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This review is from: Evening in the Palace of Reason: Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment (Paperback)
I bought this book having heard one favourable BBC review, and one unfavourable one by Brian Sewell. I agree with Sewell that this is two books in one, where the author unsuccessfully tries to marry episodes from Frederick the Great's life with a biography of Bach. Alternating chapters about each character doesn't work. I found myself skipping the Frederick chapters, as they interrupted the Bach narrative. Furthermore, the Bach narrative itself is disappointing. It too is an unhappy hybrid - of biography and musicology, where the author interrupts the story with his own analysis of the music. I'm frankly not interested in his analysis; I can make my own judgements about the music. This is therefore not two, but three books in one: two biographies plus one musicology, in none of which the author appears to be a real expert. His editor should be shot at dawn. To be brutally tribalist, author and editor are both Americans, a race of people who rarely succeed in getting under the skin of European culture anyway.