Amy Flaherty
Bach cello suite no 2, played on classical guitar, played for the dead in a cemetery in Madison ME
2012
video, performance
I played Johann Sebastian Bach’s second cello suite arranged for classical guitar to the dead in a cemetery in Madison, ME. Despite being written in the early 1700s, the cello suites were not popularized until the 1920s. The buried, most of which lived during the 1800s, wouldn’t have heard this piece in their lifetime because of the history of this music.

Even though the music and the people in the cemetery existed at the same time, they missed each other. The Cello suites, presumed to be merely studies, were neglected by musicians until their rediscovery by Pablo Casals. Thanks to Casals, the suites are known as one of Bach’s most ambitious and appreciated pieces. This music, arranged today for many instruments, I play on classical guitar, an instrument also not popularized until the 1900s.

I wanted to give the dead a concert composed of music that they might have appreciated but weren’t able to hear. I am too late for these people to hear the music with biological ears. My wish to prove how great this music is to the dead represents an inadequate remedy for a missed opportunity.