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Bach & His Successors

One of the challenges when approaching Johann Sebastian Bach is the over abundance of reference materials. Where to start? I find that Wikipedia often provides a useful first step (http://wikipedia.com). Search on “Bach” leads to useful summary of the life and work of Johann Sebastian Bach. The main entry has links to related entries, e.g. to the four sons of Bach who became composers.

If you're interested in a long treatise on Bach, Albert Schweitzer's two volume J. S. Bach is a good starting point. It's no longer covered by copyright and the first volume is available as a downloadable pdf file. For a more modern interpretation, I find the two volumes of The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach by Richard D. P. Jones a rich source of insight. I have excerpted the first portion both volumes and they can be downloaded using the links: Volume I, Volume II.

For those interested in shorter modern articles, I would point to three that gave me insight into what makes Bach great:

“Bach for all”, by Nicholas Kenyon, The Guardian, 2011.03.11
“Deconstructing the Genius of Bach”, by Phillip Clark in Classical Music
“Time, Death, Eternity: Imagining the Soul of Johann Sebastian Bach”, by George E. Atwood

Bernard D. Sherman published an interesting collection of conversations with performers, called Inside Early Music (Oxford University Press, 1997). Several chapters are directly relevant to Bach. There is also "Authenticity in Musical Performance" by Sherman. It provides a much shorter overview of the whole area.

On the question of Bach's reception in the years after his death, Cory McKay of Guelph University has written "The Bach Reception in the 18th and 19th Centuries". This eight page article does a reasonable job describing what happened. I would wish that he had taken more time to consider postmodernity and the reception of Bach's music.

Clearly, this only skims the very thinest of top layers of material on Bach, his life, his work and his successors. Google, for example, comes up with 23,700,000 relevant entries when searched against “Johann Sebastian Bach”. Enjoy.

 

 

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