Reflect with Bach

Maxim Februari about comfort

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Maxim Februari about comfort Maxim Februari about comfort

The background

Maxim Februari about comfort

Bach is sometimes referred to as the great comforter. The message of the cantata ‘Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis’ is a typical Bach theme: hand over your cares and concerns, and trust that all will be well. But how do you do that if you don’t believe in divine powers? Maxim Februari looks for answers.

The greater the suffering, the more divine Bach’s music“

Life is a vale of tears, and no composer understands that better than Johann Sebastian Bach. How he managed it we’ll never know, but the greater the suffering, the more divine and comforting the music he derived from it. Distress and devotion, grief and trust; the cantata Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis is filled with contrasts – ideal starting points for someone who grew up with Bach and always stayed close to him. Maxim Februari is a philosopher, writer and columnist, who won the P.C. Hooft Prize for narrative and reflective prose in 2020. For many years, he wrote columns for de Volkskrant, and he now does the same for NRC Handelsblad. And talking about contrasts: his most recent collection of essays is entitled The Unreliable Narrator.

This concert is part of the series Reflect with Bach.

The concert

Works and Performance


Johann Sebastian Bach 
Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, BWV 21


Netherlands Bach Society
Shunske Sato, direction
Maxim Februari, speaker
Maud Vanhauwaert, poet


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  • Utrecht, TivoliVredenburg, Grote Zaal

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