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Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician Paperback – 14 Apr 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician
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  • The New Bach Reader: A Life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents
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  • Bach and the Patterns of Invention
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Product details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; New Ed edition (14 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199248842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199248841
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 4 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 147,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon 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 rigour one would expect from a Harvard professor. Opening with a 1737 attack by a critic who labelled 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 unrivalled organist) and composing. From the Goldberg Variations through the Brandenburg Concertos to Art of the Fugue, Wolff carefully analyses 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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

eminently readable, at times even colloquial. Wolff is one of the foremost Bach scholars today, and his comprehensive knowledge of the source materials equips him admirably to write such a book ... all sorts of interesting details emerge. (John Kitchen, Early Music Today, Oct.-Nov. 2000)

Drawing on a lifetime's involvement with Bach's music, Professor Wolff has written what is undoubtedly the most authorative and up-to-date survey of the composer's life and works in English, and probably in any language. (Malcolm Boyd, The Gramophone)

Musical biographies don't come much better than this ... no-one seriously interested in Bach should pass it by. (Bettina Neumann, Piano, July-Aug 2000)

this is a learned and satisfying account of Bach's work, temperament and milieu which will disappoint neither specialist nor general music lover. (Nicholas Anderson, BBC Music Magazine)

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