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Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven Hardcover – Oct 29 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Oct 29 2013
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Knopf (Oct. 29 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375415297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375415296
  • Product Dimensions: 16.9 x 4 x 24.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #241,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been collecting and devouring books on the life and music of J S Bach for over 50 years, beginning with Spitta. Gardiner's tome, not a standard biography nor a systematic musicological analysis of works (it doesn't even bother with a catalogue!), is by far the best book on Bach. The author takes us through the life experiences and musical meanders that led him to the "authentic" Bach and his lifelong search to catch glimpses of the man through his music. He is in every respect successful in that endeavor. Bach connaisseurs will appreciate the intimacy and the fluidity of Sir John's loving dissections of the cantatas, and other sacred works, all of which he obviously knows note-by-note and word-by-word, and his novel ability to show how words dictated a musical mood, hence intonation, voicing, orchestration, tempo, all described and explained in straightforward and lucid terms. If you want to know all about Bach from one book, this is it.
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By Sheilah HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on Nov. 25 2013
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book because, I will admit, of the title. Something about it just drew my fascination, and then upon reading what it is about I bought it out of curiosity. I had never before really wondered about Bach's life, but this book sparked my interest.

First off, let me say, it is indeed a long read, being over 500 pages, yet it is a fascinating read. The research that must have been needed to be done, paired with an eloquent writing style and splashes of humour made the book one where you want to read every page thoroughly, and are always curious as to what is next.

I think this is a wonderful book for anyone who likes biographies, as well as for anyone with a passion for classical music.

Should you buy? yes.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are looking for a comprehensive biography of Bach this is not it. The majority of the book is analysis of his choral works by a real authority which a lot of people would enjoy. The solo works, concertos, etc.. don't get touched and Gardiner is upfront about that. To tell you the truth, I got bored by the attempt to glean biographical and psychological information from the music and contemporary writing and not from real biographical fact. Gardiner also has a habit of putting quotes in which have no contextual relevance to the subject, they are just quotes he likes that kind of fit the subject matter.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As someone who reads a great deal about Bach, I can say without hesitation that Gardiner's book is one of the very finest I have come across. Gardiner treats his subject with towering erudition, but never at the expense of accessibility. His personal reflections engendered by his mammoth cantata project in 2000 make this an absolute "must read" for anyone interested in Bach and the High Baroque.
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Format: Paperback
Well, its taken me a very long time to read this book and its not a fault of the book. This is part biography of Bach (though not as much as many may like), part biography of various pieces of his church music and the imagination that birthed it, and in large part evocative description of Bach's sacred music itself. There is much to commend here. Gardiner is one of the foremost experts on Bach today, and not because he has read nearly everything there is to read about Bach, although he has probably done so judging from the footnotes and endnotes (the former are all worth reading as they are full of gems, the latter are typically only citation details). Gardiner is himself a musician and conductor and has undertaken one of the most interesting and unique feats of musical exploration ever conducted (pardon the pun, and see below).

Gardiner is a leader in the recent trend (since the '70s) in musical exploration which attempts to play the music of a particular composer or era (for Bach, the Baroque) in the way its original hearers would have experienced it. As such, performances will be played on period instruments (ie. gut strings rather than steel, instruments crafted using original techniques rather than modern, etc.) and played in the way they likely would have been originally played (ie. in churches rather than concert halls, unamplified, and often at a much quicker pace than modern sensibilities usually gravitate toward). Gardiner's "insider" perspective on Bach's music as interpreted through Bach's life and religious convictions as well as through having stood in Bach's place as conductor throughout a full church calendar cycle is really what makes this book special.

Gardiner is at his best as an author when he is at his best as a conductor.
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