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Bach. Muziek als een wenk van de hemel by…
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Bach. Muziek als een wenk van de hemel (original 2013; edition 2013)

by John Eliot Gardiner

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413638,370 (4.04)15
Member:zerkalo
Title:Bach. Muziek als een wenk van de hemel
Authors:John Eliot Gardiner
Info:Uitgeverij De bezige bij, A'dam, 2014
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:english literature, biography, J.S. Bach, composer, classical music, Zeitgeist, church music

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Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner (2013)

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Showing 5 of 5
Four months to read this book! Some brilliant things here, but also very frustrating. Gardiner strongly believes that Bach's religious music, specifically the prodigious cantata cycles, the St. John and St. Matthew Passions, and the B minor Mass, are at the absolute center of Bach's accomplishment and identity. Fine, but he neglects Bach's stupendous "abstract" music, and really fails to address how those not attached to Bach's Lutheran variant of Christianity - how those who may not be religious at all - may find Bach's work to be the most important musical accomplishment of the last millennium.

This is not a standard biography; again that is fine, but if you want to know the basic data of Bach's life, this is not the place to start. (In spite of the book's 560 pages of text, Gardiner really does not touch upon J.S. Bach's family life at home, which is a little peculiar for a man whose wives went through twenty full-term pregnancies.)

Gardiner is an important and extremely accomplished musician, and it is very valuable to read this appreciation of the great composer written by someone who approaches him from that angle, from someone who understands how Bach's genius is expressed through performance. Just be aware that this should not be the first, and definitely not the last, book about Bach that you read. ( )
  yooperprof | Nov 27, 2016 |
Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the most unfathomable composers in the history of music. How can such sublime work have been produced by a man who (when we can discern his personality at all) seems so ordinary, so opaque—and occasionally so intemperate?

John Eliot Gardiner grew up passing one of the only two authentic portraits of Bach every morning and evening on the stairs of his parents’ house, where it hung for safety during World War II. He has been studying and performing Bach ever since, and is now regarded as one of the composer’s greatest living interpreters. The fruits of this lifetime’s immersion are distilled in this remarkable book, grounded in the most recent Bach scholarship but moving far beyond it, and explaining in wonderful detail the ideas on which Bach drew, how he worked, how his music is constructed, how it achieves its effects—and what it can tell us about Bach the man.

Gardiner’s background as a historian has encouraged him to search for ways in which scholarship and performance can cooperate and fruitfully coalesce. This has entailed piecing together the few biographical shards, scrutinizing the music, and watching for those instances when Bach’s personality seems to penetrate the fabric of his notation. Gardiner’s aim is “to give the reader a sense of inhabiting the same experiences and sensations that Bach might have had in the act of music-making. This, I try to show, can help us arrive at a more human likeness discernible in the closely related processes of composing and performing his music.”

It is very rare that such an accomplished performer of music should also be a considerable writer and thinker about it. John Eliot Gardiner takes us as deeply into Bach’s works and mind as perhaps words can. The result is a unique book about one of the greatest of all creative artists.

Review

“[I]t is hard to imagine what the English maestro John Eliot Gardiner. . . might do to surpass Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven in its commitment, scope and comprehensiveness. . . . [He] has done a masterly, monumental job of taking the measure of Bach the man and the musician.”
–The New York Times

“With Bach we seek the elusive man hiding, perhaps, under the dense, spectacular music. . . .As eloquent a writer as he is a musician, Gardiner brings to his study the invaluable perspective of the practitioner. . . . One of the stars of the revolution over the past 50 years that has brought period instruments into the mainstream of early-music performance. . . . [Gardiner’s] depth of knowledge permeates his writing.”
–The New York Times Book Review

“Mr. Gardiner writes in the refreshing voice of a man who has studied and performed Bach's music for decades. . . . Like his conducting, the author's writing is lively, argumentative and passionate. He believes deeply in Bach's music and wants to understand each aspect of its construction. . . . Bach's music is one of mankind's greatest achievements, and his genius touches upon matters eternal and profound. His choral music is less well-known than it should be—especially the cantatas, which Gardiner lauds as "gripping musical works of exceptional worth." Spurred by Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven, many listeners will discover them for the first time. In performance and now in print, Mr. Gardiner is Bach's most eloquent champion…”
–The Wall Street Journal

“It never happens often enough, but now and then, a subject gets the book it deserves. So it is with John Eliot Gardiner’s Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven, a biography so thoughtful, well-researched, and beautifully written that it should satisfy both the well-informed enthusiast and readers simply seeking to become better acquainted with a musical giant.”
–*The Daily Beast

Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven is an inspiring book. . . . [it] is a superb, timely, thought-provoking, authoritative and extremely useful and readable book. It should find its way onto any serious music-lover’s shelves. From there it must often and regularly be taken off and read.”
–Classical.Net

“[I]t is Gardiner’s experience as a conductor that informs so much of this book. Not only does he explain the harmonic, contrapuntal and polyphonic underpinnings of Bach’s music. . . he also comments on these scores from practical experience, having spent countless hours working out instrumental balances and sonorities, textures and dynamics, in concert halls and churches alike.”
–The Washington Post

“Gardiner presents a nuanced account of the constellation of personal, musical, religious, and cultural forces that shaped Bach’s astonishing body of compositions. He writes with the care of a scholar, the knowledge of an expert musician, and the passion of a believer (in Bach if nothing else).”
–The Christian Science Monitor*

“An erudite work resting on prodigious research and experience and deep affection and admiration.”
–Kirkus

