Johann Sebastian Bach

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9780199248841: Johann Sebastian Bach

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.

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Review:

The Learned Musician is an apt subtitle for this intellectual biography, which assesses the career of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) with the scholarly rigor one would expect from a Harvard professor. Opening with a 1737 attack by a critic who labeled Bach a pedant who spoiled the natural beauty of his creations with "an excess of art," Christoph Wolff cogently compares the German composer to English scientist Isaac Newton. Both men "brought about fundamental changes and established new principles" in their chosen fields, he argues; both sought to reveal God's harmonious ordering of their world. While Wolff conscientiously covers the basics of Bach's life, including his two marriages and the musical achievements of his gifted family, the author's primary focus is on his performing (Bach was an unrivaled organist) and composing. From the Goldberg Variations through the Brandenburg Concertos to Art of the Fugue, Wolff carefully analyzes Bach's innovations in harmony and counterpoint, placing them in the context of European musical and social history rendered in nicely atmospheric detail. Casual readers may find this dense tome a bit daunting, but serious music lovers will relish the deeper understanding it conveys of a genius who transformed Western music. --Wendy Smith

About the Author:

Christoph Wolff is William Powell Mason Professor of Music and dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University. He is co-author of the Bach Compendium, co-editor of the research journal Bach-Jahrbuch, and author of The New Grove Bach Family. Thirty-two of his numerous journal articles have been collected in his Bach: Essays on his Life and Music.

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AOP9780199248841

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AOP9780199248841

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