Front cover image for Bach : essays on his life and music

Bach : essays on his life and music

The noted Bach scholar Christoph Wolff offers in this book new perspectives on the composer's life and remarkable career. Uncovering important historical evidence, the author demonstrates significant influences on Bach's artistic development and brings insight on his work habits, compositional intent, and the musical traditions that shaped Bach's thought. Wolff reveals a composer devoted to an ambitious and highly individual creative approach, one characterized by constant self-criticism and self-challenge, the absorption of new skills and techniques, and the rethinking of riches from the musical past. Readers will find analyses of some of Bach's greatest music, including the B Minor Mass, important cantatas, keyboard and chamber compositions, the Musical Offering, and the Art of Fugue. Discussion of how these pieces "work" will be helpful to performers--singers, players, conductors--and to everyone interested in exploring the conceptual and contextual aspects of Bach's music. All readers will find especially interesting those essays in which Wolff elaborates on his celebrated discoveries of previously unknown works: notably the fourteen "Goldberg" canons and a collection of thirty-three chorale preludes. --From publisher's description
Print Book, English, 1991
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1991
xiv, 461 pages : music ; 26 cm
9780674059252, 9780674059269, 0674059255, 0674059263
[Part 1] : Outlines of a musical portrait
New perspectives on Bach biography
The family
Decisive career steps
Employers and patrons
Buxtehude, Bach, and seventeenth-century music in retrospect
Bach and Johann Adam Reinken : a context for the early works
Vivaldi's compositional art, Bach, and the process of "musical thinking"
Bach and the tradition of the Palestrina style
[Part 2] : New sources : broadened perspectives
The Neumeister collection of chorale preludes from the Bach circle
Bach's audition for the St. Thomas cantorate : the cantata "Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn"
Origins of the Kyrie of the B minor mass
The reformation cantata "Ein feste Burg"
The handexemplar of the Goldberg variations
Bach's personal copy of the Schübler chorales
The Clavier-Übung series
Text-critical documents on the original print of the partitas
Bach's Leipzig chamber music
New research on the Musical offering
Bach's last fugue : unfinished?
The compositional history of the Art of fugue
The deathbed chorale : exposing a myth
[Part 3] : Concepts, style, and chronology
Chronology and style in the early works : a background for the Orgel-Büchlein
The architecture of the passacaglia
The organ in Bach's cantatas
Apropos the Musical offering : the Thema Regium and the term ricercar
The Agnus Dei of the B minor mass : parody and new composition reconciled
Principles of design and order in Bach's original editions
Toward a definition of the last period of Bach's work
[Part 4] : Early reception and artistic legacy
On the original editions of Bach's works
Bach's vocal music and early music criticism
On the recognition of Bach and "the Bach chorale" : eighteenth-century perspectives
"The extraordinary perfections of the hon. court composer" : an inquiry into the individuality of Bach's music