“Typical John Eliot to combine so much erudition with even more passion and enthusiasm. It made me want to rush and listen to all the pieces whether familiar or unfamiliar. A treasure chest.”
–Simon Rattle, principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic

“Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven is a unique portrait of one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time by one of the greatest musical geniuses of our own age. John Eliot Gardiner uses his extraordinary immersion in Bach’s music to illuminate Bach the man more brilliantly than in any previous work, and has created his own deeply moving work of art.”
–Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire

“A superb achievement, scholarly, lively, controversial and judicious. Like all great biographies of creative artists it builds a bridge from the past to the present and brings the work to new life.”
–Ian Bostridge

“John Eliot Gardiner’s book is, apart from anything else, a tremendous feat of narrative: he has the rare gift of always putting the camera in the right place. He tells this long and richly involved story in a way that makes everything clear, and sets the life and the music in a historical perspective where every detail is relevant and every comment illuminating. Simply as a biography this is splendid, but the fact that it comes with such a wealth of musical understanding and experience makes it invaluable. I learned an enormous amount, and I know I'll return to it again and again.”
–Philip Pullman

About the Author

John Eliot Gardiner is one of the world’s leading conductors, not only of Baroque music but across the whole repertoire. He founded the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra, the Orchestre de l’Opéra de Lyon, the English Baroque Soloists, and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. He has conducted most of the world’s great orchestras and in many of the leading opera houses. He lives and farms in Dorset, England.
  GalenWiley | Apr 27, 2015 |
Excellent book, hard going for a non-musician, though he does his darnedest to be non-technical . i listen to and love Bach's music a lot, but found it hard to know which bit was under discussion. Would be more accessible as a radio series with musical examples/quotations. What i did get was a sense of Bach's originality and creative force. Also how he fits into the context of his time (JEG, we discover, is a historian by training, not a musician).
Points of interest: JSB already being hired as consultant on new organ design at age 18; how slight musical alterations can express difference between Catholic & Lutheran beliefs; that JSB also wrote for Catholics though a passionate Protestant; how much documentation there is on the details of his activities, even though some whole works are lost; pettifogging beastliness of so many minor officials, bureaucrats, teachers, priest - no wonder he had a temper! ( )
  vguy | Jan 24, 2015 |
This delivers exactly what we would expect : a clear, passionate and intellectually demanding account of J.S. Bach's vocal music. How it came to be written, how it fits into the development of 18th century music, Lutheran theology, and Saxon local politics, how it might have been performed, and what makes it special for modern listeners.
It isn't excessively technical: You're not very likely to want to read a book like this unless you already have quite some background knowledge of the passions and cantatas either as a listener or a performer, and I think anyone who has got that far will already be familiar enough with musical terminology to be able to follow what Gardiner is saying. But I certainly felt when I got to the end of the book that I would have to come back to some of the chapters and work through them slowly again with a score or a CD to get the full benefit. ( )
1 vote thorold | Jan 7, 2015 |
The book was well-written and erudite...and far more technical than I was interested in. The fault was mine, I'm sure, but I was completely lost for a good third of the book. ( )
  lothiriel2003 | Mar 29, 2014 |
Showing 5 of 5
 
added by Delfi_r | editEl Periódico, Marta Cerevera (May 27, 2015)
 
La música en el castillo del cielo resulta una obra de múltiples acordes y armonías. Sus más de 900 páginas entremezclan la experiencia personal con la estricta biografía, pero también con la musicología y el análisis pormenorizado de las dos grandes Pasiones, la de san Mateo y la de san Juan, y algunas cantatas. En estas, además, Gardiner aborda el método, la extenuante periodicidad —prácticamente una a la semana durante algunos años— y su cadencia. También en la intrahistoria de esa lucha por la dignidad de la autoría, en la que Bach se empeñó para ser considerado más allá de un simple mayordomo al servicio de príncipes y pudientes.
 

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Barth, RichardÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375415297, Hardcover)

Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the most unfathomable composers in the history of music. How can such sublime work have been produced by a man who (when we can discern his personality at all) seems so ordinary, so opaque—and occasionally so intemperate?

John Eliot Gardiner grew up passing one of the only two authentic portraits of Bach every morning and evening on the stairs of his parents’ house, where it hung for safety during World War II. He has been studying and performing Bach ever since, and is now regarded as one of the composer’s greatest living interpreters. The fruits of this lifetime’s immersion are distilled in this remarkable book, grounded in the most recent Bach scholarship but moving far beyond it, and explaining in wonderful detail the ideas on which Bach drew, how he worked, how his music is constructed, how it achieves its effects—and what it can tell us about Bach the man.

Gardiner’s background as a historian has encouraged him to search for ways in which scholarship and performance can cooperate and fruitfully coalesce. This has entailed piecing together the few biographical shards, scrutinizing the music, and watching for those instances when Bach’s personality seems to penetrate the fabric of his notation. Gardiner’s aim is “to give the reader a sense of inhabiting the same experiences and sensations that Bach might have had in the act of music-making. This, I try to show, can help us arrive at a more human likeness discernible in the closely related processes of composing and performing his music.”

It is very rare that such an accomplished performer of music should also be a considerable writer and thinker about it. John Eliot Gardiner takes us as deeply into Bach’s works and mind as perhaps words can. The result is a unique book about one of the greatest of all creative artists. 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:33 -0400)

"From one of Bach's greatest living interpreters, a landmark study which explains in ... detail how the composer worked, how his music is constructed, how it achieves its effects--and what it can tell us about Bach the man"--

(summary from another edition)

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