Between Baroque & A Hard Place

A few years back I wrote a blog about baroque period composer Johann Sebastian Bach… Or should that be a few years Bach, not back?… No, no, I was right first time. 

Within that fictional essay I somehow managed to divert from the original narrative topic of the UK’s 1715 Riot Act. Instead segwaying onto a ridiculous riff about Bach; included within this literary silliness details of a problematic world tour JSB embarked upon during this era. 

God only knows why I felt moved to pen a blog about the 300-year-old parliamentary edict (the 1715 Riot Act), or indeed JS Bach, however select those subjects I did.  

For the uninitiated, the parliamentary act introduced crowd control legislation. A law giving local authorities powers to arrest groups of twelve or more people if they wouldn’t disperse within an hour of a magistrate reading them the Riot Act. 

The Riot Act read to these mingling blaggards went as follows: – 

“Our sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies……… To summarise, shift your arses you idle shit stirrers or you’ll end up in the nick …………. Oh, and God save the King.” 

As you may have noticed, I used artistic licence when adding the penultimate sentence. The magistrate may have yearned to express “To summarise, shift your arses you idle shit stirrers or you’ll end up in the nick.”, however the Riot Act’s draft text certainly didn’t include such a threat. 

Anyhow, after introducing the law’s aim in my original blog, I went on to fictitiously add German Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach and his orchestra had become victim of this new law.  

Telling an unlikely tale that at the conclusion of Bach’s set at Castleford Working Men’s Club, his audience were read the Riot Act for refusing to disperse until they had heard him sing Bat Outta Hell. Consequently, many were forcefully taken into custody. 

Adding Bach was furious after the incident. The episode not only robbing him of an opportunity to perform his songs live (as opposed to those of Meatloaf), but also adversely impacting merchandising sales.  

Scathing about Castleford Parish Council’s pedantic interpretation of this act, he launched into a tirade about how their overreaction deprived fans of an evening’s entertainment. Not to mention opportunity to purchase JS Bach tour t-shirts, dolls, caps and fridge magnets. 

One local newspaper of the time covering the crowd dispersal story with a headline of ‘Bach Caught Between Baroque & A Hard Place’. 

Bach’s management team eventually came to an agreement with the magistrate, securing the audience’s liberty in return a cut of the profits from Christmas DVD sales.  

The magistrate did not understand what he had been offered by the management team, However, as it sounded like it would earn him a few farthings, accepted the deal. 

This furore over the new law put the composer off visiting England again and led to him later pulling out of a prestigious headlining spot on the Glastonbury Festival. Festival organisers forced to replace him with Antonio Vivaldi. 

Bach was unrepentant, though, claiming his actions resulted from the idiotic and inconsistent crowd control laws in England. For Johann there was no Arnold Swarzenegger-esque threat of “I’ll be Bach!” … Although at some juncture of his life he more than likely said “I am Bach.” 

The Baroque music era (approx 1600 – 1760), which included compositions from Bach, Handel and Vivaldi, was ‘imaginatively’ split into three 18th century phases known as the early, middle, and late periods. 

History books record this momentous occasion when the Baroque Era Naming team’s eureka moment occurred. 

The incident telling of impatient team members urging project leader Wolfgang Scritz to: – “Hurry up Wolfgang! The quicker you name the three Baroque eras, the quicker we can get down the pub… Why not just call them the early, middle, and late Baroque phases?” … No one will give a toss” 

The concurring leader responding “Good idea Franz; that sounds like a plan. You lads go ahead… Get me a pint of Becks and a bag of pork scratchings while I journal this epiphany for posterity… I will meet you down there.” 

Anyhow, if you have stayed with this silly defiling of a small part of Bach’s life, you may be wondering what moved me to rake up an absurd fictional tale from years ago. 

Well, as part of a writing group I attend bi-weekly I am required to pen a piece with a prompt topic of rock. Hearing this requirement causing the ‘Bach Caught Between Baroque & A Hard Place’ newspaper headline to tarry back into my conscious mind. 

So, 800+ words into the yarn, now you know!!… I do not know what you are tutting disapprovingly for. I am not charging you for this questionable hooey!! 😉

Leave a Reply