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Bach's Feet: The Organ Pedals in European Culture (Musical Performance and Reception) Hardcover – 19 Jan 2012

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'There is much to enjoy in this compelling study.' Early Music

'Part of [Yearsley's] intent in writing Bach's Feet, which is clearly a labor of love, is to reintroduce the organ into general musicological discourse, and perhaps even attract some lay readers. His book certainly deserves to succeed in its mission, and the organ, as he says, is 'ready for a comeback'.' Notes

Book Description

From 1500, the independent use of the feet in musical performance at the organ was unique to Germany and vital to its cultural standing in Europe. Yearsley presents an account of this mode of music-making spanning some 500 years, including reappraising J. S. Bach's crucial role in that history.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Bach's Feet considered. 11 Sept. 2012
By snake - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is unique and is full of material I have been seeking for decades, and makes a very strong case that the pedal is the crowning glory of the organ. It explores the reluctance of the rest of the world to give the pedal its due, a reluctance still with us, and seen, for example, in the occasional large American organ with no independent pedal stops at all. While the book was a bit pricey (about $90), for value received it was the best bargain I have had in years. Interestingly, Yearsley uses "aerobic" to describe some pedal passages, while others might think "acrobatic" would be better. "Acrobatic", however, describes moves the body makes; while "aerobic" describes their effect on the body, and I challenge anyone to play Bach's Fugue in D major (BWV 532) at a reasonable tempo without a quickening of pulse by the end. I found the treatment of double pedalling the most gratifying, and can only agree with Yearsley that such works as the (sadly) rarely heard "Aus tiefer Not" (BWV 686) engage more of the body - including the brain - than any other musical activity. In my opinion it is in performing this kind of music that we are most alive. This book belongs in every serious organist's library.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Prize Winner! 11 April 2013
By James H. Cook - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book charmed me from the first sight of the dust jacket through the final chapter. I taught organists and music history undergraduates for more than a generation, and if I could find all of those past students today I would urge each of them to read this book. It's firmly rooted in wide-ranging scholarship that ventures into elements that go beyond the simple discussion of 'making music with your feet.' There's an attractive element to the subject that appeals to more people than just organists. Furthermore, it's written in a style that communicates the author's excitement about the subject in a way that a mere factual account could never approach. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Not that I want anyone to think that I rely on other reviews to bolster my opinion, but this book was just awarded the Ogasapian Book Prize by the Organ Historical Society (OHS). What more needs to be said?
Very interesting 4 Mar. 2014
By Catherine B. Allen - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Both amateur organ afficionadoes and professionals found this interesting. Good visuals (illustrations). The book is attractively done and well researched, apparently.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Very Insightful 2 Feb. 2013
By Timothy Lee Brower - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is definitely for a lover of baroque and german organ music. It has lots of great information and great images, but can be a long and tedious read for people who are not enthusiastic about the organ.
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