Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven

By John Eliot Gardiner

One of the simplest Books of the Year
The Economist * The Christian technology Monitor * Financial Times *

Johann Sebastian Bach is likely one of the so much unfathomable composers within the heritage of song. How can such chic paintings were produced by way of a guy who turns out so traditional, so opaque—and sometimes so intemperate?

John Eliot Gardiner grew up passing one of many in basic terms real pix of Bach each day at the stairs of his mom and dad’ residence, the place it hung for defense in the course of global conflict II. He has been learning and appearing Bach ever when you consider that, and is now considered as one of many composer’s maximum dwelling interpreters. The end result of this lifetime’s immersion are distilled during this awesome e-book, grounded within the most up-to-date Bach scholarship yet relocating a ways past it, and explaining in remarkable aspect the guidelines on which Bach drew, how he labored, how his tune is built, the way it achieves its effects—and what it may possibly let us know approximately Bach the man.

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Right here, finally, used to be a method of fixing the enigma of ways this song brimming over with power and delusion can have emerged from underneath the wig of that impassive-looking cantor, whose portrait had ruled my view of him as a guy ever due to the fact that i used to be a baby. because the crowning glory of the BCP my method of undertaking Bach’s extra celebrated choral works – his Passions, the Christmas Oratorio and the B minor Mass – has been plagued by that deep immersion within the cantatas. From the instant one sees those nice works as belonging to an identical international because the cantatas, as emanations from an identical creative brain, they not suppose fairly so intimidating, and start to bare extra in their creator’s personality. through operating via my very own reactions to them and improvement as a musician, my engagement with Bach has deepened – an attachment that has run in parallel with the self sustaining examine i've got conducted in training for this publication. over the last 20 years i've been soaking up the riveting fabric that has turn into newly to be had because the starting out of data within the former GDR, and utilizing those wealthy findings to delve into the origins and the historic context for the arriving into being of Bach’s song. one of many underlying premises of the BCP was once a sense i discovered I shared with a number of different musicians: that our have to research, take heed to and grapple with Bach’s tune might be larger at the present time than at any time some time past. many people additionally was hoping that via emphasising this actual manifestation of our universal cultural history, it is going to increase the spirits of these who got here to listen to us, irrespective of whether or not they have been hearing it, or even if we have been taking part in it, for the 1st, moment or twenty-second time. Milan Kundera as soon as defined the intrinsic elusiveness of the current second: There would appear to be not anything extra visible, extra tangible and palpable than the current second. And but it eludes us thoroughly. all of the unhappiness of lifestyles lies in that truth. during a unmarried moment, our senses of sight, of listening to, of odor, sign in (knowingly or no longer) a swarm of occasions and a parade of sensations and concepts passes via our head. each one speedy represents a bit universe, irrevocably forgotten within the subsequent speedy. three The miracle of song is that it permits us to step apart momentarily from Kundera’s temporal evanescence. A musical paintings comparable to a Bach cantata is obviously a trip from a starting, via a center, and to an finish, and but at that finish the sunshine it casts within the reminiscence on all that has long gone prior to creates the sensation that we're always in a country of arrival – resulting in a feeling of being conscious of, and hence valuing, our personal realization, either now and in what went sooner than. And, if we settle for that one a part of the human psyche searches for a non secular outlet (and, certainly, a religious input), then notwithstanding materialistic our society can have develop into, although agnostic the Zeitgeist, should you have the ears to listen to it, the convinced and overwhelmingly affirmative tune of Bach can cross a ways in the direction of assembly this desire.

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