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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE One work for the real Bach boffin., 6 Jan. 2006
This review is from: J.S. Bach, Vol. 1 (Paperback)
This work is relatively a difficult read and a long read.It is old fashioned.It is howveer also erudite, very well informed with alot of detail and written at a less dumbed down time of real scholarship, pre word processors and flashy media. But it is also slower from slower age. It has depth, real scholarship and is really the one Bach work to read if you were to just read ONE and make a real study of it. If I had to buy on book on my desert island with a complete box set of Bach`s music it would be this book I would choose to read to study and have some idea of Bach`s MUSIC. Not his life story at all.That`s not really the point of this book.It is Bach`s music that tell`s the story in this book. This book discusses the MUSIC. You get a piece of music and it wil discuss that in musical terms. Some background in music would be an advantage for certain. This is not so much about Bach`s life nor a more modeern representative study in aesthetics and Bach`s place in the 21st C like most of the books are out there and available even here on Amazon and written over the last decade or two. Neither is it an overview. It is a work of endless examples of Bach`s music which are discussed in depth from a great scholarly mind of the past. It is written in a pleasant in depth consistent and relentless way...a book many might not finish..It is translated well and for the right person this makes an essential and an interesting read. Every Bach fanatic should have a copy. However be warned. For a beginner I would suggest the Oxford Companion to Bach or Wolf`s new Book on Bach first. Both these are first rate beginner guides. More than that these are the 21st C books to go for at present. This book is a brilliant book but it is also out of date a bit. But that doesn`t make it any less fascinating for the read. This dates from an age pre cds and pre what we now consider Bach to be..pre Hahn and pre all the new interpretations on cd. The Bach in this book belongs to another age. But it`s contents are still amazing. If you still want more and to expand your studies then I would suggest buying this for a further look at the great man in some detail. If every line you read about Bach is amazing and you really want to know more and THINK more about Bach then this is the book from you. This book however old it is is still a great Classic and famous with good reason.It really does help read music at least in reading this book with the numerous diagrams and scores within it`s pages. 5 stars for sheer excellence and erudition and the study undertaken and the fact that if you KNOW Bach`s works this book is a real gem. As not MOST of the worlds BACH fans can be said to KNOW his entire works eor to see themselves around them too clearly then this might be a bit heavy going for most readers and you would trust me be better off with one of the main best selling boks on Bach. If you have read all of those and are collecting a Bach library and you can name 10 Cantata`s and know your pieces quite well and want a more in depth overview of specific examples of Bach`s music then this is the ONE book to buy without a doubt. Before all the more modern books of the last 50years + this book was THE authority on Bach and will crop up on all the quality Yahoo groups discussion lists. A name to remember the author. It depends what you are after. This book is exactly right if you want endless musical examples and pages of music and discussion on pieces by Bach from a professional and traditional mind of the past. It also makes very intereting reading anyway in itself factually and of the opinions rendered. Which is enought o amke you have thoughts of your own about the music itself.It makes you think and it gives ALOT of information and food for thought. A great book. But a slight warning in that it really is aimed at those who know music and it is an old fashioned book. It was written quite a while back.That`s good and bad. That means it is really written on an old type writer and dates from that it`s clarity and and view. It is written in long real sentences and not the snappy kind of short sharp informative post modern one stop abbreviated all in one language of today. It is Dickensian in it`s flow..and many modern readers will not like this style or rather not be used to it in the internet age. If you are someone who wants it all NOW...then don`t read this book.If you are a little patient and used to wading through the detail and waiting for things , ina word patient and like long reads... then this is a really good vintage book to read on Bach but it takes some effort. This is a slow steady long read. You don`t quite get the concise all in one modern approach in one .It belongs to a more gently age and this book is part referecne and when books ruled the earth age.. not a follow up quick consumable to fire into ones head.....It`s an older book from an older age..However it does give endless examples and analysis of Bach`s works. THIS is it`s MAIN ADVANTAGE over all other books on Bach. The exampels and the strength of analysis of the works. Even if things have moved on a bit even in the world of Bach in 21st terms... This book is still a great classic on a Bach. Even timeless. It IS great. But not for beginners. This is the famous book on Bach of the 1900`s Essential in any library on Bach. You`ll get alot out of it and if you are serious about Bach it is one definite must have on the library shelf. Not my first choice for a book on Bach for the modern reader. But a definite essential book. Absolutely essential infact for any Bach scholar and an essential work of analysis on Bach`s work. Not his life, not his legacy,,, not his mind.His works. I hope you found this review helpful as it is realy the best I could do for someone to make an informed choice.
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Initial post: 4 May 2011 19:06:21 BDT
A. Ashdown says:
Dear Prof. Crichton
This is much appreciated as I have read Wolff's 3 books ('New Bach Reader', 'Essays' and 'Learned Musician' - latter twice), Williams' on the organ music (dry but standard work); Williams' latest (biog - probing, excellent); Shuckburgh (exact opposite - trite, insubstantial); Boyd's Oxford Companion (overrated like all OUP but ultimately useful); Durr on the Cantatas (for ref - the 'Bible' of course); Cambridge Companion (incisive, lively essays); Stauffer & May (good essays on organ repertory); an old thing by Terry I found in, of all places, Holmfirth (lots of excellent b&w illus) - so I am ready to try this. BTW it's not clear - (1) is this Schweizer (2) are there two volumes? the Amazon web pages are a bit confusing.
Thanks again,

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