The World Awaits the Next Johann

Musicologists and others have longed tried to unlock the secret of great composers. From where deep within one’s right or left hemisphere does genius originate? Are they born with this talent or do they develop it over time? Does the music tutor at whose chair they sit at a young age make a difference?



Well, I think the root of musical genius has been staring us in the face all along. It’s all in the name. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that to be a musical genius, it helps to be named Johann. Why else are so many of the Baroque greats named Johann if their name has nothing to do with it?

jc bach

Johann, Jr.

Let’s start with the obvious. The composer that is No. 1 on virtually all lists of musical greats is Johann Sebastian Bach. It’s not Fred. It’s not Bill. It’s Johann. And note that Bach named one of his sons Johann Christoph Bach and that this son, of all of his sons, is the one who went on to a notable musical career, not as a Baroque composer but as a classical composer, but in any case he was considered quite noteworthy in his genre.

Before I proceed any further with this line of reasoning, let me assure you that this isn’t just me pulling some theory out of thin air. In fact, I pulled this theory out of Big Data, by culling from the On Baroque database these results:

  • Johann Jakob Froberger, 1616-1667
  • Johann Rosenmuller, 1619-1684
  • Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, 1623-1680
  • Johann Pachelbel, 1653-1706
  • Johann Paul von Westhoff, 1656-1705
  • Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer, 1656-1746
  • Johann Christoph Pez, 1664-1716
  • Johann David Heinichen, 1683-1729
  • Johann Sebastian Bach, 1685-1750
  • Johann Friedrich Fasch, 1688-1758
  • Johann Joachim Quantz, 1697-1773
  • Johann Adolph Hasse, 1692-1783

New name next, Amy?

I don’t know about you, but to me this list speaks for itself. But Big Data is still a new science, and frankly it’s not prudent to rely too heavily on these results, as compelling as they are, especially when there is already a rigorous scientific method that’s available to us, and has been for centuries: name analysis.

In The Guardian there’s an article called “Names really do make a difference,” and it cncludes that girls with feminine names steer clear of masculine disciplines like math and science. And there’s an article in Science Focus called “The Name Game: How Names Spell Success in Life and Love” that says your name can affect your standing at work and your success with the opposite sex.

All of this is called the Pygmalian effect, and it’s a REAL scientific phenomenon.

So, Big Data, name analysis . . . . I don’t know what more there is to say about the matter, but I think if you’re a Tiger Mom, you’re clearly wasting your time making your son or daughter practice the violin when they’re not at the math tutor getting that extra help with calculus. tigermom What you need to be doing is going to your lawyer so you can legally change your child’s name to Johann.

Yes, lawyers are expensive, but it’s a one-time cost, and I can assure you it’s a lot cheaper to pay that fee than to keep paying for violin lessons month after month, year after year.

I make this recommendation without regard to whether you have  a boy or a girl, or even whether you’re German. Last time I checked, it was not against the law to have a name with German roots like Johann without being German or having some German in your ancestry. And in any case, Johann is a much easier name to pronounce than Giuseppe, which is another good name to consider if you want your child to be a musical genius.

So, make that call, get that name changed, and then sit back and watch as your child exhibits that talent you never knew he had or she had.  We who enjoy Baroque music are looking forward to hearing the world’s next musical genius.—Nabob, On Baroque

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