Many people remember that when in 1977 the Voyager spacecraft was launched, opinions were canvassed as to what artefacts would be most appropriate to leave in outer space as a signal of man’s cultural achievements on earth.

The American astronomer Carl Sagan proposed that ‘if we are to convey something of what humans are about then music has to be a part of it.’ To Sagan’s request for suggestions, the eminent biologist and author Lewis Thomas answered, ‘I would send the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach.’

After a pause, he added, ‘But that would be boasting.’

— John Eliot Gardiner, Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven, Kindle Location 11571


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