Bach on the Inexpressible

Nice essay on Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner at the NYRB.

Just how Bach managed to express the inexpressible, especially with regard to death, and what life experiences stood behind his compositional decisions are at the center of a lively new book by the distinguished British conductor John Eliot Gardiner. Stepping in as president of the Leipzig Bach Archive at the beginning of this year, Gardiner has devoted his life to the performance of Bach’s vocal works (he has conducted them all), and the biographical gaps he seeks to close in his lengthy study have perplexed Bach scholars for more than two hundred years.


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