous cake was that my two friends had known one another all these years!

Here is a short excerpt from the concerto.

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