- Paperback: 672 pages
- Publisher: Penguin; 01 edition (3 July 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141977590
- ISBN-13: 978-0141977591
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Music in the Castle of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach Paperback – 3 Jul 2014
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Gardiner has joined the select ranks of luminary musicians articulating their experience, with this long, sumptuously illustrated survey of Bach's life and times. The result is dazzling (Iain Burnside Observer)
There could be no better-qualified guide to the mysteries behind Bach's music than the conductor who has breathed new life into its performance . . . As an exploration of Bach's labyrinthine thought-processes, and as an analysis of his music's overwhelming power, this book will now be required reading . . . for listeners and performers alike (Michael Church Independent)
Gardiner weaves industrial-strength scholarship, musical analysis and performing insight into a highly readable narrative ... extraordinary (Richard Morrison The Times)
About the Author
Sir John Eliot Gardiner is one of the world's leading conductors, not only of Baroque music but across the whole repertoire. He founded the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra, the Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, the English Baroque Soloists, and the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique. He conducts most of the world's great orchestras and in many of the leading opera houses. He lives and farms in Dorset.
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Top Customer Reviews
Gardiner's scholarly commentary on Bach's compositions, especially the cantatas, the two Passions and the B minor Mass - "a procession of gripping musical works of exceptional worth" - must be unique in the literature. Readers need to have a good working knowledge of the music to make much sense of Gardiner's dissection of these masterpieces and reading these sections of the book is quite a struggle. (There is so much technical detail here that an 8-page glossary of musical terms is provided in an appendix to help readers understand the complexities.) But this analysis is very illuminating, "allowing us to see [Bach's] humanity filtering through into the music." It is Bach, Gardiner concludes, "who gives us the voice of God - in human form".
Almost every page of the book reveals Gardiner's profound love and understanding of Bach's music. He summarises what Bach's music means to him as follows: "the most beautiful and profound manifestation that man is capable of in complex harmonious sounds that capture in an inexplicable way the joys and suffering we encounter in our earthly lives, helping us to access the motional core of human experience." This is wonderfully refined and erudite writing, and it is sustained throughout the book.Read more ›
At the risk of being superficial, there are three kinds of book. The first you never finish because they're patent rubbish. The second is the kind you need to read again a couple of weeks, months or years later because, no matter how good they seemed at the time, you realise they had made no lasting impression on you. You also want to reread the third kind, but this time because one reading was manifestly insufficient to explore all their marvellous riches. In my view, "Music in the Castle of Heaven" definitely falls into the last category.
I'll start negatively. Two problems occurred to me as I was reading it. One is that it is full of the most erudite scholarship, but Gardiner appears not to be an academic of any kind. I can't find any articles by him in any scholarly journal, as opposed to ephemeral ones like "Gramophone" - and then only discussing his own recordings. Academic scholarship is a discipline acquired through years of intensive training in the minutiae of finding, using and referencing primary and secondary source material, usually involving the acquisition of some pieces of stiff paper with impressive-sounding letters on them. Does Gardiner know what he's doing, or is he actually at sea when pronouncing with such apparent confidence on a forbiddingly wide variety of topics including the Thuringian principalities in the aftermath of the Thirty Years' War and the state of education in Lutheran Germany in general and in Leipzig in particular, with throwaway references to an eclectic assortment of resources, including both the latest scholarship and primary sources by Bach himself and his contemporaries? My worst quibble in this respect is his short list of abbreviations for his main sources.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good and gets better as it goes on, but needs editing or a reader prepared to skip. Such an eloquent and persuasive man when talking and on the rostrum, but this book indulges... Read morePublished 27 days ago by Scriblerus
Very good - a definitive work. Difficult to get now in hardback but worth the persistence.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great insights on the music from one of the most insightful period musicians, however too much historical padding about 18thC Germany which rather obscures the main story.Published 3 months ago by Mr A Le Harivel
Very hard going - written in the style of a stuffy textbook with excessive use of footnotes.Published 7 months ago by Dr Fox
A very interesting contribution among all the biographies which have been written on the world's greatest composer!Published 7 months ago by Harald Jacob Holtet
A very thorough and revealing insight into Bach's life and his antecedents. Those with a much deeper knowledge of the many other Baroque composers referred to and to Bach's vast... Read morePublished 8 months ago by J. V. Goodman
This is the best book on Bach I have ever read. Gardiner's scholarship is only matched by his passion for this wonderful composer. The illustrations are amazing. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Gpthomas
I haven't even finished the book - but I can't wait to share my joy in reading it. I am a German protestant church musician who fell in love with Bach with the first Bach cantata I... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Ulrike Brand
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