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Customer Review

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars unhappy hybrid, 6 April 2012
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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.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Nov 2015, 16:27:52 GMT
jornfin says:
Here is the problem with tribalism: it works in all directions. Why should the Germans share Bach with the British under the vague headline of "European"? Following this - rather outdated - line of thought, we would have to leave it to the Germans perform, direct, and write about Bach. Oh, but the Germans don't think along the lines of "German" at all, being the most tribal of European nations... So maybe we'll have to exclude anyone from out of Thuringia? But then again, Thuringia didn't exist in Bach's day... Let me figure this out and get back to you.
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