Johann Sebastian Bach The Learned Musician by OUP Oxford

Johann Sebastian Bach The Learned Musician by OUP Oxford
Johann Sebastian Bach The Learned Musician by OUP Oxford Johann Sebastian Bach The Learned Musician by OUP Oxford Johann Sebastian Bach The Learned Musician by OUP Oxford Johann Sebastian Bach The Learned Musician by OUP Oxford (click images to enlarge)

Johann Sebastian Bach The Learned Musician by OUP Oxford

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Description of Johann Sebastian Bach The Learned Musician from OUP Oxford

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Manufacturer Description

This biography (first published in 2000 to mark the 250th anniversary of J.S. Bach's death) presents a picture of the composer that demonstrates the intimate connection between Bach's life and his music, showing how the composer's superb inventiveness pervaded his career as a musician, composer, performer, scholar, and teacher.

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

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