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 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.
Bach's text there is as goth as it gets. Obviously ahead of his time.
Reminds me of Metallica too.
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.
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?"
Jeez, Karen. You are going to spoil the ambience. Ever the scientist.
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.
What happened to Carl next, God only knows. ;)
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