Bach Born in Eisenach, Germany, on March 21,1685; he was the son of a masterful violinist.
Throughout the history of music, many great composers, theorists, and instrumentalists have left indelible marks and influences that people today look back on to admire and aspire to.
Yet it’s hard for me to believe that Bach would walk all the way to Lubeck where Buxtehude was based, and overstay the approved leave he had gotten from his employer–getting fired in the process–and then focus on Buxtehude’s organ output.
In fact Wolff points out that Bach likely “gigged” with Buxtehude while he was there, especially since he would have needed money.
All the same, Wolff spends a lot of time on Bach’s organ works, and as an organist I’m grateful for the wealth of background information.
He pays a great deal of attention to the Neumeister Chorales, which were discovered in a manuscript at the Yale Library in the mid-1980’s.Wolff discusses Bach in light of several of his predecessors and contemporaries–Buxtehude, Boehm, Reincken, Vivaldi, and even Palestrina.Bach had an enormous library and a prodigious understanding of the various national styles of Europe, which he succeeded, perhaps even more than G. Handel, in synthesizing into his own personal approach.However, having been orphaned so early on, Bach grew up in the home of his brother, Johann Christoph Bach, in Ohrdruf.During his early life, he By using the style of baroque, a style of music most common to Germany and its culture at that time, and last played by Bach himself, Bach was able to spread his culture through the melody of his works ("Bachcentral: Brief Biography").Wolff occasionally engages in speculation, though it never really gets too wild, and he only does it when he needs to.Where the reader can easily get lost is in discussions about what may or may not have happened to this manuscript or that manuscript, as they are often referred to merely with a series of random numbers and letters not unlike a call number.Books about classical music history are not exactly known for being page-turners, but there are exceptions.While most of them aren’t as stiff as the papal prose of Richard Wagner’s autobiography, too often they’re dry and suck the life right out of the subject.He is often put down as a mere precursor to Bach rather than a musician in his own right.Wolff defends not only his originality but also his wide-ranging expertise, something he rightfully deserves.