Two Great Books on J.S. Bach

I have been listening to a lot of Bach lately. I have been really excited by the Cello Suites and the Goldberg Variations. I am new to the world of Classical music, I spent my youth jumping up and down to everything from Nirvana, Green Day, I mother earth to Wu Tang and John Lee Hooker. Enter a new part of my life.

As a father-to-be I have spent a lot of time thinking about things that I cannot do that I wish I could. The main two that pop into my mind are 1: when looking at a painting know what I am looking at and where it fits in. 2: when hearing music being able to recognize at least who the composer is, if not the actual piece.

The painting thing I will have to deal with later when I have money and time to go and see more of the works in person. The music one feels more pressing because music is all around us all the time and for me a more fulfilling aspect of artistic life (I love to write poetry and essays with blaring classical music in the background). It seems time to learn about the music behind the writing. For that reason, and the fact that I stumbled upon the two previously mentioned pieces, I have been immersing myself into the world of Bach, the so-called father of music.

I read two books that were very very fast reads. I literally could not put them down. Evening at the Palace of Reason by Gaines and The Cello Suites by Siblin were both easy to understand books that lived up to my excitement. They are books that help you to maintain the excitement and interest that made you pick them up in the first place. They make you want to listen to the music, go to the concerts, enter the chat rooms, learn to play Cello etc. I strongly recommend both of them.

The thing about books on artistic subjects is that they almost always contain a contagious energy and regard for the subject. A book about Kerouac will be fast paced and exciting, the writing will be strong and enjoyable. The same can be said about books by music aficionados, they are passionate about their topics and their passion rubs off.

Both these books sort of reminded me of Simon Winchester’s books on the Oxford English Dictionary. History that is incredible readable and interesting. They are a great entry level read for people that want to expand their horizons. You need to know little about music or history to enjoy these, and if you are interested in either then they may fill in some gaps and be some of the better written works (from an aesthetic perspective) you delve into.

Have you read these books? Are you a Bach enthusiast? Then leave a note behind, tell me what you think.

One comment on “Two Great Books on J.S. Bach

  1. Gregor says:

    Hi,
    I’m a professional classical musician and I was really touched by your letter. I’m totally agree with your point of view and if you’re still looking for a great book about this “powerfull guy”, I would recommend you :
    J-S.Bach by Albert Schweitzer
    For me,this is THE ABSOLUTE chef-d’oeuvre about Bach.
    Have a great life with Bach and sorry for my English…

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