Music in the Castle of Heaven : A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach, Paperback Book

Music in the Castle of Heaven : A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach Paperback

4.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


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 seems so ordinary, so opaque - and occasionally so intemperate?In this remarkable book, John Eliot Gardiner distils the fruits of a lifetime's immersion as one of Bach's greatest living interpreters.

Explaining in wonderful detail how Bach worked and how his music achieves its effects, he also 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.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 672 pages, 24pp colour
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Baroque music (c 1600 to c 1750)
  • ISBN: 9780141977591

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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.

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