Music in the Castle of Heaven

Book - 2013
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"From one of Bach's greatest living interpreters, a landmark study which explains in ... detail how the composer worked, how his music is constructed, how it achieves its effects--and what it can tell us about Bach the man"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.
Edition: First United States edition.
ISBN: 9780375415296
Characteristics: xxxiv, 628 pages : illustrations (chiefly color), map ; 25 cm


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Nov 18, 2019

" 'Seven hundred municipal street oil lamps were installed in Leipzig in 1701, by which "many sins, especially against the 5th, 6th and 7th commandments, were remarkably checked and strongly hindered" .' "Bach was signaling his bid to free himself from the council's control and to establish a solid independent basis for his activities as Director Musices of the city. The coffee- house and the church were its twin temples, and he could --and WOULD--serve in both."

Sep 07, 2019

This is quite a whopper of a book, and if I were to rate it on the basis of the first three chapters alone, I would have to give it five stars. But though the last fifty pages are also excellent, and there are erudite and enlightening moments in between, I must say that in the middle it tends to get bogged down. The book itself is not just criticism and interpretation alone or biography or history, its a brilliant and humane blend of each. The focus of the book is heavily on the choral works, especially the cantatas and the two great Passions (John's and St. Matthew's) - the keyboard music, including all of the organ music, is left out.

Dec 11, 2016

A superb book detailing the life of perhaps the most brilliant and monumental musician to have ever been born. Not only does Gardiner explore the ingenious inner-workings of Bach's compositional techniques and music making, but he too offers us glimpses into the life of the man himself, independent of any exalted notions we may have garnered from the sheer genius of his music. Gardiner posits some interesting hypotheses concerning the early experiences in Bach's life which may have had strong impacts on his music to be composed later in his life--from his obsession with Luther's teachings, notions of German identity and philosophy, and the unfathomable losses of children, parents, and a wife. This book does an amazing job of unraveling the many misconceptions we may hold for someone such as Bach, firmly planting us in the 17th-century world that Bach would have lived and died in.


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