On Steve Jobs, the computer and Bach
Baltimore filmmaker Mike Lawrence, whose "Bach & Friends" has deservedly won a great deal of praise, has been making fascinating documentaries for quite some time. One of his earliest was "Memory & Imagination: New Pathways to the Library of Congress," and among those Mike interviewed for that project was a young Steve Jobs.
"I could not have made 'Bach & Friends' without his computers and software," Mike said in an email. "In 1989, I filmed an interview with Steve for my Library of Congress film and what a special day that was. I remember very fondly every minute of the time I spent with him. I still have the NeXT coffee mug he gave me."
A friend of Steve Jobs asked Mike to send a copy of "Bach & Friends" to the celebrated Apple co-founder, who, like so many others, found himself drawn to the music of the venerable composer. Mike shared with me two Bach-related passages from books about the late Mr. Jobs:
From "Return to the Little Kingdom: How Apple and Steve Jobs Changed the World" by Michael Moritz: "I had been listening to a lot of Bach. All of a sudden the wheat field was playing Bach. It was the most wonderful experience of my life up to that point. I felt like the conductor of this symphony with Bach coming through the wheat field.”
And from "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson: "Bach, he declared, was his favorite classical composer. He was particularly fond of listening to the contrast between the two versions of the 'Goldberg Variations' that Glenn Gould recorded, the first in 1955 ... and the second in 1981, a year before he died. 'They're like night and day,' Jobs said after playing them sequentially one afternoon. 'The first is an exuberant, young, brilliant piece, played so fast it's a revelation. The later one is so much more spare and stark. You sense a very deep soul who's been through a lot in life. It's deeper and wiser.' Jobs was on his third medical leave that afternoon when he played both versions, and I asked which he liked better ... 'I like the earlier, exuberant one. But now I can see where he was coming from.'
Here's a video clip Mike Lawrence put together from his 1989 film as a tribute to Steve Jobs, talking about the possibilities of computers, followed by the Aria from the Goldberg Variations, as played by a youthful Glenn Gould: