Although we are acquainted with the music of J. S. Bach through countless performances and recordings, the composer himself continues to come across as the somewhat enigmatic figure depicted in a single, familiar portrait. Published in 2000 to mark the 250th anniversary of Bach's death, author and leading Bach scholar Christoph Wolff presents a ...
Although we are acquainted with the music of J. S. Bach through countless performances and recordings, the composer himself continues to come across as the somewhat enigmatic figure depicted in a single, familiar portrait. Published in 2000 to mark the 250th anniversary of Bach's death, author and leading Bach scholar Christoph Wolff presents a new picture that brings to life this towering figure of the Baroque era. Now available in paperback, this engaging biography portrays Bach as the living, breathing-and sometimes imperfect-human being that he was, while bringing to bear all the advances gained in the last half-century of Bach scholarship. Wolff demonstrates the intimate connection between the composer's life and his music, showing how Bach's superb inventiveness pervaded his career as a musician, composer, performer, scholar, and teacher. And throughout, we see Bach in the broader context of his time: its institutions, traditions, and influences. With this highly readable book, Wolff sets a new standard in Bach biography.
Publishers Weekly, 2000-02-28 Since this year is the 250th anniversary of the death of the composer now widely regarded as perhaps the most consummate musician who ever lived, it is an opportune moment for a major study of the man and his work by one of the leading authorities on both. While shedding no new light on Bach's life, Wolff, a Harvard professor of music, does offer the lay reader a thorough picture of the composer as both a technician and a surpassing artist. He describes how Bach (1685-1750) made a living in his early years traveling around testing and repairing church organs. Wolff devotes a great deal of space to examining how Bach was viewed by his contemporaries, to whom, of course, the idea of a musician as an artist--as opposed to a sort of scientist of sound (there are valuable comparisons of Bach's achievement to that of his contemporary, Isaac Newton)--was quite foreign. Wolff has excavated contemporary documents, giving remarkable detail on Bach's earnings and on the disposition of his manuscripts after his death to the various members of his multitudinous family; also included are charming examples of the musician's youthful zeal, such as his journey, 250 miles on foot, to see and hear the admired organist/composer Buxtehude. So much of the composer's life is shrouded in mystery--what exactly caused the death of the remarkably healthy Bach in his 66th year, and just where is he buried? (no tombstone marks the spot)--that although this study is certainly the last word in current Bach scholarship, the man behind the music remains infuriatingly elusive. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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