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Emily Grossman

Komm, süßer Tod

April 11, 2008 at 9:24 AM

Carl Barnett was the band teacher for Will Rogers High School in Tulsa Oklahoma, back in the 70's. I never met the man, but my Uncle Woody played trumpet for him, and he remembers him well, and will tell you this story:

Mr. Barnett was preparing them for an upcoming concert, and had decided the program should include an arrangement of one of his favorite choral works, Komm, süßer Tod by J S Bach. At one point, the trumpets carried the melody, and Mr. Barnett drilled them each day to get the passage just right. He was a hard man to please, but when they nailed it, his eyes would shine as he nodded and smiled in satisfaction; you could tell that this particular place in the music held a special meaning for him. Worried that he would mess it up during the performance, Woody practiced his part a few extra times in the days preceding the concert.

Then came the night of the performance. One by one the phrases passed:

Come, sweet death, come blessed rest!
Come lead me to peace
For I am weary of the world,
Oh come! I wait for you,
Come soon and lead me...

Finally, the trumpets reached their place to shine. Woody took a deep breath and played:

Close my eyes.
Come, blessed rest!

Mr. Barnett looked at him, smiled and nodded, and passed away right there on the stage.

From Donna Clegg
Posted on April 11, 2008 at 1:15 PM
Oh wow!
From Tom Steele
Posted on April 11, 2008 at 1:32 PM
My favorite part of the story is Uncle Woody's butchering of the German phrase.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on April 11, 2008 at 2:12 PM
Bach's text there is as goth as it gets. Obviously ahead of his time.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on April 11, 2008 at 2:16 PM
Reminds me of Metallica too.
From Tom Holzman
Posted on April 11, 2008 at 3:30 PM
If you gotta go join the Ancestors' Band, it does not get any better than that story. To go out as you are experiencing that sort of bliss doing what you love is quite something, particularly in our day and age of hospitals and tubes.
From Mendy Smith
Posted on April 12, 2008 at 4:15 AM
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on April 12, 2008 at 11:54 AM
I wanna know what happened next. Did the orchestra finish playing the piece? Did people rush up on stage to Mr. Barnett's aid? Did someone yell, to the audience, "is there a doctor in the house?"
From Tom Holzman
Posted on April 12, 2008 at 5:08 PM
Jeez, Karen. You are going to spoil the ambience. Ever the scientist.
From Bernadette Hawes
Posted on April 13, 2008 at 7:38 PM
I'm no scientist, Tom, and I'm curious. I mean, that piece of writing just transports you right there and you wanna know what next. Though I see your point.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on April 14, 2008 at 3:08 AM
What happened to Carl next, God only knows. ;)

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