Bach: A Musical Biography

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Cambridge University Press, 2016 - Biography & Autobiography - 704 pages
J. S. Bach composed some of the best-loved and most moving music in Western culture. Surviving mostly in manuscript collections, his music also exists in special and unique publications that reveal much about his life and thoughts as a composer. In this book, Peter Williams, author of the acclaimed J. S. Bach: A Life in Music, revisits Bach's biography through the lens of his music. Reviewing all of Bach's music chronologically, Williams discusses the music collection by collection to reveal the development of Bach's interests and priorities. While a great deal has been written about the composer's vocal works, Williams gives the keyboard music its proper emphasis, revealing it as crucial to Bach's biography, as a young organist and a mature composer, as a performer in public and teacher in private, and as a profound thinker in the language of music.
 

Contents

2
54
3
110
4
179
5
246
other activities 335
335
a concentration on the language
388
What was said what can be inferred 467
467

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About the author (2016)

Peter Williams (1937-2016) held the first Chair in Performance Practice in Britain at the University of Edinburgh, where he was first Director of the Russell Collection of Harpsichords and latterly Dean of Music. He was also the first Arts and Sciences Distinguished Chair at Duke University, North Carolina. His first book on Bach was for the BBC in 1970. After then, he focused chiefly on music for the organ (with the three-volume Organ Music of J. S. Bach, Cambridge, 1980-84); on music for the harpsichord (with Art of Fugue, 1986, and Bach: The Goldberg Variations, Cambridge, 2001); and on music for ensemble (with Musical Offering, 1986). In more recent years, he focused on biography, with The Life of Bach (Cambridge, 2003) and J. S. Bach: A Life in Music (Cambridge, 2007).

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