What Do the Black Plague, Nazis, and Bach Have in Common? This Painting.

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty

In the fall of 1705, Johann Sebastian Bach traveled from Arnstadt to Lübeck in northern Germany to study with the great organ master stationed at St. Mary’s Church.

For several months, Bach stayed in Lübeck soaking up the sweet tunes of Dietrich Buxtehude. One can imagine the master and his pupil tickling the ivories and dancing along the pedalboard with an urgency that only can overtake two musical geniuses staring death in the face.

No, they weren’t chased by the pursuit of artistic perfection or a bad medical diagnosis. Their creative sessions at the organ were overseen by a literal depiction of death—Bernt Notke’s monumental painting, “Danse Macabre.” 

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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